Space X

  • Retro space tourism posters.
  • Sir Richard Branson on Elon Musk (Space X), advice for British Petroleum, and Virgin’s interest in alternative fuels.
  • “If you could integrate any resource, gadget, or convenience on your Virgin America airplanes, what would it be, regardless of whether it’s been invented or not?”  A contest question to submitted to Sir Richard Branson by Marvin Arias. See  Sir Richard’s answer below.

Space X’s Falcon 9 flew to orbit today opening a “dawn of a new era” according to Space X Founder, Elon Musk. This flight is only the start and not the finale even though Space X’s team worked extremely hard to make today possible.

Today, is a game changer that I had the privilege of witnessing first hand. I posted some pics and notes on our Twitter page (handle:62MileClub). Congrats to all directly and indirectly involved with today’s successful test flight. I’m still on the road and will be taking a week off for research and relaxation.

I’m on the road this week and posted notes from the telecon with Elon Musk and Ken Bowersox of Space X on our twitter page (handle: 62MileClub). I plan to be at the Cape on Friday.

Source: The 2010 TIME 100

by JonFavreau

Elon Musk makes no sense — and that’s the reason I know him. When I was trying to bring the character of genius billionaire Tony Stark to the big screen in Iron Man, I had no idea how to make him seem real. Robert Downey Jr. said, “We need to sit down with Elon Musk.” He was right.

Musk, 38, is a rocket scientist. He designed the Falcon 9 booster that may serve as NASA’s next vehicle to transport cargo and humans into space.

He is also a green pioneer. He helped create Solar City, the largest provider of solar-power systems in the U.S. And he designed the Tesla, one of the first electric cars of the modern era. Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of General Motors, credits him with catalyzing GM to move toward electric cars.

Even Elon’s humble beginnings are not so humble. The little Internet start-up that put him on the map is called PayPal. You may have heard of it.

Downey was right. Elon is a paragon of enthusiasm, good humor and curiosity — a Renaissance man in an era that needs them.

Favreau is the director of the Iron Man movies

Thorough update from SPACE X.

Warren Olney talks with Elong Musk, Rand Simberg

Source: KCRW’s show Which Way LA

Link to Internet audio archive

After announcing that NASA would phase out the space shuttle program, President Obama visited Elon Musk, the head of SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne. Will Musk’s Falcon 9 bring aerospace leadership back to Southern California? We talk with him and others. Also, the cost of not standing up to be counted. On our rebroadcast of today’s To the Point, the failed bombing of Times Square led to speedy arrests in the US and Pakistan.  It’s also raised many questions about how the incident came about, how it’s been handled and what it means for the future.

Source: Aviation Week

Andrews Space has formed a service company focused on providing routine, low-cost space access for small payloads.

SpaceFlight Services is kicking off its business venture by signing an agreement with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to manifest payloads using excess capability on upcoming Falcon 9/Dragon missions. SpaceFlight says that under this deal customers will have access to multiple scheduled flight opportunities, including dedicated scientific free-flyer missions using SpaceX’s DragonLab variant of the Dragon vehicle. The Falcon 9/Dragon is scheduled to make its first flight this year.

SpaceFlight says payload space is being offered on missions in 2012 and beyond. “Our focus is on creating a robust market for the launch of small payloads,” says Jason Andrews, president and CEO of Andrews Space. For the future, SpaceFlight “could include other launch providers, although I believe SpaceX is the most progressive in this area,” he adds.

Source: Space X

At Long Last, an Inspiring Future for Space Exploration
The Apollo Moon landing was one of humanity’s greatest achievements.  Millennia from now, when the vast majority of the 20th century is reduced to a few footnotes known only to erudite scholars of history, they will still remember that was when we first set foot upon a heavenly body.  It was a mere 66 years after the first powered airplane flight by the Wright brothers.

In the 41 years that have passed since 1969, we have yet to surpass that achievement in human spaceflight.  Since then, our capability has actually declined considerably and to a degree that would yield shocked disbelief from anyone in that era.  By now, we were supposed to have a base on the Moon, perhaps even on Mars, and have sent humans traveling on great odysseys to the outer planets.  Instead, we have been confined to low Earth orbit and even that ends this year with the retirement of the Space Shuttle.

