October 25, 2012

FAA Issues Permit to SpaceX for Grasshopper Flights (Source: NewSpace Watch)
FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation issued an experimental permit to SpaceX on Oct. 18 for flights of the Grasshopper reusable booster prototype at their McGregor, Texas facility. (The initial brief "hop" in September was perhaps done under the amateur rules.) The permit allows for an unlimited number of flights of the Grasshopper, and Grasshopper pre-flight and post-flight ground operations at the McGregor Test Site.

The permit goes on to specify various conditions and limitations such as: SpaceX may operate the Grasshopper vehicle to an altitude that does not exceed 2500 feet AGL, in accordance with its application; and SpaceX must terminate Grasshopper's thrust if the vehicle's vacuum instantaneous impact point (IIP) exceeds 2100 feet from the launch point. (10/25)

NASA Selects Millennium for Safety Support Contract at Wallops Spaceport (Source: MEI)
Millennium Engineering and Integration (MEI) Company has been awarded a contract to provide flight, ground, and institutional safety support at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. As part of the Wallops Safety Office Contract, Millennium will perform flight safety analysis, provide ground and pad safety support, and ensure institutional safety through compliance with NASA and OSHA standards.

This work includes wind weighting, range safety analysis, cryogenic safety, explosives safety, electronic emissions safety, fire protection, industrial hygiene, pressure systems, lifting devices, emergency preparedness and other related safety support. Editor's Note: MEI also supports operations on the Eastern Range for the Air Force. (9/1)

Europe Eyes Funding for Miniature Robotic Space Plane (Source: Space.com)
A European-built robot space plane could be soaring in orbit before the end of the decade if the program to develop it gains funding approval next month. The Innovative Space Vehicle (ISV) would be Europe's civilian equivalent of the U.S. Air Force's unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a robotic miniature space shuttle that has flown on two missions since 2010. The unmanned space plane would be much smaller than the Air Force vehicle, however.

Its fate rests with the European Space Agency’s ministers, who are scheduled to meet Nov. 20-21 in Italy. The ESA ministerial meeting is conducted every three years to decide programs and funding for the period until the next meeting. PRIDE (the Program for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe) will be seeking funding there for the ISV, which would be a follow-up to its Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (or IXV), currently being built after months of delays. (10/25)

Saturn Storm Creates Largest and Hottest Vortex Ever Seen in Solar System (Source: WIRED)
On the surface, Saturn seems calm. But the appearance of the largest and hottest vortex ever seen in the solar system has astronomers thinking that Saturn’s atmosphere has more going on than meets the eye. The oval-shaped maelstrom was created when two warm spots in Saturn’s roiling cloud deck merged. The subsequent storm was invisible to human eyes but shone brightly in infrared wavelengths. It was accompanied by an unprecedented temperature spike that released tons of energy, equivalent to an enormous planetary belch. (10/25)

We Should Head to Mars as a United Planet Earth (Source: Telegraph)
A multinational science mission landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is the most ambitious mission ever sent to another planet and it is searching for indicators that life may have (or still does) existed on Mars. Even if it is led by NASA, with hardware and capabilities provided from all over the world, including Spain, Russia, France, and Canada, this Mars mission can truly be called an international mission.

Sadly, Mars has been the source of recent tension between space agencies in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Earlier this year, the United States announced that it was stepping back from participation in the European Space Agency ExoMars missions of 2016 and 2018. Regardless of the reasons for this decision, the concept of doing joint international Mars missions should not be abandoned.

On the contrary, the international community should seize the launch window in 2018 and plan a robotic mission that will move us dramatically closer to the goal of a Mars Sample Return mission. If NASA, ESA, Russia, and other space agencies work together, a major mission can be accomplished – one that will be a significant follow-up to NASA's Mars Science Laboratory. (10/25)

A New Commercial Approach to Space Safety (Source: Space Safety)
To enable the success of new commercial space efforts we must look to new models for advancing safety. Maritime shipping, oil rig drilling, Formula One racing and aircraft design may show us meaningful models for regulating space safety in new and progressive ways. The time has come to explore very seriously if new forms of industry-supported regulation and safety oversight systems–ones that have worked successfully in other industries—could provide swifter answers.

