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Spaceflight

The first spacewalk 50 years ago by Alexei Leonov lasted only 12 minutes but was filled wi...

"A sailor must be able to swim in the sea. Likewise, a cosmonaut must be able to swim in outer space." With those words, the head of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, initiated the crew of the first spacewalk mission. On March 18, 1965, cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Pavel Belyayev lifted off in Voskhod (Sunrise) 2, from which Leonov would exit to become the first person in history to step into the vacuum of space.  Read More

Artist's concept of Jupiter/Exoliner docking with the ISS

Lockheed Martin has provided a glimpse at the next generation of commercial spacecraft by revealing its proposal for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program. The new cargo ships, which Lockheed compares to the US transcontinental railroads of the 19th century, are designed to not only resupply the International Space Station, but also support manned deep space missions, such as the first expedition to Mars.  Read More

Artist's concept of the UK Spaceport, highlighting key issues (Image: Department of Transp...

The UK government has shortened its list of potential sites for Europe's first commercial spaceport. It is hoped that the spaceport will be operational by the year 2018, ready to ride the wave of a new breed of commercial spaceplane that will carry paying customers and even satellites into low-Earth orbit.  Read More

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

Artist's concept of LightSail fully deplyed

Though we tend to think of private spaceflight as being in the SpaceX league, it also includes many smaller-scale efforts. For example, the non-profit Planetary Society has announced that its LightSail spacecraft will make its first test flight in May. The solar-propelled CubeSat will lift off as a piggyback cargo atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Read More

CRS-5 lifting off (Photo: SapceX)

The CRS-5 mission lifted off today in a pre-dawn launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. As the unmanned spacecraft rose into orbit to resupply the International Space Station, the first stage of its Falcon 9 booster made an historic attempt at a powered landing on a drone barge positioned in the Atlantic Ocean, which did not come off successfully.  Read More

ignition of EFT-1 (Image: NASA)

NASA reentered the field of manned spaceflight as it launched the first Orion crew capsule into space today at 7:05 am EST from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy booster on a four and a half hour flight. The capsule, which was not carrying a crew, will carry out a two-orbit flight around the Earth, which will take it to an altitude of 3,600 mi (5,800 km) before returning for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California later this morning.  Read More

Will the crash of SpaceShipTwo put and end to space tourism before it begins? (Image: NTSB...

With the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo within four days of Orbital Science’s Antares/Cygnus spacecraft exploding on the launch pad, it’s been a bad week for commercial spaceflight in general and space tourism in particular. Even though the investigations into the SpaceShipTwo incident are only beginning, there are those who already claim that Sir Richard Branson’s dream of sending tourists on suborbital flights into space is as dead as the Hindenburg. But is it?  Read More

Firing lasers up the backsides of rockets could accelerate them faster without requiring e...

Russian scientists have proposed a novel way to accelerate a spaceship while in flight – firing a ground-based laser up its backside. The new technique uses a plasma flow caused by laser ablation to increase the exhaust efficiency of a traditional rocket propulsion system, and could theoretically accelerate an aircraft beyond Mach 10.  Read More

A contest has been launched by Spaceship Earth Grants offering private citizens a chance t...

Spaceship Earth Grants (SEG), a US public-benefit organization and an affiliate of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, has launched a contest that aims to give away one space flight for every 50,000 applications it receives. With a judging panel made up of former NASA astronauts, industry experts, space enthusiasts, and others, this new program aims to be a crowd-driven and crowd-funded effort to send private citizens into space.  Read More

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