What’s Next For Commercial Spaceflight After The Crew Dragon Launch?

SpaceX has at least one more mission and a good chunk of data to analyze before its capsules are ready for NASA astronauts. SHOW TRANSCRIPT.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule has completed its historic first round-trip, from Earth to the International Space Station and back. This kind of vehicle could be used for crewed space missions as early as this summer, but there’s still a lot of work to do before humans can step aboard.

With this first launch, SpaceX proved the asymmetrical Crew Dragon could withstand extreme atmospheric reentry without falling apart or flipping upside down. NASA and SpaceX officials say despite experiencing intense heat and speeds faster than the speed of sound during its descent, the capsule performed as expected and made it down in one piece.

To learn as much as it could about how that descent will affect humans on-board, SpaceX rigged the test flight with measurement devices, including a sensor-filled test dummy named Ripley. Researchers said they didn’t expect to find hiccups with the ship’s life support systems.

Related StorySpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule Successfully Returns To EarthSpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule Successfully Returns To Earth

NASA and SpaceX will also need to refurbish Crew Dragon for its next test mission. While most capsules spend about two years getting restored to flight-ready standards, SpaceX crews will attempt to turn Crew Dragon around in only a month. It helps that the spacecraft does not need to be ready for a full orbital flight. Instead, during the flight planned for April, researchers will test Crew Dragon’s abort rockets in-flight. They’re designed to pull the capsule away from a rocket experiencing a major malfunction.

And all the while, the commercial spaceflight field will get more crowded. Boeing is also expected to test-launch its CST-100 Starliner capsule in April, and both companies have ambitious schedules for carrying astronauts. If all goes well for SpaceX, its first crewed mission could come as early as July 2019. Boeing’s is currently scheduled for August.

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‘Earthie’ Plushie Toy Sold Out After Making Waves Onboard The ISS

The successful and historic first flight test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon carried an adorable cargo to the International Space Station on March 2. Earthie …
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Little Earthie meets Mother Earth in a photo taken by NASA astronaut Anne McClain. SpaceX’s “super high tech zero-g indicator” plushie has sold out, according to its maker Celestial Buddies. The company promised that the famous toy will go back in stock in April. ( Anne McClain | Twitter )

The successful and historic first flight test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon carried an adorable cargo to the International Space Station on March 2.

Earthie, a blue and green plushie that has arms and legs, joined the dummy pilot, Ripley, in a journey toward low-orbit, and spent the past week observing astronauts do their workinside the orbiting outpost.

Unfortunately, for anyone who wants to take home the stuffed toy, its maker Celestial Buddies announced that Earthie had completely sold out.

Famous Toy

In a post on its website, the company revealed that it had no idea that the toy will be flying alongside Ripley, who is named after Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien, during the flight test. Little Earthie was a last minute addition to the mission to serve as a “super high tech zero-g indicator.”

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared a video of the toy that can be seen floating gently inside the capsule in zero gravity on Twitter.

Earth floats gently in zero gravity pic.twitter.com/XUH3KeDPVe — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2019


Celestial Buddies shared that it has received overwhelming interest over the plushie. By the time Crew Dragon lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, its entire inventory had been completely wiped by the number of orders they receive from those who want to take home a memento of the historic event.

Even the astronauts aboard the ISS are completely enamored by the little Earth with its beady eyes and perennially open mouth.

.@AstroAnnimal welcomes humans aboard the first @SpaceX#CrewDragon to visit the station and introduces two special guests, Ripley and Little Earth, ushering in the era of @Commercial_Crew. #LaunchAmericapic.twitter.com/QqzEEgDWzt — Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) March 3, 2019

Earth Plushies To Go Back On Sale In April

Celestial Buddies promised that it will have more Earth plushies on hand, but those who want one will have to wait until next month.

“We apologize for our current lack of Earths… we have never had a product on backorder before… but we have never had one of our products launched into space before, and we were taken totally by surprise,” the company said.

Celestial Buddies also has other plushies that are equally adorable like the “Our Precious Planet,” which is a larger and more detailed version of Earthie. Perhaps one should get the Mars plushie in anticipation for SpaceX’s journey to the red planet in the future.

