DARPA announces XS-1 study contracts

Boeing XS-1 design

Boeing’s concept for the XS-1 spaceplane, one of three selected by DARPA for Phase 1 studies. (credit: Boeing)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Tuesday it has awarded study contracts to three teams, representing a mix of established and entrepreneurial space companies, to study concepts for a reusable suborbital spaceplane.

DARPA said [...]

Year in PReview: is 2014 finally the year suborbital space tourism lifts off?

SpaceShipTwo during its first powered test flight on April 29, 2013. (credit: Virgin Galactic/MarsScientific.com)

One decade ago, hopes were high for suborbital space tourism. Scaled Composites had performed the first powered test flight of SpaceShipOne in December of 2003, and other than a minor landing mishap, the company seemed to be on track for [...]

SpaceX wins the battle for LC-39A

A NASA illustration of a notional commercial rocket on the pad at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. NASA selected SpaceX to begin discussions on a lease to allow the company to launch Falcon rockets from the pad. (credit: NASA/KSC)

When NASA announced plans earlier this year to lease Kennedy Space Center’s [...]

Blue Origin shows off its engine

Blue Origin tests its BE-3 liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine at its West Texas site. (credit: Blue Origin)

Unlike some of its fellow NewSpace companies, Blue Origin keeps a very low, even secretive profile about its activities. The company, founded and funded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, has gained a reputation for saying very little [...]

Blue Origin and planetary defense

Blue Origin is best known for its work developing suborbital and orbital reusable spacecraft (well, that, and its infamous secrecy about that work.) But the company at least once had interest in a different topic, according to an unusual source: planetary defense.

That’s the claim of the obituary of William Wright Kuhn, a mathematician and [...]

Teasing a few clues out of Bezos and Blue Origin

Blue Origin’s PM2 suborbital experimental vehicle, shown here on a flight before being lost during a test flight in August 2011. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin has developed a reputation over the years as a notoriously secretive company, only grudgingly releasing information about the company and its plans. While other companies hold high-profile events [...]

Updates on commercial crew development

Last week NASA hosted a news briefing allowing the agency and the four companies that have Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev-2) and/or Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) funded awards to provide updates on their efforts. Much of the media attention from the briefing focused on news that the companies are planning test flights of their [...]

For the CCiCap losers, what’s next?

On Friday morning NASA will announce the winners of the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability, or CCiCap, awards, the next phase of the agency’s commercial crew program. Already some news is leaking out about the awardees: both the Wall Street Journal and NBCNews.com report that Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX will receive funded awards, with apparently [...]

House hearing today about commercial suborbital spaceflight

The field of commercial suborbital spaceflight will get a rare moment in the Capitol Hill spotlight today when the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s space subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “The Emerging Commercial Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle Market” at 2 pm EDT; the hearing will be webcast. The hearing features representatives of three [...]

Eight years later, is the suborbital industry finally ready for liftoff?

Mike Melville raises his arms after exiting SpaceShipOne following his suborbital flight on June 21, 2004. To the left, in the yellow shirt, is Burt Rutan; in the blue shirt and cap is Paul Allen. (credit: J. Foust)

On June 21, 2004, Scaled Composites made history in the skies above the just-renamed Mojave Air [...]