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 [...]

Masten’s Xaero climbs to new heights

On Tuesday Masten Space System’s Xaero vehicle took to the skies and achieved a new milestone for the company: the highest flight yet by a Masten vehicle. Xaero took off from the company’s test pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port and flew to an altitude of 444 meters before landing on the [...]

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 [...]

Suborbital vehicle development updates from Space Access ’12

On Friday three of the companies actively developing commercial suborbital vehicles—Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, and XCOR Aerospace—gave presentations about their companies’ vehicle development work at the Space Access ’12 conference in Phoenix. Since it’s only been a month and a half since these companies, plus Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic (who are not presenting [...]

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. [...]

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 [...]

SpaceX gets its reentry license; Masten and Space Florida announce a deal

SpaceX announced Monday afternoon (in a press release that, curiously, was not on their web site as of late Tuesday morning) that they have received a commercial spacecraft reentry license from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), the first since license issued by that office:

Next month, SpaceX is planning to launch [...]

CRuSR makes its first awards

Armadillo Aerospace’s Scorpius vehicle on a flight as part of the Lunar Lander Challenge in September 2009.

On Monday NASA announced that it has made $475,000 in awards to Armadillo Aerospace and Masten Space Systems for experimental flights of suborbital reusable vehicles. These are the first contracts for test flights under the agency’s Commercial [...]

More developments from Masten

The announcement of the Masten/XCOR partnership on Tuesday to pursue lander testbed opportunities with NASA might leave some to conclude that Masten was turning to XCOR entirely for all of its engine needs. That is not the case: Masten is continuing to develop and test its own engines, using LOX and isopropyl alcohol propellants, for [...]

ISDC has a strong NewSpace flavor this year

I’m at the airport waiting to catch a flight to Chicago for this year’s International Space Development Conference, the annual conference of the National Space Society. (I was already supposed to be there, but Untied, er, United, canceled my flight last night.) This year’s conference has a particular emphasis on NewSpace, more so than conventional [...]