Space Tourism Turns Ten: The space community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first private spaceflight by Dennis Tito. Since that time, six other millionaires have followed on seven government space missions (Charles Simonyi flew twice). Truly private sector spaceflight — using its own vehicles — is still waiting in the wings.
Two Steps Forward, One Back. In Mojave, SpaceShipTwo made its sixth glide flight – and second in five days – amid reports that engine development is also accelerating. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Virgin Galactic Vice President Will Pomerantz promoted development opportunities near Spaceport America as the Legislature slashed the project’s budget.
Plus ca change… On Thursday, officials from NASA and the CCDev winners held a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center to discuss the future of America’s space program as workers prepared Endeavour for the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program. More than 700,000 people – including President Barack Obama and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – gathered the next day only to have NASA cancel the launch because of a problem with an auxiliary power unit. Problems with APUs bedeviled STS-2 in 1981.
Putin Channels The Donald. Russia’s leader for life fired Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov after seven years on the job and replaced him with retired Army Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, who formerly served as director of Russia’s Space Forces. Putin said that Perminov was too old to serve, but the real reason was a series of embarrassing launch failures and program delays. Thus, Putin is no more honest when firing people than Trump has been about Obama’s birth certificate. Pray these two never face each other at a summit meeting.
The Next Great Leap. China unveiled details of a space station it will launch by 2020 that looks a lot like Mir circa 1996.It’s little wonder that efforts to create a new space race with China have fallen short. The country has launched six people into space over eight years; the most recent mission was over 2.5 years ago.