Aug 19, 2003
NASA Invests In Private Sector Space Flight With SpaceX And Rocketplane-Kistler

by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Aug 21, 2006

NASA is making an unprecedented investment in commercial space transportation services with the hope of creating a competitive market for supply flights to the International Space Station (ISS).
Two industry partners will receive a combined total of approximately $500 million to help fund the development of reliable, cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit. The agency is using its Space Act authority to facilitate the demonstration of these new capabilities.

NASA signed Space Agreements Aug. 18 with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of El Segundo, Calif., and Rocketplane-Kistler (RpK) of Oklahoma City to develop and demonstrate the vehicles, systems, and operations needed to support a human facility such as ISS. Once the space shuttle is retired, NASA hopes to become just one of many customers for a new, out-of-this-world parcel service.

The venture marks a break with tradition for the 48-year-old space agency. "This is the first opportunity NASA has taken to engage entrepreneurs in a way that allows us to satisfy our needs and lets commercial industry gain a foothold. It could, and should, have profound impacts on the way NASA does business," said Marc Timm, acting Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Program executive in NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center, said NASA's offer of seed money fulfills President Bush's Jan. 14, 2004 directive to promote commercial participation in space exploration. The 2005 NASA Authorization Act also calls on the agency to advance space commerce.

"We are directly tied to the Vision for Space Exploration and the law of the land," Lindenmoyer said. "COTS marks a significant NASA activity to implement the commercialization portion of U.S. space policy."

The demonstrations are scheduled to begin as early as 2008 and continue through 2010 or later. COTS will be carried out in two phases. Phase 1, unveiled Aug. 18, will include safe disposal or return of spacecraft that successfully dock at ISS and deliver cargo. A follow-on option to demonstrate crew transportation also is planned. Once demonstrated, NASA plans to purchase transportation services competitively in Phase 2.

Partners will be paid only if they succeed. Payments will be incremental and based upon the partners' progress against a schedule of performance milestones contained in each Space Act agreement. The agreements were tailored to the individual partners and negotiated before partnership selections were made. NASA will gauge progress through site visits and milestone achievements.

Usually, the space agency issues detailed requirements and specifications for its flight hardware and it takes ownership of any vehicles and associated infrastructure that a contractor produces.

For COTS, NASA specified only high level goals and objectives instead of detailed requirements where possible, and left its industry partners responsible for decisions about design, development, certification and operation of the transportation system. Because NASA has a limited amount of money to invest, it encouraged the partners to obtain private financing for their projects and it left them free to market the new space transportation services to others.

This model for pursuing of commercial space services is another first for NASA and a reflection on the growing maturing of commercial space capabilities.

"This is not a traditional NASA procurement or program. We could change the economics of space flight with this," said Lindenmoyer, whose office oversees COTS. NASA expects use of this model to increase over time as the exploration program unfolds, potentially extending to the provision of power, communications, and habitation facilities by commercial entities.

Limited resources and the space shuttle's pending retirement created the need for the new service, and the emergence of enabling technology has created a favorable environment for COTS development, according to Timm. Industry interest was keen, with nearly 100 companies submitting expressions of interest and 20 companies submitting initial proposals.

NASA expects that purchasing commercial space transportation services will be more economical than developing government systems of comparable capability. This could free up additional resources for lunar missions and other activities beyond low-Earth orbit.

The biggest benefit of the anticipated cost savings is the opening of new markets for an emerging industry, according to Lindenmoyer. "If we had cost-effective access, many new markets -- biotechnology, microgravity research, industrial parks in space, manufacturing, tourism -- could start to open. That's what is so important about this effort."

Privatisation of ISS resupply, next the astronauts will be on unpaid work experience. Vid at link.

SpaceX lifts off with ISS cargo
By Jonathan Amos
Science correspondent, BBC News

SpaceX's Dragon capsule is set to reach the orbiting space lab on Wednesday.

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The first commercially contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has begun.

A Falcon rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule lifted clear of Cape Canaveral in Florida at 20:35 (00:35 GMT).

The robotic Dragon ship will deliver 400kg of food, clothing, experiments and spares to the orbiting platform's six astronauts.

It is the maiden flight in a sequence of 12 missions that California's SpaceX company is performing for Nasa.

The US space agency is looking to the private sector to assume routine transport duties to and from low-Earth orbit.

