Putting the SpaceX (test) launch into perspective

In less than 24 hours, technology and meteorology permitting, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral carrying a Dragon cargo spacecraft on a test flight to the International Space Station. If all goes well, it will berth with the station early next week, demonstrating its ability to transport cargo to the […]

ATK and Astrium unveil a full-fledged Liberty transportation system

Illustration of the ATK/EADS Astrium Liberty system, featuring the Liberty rocket and a crew capsule. (Credit: ATK)

Early last year Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and EADS Astrium unveiled a new launch vehicle called Liberty, using a five-segment solid rocket booster built by ATK for the lower stage and a modified Ariane 5 core stage built […]

Planetary Resources seeks to mine asteroids—and develop propellant depots

Illustration of Planetary Resources Inc.'s initial spacecraft, the Arkyd-101 space telescope in Earth orbit. (credit: Planetary Resources, Inc.)

Science-fiction authors and space commercialization advocate alike have dreamed for decades of mining asteroids. So when Seattle-based Planetary Resources, Inc. announced last week it will unveil on Tuesday “a new space venture with a mission to […]

SpaceX tentatively cleared for April 30 launch attempt

On Monday, NASA and SpaceX officials met for a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for SpaceX’s upcoming Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS). After the FRR, NASA announced at a press conference that they had given tentative approval for that April 30 launch, pending some final tests and simulations.

“Everything looks good as we […]

Stratolaunch: a contrarian view

Tuesday’s announcement of the plans by startup Stratolaunch Systems to develop an air launch system attracted considerable attention and excitement, and understandably so. The world’s biggest airplane! A “dream team” that reunited Paul Allen and Burt Rutan for the first time since SpaceShipOne! An industry team that includes Scaled Composites and SpaceX! A board […]

Paul Allen to unveil Stratolaunch Systems today

Late last week members of the media received a notice of a press conference at 2 pm EST (1900 GMT) Tuesday about a new space travel venture backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen. No other details were provided until a short time ago, when Allen announced via Twitter that “I have an exciting […]

No bull: Orbital rebrands the Taurus 2 the Antares

Illustration of Orbital's Antares (formerly Taurus 2) rocket lifting off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Virginia. (Credit: OSC)

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced Monday that it has renamed the Taurus 2 rocket it’s been developing as part of its commercial cargo system. Henceforth, the rocket will now be called Antares. “We are transitioning […]

SpaceX finally gets a launch date

Exactly 366 days—one year and one day—after SpaceX flew its first Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration mission, NASA announced it had agreed to a date for the second flight. Speaking at the NASA Future Forum in Seattle Friday, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver announced that NASA had agreed to a launch date of February […]

Excalibur Almaz gets an unfunded CCDev agreement

The ranks of companies with Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) awards from NASA has quietly grown by one. The charter for a hearing on the program today by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee reveals that NASA has signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement with Excalibur Almaz on October 17. There are no other details […]

NASA pushes ahead with contracting change for CCDev

In July, NASA alarmed much of the entrepreneurial space community when it announced it was considering shifting from a Space Act Agreement (SAA) approach to a something closer to a conventional contract for the next round of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. The first two rounds of CCDev, as well as the earlier Commercial […]