SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is behaving well – bar a couple of minor issues – during its berthed phase of the CRS-1 (SpX-1) mission, as it closes in on its departure at the end of the month. The unberthing will be conducted by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), which translated away from the Dragon to allow for an inspection this week.
The first Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is achieving its primary objectives, despite Dragon’s eventful ride uphill.
Its noisy partner, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, lost an engine during first stage ascent, while the second stage failed a propellant mass check at SECO-1, resulting in its secondary payload passenger – an Orbcomm satellite – being left in an unworkable orbit, prior to deorbiting.
Orbital Sciences Corp. is in a "final push" to launch its first Antares rocket by the end of this year, assuming a successful completion of a series of fueling and engine tests due to begin next week, the company's chief executive said Thursday.
Engineers moved an Antares first stage to the launch pad at Wallops Island, Va., on Oct. 1 to begin several weeks of testing ahead of a 30-second hotfire of the rocket's two AJ26 engines, which is now expected in early November.
"We really are in that final push leading up to the flight test," said David Thompson, Orbital's chairman and CEO, in a conference call with investors Thursday.
Orbital Sciences is developing the Antares rocket and the Cygnus automated cargo freighter to resupply the International Space Station under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The burgeoning field of commercial spaceflight is at a major turning point, industry experts say.
"It's not an exaggeration to say that 2012 has really been an inflection point," former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria said Wednesday (Oct. 17) here at the eighth annual International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.
Lopez-Alegria, who serves as president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said there is "a sea change going on" both in terms of achievements within the industry and the perception of this industry to the outside world. He highlighted major milestones from the past year, including the first launch of a private spacecraft to the International Space Station (the SpaceX Dragon mission in May, as well as its follow-up flight this month), and the continued development work on private spacecraft by companies such as Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and Blue Origin.
PARIS — Orbital Sciences Corp. on Oct. 18 said its new Antares rocket will not launch its Cygnus cargo freighter on a demonstration flight to the international space station until around March or April, assuming that two preceding rocket tests occur without a hitch.
In a conference call with investors, Orbital officials did not attribute the fresh delay of the NASA-funded program, of three or four months compared to its last quarterly update, to any particular event.
The most secretive commercial space company has passed a milestone after successfully test-firing part of its new rocket engine. Blue Origin, the suspiciously quiet rocket company started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, fired up the thrust chamber for its engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The engine is a 100,000-pound thrust model that uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel. Blue Origin plans on using the engines as part of its reusable booster system that will launch its interestingly shaped spacecraft into orbit as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) project. The Washington-based company is one of four upstart private space firms receiving funding for the development of a manned spacecraft that will be capable of carrying astronauts into orbit. The other participants are Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
When people are free to try different things, and when success is rewarded by the market and failure is punished the same way, the end result tends to be good. Under government programs, you may get some short-term progress, but things pretty much always bog down.
The Apollo program was basically a command economy, like our own mini Soviet Union. Like the Soviet Union, it managed to do some big things, but -- also like the Soviet Union -- ultimately it was overgrown with bureaucracy, turf-protection, and the substitution of paperwork for results.The Space Shuttle never went anywhere but low Earth orbit, and wound up doing that more expensively than we had hoped.
This week's Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society hosted a pre-conference Planetary Science with Reusable Commercial Suborbital Platforms workshop on Sunday, October 14 in Reno, Nevada. Representatives from Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, and ZERO-G Corporation presented opportunities for scientists to utilize their microgravity and reduced gravity platforms to conduct research. VG and XCOR gave overviews of their vehicles and status updates. Three scientists presented their research on planetary science and astronomy and how their research would benefit from microgravity conditions or suborbital flight altitudes. Utilizing NewSpace suborbital platforms for scientific research is the main focus of the annual Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference hosted next year in Broomfield, Colorado in June 2013.
Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner amazed the world when he went supersonic during a record-smashing 24-mile skydive on Sunday (Oct. 14).
A YouTube video ad for the Model Maker Faire in Vienna this month recreates Baumgartner's epic jump with space-themed LEGO figures, a weather balloon and a homemade capsule that appears to have been some sort of a bottle in an earlier life. The video, complete with a sweeping soundtrack, faithfully recounts the 43-year-old Baumgartner's world's highest skydive feat, called the Red Bull Stratos mission, which was sponsored by the energy drink of the same name.
Wednesday’s announcement that international recording superstar Sarah Brightman will be flying to the International Space Station marked at major milestone for the Virginia-based Space Adventures: the company had finally booked a genuine celebritynaut for one of its orbital trips.
It was a far cry from 11 years ago, when a largely unknown former NASA engineer turned investment manager named Dennis Tito climbed aboard a Soyuz spacecraft for an eight-day trip to the International Space Station.
BALTIMORE, MD, Oct 9, 2012 (Juxtopia/Sol-X PR) –Inside Baltimore’s JUICE Lab, Solar System Express (Sol-X) and Juxtopia LLC are collaborating to transition sci-fi gadgets as seen in Star Trek (2009) and Iron Man (2008) into reality. Technology transfer between the companies will result in a high-tech system to control the fall of skydivers from altitudes above 120,000 feet, near the edge of space, and provide a visual Augmented Reality display during the journey. Product code name – RL Mark VI.
Once completed, the RL Mark VI has the potential to solve problems in the movie and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) industries and advance extreme human flight like the Red Bull Stratos project (jumping Oct 9, 2012), the Freefly Astronaut program, and the wingsuit market by increasing safety.
During an interview with Sol-X, a pending RL Mark VI customer, Mr. Olav Zipser, stated, “Your product would be a great way to stabilize my decent during the first 30 seconds of free fall, when there is virtually zero atmosphere”.
