commercial space

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How to Live on The Moon - A Lunar Mission Guidebook 

“One of the problems is that there is a perception that to build a moon base would require some enormous quantity of money,” said Paul Spudis, a lunar geologist with NASA. “That is simply not true. One of the things I looked at — and I did this about two years ago — is I specifically looked at how you can go back to the moon under the existing budget without any additional money for NASA — and you can do it.”

Some scientists think humans could survive comfortably on the moon. In some ways, the very minimal gravity of the moon might actually be more conducive to life than the microgravity astronauts experience on the International Space Station.

Although it hasn’t been formally tested, some experts hypothesize that the small amount of gravitational force put on an astronaut’s body when on the moon could help stem some of the adverse effects like bone-density and muscle loss that spaceflyers experience while living in microgravity on the International Space Station. This could make colonizing the moon an even more appealing option.

The first step in establishing a moon base might be robotic. Once unmanned missions establish the beginnings of a base, humans can launch to the lunar surface to conduct research and maintain the habitat. 

“I have thought that the initial return to the moon would consist of what I call a ‘human-tended outpost,’ where people go there for extended tourism time — there’s no permanent residence except in the sense of rotating crews,” Spudis told SPACE.com. Just like the International Space Station, Spudis’ concept of the lunar base would require crews of four to eight people to rotate in and out of the base.

3D printing a lunar laboratory

A European Space Agency (ESA) study found that 3D printing a lunar base using material already available on the moon could be a practical way to establish an outpost on Earth’s nearest cosmic neighbor. Under the ESA’s hypothetical plan, a robotic mission to the moon could do most of the work before astronauts ever needed to set foot on the lunar surface.

A robot would conduct the 3D-printing program autonomously. The robot would use a mixture of lunar dirt and dust, called regolith, to cover an inflatable dome with layers of the robust material.

“It’s a dream from a manufacturing point of view,” said Tommaso Ghidini, head of the ESA’s Materials Technology Section. “You just have your house being printed around you.”

By using the moon’s indigenous material, space agencies can save money on the cost of flying pricey missions to and from the moon’s surface.  Astronauts would be sent up to man and maintain the station after the habitat is at least partially built.

Mining The Moon

Once on the moon, instead of having to stage costly missions aimed at delivering oxygen and other necessary volatiles from Earth, experts might be able to actually use mined lunar material to manufacture gasses needed to sustain life on the satellite.

“The consumables of air and water would largely be drawn from local resources,” Spudis said. “They would not be imported from the Earth, but everything else would be. So, all of your high-tech equipment, all of your food, any kind of specialized needs — clothing, things like that — for the inhabitants would be brought from Earth.”

Water could also be used for radiation protection on the exposed lunar surface, Spudis added. The moon has no atmosphere, so people would be completely susceptible to the radiation that would bombard the rocky satellite every day. Water manufactured on the moon could help shield lunar lifers from those effects.

Eventually, a base on the moon could lead to human exploration in deeper parts of the solar system, Spudis said. – Read More +Future Moon Colonies

May 25, 1961 marks a significant turning point for the world as we knew it then, and with which we’ve come to now, as President John F. Kennedy communicated to Congress the most profound mission statements ever put forth for humanity (so far)…

Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth. I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

The official transcript of JFK’s speech to Congress was provided to Space.com and can be viewed in its entirety, here

Reading these words (and hearing them aloud in our minds with Kennedy’s accent and inflection) invoke a kind of optimism and empowerment difficult to articulate : 

This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.

New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further–unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.

In ‘Fight for Space’, we spoke to former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, Theoretical Physicist Lawrence Krauss, GWU Space Historian John Logsdon, Mars Society CEO Robert Zubrin, and former NASA Astronaut Story Musgrave regarding the societal and cultural impact of JFK’s speech and the actions that followed:

(Above) The film isn’t after a sugar-coated approach to communicating American history. Our mission, however, is not one of conviction, but an examination of the historical, cultural, personal, and political events (with respect to all the underlying circumstances) which dismantled our nation’s human spaceflight program. 


