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Commercial

Space

Could Virgin Galactic's Spaceport America be put up for sale?

The past year has been a mixed bag for the commercial space industry, with successful launches from the likes of SpaceX, but also a few mishaps, including a tragic Virgin Galactic crash that claimed the life of one pilot. That last incident in particular has led some politicians in New Mexico to question the future of Spaceport America, where Virgin is an anchor tenant, and to even call for the US$200 million facility to be put up for sale.Read More

Space Feature

American independence in space: Ending reliance on the Soyuz spacecraft by 2017

The push to return manned launch capabilities to United States soil is bringing about an exciting period in the commercial space industry. September 2014 saw the awarding of the US Government's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract, with both Boeing and SpaceX benefiting from a significant investment of US$6.8 billion. The contract has the ultimate goal of expediting the development and production of commercial spacecraft specializing in low-Earth orbit operations to the ISS. But what were the driving factors behind the change, and how do the planned replacements match up to the capabilities and conditions of the long standing Soyuz program? Read on as we delve deeper into NASA's mission to end the nation's reliance on Russia by 2017.Read More

Aircraft

Small UAV Coalition formed to promote civil and commercial use of small UAVs

As is so often the case when it comes to rapidly evolving technologies, the law is struggling to keep up with the surge in popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In an attempt to pave the way for commercial, philanthropic, and civil use of small UAVs in the US and around the world, a number of players in the field have teamed up to form the Small UAV Coalition.Read More

Drones

US gives Hollywood film studios green light on drone use

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has today granted exemptions to six Hollywood studios to use drones in film production. The move marks significant progress in a collective push from commercial entities to tap into the potential of UAVs, something that the FAA as so far determined a no-go zone. Read More

3D Printing

SpaceX completes qualification test of 3D-printed SuperDraco thruster

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is set for an upgrade with the company announcing the successful qualification testing of its SuperDraco rocket engine. Designed to replace the Draco engines used for attitude control on the Dragon orbital spacecraft, the SuperDraco will act as the Dragon’s launch emergency escape system, as well as giving it the ability to make a powered landing on Earth and other worlds.Read More

Space

SpaceShipTwo to be fueled by thermoset plastic similar to nylon

As the still-to-be-announced date of the first commercial flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo approaches, more and more of the technology involved is getting nailed down. A case in point is the company's announcement that it has decided which fuel will be used in the first passenger-carrying flights of the suborbital spacecraft. The solid fuel grains that will fuel the world’s largest operational hybrid rocket will be a thermoset plastic similar to nylon.Read More

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