Michael Listner and Simonetta di Pippo, who are active within the International Space Safety Foundation (ISSF), have recently noted that the maritime industry–and its insurers–have relied for some 350 years on Maritime Classification Societies to create safety standards that the Lloyds’s Register of London uses to insure ships at sea. Tommaso Sgobba, President of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), has noted the considerable success of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile Institute in undertaking research to significantly increase the safety of racing vehicles.

Consider the findings of the Deepwater Horizon disaster review team: ““The gas and oil industry…. should establish a ‘Safety Institute’ […] an-industry created, self-policing entity aimed at developing, adopting, and enforcing standards of excellence to ensure continuous improvement in safety and operational integrity offshore”. What all of these various observations mean with regard to the future of space systems and particularly new commercial space innovations is that “governmental controls” over the space industry may well have slowed design innovation. Click here. (10/25)

Post Mission Disposal Rule Could Curtail Orbital Debris Creation (Source: Space Safety)
Although predicting the future debris environment is very difficult, a new NASA study demonstrates the effectiveness of the 25-year Post Mission Disposal (PMD) rule currently in place in limiting the future debris population in low Earth orbit (LEO). “Controlling the growth of the orbital debris population is a high priority for NASA, the United States, and the major space-faring nations of the world to preserve near-Earth space for future generations,” according to the NASA-JSC Orbital Debris Mitigation webpage. Click here. (10/25)

Record Space Junk Cloud Could Threaten ISS (Source: Space Daily)
The explosion of a failed Russian Briz-M rocket upper stage has created a space junk cloud of 500 pieces which could threaten the International Space Station. It exploded in mid-October, two months after causing a key launch of telecom satellites to fail in the latest embarrassing mishap for the embattled Russian space program.

"Right now there are about 500 pieces of debris that were created after the Briz-M upper stage broke apart," a source told Interfax. According to a specialist unit of NASA that tracks orbital debris, there are more than 21,000 pieces of junk bigger than 10 centimeters (four inches) across. The main source of the problem is satellites or upper stages of failed rocket launchers like the Briz-M which still hold fuel and explode while whirling in orbit. (10/25)

Ventions Aerospace Launch at Wallops in November (Source: NewSpace Watch)
The Wallops Island launch manfifest includes a Nov. 7-9 launch window for Ventions Aerospace, a small San Francisco startup. According to their website, Ventions is currently focused on development of small-scale propulsion systems, pumps and launch vehicle components for government and commercial applications under various DARPA and NASA funded projects. In September, Ventions received a DARPA contract for development of high-performance and low-cost launch vehicles for small payloads. (10/25)

NASA Officials Say Mars Exploration Still a Priority (Source: WKYC)
NASA will continue its plans to explore Mars despite uncertainty about where the country's space program is headed following retirement of the space shuttles last year, space experts said Thursday. Recent Mars missions have been successful and future missions are on track, said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA headquarters. "We now know enough about Mars to know where to go," he said in discussing planetary exploration over the past 50 years and the next 50 years.

A major goal of NASA's Mars program is to bring pieces of the planet back to Earth for analysis, Green said. "The next big step is sample return," he said. Some experts said NASA may have trouble financing larger missions. "We can't do any flagship activities with the budgets we have currently," Richard Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. (10/25)

Bolden Seeks To Force Mars Goal Commitment From President Obama (Source: NASA Watch)
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said that he needed to know directly from President Obama whether or not missions to Mars starting in the 2030s was to be NASA's ultimate goal. If this is not the President's goal for NASA, then Bolden wondered why NASA should be expected to continue funding the ISS for another decade and a half. At one point, Bolden teared up and said that "Mars is the Goal".

Bolden claimed that he was intent upon going to the White House "pounding his shoe on the table" and demanding to get a commitment from President Obama to direct NASA to send humans to Mars. Bolden said that he needs that commitment to allow him to decide what to do (not do) with regard to extending the ISS. (10/25)

Spaceplane Could Revolutionize Commercial Flight (source: ABC)
Outer space fust seems a bit closer these days. Just weeks after Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner awed the world with a stratospheric skydive, a California aerospace firm is hoping send even more people to the edge of space with a hypersonic aircraft capable of cruising at 3.5 times the speed of sound. Mojave-based XCOR is currently busy constructing the “Lynx,” a two-seater commercial craft supposedly capable of cruising 62 miles above the Earth’s surface at speeds of more than 2,500 miles per hour.