Generations of the post-Space Age era are owed - as are the generations ahead - honest insight into humanity’s resumé regarding the decisions which ignited the industrial revolution but which sabotaged electric transportation; and why members of our human community would shelve something as magnificent an achievement as the Saturn V rocket; in turn, turning our backs and shifting our society’s momentum from the grandest and most abundant frontier of our or any other time during the history of our species?

In 1966, as a direct result of America’s capabilities and predicted evolution by natural progress (considering how quickly we began to explore space and rendezvous with the Moon), visionaries who were already dreaming big and understood the influence space exploration would become amongst a global society with so much potential, began to work toward imagining a more beautiful and limitless future.

Walt Disney’s original project designed for Florida (“Project X”) is reflective of the lifestyle of The Jetsons, Jacque Fresco’s The Venus Project, or Biosphere 2; whereby a Utopian metropolis was pitched called “the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” or, Epcot; shades of which can be seen via influence throughout Disney’s new film, ‘Tomorrowland.’ Walt’s original pitch elaborating upon Epcot to be granted funding of the project can be seen in its entirety here

Walt Disney describes Epcot, offering up a future dependent upon space exploration, quickly implementable technology integration into our lives, and a burgeoning economy:

Epcot will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and new systems. At Epcot we’ll always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise…Epcot will always be in a state of becoming. It will never cease to be a living blueprint of the future, where people actually live a life they can’t find anywhere else in the world.

We don’t presume to know all the answers; in fact, we’re counting on the cooperation of American industry to provide their very best thinking during the planning and creation of our Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. And most important of all, when Epcot has become a reality, and we find the need for technology that don’t even exist today, it’s our hope that Epcot will stimulate American industry to develop new solutions that will meet the needs of people expressed right here in this experimental community.

Walt was no dummy. He saw the grandeur and infinite scope of an expanding horizon of progress in what the commitment to what America’s expansion into space could bring. Today’s “imagineers” are attempting to achieve similar dreams. In the ‘Fight for Space’ clip, Robert Zubrin elaborates: 

Who do you think were these 40 year old technological entrepreneurs that built Silicon Valley in the 1990′s? Well, they’re the 10 and 12 year old little boy mad scientists in the 1960′s making rocket fuel in the basement; that’s who they were, and they created this technological revolution.

(Above) The Space Frontier Foundation is an American space advocacy nonprofit corporation organized to promote the interests of increased involvement of the private sector, in collaboration with government, in the exploration and development of space.

Perhaps, however, ‘We Must Be Our Own Kennedy’, suggests Rick Tumlinson, Founder, Deep Space Industries, New Worlds Institute, EarthLight Foundation, Space Frontier Foundation, Orbital Outfitters Inc. in a recent editorial via HuffPost, and it mirrors the directive of the film so well that it’s worth paying it forward in its entirety: 

Sometimes you have to change course to get on course. And the first small step in doing so may be to realize you didn’t really know where you were going in the first place - and why. When President Kennedy set us on a path to the Moon in the 1960s, he knew exactly why - to produce a photo-op that would clearly show America would be the winner in the decades long battle of political systems called the Cold War. Whatever else followed (or didn’t). his goal was clear. Those assigned the job understood the strategy needed to succeed and it was magnificently achieved. 

Yet from the moment those images of Buzz and Neil arrived on the world’s television sets, our human space program has been lost - for a blatantly simple and obvious reason - after the first giant leap to take that first small step there was no plan for the next one, because there was no second question to be answered. Why go to the Moon? To beat the Soviets. Done. There was no serious conversation about why we should stay or go further or do more. And without a “Why?” whose answer is as compelling as that of stemming possible world domination by a competing “evil empire” that inspires people to do impossible things, they will settle for the possible, and mediocrity will reign. And thus, for almost 50 years we’ve spent incredible amounts of money doing the possible. While pretty pictures fed an eager yet small group of passionate aficionados, the reality is our space program was simply and literally going in circles.

It is not the fault of the incredible people who dedicate their lives to this vocation. They are true and loyal builders of dreams, if only one were given them to build. Yet Kennedy is gone, Camelot’s faded into history, and while the beast to the east rumbles and snorts and stomps, the crystal clarity of that old Soviet monster is no more a threat to the gates of our future. Sure, presidents roll in and out of office and wanly lay out their own “Vision” on commemorations of our past astronautic glories and State of the Union speeches, but none has really done anything to assure it really happens after the end of the applause.

