SpaceX had a banner year in 2017, launching a record 18 times and helping to propel the United States to the top of the global launch table with a perfect 29-0 record. The U.S. total made up 32.2 percent of 90 orbital launches worldwide, which was an increase over the 85 flights conducted in 2016.
The 29 American launches were a leap of seven over the 22 flights conducted the previous year. This is the highest number of American orbital launches since the 31 flights undertaken in 1999. However, that year the nation’s launch providers suffered four failures whereas they were perfect in 2017.
Although orbital launch vehicles get all the glory (and infamy when they fail), 2016 was also a busy year for the far less glamorous suborbital launch sector. There were 19 suborbital launches at various sites around the world, and two more sounding rocket launches of note where the payload didn’t go above 100 km. (more…)
New materials designed to deal with hypersonic and supersonic hot stuff Physorg.com
Previous Australian experimental flight tests of scramjets, a type of very fast jet engine, have not lasted longer than five seconds….
However, further experimental tests are planned in 2011 through to 2013 in the HiFIRE series at Woomera using free-flying engines and eventually, a whole free-flying vehicle which will generate enough thrust to fly for a minute.
The South Australian Tourism Commission is “cautiously optimistic” about Virgin Galactic flying space tourism vehicles from Woomera. The London-based company is considering a spaceport in Australia at some point in the future.
The Wimmera Mail-Times reports that Mrs. Amanda Wilson of Horsham, South Australia wants to invite Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson to her town as part of a bid to locate a spaceport there. The paper really doesn’t explain who Mrs. Wilson is, but she is truly excited about space travel. She may have to wait awhile; the paper quotes a Virgin official as saying Australia is not in the company’s immediate plans.
Speaking of Virgin Galactic, The Advertiser has a story about Englishman Richard Burr, who is number 205 on the list to fly into suborbital space aboard SpaceShipTwo. The 52-year-old North Norfolk man is a property developer and businessman. “Everybody has a dream,” Burr said, “mine happens to be expensive.”
The world’s next space tourist, Richard Garriott, will take custom photographs of Earth for 200 paying subscribers on his ISS flight in October. The “Earth Portraits” program is being co-sponsored by the Association of Space Explorers and the space memorabilia website collectSPACE.com.