“I’m excited as hell,” XCOR COO Andrew Nelson told ABC News. “It’s going to be the most exciting suborbital space flight you will ever take.” The ride, which takes about 30 to 45 minutes, consists of a rocket-powered ascent, several minutes of microgravity coasting near the edge of space, re-entry and a glide landing. Though the Lynx is drawing comparisons with the Concorde, Nelson stressed that the Lynx isn’t meant to fly from city to city. “We’ve already sold over 225 seats, and those sales are accelerating,” Nelson said. “And those include both personal space flights as well as science flights.” XCOR expects to begin offering flights beginning in 2013 and hopes to conduct about four flights a day.

Editor's Note: Seems to be a lot of confusion in the media about XCOR and Lynx. Huffington Post incorrectly said the Lynx would allow supersonic intercontinental flight. Now ABC calls the Lynx a "hypersonic" craft that will "cruise" at 3.5 times the speed of sound (Mach ~3.5). I don't think "cruise" is the right description for a near-vertical short-duration rocket-powered ascent, and "hypersonic" is generally used to describe speeds of Mach 5 or greater. (10/25)

Blood, Urine Among 'Priceless' Cargo in Dragon (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Space station managers on Wednesday approved plans for Sunday's scheduled departure of SpaceX's Dragon commercial cargo spacecraft filled with nearly one ton of failed parts, experiments, and precious blood and urine samples for return to Earth. Astronauts are loading approximately 1,673 pounds of cargo into the privately-owned spacecraft, which arrived at the complex Oct. 10 following launch from Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket.

The return trip will allow researchers to begin analyzing biological samples left aboard the space station following the last flight of the space shuttle in July 2011. Without the shuttle, NASA and its space station partners had no way to return significant cargo to Earth, putting a hold on many major scientific investigations. (10/24)

Meteorite From California Fireball Is Meteor-Wrong, Scientist Says (Source: Space.com)
A rock thought to be a meteorite from a recent fireball seen over Northern California is in fact, just a regular Earth rock, scientists report. The stone had excited researchers, as it seemed to present the first specimen deposited by a meteor that lit up the night sky over the San Francisco Bay Area on Oct. 17. Lisa Webber, a nurse at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, read about the fireball and recalled hearing a sound on her roof that night. Sure enough, she and neighbors found a ding on the roof and a likely-looking rock in her backyard. (10/24)

Dragon OK to Come Home Sunday (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on Sunday is set to end an 18-day stay at the International Space Station and return to Earth, NASA confirmed Wednesday. Station mission managers unanimously gave a “go” for the departure to proceed despite a glitch that may make one of Dragon’s three flight computers unavailable. The computer was knocked out of sync with the other two when it automatically reset itself without commands from the ground, but officials said the problem would not limit the spacecraft’s ability to fly home safely.

SpaceX and NASA engineers were discussing whether to attempt to re-sync the third computer, which was reportedly working fine otherwise, or to leave the system the way it is. Current schedules call for the station crew to pull the Dragon from its docking port with a robotic arm around 7 a.m., and release it into space before 9:30 a.m. (10/24)

Astrium Presents Results of Study Into Automatic Landing Near the Moon's South Pole (Source: Space Daily)
What technologies are needed to ensure a safe, accurate Moon landing and in-situ lunar research? Astrium is currently investigating this question in Lunar Lander studies for the European Space Agency, ESA. Currently the baseline for the mission is a dual-stage spacecraft using a transfer module concept.

