Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “private space exploration”

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…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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:

Read more…

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:

Read more…

SpaceX back in space with successful launch and recovery of Falcon 9 booster

Falcon 9 at Vandenber SLC 4E, ready to life 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Falcon 9 at Vandenberg SLC 4E, ready to lift 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

I just watched SpaceX lift 10 satellites into low-earth orbit for Iridium. This will allow Iridium to replace their constellation of communication sats. Another 71 sats will go up, of which 60 more will be lifted by SpaceX.

Here are merely two of the super cool aspects of this launch.

Read more…

Tally of planned launches for 2017

Ariane 5 on pad for VA227 launch. Credit: Arianespace.

Ariane 5 on pad for VA227 launch. Credit: Arianespace.

I’m constantly amazed at the activity in space. Maybe I’m just slow to catch on but there is a lot of work getting stuff into orbit.

Spaceflight 101 reports their tally of planned space shots in their post Spaceflight101 Launch Calendar.

I will modify their tally by adding another 15 launches by China as reported by GBTimes, China to attempt close to 30 space launches in 2017. Behind the Black explains that China is somewhat secretive about their space plans, so they don’t announce all their expected launches.

Previously mentioned the tally of actual launches for 2016.

In other news, Behind the Black reports India considers going to Jupiter and Venus. Their first manned flights are planned for 2024. BtB also reports Arianespace wins two contracts, aims for a dozen launches in 2017. Article guesses that Arianspace is getting these contracts because SpaceX has a backlog longer than their current capacity can deliver timely. Article indicates SpaceX needs to up their launch rate to stay competitive.

So, here is the list of planned launches. I also include the lift vehicle. That data is useful for me in order to keep straight what rockets belong to whom.

Read more…

Tally of space launches in 2016

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Here is a list of actual launches in 2016. Next post will describe the planned launches for 2017.

Parabolic Arc – USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016 – Supercool article describes the launch successes and failures in 2016, including a tally of launches by country and life vehicles. Recap of status of all the US players.

I pulled the tally of attempts and successes, including the launch pad failure of a Falcon 9 as an attempt, even though it didn’t get off the ground and thus is not actually an attempt:

Read more…

An illustration why mining asteroids would be lucrative. Also, a startup to provide world-wide ‘net access

Courtesy of Adobe Stock

Courtesy of Adobe Stock

Amazing things going on in the world of private space exploration:

  • One asteroid in the asteroid belt has massive amounts of ice; why that is important
  • OneWeb is moving forward with plans to launch a constellation of small sats to provide access to the internet across the planet

12/16 – Tech Times – Dwarf Planet Ceres Is Full Of Water: Biggest Asteroid in Solar System Was An Ocean World – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has taken images of dwarf planet Ceres and determined it does in fact contain massive amounts of frozen water.  The polar regions of the asteroid contain layers of ice from 30 to 300 feet thick.

This is a really big deal because water is critical for space travel. Obvious use is hydration of astronauts and food preparation. Not so obviously, the H2O can be broken down into oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for propulsion.

Combine that idea with the cost of getting anything into orbit, which is somewhere north of $100,000 a pound. More on that in a moment. A gallon of water to drink could cost something in the range of a million dollars, give or take, to get into orbit.

Read more…

Compare the cutting edge of private space exploration with the let’s-repeat-the-‘60s goal of NASA.

Drawing of launch pad. Tanker is sitting at left ready to be added to booster upon its return. Credit: Flickr, SpaceX has placed this in public domain.

Concept drawing of vehicles SpaceX plans to use for trips to Mars. Tanker is sitting at left ready to be added to booster upon its return. Credit: Flickr, SpaceX has placed this in public domain.

SpaceX is planning to use the above equipment to get to Mars, while NASA is planning to recreate the early accomplishments of this equipment:

Apollo capsule. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Apollo capsule. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Consider the contrast between the following two reports.

  • In the private sector, scientists are working to figure out how to set up an infrastructure to support asteroid mining.
  • At NASA, scientists are working to repeat the mid-60s task of getting a crewed spaceship out far enough to loop around the moon; not land on the moon, just fly around it. In other words merely repeat part of what they did fifty years ago.

11/21 – Space.com – Extraterrestrial Gold Rush: What’s Next for the Space Mining Industry? – A conference dived into the issues underlying what will be needed for the space mining industry to thrive.

Read more…

More on the astoundingly open frontier of mining asteriods

Our solar system with illustrated asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Our solar system with illustrated asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you want to take your mind off the depressing news appearing on the front page of every newspaper every day, stretch your brain to consider the idea of mining asteroids for raw materials to build and fuel spaceships.

11/2 – Visual Capitalist – There’s Big Money to Be Made in Asteroid Mining – The theory is that an entire class of asteroids (the X-type) were once a large asteroid which has gone through several collisions which tore off most of the material leaving a very dense core of valuable metals.  One particular X-type asteroid is thought to hold more platinum that has been mined from planet Earth throughout all history.

The real payoff would be asteroids out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Resources there are staggering.

Read more…

Fun news on the open frontier of space exploration

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

The number of private sector companies working to develop commercial exploration of space is amazing, as is the progress they are making. A few fun articles:

  • Blue Origin’s capsule escape test went well; check out the video
  • Orbital ATK successfully launched a Cygnus capsule on their Antares booster.
  • Lots of companies are working in the small sat market, with lots of competition in all sectors of the open space frontier

10/5 – Popular Mechanics – Blue Origin’s Rocket Test Just Went Better Than Anyone Thought Possible – Blue Origin just successfully completed the crew capsule escape test. The capsule’s emergency rockets fired 70,000 pounds of thrust off angle to the flight of the booster to separate the capsule from the booster.

Speculation on Twitter yesterday is the off angle push would topple the booster and require its destruction.

Instead, the booster survived the capsule’s escape, continued climbing to over 200,000 feet, fell back to earth, and successfully recovered two miles from the launch site.

Astounding.

Check out the video. Jump to the 1:07:00 mark for the launch and escape. Watch another five minutes for the astounding recovery.

Amongst the other fabulous details, keep in mind the camera is tracking the booster at 200,000 feet, down through 100,000 feet, all the way to the ground. Amazing.

10/17 – Space.com – Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket Returns to Flight with Gorgeous Night Cargo Launch Read more…

Post Navigation