A surge in the commercial-space business is generating excitement in the Greater Seattle area as private money spurs innovation and buzz at local companies.
NASA’s transition from the Space Shuttle to the commercial crew vehicles will dramatically improve crew safety parameters relating to the transportation of astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). However, preparing for the worst is a necessary requirement that is currently being evaluated by NASA, per presentations to the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP).
To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy in his famous moon speech: We do this and the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. And what makes them hard? When it comes to opening the frontier of space — we do. The biggest challenge is not the vacuum, not the radiation, not the gravity, not the vast distances. It is us. For we can overcome each of those, but can we overcome ourselves? Can we get past our positions so we can work together to throw open the frontier for the people of Earth?
Just a few months ago, I listened intently as Freeman Dyson, the famous theoretical physicist and mathematician, said that, “If you want to have a programme for moving out into the universe, you have to think in centuries, not decades.” A few months later, Team Indus was born and we dreamed of proving Dyson wrong, delivering best-in-class technology to defy odds. As part of the Google Lunar XPrize, we’ve launched a mission to safely land a spacecraft, able to travel at least 500m, on the surface of the moon, and transmit HD video and images back to earth – all by December 2016!
Ground controllers powered up the International Space Station’s robotic arm and repositioned a storage module Wednesday to give visiting cargo delivery vehicles a second parking port at the complex.
The reconfiguration is another step in preparing the space station to receive commercial crew vehicles owned by Boeing and SpaceX.
When the changes are complete later this year, the space station will have two ports for unpiloted resupply vehicles from the United States and Japan, plus a pair of docking locations for Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules.
Orbital ATK President David Thompson said on Thursday that the new version of its Antares rocket is on track for a first launch in March 2016. The new version will use Russian RD-181 engines, two of which are undergoing acceptance testing right now.
An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket intended to deliver a Cygnus cargo spacecraft full of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) exploded 15 seconds after liftoff on October 28, 2014. The explosion damaged the launch facilities at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA. It was the company’s third operational launch for NASA under the commercial cargo program.
Orbital Sciences Corporation merged with ATK in February 2015 and is now called Orbital ATK. Thompson remains as President and CEO of the merged company and spoke Thursday on a regularly scheduled investors conference call.
NASA has placed an order with Boeing for the first operational mission to ferry a crew to the International Space Station in a new era of commercial human spaceflight.
The flight is expected to occur in late 2017 after Boeing’s CST-100 capsule completes unmanned and crewed orbital test flights and wins final certification from NASA for regular crew rotation missions.
“This occasion will go in the books of Boeing’s nearly 100 years of aerospace and more than 50 years of space flight history,” said John Elbon, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s space exploration division. “We look forward to ushering in a new era in human space exploration.”