The arrival of the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship at the International Space Station on Wednesday Aug 16 could make any onlooker believe that space travel will soon become a simple thing. The delivery included mostly supplies and experiments, but the orbiting staff was in for a special surprise when they received a shipment of ice cream in the mix.
The crew was congratulated on their hard work by astronaut Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency in a radio message from his location in NASA's Mission Control in Houston.This signaled the 12th time that such a cargo flight hads being launched by SpaceX under their contract with NASA for Commercial Resupply Service, while 8 more are still on the way. The exploits of the local young space company are a good thing for other commercial space companies who are hoping to get a piece of the space pie.
Another up-and-coming space company that has been bankrolled by Max Polyakov of the Noosphere Ventures is Firefly Aerospace. They plan to provide very cheap and effective launch solutions to agencies and individuals that may not have the means to make use of the prevailing huge-capacity orbital lifters.
The payload capacity for the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is far more than most small scale-companies or individuals would ever need. SpaceX has said that they plan to phase out even these “smaller” rockets in favor of an even larger lifter that will increase the capacity to more any anything currently possible.
The S7 Space Transportation Systems Company of Russia has also said that they will once again start launches using the Sea Launch floating platform. The Zenit-3SL is the only rocket that can launch on this, and it carries up to 6000 kilograms, which is more than 12 times bigger than the weight of even the biggest microsatellites.
One of the biggest problem that the dozens of companies vying for the $20-million Lunar X Prize is that they are not able to get their systems off the ground. Most of the contenders hope to get their smaller rovers added on as secondary payloads to fully funded projects. An Israeli team named Space-IL has a contract to launch with SpaceX's Falcon 9. However, they may not be able to meet up with the March 31, 2018 extended date for their launch. According to Max Polyakov of Noosphere Ventures, the entire system will be changed when there are many smaller platforms like Firefly available to these smaller clients.
Firefly Space Systems suffered bankruptcy in 2016. But instead of Max Polyakov allowing the startup to die completely, Max Polyakov had to use one of his companies, named the EOS Launcher, to purchase the assets and technology of the firm. Max Polyakov renamed it Firefly Aerospace and reinstated the CEO, Thomas Markusic and many of the other lead engineers. It is the belief of Max Polyakov, Noosphere Ventures’ managing partner, that just like the rockets; their reduced but powerful staff will ensure the growth of the firm. Their first satellite is scheduled to be launched in 2019.