ⓒ 2018 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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Toyota Will Land a Rover on the Moon in 2029

This plan by Toyota and JAXA follows China’s successful Moon landing at the beginning of January and SpaceX’s intention to send a Japanese …

Toyota, with the help of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), intends to allow two astronauts to go for an extended joy ride on the Moon 10 years from now.

As Bloomberg reports, Toyota is developing a six-wheeled lunar rover capable of housing two astronauts who can survive comfortably inside without need of space suits. The rover will measure six meters in length and there is expected to be 13 square meters of habitable space inside.

Power for the rover will be provided by an integrated fuel cell with enough power for 10,000km of driving. Solar panels will also be equipped to the exterior of the rover for supplementary power needs and to top up the fuel cell when possible.

The rover will be delivered to the Moon without any astronauts on board, but will then drive to meet the first pair who arrive to use it. In total, four expeditions are currently planned that require use of the rover to traverse the Moon’s surface. It seems likely that total will grow if the fuel cell continues to be topped up using solar energy.

This plan by Toyota and JAXA follows China’s successful Moon landing at the beginning of January and SpaceX’s intention to send a Japanese billionaire to the Moon in 2023. Toyota’s rover is the most groundbreaking of the currently announced projects, though, as it’s going to offer us potentially a permanent mode of transport on the Moon for exploration.

China’s OneSpace preparing for first orbital launch end of March

OneSpace, which is often referred to as China’s SpaceX, said it has finished final assembly and system checks and will launch the OS-M launch …

OneSpace’s OS-M has completed preparations for its first orbital launch. Photo: Courtesy of OneSpace

Beijing One Space Technology Group (OneSpace), a Chinese private rocket producer, has completed preparations for its first orbital launch scheduled later this month, the company announced on Tuesday.

A successful launch of OneSpace’s OS-M rocket would be a significant step in the fast-growing commercial space sector in China, where scores of start-ups are catching up to their foreign counterparts, mostly those based in the US, in a potentially lucrative global market.

OneSpace, which is often referred to as China’s SpaceX, said it has finished final assembly and system checks and will launch the OS-M launch vehicle at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China’s Gansu Province at the end of March.

“The launch of the ‘Chongqing Liangjiang Star’ will usher in a new era in China’s commercial rocket sector,” the company said in a press release sent to the Global Times. The rocket was named after the Liangjiang New Area in Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, where the company has its headquarters. The firm’s Beijing branch focuses on research and development.

In May 2018, OneSpace became the first Chinese private company to launch a commercial rocket. However, the company’s previous launches of its smaller OS-X series were suborbital missions. The OS-M is capable of delivering payloads into space orbit, according to the company.

“Reliability and safety are the thresholds of the industry, and they are also notoriously difficult to achieve,” Huang Zhicheng, a professor at the Beijing Institute of System Engineering, told the Global Times on Tuesday. “Several [private companies in China] have attempted to launch carrier rockets into orbits, but so far none have succeeded.”

In October, Land Space Technology Co (Landspace), tried but failed in its attempt to achieve the first orbital launch of the Zhuque-1 solid rocket.

Huang said that there is a good chance for OneSpace to pull off its attempt, given the company’s successful suborbital launches. But “any experience in transporting payloads into orbits is meaningful, even if it fails,” he said, adding that even companies like SpaceX failed several times before making successful launches.

Another private company – Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology (iSpace) – is rushing to launch orbital missions. ISpace said last week that after series of tests, its Hyperbola-1 rocket is ready for launch, according to news website jiemian.com.

ISpace announced in January that it had secured 700 million yuan ($104.33 million) in funding since its establishment in 2017 and plans to carry out its first orbital launch in the first half of 2019, the Beijing News reported.

The rise of Chinese private companies will support the development of the country’s space technology, Huang said.

Private companies “have lower costs and are more flexible in their exploration,” Huang said.


Newspaper headline: OneSpace preparing for first orbital launch

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Nowadays, the space industry is developing at a very rapid pace and many events occur in this area. It is very important to understand that now, not only the NASA space technology research fellowship but also many public and private organizations around the world work in this field.

