Partnering with private-sector space companies: Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, many others

THE MIL & AERO VIDEO BLOG, 21 June 2011. Passions flare around the topic of space travel. Some fault the Obama Administration for reducing funding for NASA space exploration, while others—including Senior Editor Courtney E. Howard—credit the Administration and private-sector innovators and investors—such as the founders of Virgin, Amazon, and PayPal--with advancing human space travel at a rapid pace.

Jun 21st, 2011

THE MIL & AERO VIDEO BLOG, 21 June 2011. Passions flare around the topic of space travel. Some fault the Obama Administration for reducing funding for NASA space exploration, while others—including Senior Editor Courtney E. Howard—credit the Administration and private-sector innovators and investors—such as the founders of Virgin, Amazon, and PayPal—with advancing human space travel at a rapid pace.

At the risk of dating myself, once again, I was in grade school when the passions surrounding the Space Race were still palpable. Palpable passion—say that 10 times fast.

For those too young to recall, the Soviet Union and the United States were in fierce competition for space exploration supremacy (another tongue twister) from roughly 1957 and 1975.

It was an exciting time in space history—and today is no less exciting…

The aerospace industry has been buzzing for months with speculation over “dwindling NASA funding”; yet, a close look at NASA’s annual budgets over the past two decades doesn’t show much dwindling.

Recent layoffs in Boeing’s Space Exploration division and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company have spurred even more speculation, coupled this time with concern.

Let’s focus on some good news.

Private space exploration—or space tourism and space commerce, as it is also being called—is thought to hold such great promise that visionaries have launched entire companies to aggressively grow the space—pun intended.

Among those being progressive in private space exploration are:
Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic,
E-lon Musk of SpaceX,
Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace,
and other aerospace entreprenuers, being called “thrillionairres”.

By all accounts, more than $2 billion is being spent on human spaceflight projects.

There’s even an online travel site selling “an Epic Journey to Space”. You, too, can travel 33 miles above earth, aboard the XCOR Aerospace Lynx Mark I suborbital vehicle. In some circles, it is referred to as a rocketplane. Or, to quote Wikipedia, it is a “suborbital horizontal-takeoff, horizontal-landing, rocket-powered spaceplane”. In any case, should you elect to become a ticketed passenger, it will cost you roughly $95,000.

If you are like me, passionate about space travel and technology, please drop me a line at Courtney@pennwell.com or voice your opinion on our Command Post Community at community.milaero.com.

That’s all for now. Thanks for tuning into the Military & Aerospace Electronics report.

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