Canadian "rockstar" astronaut Chris Hadfield
, who just returned from the International Space Station, says he's retiring. (Yep, he's the guy who performed David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in zero-g
while orbiting the Earth.) While he may be retiring from the Canadian Space Agency, he may not be done with spaceflight just yet, as he sees commercial spaceflight as a real possibility. In the past decade, several private commercial spaceflight ventures have been seriously developing and testing their own spacecraft, and eventually "commercial astronauts" will be needed to help run commercial space missions and space tourism flights. Here's some of the latest news in commercial spaceflight.
- Astronauts for Hire (A4H), a non-profit organization, has selected its fourth group of commercial astronaut candidates. The six new recruits, who are professionals in various fields of science, engineering, medicine, and aviation, will be trained to become research and operations specialists for future commercial spaceflight missions. [url]
- The X Prize Foundation is currently offering a total of $30 million in prize money to the first two teams to land a robot on the moon by the end of 2015. Aiming to spur commercial spaceflight innovation, the non-profit foundation also previously awarded the Ansari X Prize in 2004 to Scaled Composites for its SpaceShipOne, which Virgin Galactic has now developed into the suborbital commercial spacecraft SpaceShipTwo.[url]
- There are at least ten private spaceships in development right now. Here are the ten most promising ones: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, XCOR's Lynx Space Plane (check out Dutch startup SXC which might give Virgin Galactic a run for its money), Armadillo Aerospace's Vertical Lander, Bigelow Aerospace's Private Space Labs, Stratolaunch's Air-Launched Rocket, the Liberty Rocket and Capsule, Blue Origin's Secret Spaceship, the Dream Chaser Space Plane, Boeing's CST-100 Capsule, and SpaceX's Manned Space Dragon.[url]
- Virgin Galactic is preparing to test its SpaceShipTwo and hopefully launch its first commercial spaceflight in 2014. At least 600 customers worldwide have already reserved tickets, which cost upwards of $200,000. Apparently, tickets recently went up to $250,000 and will remain at that price until the first 1,000 passengers have travelled into space.[url]
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post