As commercial suborbital vehicles capable of carrying both payloads and people prepare to enter service, NASA officials say they’re willing to consider allowing agency-funded researchers to fly on those vehicles.
After carrying out a successful test flight of a new version of its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft, a Blue Origin executive said Dec. 18 that the company was now about a year away from starting to fly people.
Virgin Galactic will carry out a dedicated research flight of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane for the Italian space agency ASI, with an Italian payload specialist on board, under an agreement announced Dec. 18.
Blue Origin said it carried out a successful test flight of a new version of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle Dec. 12.
An airspace closure notice published by the Federal Aviation Administration Dec. 9 suggests Blue Origin is preparing to resume test flights of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle after a hiatus of more than a year.
The chief executive of Virgin Galactic said Sept. 7 that the company’s second suborbital spaceplane was “at the edge” of beginning powered test flights, after at least one more glide flight.
A Japanese company whose first sounding rocket launch last month failed to reach space will try again by the end of the year as it continues work on a small launch vehicle.
Virgin Galactic performed the latest glide flight of its second SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane Aug. 4, calling it a “dry run” for upcoming powered test flights.
The German Aerospace Center, Germany’s space agency, will fly two experiments on a suborbital flight by Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle later this year as part of an effort to diversify its microgravity research efforts.
In 2004, Burt Rutan predicted a vibrant future for commercial suborbital spaceflight. Thirteen years after SpaceShipOne nabbed the Ansari X Prize, suborbital space tourism has yet to take off.
Scientists are increasingly interested in making use of private space capabilities, including the promise of faster and less expensive space missions, but are struggling to identify funding to make those missions possible.
Virgin Galactic performed another glide flight of SpaceShipTwo June 1 as the company suggested it was nearing a new phase in the test program of the suborbital spaceplane.
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson said April 28 he remained optimistic that the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle will carry him and other customers into space, but declined to give a specific schedule about when those flights might begin.
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said April 5 that his company was still hoping to start flying people on suborbital space tourism flights by the end of next year, while suggesting crewed test flights will not start this year as previously planned.