Private spaceflight company SpaceX has been testing reusable rockets to lower the cost of space missions, and over the next two months, the company will attempt the landing of Falcon 9 rockets on a drone spaceport. — Reuters
SpaceX will test out new stabilizing fins that could help land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean after liftoff on a space station resupply mission in mid-December, according to Elon Musk, the company’s billionaire leader.
Hoping to use an operational flight as an experiment to advance the company’s bid for a reusable rocket — a breakthrough that could change the landscape of the launch industry if perfected — SpaceX is finishing work on a ocean-going landing pad at a Louisiana shipyard.
The vessel could be used to wring out how to program rocket boosters to fly themselves back to the ground from the edge of space more than 50 miles up.
The proposed mission to send two astronauts to a captured asteroid near the Moon won’t occur until the middle of the next decade, according to an overview provided to NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP). Designated as Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2), it is likely alternative missions will be tasked to Orion and her Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, prior to the flagship mission to the asteroid.
The fatal explosion of a Virgin Galactic space plane at the end of October 2014 was a major set-back to Sir Richard Branson’s dream of a flourishing space tourism venture. Lesley Curwen tells the story behind the crash and asks whether the highly lucrative Virgin brand will survive the tragedy.
As Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) continues forward with efforts to develop numerous mission scenarios for its Dream Chaser space plane, a study – in collaboration with Stratolaunch Systems – expands on the scaled-down version of Dream Chaser launched into orbit via the air-launch vehicle for a variety of mission including ISS emergency crew rescues and micro-gravity research missions.
The fifth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Tuesday, Dec. 16, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 1:15 p.m. EST.
The company’s Falcon 9 rocket will lift off at 2:31 p.m., carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft. It is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.
In addition to launch coverage, NASA also will host a series of prelaunch news conferences Monday, Dec. 15, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.
“Human spaceflight reached an important milestone this week. An additive manufacturing device, or 3D printer, was turned on, and initiated the first official 3D print on the International Space Station (ISS).
“The print took slightly more than an hour, and once it finished, the world changed. At the Made In Space Operations Center in Moffett Field, California, the rest of the team and I had the ability to command the printer and see inside it as the machine received and executed our commands. For the first time, humans demonstrated the ability to manufacture while in space. At this moment, if the space station absolutely needs a part that the 3D printer can build, I can start producing the part onboard the ISS within minutes — from my chair in California.”