As if the menu were the meal, they have variously called for a return to the Moon, exploration of Mars, grabbing an asteroid, or simply preparing to go anywhere. Each new administration changes the recipe, each new Congress adds its own bacon flavor to the mix, and meanwhile, those back in the kitchen lose focus, lose hope and in many cases literally die off while waiting for the order - costing us experience and the ability to build a knowledge base able to achieve anything.

Meanwhile, without a shared vision the spaceflight community rips itself apart, fighting over the best destination and order, what we should do when and if we ever do anything; and most recently, who should do the job of getting us there, the private or public sector? These fights are long, politically bloody, and at times almost at the level of religious. And no one wins - not really. Not NASA, not the companies, not the scientists, not those who dream of creating a civilization in space, and certainly not the U.S. taxpayers who have spent almost a trillion dollars since Apollo on a national ticket to nowhere.

Here’s the irony. We could have it all. There was nothing technical or physical stopping us from having moved on from Apollo to a permanent Moon base, the development of industries in space and the establishment of the first human communities on Mars. We could have - we can - do it anytime we actually decide that it is our goal, organize ourselves to make it happen And Just Do It. It has been over 50 years since the proclamation was made that sent us on our way to the Moon the first time. And Kennedy was right when he said we go not because it easy, but because it is hard…but we misunderstood what the hard part really was.

The hardest part of opening the frontier is not space. It is us. It is not physics, but fear that keeps us from greatness; not technology, but timidity that holds us to this planet; and it is not danger, but indecision that keeps us locked on this rock, and will suck our civilization down into it to be the found fossils of the future. Thus, the core of the challenge. Without a clear top level goal based on a shared Vision, what’s left is a fight over tactics and resources to achieve them. Without an understanding of Why there can be no discussion of How and all that is left is to fight over What we are doing, Who gets to do it and how much money they can make pretending to do it.

It has to end - or we, in this incredibly fraught moment of time when we have birthed the weapons of destruction and the wings of the possible from the same egg; when we are teetering on the edge of an abyss and yet can still sense the call of the stars - we will fall. We will stop merely going in circles and begin the long slow spiral downwards into a future of less for all, and hope for none. So we who are ourselves the children of Apollo must now set the course. And it is clear there is only one overarching, all inclusive, destiny level inspirational goal that can unite us to do something impossible. The human settlement of space.

We go out there to stay; that people have the right to risk themselves to build a better new world, and that by doing so they will help save and improve the old is The idea of our time. There is nothing else as compelling, as clear in its description and meaning, as ingrained in our very being and history as the idea that our future lies beyond the borders of our present. It always has. It always will. And today, having covered the sphere of this one world, that future lies upwards and outwards to others.

So yes, as the man said, there is a reason for us to do this thing and the others that are not easy, but hard. That reason is because it is what we are meant to do as human beings. While in his time the reason “Why?” was derived from war, this time it can be born of hope. And while in his time he could only comprehend the first small steps, we have the ability to understand what a giant leap this endeavor can offer us and our children.

It really is up to us. We cannot wait for the next Kennedy to set us on our path to the stars. We must be our own Kennedy, set the path ourselves and do what it takes to make it happen. Except this time We Stay!”

(Above) Introducing Deep Space Industries, a privately-held American company in the asteroid mining sector with plans to offer general utility commercial space services beginning in approximately 2016.

Tumlinson’s proclamation and passionate advocacy couldn’t be communicated any better, by anyone, or at a better time in history, as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the SPACE Act (“Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015″); a bill to promote the development of a United States commercial space resource exploration and utilization industry and to increase the exploration and utilization of resources in outer space.

Laying out the parameters for the space mining industry (such as DSI and Planetary Resources, Inc.), it states – 

Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law.

Noted by the House Science Committee in regards to the FAA (quoted by WashPost): 

The bill preserves the FAA’s ability to regulate commercial human spaceflight in order to protect the uninvolved public, national security, public health and safety, safety of property, and foreign policy. It also preserves FAA’s ability to regulate spaceflight participant and crew safety as a result of an accident or unplanned event.

