There are literally more things in space than last week – or at least, the number of man-made satellites in Earth's orbit has risen slightly, thanks to the launch of SpaceX 60 of the first Starlink production satellites. This week also sees movement in other key areas of commercial space, and some continued activity in the early stage of the startup space ecosystem push.
Some companies' New Space & # 39; multiply the profits that help them shake up an industry that is usually reserved for only a few deep-pocket defense contractors, and NASA is preparing for planetary space exploration in more ways than one.
60 Starlink satellites that are SpaceX launched this week is the first not specifically designated as a test vehicle, although batch 60 was launched earlier this year. This one will form a foundation between 300-400 or more that will provide the first commercial services to customers in the US and Canada next year, if everything is in line with SpaceX's plans for a new global broadband service.
Aside from being a building block for the company's first direct-to-consumer product, this launch is also an opportunity for SpaceX to show the extent to which the product can be reused. This flew the first rocket fairing the company found, for example, and also used Falcon 9 booster for the fourth time – and land it, so it has the potential to use it on other missions in the future.
Rocket Lab aims to provide an increasingly high frequency launch capability, and the company has a new robot to help it achieve a very fast turnaround in rocket production: Rosie. Rosie the Robot can produce launch vehicles about once every 12 hours – handling the main task of processing the company's Electron carbon composite stage in a way that cuts what is used to take hundreds of hours of manual labor into something that can be done twice a day.
This is great because the last time SpaceX fired the SuperDraco Dragon crew's important thrust system, it exploded and took the capsule with it. Now, the spaceship crew can proceed to the next step to show abortion in flight (procedure 'cancel' emergency that will make the astronauts on the plane come out with their lives in the case of post-launch, emergency in the middle of the flight) and then to the crew test.
It's not that they have to go out and fix things without gravity or anything, but a handful of rich people who have paid Virgin Galactic $ 250,000 per seat for space travel still needs to be trained before boarding. They are now starting to do that, when Virgin looks in the first half of next year for its first commercial space travel flight.
They have a partner now, and this new one is done in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, along with allied government bodies in the Netherlands and Norway. This does not require participants to move to the central hub for the duration of the program, which means more global appeal.
The Bespin cloud car is cool, but a more realistic way to navigate the atmosphere over the gas planet might actually be with robotic stingrays that actually flap their 'fins.' Yes, actually
Blue Origin Jeff Bezos announced a multi-partner team that will work on the company's lunar lander, and its orbital delivery mechanism. The main ingredient is Draper's old space industry expert, who was born from MIT and who is perhaps most famous for having developed the Apollo 11 guidance system. Draper will develop an avionics system and a guide for the landing of the Blue Origin moon, too, and Mike Butcher meets with Draper's CEO, Ken Gabriel to discuss. (Subscribe for additional Crunch)