Congress’s War on Commercial Space

Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology .

The long march of New Space revolutionaries passed a meaningful marker with Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9/Dragon flight last week (see p. 35). The second for SpaceX's big launcher and its Dragon capsule, it was the first “revenue flight,” carrying cargo in a vehicle intended one day to ferry people as well to and from low Earth orbit. That should start with astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA currently pays about $60 million per seat to fly astronauts to the station on Russia's venerable Soyuz. The Dragon mission was still underway late last week (go to AviationWeek.com for the latest), but SpaceX engineers and controllers had certainly proved their mettle even before a planned berthing at the station. It takes nothing away from their achievement to note the broad range of new commercial space projects in progress. Companies like Bigelow, Boeing, Blue Origin, Orbital Sciences, Sierra Nevada, Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace are not just drawing plans; they are building, testing and flying hardware—and signing customers ...

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