Continue reading the main story
International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) is larger than a football pitch
The first module called Zarya was launched into orbit in 1998
It took 13 years to complete at a cost of around $100bn
There is a permanent crew of six astronauts onboard who carry out space environment research
Watch NASA astronauts describe the unique view from the ISS
It has given SpaceX a $1.6bn contract to keep the ISS stocked up with essentials, restoring a re-supply capability that the US lost when it retired the shuttles last year.

The terms of the contract kicked in following a successful test of Dragon's systems in May.

That demonstration saw the capsule berth with the ISS - the first commercially designed and built vehicle to do so - and then return safely to Earth.

Nasa has a second company it hopes also can soon begin operational cargo deliveries to the station.

The Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) will shortly test its new Antares rocket before undertaking its own ISS demonstration with a robotic vessel called Cygnus.

A Dragon flew a demonstration mission to the space station in May
If that mission - tipped to take place next year - goes well then it will trigger a $1.9bn contract for Orbital.

Nasa wants eventually to put astronaut transport in the hands of the private sector, too.

SpaceX is eyeing this business as well, and is developing the critical life-support and safety systems that would turn Dragon into a human-rated vehicle. The company says it is just a few years away from being able to provide an astronaut "taxi" service.

Nasa's policy of outsourcing its cargo and crew transport needs is intended to find savings that can be ploughed back into building a rocket and capsule system capable of taking humans beyond low-Earth to more challenging destinations.

"We're handing off to the private sector our transportation to the International Space Station so that Nasa can focus on what we do best - exploring even deeper into our Solar System, with missions to an asteroid and Mars on the horizon," explained agency administrator Charles Bolden.

Sunday's nine-minute, 14-second ascent to orbit appeared flawless.

The Falcon dropped the Dragon off in an elliptical path running from 197km above the Earth out to 328km.

"Dragon was inserted into a picture-perfect orbit," said SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. "Its solar arrays deployed and it's driving its way to station. So, that's just awesome."

Dragon must raise itself to the ISS's altitude, which is presently at more than 400km.

It is scheduled to arrive at the station on Wednesday. It will follow the routine established in May of parking itself just below the platform so that it can be grabbed by a robotic arm and pulled into a berthing port.

The attachment should take place at about 0540GMT.

Dragon is expected to return to Earth at the end of the month.

Its cargo then will include broken machinery and science materials that need to be handed back to researchers.

[email protected]. and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos
In a separate development on Thursday, the FAA found that Virgin Galactic rival SpaceX's plans to build a spaceport in Texas would not have adverse consequences on the environment.
SpaceX has proposed launching 12 rockets per year from a site near Brownsville in southern Texas, but has not promised to build there just yet.

US regulators found that while the proposed site would create noise for residents of a nearby neighbourhood and alter the landscape, most other environmental impacts could be mitigated.
The firm, which was founded by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, is set to unveil the latest model of its Dragon ship, which is designed to ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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A mission that uses SpaceX's Dragon capsule to help bring chunks of Mars rock back to Earth for analysis could launch as early as 2022, researchers say.

This "Red Dragon" project — which remains a concept at the moment, not an approved mission — would grab samples collected by NASA's 2020 Mars rover and send them rocketing back toward Earth, where researchers could scrutinize the material for possible signs of past Red Planet life.

The sample-return effort would keep costs and complexity down by using SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket and a modified version of the company's robotic Dragon cargo capsule, the concept's developers say. [Images: 'Red Dragon' Sample-Return Concept]

Red Dragon is "technically feasible with the use of these emerging commercial technologies, coupled with technologies that already exist," Andy Gonzales, of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said Wednesday (Sept. 9) during a presentation with the space agency's Future In-Space Operations (FISO) working group.

SpaceX rocket in historic vertical landing

US space company SpaceX has successfully landed an unmanned rocket upright - the first time such a feat has been accomplished.

The Falcon-9 rocket booster despatched 11 communications satellites before returning to an upright position at Cape Canaveral.
The achievement has been hailed as milestone towards reusing rockets.
It is hoped the mission will boost moves to reduce the cost of private space operations.

The launch of a rocket is the first by SpaceX since one exploded in June.
On that occasion an unmanned Falcon-9 broke apart in flames minutes after lifting off from Cape Canaveral, with debris tumbling out of the sky into the Atlantic Ocean.
The rocket, which had 18 straight successes prior to the fateful flight, was in the process of sending a cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX has a $1.6bn (£1.08bn; €1.47bn) contract with Nasa to send supplies to the ISS.

