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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To the average person, a launch is an exciting event: a spectacle of fire and thunder as the rocket lifts off and ascends into the sky at an ever-increasing speed. To many customers of those launches, a launch can instead be a nerve-wracking event: hundreds of millions of dollars, and years of work, are sitting atop that controlled explosion. No doubt many commercial launch customers—who are not really in the space business but, rather, in the communications business—would be happy to trade in that spectacle for something less visually compelling but with a higher probability of success.
SpaceX says it's delaying this week's Falcon 9 rocket launch by a day to review the circumstances behind a test flight that ended in a spectacular explosion on Friday. In a statement issued on Sunday, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said the company is aiming to launch the AsiaSat 6 telecommunications satellite during a 3-hour, 15-minute window beginning at 12:50 a.m. ET Wednesday. That's a day later than previously planned.
We’re inviting social media users to apply for credentials to attend the Sept. 19 launch for the next cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). Photographer on Instagram? Come photograph the launch. Prolific tweeter? Come live tweet the event. Long read writer on your blog? Come write about NASA. We invite you to the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, targeted to liftoff at 2:38 a.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 19, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
A SpaceX prototype rocket automatically detonated after an "anomaly" was detected during a test flight Friday in McGregor, Texas, the company told NBC News on Friday night. No one was injured.
John Taylor, a spokesman for SpaceX, said the rocket was a three-engine version of the F9R test vehicle, the successor to the company's Grasshopper, a prototype intended to pave the way for fully reusable rockets that would fly themselves back home. It's similar to the Falcon 9, which SpaceX uses to launch unmanned cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SpaceX says it has delayed liftoff of the next Falcon 9 rocket until Wednesday to ensure the problem that caused a prototype rocket to self-destruct in a test flight Friday will not pose a risk to the launch of a telecommunications satellite for AsiaSat.
Launch is now set for 12:50 a.m. EDT (0450 GMT) Wednesday from Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad. The launch window extends for 3 hours, 15 minutes.
CCtCap stands for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability. It is a contract for one or more U.S. aerospace companies to complete development of a human space transportation system capable of carrying people into orbit, specifically to transport astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth. To be certified to carry NASA astronauts, the systems must meet NASA safety standards. It’s the last step in a cycle of five separate spacecraft transportation development Space Act Agreements and certification contracts NASA began in 2010.
“ NASA is experimenting with small space cameras made almost entirely of 3-D printed parts. One experimental telescope, sized to fit inside a four-inch CubeSat, will likely be finished this September, according to the agency.”
A SpaceX rocket prototype designed to fine-tune vertical landing technology for reusable launchers exploded in a test flight in Central Texas on Friday, according to multiple eyewitness reports.
Photos posted to social media showed a fireball above SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas, about halfway between Dallas and Austin. Videos apparently depicted debris falling from the sky and firefighters responding to grass fires at the test site.