May 22, 2012 |
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket roared to life before dawn at Cape Canaveral, Fla., today and blasted into space on a column of fire that lit the night sky for miles around. The nine-engine rocket lifted off at 3:44 a.m. EDT carrying a cone-shaped space capsule that's set to berth with the International Space Station later this week. SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., is the first private company to embark on such a mission. Up until now, sending a spacecraft to the space station has been a feat that has only been accomplished by four of the world's wealthiest and most technologically advanced governments: the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Union . The launch marked a major milestone in efforts to shift spacecraft development -- long dominated by governments and large, entrenched aerospace firms -- to privately funded firms such as SpaceX that so far have been funding their ventures largely on their own. About 10 minutes into the spaceflight, SpaceX confirmed that its gleaming, white Falcon 9 rocket had lifted the unmanned Dragon space capsule into orbit.
May 15, 2012 |
For the last half-century, space flight has been the domain of the world's superpowers. All that is set to change as soon as Saturday when SpaceX, the private rocket company in Hawthorne, will attempt to launch a spaceship with cargo into orbit and three days later dock it with the International Space Station. If successful, the mission could mean a major shift in the way the U.S. government handles space exploration. Instead of keeping space travel a closely guarded government function, NASA has already begun hiring privately funded start-up companies for spacecraft development and is moving toward eventually outsourcing NASA space missions.
April 7, 2012 |
SEATTLE - Amazon.com founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos is putting a chunk of his fortune - estimated at $18 billion - toward more out-of-the-box ventures. He created a private aerospace company called Blue Origin in 2000 with an aim to make space travel more affordable, and he's spending millions to build a clock that's supposed to last 10,000 years in the desert wilderness of West Texas. Since 2010, NASA has committed nearly $26 million for Kent, Wash.-based Blue Origin, which is competing with Boeing and two other companies to create a new generation of vehicles that can take U.S. astronauts to the international space station.
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February 8, 2012 |
Robert A. Citron, an aerospace engineer and intrepid entrepreneur, whose boyhood fantasy of traveling beyond Earth inspired pioneering ventures to commercialize space, died Jan. 31 at his home in Bellevue, Wash. He was 79. The cause was complications of prostate cancer, said his son, Kirk. During an extraordinarily varied career, Citron founded an adventure travel agency, built satellite tracking stations, produced National Geographic documentaries and monitored natural phenomena such as insect invasions and falling meteorites.
January 20, 2012 |
"Man on a Mission: Richard Garriott's Road to the Stars" is the ultimate vanity project (in the form of a documentary) for the video game guru who had $30 million burning a hole in his pocket and an equally outsized desire for a trip out of this world. It's a bit precious in its narcissistic point of view, but still a kick to watch the hopelessly devoted astronaut wannabe fulfill his wildest dream. The film traces the training, the rocket ship ride and the time he spent at the International Space Station in 2008 in one of the most expansive, and no doubt expensive, home movies you're ever likely to see, Uncle Bill's Rome adventure not withstanding.
September 15, 2011 |
After more than a year's delay, NASA on Wednesday unveiled its plan to build a heavy launch vehicle capable of sending astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit by 2025, but it would be only slightly more powerful than the 1960s-era Saturn V that launched Americans to the moon. The new system would combine elements of the retired space shuttle, the abandoned Constellation program and some potentially new hardware that would be phased in over the next decade, assuming Congress continues to provide about $3 billion per year for the work.
August 6, 2011 |
What will it take to build a spaceship capable of traveling to the stars? And what if you wanted it to be ready to launch in just 100 years? It may sound like the premise of a science fiction show or reality TV series. But these are serious questions being asked by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research-and-development arm of the U.S. military. This fall, DARPA intends to award up to $500,000 in seed money to a group that proves it would do the best job of developing the necessary technologies — whatever they may be — for interstellar travel.
October 1, 2010 |
A tiny satellite circling Earth is providing an unexpectedly complicated picture of the solar system's heliosphere, the invisible bubble that extends far beyond the planetary orbits to where the solar wind strikes the vast sea of particles and radiation that fill interstellar space, researchers said Thursday. It turns out the heliosphere is changing much more rapidly than scientists ever expected, according to data published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Despite its great distance from Earth, the heliosphere is of great interest to astronomers because it shields the solar system from as much as 90% of the cosmic rays that would otherwise enter it. As humans contemplate manned spaceflights of longer durations, "galactic cosmic radiation turns out to be the most important factor" for the safety of astronauts, astronomer David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said at a news conference.
April 16, 2010 |
At the launch center where the U.S. had dominated space travel over the last half-century, President Obama on Thursday laid out a new vision for the nation's space ambitions, focusing on future deep-space missions rather than a return trip to the moon. The proposal differs significantly from the austere agenda that Obama laid out in January when he terminated the moon program. Critics then attacked his decision as a historic withdrawal of U.S. ambitions in space travel just as China and other developing nations are gearing up to retrace U.S. steps on the moon.
January 31, 2010 |
Within the next decade, the stereotypical space traveler may no longer be a square-jawed fighter pilot but a wealthy Internet geek with deep pockets. Or at least that's what a crop of gutsy space entrepreneurs hope. For half a century, venturing into space has been the primary domain of governments that can afford to spend billions of dollars to develop and send massive rockets into orbit. But modern-day industrialists believe a privately funded commercial space industry is poised to blast off. With technological advances that they say will make rocketry more affordable, companies are popping up nationwide and focusing on an array of ventures, from lifting "space tourists" briefly into orbit to launching satellites and cargo far into space.