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
Federal agencies can now buy a satellite launch as easily as they buy pencils, thanks to a new arrangement with Seattle-based Spaceflight.
OK, maybe it’s not quite that easy. You still have to get the go-ahead to put something into orbit, whether you’re a climate scientist at NASA or Agent Fox Mulder at the FBI. But once that go-ahead is given, the launch can be ordered from a standardized menu instead of going through a months-long contracting process.
“What this does is make it a more expeditious process,” Spaceflight’s president, Curt Blake, told GeekWire.
WASHINGTON — Three U.S. government offices that deal with commercial space issues, which combined received less than $20 million in 2016, would get large increase — on a percentage basis, at least — in the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget.
The 2017 budget request, released Feb. 9, proposes $19.8 million for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), an increase of $2 million over what the office received in 2016. That 2016 figure was itself an increase of $1.2 million over 2015.
The office is responsible for licensing commercial launches and reentries, as well as the spaceports that host those activities. In recent years, as commercial launch activity has increased, both the FAA and industry have warned that the office needed more resources in order to keep pace with the growing demands for licenses and safety inspections.
SpaceX’s next launch from Cape Canaveral is set for Feb. 24, when a Falcon 9 rocket will carry a commercial television broadcasting satellite aloft for Luxembourg-based SES, the payload’s owner announced Monday.
The flight from SpaceX’s Complex 40 launch pad will be the first of more than a dozen missions the company plans from Cape Canaveral this year, and the second launch of an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket that debuted in December.
The Falcon 9’s launch window Feb. 24 opens at 6:46 p.m. EST (2346 GMT).
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, designed to carry cargo and eventually people, is perhaps just as important to the company as its launch vehicles. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers what turns out to be a disappointing history of the vehicle’s development.
Two SpaceX missions have received preliminary planning dates for their upcoming launches out of Cape Canaveral. The Falcon 9 launch with the SES-9 satellite is now aiming for a February 24 liftoff from SLC-40, while the Dragon spacecraft is set to return to action NET (No Earlier Than) April 1 for her CRS-8 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier said on Wednesday (February 3) that the key to successful commercialization of low Earth orbit (LEO) is for the space industry to become more innovative and nimble.
Commercial satellite systems like Iridium that were intended to provide voice and data services to underserved parts of the globe lost out to undersea fiber optic cables and terrestrial cell phone towers because the aerospace industry moved too slowly, he argued. “We have to be extremely nimble. … We as an industry were so slow in doing that we got whacked by a terrestrial market that could turn and deliver faster.”
The same threat hangs over potential use of the near-zero gravity environment available in LEO for applications in areas such as pharmaceuticals. Electrophoresis was once envisioned as a promising area for space commercialization because without gravity much purer substances can be produced. However, back on Earth, genetic engineering advances made it possible to do almost as good a job. “We could create a 99% pure insulin on orbit, [but] they could create a 98% pure insulin through genetic engineering. That won because they could turn to the market faster and be responsive.”
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.
NASA is investigating the source of black mold that contaminated cargo bags bound for the International Space Station, delaying the next launch of supplies from Florida's Space Coast.
An unmanned Orbital ATK Cygnus craft, which had been scheduled to launch March 10 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, now is targeting a March 22 liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, according to ULA.
WASHINGTON — A Seattle-based company that provides launch services for small satellites is now able to sell those services to U.S. government agencies through a standard government contract schedule, although it is unclear who would purchase those launches.
Spaceflight Inc. announced Feb. 10 that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has added the company’s small satellite launch services to its Professional Services Schedule. The schedule provides a fixed-price list of services that government agencies can purchase directly without a competition.
Spaceflight’s GSA schedule offers agencies several different options for launch services. The smallest option covers the launch of a three-unit cubesat, weighing no more than five kilograms, at a price of under $280,000. The largest option is for a 300-kilogram satellite, for nearly $7.7 million.
PARIS — Satellite fleet operator SES on Feb. 9 said its planned Feb. 24 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket likely will need to skip an attempted recovery of the rocket’s first stage in order to place SES’s 5,300-kilogram SES-9 satelite into the targeted orbit.
The goal is to reduce by a month or more the time it would otherwise take SES-9 to begin generating revenue.
SES Chief Executive Karim Michel Sabbagh, whose Luxembourg-based company has been the biggest commercial supporter of SpaceX’s entry into the commercial lauch market, said the decision by Spacex to modify the SES-9 mission’s launch trajectory is an example of the kind of flexibility SES is looking for among launch-service providers.
... "A new era has indeed arrived – and seems to be thriving in Washington State. In between the two Blue Origin missions, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, which recently opened an office in Redmond, also had a successful launch and landing if its main rocket, the Falcon 9. Washington is also home to other space companies, including the asteroid-mining Planetary Resources and rocket engine manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne. The Washington Department of Commerce recently established a Washington State Space Coalition to help the industry continue to grow and thrive in the state."
Passage of a new commercial space bill last year marked the end of one effort, but the beginning of another. Jeff Foust reports on the various reports required by the bill and its implications for future commercial space legislation, either this year or beyond.
PARIS—Satellite fleet operator SES on Feb. 8 said it is targeting Feb. 24 for the launch of its SES-9 telecommunications satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full-Thrust rocket, a launch that has been repeatedly delayed since September.
Luxembourg-based SES said SpaceX has agreed to modify the SES-9 launch profile to permit the satellite to enter commercial service in before July, as was planned in December, before the latest series of launch delays.
SES did not immediately respond to requests for comment on what flight modifications Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX had agreed to make to reduce the time from when the satellite is dropped off in transfer orbit to its arrival at its operational position in geostationary orbit.
LUXEMBOURG, 8 February 2016 -- SES S.A. (NYSE Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG) announced today that it is targeting a 24 February 2016 launch date (with a backup date of the 25th) for its new satellite, SES-9. This date was mutually set by SES and the launch operator for SES-9, SpaceX, the Hawthorne, California based company that designs, manufactures and launches the Falcon 9 rocket and other spacecraft. SpaceX is currently completing an extended series of testing and pre-flight validation in advance of the SES-9 launch, which will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
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.
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