Richard Garriott thinks we are heading into a new golden age of human space flight. One of the first things he mentioned in his SXSW talk was that just over 500 people have left the planet in 50 years of space flight. While he’s happy to be one of those people he agrees that number is dismal. When you factor the costs involved of sending those 500 people to space, the number is especially bleak. Just look at the overview of the International Space Station (ISS) it cost tens of billions to develop and a couple billion to maintain each year. The Shuttle was a couple hundred million per seat and the Souyoz, while cheaper, is about $50 million per seat. These enormous costs are one of the barriers to advancing human space exploration.
Archives For Space
Space Exploration is a new theme to South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive. One of the courses that caught my attention was Crowd-Sourcing the Space Frontier. The session shed light on several hands-on opportunities for space enthusiasts.
Edward Wright, of the United States Rocket Academy, thinks we are entering a third age of space. The first age being government driven and the second age provided wealthy individuals opportunity to travel to space. The third age is do-it-yourself transportation, technology, and research. Wright compares what’s happening with space right now to what we experienced with personal computing. When parts to build computers became readily accessible, there was a great increase in computing innovation.
March is turning of to be a super lucky month for me. Last week I was representing Pinehead at the SpaceX launch at the Kennedy Space Center and this week I’m representing Pinehead at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive! SXSW is most known as a music and film festival but last year Interactive hosted about 19,000 people, about a third of attendees at the three SXSW conferences.
So I wanted your input on what you’d like covered. Think of me as your conference robot, I will report form the sessions you are interested in. There are two tracks I’m focused on, Space and Open Source but if there is something you’d like me to attend, just speak up! Below is a list of some of courses in those two areas with links to the course descriptions. Leave a comment if you’d like me to attend a particular session and/or if you have any questions you’d liked me to ask.
SpaceX is eleven years old, has six successful launches on the books, and forty-one missions scheduled between now and 2017. Their next mission, CRS-2, for NASA is scheduled for launch on March 1. This launch is the second of twelve contracted between NASA and SpaceX to completed by 2015.
The Falcon 9 and Dragon last flew in October 2012. The Dragon docked successfully with the International Space Station (ISS) and came back to earth safely. What seemed to get the most press coverage during the mission was an issue being reported as an engine explosion. About a minute and nineteen seconds into the CRS-1 launch there was what looked like an engine explosion. This was not an explosion but an example of Falcon 9 redundancy in action. The Falcon rocket detected a sudden loss in pressure in Merlin engine 1 and issued a command to shutdown. The burst, debris, and plume of smoke were the pressure relief panels being ejected to protect engine 1 and surrounding engines. The flight computer then recalculated a new ascent profile and the Dragon continued on to the ISS.
After liftoff and separation from stage one of the Falcon 9 rocket, the SpaceX Dragon capsule must successfully perform several functions to get ready to dock with the ISS. A few minutes after the Dragon separates from the second stage of the Falcon, at about T+12:00, the sequence to activate the solar arrays starts. Try to recall the COTS 2/3 mission webcast, there was cheering from SpaceX employees after the solar arrays deployed. While SpaceX employees have a right to cheer about every aspect of the Falcon and Dragon, the solar arrays are unique. Most spacecraft similar to Dragon only use battery power.
The SpaceX Dragon launches March 1, 2013 at 10:10am EST, are you ready? For the past few of weeks we’ve been breaking down key systems of the Falcon 9 and Dragon to get you prepped for the SpaceX CRS-2 Commercial Resupply Services flight.
Here’s what you missed—
Short for Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging, LIDAR is used for a variety of mapping, distance and speed measuring tasks. It is a key feature in unmanned vehicles, like the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX and NASA worked with Advanced Scientific Concepts (ASC) to design DragonEye, the 3D Flash LIDAR Space Camera developed for the Dragon.
While a DragonEye LIDAR sounds like a subplot to a James Bond movie, it is what the Dragon spacecraft uses to approach and position itself to dock with the International Space Station. Laser precision comes in handy when trying to attach the 1.3-meter hatch of the Dragon to the football-field-sized space station which travels at an astounding speed of 4.71 miles per second. Once the Dragon capsule passes the R-Bar, it has to preform a series of staggered maneuvers to gradually approach the ISS Keep out Zone, a 200-meter border around the ISS, and get ready for the Canada Arm to grab it at 10-meters out.
Elon Musk is no stranger to media coverage, but the media covers him quite strangely. He is most often labeled as a billionaire, secondly as an entrepreneur, and thirdly by his corporate titles. While those labels are factually correct they don’t seem accurate.
Elon Musk is a billionaire but lives like a starving artist. You might be thinking I’m on some serious drugs because you know he just bought a $17 million home and has a private jet among other amenities. So where does my starving artist label come in? It’s in the way he uses his money and, life’s most valuable resource, time. It starts after his PayPal days. With millions of dollars in hand, he could have invested it and lived a nicer life than most of us will ever know. Instead he celebrated the PayPal sale by buying some nice things and used most of his remaining net worth, not to start another internet company that would’ve likely been successful but, to start SpaceX a venture he thought would likely fail. The source of his motivations are not monetary they stem from a desire to create, to develop an idea that does not yet exist, and he does so whether or not people understand him. Much like an artist, he invests most his time and money bringing his ideas to life except his canvas is humanity, his paintbrush is physics, and his color palette is technology.