Imagine a world with ubiquitous, affordable space travel, where getting in a spaceship is no stranger than getting in an airplane. Harvard undergraduate Nina Hooper, an astrophysics student, shows how mining asteroids for platinum could be the way to make space travel cheap and accessible to civilians.
Nina Hooper is a Harvard College student from Melbourne, Australia studying astrophysics. She loves traveling and adventure and is working towards what she believes is the ultimate adventure - going to space. She is also a private pilot, a songwriter and a major foodie. Nina intends to pursue a graduate degree in aerospace and astrospace engineering either in the US or UK.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx
WASHINGTON — NASA documents about the selection of commercial cargo contracts announced in January show that SpaceX had the highest technical ratings of the three winning companies, but also, by one metric, the highest price.
NASA released Feb. 5 the source selection statement for the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 contracts, which the agency awarded Jan. 14 to Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and SpaceX to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station. The statement provides details about NASA’s evaluation of the CRS-2 proposals and the rationale for selecting the winning companies.
With at least 10 rocket launches planned for 2016, as well as what could be the West Coast’s first-ever rocket landing, this year is shaping up to be one of Vandenberg Air Force Base’s most exciting in recent memory, according to 30th Space Wing Commander Col. J Christopher Moss.
With an audience composed primarily of elected officials and other business and community leaders, Moss went over some of the base’s accomplishments of 2015 before enthusiastically looking at what lies ahead for the remainder of this year.
WASHINGTON — SpaceX plans to ramp up the production and launch of its Falcon 9 rocket this year while introducing its Falcon Heavy rocket and completing a key test of its commercial crew vehicle, the company’s president said Feb. 3.
“It’s a really interesting year for us,” Gwynne Shotwell said in a speech at the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference, citing work on the company’s launch vehicles, Dragon spacecraft and launch facilities.
One area of emphasis was accelerating the production and launch rate for the Falcon 9. “We’ve had the luxury in years past of having to build only a few rockets a year,” she said, “so we really weren’t in a production mode.” Last year would have been the first to require a high production rate of the rocket, she said, had it not been for the June launch failure that halted flights for nearly six months.
Luxembourg intends to one day become a major hub for deep-space commercial operations.
The country announced Wednesday it plans to help foster the growth of an asteroid-mining industry. Luxembourg, with a population roughly the size of Albuquerque (562,000), said it is the first European country to provide the legal and regulatory framework to ensure asteroid prospectors retain ownership of the precious metals they extract.
Luxembourg officials also said the country will invest in research and development, as well as into companies already “active in the field.” The goal is to stimulate economic growth on Earth and “offer new horizons” in space exploration.
WASHINGTON — After passing the most comprehensive commercial space legislation in years in 2015, officials expect to spend this year preparing and reviewing reports required by that law rather than taking up new legislation.
In a speech Feb. 2 at the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference here, the head of the FAA’s space office said his staff will be busy this year working on several reports mandated by the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which became law in November.
The lab where a company called General Fusion is trying to spark an energy revolution looks like a cross between a hardware store and a mad scientist’s lair. Bins full of electrical gadgets are piled high against the walls. Capacitors recycled from a bygone experiment are stacked up like bottles in wine racks. Ten-foot-high contraptions bristle with tangled wires and shiny plumbing.
Michael Delage, General Fusion’s vice president for strategy and corporate development, makes sure nothing is turned on when he takes a visitor through the lab, which is tucked away in a bland industrial park near Vancouver. He’s worried about the voltage.
A recent commentary argued that, for a variety of reasons, humans will never settle Mars or other destinations beyond Earth. Dale Skran counters that settlement is ultimately the only reason for humans to be in space.
Last month, Arizona officials approved a plan to develop a spaceport for a company that, technically speaking, won’t be flying to space. Jeff Foust reports on the development of a new headquarters and launch site for World View, and its plans for high-altitude balloons for space tourism and other applications.
PARIS — SpaceX’s silence on the schedule delays of its Falcon 9 Upgrade rocket, whose inaugural flight on Dec. 21 was a success, is causing ripples of concern among commercial customers, which like NASA are counting on a high launch cadence in 2016 to meet these companies’ schedule milestones, industry officials said.
The next flight of the Falcon 9 Upgrade, also known as Falcon 9 v1.2, is ostensibly dedicated to the 5,300-kilogram SES-9 telecommunications satellite, headed to geostationary transfer orbit.
That mission, first scheduled for last September, has been repeatedly delayed as Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX made final checks on the new-version rocket, which provides 30 percent more power than the Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket it is replacing.
"Courage is contagious. Courage is shared. Courage is much more than bravery and boldness because courage lives in the heart. Once you weigh the risk and once you decide that to explore and to discover are worth the risk, then you can dream, you can plan, and you can build. And then you train, and you train, and you train, and you train. So that when the crew launches, they launch ready, with happy hearts, thankful for the opportunity to represent America, happy to represent history and all of humankind as humankind reaches for the stars."
Last year, when Google and Fidelity invested $1 billion into Elon Musk’s SpaceX, one of the company’s earliest backers also wanted to get in on the latest round of funding.
