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— Space

SpaceShipTwo to be fueled by thermoset plastic similar to nylon

By - May 27, 2014 8 Pictures
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
— Space

SpaceX confirms successful Falcon 9 soft landing on the Atlantic Ocean

By - April 26, 2014 10 Pictures
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that boosted the CRS-3 Dragon spacecraft into orbit made a controlled power landing on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The historic first controlled landing of a liquid booster was tracked by telemetry and recorded on video. Unfortunately, heavy seas destroyed the rocket before recovery operations could retrieve it. Read More

Update: SpaceX Dragon CRS-3 mission launch scrubbed again

SpaceX’s Dragon CRS-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has once again been scrubbed. On Friday, NASA confirmed that the launch of the unmanned cargo ship has been delayed due to the failure of a tracking radar, which meant that the launch could not meet the minimum public safety requirements. Read More
— Space

Lockheed-Martin introduces 100 percent refund or refly program for ATLAS payloads

By - March 17, 2014 3 Pictures
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
— Space

The swan flies: Successful launch of Cygnus/Antares ISS supply mission

By - January 9, 2014 9 Pictures
Orbital Sciences Corporation today successfully launched the first of eight Cygnus cargo supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Orbital's Antares medium-lift rocket (originally called the Taurus II) carried the Cygnus into an initial orbit of 135 x 175 miles (220 x 280 km), inclined at 51.6 degrees relative to the equator. The Cygnus is flying solo now, with full communications and deployed solar arrays, carrying roughly 2,800 lb (1,300 kg) of cargo toward a January 12 rendezvous and docking with the ISS. Read More
— Space

NASA crushes rocket fuel tank for science

By - December 18, 2013 5 Pictures
On December 9, NASA began what is either an impressive engineering test or a classic example of world-class larking about. At the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, engineers are crushing an enormous can by subjecting it to almost one million pounds of force. This may seem like a party trick that’s gone out of control, but there’s a serious reason behind this … or so NASA says. The crushing is part of the project to design the fuel tanks for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which will be used to launch the Orion spacecraft and deep space missions. Read More
— Space

Moon Express reveals design for its MX-1 lunar lander

By - December 8, 2013 9 Pictures
Moon Express, a privately held company driven by a short-term goal of winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, and a longer-term strategy of mining the Moon, last week revealed its MX-1 lunar lander at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Not a one-trick pony, the MX-1 is being designed as the first of a series of robotic spacecraft that can carry out a multitude of tasks in Earth orbit as well as in deep space. Read More
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