All posts by Tobias Buckell

Scaled Composites to show the world SpaceShip Two this month

I can’t wait to see what the new Scaled Composites rocketplane will look like. On the 23rd they will uncover it to the world, and tests will start in the middle of this year.

Even more interesting, one of the flight paths for Virgin Galactic is not just to fly people up to the edge of space and back, but to take them up over by the poles to let passengers experience the northern lights by flying right through them.

Also of note at SpaceFlight Info, that the system is planned to put small satellites into orbit, making Scaled Composites a bit more than just a sub-orbital company…

Postpone shuttle’s retirement?

That’s what one politician wants, saying NASA should keep flying the shuttle to avoid depending on Russia to fly astronauts up.

That could be a disaster, much better to take that average cost of $450 million per shuttle launch and offer $450 billion to the first private company to launch someone to the space station by, say 2011.

Or better yet, for eye-catchiness, take the cost of 2 shuttle launches and round up slightly. $1 billion ought to turn heads, don’t you think?

Personal nuclear generator

Toshiba has announced a 200 kilowatt nuclear generator that can power a small block or large apartment building. At 20*6 feet large it can fit in a basement.

It’s designed, like pebble bed reactors, to not need mechanical parts to keep it safe.

This is a potentially disruptive piece of engineering. For one, it decentralizes power generation. It will allow power generation to be installed in remote locations throughout the world.

[link via Jay Lake]

Russians planning additional space station of their own

The Space Fellowship website notes that Russia is planning to set up an orbiting platform from which to stage manned missions to the moon and Mars.

“After 2020, Russia plans to create and put into orbit a near-Earth experimental manned complex to ensure transport operations to the Moon and Mars,” Anatoly Perminov said.

This has certain similarities to some original NASA lunar mission plans, which was to build up an infrastructure in orbit that would stage missions outwards, rather than launching the whole kit from the surface.