Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.
The goal of reusing rocket stages – a major enabler for the reduction of costs associated with launches – landed another milestone this week when Blue Origin conducted the second successful test flight of its New Shepard rocket, rising to 330,000 feet, prior to nailing a propulsive landing of the booster which will allow for it to be reused.
WASHINGTON — Blue Origin announced Nov. 24 that it launched its New Shepard suborbital vehicle on a second test flight, flying to the edge of space and successfully landing both sections of the vehicle.
New Shepard launched from the company’s West Texas test site at 12:21 p.m. Eastern time Nov. 23, reaching a peak altitude of 100.5 kilometers and top speed of Mach 3.72. The vehicle’s unoccupied crew capsule separated and parachuted to a landing, while its propulsion module made a powered vertical landing.
The test was similar to one flown in April, where the vehicle reached a peak altitude of more than 93 kilometers. On that earlier test, however, a hydraulic problem with the propulsion module prevented it from making a controlled landing.
WASHINGTON — Blue Origin expects to start launching commercial payloads on its New Shepard suborbital vehicle by the middle of next year, hoping to reinvigorate interest in flying experiments on such vehicles, a company official said Nov. 10.
Erika Wagner, business development manager for Blue Origin, said the company was making plans for another test flight of its New Shepard vehicle by the end of this year which, if successful, would keep the company on track for commercial flights of payloads, but not people, in 2016.
“We’re aiming for the second quarter of next year,” she said at a microgravity workshop organized by Houston-based NanoRacks, a company partnering with Blue Origin to provide standardized payload accommodations for experiments flying on New Shepard.
After months of rigorous evaluations and exams, SpaceX has completed the development testing of its SuperDraco rocket engines, which would play a key role in the Launch Abort System (LAS) designed to safely abort astronauts from the upcoming crewed Dragon Capsule in the event of a launch failure. During the recent testing at SpaceX’s development facility in Texas, the SuperDraco thrusters were successfully fired 27 times, progressing through various thrust cycles.
Space law make frequent use of phrases like “common benefit” that are not formally defined, raising the possibility of disagreements among nations. Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty argues for a framework that can find common ground between developing and developed nations in space.
It should come as no surprise that this year’s list of the Top 5 Companies To Watch features the entrepreneurial startups that are making their presence felt throughout the industry and a launcher sector that is undergoing a transformation driven in part by their arrival.
Rocket maker SpaceX is easily the most recognizable of the relative newcomers, and returns to the list this year with several key initiatives on the immediate horizon, not the least of which is returning to flight from its first failure.
The Orbital ATK’s Cygnus commercial resupply spacecraft, named the SS Deke Slayton II, is packed up and poised for launch to the International Space Station.
Engineers showed the vessel to local reporters and photographers at the Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Friday. It will be encapsulated in the Atlas 5 rocket’s 14-foot diameter aluminum nose cone on Monday and moved to the United Launch Alliance vehicle integration facility next Friday for mating to the booster.
Liftoff is planned for approximately 5:55 p.m. EST (2255 GMT) on Dec. 3.
When Elon Musk was named Inc.'s Entrepreneur of the Year back in 2007, he was a fresh-faced 36-year-old still best known to the general public as the co-founder and former CEO of PayPal. SpaceX had launched two rockets; Tesla had sold a total of 600 cars.
Musk's ambitions were huge, though, and it was clear he had the brains and capital to make them a reality. And while one can argue he's deserved the award practically every year since, in 2015, Musk went downright nuclear. Not only did his name become a verb, but his status vaulted from star entrepreneur to legend as well.
Fidelity's downgrading of Snapchat and other investments has understandably drawn a lot of attention, but not every company that Fidelity is invested in has had its value cut. Fidelity has actually boosted its valuation of Elon Musk's SpaceX, in which Fidelity invested $7.54 million in January.
SpaceX was valued at about $12 billion in that January round, which also included a major investment from Google. Now Fidelity has written up their own investment by 15 percent—as Fortune notes in a chart here—suggesting that SpaceX's valuation is even higher than previously reported.
SAN FRANCISCO — The recent boom in entrepreneurial space activity is fueling investor interest in the sector, but venture capitalists remain troubled by the number of entrepreneurs they meet who lack sound business plans, panelists said Nov. 10 at the NextSpace Investor Conference here sponsored by the law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, investment banker Raymond James and SpaceNews.
“There is certainly a lot more money chasing after deals,” said Shahin Farshchi, partner at New York-based venture firm Lux Capital. “Is that an indicator that there are a lot of great space companies? Probably not, but that does pose a great opportunity for entrepreneurs with good ideas.”