LAS CRUCES — Less than 10 years ago, all the talk about the commercial space flight industry was conceptual. Today, it's about the five Ws — who, what, where, when and why.
New Mexico has been a major player in the growth of the industry. It is preparing to start operations of Spaceport America, which is supposed to signal the start of everyday people having opportunities to fly commercially into space. Commercial space flight has already started, with cargo and payloads delivered to the International Space Station this summer.
To keep the synergy going, commercial space flight leaders will gather in Las Cruces this week for the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight. The symposium will be a two-day affair, Wednesday and Thursday at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road, but other events associated with the symposium will also be conducted Tuesday and Friday.
In a giant leap from more than 38.6 km up, daredevil skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, shattered the sound barrier while making the highest jump ever — a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert. He hit Mach 1.24, or 1,342 kph on Sunday, according to preliminary data, and became the first man to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 39,045 meters above the Earth. The risks associated with the jump were tremendous. His blood could have boiled, his lungs could have overinflated, the vessels in his brain could have burst and his eyes could have hemorrhaged. And yes, he could have broken his neck too.
Virgin Galactic has released some new photos of work being done on SpaceShipTwo at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The space plane is set to begin making powered flight tests toward the end of this year.
The promise of a spaceport at Front Range Airport within the next several years may be a little brighter after Florida-based suborbital flight vehicle manufacturer Rocket Crafters signed a letter of intent expressing future interest on the budding site.
“They (spaceports) will compliment America’s highly developed air transportation system by being located on or near major commerce and transportation hubs like Denver,” said Rocket Crafters Chief Technology Officer Ronald Jones said in a statement. “We applaud the leaders from Front Range Airport, Adams County and the state of Colorado in taking this bold step and leading the nation in what some call 'the second Golden Age of Flight.’”
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said jumpstarting a domestic human spaceflight industry is among the agency’s highest priorities, and cited current programs for delivering crews and cargo to the international space station as tangible progress toward that goal.
Speaking Oct. 17 here at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, Garver counted the commercial crew and cargo programs among NASA’s most important accomplishments since she and her boss, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, arrived in July 2009. Spurring a private U.S. commercial spaceflight industry “is one of our absolute goals,” she said.
The technology of space travel and exploration is moving forwards every day, and we look forward to taking on new challenges as we move closer towards commercial space flight. Who knows, the next record leap could one day be from Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.
Haven’t had a challenge myself for a while. Could be fun for Virgin to give Red Bull a run for their money.
LAS CRUCES — Wayne Hale, a former space shuttle program manager who now works as a consultant for a commercial space flight company, urged supporters of the fledgling industry Tuesday to continue to push for state legislation that will allow companies to conduct business in New Mexico.
"Here we are 100 years later, and we're at the verge of the commercial flight industry," said Hale, referring to time that has passed since the invention of the airplane to the beginning of commercial space flight. "... I encourage New Mexico to pass informed consent legislation that will enable the commercial spaceflight industry to go forward. Otherwise, you may have a sizable investment already made that goes for naught."
I missed watching Austrian pilot Felix Baumgartner’s leap from space Sunday. His death-defying jump came out of a balloon capsule 24 miles above Earth. He reportedly was the first human to reach supersonic speed—833.9 mph—without traveling in a jet or space craft.
Gazette Editor Scott Angus says he watched the 45-minute feat live on the Internet and found it compelling. At one point, “Fearless Felix” started tumbling as he plummeted, and viewers no doubt feared that, at that speed, he’d be torn apart.
I found irony in the fact that we had a story about Baumgartner’s amazing accomplishment on Page 7B Monday and on the next page we had a brief saying the space shuttle Endeavor has reached a Los Angeles museum. Endeavor made it to its final resting place after a 12-mile journey past adoring onlookers along city streets.
Welcome to this week’s Lunar Roundup! A power rankings-style look at who & what’s been “Awesome!” over the last seven days of the Lunar X PRIZE.
Omega Envoy and Angelicum formed a historic joint mission; SpaceIL announced their budget and funding so far; Omega Envoy scored again with another partnership; Popular Mechanics revealed its picks for who is winning; and ARCA unveiled a new look and strategy.
Your top five highlights for October 9th-October 15th:
"Just as families the world over gathered around the box and wireless for the 1969 moon-landing, Baumgartner's 38.6-kilometre freefall from the edge of space had us staring in jaw-dropping awe at screens, setting social media alight. More than 8 million watched the livestream as the Austrian daredevil, perched on a balloon capsule surrounded by the black of space, lunged into the void and tumbled to the blue Earth below. During the jump, half of Twitter's global trending topics discussed the jump, and the first photo of his triumphant air punch landing posted on Facebook was shared 29,000 times and liked 216,000 times in 40 minutes."
The AIAA has released the following video, Space Entrepreneurs Panel, from their recent Space 2012 conference. The theme of the panel as per the program was: "... What makes a space entrepreneur and the road they take to success. What paths are space entrepreneur's taking to develop a new frontier? What are their concepts for future space business? What are their vehicles and or capabilities they are creating? Will they be able to succeed in developing businesses of the future?"
In jumping out of a balloon 128,100ft (24 miles; 39km) above New Mexico, the 43-year-old also smashed the record for the highest ever freefall.
He said he almost aborted the dive because his helmet visor fogged up.
It took just under 10 minutes for him to descend. Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute.
Once down, he fell to his knees and raised his fists in triumph. Helicopter recovery teams were on hand moments later.
"Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive."
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