|The view over the engine bell of a SpaceX rocket, leaving Earth behind for the GEO satellite belt.
Over the last fifteen years a lot of words associated with the fledgling private space flight industry have gone from being said almost in mockery to being said in earnest - even admiration. This week has seen two events that highlight why....
SpaceX has flown a flight proven booster, with a flight proven space capsule, to the International Space Station:
When Elon Musk's ground breaking 'SpaceX' (Space eXploration technologies) company announced they were planning to start re-using the first stage boosters from their rockets they were referred to as 'flight proven' - a euphemism for 'risky and unproven technology'.
Today that phrase 'flight-proven' is being used in earnest. And, to prove it, last week they flew not just a flight proven booster - but a flight proven booster carrying a flight-proven capsule, on a supply run to the international space station:
That's a milestone, because it makes SpaceX's vehicles mostly re-usable and therefore well positioned to bring the costs of spaceflight down. And, coming in the same week that Trump signed his (fairly vague) instructions for NASA to make a manned return to the Moon, it makes the upcoming decade look rather interesting for fans of manned space exploration....
Blue Origin flies 'Mannequin skywalker' to the edge of space:
Jeff Bezo's secretive company 'Blue Origin' has made impressive progress in getting their 'New Shepherd' space vehicle ready to start ferrying passengers and missions to the edge of space. But a hydraulic malfunction on their first full tale test flight last year put a crimp in their plans. Now they've resumed by flying a test dummy to the edge of space... a test dummy named Mannequin Skywalker.
No say anything about wanting to send Hayden Christensen into space.