The upgraded, 23-storey-tall rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with the main stage returning about 10 minutes later to a landing site about 9.65km (6 miles) south of its launch pad.
The flawless launch on Monday is a major success for privately-owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, the California-based company set up and run by high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Mr Musk has said the ability to return its rockets to Earth so they can be reused and reflown would hugely reduce his company's operational costs in the growing but highly competitive private space launch industry.
SpaceX employees broke out in celebration as they watched a live stream of the 47m-tall (156ft) white booster slowly descend to earth in the form of a glowing orange ball.
"Welcome back, baby!," Musk said in a celebratory tweet.

SpaceX commentators described the launch and return - the first time an orbital rocket successfully achieved a controlled landing on Earth - as "incredibly exciting".
"This was a first for us at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and I can't even begin to describe the joy the team feels right now having been a part of this historic first-stage rocket landing," the top officer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Brig Gen Wayne Monteith, said in a statement.

SpaceX is aiming to revolutionise the rocket industry, which up until now has lost millions of dollars in discarded machinery and valuable rocket parts after each launch.
Several earlier attempts to land the Falcon 9's first stage on an ocean platform have failed.

The rocket reached a height of 200km (125 miles) before heading back to Earth and touching down.

Photos, etc, on page


In the wake of SpaceX’s successful rocket landing, some of the company’s most ardent fans are guessing at the shape of the biggest thing to come: the Mars Colonial Transporter.

The MCT is a crucial piece in SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s grand plan to send tens of thousands of colonists to the Red Planet, potentially starting in the next decade or two. Such a venture would mark a giant leap toward establishing a second cosmic home for humanity. Musk believes that’s a must if we’re to guard against extinction due to pandemics, asteroid strikes or other planet-wide catastrophes.

Early this year, Musk promised to unveil his architecture for Mars colonization by the end of 2015 – but in a recent GQ interview, he said the big reveal was more likely to come in early 2016. “Before we announce it, I want to make sure that we’re not gonna make really big changes to it,” he said

Elon Musk Says SpaceX Will Send People to Mars by 2025

Nobody can accuse Elon Musk of not shooting for the stars.

The SpaceX and Tesla founder said this week that he personally wants to visit space within the next five years and thinks that his company will launch a mission to Mars by 2025.

Speaking at the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong this week, Musk said that he had already taken parabolic flights to prepare for space, but had not done much else.

"I don't think it's that hard, honestly," he said. "It's not that hard to float around."

Personal space travel ambitions aside, Musk also talked about how important it was for mankind to reach Mars. He said that SpaceX is planning to reveal its next-generation spacecraft at September's International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico.

That could be the next step toward eventually sending human beings to the Red Planet — something Musk said he thinks will happen by 2025. It's an ambitious goal considering that NASA's current plan is to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. ...

SpaceX Sticks a Rocket Landing at Sea in Historic First

- See more at: http://www.space.com/32517-spacex-s...launch.html?cmpid=514648#sthash.qDyqStkF.dpuf

In a dramatic feat of engineering prowess, the private spaceflight company SpaceX successfully landed a reusable Falcon 9 rocket booster today — the second such landing for the company, and the first successful touchdown on a ship.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) today (April 8) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It carried SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo spacecraft, which is now on its way to the International Space Station, carrying crew supplies, station hardware and science experiments. SpaceX streamed live video of the historic rocket landing during the launch, a feat that capped a smooth cargo launch for NASA

After separating from Dragon a few minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9's first stage performed several flyback engine burns, then eventually lowered itself vertically onto a SpaceX drone ship that was stationed off the Florida coast. [Photos: SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch and Landing Try for CRS-8 Mission]

This was the fifth attempt in 15 months by SpaceX to land one of its rocket boosters on a drone ship; in each of the previous four tries, the rocket reached the ship successfully, but failed to stick the landing. During today's landing, SpaceX staff members crowded around the company's control room, and let out a roar of applaus when the rocket booster touched down.

- See more at: http://www.space.com/32517-spacex-s...launch.html?cmpid=514648#sthash.qDyqStkF.dpuf

Getting closer to the Age of Asteroid Exploitation. Vid at link.
Elon Musk wants to launch a spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018.

