Founded in 1999 by visionary entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, the goal of Bigelow Aerospace is to create a new paradigm in space commerce and exploration via the development and use of revolutionary expandable habitat technology. Expandable habitats offer dramatically larger volumes than rigid, metallic structures as well as enhanced protection against both radiation and physical debris. Additionally, expandable habitats are lighter than traditional systems, take up less rocket fairing space, and most important of all in today’s fiscally constrained environment, Bigelow habitats are extremely affordable.
WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance took delivery of a pair of Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines Aug. 20, boosting the inventory at the company’s Decatur, Alabama, assembly facility to 15, the company said in a statement.
Denver-based ULA, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, uses the Atlas 5 along with its Delta 4 rocket to launch the vast majority of U.S. government payloads. Future availability of the RD-180, particularly for U.S. military missions, has come into question amid a decline in U.S.-Russian relations following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing threats to Ukraine.
The uncertainty has put momentum behind proposals to develop a new liquid-fueled main engine in the United States.
In May 2012, the International Space Station's robotic claw, the Canadarm2, caught and secured the first commercial spacecraft to ever dock with the ISS: SpaceX's Dragon capsule. The bullet-shaped vehicle flew to the ISS carrying cargo for its crew, making history for the private space sector in the process. SpaceX has grown leaps and bounds since then, signing contracts with NASA and other government agencies and developing more advanced technologies for space travel. It's even in the midst of designing Dragon version 2, which, unlike its unmanned predecessor, will be able to fit up to seven passengers. While Elon Musk's company is the most well-known commercial spaceflight firm today, it's hardly the only one. The private space industry is huge and it continues to grow; read on to know more about it.
SpaceX is no stranger to both strong support and harsh criticism of its activities, particularly in political circles.
One criticism of SpaceX, though, may have gone too far. On Friday, Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute and a regular contributor on defense issues for Forbes.com, published an op-ed on Forbes titled “When SpaceX Falters, Washington Looks The Other Way”. As the title suggests, he claimed that some in Washington, including NASA and the White House, were playing down those anomalies as SpaceX “struggled” to meet its commitments.
By Friday night, though, that link above went to an error message. The op-ed was no longer available on the site, although it is preserved in places like Google’s cache. Neither Thompson nor Forbes have commented on the piece’s disappearance from the website.
A hot and feverish summer of International Space Station (ISS) resupply operations is in high gear, following the successful deorbiting of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s second dedicated Cygnus cargo ship (ORB-2) on Sunday, 17 August, and preparations to resume unloading the European Space Agency’s (ESA) recently arrived fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) on Tuesday, 19 August. In the meantime, waiting in the wings, SpaceX plans to deliver its fourth Dragon cargo mission (SpX-4) toward the multi-national outpost a week later than originally planned, on 19 September, carrying among its payload complement critical long-life batteries to support a pair of U.S. EVAs later in the year.
As NASA closes in on the next major milestone of its Commercial Crew Program (CCP), the Agency has noted its desire to continue the “sharing of knowledge” with any partner that loses out on continued NASA funding. The first NASA crew to ride on a US commercial vehicle is expected to occur in December, 2017 – a date that continues to be challenged by funding uncertainties.
Private space companies are chomping at the bit for a new race to the stars. Now all they need is the money.
NASA is preparing to make a decision in the coming weeks that will dole out billions of dollars toward the goal of sending American astronauts into orbit on U.S.-built spaceships for the first time since the space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.
"I'll be bitterly disappointed if I'm not into space by the end of the year. The rockets have now tested successfully. We've got three more rocket tests and then we should be up, up and away by the end of the year. That should be the start of the program. The space port's ready. We are now in the last few weeks before finally embarking on the space program."
Following the successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage reentered Earth’s atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This footage is from a chase plane filming the decent of the first stage back to earth.
Towards the end of the video, the camera operator attempted to zoom in and unfortunately lost sight of the stage and was unable to capture the tip over into the water.
The world has gotten its first look at the body of a space plane due to launch into orbit in 2016.
The composite airframe of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser space plane, which is designed to carry astronauts into space, was revealed on Aug. 1. The structure will be used in Dream Chaser's first orbital test flight, which is scheduled for November 2016, SNC representatives said.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER - During the space shuttle's last flight three summers ago visitors crammed the NASA Causeway to glimpse a final, majestic launch. But this June, as sunshine dappled the waters below, the bridge stood nearly empty.
As NASA considers what company will build a replacement for the space shuttle, which the space agency needs to transport its astronauts to the International Space Station and end an uncomfortable dependence upon Russia, one of the three competitors is offering more than just a spacecraft.
Boeing has put jobs on the table, too, saying it will build its CST-100 spacecraft at NASA's Florida space center, where the launch crowds could return as soon as 2017.
You may have seen recent headlines that read, “China Has U.S. in a Space Race” and “Will China Restart the Space Race?” Of course, the term “space race” is a tagline to any competitive space story these days, from the “space race” between private companies to reviving the “space race” between the United States and Russia. No doubt it’s a catchy headline.