But SpaceX ever-so politely asked Steve Jurvetson’s Silicon Valley venture capital firm to kindly hold off. SpaceX, one of the hottest enterprises in the rising commercial space industry, suddenly could afford to turn money away.
“There’s so much interest, they can’t take it all,” Jurvetson said. So they decided to “just bring on one new investor to make life simple.”
With some significant breakthroughs, led by high-profile billionaires such as Musk, Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, the commercial space sector has started to capture the public imagination and make space travel cool again.
WASHINGTON — A Colorado company that said last year it had achieved a technological breakthrough in space transportation has decided to shut down, citing the high costs and risks associated with further development.
Escape Dynamics of Broomfield, Colorado, announced on its website recently that it decided to wind down its operations because its “external propulsion” technology was not attractive enough to potential investors to fund its continued development.
“While microwave propulsion is feasible and is capable of efficiency and performance surpassing chemical rockets, the cost of completing the R&D all the way through operations makes the concept economically unattractive for our team at this time,” the company stated in a brief note posted on its website.
Astrophysics student Nina Hooper wants space travel to be more accessible. How does she thinks that will happen? Asteroid mining. “Asteroids are like floating mountains in space full of valuable resources that we can extract,” Hooper says in a talk at TEDxHavardCollege. “Through these resources, we can incentivize the development of infrastructure and transportation in the nearby solar system, and with this infrastructure in place, human space travel becomes easier and cheaper, too.”
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. private space companies Space Exploration Technologies and United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, have scheduled more than 30 launches from Florida this year, up from 18 last year, according to company and Air Force officials.
The jump in planned launches reflects increasing demand for commercial communications and imaging satellites, as well as business from the U.S. military, International Space Station cargo ships and a NASA asteroid sample return mission. SpaceX and ULA fly from pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, just south of NASA's spaceport.
"We want to be able to fly every week, for sure, if not multiple times in a week," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said at a webcast commercial space conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
PARIS —The Luxembourg government on Feb. 3 announced it would seek to jump-start an industrial sector to mine asteroid resources in space by creating regulatory and financial incentives.
The incentives include co-investment in research and development and, eventually, direct capital investment in space resource-mining companies setting up shop in Luxembourg.
Announced by Vice Prime Minister Etienne Schneider, who is also the nation’s economics minister, the initiative has already lured U.S.-based Deep Space Industries of Mountain View, California, to create a Luxembourg subsidiary. Schneider said other U.S. companies, including SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, and Planetary Resources of Redmond, Washington, are in talks with Luxembourg authorities regarding the Spaceresources.lu venture.
The head of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) and a key Member of Congress are making the case for expanding AST's regulatory responsibilities to include much more than commercial launches and reentries. Both spoke at the first day of AST's annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference, which continues today (Wednesday). The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is webcasting the event.
Over the past year, interest has grown in both the government and commercial space sectors over what agency should have the responsibility for ensuring U.S. compliance with Article VI of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that requires governments to "authorize and continually supervise" the activities of their non-government entities, such as companies. U.S. companies have been operating in space since the 1960s, primarily commercial communications and remote sensing satellites, but the potential expansion of commercial activities to other realms, such as asteroid mining or habitats on the lunar surface, is raising the visibility of the issue of who in the U.S. government is responsible for that task.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 1, 2016) - In December 2015, SpaceX, a known pioneer in the space industry, successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 left Cape Canaveral in Florida, delivered 11 satellites to orbit and historically landed the first stage minutes later. For that achievement, the Space Foundation has selected SpaceX to receive one of its top honors, the 2016 Space Achievement Award.
"Space is a risky business, but SpaceX continues to push the envelope in innovation, moving humanity forward. The work being done by SpaceX will reduce cost and overhead for space travel, making exploration more accessible," said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham.
The promise of accessing space resources on the Moon or asteroids brings with it the potential of massive wealth. Greg Anderson discusses how that can be used to benefit not just the companies involved but also those on Earth less well off.
Do you have a “bucket list” of space activities you want to do at some point in your life? If not, Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides a wide-ranging list of 100 such activities for devoted space enthusiasts.
When the S.S. Deke Slayton II launched in December, it was the first mission of the newly-upgraded Cygnus spacecraft. The upgrades included an expanded cargo hold and reworked service module, but the most visually striking difference is the new solar panels. Instead of stiff rectangular bars like on every other spacecraft (including older-model Cygnus spacecraft), the Cygnus now sports a pair of cheery round orange-yellow Ultraflex solar arrays.
"So here’s my message for you, everyone: Go do what you want to do. Be who you want to be. Create a life for yourself that you will love with all of your heart, and never lose hope or hesitate to step outside of your comfort zone, because in the end, the outcome, whatever that may be, is rewarding and leaves you with a good feeling in your heart. You can shape your destiny and create your future, if only you try. Go find your ‘other world’, and remember that if you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. The sky’s the limit, people! Lastly, during all of your future endeavors, don’t let what anyone else thinks get in your way, because as Aunt Judy said, "It is very important for you to realize that people who you consider to be heroes are really quite like yourselves. Only hard work and perseverance will help you to succeed at any venture–there is no magic of being more ‘special’ than someone else.”
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