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Why it's good for SpaceX's private spaceships to rise above the glitches

Why it's good for SpaceX's private spaceships to rise above the glitches | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

The commercial SpaceX rocket venture has launched Dragon cargo capsules to the International Space Station three times in the past year, and every time there's been a problem. Should NASA be upset?

 

Not really.

 

The fact that glitches have cropped up — and have been solved, with no impact on the multimillion-dollar cargo resupply missions — isn't a black mark against the California-based company. Rather, it's a sign that the designs for SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 are resilient in the face of the inevitable glitches associated with spaceflight. It's also a sign of things to come.

 

 

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Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, March 5, 2013 11:50 PM

Interesting take on how to design future spacecrafts. Not for perfection but for robustness in order to make space flights both more reliable and affordable. 

Vincent Lieser's comment, March 6, 2013 12:25 PM
"Transplanted" to human spaceflight, that reminds me of Zubrin's take on the price of an astronaut's life : http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/26/how-much-is-an-astronauts-life-worth
Vincent Lieser's curator insight, March 6, 2013 12:25 PM

"Transplanted" to human spaceflight, that reminds me of Zubrin's take on the price of an astronaut's life : http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/26/how-much-is-an-astronauts-life-worth

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2014 Bigelow Aerospace Promotional Video | YouTube

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.

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For SpaceX, the biggest challenges lie ahead

For SpaceX, the biggest challenges lie ahead | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

All said, SpaceX is having a really good year. Over the past several months the company has been to orbit four times (a fifth visit was scheduled for this week, but it was postponed). During those visits, it has successfully placed various commercial satellites in orbit and resupplied the International Space Station at NASA’s behest. The company inked new deals with British satellite giant Inmarsat, unveiled its new crew-capable Dragon V2 space vehicle, successfully tested 3-D printed rocket parts during a live launch—which has the potential to reduce costs—made inroads into the lucrative national defense satellite launch market, and began testing, with some degree of success, a reusable first rocket stage that could drive down the company’s launch costs by an order of magnitude and further solidify its role as the least expensive launch provider in the market.


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SpaceX blames rocket explosion on bad sensor | Spaceflight Now

SpaceX blames rocket explosion on bad sensor | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

A faulty sensor aboard a prototype rocket likely led to its destruction last week during a flight at SpaceX's test facility in Central Texas, company officials said.


The rocket testbed, powered by a modified first stage from the Falcon 9 booster with three engines, flew off of its prescribed trajectory during an Aug. 22 vertical takeoff and landing test flight. The rocket's on-board safety system recognized the problem and issued a self-destruct command.

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Nano & Microsat Market Expected to Grow Rapidly | Parabolic Arc

Nano & Microsat Market Expected to Grow Rapidly | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

DALLAS (MarketsandMarkets PR) – The Nano and Microsatellite market is estimated to grow from $702.4 million in 2014 to $1887.1 million in 2019. This represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 21.8% from 2014 to 2019. Commercial sector is expected to be the largest contributor for Nano and Microsatellite by 2019. In terms of regions, APAC is expected to be the biggest market in terms of revenue contribution by 2019 surpassing North America.

The major forces driving this market are price reduction, increasing demand, investments from Silicon Valley, superior mission launches and continual decrease in average satellite mass. The significance of the Nano and Microsatellite has increased, due to increase in number of application areas such as academic training, scientific research, earth observation, remote sensing and many others wherein such satellites can be leveraged. The increase in use of these satellites across a range of commercial applications in all regions of the world has been noted as one of the major factors behind continual increase in Nano and Microsatellite market size.

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Glides Through a Dry Run | NBC News

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Glides Through a Dry Run | NBC News | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane was set loose on Thursday over California's Mojave Desert for a gliding test flight — and although its hybrid rocket motor wasn't lit up, the pilots checked out the propulsion system's plumbing for a future blast.


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Suit Up! Final Frontier Design Launches Space Suit Experience in NYC

Suit Up! Final Frontier Design Launches Space Suit Experience in NYC | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

The founders of Final Frontier Design — a spacesuit design company based in Brooklyn — want space enthusiasts visiting the Big Apple to have the chance to bounce around in a pressurized spacesuit for the relatively reasonable price of $395. Participants in the "Space Suit Experience" will get the opportunity to swing a golf club, fly above the moon in a flight simulator and pose like an astronaut all while wearing the spacesuit.


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Commercial Crew Vehicle Choice Will Lead To Flight-Testing | Aviation Week

Commercial Crew Vehicle Choice Will Lead To Flight-Testing | Aviation Week | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

NASA’s long-running push to find a commercial route for crews to the International Space Station takes a big step this week, with the selection of a company or companies to take the design work they have done with government seed money and move on into space. Call it a wild guess, but I anticipate we will all be watching crew capsule flight tests over the next few years. Two of the three contenders—the Boeing CST-100 and the SpaceX Dragon—are capsules, and previous funding decisions have favored those designs over Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser lifting body.