Following separation of the spacecraft from the launcher, the two-stage spacecraft (comprising the Transfer Module and the Lunar Lander Module) will enter a transfer orbit before swinging into orbit around the Moon just two kilometers above its surface. At this point, the Lander Module will detach itself from the Transfer Module and land near the Moon's south pole. After that the scientific exploration will start. (10/25)

NASA Tests Boeing Supersonic Design (Source: AVweb)
A number of technologies are in the works to solve the problem of sonic booms and resurrect commercial supersonic flight, and recently NASA tested one potential design from Boeing. Two models were tested in the supersonic wind tunnel at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio. The larger model contains a force measurement balance used to measure forces on the model such as lift and drag. The smaller model was used to measure the off-body pressures that create a sonic boom. NASA has been funding research by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to develop designs for a small supersonic airliner that would carry between 30 and 80 passengers and potentially enter service in the 2025 timeframe. (10/23)

Sequester Fix Will Occur in First Half of 2013, Obama Says (Source: Defense News)
In an interview transcript released this week, President Obama said lawmakers and the White House will find a way to bridge the deficit gap and avoid sequestration in the first six months of the new presidential term. He said he was "absolutely confident" that a "grand bargain" would be struck. (10/24)

Retired Lockheed Martin CEO Still Sounding Alarm About US Competitiveness (Source: Industry Week)
Retired aerospace executive Norm Augustine engineered the 1995 merger that created Lockheed Martin Corp. (IW 500/30). But creating the world's largest defense company pales in comparison with the challenge Augustine has taken on since retiring in 1997. Augustine is on a mission to wake up lawmakers, business leaders and anyone else within earshot about the deterioration of American innovation and competitiveness -- and the critical role that science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, plays in getting the United States back on track. (10/14)

China to Launch 11 Meteorological Satellites by 2020 (Source: Space Daily)
China will launch 11 meteorological satellites before 2020 to boost the country's weather monitoring network, according to the country's meteorological satellite development plan (2011-2020). The country will invest a total of 21.7 billion yuan ($3.44 billion) in the sector, including research on new-generation meteorological satellites and the building of ground application systems for meteorological satellites. China has launched 12 meteorological satellites since 1988, with seven remaining in orbit. (10/14)

Dark Matter 'Halos' May Contain Stars (Source: Space Daily)
Could it be that dark matter "halos" - the huge, invisible cocoons of mass that envelop entire galaxies and account for most of the matter in the universe - aren't completely dark after all but contain a small number of stars? Astronomers have long disagreed about why they see more light in the universe than it seems they should - that is, why the infrared light they observe exceeds the amount of light emitted from known galaxies.

When looking at the cosmos, astronomers have seen what are neither stars nor galaxies nor a uniform dark sky but mysterious, sandpaper-like smatterings of light, which UCLA's Edward L. (Ned) Wright refers to as "fluctuations." The debate has centered around what exactly the source of those fluctuations is. One explanation is that they are from very distant unknown galaxies. A second is that they're from unknown galaxies that are not so far away, faint galaxies whose light has been traveling to us for only 4 billion or 5 billion years (a rather short time in astronomy terms).

The first explanation is nowhere close to being supported by the data the astronomers present from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, said Ned Wright. "The idea of not-so-far-away faint galaxies is better, but still not right," he added. "It's off by a factor of about 10; the 'distant galaxies' hypothesis is off by a factor of about 1,000." He contends that the small number of stars that were kicked to the edges of space during violent collisions and mergers of galaxies may be the cause of the infrared light "halos" across the sky and may explain the mystery of the excess emitted infrared light. (10/25)

China’s Long March 3C Lofts Another Compass-G Into Orbit (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The Chinese were back in action on Thursday, launching the sixth Compass-G satellite into orbit via their Long March 3C (Chang Zheng 3C) launch vehicle. The launch from the LC2 launch complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province marked 15th successful orbital launch this year for China. (10/25)

John McCain Wants to Put “a Man or a Woman on Mars” (Source: Space Politics)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, was campaigning in Florida yesterday in support of Mitt Romney, including a stop on Florida’s Space Coast. While there, he briefly offered his thoughts on the US should be doing in space, specifically, the need for a single major project that can win the support of the American public. “Let’s focus on putting a man or a woman on Mars. Let’s focus on that,” he said.

