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Archive for the tag “private space exploration”

Still more amazing news from the open frontier of space: several successes and one, um, learning opportunity.

Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

It’s been a good month for SpaceX. Three launches and one recovery of an already recycled Dragon capsule. China has demonstrated that rocket science is rocket science, meaning launches don’t always work.

7/3/17 – Space.com – Back Again…Again: SpaceX’s Dragon Makes Historic 2nd Splashdown A Dragon capsule that had previously been recovered from a trip to the International Space Station has just returned from the ISS a second time and successfully landed in the Pacific Ocean.

This is the first successful reuse of a Dragon capsule.

 

SpaceX’s cameras can track the Falcon 9 until after start of 2nd stage. Fantastic live feed. “Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

7/5/17 – Space.com – Three Launches in 12 Days! SpaceX Lofts Heavy Communications Satellite

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Lots of amazing space news from India and OneWeb. Oh, 2 launches by SpaceX in three days.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

The news from space exploration is constantly amazing.

  • India is making progress in their exploration efforts, with both their GSLV and PSLV rockets.
  • SpaceX has successful launches on 6/23 and 6/25

6/5/17 – Behind the Black – India successfully launches it first GSLV Mark 3 rocket and Space.com – India Just Launched Its Heaviest & Most Powerful Rocket Yet – The new Mark 3 of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted a 6,913 pound satellite into geosync orbit. Lift capacity is 8,818 lbs. Article says that is double the capacity of the Mark 2.

Nice video of the launch embedded in the Space.com article. Cool to see the solid rocket boosters fall away and watch the sat separate.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

5/19/17 – Wall Street Journal – Who’s in Charge of Outer Space? – The immediate answer is a document called the Outer Space Treaty. It addresses how things are done outside the atmosphere. That document is 50 years old and did not anticipate private players in outer space. Read more…

More news on the open frontier of space flight. Two SpaceX launches and Rocket Labs’ first launch

Successful recover of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-11 resupply mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

Amazing news from the wide open frontier of private space exploration:

  • SpaceX recovers yet another Falcon 9 booster and reuses a Dragon capsule for the first time
  • Rocket Lab successfully launches their first booster which will lift small sats into low earth orbit
  • More on mining moon and asteroids
  • Concept for mining rocket fuel on the moon
  • SpaceX lifts a heavy commercial satellite into geosync orbit

Falcon 9 carrying Dragon capsule to ISS on CRS-11 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

6/3/17 – I got home about two minutes after the Falcon 9 was successfully recovered. Watched the archived copy of SpaceX’s CRS-11 launch of a re-used Dragon to resupply ISS.  The Falcon 9 booster was also reused. This is the 5th recovery of Falcon 9 on land and the 11th recovery in total. Awesome.

Made note of a fun tidbit of trivia. The booster and payload went from 0 to 1,002 km/h in 60 seconds on the way up. On the recovery the Falcon 9 booster went from descent speed of 1,119 km/h to zero in the last 29 seconds.

Pause for a moment and consider the staggering results.

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Ongoing amazing news from the open frontier of space

Recovered Falcon 9 booster after NORL-76 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

There is a non-stop stream of amazing news from the open frontier of space:

  • SpaceX recovers Falcon 9 after launching spy sat
  • Another good launch of sat into geosyn orbit by India
  • ULA joint venture agreement expires
  • China starts test of cabin for lunar living

 

Falcon 9 booster about to land after NORL-76 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

 

5/1/17 – Space.com – SpaceX Launches US Spy Satellite on Secret Mission, Nails Rocket Landing – SpaceX successfully put a classified satellite from National Reconnaissance Office into orbit. As a massive fringe benefit, they also recovered the first stage back at the launch site. This is their fourth successful recovery on land.

The photograph from the launch is incredible. In particular, there is a great view of the first stage separation, flip, and boostback burn.