Let that sink in. Depending on your definition of “as soon as,” that means sometime between 20 and 32 months from now. But Musk probably meant roughly 24 months, because May 2018 is when the next best Mars launch window opens—a period when the red planet’s orbit brings it closest to Earth’s. His company SpaceX has a lot to do in the meantime. Like, finish building the rocket it will use to launch the spacecraft, and figure out how to land the damn thing on Mars’ surface.

2018 is the very near future. If SpaceX were starting their Mars program today, their deadline would be a total joke. “They’ve said for a long time that they intend to test their Dragon 2 capsule by going to Mars and trying to land,” saysDavid Hewitt, a rocket scientist with private spaceflight company Dynetics. SpaceX has been working on its human-capable capsule for several years. It is not only bigger than the original cargo-only Dragon, but capable of making planet landings using eight thrusters.

Livestream broadcast of Space-X rocket launch, today January 14th, 18:54 CET.

SpaceX to fly two tourists around Moon in 2018

US private rocket company SpaceX has announced that two private citizens have paid to be sent around the Moon.
The mission is planned for late 2018, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, adding that the tourists "have already paid a significant deposit".
"This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years," he said.

The two unnamed people will fly aboard a spaceship which is set for its first unmanned test flight later this year.
Mr Musk said the co-operation of America's Nasa space agency had made the plan possible.
He said the two passengers "will travel faster and further into the solar system than any before them".

Mr Musk declined to reveal their identities, only saying that they knew each other and that "it's nobody from Hollywood".
"Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.
"We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year."

The first mission would be unmanned, and the next one - with crew - was expected in the second quarter of 2018, the billionaire entrepreneur and inventor said.
He also said the first passengers "are entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here".
"They're certainly not naive, and we'll do everything we can to minimise that risk, but it's not zero."

The space tourists would make a loop around the Moon, skimming the lunar surface and then going well beyond, Mr Musk said.
The mission will not involve a lunar landing.

If Nasa decided it wanted to be first to take part in a lunar flyby mission, then the agency would have priority, Mr Musk said.
The US has not sent astronauts to the Moon since the early 1970s.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic venture proposes to send tourists on short sub-orbital flights in its vehicle SpaceShipTwo; the cost of a seat is listed as $250,000.
However, its space vehicle was destroyed in a crash in 2014 and it remains unclear when the first flights with paying customers will begin.

Elon Musk does his best to give us the future we fantasized about in the childhood.

Elon Musk Claims That SpaceX Mars Rocket Can Fly Passengers Around the World in an Hour

By Omar Sohail
10 hours ago

Does a 16-hour flight sound like an excruciating experience for you? Elon Musk has found a solution in the craziest idea possible, claiming at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) that the SpaceX Mars rocket can also be used to carry around passengers around the world. Best of all, the entire distance traveled will come to an hour.

Concept Video Shows How Passengers Will Be Boarding a Ferry That Takes Them to the Floating Platform in New York for Hyper-Speed Travel
The rockets are referred to as BFRs, with the first stage of traveling through these rockets involving them flying down for landing and reuse, similar to what the Falcon 9 booster does now.

RELATEDIs the Tesla Short Play About to Come Good?
According to the video, it would take around 30 minutes for passengers to travel from New York to Shanghai, a trip which currently takes around 15 hours to complete, assuming that there are no layovers taking place. So how are these rockets able to reach from one point to the other in quick succession?

A speed of 18,000 miles per hour (or 27,000 kilometers an hour) that’s how; Musk says that you would be able to travel anywhere irrespective of how far the location is in an hour. Unfortunately, it is also the cost per trip that you will have to take into consideration because you’re probably wondering that these trips could cost a a few thousand dollars right?

Musk does not believe so and states that SpaceX is quite confident in its cost-saving measures. The billionaire entrepreneur clarified these costs that a ticket on the BFR would cost the same as an economy airline seat.

More at: http://wccftech.com/elon-musk-claim...n-fly-passengers-around-the-world-in-an-hour/
Musk knows what he want.

Musk: Come ride my Big F**king Rocket to Mars
By 2024. Possibly. SpaceX isn't very good at deadlines
By Iain Thomson in San Francisco 29 Sep 2017 at 22:57
44 SHARE ▼

BFR ... Artist's impression of Elon's mighty thruster (the white thing in the middle)
Elon Musk thinks he can get humans onto Mars within the next seven years. On Friday, he told the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, how he intends to do it.

