On Monday, November 22nd, the FAA made SpaceX the first-ever commercial company to receive a license to re-enter a spacecraft from orbit.
Next month, SpaceX is planning to launch its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The Dragon capsule is expected to orbit the Earth at speeds greater than 17,000 miles per hour, reenter the Earth’s atmosphere, and land in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later.
This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to recover a spacecraft reentering from low-Earth orbit. It is a feat performed by only 6 nations or governmental agencies: the United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and the European Space Agency.
It is also the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station and encourage the growth of the commercial space industry. After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX will make at least 12 flights to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience towards this goal.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
So China's kicked off plans for an unmanned lunar landing in 2013.... a manned space station by 2020... and who knows what else. While I applaud whomever has the determination to explore space to "boldly go", it's still sobering that the US will no longer hold the cards for the first "flags and footsteps." Does this bother anyone else on some level? What else are you hearing out there regarding China's growing space capabilities?