Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Commercial Space Tourism or Travel

Space Tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. A number of startup companies around the world have sprung up in recent years, hoping to create a space tourism industry. Orbital space tourism opportunities have been limited and expensive. The publicized price for flights brokered by Space Adventures to the International Space Station- ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft have been US$20–35 million, during the period 2001-2009. Some space tourists have signed contracts with third parties to conduct certain research activities while in orbit.

Early History:
After early successes in space, much of the public saw intensive space exploration as inevitable. Those aspirations are memorialized in science fiction including Arthur C. Clarke's A Fall of Moon dust and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Joanna Russ's 1968 novel Picnic on Paradise, and Larry Niven's Known Space stories. Lucian in the 2nd century AD in his book True History examines the idea of a crew of men whose ship travels to the Moon during a storm. Jules Verne also took up the theme of lunar visits in his books, From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. Robert A. Heinlein’s short story The Menace from Earth, published in 1957, was one of the first to incorporate elements of a developed space tourism industry within its framework. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was common belief that space hotels would be launched by 2000. Many futurologists around the middle of the 20th century speculated that the average family of the early 21st century would be able to enjoy a holiday on the Moon. In the 1960s, Pan Am established a waiting list for future flights to the Moon, issuing free "First Moon Flights Club" membership cards to those who requested them.

Orbital Space Tourists:
At the end of the 1990s, MirCorp, a private venture that was by then in charge of the space station, began seeking potential space tourists to visit Mir. Dennis Tito, an American businessman and former JPL scientist, became their first candidate. When the decision to de-orbit Mir was made, Tito managed to switch his trip to the International Space Station (ISS) through a deal between MirCorp and U.S.-based Space Adventures, Ltd., despite strong opposition from senior figures at NASA; from the beginning of the ISS expeditions, NASA stated it wasn't interested in space guests. Nonetheless, Dennis Tito visited the ISS on April 28, 2001, and stayed for seven days, becoming the first "fee-paying" space tourist.

He was followed in 2002 by South African computer millionaire Mark Shuttleworth. The third was Gregory Olsen in 2005, who was trained as a scientist and whose company produced specialist high-sensitivity cameras. Olsen planned to use his time on the ISS to conduct a number of experiments, in part to test his company's products. Olsen had planned an earlier flight, but had to cancel for health reasons.

On September 18, 2006, an Iranian American named Anousheh Ansari became the fourth space tourist (Soyuz TMA-9). On April 7, 2007, Charles Simonyi, an American businessman of Hungarian descent, joined their ranks (Soyuz TMA-10). Simonyi became the first repeat space tourist, paying again to fly on Soyuz TMA-14 in March–April 2009. Canadian Guy Laliberte became the next space tourist in September, 2009 aboard Soyuz TMA-16.

Suborbital Flights Projects:

  • On October 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites, won the $10,000,000 X Prize, which was designed to be won by the first private company who could reach and surpass an altitude of 62 miles (100 km) twice within two weeks. The altitude is beyond the Karman Line, the arbitrarily defined boundary of space. The first flight was flown by Michael Melvill on June 21, 2004, to a height of 62 miles, making him the first commercial astronaut. The prize-winning flight was flown by Brian Binnie, which reached a height of 69.6 miles, breaking the X-15 record.


  • Virgin Galactic, is planning to begin passenger service aboard the VSS Enterprise, a Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo class spacecraft. The initial seat price is $200,000, with a required down-payment of $20,000. To date, over 600 people have signed up. Headed by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, Virgin Galactic hopes to be the first private space tourism company to regularly send civilians into space. A citizen astronaut will only require three days of training before spaceflight. SpaceShipTwo is a scaled up version of SpaceShipOne, the spacecraft which claimed the Ansari X Prize. Launches will initially occur at the Mojave Spaceport in California, and will then be moved to Spaceport America in Upham, New Mexico. Tourists will also be flown from Spaceport Sweden, in Kiruna.


  • XCOR Aerospace is developing a suborbital vehicle called Lynx. The Lynx will take off from a runway under rocket power. Unlike SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo, Lynx will not require a mothership. Lynx is designed for rapid turnaround, which will enable it to fly up to four times per day. Because of this rapid flight rate, Lynx has fewer seats than SpaceShipTwo, carrying only one pilot and one spaceflight participant on each flight. XCOR expected to roll out the first Lynx prototype and begin flight tests in 2013. If all goes well, it is hoped that Lynx will carry paying customers before the end of 2014.


  • Citizens in Space, formerly the Teacher in Space Project, is a project of the United States Rocket Academy. Citizens in Space combines citizen science with citizen space exploration. The goal is to fly citizen-science experiments and citizen explorers (who travel free) who will act as payload operators on suborbital space missions. By 2012, Citizens in Space had acquired a contract for 10 suborbital flights with XCOR Aerospace and expected to acquire additional flights from XCOR and other suborbital spaceflight providers in the future. In 2012 Citizens in Space reported they had begun training three citizen astronaut candidates and would select seven additional candidates over the next 12 to 14 months.


