I realize we’ve been focusing on space but that’s because number one, it’s extremely cool, and number two, there are a lot of great things that have been going on – and there’s far more than I can blog on so here’s some cool sites so you can follow the fun:
JAXA is Japan’s version of NASA and they are up to some amazing stuff. They just launched a mission, Hayabusa 2 that is going to land on an asteroid, do various interesting tests, and then blast a hole in the asteroid to crack though the crunchy outer layer to get to the delicious asteroid stuff below, and then launch back to earth, sample in hand.
A worthy mission.
And now from the realm of pure science in space exploration, let’s check out the equally awesome realm of pure, bare-knuckles, American Capitalism in space. America has bred a number of commercial launch companies – get into space and make a ton of money doing it.
SpaceX – An American commercial launch vehicle company. These guys are intense. True Space Cowboys! One of their core concepts is to produce rockets that blast off into space, and then return to earth in one piece by landing. They are actually pulling this off! And they are a commercial for-profit company. Like I said, these guys are intense – manned mission to Mars? Nah. Colonize.
I like it.
Photo courtesy: http://www.kollected.com/SpaceX
Orbital Sciences – Another American commercial launch company. They’ve been around longer than SpaceX and one of their concepts has been to strap the rocket to a big jet, fly it as high as they and then launch it from there. Nice.
Stratolaunch takes this already awesome idea to a completely new level of utter insanity. They plan on building the largest aircraft ever; and launching rockets from this specially designed airborne behemoth. It just seems natural.
ULA – United Launch Alliance
“ULA is a 50-50 joint venture between Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company formed in 2006 to provide reliable, cost-efficient access to space for U.S. government missions. United Launch Alliance brings together two of the launch industry’s most experienced and successful teams—Atlas and Delta—that have supported America’s presence in space for more than 50 years.
Atlas and Delta expendable launch vehicles carry payloads to space ranging from weather, telecommunications and national security satellites that protect and improve life on Earth, to deep space and interplanetary exploration missions that further our knowledge of the universe.Launch customers include the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. Air Force and other organizations.Atlas and Delta represent more than 100 years of combined launch experience.
Over more than 50 years, Atlas and Delta have launched approximately 1,300 missions.” From their website: http://www.ulalaunch.com/about_quickfacts.aspx
ULA is front and center tomorrow with the Orion Launch atop a massive Delta IV Heavy.
Amazing times we live in.