That single-minded focus on Mars is a departure from his 2008 campaign, which didn’t explicitly call out human exploration of Mars as a top goal in its space policy white paper, focusing instead on continuing Constellation, maximizing utilization of the ISS, and ensuring “that space exploration is top priority and that the U.S. remains a leader”. The Romney campaign has also not formally endorsed a human mission to Mars. President Obama, though, did make sending human to Mars (or, at least, in orbit around Mars) by the mid-2030s once of his goals for NASA in his April 2010 speech at the Kennedy Space Center. (10/25)

Sentinel Endorses Nelson; Science Guy Stumps for Obama in Florida (Source: Space Politics)
The Orlando Sentinel endorsed Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) for reelection on Sunday over his Republican challenger, Connie Mack IV. The editorial cited Nelson’s role as “a champion for NASA and Florida’s role in the U.S. space program” in its decision. “A law he co-authored in 2010 wisely extended the life of the International Space Station and supported the development of commercial spacecraft, both positive developments for Florida and the space program as a whole,” the endorsement stated, a reference to the NASA Authorization Act of 2010.

Bill Nye, aka “The Science Guy,” will be supporting the Obama reelection campaign Monday night on Florida’s Space Coast. Nye is slated to appear at a watch party in Cocoa, Florida, for the third and final presidential debate. Nye, the CEO of The Planetary Society, is also scheduled to appear Tuesday morning at a roundtable about STEM education at Florida Tech. The roundtable is not an official Obama campaign event, according to a release by the campaign’s Florida staff, but “it is part of Mr. Nye’s trip in support of the campaign.” (10/22)

Why Astronauts Experience Low Blood Pressure After Returning to Earth (Source: SpaceRef)
New research suggests that a major cause of low blood pressure during standing is the compromised ability of arteries and veins to constrict normally and return blood back to the heart. This condition, known as orthostatic hypotension, occurs in up to half of those astronauts on short-term missions (two weeks or less) and in nearly all astronauts after long-term missions (four to six months). Prevention and treatment strategies developed for astronauts may also hold promise for elderly populations on Earth who experience orthostatic hypotension more than any other age group. (10/25)

Lockheed Martin Starts Work on New Missile Warning Satellites (Source: SpaceRef)
The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin (LMT) an $82 million contract to begin initial work on the fifth and sixth geosynchronous (GEO) satellites in the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning constellation. Featuring a mix of GEO satellites, hosted payloads in highly elliptical orbits, and associated ground hardware and software, the SBIRS program delivers resilient and improved missile warning capabilities for the nation.

The acquisition of GEO-5 and 6 will come in three phases. Under this first phase, Lockheed Martin will complete non-recurring engineering activities for GEO-5 and 6 and procure select long lead spacecraft parts enabling supplier production lines to deliver the lowest possible price for each component. The two subsequent acquisition phases will fund procurement of the remaining long lead parts, as well as satellite production under a fixed-price contract structure. (10/25)

NASA's Michoud to Add Hundreds of Jobs as Heavy-Lift Rocket Gears Up (Source: Times-Picayune)
NASA officials on Wednesday looked to the future as they gave business owners from across the country an update on the Space Launch System, a new mega-rocket designed to transport astronauts to deep space. The seminar in eastern New Orleans drew more than 150 people from dozens of businesses, including some already partnering on the project and others interested in working alongside one of its major contractors, like Boeing.

Hundreds of high-paying jobs are expected to be added when construction on the program reaches its peak, starting next year and leveling off in 2015, said Todd May. He would not, however, give an exact number of jobs that could be created. NASA selected Michoud to construct the major components of the rocket last year. The heavy-lift rocket's massive stage core will be built there, and the engines that will power the vehicle beyond low-Earth orbit and into deep space will be test-fired at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. (10/25)

Telenor Revenue Dips But Profit Remains Stable (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Telenor Satellite Broadcasting of Norway on Oct. 24 reported lower revenue but a stable gross-profit margin as it cut operating costs. Oslo-based Telenor said that despite the strength of the U.S. dollar and British pound against the Norwegian kroner, the company‘s revenue slipped by 8.1 percent, to 242 million kroner ($42.2 million) for the three months ending Sep. 30. Telenor said lower broadcasting revenue and ground services accounted for the overall drop. (10/25)

Telesat Reports Solid Results as Possible Stock Sale Looms (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Telesat Canada, whose shareholders are discussing whether to take the company public with an initial stock offering, on Oct. 24 said it expects third-quarter revenue to increase by 10 percent, and gross profit by 13 percent, compared to a year ago. Telesat cautioned that the figures are preliminary. Final results will be announced in November. (10/25)