In this article, we want to tell you about what we should expect from explore space process in the near future. It is worth noting that a lot of interesting things happened in the first two months of the current year, and much more was planned for the remaining ten:

  • The Chinese probe “Cháng’é sìhào” successfully sat on the far side of the moon and has already begun to send photographs of its surface.
  • The NASA interplanetary station (“New Horizons”) flew past the asteroid Ultima Thule, making it the most distant object ever visited by earthly vehicles.
  • New space engines from the company SpaceX “Raptor” were able to break the pressure record in the combustion chamber of the legendary Russian creation RD-180. “Raptor” showed 268.9 bar of pressure, which is 1.9 bar more than that of the RD-180. According to Elon Musk words, they want to achieve the maximum allowable pressure of 300 bar in the future.
  • On March 2, 2019, the launch of the Crew Dragon manned spacecraft from SpaceX occurred.
  • In March of this year, another launch of the CST-100 Starliner from the Boeing company is expected.

This is just a short list of events that have taken place and will take place this year. Let’s talk about all this (and not only) in more details.

1. Orbital ships

As it is known, space projects last for years, now in the Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner projects, the works have already entered the final phase: the launch facilities have been modified, the crews have been selected and trained, and the ships pass the last checks. Boeing and SpaceX are literally toe-to-toe, but the second one is a bit ahead. Although the launch dates were constantly moving: initially, the first unmanned launch of the Crew Dragon was scheduled for January 7, and after that, it was postponed to January 17, and then after the US government stopped working, the launch dates were moved to February without a clear indication of the day. As a result, it was launched only on March 2, 2019. A day after the launch, it successfully docked with the ISS (International Space Station), now astronauts are testing it.

The first unmanned flight of the CST-100 Starliner is scheduled for March 2019. According to the latest information, in November last year, the ship from Boeing began the final tests. It is worth noting that the description of the mission is known only in general terms: the ship must go to the ISS, dock with it, spend some time in orbit and make a soft landing. Manned missions (that is, with people on board) are scheduled for June for Crew Dragon and for August for Starliner, but given that the deadlines for launching unmanned missions have been constantly postponed, this is only preliminary data.

In other countries, the newest space technology is also actively developing and works for development manned spacecraft are underway. For example, tests of a Chinese ship of a new generation are expected in the second half of 2019, there is not much information about it yet. It is known that its development has been undertaken for several years. In 2016, at the first test launch of the “CZ-5”, its scale model was tested.

Indian manned ship is expected in 2022. Its development is in full swing, it is known that in the summer of 2018 emergency rescue tests were conducted.

2. Why is the launch of Crew Dragon so important?

It is worth noting that since 2011, not a single person has been sent into space from the USA. Therefore, the flight of Crew Dragon has great importance for the entire American space program. A similar situation has happened because of the terrible disaster that took the lives of seven astronauts at once. The crash of the Columbia shuttle happened back in 2003, after which the entire program of the Space Shuttle was closed. But at that time, there was an active building of ISS, so the flights continued until 2011. After that, American astronauts were forced to get “to work” with the help of Russian spacecraft “Soyuz“. The cost of one “ticket” to the near-earth orbit was equal to $81 million. But for the United States, saving is not so important as the question of prestige. And now, with the help of SpaceX engineers, launching astronauts into space from the USA can become a reality again.

This time there were no people aboard the Crew Dragon, but the ship was not empty, there was a Ripley mannequin (a reference to the movie “Alien”), in SpaceX’s corporate spacesuit. Many different multiple sensors were located on the mannequin, to measure the loads that astronauts will be exposed to in the future. Also, there was more than 180 kg of payload on the ship, which was intended for the crew of the International Space Station.

On March 8, the ship undocked from the ISS and successfully land on the surface of the Earth. This is one of the most important parts of this mission since this ship is reusable. Already in June of this year, live astronauts – Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley may fly in Crew Dragon. It is worth noting that the ship is designed for four people, but if it is necessary it can accommodate up to seven astronauts.

