Orbital’s commercial crew interest isn’t new

Left: An illustration from the early 2000s of an Orbital Sciences space taxi concept launching atop a Delta 4 Heavy. Right: Orbital’s new concept for a commercial crew vehicle visiting the ISS.

Orbital Sciences got a lot of attention earlier this month when it announced it had submitted a proposal to NASA for its [...]

Virgin’s Will Whitehorn to retire

Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn speaks at the Spaceport America runway dedication in October 2010, with Sir Richard Branson looking on. (credit: J. Foust)

Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn will retire from the company next month and be replaced by current CEO George Whitesides, the company announced Thursday. Whitehorn, who has been working for [...]

Virgin joins forces with two companies on CCDev

At the Spaceport American runway dedication in October, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson surprised some people when he said that the company “is going to put forward proposals” for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program and “plan to start work on an orbital program quite quickly”. Today, Virgin confirmed its interest in orbital spaceflight, but those [...]

The rise and fall of Rocketplane

Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an extended account of George French and his involvement with Rocketplane, the company that, for a time, was developing both suborbital and orbital vehicles (the latter under a NASA COTS agreement) before running into financial problems and eventually going bankrupt. French had long been interested in space, but it was [...]

“It’s almost too easy”

The first SpaceX Dragon spacecraft descends to a splashdown on Wednesday. (credit: SpaceX)

OK… First I’ll access the secret military spy satellite that is in geosynchronous orbit over the midwest. Then I’ll ID the limo by the vanity plate “MR. BIGGG” and get his approximate position. Then I’ll reposition the transmission dish on [...]

Falcon 9 launch postponed; examining reactions

If all had gone well, the Falcon 9 would be launching this morning to test the Dragon spacecraft. However, SpaceX announced Monday afternoon that the launch would be postponed because of cracks in the nozzle of the rocket’s second-stage engine. Specifically, SpaceX is examining two small cracks in the aft end of the nozzle expansion [...]

SpaceX ready for first COTS launch

Falcon 9 on the pad at Cape Canaveral for a static test firing earlier this year.

SpaceX is scheduled to make the first of three launches as part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA next week. NASA announced this week that SpaceX is planning to carry out its “COTS 1″ [...]