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Dragon V2 will initially rely on parachute landings | NASASpaceFlight.com

Dragon V2 will initially rely on parachute landings | NASASpaceFlight.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SpaceX’s Commercial Crew contender, the Dragon V2, will initially return to terra firma under parachutes, assisted by a SuperDraco soft touchdown firing, according to Dragon V2 Program Lead Dr. Garrett Reisman. Eventually, the impressive spacecraft will employ pinpoint propulsive landings, once the technology has been matured via the DragonFly test program.


SpaceX’s crew version of the Dragon spacecraft is one of three main contenders aiming to win back domestic crew transportation independence for the United States.

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How the SpaceX economy can make you money

How the SpaceX economy can make you money | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Dramatic rocket launches capture our attention, but opportunities to invest in the commercial space industry (also known as NewSpace) should not be overlooked.


In contrast to the traditional model of large government-run programs, NewSpace is a global industry of private companies and entrepreneurs who primarily target commercial customers, are backed by risk capital seeking a return and profit from innovative products or services developed in or for space. As a result, from large publicly traded companies to nimble start-ups, there have never been more (or better) opportunities to invest in the future of space.

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Political Clout Pays Off Big for Elon Musk’s SpaceX

Political Clout Pays Off Big for Elon Musk’s SpaceX | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Space Exploration Technologies, commonly known as SpaceX, will receive more than $15 million in public financing to build a launch pad in Cameron County, near the Mexican border.


The subsidies came after SpaceX’s founder, billionaire tech mogul and pop technologist Elon Musk, made campaign contributions to key state lawmakers and hired lobbyists with ties to Austin.


SpaceX is one of a number of innovative and disruptive startups that, though lauded by some free marketeers for making government-run markets more competitive, are finding themselves drawn to political advocacy, whether out of shrewdness or necessity.

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SpaceX Puts AsiaSat 6 Launch on Hold for 'Triple-Check' | NBC News

SpaceX Puts AsiaSat 6 Launch on Hold for 'Triple-Check' | NBC News | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SpaceX postponed its launch of the AsiaSat 6 telecommunication satellite on Tuesday, just hours before its Falcon 9 rocket was due to lift off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. In a statement, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said "we are not aware of any issue ... but have decided to review all potential failure modes and contingencies again." He expected the process to be completed within two weeks.

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Russ Roberts's curator insight, August 27, 11:04 PM

SpaceX has delayed the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the AsiaSat 6 telecommunications satellite.  In a prepared press release, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he "was not aware of any issue, but...decided to review all potential failure modes and contingencies again."  The "triple check" process should be completed within two weeks.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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Update on AsiaSat 6 Mission

Update on AsiaSat 6 Mission | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SpaceX has decided to postpone tomorrow's flight of AsiaSat 6. We are not aware of any issue with Falcon 9, nor the interfaces with the Spacecraft, but have decided to review all potential failure modes and contingencies again. We expect to complete this process in one to two weeks.


The natural question is whether this is related to the test vehicle malfunction at our development facility in Texas last week. After a thorough review, we are confident that there is no direct link. Had the same blocked sensor port problem occurred with an operational Falcon 9, it would have been outvoted by several other sensors. That voting system was not present on the test vehicle.


What we do want to triple-check is whether even highly improbable corner case scenarios have the optimal fault detection and recovery logic. This has already been reviewed by SpaceX and multiple outside agencies, so the most likely outcome is no change. If any changes are made, we will provide as much detail as is allowed under US law.

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SpaceX Fail? Great!

SpaceX Fail? Great! | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Congratulations are due to Elon Musk and his Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for generating an amazingly cool explosion over Central Texas Saturday morning when an experimental Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) self-destructed after a launch anomaly. This temporary setback involved no risk to humans and followed an impressive number of successful tests on the path to dramatically lowering space launch costs via the development of a reusable launch vehicle.


While NASA's space shuttle demonstrated that an orbital spacecraft can be reused, and at least two other commercial firms are developing exciting new vehicles that can be reflown, these systems dispose of nearly all of the hardware required to put them into space in the first place. By accepting the long-standing assumption of a single-use launcher, they are locked into a cold war paradigm where every orbital launch is a $100 million event. Only SpaceX has been pushing to completely redefine the economics of space by returning the first and possible second stage assemblies and engines safely back to Earth. If perfected, such a system could reduce the cost of launching payloads or astronauts by an order of magnitude.


