SpaceX Dragon V2 capsule

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) unveiled the next iteration of its Dragon capsule during a Thursday evening event at SpaceX headquarters. According to SpaceX, the bullet-shaped Dragon V2 will fly unmanned in late 2015, manned in 2016, with NASA personnel in 2017.

This animation shows how Dragon V2 will perform in flight:

The complete webcast of the unveiling is online here:

Written by Astro1 on May 30th, 2014 , SpaceX

Stanford Torus space-settlement design

(Los Angeles, CA) – A new strategy for space development will be presented at the International Space Development Conference, which takes place at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel this week.

Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy and the Space Studies Institute, will present “The Great Enterprise: From Citizen Space Exploration to Space Settlement” in the Redondo California Ballroom at 3:00 on Saturday, May 17.

“The Great Enterprise is a theme developed by the Space Studies Institute over the past several years,” said Robin Snelson, executive director of SSI. “The end goal of the Great Enterprise is the permanent human settlement of space.

“Space settlement was envisioned by SSI founder Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill, Princeton physics professor and author of the best-selling book ‘The High Frontier,’ nearly 40 years ago.

“O’Neill’s vision inspired the creation of space-advocacy groups like the National Space Society, the sponsor of the International Space Development Conference. Despite the widespread interest in O’Neill’s ideas, space settlement has remained an elusive goal.

“A new strategy is required. Dr. O’Neill showed that permanent human settlement of space is a realistic goal, but we need a practical path to reach that goal. The old belief that government will step in with large sums of money has led nowhere and failed to inspire the general public.”

“The burgeoning Do It Yourself movement provides a model for the new strategy,” said Edward Wright, founder of the United States Rocket Academy and program manager for Citizens in Space. “530,000 people attended Maker Faires last year. Citizen-science projects and hackerspaces are springing up all over the country. Space advocacy organizations must tap into that community to a create a Do It Yourself space movement.

“All progress starts at the low end. We will outline a path for incremental development, beginning with low-cost suborbital spacecraft that are already under construction, followed by practical, achievable steps, leading ultimately to space settlement.”

“Now is the time for a new type of space movement, based on individual initiative and enterprise,” said Robert Smith, evangelist with the Space Studies Institute. “It is time we moved beyond mere advocacy. We must roll up our sleeves and take the bull by the horns. As the saying goes, ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself.'”

Written by Astro1 on May 12th, 2014 , Citizens in Space, Space Settlement

(Redwood City, CA) A new research platform that promises to dramatically reduce the cost of access to space for small scientific and education payloads will be publicly unveiled at MakerCon, which takes place at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood City next week.

The Lynx Cub Payload Carrier, developed by the United States Rocket Academy, Texas A&M University, and the Space Engineering Research Center (a Texas state agency) will fly on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft. A fully reusable, piloted, suborbital spacecraft, Lynx is designed to fly four times a day. The Lynx Cub Payload Carrier will fit behind the pilot’s seat and carry up to 15 small experiments on each flight.

he Lynx Cub Carrier will be unveiled by United States Rocket Academy founder Edward Wright during a presentation on “Citizen Science and Citizen Space Exploration.” The presentation takes place on Tuesday, May 13 at 2:55-3:15 PM, in Room 102/103 of the Oracle Conference Center.

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Written by Astro1 on May 8th, 2014 , Uncategorized

(College Station, Texas) The United States Rocket Academy announced the delivery of the first Lynx Cub Payload Carrier, a new research platform which promises to dramatically reduce the cost of access to space for small scientific and education payloads.

The Lynx Cub Carrier will fly on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, which is now under construction at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

“The Lynx Cub Payload Carrier is a versatile system that installs in the Lynx cabin, behind the pilot’s seat, allowing small experiments to be carried as secondary payloads on any Lynx flight,” said United States Rocket Academy chairman Edward Wright. “The Cub Carrier can be installed and removed quickly for frequent, low-cost flight opportunities.

“The Lynx Cub Carrier is an ideal platform for small materials-processing, fluid-physics, life-science, and engineering experiments. University teaching and research, K-12 education, citizen science, government and industrial R&D will all benefit from the convenient simple interfaces, rapid integration, and affordability of Lynx Cub experiments.”

The Lynx Cub Carrier was developed by the United States Rocket Academy and the Space Engineering Research Center, part of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), with support from XCOR Aerospace. Design and fabrication of the Lynx Cub Carrier were performed by Texas A&M faculty and students and TEES researchers.

Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, will use the Lynx Cub Carrier on 10 Lynx missions. The Lynx Cub Carrier will also be made available to other XCOR customers, as ready-to-fly hardware or as an open-source hardware design.

“Lynx Cub payloads are based on the popular 1U, 2U, and 3U CubeSat form factors, which are de facto international standards for small scientific payloads,” said Chip Hill, Director of the Space Engineering Research Center. “The payload carrier provides physical accommodations, electrical power, and limited thermal control for Lynx Cub experiments.”

The Lynx Cub Carrier will be part of the XCOR Lynx flight-test program, which is expected to begin later this year.

“For the test flights, we will load the Lynx Cub Carrier with payload simulators, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and environmental sensors,” Wright said. “While XCOR is proving out the vehicle, we’ll be gathering baseline data on the thermal environment, acoustical environment, acceleration, vibration, and other parameters — data that will help guide experimenters in their payload design.”

“I am excited by the connection to K-12 education,” said Dr. Justin Yates, a professor at the Texas A&M Department of Systems and Industrial Engineering who served as a project lead. “I am proud that Texas A&M University industrial engineers could play a part in this project, which will excite, engage, and educate the next generation of scientists.”

“The Lynx Cub Carrier development was a great learning experience,” said Austin Goswick, a senior Systems and Industrial Engineering student who worked on the project. “This project tested me in every way, advancing my communication skills as well as my engineering skills. I can’t wait to hear how it performs in the flight test.”

The Space Engineering Research Center, part of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station in College Station, is also a member of XCOR’s global network of payload integrators, which provides value-added services for Lynx payload customers. TEES is an engineering research agency of the State of Texas and a member of The Texas A&M University System.

XCOR Aerospace, which is developing the suborbital, fully reusable Lynx spacecraft for a variety of scientific and commercial missions, is currently headquartered in Mojave, California. The company will relocate its headquarters to Midland, Texas later this year.

The United States Rocket Academy, a non-profit educational organization that studies and promotes the scientific, military, and commercial applications of human spaceflight, is also located in Texas. Citizens in Space is the United States Rocket Academy’s flagship program.

Written by Astro1 on May 7th, 2014 , Citizens in Space

Masten Space Systems Xeus lunar lander

NASA has announced its intent to sign three non-funded Space Act Agreements for the development of robotic lunar landing capabilities with Astrobotic Technologies, Masten Space Systems, and Moon Express.

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Written by Astro1 on May 1st, 2014 , Masten Space Systems