However, most of these race analogies fail to establish a clear finish line between the competitors in question.
Sierra Nevada Corporation won’t be using its own hybrid rockets for its Dream Chaser space shuttle, making it the second company in recent months after Virgin Galactic to dump the nitrous oxide-rubber motors.
Kathy Lueders, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), revealed the change in an update during the third quarterly meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) on July 24.
“SNC has also baselined a new propulsion system design (a pure liquid system design rather than a hybrid) in conjunction with their purchase of ORBITEC,” according to the meeting minutes.
Dream Chaser would have used two small hybrid motors per flight. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo would have used one larger nitrous oxide-rubber hybrid motor.
Deep Space last month opened a lab and office at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, and expanded its staff. The new facility provides space to begin assembly of the company’s initial spacecraft for an exciting project to be announced next month, with room to expand. The new location enhances the visibility of Deep Space with the NASA-Ames leadership for partnering and contracting. Ames is NASA’s lead center for small spacecraft and hosts a number of agency experts in commercial space. The new facility is in close proximity to technology-savvy investors, partners and a skilled technology workforce.
Space Exploration Technologies, the commercial space transportation startup founded by Elon Musk with ambitions to land people on Mars, is raising investment that values the company somewhere south of $10 billion, TechCrunch has learned.
NASA declined today (August 18) to confirm rumors that it will announce the winner(s) of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCAP) contract by the end of the month, but anticipation is mounting. Whenever it happens, it will be a major step forward for the commercial crew program and achieving the oft-stated goal of restoring America’s ability to launch American astronauts into space on American rockets from American soil.
A NASA spokesman replied to an email query this morning by saying only that NASA still expects to make an announcement in the late-August, early-September time frame, as it has been saying for months.
Almost five years after beginning its search for a U.S.-developed spacecraft to carry humans into orbit, NASA is poised to award at least one contract to its industry partners in the Commercial Crew Program.
The three contenders—Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Sierra Nevada Corp.—could hear as soon as the end of August which of their proposed vehicles has been selected for a Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract to fly to the International Space Station.
Space News: 1:54 - Copenhagen static fire of their HEAT2X engine 5:20 - Falcon 9 re-entering on Orbcomm mission 6:55 - WorldView-3 Satellite Launched 9:10 - ULA announces new president and CEO 11:07 - Chinese surveillance satellites launched via Long March 14:29 - SPACEHACK.org - a directory of ways to participate in space exploration.
Parabolic Arc sources say that Virgin Galactic is operating under a Dec. 31 deadline to fly Branson into space from its primary backer, aabar Investments. Virgin Galactic denies it is under any deadline from aabar, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government.
SpaceShipTwo has flown three times using rubber-nitrous oxide engines that burned for 16, 20 and 20 seconds apiece. On the final flight, the spacecraft reached 71,000 feet after being dropped from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship from about 50,000 feet.
Seven months have passed since that Jan. 10 flight. SpaceShipTwo has been modified to use a new nylon-nitrous oxide engine that burns smoother and will take the ship to a higher altitude. The goal is to get above 50 miles or 264,000 feet.
If there was a prize for the most isolated memorial to an America astronaut, the one for Maj. Michael J. Adams would win by a wide margin.
From Mojave, it’s a drive of nearly 50 miles through the sagebrush and Joshua trees, around dry Koehn Lake, and through the old mining towns of Randsburg and Johannesburg before you reach the unmarked dirt road leading to the site. A half mile of bad road later, you arrive at the modest but heartfelt memorial to one of America’s forgotten space heroes.
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft is “on track for its anticipated first launch in November 2016,” Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC Space Systems, told a press conference on August 5 at the AIAA SPACE 2014 Forum in San Diego.
Sirangelo explained “that the first launch, out of Florida’s Space Coast, would be one of two required for certification of the spacecraft, and will be unmanned.” The second launch, scheduled for November 2017, would be manned and piloted.” Sirangelo told the audience that “the tests are on track, and that the launch slots have been obtained.” He noted that SNC would fly “five test flights of Dream Chaser, with three of them being manned, in order to by fully comfortable with the craft’s ability to carry humans into space."
Imagine flying in America's first space taxi, seeing Earth fade into the distance. Boeing is revolutionizing space travel and is one step closer to making it possible for you to experience previously what only astronauts could: space travel. See more Boeing innovations at http://buildsomethingbetter.com.
Interest in small satellites is bigger than ever before, given the numbers of such satellites launched and plans for future systems. Jeff Foust reports on what the future may hold for smallsat applications, and whether this growing demand could support development of dedicated smallsat launch systems.
SpaceX’s next Dragon spacecraft has been recruited to deliver a replacement set of batteries to the International Space Station (ISS), after an issue during ground testing caused NASA to postpone a set of upcoming EVAs. The utilization of September’s CRS-4/SpX-4 mission is not the first time a Dragon has come to the aid of the ISS’ spacewalk plans. The next Dragon is patiently waiting her turn in a schedule that is set to be a breakout year for SpaceX, with a conveyor belt of launches in full swing: