Tag Archives: Aerospace

Wall Street to Mission Control: Can space tourism pay off?

With the COVID-19 pandemic curtailing earthly travel, space tourism may seem like a far-fetched dream—but some companies are betting on high demand.
By Chris Daehnick and Jess Harrington – The space industry saw record-breaking growth in 2020 as investors, undeterred by the COVID-19 pandemic, poured almost $9 billion into private companies. While some of these businesses are simply providing parts and services to government agencies like NASA, others want to venture into space with their own crew and rockets. One ambitious goal, which several companies are now pursuing, involves space tourism for any private citizen willing to pay a hefty fee.

Having private companies lead space exploration ventures was the stuff of science fiction when the human spaceflight era dawned 60 years ago in April 1961. But such companies have now demonstrated the safety and performance of their systems for a full spectrum of operations. Plans to offer private flights are becoming reality, so what does the future hold? To answer this question, we look at industry trends, investment patterns, and the obstacles ahead.

Governments monopolized space exploration in its early days because of the staggering investment and high risks involved. Exhibit 1 shows some of the early milestones of space flight, as well as other important developments through 2000. National pride and the desire to be “first” were also powerful motivators, although many countries now appreciate the value of collaboration, as seen with the International Space Station. Private companies, with vastly fewer resources, had little reason to investigate crewed missions because the likelihood of getting government approval and seeing decent returns was dim. more>

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Updates from Boeing

Boeing to Showcase the Future of Aerospace at Farnborough International Airshow
Boeing – Boeing (NYSE: BA) today announced its plans to reveal the exciting future of air and space travel at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow, which takes place July 16-22. From hypersonic travel to the future of autonomous flight to manned space flight, Boeing will visually present the innovations that will revolutionize the way humans travel around the world and into space.

Visitors can immerse themselves in a large 360-degree theater and board next-generation aircraft through virtual and mixed reality devices. The interactive exhibit showcases Boeing’s latest family of aircraft and services, and gives visitors a first look at what the company is developing in its second century of aerospace innovation. more>

NASA technology (7)

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Dream Chaser
NASA – The Dream Chaser model with its Atlas V launch vehicle is undergoing final preparations at the Aerospace Composite Model Development Section’s workshop for buffet tests at the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel at NASA Langley. The scale model is being tested as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program to regain the American capability to launch astronauts safely to the International Space Station. The lifting body reusable spacecraft would carry as many as seven astronauts to the space station. Sierra Nevada Space Systems is developing the craft under a Space Act Agreement with NASA.

With the help of hundreds of pressure transducers, engineers from Sierra Nevada Corporation, the United Launch Alliance and NASA Langley will look at the pressure fluctuations the model and launch vehicle stack experience during the critical ascent to orbit, especially at transonic speeds. Shock-waves form on launch vehicles as they approach the speed of sound and may result in regions of highly unsteady flow. Within these regions of the Dream Chaser and launch vehicle, the resulting buffet forces and high frequency acoustic noise must be clearly understood as part of the vehicle design process. Transonic wind-tunnel testing of large, highly instrumented scale models is the only method of determining the buffet environments of launch vehicles with complex shapes. Image Credit: NASA EDGE/Ron Beard

NASA technology (6)

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Engine Test With a Cyclonic Twist
NASA – Water forms an interesting cyclonic twist as it is intentionally sucked into the test engine of a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport aircraft during the VIPR project engine health monitoring tests conducted by NASA Dryden. The water was contained on a special platform built by NASA Dryden’s Fabrication Branch for the tests.

NASA’s Aviation Safety Program is developing technology for improved sensors to help spot changes in vibration, speed, temperature and emissions which are symptomatic of engine glitches. These advanced sensors could alert ground crews to problems that can be eliminated with preventive maintenance before becoming serious safety concerns. Ultimately, the sensors could alert pilots to the presence of destructive volcanic ash particles too small for the eyes to see, giving more time for evasive action to prevent engine damage in flight. Image Credit: NASA / Tony Landis

Aerospace Strikes Back

By Paul Livingstone – Employment in aerospace, which was on a downward swing for nearly a decade from a high of over 1 million in 1989, has leveled off in recent years at around 600,000.

In the mid-1980s, 20% of R&D scientists and engineers were employed in the aerospace industry. That portion fell to 3.3% in 2007, the latest year’s data available from the National Science Foundation. Likewise, the number of R&D scientists and engineers working in aerospace has fallen from nearly 145,000 in 1986 to a low of 19,100 in 2002 before recovering.

The migration of spaceflight from public to private providers has already largely occurred. What is needed is a central planning body to coordinate the millions of pieces that have to work flawlessly together. Someday, perhaps, a private company will get large enough to do just that. more> http://twurl.nl/6mxqex