The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday awarded billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX an $83 million contract to launch a GPS satellite, breaking the monopoly that Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co have held on military space launches for more than a decade. The Global Positioning System satellite will be launched in May 2018 from Florida, Air Force officials said.
On Tuesday, April 19, 2016, NASA awarded a contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. to design and develop an advanced electric propulsion system that will significantly advance the nation's commercial space capabilities, and enable deep space exploration missions, including the robotic portion of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and its journey to Mars.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine thinks a lot about space debris -- and space in general: how all that traffic up there should be managed, how wars would be fought in space, how we might get to Mars. At a speech here Tuesday at the annual Space Symposium, he unveiled what he called the American Space Renaissance Act, a sprawling piece of legislation that touches on virtually every aspect in space, including national security, NASA and the growing commercial space sector.
Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking announced Tuesday a $100 million research and engineering program, Breakthrough Starshot, aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled “nanocrafts” that could travel to Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system.
During Saturday's unmanned test, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket and capsule launched into suborbital space from the company's West Texas test site, its proving ground for reusable boosters. The capsule separated in space and returned to Earth via a parachute, while the New Shepard rocket descended on a plume of fire to stick its third vertical landing.
Technological developments and innovations have come a long way since the 1950s and 1960s, and private investors have brought a new way of looking at how space exploration can be moved forward. Private companies have been involved in launching communications satellites for many years and are now delivering payloads for research to the International Space Station (ISS) as well as exploring options for manned space flight, along with the possibility of setting up a colony on Mars.
Lockheed Martin says it’s developing a Mach 6 aircraft that would be faster than any other fighter jet. Called the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 3X, or HTV-3X, the new plane could reach speeds of more than six times the typical cruising speed of the Boeing 747-8, which has been chosen as the next presidential aircraft. It will also far outpace anything flown by America’s adversaries.
“Lockheed Martin has a legacy of making fast aircraft,” Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said March 15 during the company’s annual media day. “We are now producing a controllable, low-drag, aerodynamic configuration capable of stable operations from takeoff to subsonic, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic, to Mach 6.” Hypersonic flight is defined as anything about Mach 5, meaning five times the speed of sound or 3,600 miles per hour. To put it into perspective, a jet flying at hypersonic speeds could cross the continental United States in about half an hour.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was back on Capitol Hill during the week of March 13 for more Congressional hearings on the agency’s $19 billion dollar Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal.