Antares liftoff. Image: Orbital Sciences
With the NASA on Russia for rides to the International Space Station (ISS) at $70.7m a seatuntil 2017 at the earliest, advocates of space exploration are increasingly looking to the private sector for their jetpack, moonwalk, rocket-powered future.
NASA’s designs for the Space Launch System and the Orion capsule could play an important part in future space exploration but they have yet to take flight. Meanwhile for-profit companies are busy launching, designing and, yes, dreaming about humanity’s future in space.
Richard Branson’s VirginGalactic is currently testing its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle that may make its first commercial flight from Abu Dhabi on Christmas Day this year. Celebrities who have bought $200,000+ tickets to for the first flight include Ashton Kutcher, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Less well known, is the company’s LauncherOne, a revolutionary reusable launcher. Launched from The Spaceship Company’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane at 50,000 feet, it could deliver 500lb payloads to low Earth orbit at a much lower cost than traditional launch options. ...more
SpaceX Dragon capsule docking with ISS. Source: SpaceX