Thursday, December 10, 2009

SpaceShipTwo Unveiling and the NewSpace Movement

I guess I should comment on Virgin Galactic's reveal of SpaceShipTwo. I figured it would be pretty obvious to anyone who follows this blog that I'm ecstatic about the event. I do find it interesting, however, the number of people who poo-poo something like this because it's "just a sub-orbital roller coaster".

Well, last I checked, no private company was doing this at all, so don't you think any step up is a good step? What, do you want a company to instantly come out with gravity driven spaceships and simply glide us into the cosmos? Wake up. The NewSpace movement is only NOW finally gaining momentum and, albeit small, some respect.

With SpaceX having success with Falcon 1 and getting ready to demonstrate Falcon 9, Scaled Composites winning the Ansari X-Prize and Masten winning the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Virgin Galactic falls in line with a series of NewSpace companies that are showing what they're made of, and it's good stuff! Just look at what's been accomplished thus far based ONLY on the dollars spent. It's amazing the accomplishments that have been achieved on such limited resources.

And remember this, Virgin Galactic is but one of several NewSpace companies poised to help propel us to the next level. Currently on they have a story ranking the top 15 NewSpace companies in order of their progress toward the goal of bringing cargo and human passengers to space. 15 companies! Here they are in order of ranking:

Virgin Galactic
Orbital Sciences
Scaled Composites
Masten Space Systems
Armadillo Aerospace
Planetary Society
Bigelow Aerospace
XCOR Aerospace
Blue Origin
Ad Astra Rocket Co.
Interorbital Systems
Da Vinci Project/The Dreamspace Group
Space Adventures

Did you know there were that many? Do you know what they're doing? Virgin, Masten, Armadillo and SpaceX seem to top the media highlights, but as you can see there are more players in the game than just those few, and who knows how many others are out there working hard for the NewSpace Movement, but just haven't been recognized yet (which could be on purpose, who knows).

Now if the American government, and governments around the world, would embrace NewSpace as a partner and not a competitor, I firmly believe we'd see even greater things accomplished, not only for the commercialization of space, but also for the potential of government space agencies to focus on much more challenging and rewarding missions and advancements. It's a win win scenario. It's our job to drive that message home, to force our hand and to ensure that our future is not wrapped up in Committee Meetings, but that it is allowed to unfold as we all know it should.


windbourne said...

First, there is a private company doing something similar: Zero Gravity Corp. WHen you think about, Virgin's association with this in terms of human rides is to go up to an altitude and then come back down. That is similar to ZGC. However, Virgin will last longer, and have a spectacular view from up there. I am guessing that Hollywood will create some movies soon to take advantage of this.
Now, from Scaled's POV vs. ZGC, there is NOTHING alike. The reason is that Scaled is building a system. They have built a nice launch aircraft and will likely go into major production (from their POV) over the next year. SS2 now has life support that will work in both sub orbital and orbital. The next stage is to build a rocket that will launch small (micro?) sats into orbit. That will be ready in the next year or two. They are looking at this costing 1-2 million / launch. The feds and other companies will love it. In fact, I bet that l-mart as well as Boeing will use that to verify their scale models. That will take some launches from SpaceX (but not orbital who is already priced out by SpaceX), but not enough to matter. But my guess is that the engine will be capable of being scaled up (no pun intended). From that, combined with SS2, and some mods (SS2 can not handle the return trip), we are probably looking at SS3 around 2012-2014 time frame. The real bummer that it will take so long. If Northrup had any real vision, they would be pouring a LOT of money into Scaled to build this.
However, I guess they will crawl before they run. The good news is that it will also give Virgin and most likely one or two other companies time to develop their systems.
Now, how to get BA up there with multiple space stations ?

Norman Copeland said...

Hello Douglas,

yes, I did know of all of these companies, but, yes, there is more involved at different classification of rocket building e.g some universities around the world are building zero gravity experience aero aviation facilities for public consumption...

My guess is though that these companies have done there figure work based upon the same market availabilty of finance available to consumers for purchase to sector power. And again we miss the boat, DARN...

the finance sector of money lending to average citizen has been capped because of recent poor money lending strategy...

But, fear not, for our old friend [boss] George Bush has thought it out... Guess what? President Barack Obama will inroduce the world to the world with old American political constitution meeting new world American political institution...

God bless the President's for steering us, and bring blessing's from the universe that await's our race in the heaven's...

Any way... You used your calculator working out how many stars await...

Douglas Mallette said...

windbourne - I think SpaceX will have Bigelow covered.