Key to Musk's plans is the BFR (aka a Big Fucking Rocket), a 106-metre (348-foot) tall beast slightly shorter than the Saturn V, and 9 metres (30 feet) in diameter. It will be powered by 31 Raptor engines using a mixture of methane and oxygen for improved thrust-to-weight ratios and will be capable of carrying 150 tons of cargo or 100 passengers.

The BFR would be fully reusable. The plan is for the rocket to go into Earth's orbit, divide in two with the upper second stage remaining in space holding a load of fuel while the lower first stage returns to our planet to pick up passengers. This lower stage is refueled on Earth, blasts off with folks onboard, is refueled from the orbiting upper stage once it gets into space, and then takes the trip to Mars. The passenger quarters would be partitioned into cabins and living areas, with a shelter in case of solar storms.

Musk told attendees that the first Raptor engines have already been built and test fired for 1,200 seconds so far. He said that the final rocket could be assembled within a year. By 2022 a couple of test flights would be sent to Mars to scout out suitable landing sites, before a manned mission in 2024 accompanied by two cargo flights bringing supplies.

The bulk of that cargo would be the equipment needed to manufacture fuel to make the trip home. Eventually Musk wants to transport thousands of people to Mars and let mankind escape the surly bonds of Earth.

More at: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/09/29/musks_rocket_for_mars/
Rocket launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy in a little more than one and a half hour. Think it is 21:15 CET.

Edit: New time: 21:45 CET.

Live video below:

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Looks like a successful launch! Woo hoo!
Holy shit! The 2 side boosters touched down simultaneously in a precision landing!
Don't Panic on the dashboard. That's humor.
Follow the Starman and his car all the way to Mars - Live.

So that's where the Stig is...
All of the below is a huge cut and paste from B3ta from poster SockCooker .. otherwise I'd have to re write it all myself .. Space X crash landing:

The Falcon 9 CRS-16 launch was successful, taking supplies to the International Space Station. But the stage-1 did not land successfully, when one of the hydraulic pumps failed to control the grid-fins that steer it down. It crash-landed just off the coast - and as of right now, is still floating while they attempt recovery.
The primary objective of the mission seems fine, the Dragon capsule is in orbit, and should dock with the ISS in a couple of days. (That will be streamed live on NASA.TV at about 11AM Saturday.)
SpaceX cut the live feed from the stage 1 camera "accidentally" according to Musk, but they tried very hard to pretend everything was just fine... ignoring the rather obvious problems everyone had seen, as it spiralled out of control.
The official launch video is here - the problem occurs around the 26 minute mark. And there's updates on Musk's Twitter.

[There was also a successful launch and landing on Monday. That was a "rideshare", launching 64 small satellites. It was the first time they'd re-used the same stage-1 for a 3rd time.]

bonus video ..

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They seem to be loosing video on and off at the moment.
How quickly are they going to turn it around for manned flight? I think I read somewhere it'll be July?
How quickly are they going to turn it around for manned flight? I think I read somewhere it'll be July?

That's the optimum / optimistic guess. A test of the Crew Dragon's emergency escape system has to occur before any attempt to launch live humans aboard. The same applies to the parallel Boeing effort.

... In 2014, NASA inked commercial-crew deals with two American companies: SpaceX got $2.6 billion to develop Crew Dragon, and Boeing received $4.2 billion to work on its CST-100 Starliner capsule.

At the time, NASA officials said they hoped that one or both of these capsules would be operational by the end of 2017. That timeline has been pushed back, of course. But, with Demo-1 in the books, the goal is now in sight for SpaceX.

Indeed, the company could get there this year. A launch-abort test, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon's emergency-escape system, is planned for the June timeframe. If that goes well, a crewed demonstration flight to the ISS called Demo-2 could occur as early as July. Contracted missions for NASA, each of which will carry four astronauts, will follow sometime thereafter.

Boeing's target schedule is similar. Starliner's uncrewed test flight to the ISS, abort test and crewed ISS test flight could occur in April, May and August, respectively, if everything goes well.

SOURCE: https://www.space.com/spacex-crew-dragon-success-commercial-spaceflight-era.html
Interesting stuff. Of course everyone expects (hopes) everything will go well.
I'm reminded of the Saturn V and Apollo missions where IIRC one of the astronauts said (something like) they were being launched atop a massive flying gas tank, built by the lowest bidder, which had a 98.5% success rate. What could possibly go wrong?
SpaceX launch in 10 minutes live: