May 9, 2015

Why Musk's Rockets are So Much More Promising Than Bezos' Right Now (Source: Business Insider)
This year is shaping up to be an extremely exciting time for the future of commercial spaceflight, which will be built upon the backbone of revolutionary 21st-century rockets. The private American space companies Blue Origin and SpaceX are paving the way.

New Shepard generates about 10% the power of a Falcon 9, and it cannot transport humans — or anything else for that matter — to the International Space Station. SpaceX, however, has been transporting food, water, and other supplies to the ISS since May 2012. And we'll need to use powerful rockets as transportation vehicles if we ever want to reach and colonize other planets like Mars. Blue Origin is working on a more powerful engine that could boost future rockets into higher, orbital space, but that engine is still under development. (5/8)

Dragon Could be Planetary Science Platform (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX's pad abort test this week at Cape Canaveral showed important progress toward readying Dragon capsules to fly astronauts to the International Space Station within two years or so. CEO Elon Musk said the test also showed the Dragon's potential to deliver science payloads to the moon, Mars, the Jovian moon Europa, or virtually anywhere across the solar system. "When boosted on a Falcon Heavy (rocket), it can pretty much go anywhere," said Musk. "So we're kind of excited about exploring that possibility." (5/8)

The Next Decade in Commercial Spaceflight (Source: Huffington Post)
When you consider all of our nation's spaceflight triumphs, it's easy to forget that mankind has only been a spacefaring species for 54 years. Everything in the entire history of spaceflight has occurred in the last five decades: we've put a dozen men on the Moon, we've built and occupied an International Space Station, we've photographed hundreds of billions of galaxies, we've sent a probe into interstellar space, and we've witnessed the revolutionary birth of a private space industry, headed primarily by entrepreneurs. Click here. (5/8)

XCOR Spaceplane Development Advances (Source: XCOR)
XCOR Aerospace, Inc. announced today that it has bonded the XCOR Lynx Mark I strakes to the Lynx spacecraft fuselage. Lynx Mark I is currently being assembled at XCOR’s Hangar 61 in Mojave, California. Integrating the strakes to the Lynx Mk I was a critical step, noted XCOR President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Gibson. “Today marks another solid milestone in our progress toward first flight, clearing the path for a series of important moments that will accelerate Lynx development,” he added. (4/30)

Space-Based Airplane Tracking Demonstrated by ESA Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
An experimental receiver aboard a European satellite has picked up signals from more than 15,000 aircraft in the last two years, paving the way for future missions that could track global commercial air traffic from space. The European Space Agency announced the Proba-V spacecraft has detected more than 25 million aircraft position messages since it launched in May 2013, demonstrating a “technical world-first” in monitoring air traffic via satellite.

Proba-V’s primary mission is measuring vegetation growth, but the satellite is fitted with several technological experiments, including a radio receiver designed to pick up Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, signals transmitted by airplanes. (5/7)

SpaceX May Spend $20 Million in McAllen (Source: Valley Central)
SpaceX may spend $20 million at McAllen-based businesses during the next decade. While SpaceX plans to launch rockets from Boca Chica beach near Brownsville, the California-based company may also have a major impact on McAllen businesses. “If we really think regionally and we think it will help Hidalgo County, then we should be helping Brownsville,” said McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez. “They reached out to all of the community and said ‘Hey, let’s do this together.’ And we did.”

McAllen inked an economic development agreement with SpaceX in September. For every $1 million that SpaceX spends at a McAllen-based business, the city agreed to pay $25,000 to SpaceX. McAllen collects a 2 percent local sales tax, generating $20,000 for every $1 million spent on taxable good and services. The city would hand back that money, plus $5,000 for every $1 million spent by SpaceX — for a total of $25,000 per $1 million. McAllen wouldn’t front any money, and would pay a maximum $500,000 to SpaceX. (5/7)

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