Orbital

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In Space, No One Can Hear You Drown

By |October 15th, 2017|

Human spaceflight today holds as many risks for astronauts as it did half a century ago during the Apollo program. The European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, and the Russian space agency all know the high-risk nature of human spaceflight. Extraordinary measures are taken to train their men and women to deal with practically any possibility […]

Remembering NASA’s Ares I Rocket

By |October 8th, 2017|

Even during NASA’s mature Space Shuttle program, the space agency was exploring new means of getting crews to orbit and beyond. The Space Shuttle was only designed for and capable of delivering crews and shuttle payloads to Earth orbit.  NASA’s exploration office looked at new vehicles to get back to the Moon, and perhaps even […]

Elon Musk says first Falcon Heavy launch may not succeed

By |August 5th, 2017|

On July 19 of this year at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, D.C., SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk expressed a clear-eyed reality on the potential for success of the first launch of the company’s Falcon Heavy. He frankly admitted to the audience, in answer to a question, that getting the second […]

Model memories of the Saturn IB rocket

By |July 22nd, 2017|

During the 1960s, boys my age were fascinated with America’s race to beat the Soviets to the Moon. Practically every magazine published had articles about the brave astronauts who ventured into space during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Those boys, and some girls!, often built model rockets to channel their enthusiasm. These were not […]

Book review: Spaceman – An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey by Mike Massimino

By |May 20th, 2017|

There have been many NASA astronaut autobiographies and biographies published over the last half century. Among the most notable are Apollo 11’s Michael Collins who wrote Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys published in 1974, and Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan, who wrote The Last Man on the Moon.

Numerous Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space program astronauts […]

Personal Spaceflight and the Adjacent Possible

By |April 22nd, 2017|

The current state of suborbital spaceflight technology conceived by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are the result of past concurrent, adjacent possibilities. In 2010, Steven Johnson wrote an essay for The Wall Street Journal titled, “The Genius of the Tinkerer.” In that essay, Johnson defined the Adjacent Possible:

The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow […]

The Dawn of a Commercial Space Golden Age

By |February 17th, 2017|

Of all the space-faring nations in the world, the United States clearly has the largest number of commercial space businesses.  While there have been  legacy companies that have built rockets like the Delta and the Atlas, and satellites by companies like Raytheon, within the last ten years there has been a very healthy growth in […]

The Art of Spaceflight

By |February 12th, 2017|

When I was a teenager in the 1960s, I read the Tom Swift Jr. juvenile fantasy series. I have written about this in a previous blog post, but it is the cover art and spaceflight art I want to write about this time. Original artwork is still a wonderful means of depicting the future of […]

Remembering the shuttle Challenger disaster

By |January 28th, 2017|

Thirty-one years ago today I witnessed a national tragedy.

On the morning of January 28, 1986, I reported to work at Planning Research Corporation (PRC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was bitterly cold, and I had heard on the radio that NASA was determined to launch the space shuttle Challenger after several delays.  When I got to […]

Will NASA’s human spaceflight goals change?

By |January 23rd, 2017|

Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on January 20th. Many of the candidates for key administration posts have been selected, and two have been confirmed: Secretary of Defense and Director of Homeland Security.  Far down the list is the choice for the new NASA Administrator. Maj. Gen. Charlie […]