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Russ Roberts's curator insight, August 26, 1:33 PM

Despite the recent failure of its Falcon 9 Reusable Launch Vehicle, SpaceX is firmly committed to reusing as much of the launch system as possible.  At $100 million per NASA Shuttle Launch, the new Falcon 9 system marks a radical departure for sending payloads into space. If SpaceX perfects its Reusable Launch Vehicle, the new launch system "could reduce the cost of launching payloads or astronauts by an order of magnitude.   I trust that AMSAT is listening and will, investigate lower cost launch vehicles.  A low-cost constellation of amateur radio satellites similar to the old IMARSAT system would do a lot for emergency communications and the promotion of amateur radio.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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Graphene as the Next Great Miracle Material for Space | The Commercial Space Blog

Graphene as the Next Great Miracle Material for Space | The Commercial Space Blog | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

On August 20th, Ottawa-based Grafoid Inc, a company involved in the research, development and production of graphene, opened a 225,000 square foot production facility in Kingston, Ontario. The move has Canada positioned to become a world leader in the production of the much-hyped super-material, with effects on many industries, not the least of which is aerospace.

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Russ Roberts's curator insight, September 1, 9:33 PM

This Ottawa-based company has just opened a 225,000 square-foot graphene facility, which could make Grafoid, Inc. a major player in the production of this material.  Graphene will have a tremendous impact on the aerospace and communications industries.  Graphene will also affect the type of amateur radio equipment we buy in the future.  According to Grafoid, Inc. graphene will replace silicon in microcircuits and computer chips.  The graphene chips will be smaller, use less power, and could be used in sensor displays and solar batteries.  Our equipment is about to get smaller and lighter.  Interesting development.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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Battle of the Heavyweight Rockets – SLS could face Exploration Class rival | NASASpaceFlight.com

Battle of the Heavyweight Rockets – SLS could face Exploration Class rival | NASASpaceFlight.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

With the recent announcement the Space Launch System (SLS) has become challenged by her schedule, the NASA rocket may soon find herself in a battle with a commercial “alternative”. SpaceX’s super powerful Exploration Class rocket is targeting crewed missions to Mars up to 10 years ahead of SLS – although both vehicles continue to avoid being classed as competitors.


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Race to Build NASA Space Taxi Down to the Wire | DNews

Race to Build NASA Space Taxi Down to the Wire | DNews | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

A three-way race to build a commercially operated spaceship to shuttle astronauts -- and other paying customers -- to and from low-Earth orbit is close the finish line, with NASA aiming to award development and flight service contracts as early as next week.


So far, two companies favoring capsule designs -- Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX -- have won the lion’s share of NASA’s Commercial Crew program funds. The effort, which began in 2010, is intended to provide a U.S. alternative for flying crews to the International Space Station, which orbits about 260 miles above Earth.


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Russ Roberts's curator insight, August 31, 11:16 PM

The so-called "Space Taxi" is an effort to cut reliance on Russian launch vehicles to supply the International Space Station orbiting about 260 miles above Earth.  So far, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Boeing have garnered most of the NASA contracts to develop a commercial crew program.  It's about time we developed our own support system and became more self-sufficient in launch and resupply vehicles.  If the cost of launches can be reduced, the U.S. could attract more space customers from the world of business, education, and even amateur radio (i.e. AMSAT).  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo passes 'cold flow' test | Virgin.com

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo passes 'cold flow' test | Virgin.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

It might just be plumbing to me and you, but it’s something a little more technical to the Virgin Galactic crew. “As planned, the pilots just completed an in-flight test of SpaceShipTwo’s “plumbing” – the pressurization system for the rocket motor,” commented the spaceline upon completion of Thursday's 53rd successful test flight. “This was an important test of SpaceShipTwo, and a great dress rehearsal for our next powered flight, which is coming soon.”


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SpaceShipTwo glide flight a prelude to powered test flights | NewSpace Journal

SpaceShipTwo glide flight a prelude to powered test flights | NewSpace Journal | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Virgin Galactic flew SpaceShipTwo on Thursday, sending the suborbital vehicle on a glide flight above the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The purpose of the flight, according to a series of tweets from the company, was to perform a “cold flow” test of the vehicle’s propulsion system, running liquid oxidizer through the motor without igniting it. “As with all test flights, we’ll analyze the data in great detail before moving on,” the company said in one tweet, “but from the ground, it looked very successful.”

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What to Wear in Space: Spacesuit Chic with Final Frontier Design

What to Wear in Space: Spacesuit Chic with Final Frontier Design | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

It all started with a glove.


In 2009, two previously competing designers teamed up to build a spacesuit glove to enter in a NASA competition. After taking home second prize and winning $100,000 for their high-tech creation, Ted Southern and Nikolay Moiseev decided to go into business together.


Today, the partners at Final Frontier Design are on the third version of their spacesuit after building the first in 2010. They have slowly made improvements to their design, and one day, the team hopes to sell its suits to commercial companies hoping to launch private astronauts into space.

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SpaceShipTwo Conducts Successful Glide Flight | Parabolic Arc

SpaceShipTwo Conducts Successful Glide Flight | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

"It’s funny. You see the most interesting things driving into Mojave sometimes. Driving in on Highway 14 this morning, I saw that WhiteKnightTwo was down at the end of the runway, as I had expected. I knew a flight was planned, so I got up early.

"Then I noticed it seemed to be getting bigger and a whole bunch of dust getting kicked up. Hey! That thing’s taking off. So, I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped a few photos as it flew overhead."

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An aggressive SpaceX puts commercial space rivals on notice

An aggressive SpaceX puts commercial space rivals on notice | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

It’s easy to think Elon Musk’s spaceflight company is more hype than reality, but look more closely at its competitors’ moves and you can see evidence of disruption.

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Boeing Completes All CST-100 Commercial Crew CCiCAP Milestones

Boeing Completes All CST-100 Commercial Crew CCiCAP Milestones | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

In the ‘new race to space’ to restore our capability to launch Americans to orbit from American soil with an American-built commercial ‘space taxi’ as rapidly and efficiently as possible, Boeing has moved to the front of the pack with their CST-100 spaceship by completing all their assigned NASA milestones on time and on budget in the current phase of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).


Boeing is the first, and thus far only one of the three competitors (including Sierra Nevada Corp. and SpaceX) to complete all their assigned milestone task requirements under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative funded under the auspices of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.


Stratocumulus's insight:


One teeny, tiny little clarification here: Most of Boeing's Milestone accomplishments have been "Paper" Milestones. Basically what they've succeeded in doing is receiving milestone payments for completing lots and lots of paperwork. They haven't actually bent much real metal yet. In terms of ACTUALLY bending metal both SpaceX and Sierra Nevada are still WAY ahead of them.

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SpaceX Alum Goes After Falcon 1 Market With Firefly | Aviation Week

SpaceX Alum Goes After Falcon 1 Market With Firefly | Aviation Week | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

As entrepreneurial “New Space” grows up, veterans of its early days are finding innovative ways to tackle old problems and enter emerging markets that did not exist when their industry was an infant—a decade ago.


Thomas E. Markusic, a propulsion engineer who cut his New Space teeth running Elon Musk’s flight-test center in Texas and later held senior posts at Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, has kicked off a startup called Firefly Space Systems that is developing  a low-cost Falcon 1-class launch vehicle to launch small satellites using a methane-fueled aerospike engine and composite cryotanks.

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SpaceX postpones next Falcon 9 to review vehicle data | NewSpace Journal

SpaceX postpones next Falcon 9 to review vehicle data | NewSpace Journal | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SpaceX has postponed a Falcon 9 launch of an AsiaSat communications satellite that was scheduled for just after midnight Wednesday in order to “review all potential failure modes and contingencies again” but adding there is no specific issue with the rocket nor a link to last Friday’s loss of an experimental vehicle in a test flight.


In a statement issued around 10 pm Eastern time Tuesday evening by SpaceX, company CEO Elon Musk said the launch of AsiaSat 6 would be delayed by one to two weeks in order to “triple-check” potential issues that could cause problems. “We are not aware of any issue with Falcon 9, nor the interfaces with the spacecraft, but have decided to review all potential failure modes and contingencies again,” Musk said in the statement.

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SpaceX makes late call to delay ASIASAT-6 launch | NASASpaceFlight.com

SpaceX makes late call to delay ASIASAT-6 launch | NASASpaceFlight.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its latest Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket – tasked with lofting the ASIASAT-6 satellite into orbit – for at least several days. The call was made by CEO Elon Musk shortly after the rocket had been erected at her Space Launch Complex -40 (SLC-40) pad, with the rationale based on giving the team more time to evaluate the health of the launch vehicle.


No specific reasons have been provided as to why the call was made, although engineers had been working on a helium leak throughout the past 24 hours or so.

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The downhill slide of NASA’s “rocket to nowhere” | The Space Review

The downhill slide of NASA’s “rocket to nowhere” | The Space Review | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

As predicted years ago, it appears the beginning of the end has begun for the gigantic rocket and Congressional boondoggle called the Space Launch System (SLS). This launcher is also known by its detractors as the “Rocket to Nowhere” because there are no payloads in development that are large enough to justify a rocket of its size.

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