SpaceX To Make First Commercial Cargo Run To Space Station April 30

The first commercial cargo to the International Space Station will be shipped by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, starting April 30.  If the company is successful, it will be the first time a private spacecraft docks with the space station. “NASA’s International Space Station program, along with our international partners, will take […]
The first commercial cargo to the International Space Station will be shipped by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, starting April 30.  If the company is successful, it will be the first time a private spacecraft docks with the space station. “NASA’s International Space Station program, along with our international partners, will take a look at the readiness of both station and SpaceX for the mission. If all is go, then SpaceX will be given a green light for an April 30 launch,”NASA officials said. The Dragon capsule will be completely unmanned like the Russian, European and Japanese capsules that currently run supply missions to the space station. SpaceX engineers designed the Dragon capsule to be used multiple times, unlike conventional supply ships which burn up while reentering the atmosphere. Using the Dragon capsule costs NASA per $133 million per delivery, far less than the $300 million it costs just to build a conventional capsule. The Dragon capsule is part of the 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) directive designed to coordinate supply and passenger delivery by private companies to the International Space Station. NASA signed agreements with three companies, but SpaceX is the closest to reaching the space station. Orbital Sciences, another company that is a part of the COTS program, will launch its unmanned spacecraft for the first time later in 2012. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, said he hopes to bring astronauts aboard the Dragon capsule within the next few years, according to Forbes. SpaceX completed its first crew trial on Friday, demonstrating that the capsule could carry either seven crew members or 13,000 pounds (5,900 kilograms) of cargo safely.


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Soyuz Spacecraft Heads For International Space Station

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, an American and a Dutchman to the International Space Station blasted off flawlessly from Russia’s launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. Mission commander Oleg Kononenko and his colleagues, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers are to dock with the space station on Friday. The blastoff […]
A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, an American and a Dutchman to the International Space Station blasted off flawlessly from Russia’s launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. Mission commander Oleg Kononenko and his colleagues, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers are to dock with the space station on Friday. The blastoff from the snowy launchpad in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, took place without a hitch and the spacecraft reached Earth orbit about nine minutes later. Video from inside the craft showed the three crew members gripping each others’ hands in celebration as the final stage of the booster rocket separated. The three aboard the Russian spacecraft will join three others already on the ISS, NASA’s Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin. The six are to work together on the station until March. The launch came amid a period of trouble for Russia’s space program, which provides the only way for crew to reach the space station since the United States retired its space shuttle program in July. The launch of an unmanned supply ship for the space station failed in August and the ship crashed in a Siberian forest. The Soyuz rocket carrying that craft was the same type used to send up Russian manned spacecraft, and the crash prompted officials to postpone the next manned launch while the rockets were examined for flaws. The delayed mission eventually took place on Nov. 14. Just five days before that launch, Russia sent up its ambitious Phobos-Ground unmanned probe, which was to go to the Phobos moon of Mars, take soil samples and return them to Earth. But engineers lost contact with the ship and were unable to propel it out of Earth orbit and toward Mars. The craft is now expected to fall to Earth in mid-January. Last December, Russia lost three navigation satellites when a rocket carrying them failed to reach orbit. A military satellite was lost in February, and the launch of the Express-AM4, described by officials as Russia’s most powerful telecommunications satellite, went awry in August.


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Russia’s Soyuz Crash + US Shuttle Program Retirement= International Space Station Abandoned. How did it come to this?

Last week’s Soyuz crash was just the latest in a series of embarrassing mishaps for Russia’s space industry, which is plagued by quality problems and an ageing workforce. With no other way to get astronauts into orbit, the operation of the International Space Station is now in question. The people in the Altai Mountains of Siberia […]
Last week’s Soyuz crash was just the latest in a series of embarrassing mishaps for Russia’s space industry, which is plagued by quality problems and an ageing workforce. With no other way to get astronauts into orbit, the operation of the International Space Station is now in question. The people in the Altai Mountains of Siberia (where the crash occurred) are regarded as frugal and tough. In late summer, many live from harvesting berries and cedar nuts. They are also used to having burned-out rocket stages crash in the wilderness after spacecraft launches. When, in the middle of last week, a large ball of fire was seen in the sky above the taiga, residents of the village of Karakoksha were not alarmed.  They apparently just went back to sleep. After a malfunction, a Russian Soyuz rocket had crashed along with an unmanned cargo spacecraft named Progress. The explosion was heard even 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. This accident couldn’t have come at a worst time.  It shuttered public confidence in the aging Russian technology which is crucial to the future of manned spaceflight since NASA shut down the Space Shuttle program in July.  Russia remains the only country that is able to regularly put humans into space. Permanent operation of the International Space Station (ISS) is now impossible without the Soyuz rocket, which went into service in its current form in 1973 and had previously been the most reliable rocket of all time. Until officials figure out what went wrong with Russia’s essential Soyuz rockets, there will be no way to launch any more astronauts before the current residents have to leave in mid-November. Abandoning the space station, even for a short period, would be an unpleasant last resort for the world’s five space agencies that have spent decades working on the project. Astronauts have been living aboard the space station since 2000, and the goal is to keep it going until 2020. Even if the space shuttles still were flying, space station crews still would need Soyuz-launched capsules to serve as lifeboats, Suffredini said. The capsules are certified for no more than 6 1/2 months in space, thus the need to regularly rotate crews. Complicating matters is the need to land the capsules during daylight hours in Kazakhstan, resulting in weeks of blackout periods. NASA wants American private companies to take over crew hauls, but that’s three to five years away at best. Until then, Soyuz capsules are the only means of transporting astronauts to the space station. What is your opinion?  Do you think that International Space Station will be abandoned?


