Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Commercial

The glass facade of the Spaceport (Photo: Spaceport America)

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

The awarding of NASA's most recent Commercial Crew Program contract will see an end to Ame...

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

The Small UAV Coalition has been 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

The US aviation authority has granted exemptions for video-equipped drones to be used in f...

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

Artist concept of commercial Mars satellites providing communications (Image: ASA/JPL)

You can land the most advanced spacecraft in history on the Mars, but if you can’t keep in touch with it, it might as well be so much scrap. To prevent that from happening, NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the feasibility of using private satellites to provide communications into the 2020s between Earth and the fleet of exploration probes operating on and around Mars.  Read More

The Bizmo II, from Terra Motors, with large delivery box on the back and a smaller box on ...

The Bizmo II from Terra Motors is a small, light, electric commercial scooter with generous carrying capacity that gets a 150-km (93 mi) range out of its 3.17 kWh battery. Set to launch in Japan, the company hopes the Bizmo II will be a game changer in the urban delivery market.  Read More

The SuperDraco engine test firing

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

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, shown here on a test flight, will be fueled by a thermoset...

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

GE Honda Aero Engines has shipped the first pair of production HF120 jet engines for the H...

The Hondajet has passed another milestone on its way to entering commercial service. After completing FAA certification testing last year, the executive jet's first pair of production HF120 jet engines have been shipped.  Read More

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

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