Virgin Orbit considers satellite maintenance, orbital debris services

Virgin Orbit, the small satellite launch arm of Richard Branson’s growing space empire, is planning to offer expanded services for the small satellite launch market. Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart has said the company is looking at market opportunities such as satellite maintenance and orbital debris removal for its clients. The pool of small satellite launch vehicles has grown significantly over the past few years – though many of them

NASA mulls next steps in ISS privatization

After the Trump administration called for end to NASA’s funding of ISS by 2025 earlier this year, NASA officials are considering what to do next. The president’s budget allocates $900 million over the next five years to help transition the ISS to the private sector, with  $150 million being allocated to NASA in 2019, “to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial

Can space tourism break out of decades of delay?

Today, there are a handful of private companies that are hoping to make a business out of flying tourists to space. And at least three of these companies say they’ll be able to do so in 2018. But as history demonstrates, there’s no guarantee that any of these companies will keep their timelines. Space tourism has been considered on the brink of feasibility for years, and start-ups have made similar

On-orbit satellite maintenance ‘will change the space system paradigm’

NASA, DARPA, and others are developing technologies to support autonomous refueling and maintenance capabilities for satellites while they’re orbiting Earth, as part of a wider ambition to advance autonomous servicing capabilities that’ll enable a new era of infrastructure building in space. On-orbit satellite servicing will help extend the mission lives of satellites, but the technology that’s being developed to do so will help usher in a new era of space

NASA second-guesses its decision to use SpaceX for ISS taxi

By Kendra R Chamberlain NASA has ordered a slate of taxi flights that’ll shuttle astronauts from US soil to the International Space Station (ISS) in the future. But SpaceX’s recent Falcon 9 loss has raised new concerns about using private enterprise rockets to shuttle humans to and from the ISS. Last week, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) voiced concern over using SpaceX for such missions in its annual report,