Getting stuff into space is difficult. There are a bunch of different rockets that have been used over the last few decades, but the odds of a launch failure isn’t quite zero yet. A few companies are making cheaper launch systems, but a perfect track record is hard to maintain over more than a handful of launches. Perhaps that’s why sentient robots in the movies never think about leaving the Earth behind.
- SpaceX’s recent Falcon 9 failure is a huge setback for SpaceX — because the exact problem hasn’t been identified yet. This incident will delay future launches until the cause of the explosion can be reasonably explained. [url]
- NASA’s development of its Space Launch System (SLS) is going through its own delays, as reviewing committees are concerned that NASA is wasting $150 million on an interim rocket stage that will not be used again — instead of putting that money towards a more powerful Exploration Upper Stage (EUS). Building an unmanned rocket stage that will need to be replaced someday by a stage that is rated for a crew doesn’t seem to be a great use of limited NASA funding, but lacking the full funding to directly build an astronaut-friendly, Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) vehicle forces NASA to create interim test stages. Our tax dollars at work…. [url]
- Three failed resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) have occurred over the last 8 months. Orbital Sciences is shifting away from using 1960s-era Soviet rocket engines that were probably the cause of its launch failure last October. In May, Russian re-supply mission put its cargo in the wrong orbit. And SpaceX’s investigations are ongoing for its recent Falcon 9 explosion. There are actually a few other options for getting supplies to the ISS, and Orbital Sciences will be employing alternative launch systems to fulfill its contract while it works on its replacement engines. [url]
- The idea of using reusable rockets isn’t unique to SpaceX. Blue Origin’s New Shepard is being tested for its re-usability. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) has plans for a reusable Vulcan rocket that is recovered by helicopter. Airbus has also unveiled its reusable Adeline design which could start test launches in 2025. [url]
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