Part III: All Aboard Elon Musk’s Mars Express

A view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

“The goal of SpaceX is really to build the transport system. It’s like building the Union Pacific Railroad. And once that transport system is built then there’s a tremendous opportunity for anyone who wants to go to Mars and create something new or build the foundations of a new planet.

“When they were building the Union Pacific, a lot of people said that’s a super dumb idea because hardly anybody lives in California. But, now today we’ve got the U.S. epicenter of technology development and entertainment, and it’s the biggest state in the nation.

Elon Musk
SpaceX Founder & CEO

By Douglas Messier
Managing Edtior

The idea of a transcontinental railroad to the West Coast came into the world in 1830 as many dreams do: as a visionary, if seemingly outrageous, plan that few people took seriously. Why build a rail line through a howling wilderness where almost nobody lived? It would be a hideously expensive boondoggle, a road to nowhere.

This same problem has dogged the space movement since Sputnik was launched 60 years ago. While Hartwell Carver and other backers of the transcontinental railroad were able to overcome all the obstacles in their way, human progress in the silent vacuum of space has been slow and halting. It has never lived up the expectations people had at the start of the Space Age.

(more…)

Space Tango’s Takes First Step to Commercializing Microgravity Research

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched Space Tango payloads on Commercial Resupply Services – 10 (CRS-10) on February 19th at approximately 9:39 AM EST. Payloads will be installed in the TangoLab Facility on the International Space Station (ISS). CRS-10 is Space Tango’s first commercial opportunity to begin use of the facility hardware for researchers and customers to utilize microgravity for application on Earth.

“Our focus is not necessarily the six people up there,” explained Space Tango CEO Twyman Clements, “but the 7 billion people down here.”

(more…)

NASA Authorization Act Calls for Study of Sending Orion to Space Station

NASA astronaut Suni Williams exits a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston. The testing is helping NASA identify the best ways to efficiently get astronauts out of the spacecraft after deep space missions. (Credit: NASA)

The Senate-approved NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 would require the space agency to conduct a study of whether the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle would be capable of carrying crews and supplies to the International Space Station.

(more…)

ISRO Tests GSLV Mark III Cryogenic Upper Stage

GSLV Mark III upper stage engine test. Credit: ISRO

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully tested its indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) for GSLV MkIII on February 17, 2017. The cryogenic stage designated as C25 was tested for a flight duration of 640 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Mahendragiri. C25 Stage had earlier been tested successfully for 50 seconds on January 25, 2017 to validate all the systems.

(more…)

Update on the Railroad Series

Construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

For anyone waiting with bated breath for the final installment of my Transcontinental Railroad series — and I know there are at least three or four of you out there — please be informed that I expect to publish it on Tuesday. Like the railroad itself, finishing it is taking a little bit longer than I anticipated. Writing history is one thing; drawing conclusions from it is a bit more complicated.

So, thank you for your patience!

Save

Save

MOU Signed to Study Campbeltown Spaceport

Credit: Discover Space UK

ARGYLL, Scotland (Discover Space UK PR) — Leading UK Space science and technology firms QinetiQ and Telespazio VEGA UK have agreed Memorandum’s of Understanding (MoU) to work with Discover Space UK on investigating the potential for a horizontal launch spaceport at the Campbeltown site on the West Coast of Scotland.

(more…)

Kennedy Space Center Takes Step Toward Multi-Use Spaceport

Credit: NASA

The SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39-A is another milestone for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a premier, multi-user spaceport. Lifting off from the historic launch site in the photo on the right, SpaceX CRS-10 is the company’s 10th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

Pad 39-A now is operated by SpaceX under a property agreement with NASA.

The first ever launch from Kennedy’s Pad 39-A was Apollo 4, in the image on the left. Lifting off on Nov. 9, 1967, it was the first test flight of the Saturn V rocket that took Apollo astronauts to the moon.

The first space shuttle lifted off April 12, 1981 from Pad 39-A for STS-1 — the center picture. NASA astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen flew the shuttle Columbia for two days, landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The SpaceX CRS-10 launch of a Dragon spacecraft is the first from Pad 39-A since the final space shuttle mission on July 8, 2011. The Dragon will deliver about 5,500 pounds of supplies to the space station, such as Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument to further study ozone in the atmosphere.

UK Unveils Spaceport Laws


LONDON (Department of Transport PR) — British scientists will be able to fly to the edge of space to conduct vital medical experiments under new powers unveiled this week.

Laws paving the way for spaceports in the UK will allow ‎experiments to be conducted in zero gravity which could help develop medicines.

(more…)

This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Feb. 20, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back ERIC LERNER of Focus Fusion and LPP Fusion for updates.

2. Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017: 7-8:30 PM PST, 10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST: FRANK WHITE and NICK NIELSEN of The Overview Effect join us for a special presentation

3. Friday, Feb. 24 2016: 9:30-11AM PST; (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CST) We welcome back JAY WITNER & RON JONES of The Integrated Space Plan for new updates and information.

4. Sunday, Feb. 26,, 2017: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 5PM CST): DR. PAUL SPUDIS returns to the show for a must hear program. Lots has been happening with talk about returning to the Moon. Don’t miss this discussion.

Save

Ex-Im Bank on List of Trump Budget Cuts

Credit: Matt Wade

The Export-Import Bank is on a White House Budget Office list of programs that would be cut, The New York Times reports.

One surprise for some close watchers of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign is the inclusion of the Export-Import Bank on the O.M.B.’s list. Other Republican candidates had promised to eliminate the bank, a favorite target of House conservatives like Mr. Mulvaney. Conservatives, led by the billionaire Koch brothers, have run a multimillion-dollar campaign to kill the bank, which guarantees loans for overseas customers of American corporations, by denouncing it as “crony capitalism.”
(more…)

NASA Selects 34 CubeSats to Launch Into Space


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 34 small satellites from 19 states and the District of Columbia to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard missions planned to launch in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Launch opportunities are leveraged from existing launch services for government payloads as well as via dedicated CubeSat launches from the new Venture Class Launch Services contracts. The proposed CubeSats come from educational institutions, universities, non-profit organizations and NASA centers.

(more…)

Crystal Growth, Rodent Experiments Headed for ISS

The SAGE III instrument integrated on the EXPRESS Pallet Adapter (ExPA) after its final sharp edge inspection before its launch on Space X 10. This investigation will measure the stratospheric ozone, aerosols, and other trace gases by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning a thin profile of the atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The tenth SpaceX cargo resupply launch to the International Space Station will deliver investigations that study human health, Earth science and weather patterns. Here are some highlights of the research headed to the orbiting laboratory:

Crystal growth investigation could improve drug delivery, manufacturing

Monoclonal antibodies are important for fighting off a wide range of human diseases, including cancers. These antibodies work with the natural immune system to bind to certain molecules to detect, purify and block their growth. The Microgravity Growth of Crystalline Monoclonal Antibodies for Pharmaceutical Applications (CASIS PCG 5) investigation will crystallize a human monoclonal antibody, developed by Merck Research Labs, that is currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of immunological disease.

(more…)

SpaceX Launches Dragon Supply Ship to ISS

Falcon 9 first stage descends toward its landing pad. (Screen shot from SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket roared off NASA’s historic Pad 39A on Sunday morning, marking a rebirth of a complex that once hosted the launches of Apollo moon ships and space shuttles.

The booster lifted off on time at 9:39 a.m. EST carrying a Dragon resupply ship bound for the International Space Station. The Dragon separated from second stage as planned and unfurled its two solar arrays. It will take two days to catch up to the space station.

The Falcon 9’s first stage landed safely at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On board video showed the rocket’s engine firing as the stage touched down on its concrete landing pad.

This flight was the first from Pad 39 since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. SpaceX has a 20-year lease on the launch complex.

Save

Save

Virgin Galactic Rolled Out Unity a Year Ago

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

One year ago today, Virgin Galactic rolled out the second SpaceShipTwo Unity in a lavish ceremony inside the FAITH hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The new spacecraft made its first captive carry flight with the WhiteKnightTwo mother ship in September. It has since made three additional captive carry tests and a pair of glide flights in December.

Virgin Galactic has said it plans around 10 glide flights before beginning powered tests later this year. Unity will eventually fly paying passengers from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Asteroid Day Set for June

These photos show the relative size of three asteroids that have been imaged at close range by spacecraft. Mathilde (37 x 29 miles) (left) was taken by the NEAR spacecraft on June 27, 1997. Images of the asteroids Gaspra (middle) and Ida (right) were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1991 and 1993, respectively.
Image Credit:
NASA/JPL/NEAR and Galileo missions

LUXEMBOURG, LONDON, BERLIN, SILICON VALLEY, BUCHAREST (February 14, 2017) — The city of Luxembourg today hosted international leaders to launch Asteroid Day 2017. Asteroid Day is a UN sanctioned global day of education to raise awareness about asteroids and in particular how we protect Earth from dangerous impacts.

The press conference was broadcast live from Luxembourg, with the participation of experts in planetary science, business and government joining from Berlin, Bucharest, Silicon Valley, and London – courtesy of Cisco TelePresence Centers and the live stream by vBrick Rev.
(more…)