from the urls-we-dig-up dept
After the Cold War ended, the space race enthusiasm evaporated as the funding for ambitious projects to explore space dried up. Launching dozens of satellites into space to form communications networks was (and still is) a risky business — with a lot of upfront costs and a lot of equipment that’s nearly obsolete by the time it reaches orbit. But it’s becoming a bit cheaper to get stuff into space, and maybe we’re seeing a bit more of a commercial space race. Check out a few of these space-bound projects.
- NASA recently tested its Space Launch System (SLS) engine that will send an uncrewed Orion capsule beyond the orbit of the moon in 2018 (assuming no delays). Someday, NASA’s SLS could take people to Mars, but there are still some engineering challenges to solve before that actually happens.
- Tom Markusic, the founder of the small satellite venture, Firefly Space Systems, wants to clean up the artificial space junk in geo-stationary orbit and recycle it for future moon and mars missions. Markusic proposes using solar electric propulsion-powered space tugs to push old satellites to potential staging bases for human colonies on mars.
- Vector Space Systems is a space vehicle startup just getting off the ground, aiming to put small satellites into low earth orbit — at a price of 45 kilograms for a $2-3 million. The company plans to have commercial launches ready in 2018, targeting very small satellites that normally go up as secondary payloads on larger launch systems. Smaller payloads with their own dedicated launches won’t be subject to the delays or requirements of other payloads, and Vector’s launch vehicle claims that its missions could be ready to go within a relatively short 3-month window.
- Russia’s new space port at Vostochny has had some delays, but it seems to be up and running. However, the mis-management of this cosmodrome has caught the attention of president Putin who warned that some of the senior managers involved in an embezzlement scheme could go to jail for a few years. The description of the first launch with a visit from Putin sounds a bit like a scene from Return of the Jedi.
After you’ve finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.