New Space update

SpaceX dragon in cargo configuration.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the second Falcon 9 / Dragon demonstration under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) project.

During this second and much longer demonstration, the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft will approach within 10 kilometers of the ISS and hold its position. The primary objective of the four day long mission is to demonstrate Dragon’s communication and control system links to the ISS. The three missions for the next 18 months are:

Demo Date Duration Objectives
1 Q3 2008 5 hours
Launch and separate from Falcon 9, orbit Earth, transmit telemetry, receive commands, demonstrate orbital maneuvering and thermal control, re-enter atmosphere, and recover Dragon capsule

2 Q2 2009 5 days
Full, long-duration system check-out, beginning with ISS rendezvous simulation with the Falcon 9 upper stage. Dragon will perform approach, rendezvous, and breakaway operations with the stage.

3 Q3 2009 3 days
Full cargo mission profile including mate to ISS, with empty capsule

Dragon in crew configuration

Although these demonstrations are for cargo re-supply, SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft to transport up to seven astronauts to Earth orbit and back. “We have made substantial progress and are confident we can address the gap between Shuttle retirement and Orion operations,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX VP of Business Development. “We look forward to advancing with the crew-carrying Dragon configuration for NASA should they give the go-ahead.”

Dragon docked to the ISS

Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services are engaged in discussions and converging on terms to supply Atlas V launch vehicles to provide crew and cargo transportation services to a Bigelow-built space complex.

Bigelow aerospace’s Genesis II

Genesis II was successfully launched from the Kosmotras Space and Missile Complex near the town of Yasny on June 28, 2007.

During the operational phase, which is currently planned to begin in 2012, up to 12 missions per year are envisioned, increasing as demand dictates.

Hobbyspace timeline for new space developments from 2008-2020. The Hobbyspace predictions look pretty reasonable to me. Hopefully some breakthoughs in fusion and nanomaterials help to make the predictions seem tame.

There will be winners in both the Lunar Lander and Beamed Power Centennial Challenges in 2008.

In the first year of operation, starting late 2009 or early 2010, Virgin Galactic and other suborbital space tourist companies will take in ~$30M to $50M in revenue by flying a few hundred space tourists. There will be steady growth in revenue and the number of passengers in subsequent years.

In late 2010, the Falcon 9/Dragon makes its first cargo flight to the ISS. Crew operations begin by late 2011.

In 2010 Bigelow Aerospace launches the Sundancer space habitat, which can hold a crew of three.

The V-Prize competition for point-to-point spaceflight demonstration between Virginia and Europe opens in 2009 with a four year time limit and is won by 2013.

By 2015, Bigelow has 3 complexes in orbit, each consisting of at least two of the big BA-330 modules. Long term contracts with one, possibly two, launch companies, provides for a flight with crew, passengers, and cargo to each station at least once a month.

The Bigelow module complexes begin to form the nuclei of genuine long term space settlements.

2015-2020 Orbital tourism expands significantly when trips to the Bigelow Aerospace space hotel become available via commercial services that offer transport ticket prices in the $2M-$4M range. Several thousand people per year are flying on suborbital spaceflights. Prices have dropped to a few tens of thousand of dollars range.

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