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NASA Space Shuttle Ends Its Era – Commercial Space To Take The Future Load

NASA’s Space Shuttle Era officially ended today at 5:57AM with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis. NASA’s Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System(STS), was the United States government’s manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011. The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex […]
NASA’s Space Shuttle Era officially ended today at 5:57AM with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis. NASA’s Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System(STS), was the United States government’s manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011. The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim. They delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, spare equipment and other supplies in the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module – including 2,677 pounds of food – that will sustain space station operations for the next year. The 21-foot long, 15-foot diameter Raffaello brought back nearly 5,700 pounds of unneeded materials from the station. There is a lot of debate on whether or not the program was a success but from now the future of the human space travel will belong to the private companies. Who are they? In late May 2011 NASA announced that it awarded $269,3 million to the following companies in order to accelerate human spaceflight capability and commercial crew transportation. The companies were selected for the second round of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2). Blue Origin is a privately-funded aerospace company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The company was awarded $3.7 million in funding in 2009 by NASA via a Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program for development of concepts and technologies to support future human spaceflight operations. The company’s innovative ‘pusher’ Launch Abort System (LAS) was one of the technologies that was of particular interest to NASA. To date abort systems have been of the tractor variety, which pulls a crew vehicle to safety in case of an emergency. Initially focused on sub-orbital spaceflight, the company has built and flown a testbed of its New Shepard spacecraft design at their Culberson County, Texas facility. According to company statements, it initially planned on placing the New Shepard in commercial suborbital tourist service in 2010 with flights about once a week. However, the most recently publicized timetable states that Blue Origin will fly unmanned in 2011, and manned in 2012.   Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is an electronic systems provider and systems integrator specializing in microsatellites, energy, telemedicine, nanotechnology, and commercial orbital transportation services. The company contracts with the US military, NASA and private spaceflight companies. The company is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada. SNC employs over 2000 people. SNC has six different business areas, and 35 locations in 16 states along with numerous customer support sites located throughout the world. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is an American space transport company founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, both of which are built with a goal of being reusable launch vehicles. SpaceX is also developing the Dragon spacecraft to be carried to orbit by Falcon 9 launch vehicles. SpaceX designs, tests and fabricates the majority of their components in-house, including the Merlin, Kestrel, and Draco rocket engines. In December 2010, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft (a Dragon). Originally based in El Segundo, SpaceX now operates out of Hawthorne, California, USA.   The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois[2] since 2001. Boeing is made up of multiple business units, which are Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA); Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS); Engineering, Operations & Technology; Boeing Capital; and Boeing Shared Services Group.           There is a viable program that does test flights in 2014 and will be ready to carry crew in 2015.  
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Who Will Carry US Astronauts To International Space Station?

The retirement of the Space Shuttle Program and lack of its readily available replacement stirred a whirl of criticism of Obama administration’s decision to shut down the program. The main question on everyone’s mind is “How will US astronauts get to Earth’s low orbit and mainly International Space Station?” The only options seemed to be […]
The retirement of the Space Shuttle Program and lack of its readily available replacement stirred a whirl of criticism of Obama administration’s decision to shut down the program. The main question on everyone’s mind is “How will US astronauts get to Earth’s low orbit and mainly International Space Station?” The only options seemed to be to rent the seats on Russian Soyuz spacecrafts that travel to ISS regularly. However, NASA does have a few cards up its sleeve. In late May 2011 NASA announced that it awarded $269,3 million to the following companies in order to accelerate human spaceflight capability and commercial crew transportation.  The companies were selected for the second round of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2). Blue Origin is a privately-funded aerospace company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The company was awarded $3.7 million in funding in 2009 by NASA via a Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program for development of concepts and technologies to support future human spaceflight operations. The company’s innovative ‘pusher’ Launch Abort System (LAS) was one of the technologies that was of particular interest to NASA. To date abort systems have been of the tractor variety, which pulls a crew vehicle to safety in case of an emergency. Initially focused on sub-orbital spaceflight, the company has built and flown a testbed of its New Shepard spacecraft design at their Culberson County, Texas facility. According to company statements, it initially planned on placing the New Shepard in commercial suborbital tourist service in 2010 with flights about once a week. However, the most recently publicized timetable states that Blue Origin will fly unmanned in 2011, and manned in 2012.   Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is an electronic systems provider and systems integrator specializing in microsatellites, energy, telemedicine, nanotechnology, and commercial orbital transportation services. The company contracts with the US military, NASA and private spaceflight companies. The company is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada. SNC employs over 2000 people. SNC has six different business areas, and 35 locations in 16 states along with numerous customer support sites located throughout the world. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is an American space transport company founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, both of which are built with a goal of being reusable launch vehicles. SpaceX is also developing the Dragon spacecraft to be carried to orbit by Falcon 9 launch vehicles. SpaceX designs, tests and fabricates the majority of their components in-house, including the Merlin, Kestrel, and Draco rocket engines. In December 2010, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft (a Dragon). Originally based in El Segundo, SpaceX now operates out of Hawthorne, California, USA.   The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois[2] since 2001. Boeing is made up of multiple business units, which are Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA); Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS); Engineering, Operations & Technology; Boeing Capital; and Boeing Shared Services Group.           There is a  viable program that does test flights in 2014 and will be ready to carry crew in 2015.  
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