A fire at a radar tracking station has delayed launches from the Eastern Test Range at Cape Canveral until mid-April, at the earliest, Space Florida reports.
This incident underscores a point which the late space visionary G. Harry Stine hammered home more than 20 years ago: a successful commercial launch vehicle must not be dependent on conventional range systems. Government ranges and launch sites are too fragile and too expensive for frequent, cheap access to space.
That point was duly noted by engineers who built the Delta Clipper Experimental (better known as DC-X) in the 1990′s. Delta Clipper proponents envisioned an operational system that would support thousands of launches per year, not the paltry dozen or so provided by expendable rockets. Achieving that goal would require drastic reductions in the size of the “standing army,” to achieve the desired economies, and ground facilities that operated more like commercial airports than guided-missile ranges.
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“In 2004, Congress gave the FAA authority to create training and medical standards for Space Flight Participants (SFPs). However, largely at the request of industry and space industry supporters, the FAA has yet to do so. In addition, the Launch Act prohibits the FAA from proposing regulations governing the design or operation of a launch vehicle to protect the health and safety of crew and SFPs until October 1, 2015, or until a design feature or operating practice has resulted in a serious or fatal injury, or contributed to an event that posed a high risk to crew or SFPs during a licensed commercial human spaceflight. But in exchange for such freedom, Congress requires operators to go through an informed consent process.”
See on www.spacesafetymagazine.com
Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket could slash space travel costs and open new frontier for private investors, says Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield
A successful launch of a rocket with legs by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. may slash the costs of reaching space and give a boost to private space flight, former astronaut Chris Hadfield said.
SpaceX’s launch of the Falcon 9 rocket with its four landing legs “is hugely important because we’ve thrown away just about every rocket we’ve launched,” Hadfield, 54, a Canadian who has logged about 100 million kilometres (62 million miles) in space, said during an interview in Bloomberg’s Toronto bureau.
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In a hearing about NASA’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal by the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee on Thursday, many key members expressed concern about agency priorities, including funding levels for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket and Orion spacecraft, while NASA administrator Charles Bolden argued that NASA’s commercial crew effort was its top priority.
“Commercial crew is the critical need for this nation right now,” Bolden said in response to a question from the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), about the lower level of funding for SLS in the FY15 request versus the FY14 appropriations. “I don’t need a Space Launch System and Orion if I can’t get my crews to low Earth orbit.”
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SpaceX successfully test fired the first stage of F9R—an advanced prototype for the world’s first reusable rocket—in preparation for its first test flight in the coming weeks. Unlike airplanes, a rocket’s thrust increases with altitude; F9R generates just over a million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space.
The F9R testing program is the next step towards reusability following completion of the Grasshopper program last year. Future testing, including that in New Mexico, will be conducted using the first stage of a Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) as shown here, which is essentially a Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage with legs. F9R test flights in New Mexico will allow us to test at higher altitudes than we are permitted for at our test site in Texas, to do more with unpowered guidance and to prove out landing cases that are more-flight like.
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PARIS — Space Exploration Technologies Corp. President Gwynne Shotwell said the company’s Falcon 9 launch prices have nudged up to an average of about $60 million for standard commercial launches but that NASA and U.S. Air Force missions will add between $10 million and $30 million per launch.
A launch of the Dragon space station cargo capsule aboard a Falcon 9, she said, about doubles the price of the SpaceX mission.
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After a couple of months inside the hangar undergoing modifications, SpaceShipTwo is outside on the ramp today at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California.
Scaled Composites engineers are running the suborbital space plane through pressure tests on the cockpit, according to sources. The vehicle does not have an engine installed.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo last flew under power on Jan. 10, completing a 20-second burn of its hybrid nitrous oxide-rubber engine and reached an altitude of 71,000 feet. The ship flew again in an un-powered glide flight one week later before going into the hangar for changes.
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