Saturday, January 30, 2016

The New Space Race #1

Whether people realize it or not, there is a new space race on.  This time, its less about getting to a place first, so much as attempting to build a sustainable, reliable space program with guaranteed access to space.   To be sure, the world will be going to Mars, but the steps to get there are much bigger than simply going to the Moon.  The US, China and others are build the infrastructure to get there.  Who will build fastest and sustainably will be the first ones to step onto the Red Planet.

The New Space Race will be an aggregation of news about those efforts that will be posted as sufficient news of interest has accumulated.  


China will launch a second space station in June.


The new Airbus+Safran rocket is hinging on a French tax ruling.

The Ariane 6 is moving ahead, but will not be reusing any of its parts, unlike the American rockets being developed.

Safran believes the first first contract for the Ariane 6 will be signed by year's end.


The first satellites have been shipped to Russia's new spaceport for launch.

Russia will be substituting local parts for its rockets that used to be made in Ukraine.

Russia's new Federation space capsule being developed is touted as being cheaper than the SpaceX Dragon Capsule.

Due to the crashing Russian economy and slashed Russian space budget, the new Angara-A5V rocket first launch has been postponed at least ten years to 2025.


Did the law that granted Americans and American companies rights to mine asteroids not go far enough?  Should the US have allowed foreign companies to register claims?   I think that would have clashed with the international treaties regarding outer space, but also would have ended up making the US the defacto arbitrator of all things space.  That seems like a really big...presumption.

Dragon 2 landing rocket test.

SpaceX also tested the Dragon 2 capsule's parachute system, but with a mass simulator rather than a capsule.

The NASA awarded three new resupply contracts for the space station.  SpaceX will continue with their Dragon capsule.  Orbital ATK will continue with their Cygnus module.  The new addition is Sierra Nevada with a unmanned cargo version of their DreamChaser.  This is partially being funded by the Europeans.  The really good news about the decision is losers, Boeing and Lockheed, will not be protesting the selections!

Lockheed has stated the Orion capsule is still on schedule for its 2018 first launch. Work on the pressure vessel for the first Orion has completed.

The Senate and House have introduced legislation to reinstate the limitation on the United Launch Alliance on using the Russian rocket engines.  Congress is debating the engine ban now.

In a related move, the US Air Force may terminate the unique contract it has with the ULA due it not bidding on a GPS launch.

Musk claims he will be unveiling his Mars architecture in September and the first launch to Mars will be in 2025.

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