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 […]

NASA plans to announce commercial crew awards next month

The administrator of NASA said Monday he expects the space agency to announce multiple awards for the next round of its commercial crew development effort by the middle of next month.

Speaking in a media telecon Monday morning, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said he expected the awards to be announced “no later than, say, mid-July […]

Suborbital company announcements and other developments at NSRC

A big focus on Monday’s sessions of the 2012 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Palo Alto, California, was on the progress that five companies—Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace—are making on the vehicles that can carry the research payloads, and perhaps even the researchers themselves, in the near future. […]

Blue Origin has a bad day (and so do some of the media)

Blue Origin's PM 2 vehicle in flight shortly before it lost control last month. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Last month the small community of people who closely follow the NewSpace field expected a test flight by ultra-secretive Blue Origin, based on a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by the FAA warning of “rocket launch activity” […]

Who’s the mystery Texas spaceport customer?

A decade ago the Texas spaceport scene was relatively active. No fewer than three spaceports had been proposed by various local entities to attract RLVs and other commercial launch vehicles. One was the Gulf Coast Regional Spaceport, located in Brazoria County, south of Houston; the second was the West Texas Spaceport, near Fort Stockton; and […]

Assessing the CCDev-2 losers

Monday afternoon NASA announced the award of nearly $270 million to four companies for the second round of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev-2) program. The four winners, and their awards, are:

Blue Origin: $22 million Boeing: $92.3 million Sierra Nevada Corporation: $80 million SpaceX: $75 million

Those companies will work on their vehicle concepts under […]

NSRC Day 2 highlights: payload integration and researcher training

The second day of the the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Orlando focused more closely on the types of scientific research (biomedical, microgravity science, astronomy, etc.) that can be performed on commercial suborbital reusable vehicles and the issues associated with carrying out this research. One key topic is integrating payloads into vehicles. With a wide […]

NSRC Day 1 highlights: suborbital research customers, prizes, and vehicle developments

Monday was the first day of the the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. This conference, the second of its kind, is designed to bring together suborbital vehicle developers and the research community, an emerging market for commercial suborbital reusable vehicles. The conference has attracted more than 300 […]

Suborbital vehicle development updates

In yesterday’s sessions at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Boulder, Colorado, four major developers of suborbital vehicles presented updates on their efforts. Here’s a summary of what they revealed:

Virgin Galactic: Stephen Attenborough provided considerable details about their plans to flight test SpaceShipTwo (SS2). Ground testing will continue until the end of this quarter, […]

Blue Origin proposes orbital vehicle

Illustration of Blue Origin’s orbital crew vehicle, designed to be launched on an Atlas 5, as shown on a NASA slide at an FAA conference last week.

One of the most intriguing NewSpace companies is Blue Origin, perhaps because they’re also one of the most secretive. Backed by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos—and thus without […]