Great news on the open frontier, private space exploration edition

Amazing news on the open frontier of private space exploration:

SpaceX recovers another two boosters at sea.

What to do with all those warehoused ICBM boosters?

Another investment in mining asteroids.

5/6 – NPR – SpaceX Lands Falcon 9 on a Barge at Sea (Again) – This is the second successful recovery of a Falcon 9 booster at sea. Another successful recovery was on land. After several failed efforts to recover on a floating barge, SpaceX has two successes in a row. Very cool.

5/27 – Florida Today – SpaceX lands fourth booster after successful Falcon 9 launch – This is the third consecutive recovery of a booster. These three recoveries were on a platform out at sea. One previous recovery was on land.

4/14 – Behind the Black – The history of Falcon 9’s recoverable first stage – Check out this cool video showing the less-than-four-year history of going from the first tiny test by Grasshopper to successful recovery of the Falcon 9 booster at sea:

Robert Zimmerman says:

This is the kind of pace I remember as a child in the America I grew up in. New ideas were fast and continuous, and things moved. I pray we are heading for a new renaissance where things will move again.

4/18 – Washington Post – Space companies feud over what to do with rockets in ICBM stockpile – Here’s a brain stretcher, particularly if you have an experience base to think back 20 or 30 years.

When the ICBMs on alert were cut back from 1,000 to 450, the reentry vehicles were separate from the missiles and all of them went into storage. Those boosters are still good. They have a decent payload capacity.

Orbital ATK would like the feds to sell some of those. Apparently the missile part of an ICBM would make a decent lift vehicle.

There is a growing debate over the issue of possibly selling them. Would that undercut the developing private space industry?  Should the missiles be held in strategic reserve?

The launch sites have all been demolished so repurposing the missiles for defense would require a completely new system, which in our current environmental mindset I seriously doubt would ever, ever be built. On the other hand, the massive underground cable structure needed for communications in the Minuteman system probably would not be needed, which would radically reduce the footprint.

On the other, other hand, the disruption arising from constructing several hundred launch sites would be less than the disruption from constructing thousands of eagle-dicing wind turbines.

6/8 – Observer – Luxembourg’s Asteroid Mining Initiative Could Boost Space Exploration – The government of Luxembourg will provide a credit line of €200 million to help companies that want to mine asteroids in space.

This will likely encourage companies to figure out how to mine rare earth metals off of asteroids, where they are in higher concentrations than on the earth.

Article says the valuable minerals could be returned to Earth. Based on what I’ve learned from my reading, the far higher pay off would be to use them as raw material for in-space manufacturing to create spaceships for travel. The concept is it would likely be cheaper to mine minerals off asteroids and do the construction in space than to build something on earth and lift it into orbit.

Very cool.

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