Playlist for the entire NewSpace2014 Conference, July 24th to July 26th, San Jose, California.
The Colbert Report – Elon Musk Interview – July 24, 2014
WASHINGTON — When the Falcon 9 first stage used to loft six Orbcomm satellites made a soft landing in the Atlantic Ocean after launch July 14, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. was not the only one watching.
NASA too had eyes on the falling booster, hoping to snap some infrared images of its engines relighting as the rocket stage screamed back to Earth at supersonic speeds.
SpaceX got the footage it was looking for. The company released an 80-second video July 22, taken from one of Falcon 9’s onboard cameras.
NASA, which was watching Falcon 9’s landing spot in the Atlantic from a Martin WB-57 twin-jet airplane, was not as lucky.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge has asked the U.S. Air Force and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to try mediation to resolve a lawsuit over the service’s $11 billion order of rockets from SpaceX-rival United Launch Alliance.
SpaceX filed the lawsuit April 28, asking the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to void a large portion of the deal, under which the Air Force ordered 36 rocket cores from ULA on a sole-source basis. The U.S. Department of Justice, representing the Air Force, has asked the court to dismiss the case.
But Judge Susan Braden on July 24 directed the two sides to explore a third alternative: mediation. As part of that process, she directed the Air Force to provide SpaceX with information by Aug. 18 on the missions in question to allow the company to determine which ones it could launch. She also ordered the service to explain to SpaceX how it plans to execute the block-buy contract with ULA during the next six months.
It’s been more than four decades since the first humans arrived on the moon, and since the last ones left, but traffic to the lunar surface could soon be on the upswing again — thanks to a new space race that involves commercial ventures as well as government-funded efforts.
And if Astrobotic CEO John Thornton has anything to say about it, the moon race will feature an honest-to-goodness rover race by the end of next year. The concept is a central part of Astrobotic’s plan to snag a share of the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize.
SpaceX has dominated the private space industry since it was founded 12 years ago. The company’s thriftiness, its reusable space launch concept, and Elon Musk’s unabashed hopes to land humans on Mars have all contributed to its swift ascent to the top of the corporate spaceflight ladder.
One of the most interesting byproducts of SpaceX’s success, however, is the wealth of opportunities left in its wake. New spaceflight niches are beginning to be filled by a wave of specialized rocket startups, looking to provide solutions for modest satellite manufacturers with limited launch options.
Masten Space Systems, one of three companies to receive awards from DARPA for the Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) program, has revealed the design it proposes to develop for the program. And that design has something unusual for a company best known for its vertical-takeoff-and-landing designs: wings.
The “Xephyr” vehicle does take off vertically, as shown in the illustration provided by the company. However, the design also has small wings, presumably to allow it to glide, either for landing or other phases of flight. Overall, the design bears similarities to the X-34, an experimental spaceplane developed by Orbital Sciences for NASA but cancelled before its first flight.