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3 Advantages to Commercializing Space Travel

Posted January 22, 2015 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author
Pathfinder Tags: space travel space travel

In the year 2010, ironically the same year 2010: Odyssey Two sequel takes place, the federal government of the United States developed a budget that eliminates the space travel budget. In 2010: Odyssey Two competing nations are racing to learn more about the monolith guarding the planet Europa and a variety of nations develop unique technology that propels them to that distant planet all in a race to arrive first. The new budget and funding strategy set forth by the US government seems to have set the stage for either the private sector to step up and commercialize space travel or to promote a reliance on foreign governments for any space travel.

So what are the benefits to the space industry with this new strategy?

Improve creativity and reduce bureaucracy

It is no secret that government contracts can be hindered by bureaucracy to the point that creativity is squelched and progress is stalled. One strategy that the federal government had considered when developing this space exploration budget was to gradually phase out the space program and transition this work to the commercial arena. This idea was not accepted by the private sector as they were not interested in taking on the overhead burden of managing government bureaucracy in their development efforts.

They chose to focus their engineering and development teams on engineering the next generation technology rather than transitioning old government projects. By avoiding government bureaucracy, these new space travel companies have already demonstrated success and come up with new ideas and designs that are currently being tested in the field.

Innovative, can-do attitude

The NASA space program is filled with talented engineers who solved many of the early problems encountered with space travel and led the world in space exploration, but now is the time for a new generation of engineers to come on board. This new talent is raised in the electronic age and has new ideas and work ethics that they bring to the industry. They are not burdened by the 'that's just how things are done' attitude and have been brought up to challenge the status quo and look for innovative creative solutions to problems. In addition, these innovative designers are more open to collaborating with all available resources worldwide instead of working in closed silos that so often happen with government development projects.

Advancement through competition

The space program evolved and gained popularity by national pride when your own country achieved a technology milestone before another country. This lasted for many decades of space exploration but has now gone to the wayside as other countries are achieving these important milestones and contributing to the international space station research and space exploration. By moving space exploration into the private sector it reawakens that competitive spirit in the entrepreneurs that chose to invest resources in developing the next generation of space travel. The newly created company Virgin Galactic has stepped up to the challenge of developing the next generation space vehicle using a shuttle system that carries a space vehicle underneath a launch plane and releases it at a designated altitude. This unique strategy is currently being tested and Virgin Galactic has sold space travel tickets to many wealthy buyers that have helped to fund their development costs. These innovative thoughts and designs have put them in first place for the commercialization of space travel.

When technology is commercialized and moved out of the government arena is when some of the biggest advances are made. No longer are people hampered by the government bureaucracy that hampers development and squelches creativity but instead they can reach for the stars and come up with new ideas so that in the words of Star Trek's Captain Kirk, they can "boldly go where no man has gone before."

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1 comments; last comment on 01/25/2015
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Preparing to Greet Pluto

Posted December 31, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Earlier this month - December 6, 9:53 pm EST to be exact - NASA's New Horizons spacecraft woke up from hibernation in preparation for "an unprecedented flyby of Pluto" beginning July, 2015. Launched January 19, 2006, the nuclear-powered probe carries seven instruments that will map Pluto and its five known moons. Once past Pluto, New Horizons will set its sights on the Kuiper Belt and return to hibernation for the three- to four-year trip. The Kuiper Belt is four billion miles from the Sun. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, now 12 billion miles from the sun, was the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space, leaving the solar system August 2012.

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1 comments; last comment on 01/04/2015
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The Beginnings of Gravity-propelled Space Flight

Posted December 17, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

The 10-year odyssey of Europe's Rosetta Space Probe brings new appreciation for the wonder of celestial navigation, not to mention renewed respect for the scientists and engineers who pioneered the concept of gravity assist. Without the slingshot-like boost from nearby planets, deep-space voyages would not be possible. This article recounts the beginnings of gravity-propelled space flight, focusing on the insight of one UCLA graduate student working a summer job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) back in 1961. As the piece states, his research "led to a major scientific breakthrough that reverberates today."

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2 comments; last comment on 12/18/2014
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Optimism Prevails at Supplier Summit

Posted November 25, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Participants in a recent survey conducted by GE Capital see only a rosy future for aerospace manufacturing. Supplier companies are building production capacity (84% plan to increase their workforce) and investing in new manufacturing equipment (87% over the next three years). Additive manufacturing is poised for take-off, and the overall business climate favors mergers and acquisitions. This positive news has people talking about a 'super-cycle' of aerospace manufacturing, where the industry is "still in the early days of a long-term boom in orders."

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Stiffer Composites Key in Engine Blade Redesign

Posted November 19, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Use of carbon fiber composites for making lighter, stronger vehicle and aircraft parts is almost old hat, but the technology is still advancing. GE Aviation is among the firms applying fourth-generation composites in a component redesign. Its project: the first jet engine fan blade redesign in a decade. The blades will be thinner but stronger, made from a composite featuring an epoxy resin and stiffer carbon fiber. GE will also change the blade's leading edge, now to be made from a steel alloy instead of titanium.

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Comet Flyby

Posted October 28, 2014 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

On October 19th, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented itself to scientists. Comet Siding Spring, also known as comet C/2013 A1, was discovered last year at the Siding Spring observatory in Australia. It was expected to pass within about 87,000 miles of Mars at a relative velocity of 126,000 mph. The comet gave scientists a chance to study a "pristine remnant" of the 4.6 billion year old Solar System.

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The comet was predicted to pass very close to the Mars surface, about one third the Earth-moon distance! The closest a comet has ever approached Earth in modern records is 16 times greater than the distance of the comet passing Mars. Although it was not bright enough at Earth's distance to be seen by the naked eye, observers in the Southern Hemisphere were able to watch the comet's trajectory pass Mars and on toward perihelion.

Due to the high volume of spacecraft near Mars, there was no shortage of opportunities to see the high-speed flyby. The Hubble Space Telescope, more than a half-dozen other spacecraft, and ground-based telescopes were focused on the show. NASA's MAVEN orbiter arrived on Mars in September and was ready to look for changes in the Martian atmosphere due to interactions with the comet's dust tail. Most of the spacecrafts, though, were not designed for looking at comets and had to be adapted; for example they were not designed for real time data transmission, so it will take the science teams hours to days to receive and process the data before any pictures are unveiled.

Another reason this comet is so exciting is because it originated in the Oort

Cloud, a spherical realm of icy debris left over from the creation of the Sun and planets 4.6 billion years ago. This cloud is located beyond Pluto (side note- anyone else still upset that Pluto isn't a planet anymore?) which means it takes a million plus years to make the trip into the inner Solar System.

Scientists are very excited to review the data and have many questions concerning the comet's size and shape, and how it interacts with the Martian surface.

While we wait for the full report - here is a sneak peek at some of the pictures.

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