SpaceX Grasshopper Successfully Flies 40 Meters


Single Camera: Grasshopper 40-Meter Test Flight 12/17/12

SpaceX reports: Grasshopper takes a 12-story leap towards full and rapid rocket reusability in a test flight conducted December 17, 2012 at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Grasshopper, a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTVL), rose 131 feet (40 meters), hovered and landed safely on the pad using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. The total test duration was 29 seconds. Grasshopper stands 10 stories tall and consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage, Merlin 1D engine, four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.


Multi-Angle: Grasshopper 40-Meter Test Flight 12/17/12

National Space Society Announces the 2013 Legislative Blitz

From Sunday, February 24 through Tuesday, February 26, 2013, the National Space Society and the Space Exploration Alliance will be holding the annual grassroots visit to Congress known as the “Legislative Blitz”.

With unprecedented budgetary pressures facing the legislative and executive branches of government, the debate continues about the future direction and funding of our nation’s space programs. More than ever before, it is absolutely critical that the voices of the space advocacy community be heard in this debate.

Come join space advocates from around the country to let Congress know that there is strong constituent support for an ambitious and sustainable path forward. Please REGISTER HERE for the Legislative Blitz. For more information, please contact Rick Zucker at Rick.Zucker@nss.org or 508-651-9936.

Life in outer space? 37-year-old NASA project depicts how leading minds of the time dreamed about colonizing space

The New York Daily News published this story on December 13, 2012.

The story quotes two National Space Society Directors: Mark Hopkins and Al Globus.

“Amazing artwork from the 1970s shows scientists’ vision of creating settlements in space. They got most of it right, say experts. But funding for the massive endeavor remains a large hurdle.”

Read the story at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/amazing-1970s-artwork-envisions-colonized-space-article-1.1219511

See higher resolution versions of all the art work on the NSS website: http://www.nss.org/settlement/nasa/70sArt/art.html

Image: Cutaway view of the Stanford Torus space settlement design for 10,000 inhabitants. From Space Settlements: A Design Study, NASA SP-413 (1977), online at http://www.nss.org/settlement/nasa/75SummerStudy/Design.html.

NASA Awards Commercial Crew Certification Contracts

NASA announced December 10th the next step in its plan to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil, selecting three companies to conduct activities under contracts that will enable future certification of commercial spacecraft as safe to carry humans to the International Space Station.

The Certification Products Contracts (CPC) are the Commercial Crew Program’s first major, fixed-price contracts and will bring space system designs within NASA’s safety and performance expectations for future flights to the orbiting laboratory.

The CPC contractors are:
— The Boeing Co., Houston
— Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) Space Systems, Louisville, Colo.
— Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Hawthorne, Calif.

Each contract is about $10 million. To read more about what the companies will do under the contracts and what this step means for the future of American human spaceflight, go to http://go.nasa.gov/T2igon.

Zoomable Image of the Whole Earth at Night

This new image of the Earth at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands.

View larger image at gigapan.com/gigapans/119535 (may take a while to load).

The Golden Spike Company Announces Plans for Commercial Human Lunar Landings

Former NASA Executives Lead the Company

Washington, D.C. (December 6, 2012) – On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last human exploration of the Moon, Former Apollo Flight Director and NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Gerry Griffin, and planetary scientist and former NASA science chief, Dr. Alan Stern, today unveiled “The Golden Spike Company” – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon.

At the National Press Club announcement, Dr. Stern, Golden Spike’s President and CEO, and Mr. Griffin, chairman of Golden Spike’s board of directors, introduced other members of Golden Spike’s leadership team and detailed the company’s intentions to make complete lunar surface expeditions available by the end of the decade.

“A key element that makes our business achievable and compelling is Golden Spike’s team of nationally and internationally known experts in human and robotic spaceflight, planetary and lunar science, exploration, venture capital formation, and public outreach,” said Dr. Stern. The company’s plan is to maximize use of existing rockets and to market the resulting system to nations, individuals, and corporations with lunar exploration objectives and ambitions. This approach, capitalizing on available rockets and emerging commercial-crew spacecraft, dramatically lowers costs to create a market for human lunar exploration. Golden Spike estimates the cost for a two-person lunar surface mission will start at $1.4 billion. This price point enables human lunar expeditions at similar cost as what some national space programs are already spending on robotic science at the Moon.

Dr. Stern and Mr. Griffin described Golden Spike’s “head start” architecture that has been two years in the making and vetted by teams of experts, including former space shuttle commander Jeffrey Ashby, former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale, and Peter Banks, a member of the National Academy of Engineering. It has also been accepted for publication in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, a leading aerospace technical journal. [Paper available here: An Architecture for Lunar Return Using Existing Assets.]

Golden Spike has initiated a series of studies with small and large aerospace companies to begin designs for the lunar lander, lunar space suits, and lunar surface experiment packages to be used on Golden Spike missions. The company also announced that it will sponsor an international conference for the scientific community in 2013 on the science that can be done on Golden Spike lunar expeditions.

Golden Spike expects its customers will want to explore the Moon for varying reasons—scientific exploration and discovery, national prestige, commercial development, marketing, entertainment, and even personal achievement. Market studies by the company show the possibility of 15-20 expeditions in the decade following a first landing.

“We could not be able to do this without the many breakthroughs NASA made in inventing Apollo, the Shuttle, the International Space Station, and its recent efforts to foster commercial spaceflight,” said Golden Spike Board chairman Gerry Griffin. “Building on those achievements, The Golden Spike Company is ready to enable a global wave of explorers to the lunar frontier.” “We’re not just about America going back to the Moon; we’re about American industry and American entrepreneurial spirit leading the rest of the world to an exciting era of human lunar exploration,” said Dr. Stern, “It’s the 21st century, we’re here to help countries, companies, and individuals extend their reach in space, and we think we’ll see an enthusiastic customer manifest developing.” Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys (the inspiration for the blockbuster space movie October Sky) and a member of Golden Spike’s extensive advisory board, remarked on the company’s public launch saying: “A reliable pathway to the Moon–‘Earth’s eighth continent’ will open our nearest neighbor in space to extensive new exploration, and also open it to the imagination of people everywhere.”

For more information go to www.goldenspikecompany.com.

Help NSS with your holiday shopping — at no cost to you!

Here is a simple way you can help support the National Space Society during your holiday shopping — and throughout the year — simply by using our Amazon link (bookmark it!) any time you shop at Amazon. NSS receives a small portion of your purchase, at no cost to you!

Please use our Amazon link! ANY purchase (books, electronics, etc.) earns a credit for NSS at no cost to you. Bookmark the link on the left for all your Amazon shopping.