An unlikely duo has launched an unlikely commercial space company in an unlikely place. A former Roscosmos (that's the Russian space agency) employee and the designer famous for crafting the Victoria's Secret angel wings are teaming to create next-generation space suits for the commercial spaceflight industry in Brooklyn.
Virgin Galactic officially entered the satellite launch business this morning at the Farnborough International Air Show when founder Sir Richard Branson unveiled LauncherOne, an expendable two-stage rocket designed to blast off at high altitude from Virgin's carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo--the same mothership that will launch space tourists on suborbital spaceflights.
After a handful of delays and one abort on the launch pad, SpaceX began its historic journey toward the International Space Station just before 4:00 a.m. eastern time this morning as its Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in a spectacular nighttime launch.
Update: After abnormally high pressures were detected inside the Falcon 9's center engine, this morning's launch was aborted at the last second. The next available launch window is this Tuesday.
Tomorrow morning, whether they realize it or not, Americans will likely wake up to a new era. Though nothing will be outwardly different, a fundamental shift in the nature of spaceflight will commence during the wee morning hours. Call it a defining moment, or a milestone, or simply call it what it is: the dawn of the private spaceflight industry's real presence in outer space.
In a landing system test, Boeing just dropped its new space capsule from 11,000 feet above the Nevada desert, watching the Apollo-esque craft descend under three massive parachutes. The CST-100 (which really needs a catchier name) is now one step closer to flying to the International Space Station or a future space hotel.
Private spaceflight concern SpaceX has been teasing the public for more than a week with rumblings of a big announcement today. Indeed, that announcement is big: about 22 stories big. SpaceX founder Elon Musk today unveiled the company’s next big thing, the Falcon Heavy rocket, a massive launch vehicle with a cargo capacity of 117,000 pounds.
The commercial space industry has booked its first science expeditions, the Southwest Research Institute announced today. At least two researchers have tickets to fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, with another six seats on reserve, and the team also reserved six flights on an XCOR Lynx I rocket plane.
It seems not everyone is content to let the legacy of the space shuttle fly away over yonder horizon. Orbital Sciences Corp. has thrown its hat into NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program with a winged space plane concept very reminiscent of the Shuttle’s design intended to ferry crews to and from the ISS.