What does this have to do with space settlement? Everything. 

(Above) The impending space economy. View larger infographic here.

Sure, we get our spacefaring kicks out of science fiction films like Star Wars and Star Trek; however, the pioneers, the mavericks, the ground floor industries who enabled those cosmic frontiers to be explored aren’t extrapolated upon or even mentioned at all. Yet, we’re living during a time when very serious companies have been gearing up for this moment, and alliances have been forged long before this begun. It’s time, and the SPACE Act is the green light

SETI Institute Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak on the societal implications of Commercial Spaceflight: 

Bigelow Aerospace, for instance, is ready to test its inflatable habitats, which will allow people to live in space. With an FAA launch license to provide access, CEO Robert Bigelow would, for instance, be able to stake his claim on a prime piece of lunar real estate.

Space policymakers are quite confident that celestial territory is poised to usher in a profound industrial revolution of epic proportions. Under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, crewed vehicles are limited to operate within a 125-mile “non-interference” zone designated to keep astronauts protected. Whereas if a similar standard were applied to commercial space endeavors on the Earth’s moon or elsewhere, Bigelow, for instance, could position itself to become a leader in the initial rush.

Yet, this is merely an isolated example. There are others: 

  • Space X is developing reusable rockets, 3D printed engines, reinventing transportation systems (mimicking that of Disney’s Monorail), a deep space launch vehicle, and a transportation module for human colonies on Mars.
  • Paragon Space Development Corporation has been designing spacecraft, developing advanced thermal protection, and perfecting life support systems.
  • Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, Inc. are testing technologies to begin scouting, tracking, characterizing, mining, and in situ utilization of asteroids. 
  • Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and XCOR Aerospace are advancing through dynamics procedures to provide paying customers a leisurely excursion to the stratosphere for a view of the Earth with a window to the rest of the universe.

The open road still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten song of childhood. We invest far off places with a certain romance. The appeal, I suspect, has been meticulously crafted by natural selection as an essential element in our survival. 

Long summers, mild winters, rich harvests, plentiful game; none of them lasts forever. Your own life, or your bands, or even your species might be owed to a restless few - drawn by a craving they can hardly articulate or understand - to undiscovered lands, and new worlds.

Maybe it’s a little early. Maybe the time is not quite yet, but those other worlds - promising untold opportunities - beckon. Silently, they orbit the sun, waiting.”

– Carl Sagan (excerpt and above art from the short film ‘Wanderers’ by Erik Wernquist, below)

In deserving retrospect, John F. Kennedy may have lit the spark, but we have become emboldened by our own dreams, carrying the torch and implementing the future of humanity in space so that generations ahead will graciously fan the flame of curiosity, exploration, independence, and ultimately, survival. It’s up to us to #FightforSpace

10 Awesome Startups That Are Looking To Profit From A New Space Race

What would you do if you were a billionaire and wanted to go to space?
The obvious answer: use that money to start a company to help you do just that.

In recent years, some of the most famous names in tech, like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have been founding and investing in companies that are looking to the stars.

Whether for personal dreams of adventure or for profit, these companies are doing the engineering and basic science needed to get humans into space.

They’re also looking at other opportunities that space provides, like access to resources that are hard to get on Earth and the ability to collect information about our planet from a different perspective.

1. SpaceX: The “other” company from Tesla founder Elon Musk. In the short term, it’s building rockets and capsules to get astronauts to the International Space Station. In the long term, it’s looking to make trips to Mars somewhat affordable by creating rockets that can be used many times, like the “Grasshopper” below, which can take off and land instead of simply falling into the ocean.

2. Planetary Resources: With financial backing from Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, “Avatar” director James Cameron, and others, Planetary Resources is looking at revolutionizing the tech world by mining nearby asteroids for metals that are extremely rare on Earth but found in abundance in space.

3. Blue Origin: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is well-known for his love of all things space. While he founded Blue Origins in 2000, it’s only in recent years that he’s become more open with the progress his company is making towards making manned spaceflight affordable.

4. Planet Labs: Using 28 miniature satellites known as “CubeSats,” Planet Labs aims to provide more detailed and more frequently updated images of our planet than have previously been available. These photos will allow for traffic maps and environmental data to be more accurate than ever.