Landing Sites Identified for Lunar X-Prize Contestants (Source: GLXP)
With all the buzz in the media lately about the status of the teams competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE and who's leading, it's still anybody's game. Fifteen teams have let us know where they plan on landing when they finally make it to the moon. Here is a chart to illustrate who plans on landing where. From the looks of it, we've got just about the whole moon covered! It's great to see such a variety of goals but even more exciting is the fact that a chart like this even exists. Sites vary for a number of reasons from landing near different Apollo heritage sites (some for photos and some for interaction) to landing near the north pole to search for water ice! Click here to see the map, and here for a piece on Florida's team. (10/24)

U.S. Air Force to Fly Last X-51A Vehicle (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force says it now plans to fly the last in a series of four Boeing-built experimental hypersonic vehicles in late spring or early summer under a troubled testing program that the service weighed canceling following an Aug. 14 failure. During that flight, the third X-51A Waverider vehicle veered off course soon after separating from its carrier aircraft and crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Investigators have determined that one of the vehicle’s control fins inadvertently came unlocked, and are still trying to determine exactly why that happened, Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory, said Oct. 24 during a media teleconference. The failure investigation is expected to be completed by mid December. The WaveRider is designed to achieve speeds in excess of Mach 5 on the power of a supersonic combustion ramjet engine. (10/24)

SLS and Orion Endure Rigorous Wind Tunnel Testing (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Both the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crew capsule have continued their wind tunnel testing this month, with the Block 1 Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV) – otherwise known as the SLS-1000x – set to facilitate a complete aerodynamic force and moment database delivery by the end of this year. (10/25)

Branson: Virgin Space Project Keeps Being Delayed (Source: AP)
British billionaire Richard Branson says his space tourism project keeps being pushed back and isn't sure of an exact date for the first launch. He says it will be at least another 12 or 18 months before the Virgin Galactic venture can offer paid space travel to adventurers. The founder of the Virgin Group met with students on his first visit to Poland on Wednesday, where he came to launch Virgin Academy, which will help young people kick start their own businesses.

Asked about Virgin Galactic, Branson said he has "stopped counting" days to the launch because it gets delayed "to the next year, to the next year." More than 100 would-be space tourists have signed up for the $200,000 two-hour trips that go 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth. (10/25)

Spaceport Infrastructure Still an Unknown Frontier (Source: Bond Buyer)
Spaceports are popping up all over the United States, as both existing airports and brand-new facilities position themselves to profit from a new age of commercial space travel and transport, but the industry is still in its infancy and faces significant challenges.

It’s impossible to know now whether states and localities that undertake the cost of building spaceport infrastructure will see a payoff any time soon. Spaceport America has pledged to be self-sustaining through the collection of tourism revenue from visitors popping by to take a look at the launch pad. Some of the facilities are not yet at the imminent operations stage, and their future is even more uncertain. Click here.

Editor's Note: It's unfortunate that this financial publication failed to take note of the innovative financing mechanisms being employed by groups like Space Florida to fund the development of spaceport infrastructure.

Space Gets Sponsored (Source: Manufacturing.net)
With the Red Bull Stratos mission ending in a resounding success, the energy drink maker just might have introduced the world to a new paradigm in how we push our technological limits through research and development. And it makes me wonder — could logo-emblazoned rockets and pressure suits become the new normal for dangerous and high-tech exploration, replacing the likes of that famous NASA patch? While Baumgartner didn't actually jump from "space," his success will most certainly be a model for future missions that go beyond the Kármán line with a faster pace of innovation than ever before.

Private investment in space missions is a recent phenomenon, mostly because it hasn’t been much of a safe investment. Red Bull (and companies like SpaceX) is showing that old paradigm is no longer the case. Never before has a company actually stood to benefit from spending what must amount to be an incredible amount of money on a single stunt. Today, we have services like YouTube, which streamed the jump live, and countless social media sites, all of which were abuzz with the jump. Red Bull’s logo was emblazoned across what were probably the most-viewed images in the world that day. It’s hard to put a dollar figure on that ROI, but it’s going to be big. (10/25)

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