05 Aug

John Carmack’s private space program shutters up

Well, it had been fun to watch as it went:

“Armadillo Aerospace, the private rocket-building enterprise founded by gaming godfather John Carmack, is being put on hold. At QuakeCon, Carmack told New Space Journal that in the face of a failed landing in January and growing organizational problems, ‘things are turned down to sort of a hibernation mode.’ Armadillo, the Journal reports, had hit a snag after giving up private contract work to chase a reusable cargo craft of the kind used by NASA. That meant that instead of operating at a profit, Carmack paid over a million dollars a year to finance the company and narrowed its focus to producing working suborbital rockets with existing technology.”

(Via John Carmack’s private space program ‘in hibernation’ after progress stalled | The Verge.)

25 Jul

Boeing’s new capsule inches closer

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Neat. Though I didn’t realize NASA was only going to award a contract to the winner of the race (looks like it’s between SpaceX and Boeing). I thought they would award more business to the winner, but use both if both turned out to be awesome? Guess I was wrong.

Hopefully it’ll work out that both will continue competing.

“The CST-100 is scheduled to take off in 2016 for a test flight that could help Boeing win a coveted NASA contract to deliver crew to the ISS. Boeing is one of three companies, along with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Sierra Nevada, competing for the job through NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program.”

(Via Boeing Shows Off Space Taxi’s Sleek Interior | Space | TechNewsWorld.)

14 Jul

Dragon Roadmap: From domestic crew independence to humans on Mars | NASASpaceFlight.com

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Something more cheerful and space-related than the grim past few days, a look at where Space X is along its path to human-certified launch:

“SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is continuing to make solid progress during the early years of its incremental roadmap, a path that has a firm focus on sending humans to Mars. With successful Commercial Cargo missions already under its belt, Dragon is already targeting the role of transporting NASA crews to the International Space Station (ISS).”

(Via Dragon Roadmap: From domestic crew independence to humans on Mars | NASASpaceFlight.com.)

30 May

Forbes has a good summary of all the private space development going on

Forbes wonders if ‘it’s time for a private space race.’ It’s less a race and more of an ecosystem that’s blooming. But the article is worth reading because it provides a fantastic overview of everything that’s going on in the field.

“NASA’s designs for the Space Launch System and the Orion capsule could play an important part in future space exploration but they have yet to take flight. Meanwhile for-profit companies are busy launching, designing and, yes, dreaming about humanity’s future in space.”

(Via Is It Time For A Private Space Race? – Forbes.)

30 May

Copenhagen moves forward on next version of open source rocket

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The Copenhagen rocket is a small group of volunteers who are doing some amazing things. What’s even cooler is that they offer up their designs to everyone.

“Nothing is secret at Copenhagen Suborbitals, we are not Boeing or SpaceX – so please go ahead – download the entire rocket here (Solidworks 2013, IGES and STP, 13MB total) – this machine will take you into space. If you follow this blog and my twitter profile you will find this rocket for download in greater detail, as development continues. Why not build it yourself?”

(Via HEAT 1600 Concept Development – The Manifestation of Dreams and Ambitions (for Download) | Wired Science | Wired.com.)

You can see video of the last launch here.

28 May

NASA mulling over supporting Bigelow Aerospace modules on moon and orbit

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Nasa might join private companies in supporting various Bigelow modules in orbit and on the moon. The Bigelow modules attached to various rockets for getting on with long range exploration actually intrigue me as well:

“A study by Bigelow Aerospace, commissioned by NASA, shows ‘a lot of excitement and interest from various companies’ for moonbases and other space projects. The projects range from pharmaceutical research aboard Earth-orbiting habitats, to missions to the moon’s surface, he said on Thursday, citing a draft of the report due to be released in a few weeks. Bigelow Aerospace surveyed about 20 companies as well as foreign space agencies and research organizations for the NASA study. NASA expects to release the first part of Bigelow’s study within a few weeks. The second section is expected to be finished this fall.”

(Via NASA could join private customers for a permanant inflatable moonbase in the 2020s and become a tenant of a Bigelow spacestation after the International Space Station.)

16 May

Commercial Crew Certification for private space access companies comes next year

2014 will be for certifying SpaceX, and Boeing for crewed flight, with actual crewed flight sometime after. Seeing as that NASA has Russian delivery set up through 2017, it looks like 2015-2016 will be the critical time for seeing whether either of those two companies can provide crewed service while they wean themselves (hopefully) over to the new crewed systems.

“Under NASA’s planned strategy, the next phase of certification (phase two) should start in 2014 and should include development, test, evaluation, and certification activities. It could also include, as options, a number of crewed missions to the ISS following certification.”

(Via McAlister Discusses Commercial Crew Certification | NASASpaceFlight.com.)

08 May

Orbital’s first resupply mission set for later this year

The other major private space company looking to score the ISS resupply and eventual humans to the ISS for NASA contract is also gearing up for it’s own space resupply mission:

“The first flight of Orbital’s Cygnus resupply freighter, an automated cargo carrier developed in partnership with NASA, was expected this summer. But Orbital officials decided to swap out one of the AJ26 first stage engines on the spacecraft’s Antares rocket, adding three or four weeks of prep time before the mission is ready to blast off.”

(Via Spaceflight Now | Cygnus Mission Report | First flight of Cygnus cargo craft delayed to September.)