Big rockets will take us the Moon

After a successful test flight last week, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy has reinvigorated the public’s interest spaceflight development. But what does the rocket’s development mean for commercial space? With its lower price points -- the Falcon Heavy flies for $90 million, while its competitors fly about three times that -- SpaceX has once again injected a burst of competition into an industry that has, for too long, lacked motives for innovation.

‘Radical new vision’ for NASA would see it become an enabler of the future space economy

The US will be able to maintain its lead in the latest space race, but only if NASA re-focuses on supporting the private sector, according to a new report, entitled “American Space Enterprise and Security,” released from the Potomac Institute of Policy Studies (PIPS). Potomac Institute joins a growing number of research and financial firms that have begun incorporating space industries into their offerings. The report is the first to

With smallsat boom, NASA launches pilot Earth science data program

NASA will begin a pilot program this spring to determine whether the agency wants to purchase Earth observation data from the leagues of private small satellites that are orbiting the planet. Twin trends of decreased costs to access space and advancements made in satellite technology has spurred considerable growth in the private smallsat sector. Meanwhile, funding for NASA's own Earth observation operations is increasingly under threat by the Trump administration,

Blue Origin’s BE-4 could propel the next stage of space exploration

After five years of development, Jeff Bezos announced in Twitter this week Blue Origin has successfully completed a hot fire test of its fully reusable BE-4 engine. The hot fire test marks an important milestone for both Blue Origin and the next step in human exploration of space. Blue Origin's orbital rocket, the New Glenn, will use seven BE-4 engines in its first stage, and a single BE-4 in

Trump nominee Bridenstine could advance public-private partnerships at NASA

Oklahoma Republican representative Jim Bridenstine has been nominated to lead NASA, and the commercial space sector is lining up in support, as more information becomes available about what Bridenstine’s leadership of the agency might look like. Bridenstine has been a vocal advocate for expanding private enterprise’s role in NASA’s space activities, and the pick seems to line up with the Trump administration’s interest in helping advance a commercial space sector.

‘Lunar. Sooner’: ULA & Bigelow propose 2022 launch for lunar depot

Bigelow Aerospace and ULA have announced plans to put Bigelow’s B330 expandable habitat module into low lunar orbit by the end of 2022. Bigelow said the habitat will serve as a lunar depot and support infrastructure for other deep space missions. The commercial habitat will launch on ULA’s latest Vulcan rocket. The announcement expands an earlier partnership to launch one of Bigelow's B330 habitats into low Earth orbit aboard ULA's

With Moon in mind, ESA looks to private sector for developing ISRU

The European Space Agency is calling for proposals for sending humans to the Moon, as well as for technology that will sustain crews while there. The agency is looking for proposals to leverage in-situ resources utilization technologies to help create a sustainable off-Earth colony, like the “Moon Village” concept ESA’s director general Johann-Dietrich Woerner has proposed. “We are looking to invest in the development and pay for the use of

Mu Space startup signs on as 3rd customer for Blue Origin’s New Glenn

Blue Origin has acquired its third customer for its reusable New Glenn orbital rocket. Mu Space Corp, a satellite communications provider based in Bangkok, Thailand, announced this week it has entered into an agreement with Blue Origin to use its New Glenn orbital rocket to launch a geostationary satellite. Under the agreement, the launch will take place in 2021. Start-up Mu Space announced plans to offer telecommunication services in Thailand

Off Earth Mining Forum: Space mining could arrive in next decade

Space mining transactions could appear within the next decade, according to experts at the third annual Off Earth Mining Forum, held in Sydney, Australia, this week. Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Center for Space Engineering Research, made the bold prediction this week to Xinhua media at the forum. The near-term opportunity for space mining will center on extracting water from sources like the Moon or Mars in order to

BlackSky deal underscores growing importance of small sats & big data in space

The Space Alliance has entered into a new partnership with Spaceflight Industries to accelerate the development of BlackSky, the geospatial imagery and multi-media intelligence platform. The announcement, which Spaceflight Industries CEO has dubbed a “major breakthrough,” is the latest development in the burgeoning analytics-driven Earth observation sector that’s increasingly relying on small satellites, higher resolution imagery, short revisit rates and data analytics to power the emergence of the so-called “insights