“Newspace” – What it’s all about

So, there’s a reason I named my blog newspace horizon. It is a term with a background. It refers to a movement which arose during a particular time, with unique factors surrounding its birth. It is important to understand the events that led up to the particular environment that allowed this industry to rise up and flourish. However, I’m not going to bore you with the history of space-travel just yet (no, really, it is certainly both interesting and important, but I do have make sure I’ve first properly engaged the interest of readers who are new to all this. You understand) Shortly put, the Newspace movement is where it’s at; the present and the oncoming horizon. This is where we’ll start.

You may have heard a similar term, “new-media”, referring to on demand streaming services such as Netflix. The idea is the same here. It’s a “new” alternative to the established big kahuna companies, or in this case, agency, and gives more control to the average person. You can read more about the term here, but its essentially referring to the private-spaceflight industry, and its associated aspirations. As you can see from that Wikipedia article, there are quite a few Newspace companies operating at this time, but since this industry is still in its infancy, only time will tell which of them will make it in the long-run. I will go into that another time, however. Essential to any Newspace companies’s advancement, though, is getting in the good with a certain agency which formerly had a monopoly on the pursuit of space-travel in the US. Yes, in this post I’ll review how the fledgling industry as a whole is collaborating with the established bastion of U.S space exploration, good old NASA.

Essential to this relationship is NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program.
Under this program, NASA has made deals with a number of companies in the private-spaceflight industry, contracting them to build the essential infrastructure for more extensive space exploration. Most notably, NASA signed contracts with Boeing and SpaceX worth $6.8 billion, according to an article by spacenews.com. According to the article, it was narrowed down to two primary companies after a gruesome elimination process, and the spacecrafts they develop will have to be certified for safety before they can be used. It goes on to say that the spacecrafts will primarily be used to bus astronauts and supplies to and from the International Space Station, ending the long lamented (and somewhat ironic) reliance of the US agency on hitching a ride with Russian astronauts, after it ended its ill-fated shuttle program in 2011. 

I remember hearing about it, myself. It was a sad day, and left many with uncertainty. This Commercial Crew program, however, promises to breath new life into an enterprise that was losing not only steam, but also morale, after a number of discouraging disasters. But the US particularly has a history of picking itself up in the aftermath of tragedy and forging ahead, innovating a new way of doing things, if necessary, but never giving up. It was no different this time. This movement may even prove to be the gateway to a new golden age of space travel.

SpaceX is working on  a spacecraft, according to SpaceNews, which will shuttle supplies to the ISS, dubbed the Dragon V2. It will launch on a rocket called the Falcon 9 v1.1, also made by the company. According to the article, it is merely an upgrade to a spacecraft, the Dragon, which is already being used for the same purpose. Check out the cool interior here:

These alliances are not entirely new, however. Boeing already has a long history with NASA, having “been part of every American human space flight program”, according to Spacenews.com, which goes on to say that Boeing is building the CST-100 spacecraft.

Another notable company is Lockheed Martin, a public company, which was contracted to build the Orion spacecraft for NASA. Orion will be using the long awaited Space Launch System.

Of course, these companies may one day take flight from NASA, which is currently playing a major role in helping them get off the ground. As mentioned by SpaceNews, waiting in the wings are plans for entirely private enterprises, in areas such as space-tourism.

That is all for this post, and we’ve barely scratched the surface.  Be sure to check in next Friday for more specifics. Sometime in the coming weeks I also plan to do a post entitled “What On Earth Has Happened”, which will indeed go over the history of space-exploration. So be sure to look out for that too. To make sure you don’t miss anything, you can always subscribe on the left-hand toolbar.

Hope you like my post. I’m just getting started, and I hope to be much more thorough in the future. Also, I will try to go lighter on the puns, but I do it almost unconsciously. So…. bear with me.

And remember, comments are encouraged! You, my readers, are who will ultimately keep me on track. Although I can anticipate what you might like to read about to a certain extent, your feedback is still invaluable. Only you can tell me if I’m missing topics that you really care about, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you want me to cover something.  Also, the underlined words are subjects that I’m considering doing whole posts on in the future. Catch you next week!

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