3. Light Carrier Rocket Development

Recently, the light rockets market has begun to actively develop. Several light carrier rockets developed by private space companies should fly for the first time in 2019.

  • On November 18, 2018, a test flight of a modified Boeing 747 with a 21-meter Launcher One rocket from Virgin occurred. The first launch of this rocket is expected in the first quarter of 2019. Launcher One will take off from the air and will be able to put into orbit from 300 kg to 500 kg (depending on the height).
  • The Indian small SSLV light carrier rocket should fly in May 2019. This rocket was created by the state agency of India, and not a private company. This is a three-stage solid-fuel rocket, which can take from 300 kg to 500 kg weight to a low orbit.
  • In June 2019, “Hyperbola 1”, which is being developed by the Chinese private company iSpace, should fly. The suborbital launch was conducted in the autumn of last year. According to the company’s engineers, the orbital version will be able to put about 300 kg weight on a low orbit.

4. Super Heavy Rockets

  • According to the plans of Elon Musk, in 2019, SpaceX should conduct two non-commercial launches of the super-heavy Falcon Heavy rocket. Recall that this rocket flew only once, it happened on February 6, 2018. That time, Elon’s personal car, the first-generation red Tesla Roadster, was used as a cargo.
  • In 2020, the production of new heavyweight rocket New Glenn, the company Blue Origin, will begin. It is worth noting that it is being developed since 2012, and next year we will be able to see the results of the company’s work.
  • A test launch of the SLS rocket, which is being developed using NASA technology, is scheduled on June 2020.

5. Flights to the moon

Open space technology learning is becoming much more developed every year. Although human was already on the surface of our natural satellite half a century ago, it was very poorly studied. Therefore, several missions related to the visit to the Moon are planned at once in 2019.

On February 22, 2019, the Indonesian satellite PSN-6 was launched, as well as the first Israel lunar rover, Beresheet. The last one should land on the surface of the moon in early April 2019. Its main purpose is to collect samples of lunar soil. Scientists discovered a rather interesting magnetic anomaly in the area of ​​the planned landing and they want to study it.

  • “Chandrayaan-2” plans a launch in April 2019. This is a complex mission of the Indian space agency with an orbiter, as well as a landing moon rover. On the orbiter, (total weight 2300 kg) there will be a camera with which it will be possible to take photographs of the surface of the moon with high resolution, as well as four scientific tools. The main task of the landing gear (weight 1400 kg) is a soft landing on the surface of the moon. The lunar rover is solar powered, so it can operate for no more than 15 days. The moonlit night can become the main problem for it.
  • The mission “Cháng’é wǔhào” is planned for 2019 (without the exact date). Its main task will be the delivery of samples of lunar soil to Earth.
  • PTScientists is still planning to launch its own ALINA machine in 2019. But it’s hard to believe in it since the company has no reports with tests and photos of the finished device. The PTScientists have a rather interesting idea: they want to launch rovers onto the surface of the moon and see what the landing site of the Apollo 17 mission looks like in 1972. But given that there is not enough proper information about this project on the network, it appears that it may not take place this year.
  • SpaceX plans to launch StarShip in 2023, which will fly around the moon, on its board, there will be Japanese billionaire Yūsaku Maezawa and cultural figures.

6. Scientific missions

  • In April 2019, observatory SPECTRUM-RG “Spectrum-X-Ray-Gamma” should go into open space, which will be a great event in the Russian cosmonautics. Especially, given the fact that the previous SPECTRUM-R device was launched back in 2011.
  • In December 2019, the Japanese “Hayabusa-2” automatic interplanetary station will finish its work on the “Ryugu” asteroid and go back. By December 2020, it will have to deliver asteroid samples to Earth.

7. Conclusion

Based on all the above information, we can conclude that the year 2019 will be quite interesting for the space industry. The pace of development of this industry suggests that people will again be able to walk on the surface of the moon, and also go to the nearest planet Mars in the coming years.

Space has millions of unsolved mysteries that we still have to unravel. We will monitor developments of events and promptly inform you of the latest and most interesting information related to the space industry.

We want to remind you:

“Touch” the Sun or the Main NASA Achievements of 2018

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