5. Kymeta: Like other companies with backing from Bill Gates (who both provided initial cash and contributed to a $50 million venture round), Kymeta is a company looking to make a positive social impact. The company plans to use orbiting satellites and low-cost receivers to provide Internet to vehicles and also to isolated areas in the developing world.

6. Orbital Sciences: Though it has a background in launching satellites and missile defense systems, Orbital has been making great strides in recent years towards providing vessels for NASA, putting it in direct competition with SpaceX.

7. Deep Space Industries: Like Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries hopes to mine asteroids for materials that are worth insane amounts due to their rarity on Earth. The company plans to identify viable asteroids in the next two years and begin mining within a decade.

8. Stratolaunch Systems: Founded in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Stratolaunch is looking to make spaceflight more affordable by using massive, lightweight planes to do most of the work of getting people and cargo off the ground.

9. SkyBox Imaging: With backing from CrunchFund’s Michael Arrington, SkyBox is deploying a fleet of miniature satellites, much like Planet Labs. The company is looking to use these for a much wider range of uses however, including oil and natural gas site selection, reporting of natural disasters, urban planning, and agriculture.

10. Masten Space Systems: Based in Southern California, Masten is dedicated to making advanced, reusable rockets that can take off and land vertically many times, in the same vein as SpaceX’s “Grasshopper.”

Source: BusinessInsider

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Blue Origin tests New Shepard suborbital rocket on maiden flight.

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space start up, achieved a significant milestone in its goals of space tourism Wednesday, 29 April.

The New Shepard launch vehicle and crew capsule launched from the company’s west Texas launch site in an unannounced test.

Marking its first all-up flight, New Shepard is a single-stage, suborbital vehicle designed to loft a crew capsule into sub-orbit. Following spacecraft separation, the rocket - dubbed the Propulsion Module - would return for a vertical landing downrange for reuse.

Wednesday’s test saw the Propulsion Module and Crew Capsule separate nominally, with the capsule reaching a peak altitude of 307,000 feet - or 58 miles. However, the successful recovery of the Propulsion Module did not occur due to a loss of pressure in the landing hydraulic system.

“If New Shepard had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight.” Bezos said in a statement post-flight.

New Shepard utilizes a single BE-3 engine to loft the vehicle uphill. The company is also working on creating the BE-4 engine for ULA as a domestic replacement for the Russian-made RD-180 engine.

In the images above, New Shepard can be seen lifting off from the company’s test stand in Texas. The second image shows the Propulsion Module from the crew module shortly after separation - with Texas 56 miles below.

Video Highlights of the launch can be seen here, with a longer tracking camera video of the flight, including the capsule’s landing, here.

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Dragon vs. Cygnus: Stacking Up 2 Private Spacecraft

An unmanned private spacecraft is set to launch from Virginia Wednesday (Sept. 18) on its maiden trip to the International Space Station.

If successful, Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft will become the second private robotic American cargo ship to dock with the orbiting laboratory. The first was the Dragon capsule, built by billionaire Elon Musk’s California-based spaceflight firm SpaceX. Orbtial Sciences’ first Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to launch toward the space station Wednesday at 10:50 a.m. EDT (1450 GMT). You can watch the Cygnus spacecraft launch live on SPACE.com Wednesday, courtesy of NASA TV.

Cygnus: Orbital Sciences' vehicle will fly into space atop the company's Antares rocket, which is expected to launch from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Wednesday at 10:50 a.m. EDT (1450 GMT). The spaceflight firm launched the first Antares test flight in April, but Wednesday’s liftoff marks the debut of the fully functional Cygnus.

Antares is about the size of a 13-story building, standing 131.5 feet (40 meters) tall. The two AJ26 engines used in the rocket’s first stage are based on the NK-33 engine, which was originally developed to launch Russia’s giant N-1 moon rocket — the Soviet answer to America’s famous Saturn V — in the 1960s. However, the Soviet heavy-lifter was never launched successfully.

