And So the 21st Century Space Race Begins
Tourism. It’s not just for Earth anymore. Hello "Space Tourism". The retirement of the Space Shuttle program back in August of 2011, has cleared the path for space privatization. Private organizations are hard at work planning and engineering private spacecraft and machinery that will be used to explore our solar system. Some of the top entrepreneurial minds of our time will have the chance to live out their dreams and explore space, in the near future.
What’s on the calendar in the next few decades for space exploration? Just about everything you can imagine. Tours around and on the moon, a reality show on Mars, even the harnessing of close asteroids for the mining of their precious minerals and fuel. Very exciting times indeed!
SpaceX. First and foremost, I'll start with the company that just successfully docked an unmanned container to the International Space Station on May 25, 2012. Fellow hubber seankinn has a great article about the successful mission here.
Congratulations are in order for SpaceX. They are the first private company to complete such a task, and they did it on their first try! SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk. Ever heard of PayPal? Yep, he founded that.
SpaceX Has a fleet of "Falcon 9" rockets, and the unmanned container that docked with the ISS is dubbed “the dragon” (as seen in my header pic – how COOL is THAT!?). They have plans to send a manned Dragon container to the ISS in the year 2015.
Mars One. "Human Settlement of Mars in 2023". What’s better than a private company sending a few colonists to Mars for the first time and making history? How’s about making it a reality show? (No, I am not sniffing glue). As hard to believe as this is, this mission has some pretty heavyweight entrepreneurs backing this up. Like who? How’s about the cofounder of Big Brother. You can read about the mission here. And, OH! I almost forgot, they are taking applications now. Sound like it might be something you’d be good at? You can apply to be on mars here!! P.S. -- SpaceX has partnered with Mars One.
Sierra Nevada Corporation -- Current project is the Dream Chaser --- just your everyday manned suborbital and orbital vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing spaceplane. This aircraft will be taking two to seven people in and out of LEO (Low Earth Orbit), to and from the ISS. Anyone remember that old show "Great Space Coaster"?
SNC, the "Top Woman Owned Federal Contractor in the US", has been a leader in avionics, electronics, subsystems etc. since founded in 1963. Their customer list includes NASA. Check out the Vertical-takeoff picture in the wikipedia link above. Picture yourself sitting in that spaceplane on top of that rocket!!
VIRGIN GALACTIC. Sir Richard Branson's pet project is now booking suborbital flights. They are also building the World's first Spaceport in New Mexico... It's under construction now!
Stratolaunch Systems. -- "Pioneering Space Transportation". Whats Microsoft's cofounder Paul Allen been up too? Well LOTS, but one of his biggest projects right now is Stratolaunch. The plan is to launch a SpaceX rocket from the air instead of off the ground, saving THOUSANDS of gallons of fuel!
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