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Archive for the tag “private space exploration”

Update on Chinese space vehicles

Saturn V rocket, loaded for the moon. China is developing the Long March 9 which will have comparable lift capacity. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few fun articles on the Chinese space program.

10/15/17 – Behind the Black – China’s first test space station, Tiangong-1, is out-of-control – The Chinese space agency said they have lost control over the “Heavenly Palace” space station. Its orbit is decaying and it will likely reenter the atmosphere and burn up in the next several months. Most of the station will burn, but there will likely be chunks as large as 200 pounds hit the ground.

(Hat tip to Behind the Black for the next two articles.)

10/18/17 – GB Times – China’s Tiangong-1 space lab will soon reenter the atmosphere, but there’s no need to panic – Disclosed reason for the “Heavenly Place” space lab not being able to maintain orbit is a battery charger failed, thus meaning the batteries couldn’t be charged.

Current guess is perhaps the last half of January for reentry into atmosphere, where most of the 8.4 ton spaceship will burn up.

10/17/17 – GB Times – China progressing with work on new medium, heavy, and super-heavy Long March launch vehicles – Articles says China is working on several new rocket designs.

New models include the Long March 8 and Long March 9.  Some stats:

Read more…

More news on SpaceX

Echostar 105/SES-11 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

One article pondering how the planned super-heavy lift rocket from SpaceX will open up space travel like the DC-3 did for air travel. The third reuse of a Falcon 9 booster and the 18th recovery of a booster.  Also, three articles on SpaceX’s plans for Mars colonization:

In a major speech, Mr. Musk revealed the revised plans for SpaceX’s journey to Mars. The revision I see is a slightly scaled-down interplanetary spacecraft which can be multipurposed for lunar activity, resupplying ISS, or any other mission requiring heavy lift.

The vehicle will have 31 engines instead of the 47 planned a year ago. It will still lift 150 tons into low earth orbit.

Key concepts will be reusability of lift vehicles and in-orbit refueling to get vehicles ready for the interplanetary trip. Concept will be capsules can land vertically and will be able to take off without crew input.

Interplanetary capsule will be designed to have 100 person capacity and will have areas on board for entertainment.

The first trips to Mars could be in 2022 or more likely delayed until 2024. That is only 5 or 7 years from now.

Outlines of the Mars colonization plan are in line with what I’ve read before.

Read more…

Video shows why rocket science is difficult. More fun news on the wide open frontier of space.

How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster – Elon Musk posted a video of failed launches. You might call this a blooper reel. I prefer to call it:

This is why rocket science is called rocket science.

Enjoy the incidents of “rapid unscheduled disassembly”:

 

(Link: youtube=https://youtu.be/bvim4rsNHkQ00)

As you chuckle at the failed recoveries, keep in mind SpaceX has recovered 16 boosters, reused 2 of them, and has recovered 2 Dragon capsules, having already reused 1.

That, is rocket science.

9/22/17 – Behind the Black – Soyuz launches Russian GPS satellite – In the fun-to-watch race for most launches in 2017, Russia now has a slight lead over SpaceX.

Read more…

Amazing news in the wide open frontier of space exploration

Falcon 9 booster a fraction of second before successful recovery. Now *that* is rocket science. A few minutes earlier it was 120+ miles up in the air moving away from the recovery site.  “Orbital Test Vehicle 5 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.

  • Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
  • In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
  • SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come

7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.

Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.

The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

How cool!

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

Read more…

Vector Space Systems, another competitor, focused on small satellites

Illustration of small satellite, a.k.a. cubesat. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previously mentioned Vector Space Systems here. A video at Behind the Black prompted me to dive deeper. Here’s what I found.

8/3/17 –  Behind the Black – Video of Vector test launch – Nice video of the second test launch from a new, private space company, Vector.

Company does not have their guidance control system installed so there is visible wobble a second or so after launch. The third launch will have G&C installed.

Read more…

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

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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:

Read more…

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:

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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?

Read more…

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