Dragon: The Dragon capsule — named for the fictional “Puff the Magic Dragon” in the song by the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary — is launched to space using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. While Antares’ design is modeled after a Russian rocket, the Falcon 9’s Merlin engines are new. The two-stage rocket stands taller than Antares at 224.4 feet (68.4 m), and it can lift 28,991 pounds (13,150 kg) into low-Earth orbit.

The Falcon 9 first stage has nine Merlin engines. The rocket can lose up to two of these engines and still finish a mission, SpaceX officials have said. SpaceX designers were inspired by the Saturn V, “which had flawless flight records in spite of engine losses,” officials said.

Read + Robotic Cygnus Spacecraft’s 1st Space Station Test Flight

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The Dutch company Mars One is looking for colonist for Mars for 2023. They will be announcing more details about the selection process today.

“Mars One is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars through the integration of existing, readily available technologies from industry leaders world-wide. Mars One intends to fund this decade-long endeavor by involving the whole world as the audience of an interactive, televised broadcast of every aspect of this mission, from the astronaut selections and their preparations to the arrival on Mars and their lives on the Red Planet.” - Mars One

Who would have supposed in early 1957 that the Soviet Union, and not the United States, would loft the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit, the first robotic lunar probe, and the first man, into space? And who would ever have predicted that the United States, stung by losses in a competition in which it had not even known it was engaged, would, or even could, respond by carrying out the first lunar landing eight years and two months after declaring the goal? Most then-knowledgeable observers believed that such a feat was unlikely to be achieved much before the end of the 20th Century, if then. Not even the most visionary of hard science fiction authors – Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein – imagined that it could occur as early as 1969. And then, having spent $21 billion (in mid-60s dollars) to develop the transportation system to make such a thing possible, was it even conceivable that such hard-won capability would be utterly discarded within a few years? Who would have imagined it? And yet it happened.
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The Future Of Design

SpaceX is exploring methods for engineers to accelerate their workflow by designing more directly in 3D. By integrating breakthroughs in sensor and visualization technologies to view and modify designs more naturally and efficienctly than we could using purely 2D tools.SpaceX hopes to eventually build the fastest route between the idea of a rocket and the reality of the factory floor.

“I believe we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in design and manufacturing.” Elon Musk says.

“Being able to take the concept of something from your mind, translate that into a 3-D object really intuitively on the computer, and take that virtual 3-D object to make it real just by printing it.”

Video - SpaceX

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A quick tour of SpaceX.

NASA Expands Commercial Space Program, Requests Proposals for Second Round of Cargo Resupply Contracts for International Space Station

On the heels of awarding groundbreaking contracts to U.S. commercial space companies to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA has released a request for proposals (RFP) for the next round of contracts for private-sector companies to deliver experiments and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.
Full article

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When they first started talking about commercializing spaceflight, I thought it was an intriguing idea but I wasn’t so sure that it could go anywhere…But I have been very pleasantly surprised by the fact that the commercial space effort has been so successful so far. It looks like they can do it. And in fact, they can do it far more efficiently than a government organization. You know, everybody knows the usual arguments here: if aviation had been left to the government, it would cost you $20,000 to fly from New York to San Francisco, and it would take three weeks to refuel the plane.

– Seth Shostak, SETI Institute Senior Astronomer in ‘Fight for Space’, speaking on commercial vs government spaceflight

For those who may have the skewed impression that 'Fight for Space’ was a film cheerleading specifically for a government-driven space program like NASA, – or adversely, that 'Fight for Space’ was an attack on NASA – this clip provides a bit of insight into some of these conversations and the narrative we pursue.

It’s going to to take collaboration from all scientific fields, industries, and entities to develop our spacefaring future. To create this future, we must all join the #FightforSpace.

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Ride Along With SpaceShipTwo: Tail Footage Video of Latest Test Flight

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its second supersonic rocket-powered test flight. Virgin Galactic has shared the flight footage from a camera mounted on the tail of the ship, allowing us all to ride along and see the views. 
The ship went to 69,000 feet (21 km, 13 miles) but you can still see the blackness of space and the curvature of Earth in the video.

Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson said yesterday that commercial flights with passengers should begin in 2014 … which is next year, meaning that perhaps space flight for the rest of us is not always 5-10 years off anymore.



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