Commercial Spaceflight And The Dawning Age of NewSpace

Archive for December, 2015

Billionaire space club pits Bezos vs. Musk

When Jeff Bezos welcomed SpaceX to the rocket landing “club” last week, it set off a round of twittering over whether Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture and fellow billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX were really in the same league. What kind of club was Bezos talking about?

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Congress Wants NASA To Create A Deep Space Habitat By 2018

NASA may dream of sending humans to Mars in the coming decades, but the fact remains that nobody’s really sure how we’ll survive the journey or set up camp on the red planet.

The Orion spacecraft that will drive astronauts to Mars has a diameter that’s about the length of a pickup truck. That’s not a lot of space when you consider the astronauts’ journey to Mars will take at least 6 months.

In order to not go totally bonkers, Mars-bound astronauts will need a larger place to live, complete with private quarters and exercise equipment. NASA envisions the Orion capsule could link up to a habitation module in space, but right now they have no idea what that module could look like. And who knows what the astronauts will live in once they get to Mars.

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Speculation mounts over Elon Musk’s Mars plan

In the wake of SpaceX’s successful rocket landing, some of the company’s most ardent fans are guessing at the shape of the biggest thing to come: the Mars Colonial Transporter.

The MCT is a crucial piece in SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s grand plan to send tens of thousands of colonists to the Red Planet, potentially starting in the next decade or two. Such a venture would mark a giant leap toward establishing a second cosmic home for humanity. Musk believes that’s a must if we’re to guard against extinction due to pandemics, asteroid strikes or other planet-wide catastrophes.

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Washington’s ‘Star Wars’

A Washington brawl has broken out over the future of the U.S. military’s ability to reach orbit, with the powerhouse combo of Boeing and Lockheed Martin jostling with the scrappy — yet well-funded — upstart of entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX for multibillion-dollar contracts for launching satellites.

The competition is upending the norms of the defense contractor heavyweights, who are not used to dealing with relatively fresh rivals, and has released a flood of lobbying cash. SpaceX has spent more than $1.3 million on lobbying this year while the Boeing-Lockheed joint effort, called United Launch Alliance, spent more than $900,000 — both on pace to easily set new records for the companies once the final quarter of 2015 is reported.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.politico.com

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Spending Bill To Accelerate NASA Habitation Module Work | SpaceNews.com

WASHINGTON — An omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this month directs NASA to accelerate work on a habitation module that could be used for future deep space missions, although how NASA will implement that direction is unclear.

The report accompanying the fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill instructs NASA to spend at least $55 million on a “habitation augmentation module” to support the agency’s exploration efforts. The money would come from the Advanced Exploration Systems program, part of the Exploration Research and Development line item in the budget that received $350 million in the bill.

“NASA shall develop a prototype deep space habitation module within the advanced exploration systems program no later than 2018,” the report states. It also requires NASA to provide Congress with a report within 180 days of the bill’s enactment on the status of the program and how it has spent the funds provided.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: spacenews.com

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Where to land SpaceX’s recovered Falcon 9 rocket stage for display | collectSPACE

December 28, 2015 — What do you do with a 15-story-tall space artifact?

That’s a question that SpaceX now faces given the historic landing of its Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage on Dec. 21 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The commercial spaceflight company’s recovery of the first stage, after launching 11 communication satellites to orbit, demonstrated the first part of its future plans for reusability. SpaceX intends to refurbish and re-fly its stages, ultimately getting to when it can simply refuel and launch them again, significantly reducing the cost of access to space.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.collectspace.com

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Why the SpaceX Landing Is Better than Apollo 11

Each successful Apollo flight marked a reduction in the amount of money NASA could bargain out of Washington. Each successful SpaceX flight from here on out only opens up more possibilities. Mars, asteroids, the Oort cloud and beyond, all with technology and physics we thoroughly know today. The vision of Robert Zubrin and others is coming true. It’s a sustainable enterprise, with demand growing as developments continue. Apollo had a closed future. The SpaceX future is completely open, currently only limited by the amount of atoms in the universe.

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