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Friday
May182012

A New Era in Commercial Space Transportation: Falcon 9 - Dragon 


I wrote about Elon Musk last year "Next Steve Jobs of Automotive & Space?" Born in South Africa in 1971, Musk bought his first computer at age 10 and taught himself how to program, by the age of 12 he sold his first commercial software for about $500, a space game called Blastar. He moved to the U.S., where he studied physics and business at the University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship.

As a entrepreneur Musk founded and sold a number of hugely successful internet businesses: Zip2, sold for $305 million to Compaq and PayPal, sold to eBay for $1.5 billion. Elon Musk's dreams and focus has been in three areas, what he calls "important problems that would most affect the future of humanity"

  • Internet
  • Clean energy
  • Space

Musk has brought the silicon valley entrepreneur culture to his new ventures/dreams at Tesla Motos, Solar City and SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. Saturday's launch represents the big milestone not only for SpaceX, but also for NASA to start passing the torch for lower orbit supply and service missions to the private sector, giving NASA the focus on true space exploration.

May 19, 2012 Launch target - backup on May 22nd

In 24 hours the first attempt will be made by a commercial company to supply the Space Station. COTS 2 Demostraion SpaceX/NASA launch and Mission to Space Station. Saturday morning, a Falcon 9 powered by nine Merlin engines generating one million pounds of thrust in vacuum is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a mission to deliver a capsule full of supplies to the International Space Station. 

Working for the past six years under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program (COTS), both SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. have been pursuing independent efforts to design, test and fly two brand new cargo vehicles. SpaceX launch updates  NASA Television Flight Coverage Launch scheduled at 4:55 a.m. EDT

How the International Space Station was assembled from 1998

Gwynne Shotwell is president of SpaceX 

Elon Musk has put together a impressive team that includes Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, responsible for day-to-day operations and for managing all customer and strategic relations to support company growth. Shotwell is a member of the SpaceX Board of Directors. Prior to joining SpaceX, Shotwell spent more than ten years at the Aerospace Corporation. There she held positions in space systems engineering & technology, as well as project management. She was promoted to the role of chief engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, managed a landmark study for the Federal Aviation Administration on commercial space transportation, and completed an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA’s future investment in space transportation. 

Gwynne Shotwell at Commerce, Science, & Transportation Subcommittee

The COTS program was the first of its kind for NASA: a ―pay for performance‖ partnership between the government and private business to rapidly design and prototype critical technologies. NASA structured the COTS program as a collaborative partnership with the commercial space industry, sharing the risks, costs and rewards of developing new space transportation capabilities. Under the program, NASA provides seed money for the development of private spaceflight capabilities, but issues payment only after a company meets technical and financial performance milestones. The participating COTS contractors, likewise, invest in the program and put their own financial ―skin in the game. For the completed list of COTS milestones see Gwynne Shotwell's statment to the Space Subcommitte on May 26, 2011.

SpaceX upcoming launch manifest

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