Sunday, May 29, 2011

Articles of Interest

A NASA artist's concept of what the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle might look like on a deep space mission.

Items of interest from around the planet ...

Aviation Week reports that "Space Florida, a state-backed economic development agency focused on space and related technologies, has hired Masten Space Systems for a series of suborbital demonstration flights from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 36."

The $400,000 launch services contract includes multiple flights of Masten’s vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) reusable suborbital vehicle, called Xaero ...

The Space Florida contract enables Masten, which is based in Mojave, Calif., an opportunity to get hands-on experience operating at the Cape ...

Space Florida considers the program not just a boon for Masten, but also a way to set guidelines, operating requirements and facilities fees for other new vehicles that may be looking to fly out of Florida.

The Constellation boondoggle lives on. NASA announced on May 24 that the former Orion crew capsule, renamed the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, will be the crew capsule for the Space Launch System. Aviation Week reports that NASA "will stretch out the contract while it figures out how to build" the SLS.

The U.S. space agency has spent about $5 billion on Orion since it was started as the shuttle follow-on under the Constellation program. Now that it is being "phased" with the SLS, managers don’t know yet what it will cost to complete the development ...

The lag will make it even more important for NASA to begin using commercial cargo and crew vehicles to support the International Space Station.

Veteran space correspondent Todd Halvorson published an excellent article in Florida Today attempting to place the International Space Station in a historic context.

Spacewalking astronauts wound up 12 years of International Space Station assembly this past week, putting the finishing touches on a legitimate contender for the greatest engineering achievement of all time.

The Apollo moon landings, the Panama Canal, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza all rank among the top engineering endeavors in human history.

But many think the $100 billion space station -- a project involving 100,000 people in 15 nations on three continents -- deserves consideration, too.

Halvorson notes that 159 spacewalks were required to construct the ISS, an incredible number that would have been unfathomable two decades ago.

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