2010: An Exceptionally Busy Year in Commercial Space

Dragon being recovered in the Pacific. (Credit: SpaceX)

A brief look at developments in commercial space in 2010 with a look ahead, primarily focused on developments in the United States related to the so-called “New Space” sector.

SPACEX

Milestones

  • Two Falcon 9 launches, two successes
  • One Dragon floating down gently in the Pacific
  • Submitted CCDEV 2 proposal

Coming Up in 2011

  • Test flights to ISS
  • Possible CCDEV contract award

SpaceShipTwo glides downward on its first test flight. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

VIRGIN GALACTIC

Milestones

  • First SpaceShipTwo glide tests
  • Spaceport America runway dedication
  • Participation in two NASA CCDEV 2 bids
  • Will Whitehorn retires, George Whitesides takes over

Coming Up in 2011

  • Powered SpaceShipTwo test flight into suborbital space
  • Possible CCDEV 2 contract awards
The spaceport terminal in Curaçao should give the one in New Mexico a run for its money.

XCOR

Milestones

  • Finalized Lynx design with wind tunnel tests
  • Concluded spaceport deal with Curacao in Dutch Antilles
  • Raised sufficient funding to move forward with Lynx
  • Began Lynx assembly

Coming Up in 2011

  • Lynx test flights

ARMADILLO AEROSPACE

Milestones

  • Suborbital human space tourism agreement with Space Adventures
  • Awarded NASA CRuSR contract

Coming Up in 2011

  • CRuSR test flights
  • Continued vehicle development

Masten's Xombie vehicle

MASTEN SPACE SYSTEMS

Milestones

  • Awarded NASA CRuSR contract

Coming Up in 2011

  • CRuSR test flights
  • Continued vehicle development

BLUE ORIGIN

Milestones

  • Awarded CCDEV 1 contract
  • Continued vehicle development

Coming Up in 2011

  • Continued vehicle development and testing
  • Possible CCDEV 2 award
The Taurus II first stage core at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

ORBITAL SCIENCES CORPORATION

Milestones

  • Delivery of Taurus II first stage from Ukraine
  • Successful testing firings of AJ-26 engines for Taurus II
  • Continued development of Cygnus freighter
  • Submission of CCDEV 2 proposal

Coming Up in 2011

  • First Taurus II test flight
  • Possible CCDEV 2 award

Robert Bigelow (right) stands before a model of his private space station. (Photo: Douglas Messier)

BIGELOW AEROSPACE

Milestones

  • Partnership with Boeing on CST-100 crew transport
  • MOUs with six countries to lease space stations

Coming Up in 2011

  • Possible boost from CCDEV 2 awards
  • Continued construction of vehicle production facilities
  • Continued vehicle development

A Boeing CST-100 crew module docks at a Bigelow Aerospace space station. (Credit: Boeing)

BOEING

Milestones

  • CCDEV 1 award for CST-100 crew transport
  • Partnership with Bigelow Aerospace on space station project
  • Submission of CCDEV 2 proposal

Coming Up in 2011

  • Possible CCDEV 2 award
  • Continued vehicle development

SNC Dream Chaser Pressure Shell. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION

Milestones

  • CCDEV 1 award
  • CCDEV 2 proposal submission
  • Development of Dream Chaser crew transport
  • Tests of Dream Chaser engines

Coming Up in 2011

  • Possible CCDEV 2 award
  • Continued vehicle development
ULA's Atlas V

UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE

Milestones

  • CCDEV 1 contract
  • CCDEV 2 proposal submission
  • Atlas V becomes baseline for three CCDEV 2 crew transport proposals by Sierra Nevada, Boeing and Orbital Sciences
  • Delta IV under consideration to support future human missions
  • Alabama Congressional delegation realizes ULA has a production facility in Decatur

Coming Up in 2011

  • Possible CCDEV 2 award
  • Continued vehicle development



NASA

Milestones

  • Congressional approval to cancel Constellation, pursue CCDEV program fully
  • Awarded CCDEV 1 contracts to five companies
  • Accepted CCDEV 2 proposals
  • Awarded lunar data agreements
  • Awarded CRuSR program contracts to Armadillo Aerospace and Masten Space Systems
  • Issued commercial crew certification standards
  • Hired its first Chief Technology Officer, Bobby Braun

Coming Up in 2011

  • Budget authority for commercial programs
  • COTS flights by SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation
  • CRuSR flights by Armadillo Aerospace and Masten Space Systems
  • CCDEV 2 awards (March)
  • Space shuttle program ends
Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America.

NEW MEXICO SPACEPORT AUTHORITY

Milestones

  • Development of Spaceport America
  • Spaceport America runway dedication
  • FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation established (NMSU)

Coming Up in 2011

  • Spaceport America completion
  • SpaceShipTwo flights by Virgin Galactic