  • Space Expedition Corporation was preparing to use the Lynx for "Space Expedition Curacao", a commercial flight from Hato Airport on Curacao, and planned to start commercial flights in 2014. The costs were $95,000 each.


  • Armadillo Aerospace is developing a two-seat vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) rocket called Hyperion, which will be marketed by Space Adventures. Hyperion uses a capsule similar in shape to the Gemini capsule. The vehicle will use a parachute for descent but will probably use retrorockets for final touchdown, according to remarks made by Armadillo Aerospace at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in February 2012.


source: wikipedia

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Future Spaceships and Interstellar Travel - Part 5


Hungary-based space illustrator Adrian Mann is a graphical engineer for the Project Icarus, an effort to research the possibilities for interstellar travel. When scientists conceive of spaceships for travel to another star, most proposals require advanced and exotic propulsion mechanisms, including nuclear power and antimatter power. The following illustrations by Mann show some of the proposed concepts for vehicles to take us beyond the solar system, this is the part 5 of the series post.

Orbiting Hotel:
With the addition of two inflatable modules, an orbiting hotel could be created for up to 20 guests by the concept vehicle SKYLON.

SKYLON & Fluyt:
With additional modules, a refueling base could be constructed for ‘Fluyt’ orbital transfer vehicles by the SKYLON craft.

Fluyt Orbital Transfer Vehicles:
The Fluyt orbital transfer vehicles could also be used to construct and service large geostationary communications platforms.

Fluyt:
At the end of 2008, a feasibility study began into the use of a space-based Orbital Transfer Vehicle named Fluyt in order to investigate the performance of a reusable rocket stage that would be permanently based in low-Earth orbit.

Orbital Base Station:
The concept of an Orbital Base Station (OBS) was studied to demonstrate that large, highly modular structures could be built in low-Earth orbit, providing accommodation for the crews, protection from orbital debris, continuous internal lighting and propellant storage. Such a facility would enable large ships for the exploration of the moon and Mars to be constructed.

Troy Mission:
The proposed Troy mission is envisaged to be performed in two parts: an unmanned, precursor mission, and the later manned mission. Using SKYLON, the elements for the Troy ships are delivered to an Orbital Base Station, where the components are assembled.

Troy Vehicle:
The proposed Troy vehicle's transit time to Mars would be 264 days, and on arrival, the three landing modules would be deployed to land at a pre-selected site, forming a base. Three precursor ships would be sent, forming three bases on Mars that would enable the rovers to reach more than 90 percent of the Martian surface.

Credit for the images and description goes to: Adrian Mann

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Future Spaceships and Interstellar Travel - Part 4


SKYLON SSTO Vehicle:
SKYLON, a concept vehicle from Reaction Engines Ltd., is an entirely reusable single stage-to-orbit launch vehicle, based on revolutionary engine technology.

SKYLON Conept Vehicle:
The SKYLON concept vehicle consists of a slender fuselage containing propellant tankage and payload bay, with delta wings attached midway along the fuselage carrying the SABRE engines in axisymmetric nacelles on the wingtips. The vehicle takes off and lands horizontally on its own undercarriage.

SKYLON Concept Vehicle:
The SKYLON concept spaceship payload bay can be used for a wide variety of missions, and can carry up to 16.5 tons to low-Earth orbit.

SKYLON Flies:
The SKYLON concept vehicle payload bay can be used for a wide variety of missions, and can carry up to 16.5 tons to low-Earth orbit.

SKYLON Engine:
The key to SKYLON's success will be the SABRE engine, which employs a revolutionary heat ex-changer to chill the incoming air before it is fed to the engines. A Hybrid Air-breathing / Rocket Engine, SABRE represents a huge advance over LACE Technology.

SKYLON Satellite Delivery:
Using a recoverable upper stage, the concept spaceship SKYLON can deliver communications satellites to geosynchronous orbit, and then retrieve the upper stage and return it to Earth to be reused for further missions.

SKYLON at ISS:
With a Personnel and Logistics module in the payload bay, cargo, supplies and crews could be delivered to the International Space Station by the proposed SKYLON vehicle, extending the outpost's useful life.

SKYLON's Capabilities:
Reaction engines have devised a series of modules to demonstrate the proposed spaceship SKYLON's capabilities. Here, a space station has been assembled using docking, habitation, power, airlock and laboratory modules.


Credit for the images and description goes to: Adrian Mann

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Future Spaceships and Interstellar Travel - Part 3


Project Icarus:
Project Icarus is looking again at interstellar spacecraft, in the light of new developments in physics, materials and astronomy. A series of smaller test vehicles is envisaged to test the new technologies.

Icarus Pathfinder:
A potential spacecraft called Icarus Pathfinder would be powered by electromagnetic VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) engines, taking it out to 1,000 times the distance from Earth to the sun.

Icarus Starfinder:
A potential spacecraft called Icarus Pathfinder would be powered by VASIMR engines, taking it out to 1,000 AU (1AU is the distance between the Earth and sun).