In 2003, following the Columbia accident, President Bush began development of a system to replace the Shuttle, called the Ares I rocket and Orion spacecraft.  It is important to note that this too would only have been able to reach low Earth orbit.  Many in the media mistakenly assumed it was capable of reaching the Moon.  As is not unusual with large government programs, the schedule slipped by several years and costs ballooned by tens of billions.

By the time President Obama cancelled Ares I/Orion earlier this year, the schedule had already slipped five years to 2017 and completing development would have required another $50 billion.  Moreover, the cost per flight, inclusive of overhead, was estimated to be at least $1.5 billion compared to the $1 billion of Shuttle, despite carrying only four people to Shuttle’s seven and almost no cargo.

The President quite reasonably concluded that spending $50 billion to develop a vehicle that would cost 50% more to operate, but carry 50% less payload was perhaps not the best possible use of funds.  To quote a member of the Augustine Commission, which was convened by the President to analyze Ares/Orion, “If Santa Claus brought us the system tomorrow, fully developed, and the budget didn’t change, our next action would have to be to cancel it,” because we can’t afford the annual operating costs.

Cancellation was therefore simply a matter of time and thankfully we have a President with the political courage to do the right thing sooner rather than later.  We can ill afford the expense of an “Apollo on steroids”, as a former NASA Administrator referred to the Ares/Orion program.  A lesser President might have waited until after the upcoming election cycle, not caring that billions more dollars would be wasted.  It was disappointing to see how many in Congress did not possess this courage.  One senator in particular was determined to achieve a new altitude record in hypocrisy, claiming that the public option was bad in healthcare, but good in space!
Thankfully, as a result of funds freed up by this cancellation, there is now hope for a bright future in space exploration.  The new plan is to harness our nation’s unparalleled system of free enterprise (as we have done in all other modes of transport), to create far more reliable and affordable rockets.  Handing over Earth orbit transport to American commercial companies, overseen of course by NASA and the FAA, will free up the NASA resources necessary to develop interplanetary transport technologies.  This is critically important if we are to reach Mars, the next giant leap in human exploration of the Universe.

Today, the President will articulate an ambitious and exciting new plan that will alter our destiny as a species.  I believe this address could be as important as President Kennedy’s 1962 speech at Rice University.  For the first time since Apollo, our country will have a plan for space exploration that inspires and excites all who look to the stars.  Even more important, it will work.


Source: Space X

SpaceX completed a successful static fire today, full 3.5 secs.  Official statement below, video/photos to come as available.  I am travelling today so please forgive any delayed responses:

Today, SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral.  Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds.

Just prior to engine ignition, the pad water deluge system was activated providing acoustic suppression to keep vibration levels within acceptable limits.  The test validated the launch pad propellant and pneumatic systems as well as the ground and flight control software that controls pad and launch vehicle configurations.  The completion of a successful static fire is the latest milestone on the path to first flight of the Falcon 9 which will carry a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit to orbit.

The Hawthorne firm’s Falcon 9 is a major contender to cheaply carry astronauts and cargo into orbit.

A new rocket 18 stories tall and waiting to be launched from a pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., could determine the fate of a private aerospace venture in Hawthorne — and even possibly NASA’s space program.

The Falcon 9 booster, developed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., is going through final preparations for its maiden test flight and could blast off as early as next month.

The rocket is a major contender to assume NASA’s responsibilities in hauling astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station in the wake of President Obama’s budget proposal to outsource space travel to private businesses.

The eyes of the U.S. government will be on the launch to see whether the Falcon 9 has the right stuff. NASA has invested more than $200 million in seed money to help the company, also known as SpaceX, develop and build the nine-engine rocket, and has an additional $1.6 billion on the table with a contract for 12 flights to transport cargo in the coming years.

“Our success is vital to the success of the American space program and servicing the space station,” said Elon Musk, the company’s founder and chief executive. “However, we do not need to be successful on the first flight. It’s rare for a new vehicle to have 100% success right away.”

Full article here.

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