In an exclusive GeekWire interview, conducted on the morning after the New Shepard test mission, Bezos answered questions about what the flight means for Blue Origin, the space venture he founded … why he waited so long to start tweeting … and when the rest of us will get a suborbital space ride. He also stirred the pot in his rivalry with that other billionaire space geek, SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Van Horn, Texas - November 24, 2015 - Blue Origin today announced that its New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas. To receive updates on Blue Origin’s continuing progress and early access to ticketing information, sign up at www.blueorigin.com/interested.
Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, successfully sent its New Shepard rocket ship to outer space for the first time on Monday – and even more amazingly, brought every piece back down to Earth for a soft landing.
“Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts, a used rocket,” Bezos wrote in a blog posting that spread the news and shared a video.
With all the focus on fund-manager Fidelity’s 25% markdown of its investment in Snapchatlast week, one of the few private investments the firm boosted flew under the radar: Fidelity said its stake in Elon Musk’s rocket-maker SpaceX grew by 15% since January, which would value the company at more than $11.5 billion.
SpaceX employees, however, remain optimistic and expect to fly twice this December—once to launch a series of Orbcomm satellites and a second time to test an unmanned Dragon 2 spacecraft, one of the steps the company must fulfill to meet its goal of flying with astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017.
SpaceX continues to make progress on numerous fronts as they move forward to developing a set of flight capabilities which could enable a return to flight for U.S. astronauts. Pad 39A is one of two launch sites used for the former Space Shuttle Program that sat idle until NASA put the site up for lease. SpaceX and Blue Origin both competed for the rights to use the facility – with SpaceX eventually being approved to utilize the iconic site.
SpaceX has signed a 20-year lease for use of Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A and they have wasted little time in getting it converted for Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 launches.
It’s not uncommon to hear human missions to Mars described as being the “ultimate” goal of human spaceflight. To be certain, there’s little discussion about what would come next after NASA completes its “Journey to Mars” effort to send humans to the Red Planet, although some remain optimistic there’s more for humans to do beyond Mars. “When I tell my granddaughters that we’re on a journey to Mars,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a speech last month at the Center for American Progress in Washington, “they always ask me, ‘Why stop there?’”
The House voted Monday to approve a final version of a commercial space bill after many months of debate in public and behind the scenes. Jeff Foust examines what is contained in the final version of the bill that will affect companies involved in efforts ranging from space tourism to asteroid mining.
Blue Origin, the space venture backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is reportedly planning to start flying research payloads on its New Shepard suborbital space vehicle as early as the first half of 2016.
“We’re aiming for the second quarter of next year,” Space News quoted Erika Wagner, business development manager for Blue Origin, as saying on Tuesday at a workshop in Washington, D.C. The workshop on microgravity research was organized by NanoRacks, a Houston-based company that’s partnering with Blue Origin to fly scientific experiments on New Shepard.
Not since 8 July 2011 and the final launch of the Space Shuttle Program—during which Atlantis delivered the STS-135 crew of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim to the International Space Station (ISS)—has Pad 39A resounded to the roar of rocket engines carrying humans into space. Last weekend, almost 19 months since NASA signed over to SpaceX control and oversight of the only launch facility from which humans departed Earth to physically touch the face of another world, the massive Transporter-Erector (TE) for future use by the Hawthorne, Calif.-based launch services organization was raised into position for two days of testing. In parallel developments, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) announced last Tuesday that SpaceX had completed testing of the SuperDraco launch-abort propulsion system for its Crew Dragon spacecraft, which is currently scheduled to support an unpiloted test flight in the fall of 2016.
A November meeting of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) Advanced Exploration Systems division has discussed the progress made in Fiscal Year 2015 and upcoming FY16 milestones surrounding the development of long-duration habitats needed for astronauts on missions from cis-lunar flights to multi-year trips to Mars.
PARIS — UrtheCast said Nov. 10 it is refocusing its investment away from International Space Station-mounted cameras toward a planned constellation of Earth-imaging satellites.
In an earnings call with investors, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Earth-observation imagery and services startup said it had 100 million Canadian dollars ($75 million) in firm orders as of Sept. 30, plus 30 million Canadian dollars in options.
UrtheCast said it had signed non-binding memoranda of understanding with two prospective customers for a total of 370 million Canadian dollars. Construction of the 16-satellite constellation will not begin until at least some portion of this amount is transformed into binding commitments.
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