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An Atlas V 551 launches the Pluto New Horizons probe toward the fringes of the Solar Syste...

Lockheed-Martin (LM) has a problem. Their Atlas V orbital launch system, while very popular with the US military, at around US$225M per launch is too expensive to compete effectively for commercial missions, whose launch costs are generally about half that amount. As part of an effort to reposition their services, LM is now offering a 100 percent money-back or reflight guarantee if the launch vehicle causes mission failure. The guarantee covers the cost of the vehicle launch, but not the cost of the satellite.  Read More

NASA is seeking commercial partners to develop robotic lunar landers (Image: NASA)

With China successfully landing a robotic rover on the Moon, there’s been speculation in some circles as to whether or not a new space race between China and the United States will start soon. That’s as maybe, but if Space Race Mk II does happen, the American landing craft might be owned and operated by a private firm. Lending strength to this argument is NASA's recent announcement of its Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative, which aims at kickstarting private development of commercial lunar transports through partnerships with the space agency.  Read More

Dragon spacecraft in orbit during CRS-2 cargo mission to the ISS (Photo: SpaceX)

SpaceX has made progress toward an initial crewed flight in 2015 after a "milestone" safety review for manned space operations of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle.  Read More

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has carried out the first gliding approach and landing tes...

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) carried out the first gliding approach and landing test of their Dream Chaser spacecraft at Edwards Air Force Base on October 26. The vehicle dropped from its carrier aircraft at 11:10 am, and carried out gliding and landing maneuvers flawlessly. However, the left landing gear door did not function, causing the test spacecraft to flip on landing.  Read More

Martin Aircraft's  will start deliveries of its new P12 Jetpack prototype in 2014 (Photo: ...

The Martin Jetpack being developed by Martin Aircraft Company in New Zealand has undergone a major design overhaul. Reemerging as the P12 prototype, the ducted-fan personal VTOL is fully certified for manned test flights as a Class 1 microlight. The first commercial sales, now expected in mid-2014, will be for first responder applications, such as rescue, fire, and police missions. According to the company, sales to individuals will follow shortly after the initial models are vetted in field use.  Read More

PayPal is looking to extend its brand across the Solar System (Image: Digitally-altered fr...

PayPal has teamed with the SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society to start preparations for the coming upheavals of Solar System commerce. Having whetted their teeth on global commerce, PayPal is looking forward to the challenge of figuring out how to let John or Jill check their balance when they are living on Mars or visiting the Orbital Technologies commercial space station. It's answer is PayPal Galactic.  Read More

Launch of the Antares rocket from NASA”s Wallops Flight Facility (Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls...

Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket lifted off Sunday at 5:00 PM EDT (21:00 GMT) from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA”s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch was the first from the pad at Wallops and also the first flight of Antares, which carried a "mass simulated payload" equivalent to the mass of a spacecraft into Earth orbit.  Read More

Artist's concept of Dragon reentering the atmosphere (Image: SpaceX)

History’s first commercial space mission ended today as SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft returned to Earth. The 21-day flight to the International Space Station (ISS) ended when the unmanned cargo ship splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:22 p.m. PDT. The mission, designated CRS-1, is the first of twelve SpaceX is sending to the ISS as part of NASA’s plan to replace the retired Space Shuttle with privately built and operated spacecraft that will one day carry both cargo and crew.  Read More

Dragon awaiting launch

A new chapter has been written in the history of space exploration with the successful launch of the first commercial cargo flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The reusable unmanned freighter Dragon was lifted into orbit today at 8:35 PM EDT (October 8, 0135 GMT) by a Falcon 9 booster from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS on Tuesday. Carrying 905 kg (1,995 lbs) of cargo, this is the first of twelve contracted flights that Dragon is scheduled to make to the station.  Read More

Planetary Resources may be looking to start mining asteroids (Image: NASA)

Planetary Resources, a new player in the commercial space industry, is backed by a host of tech and aerospace luminaries with an integrated personal net worth on the far side of US$30 billion. A press release from the company hints that it will look to establish asteroid mining operations in space.  Read More

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