Even more competition in the wide open frontier of private space exploration

Most of the current competitors, with a Saturn V for comparison. Illustration courtesy of Blue Origin.

I am astounded at the number of companies taking on the challenge to explore space. It’s staggering to see the innovation emerging.

Check out the number of competitors that are in the game. That is fantastic. The more companies pushing to figure out how to get in space and provide commercially attractive service at a profit, the harder everyone else will push for progress. Good.

Check out that awesome graphic at the top of the page. Lots of thanks and all the credit to Blue Origin. I’ve been looking for something like that visual for a long time. Yeah, you will be seeing it again and again on my blog.

Check out what some of the competitors are doing. This is what I’ve noticed in just the last few weeks:

2/27 – Space.com – SpaceX to Fly Passengers on Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018 – How does this sound for a great schedule?

  • Crew-capable Dragon capsule to ISS this year, but without a crew
  • Dragon to ISS in 2018 with a crew
  • Several launches with Falcon Heavy
  • Falcon Heavy launching a Dragon capsule with two private, paying (!) passengers on a loop around the moon in late 2018

Very cool.

Of course, in reading the comments to the article, one sees several people taking this straight to the nasty political. And one person (assuming he’s not just a troll) suggesting the moon landings were faked. Yeah, those folks are still around.

2/28 – Behind the Black – Heading Home – Analysis explains the maneuvering in the previous day’s announcement that SpaceX will send two tourists around the moon – possibly NASA raised safety concerns about Dragon capsule in order to delay their first crewed launch so that SLS/Orion can launch first. Thus SpaceX will launch even if NASA doesn’t want their crew on the Dragon.

Assess that option for yourself. I read it as competition from NASA and competitive reply from SpaceX.

bSpace website – Another company, bSpace, which a reader pointed me to, is offering space on a cargo ship to ISS which will carry up to 200 small sats, each of which will be placed in orbit.

Actual capacity is 200U, which means 200 standard size units. Got a 4U small sat? They can do that. Can carry small sats up to 12U size.

Check out the cool animation on the “ARQ” tab to see to concept.

Another intriguing idea: their web site says they handle all the paperwork for the launch and can provide whatever level of insurance you want.

3/3 – Parabolic Arc – SpaceX Wants to Launch 12,000 Satellites – Check out the plans filed to meet the FCC’s deadline on how to use the V band frequency:

  • 7,518 satellites from SpaceX operating in V band
  • 4,425 sats previously announced by SpaceX for the Ku and Ka band.
  • 1,280 sats in the V band from OneWeb
  • 720 sats from OneWeb, previously announced for the V band
  • 720 sats from OneWeb, previously announced for the Ka and Ku bands
  • About 480 sats from 9 other companies

Each of those constellations of satellites would provide continuous high-speed access to the ‘net from all points on the globe.


Hat tip to Behind the Black, who points out getting all those satellites into orbit would generate a very large amount of business for everyone in the launch side of the space business.

Illustration of reusable New Glenn lift vehicle from Blue Origin with 3.85M pounds thrust. Credit Blue Origin.

3/2 – Washington Post – An exclusive look at Jeff Bezos’s plan to set up Amazon-like delivery for ‘future human settlement’ of the moon – When (not if) there are occupied settlements on the moon, there will be a great need for a supply chain to provide all the stuff needed to stay on the moon. Mr. Bezos wants that business.

Blue Origin, his space exploration company, is circulating its plans around NASA to set up a cargo supply service. Target is to provide first load of supplies by the middle of 2020, only 3 years from now.

Blue Origin would provide the lander which could be launched on either their rocket or another lift vehicle.

The base on the moon would be a spot on the south pole of the moon. Why?

Near continuous sunlight there would allow electricity to be generated constantly by solar panels. Also, there is lots of ice there, which would provide a fueling station, since ice can be broken down into oxygen for breathing and the oxygen and hydrogen is good for fuel.

I can see it now: Newest product announcement in about 2020: An AmazonMoon website for rapid two-week delivery. I seriously doubt your Prime subscription will provide any discounts.

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