Here is a clip on Instagram, posted by Elon Musk:

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More progress in the open frontier of space exploration, courtesy of the free market

SpaceX SES 10, recovery of Falcon 9 booster. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

The number of private sector players involved in space exploration and the progress underway is astounding. Here are a few recent articles catching my attention:

3/20/17 – Investor’s Business Daily – There’s a New Space Race On, Courtesy of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos And The Free Market – The main point of the article, which is barely starting to be noticed:

Space remains the final frontier. And it will be private sector entrepreneurs, not government bureaucrats, who will take us there.

Article gives a summary of the private sector companies, funded by filthy rich guys who choose to pour their wealth into space exploration, that have expanded our reach into space. According to the article, these companies have done more than NASA has in the last several decades.

Consider:

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More amazing news from the open frontier of space

Atlas V lifts Cygnus supply ship to ISS. Credit: United Launch Alliance. Used with permission.

It is astounding to ponder the news from the wide open frontier of space. I’m continually amazed by what is happening.

3/7/17 – Space News- NASA seeks information on commercial Mars payload service – NASA issued a Request For Information asking for plans to provide cargo runs to Mars. They are looking for outline of plans in terms of payload mass and weight, nature of vehicle, and timing for start of operations. The RFI indicates 2020 as a start date.

Two companies are described in the article as likely players in Mars cargo runs.

SpaceX would use their new lander Red Dragon as testbed for cargo vehicle. Launch was scheduled for 2018 but has slipped to 2020.

Mars One also has plans for a lander, as an intermediate step for crewed travel. First launch was planned from 2018 but that is now looking like 2022.

3/14 – Behind the Black – SpaceX wins another Air Force launch contract – Ticket price to launch a GPS satellite is $96.5M, up by $14M from the last launch by SpaceX for USAF. Post speculates SpaceX is trying to improve their margin by undercutting ULA less this time around.

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The space competition heats up. Aaaaand some competitors slow down.

SpaceX SES-10. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX for placing photos in public domain.

The competition to be a commercially competitive space launch provider gets far more serious with SpaceX successfully launching a reused Falcon 9 booster to get SES-10 into a geosync orbit.

On the same day as SpaceX made such tremendous progress, two competitors dropped further behind.

Competition speeds up

SpaceX SES-10. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

I was so fortunate as to check my Twitter feed as SpaceX began its live coverage of the launch. It was such a joy to watch the successful launch and an even bigger thrill to see Main Engine Cutoff, which meant the reused booster did its job.

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Summary of accomplishments and plans for SpaceX and Blue Origin. Gotta’ love that competition!

Successful recovery of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Found an article that summarizes accomplishments and plans for SpaceX and Blue Origin, the space exploration companies of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, respectively.

Check out Mike Wall at Space.com on 3/13/17To the Moon! The Musk-Bezos Billionaire Space Rivalry Just Reached New Heights.

Here are many of the key achievements and targets for both companies. I sorted and regrouped the items that drew my interest. As you consider the list, you can see both companies are making rapid progress. The competition is getting serious.

By the way, if the Space.com article and my little summary here does not satisfy your appetite for learning what is going on in space, you really, really need to check out Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, by Robert Zimmerman, available in PDF format for free at Behind the Black. I am about half way through the paper. It is superb.

First steps

SpaceX:

  • 12/15 – successfully recover Falcon 9
  • Through 3/17 – have now successfully recovered a Falcon 9 lift vehicle eight times; 3 on land and 5 on drone ships at sea
  • 3/17 – planned first time reuse of Falcon 9 for launch of SES 10 satellite

Blue Origin:

  • 11/15 – successfully recover New Shepard
  • Late 2016 – retired a New Shepard booster after it was successfully recovered 4 times

Successful recovery of New Shepard booster on June 19, 2016. Credit Blue Origin.

Heavy lift

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Speaking of competition in space, Blue Origin books 6 launches for 2 customers

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

In Behind the Black’s favorite phrase, the competition heats up. Check out the news just this week for Blue Origin becoming a very serious player.

