More good stuff on the open frontiers – 11-27-13

More good stuff on the open frontiers – 11-27-13


Via Meadia – Winter for Higher Ed– How would you handle a double-digit drop in volume over the last three years? That’s the status for one-fourth of private colleges.  Add in high uncertainty whether the enrollment trends will change.


11-26 – Space News – SpaceX Challenge Has Arianespace Rethinking Pricing Policies –   Competition is good. SpaceX is a new and major challenger to the dominant market position of Arianespace.  The later has more than 50% share of the annual market of 20-25 heavy satellites (over 5,000 kg) lifted into geosynchronous orbit. Russia is Arianespace’s primary competitor.  Each Ariancespace launch of an Ariane with a heavy satellite has room for a small satellite. SpaceX threatens the market for small satellites. Thus, Arianespace said they are willing to be flexible on their pricing now that SpaceX is moving into the small launch market. Like I said, competition is good.

11-25 – USA Today – SpaceX Satellite launch is a potential game-changer – SpaceX will be launching a commercial satellite into geosynchronous orbit tonight. This is a big deal for several reasons. It is their first shot to geosync and their first commercial customer, putting them into competition with overseas launch operators. See previous article for impact of competition. Very cool.

Update: launch delayed to 11-28

11-21 – Reuters – Gold rush in space? Asteroid miners prepare, but eye water first – An asteroid 1,500 feet across could have more metals in the platinum group that the known reserves on earth. Far more valuable would be the hydrogen and oxygen on the asteroid. Why? Rocket scientists can turn that into rocket fuel. Why? Accessible fuel for a trip to Mars. If that vaguely make sense and you want more explanation, check out the article for an explanation why asteroid mining makes sense.

Orbital Sciences Corporation – Orbital Successfully Launches Minotaur I Rocket Supporting ORS-3 Mission for the U.S. Air Force – This was the 25th launch of the Minotaur I, all of which were successful.  All of these were commercial launches, meaning Orbital is getting paid to lift satellites. Twenty-nine satellites were on this launch, including 28 cubesats.

Wow; containerized, commoditized satellites.

Wikipedia – Cubesats – Check this out: the concept is a standard size, 10cm x 10 cm x 10 cm (~3.9″, call it a 4″ cube), loadable on a standard platform for launch on whatever lift vehicle you want, and you can put whatever you want in that 10 cm cube.  Size can be increased in 10 cm increments on one axis, i.e. 20 x 10 x 10 or 30 x 10 x 10.  This allows schools and universities to put their own space experiment into orbit. The article says the estimated cost to put a cubesat into orbit is $65K to $85K.

So the Orbital launch of their Minotaur I put 28 cubesats into orbit for USAF. That gives them lots of platforms for whatever cool capabilities were built-in.

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