A bunch of important milestones were reached this month in the field of private space exploration. The most notable achievement is the Blue Origin successful launch of the test vehicle New Shepard. It was a giant leap for space industry since they were able to perform soft landing not only for capsule but also for a booster! As far as I know it’s first time in the history.
Blue Origin owner, billionaire and a well known Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is behind this achievement. His goal is to drastically reduce the cost of space travel by re-using rocket launchers that currently fall down into ocean and are discarded after one use. Mr. Bezos says:
“The ultimate vision should be aircraftlike operations,”
Just like it’s unimaginable for us a single use aircraft that is thrown away after one flight, the space travel should become somehow similar to aviation, where rocket and spaceships are not a variable costs but fixed assets.
The other great news come from POTUS. Barack Obama has signed historic Bill recognizing asteroid resource property rights into Law. This enables startup companies like Planetary Resources to operate under legal umbrella that protect their investment.
Planetary Resources, with Peter Diamandis as co-founder is looking to develop asteroid mining industry. They want to use the abundance of some expensive materials on near Earth asteroids to mine them out and bring back to Earth.
Just two days ago another great news popped up. In this case from Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson’s firm announced the new project -a “Cosmic Girl”. This is the name of first Boeing 747 that Virgin Galactic will use to launch satellites into the orbit using a rocket attached to the belly. Just enjoy below video and think on how cool it is!
On top of these three news, Cygnus spacecraft is about to launch from Florida up to International Space Station, bringing supplies for the crew. Cygnus is built and operated by Orbital ATK, a private company that won a bid to resupply ISS with cargo and food.
And finally, Space X, an aerospace company of Elon Musk (Tesla and PayPal founder) is planning to land their Falcon 9 boosters after orbital delivery of resupply to the space station. This is something similar to what Blue Origin has done with their recent test flight, but on higher scale. Blue origin rocket is suborbital and Space X Falcon 9 is a full blown orbital device.
It’s just amazing how these multibillion entrepreneurs are investing into space technology. After retirement of Space Shuttle there were many skepticism if the route planned by US leaders is correct. Given the success of above companies and growing competition among them, it’s reasonable to say that industry is on correct path.