Will SpaceX IPO Under Trump Administration? (Source: Profit Confidential)
There is now considerable evidence-drawn from a motley collection of
SpaceX news stories-that President Trump will embrace private space
contractors. In fact, the incoming administration may even fast-forward
the timeline of a SpaceX IPO. Just take a look at the people Trump is
appointing to his NASA transition team. There's Charles Miller, a NASA
alumni that pushed for commercial space programs; Alan Stern, who is
currently serving as Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation;
and Alan Lindenmoyer, the former head of NASA’s commercial space taxi
But more to the point, Trump is being steered by Peter Thiel, a
longtime friend of Elon Musk. In fact, the two went into business
almost two decades ago when they merged Confinity and X.com to create
one of the first online payments companies: PayPal. Thiel even invested
significant amounts of money in SpaceX. As a result, he stands to make
a killing off a SpaceX IPO, the date of which is still a mystery. Musk
has always maintained that the eventual SpaceX IPO was tied to his Mars
Of course this is all speculation, but it's ironic that SpaceX and Elon
Musk have been accused by Republicans of benefiting from "crony
capitalism" during the Obama administration. Crony capitalism seems to
be precisely the kind of situation described in this article under the
Trump administration. (12/27)
Birdenstine: Why the Moon Matters
(Source: Birdenstine Blog)
The discovery of lunar ice deposits should have immediately transformed
America’s space program. Water ice not only represents a critical in
situ resource for life support (air and water); it can be cracked into
its components, hydrogen and oxygen, to create the same chemical
propellant that powered the Space Shuttle. Even better, this
chemical propellant sits at the poles of the Moon, which receive almost
constant sunlight at an angle that creates permanent shadows.
While the water ice is in the shadows, the permanent sunlight enables
photovoltaic power, which is necessary to crack the water into hydrogen
and oxygen. All of this is available on a world that has no atmosphere
and a gravity well that is 1/6th that of Earth. In other words,
standard aerodynamic limitations do not apply permitting the placement
of the propellant into orbit either around the Moon or around the Earth.
From the discovery of water ice on the Moon until this day, the
American objective should have been a permanent outpost of rovers and
machines, with occasional manned missions for science and
maintenance. The purpose of such an outpost should have been to
utilize the materials and energy of the Moon to drive down the costs
and increase the capabilities of American cis-lunar space operations.
EmDrive: Has the 'Impossible'
Technology Started a New Space Race Between US and China?
(Source: IB Times)
China lately claimed that it's conducting tests using the "impossible"
technology, none other than the EmDrive. Did this announcement make
NASA pull its socks and conduct researchers regarding the same within
the orbits? China had last month revealed that it was conducting the
tests aboard its Tiangong-2 space station after successfully carrying
it out on Earth after funding researches for five years.
The controversial EmDrive space propulsion engine technology is said to
function without any rocket fuel and aid astronomers in space travel
much quicker than usual. This spacecraft releases microwaves in a
cone-shaped engine, which helps it in moving forward and carrying out
its functions, enacting like a propulsion system. (1/2)
SpaceX Concludes Accident
Investigation, Targets Return to Flight on Sunday (Pending FAA OK) (Source:
SpaceX has concluded an investigation into its rocket explosion
incident and submitted its findings to the FAA. The company now targets
Jan. 8 for a return to flight from its California launch site. The
investigation concluded that one of three composite overwrapped
pressure vessels, or COPVs, inside the rocket's second stage liquid
oxygen tank failed. "The failure was likely due to the accumulation of
oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle in the
liner, leading to ignition and the subsequent failure of the COPV."
The investigation identified several "credible causes" for this
failure, all of which can be avoided in the short term by changing the
COPV configuration to allow for the loading of warmer helium, and
returning helium loading procedures to a "prior flight proven
configuration." Presumably this means prior to December 2015, when the
company began using supercooled liquid oxygen and kerosene fuels to
increase the performance of its rocket.
In the long term, SpaceX said it will apply a permanent fix to this
problem by implementing design changes to the COPVs that should prevent
buckles. These changes are expected to be in place before human
launches on the Falcon 9 some time in 2018. The FAA still must clear
the company's rocket before it begins flying again. (1/2)
Could Donald Trump Be Better for NASA
in Alabama Than Obama? (Source: Huntsville Times)
Donald Trump has only hinted at the future of NASA. But his campaign
suggestions - more deep space exploration, less Earth science - seem to
bode well for Alabama and for Marshall Space Flight Center. The
center's 6,000-person workforce is a key part of Huntsville's economy.
And deep space exploration plays to Marshall's strengths as NASA's
propulsion center and manager of the Space Launch System (SLS), the new
rocket capable of going beyond Earth orbit to deep space.
NASA employees here say they heard the question often over the
holidays: "How do you feel about Trump?" One employee's answer seemed
to stand out: "We're certainly better positioned than last time."
The last time the White House changed occupants, incoming President
Barack Obama canceled the NASA rocket program being developed in
Huntsville. Constellation, as it was called, was designed for America's
space goals under Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
It was to enable a permanent moon base to support missions to "Mars and
other destinations." (1/2)
Rocket, Satellite Factories to Rise at
Exploration Park in 2017 (Source: Florida Today)
The New Year will see a pair of major new space manufacturing
facilities rise at Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Park. OneWeb, a
startup planning to build hundreds of small communications satellites,
entered the holidays with a billion-dollar momentum boost from
investors. The company on Dec. 19 announced a $1 billion investment by
SoftBank Group of Japan, which owns Sprint, and said that earlier
investors were pumping in another $200 million.
"OneWeb is a tremendously exciting company poised to transform internet
access around the world from their manufacturing facility in Florida,"
said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank, in a statement. The
companies said the new investment would create 3,000 jobs over four
years, though no total was projected for Florida. The local satellite
manufacturing operation, announced in April, was expected to bring 250
OneWeb plans to build a constellation of nearly 650 small satellites in
low Earth orbit that will expand broadband internet access around the
world, with a first batch of 10 launching in early 2018. (1/2)