Category Archives: Space

A Suborbital Flight To Space

Everyone’s been paying attention to the “race” between Virgin Galactic and XCOR (a story that got more complicated yesterday), but Blue Origin apparently had the first successful private flight to a hundred kilometers since the X-Prize was won, over eleven years ago. It will be interesting to see when their next one is, to see what kind of turnaround capability they have. It’s now clearly possible that they’ll be offering passenger flights sooner than either of the horizontal approaches.

[Update a few minutes later]

As someone over at Arocket points out, this wasn’t just the first trip to space since 2004, but the first-ever vertical landing of a ship that had been to space (even if SpaceX lands a Falcon 9 first stage, I’m not sure what its apogee is). It was a big milestone.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, on rereading, it’s not clear that the booster went all the way to space, just the capsule, so maybe that hasn’t happened yet.

[Update a while later]

Jeff Bezos issues his first tweet ever.

[Late-morning update]

Jeff Foust has the story now, including the Q&A with Bezos.

[Update a few minutes later]

And here’s Chris Bergin’s story.

[Early-afternoon update]

[Update a while later]

Ashlee Vance has an amusing take on the pissing contest between Musk and Bezos.

BTW, it seems to be confirmed that there was only a 120-meter difference in apogee between booster and capsule, so it definitely made it into space.

[Update a few more minutes later]

For those new to the topic, I wrote an explainer about orbits and suborbits a little over a year ago.

The Future Of Turbochargers

This is interesting. I can see a lot of benefits to rocket-engine design from these kinds of improvements as well, particularly for staged combustion. I wonder if Blue Origin is aware of this kind of thing? Also, it doesn’t say anything about improved performance and reduced cost and parts count from 3-D printing, but I think that will be significant as well.

The Future Of Space

There was an interesting discussion this afternoon at Council of Foreign Affairs with Lori Garver, John Logsdon, and Charles Miller. The Youtube is now available. Note that they touch on many of the themes in my upcoming paper, on how we have to stop trying to do Apollo again, that SLS is a jobs program, that propellant transfer is a game changer, the need for a competitive private sector, etc. Lori was quite harshly critical of NASA (and Congress).

The New Commercial Space Bill

Stephen Smith has an analysis. While it’s nice that they slightly mitigated the idiotic language about using SLS/Orion for ISS missions in 2010, the most significant aspect of the bill, to me, is the extension of the learning period. I don’t think the language about mining is all that significant, legally. It simply makes explicit what’s always been customary law since the moon samples.