Members of the Virgin Galactic team explain why the continued exploration of space is so important to the future of mankind.
In Kubrick’s and Clark’s 2001 Space Odyssey, there was no question of “Boots or Bots”[ref]. The monolith had been left for humanity as a mileage and direction marker on Route 66 to the stars. So we went to Jupiter and Dave Bowman overcame a sentient machine, shut it down cold and went forth to discover the greatest story yet to be told.
Now Elon Musk, born three years after the great science fiction movie and one year before the last Apollo mission to the Moon has set his goals, is achieving milestones to lift humans beyond low-Earth orbit, beyond the bonds of Earth’s gravity and take us to the first stop in the final frontier – Mars – the destination of the SpaceX odyssey.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Independence Day is not the only important fourth this July. Hot on the heels of the holiday is the fourth annual International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development Conference, which takes place in Boston July 7 to 9. Launching this year’s event is a keynote speaker who lives up to one of the core conference themes of gaining a new perspective: Elon Musk, chief executive officer and lead designer at SpaceX.
“To welcome this diverse set of new and existing ISS users we were looking for a keynote speaker whose name is synonymous with the future of innovation,” said Brian Talbot, marketing and communications director with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). “Elon Musk is an ideal fit for this role. Elon’s passion for discovery and exploration appeals to business leaders, research and development professionals, and the space community.”
WASHINGTON — A San Francisco-based developer of nanosatellites announced Jan. 29 that it plans to start deploying a constellation of spacecraft by the end of this year to collect weather data for government and commercial customers.
Spire said that it believes its constellation of cubesat-class satellites, which will eventually exceed 100 spacecraft, will provide data that will greatly improve the accuracy of weather forecasts.
“We are right now with weather forecasting where we were with finding directions 10 years ago,” said Peter Platzer in a Jan. 27 interview. Just as online mapping services made getting directions easier and more reliable, he said he hopes his satellites’ data will do the same for weather.
WASHINGTON — An independent panel said Jan. 28 it could not evaluate the safety of NASA’s commercial crew program because of the unwillingness of the agency’s leadership to provide information the panel sought about it.
In its annual report, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) said that efforts by the panel to gain insight into the program, including about contracts awarded last September to Boeing and SpaceX, were met with “a seamless set of constraints” regarding why that information could not be released.
“Regrettably, the Panel is unable to offer any informed opinion regarding the adequacy of the certification process or the sufficiency of safety in the Commercial Crew Program due to constraints on access to needed information,” the panel’s chairman, Joseph Dyer, said in a cover letter to the report delivered to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Most of the press called it a failure. Musk called it “close.” Experts familiar with the commercial spaceflight industry are calling it what it is: evidence that 2015 will be the year SpaceX manages to successfully bring a first stage rocket booster and its nine rocket engines safely back to Earth for reuse, potentially cutting the cost of space launch in half and upending the commercial launch industry.
But lost in the whiz-bang awesomeness of rocket launches (and crashes) is the way SpaceX’s reusable rocket technology could impact industries beyond those associated with space, such as telecommunications and imaging.
It’s not a 9-to-5 job at Firefly Space Systems in Cedar Park. “People come in when they feel like it, leave when they feel like it as long as they get the job done,” said founder Tom Markusic.
Markusic started Firefly about a year ago, after earning a tech pedigree that includes working for Space X, Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic. Now, he and his staff are building the rockets to blast small satellites into space. “This week Google is putting a billion dollars into developing these small satellites, yet the means to get them to space is still underserved,” he said.