Icarus Ortem:
Obtaining the exotic fuels needed for interstellar flight is a major challenge – here a scheme is shown where a spacecraft in low orbit around Jupiter lowers an extremely long tube into the atmosphere, sucking up and processing gases.

Icarus Balloons:
Another spaceship fuel-mining scheme involves balloon miners in the atmosphere of Uranus, where gases would be collected and processed, and then carried to the fuelling site by smaller tanker spacecraft.

Icarus Concept:
Project Icarus is currently at a very early stage and no definitive design has been selected – this illustration shows one possible candidate concept for an interstellar spacecraft.

Icarus Graphene:
This Icarus concept starship uses Graphene as a shield material to protect the vehicle during the voyage to another star.

Icarus Construct:
Future starships may be constructed in Earth orbit using a ring-type construction facility, which could have hotel rooms where guests could observe the construction.

Credit for the images and description goes to: Adrian Mann

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Future Spaceships and Interstellar Travel - Part 2


Daedelus Complete:
During the early 1970s, a team from the British Interplanetary Society carried out the world’s first serious engineering study of an interstellar vehicle – Project Daedalus.

Daedelus in Flight:
Daedalus was conceived as a two-stage vehicle, which would attain a speed of 12 percent of the speed of light, for a 50-year voyage to reach Barnard's Star.

Daedelus and Saturn V:
Weighing in at 60,000 tons when fully fuelled, Daedalus would dwarf even the Saturn V rocket.

Daedalus Ignition:
The Daedalus spacecraft's spherical tanks contain the fuel pellets for the nuclear fusion engine.

Daedalus Beams:
Daedalus' Deuterium/Helium 3 fuel pellets are injected into the engine, where they are hit by electron beams, compressing them to the point that fusion occurs. Magnetic fields contain the expanding plasma.

Daedalus Fuel:
During Daedalus' two years of first stage engine firing, empty fuel tanks are jettisoned to reduce weight.

Daedalus Split:
Once all Daedalus' first stage fuel is consumed, the first stage is jettisoned and the second stage continues to accelerate for another 1.8 years – the vehicle now coasts, unpowered, for the remainder of the 50-year voyage.

Daedelus Second Stage:
Daedalus' second stage carries radio telescopes, 2 5m optical telescopes, 18 probes, two autonomous spacecraft known as Wardens, computers, power supplies and a Beryllium erosion shield.

Daedalus Flyby:
Daedalus' flyby of the target system would be over in a matter of hours, the data being relayed back to Earth, using the engine bell as a parabolic radio antenna.

Vacuum to Antimatter Rocket Interstellar Explorer System:
VARIES – Vacuum to Antimatter Rocket Interstellar Explorer System, is a concept from Richard Obousy that would use enormous solar arrays to generate power for extremely powerful lasers, which, when fired at empty space, would create particles of antimatter which could be stored and used as fuel. The process would be used at the vehicle's destination to create fuel for the return journey.

Daedalus Construct:

It was envisaged that the Daedalus starship would be constructed in orbit around the Jovian moon Europa.

Credit for the images and description goes to: Adrian Mann

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Future Spaceships and Interstellar Travel - Part 1

Hungary-based space illustrator Adrian Mann is a graphical engineer for the Project Icarus, an effort to research the possibilities for interstellar travel. When scientists conceive of spaceships for travel to another star, most proposals require advanced and exotic propulsion mechanisms, including nuclear power and antimatter power. The following illustrations by Mann show some of the proposed concepts for vehicles to take us beyond the solar system.

Saturn Rockets:
During the Apollo program, NASA investigated many options for up rating the Saturn V, from stretching the 1st stage to adding enormous solid rocket boosters, and even a nuclear powered upper stage - NERVA - that could be used for missions to Mars.

NERVA Spacecraft:
Two nuclear powered NERVA spacecraft being assembled in orbit, with the crew being ferried with an early design space shuttle, for the journey to Mars.

Orion Spacecraft:
The Saturn V could also have carried an Orion spacecraft to orbit. Powered by nuclear explosions, the Orion spacecraft leaves orbit for Mars.

Orion Mars Spacecraft:
The Orion Mars spacecraft shown here has a crew accommodation section, 2 Mars Landers in the form of lifting bodies, and enough small nuclear devices to propel the ship to and from Mars.

Super Orion:
Given the colossal power of nuclear explosions, enormous Orion ships were envisaged, to be launched from remote desert areas such as Jackass Flats in the Nevada Test Range.

Bussard Funnel:
The major problem with trying to devise a ship to travel between the stars is that of fuel. Robert Bussard devised a ship that would use a huge magnetic funnel to collect hydrogen from space to use as fuel in an interstellar ramjet.

Bussard Funnel Thrust:
While Bussard's spacecraft concept looks appealing, calculations have shown that the thrust of the engine may not be enough to overcome drag caused by the magnetic funnel.
Credit for the images and description goes to: Adrian Mann

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