3/7 – Florida Today  Blue Origin books first New Glenn launch contract – Eutelsat Communications has booked the first launch on the New Glenn rocket from Blue Origin. First launch is expected in 2021 or 2022, which is only four or five years away.

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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?

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Brainstretchers from the open frontier of space

Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule launch. Add two more boosters, an upgraded Dragon 2 capsule, and imagine what could be done. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule launch. Add two more boosters, an upgraded Dragon 2 capsule, and imagine what could be done. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Here’s two articles that stretch the brain:

  • United Arab Emirates has a goal to establish an inhabited settlement on Mars by 2117 – Such an idea is no longer ridiculous. Ten years ago it would have been foolish; today, it is quite plausible.
  • A concept of how the moon could be occupied within four years – this is also not a silly idea anymore.

2/20 – Leonard David’s Inside Outer Space – UAE’s March to Mars – The United Arab Emirates plans to have an inhabited settlement on Mars by 2117.

In all seriousness, I say go for it!

They are recruiting a cadre of research scientists for an international team. They plan to  launch an orbiter to study the planet more closely. They want to develop a faster transport system. They are already designing a city, which will be robot-built, presumably to be near-inhabitable by the time humans arrive.

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Amazing news from the open frontier of space

Liftoff of CRS-10 mssion. NIce view of Falcon 9, Dragon capsule, and location of solar arrays on third stage. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Liftoff of CRS-10 mission. Nice view of Falcon 9, Dragon capsule, and location of solar arrays on third stage. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

The wide open frontier of space exploration fascinates me:

  • An asteroid 124 miles in diameter is richer in minerals that what we have here on earth – picture the value of those resources for building space ships in space
  • Five teams from the private sector are in the race to get a team on the moon
  • ULA trimming work force – trying to gain price competitiveness?
  • India launches 104 satellites from one booster

1/17 – Daily Star – NASA to explore space rock worth so much money it would DESTROY world economy – Ignore the hyperventilating headline.

The  underlying substance is of interest. NASA has a 2023 launch scheduled for a probe that will check out asteroid Psyche, which is sitting in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is about 200 kilometers across, or about 124 miles in diameter.

Asteroid Psyche is rich in minerals. How rich? If it all could be brought back to earth and sold at current market prices, it might have something in the range of $10,000 quadrillion of minerals. This is compared to a world economy with $73.7 trillion of production.

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Another successful launch and recovery for SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Successful recovery of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Successful recovery of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Just watched the recovery of a Falcon 9 booster. I missed the launch. Very cool video from the on-board camera as the booster descended through a cloud bank and landed dead center on the pad.

This mission, CRS-10, will deliver over 5,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. Two really cool things. First, a private company providing supply runs to ISS is a thing. Second, it is almost routine to recover the first stage.

Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule on CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule on CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

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More amazing news from the open frontier of space

Falcon 9 landing. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Falcon 9 landing. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

News from space exploration continues to amaze. Consider:

  • Video of first time SpaceX recovered a booster
  • China sees first commercial launch on government rocket
  • Private sector, or what passes for it, in China gets into the launch business
  • EU’s GPS satellites having lots of unexplained clock failures

Video of the first vertical recovery of a rocket – Beyond the Black highlights What happened at SpaceX the first time they landed a first stage – SpaceX had a bunch of camera operators recording when it tried to recover a booster. Great video. National Geographic produced a documentary on the successful effort. Check it out:

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Tally of space launches in last two decades

Falcon 9 liftoff, carrying 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Falcon 9 liftoff, carrying 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Behind the Black has tallied the number of space launches by country and by US company, by year from 1998 through 2016.

Mr. Zimmerman provides the tally at Launch industry trends, based on recent history on 1/11. He provides more observations on the trends in the January 13, 2017 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast.

For a more overall view (and under fair use) I added up the launches from 1998 through 2006 and then from 2007 through 2016. I chose a break of 2007 because that is when Lockheed Martin and Boeing formed their joint venture, United Launch Alliance. Here are the long-term trends:

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