The recent launch of South Korea’s Naro-1 rocket marked the emergence of the 10th nation with the capacity to launch payloads to orbit. But several private corporations — including SpaceX and Virgin Galactic — have been redefining the role of private corporations in the opening of the next frontier.
After a six-day delay caused by a faulty valve, South Korea has launched its first rocket, the Naro-1, from the Naro Space Center in Goheung. However, the launch was only partially successful: the satellite payload was lost when it was released twenty-two miles higher than planned. According to the New York Times, “The South Korean rocket was carrying a domestically built satellite designed to monitor the atmosphere and the ocean.”
An article at Wired.com (“Rocket Booster: Let Private Sector help NASA”) keeps a free-market focus on the future of American space exploration: “After leading the way in the human exploration of space for nearly 50 years, the future of U.S. manned space flight is in question. The space shuttle makes its last flight next year. After that, NASA must rely on the Russians to put astronauts in space. Unless the country looks to the private sector.”
In an age of out of control government spending — over $30 billion a week in budget deficits, 130,000 troops in Iraq and over 60,000 in Afghanistan, and a president and Democratic majority in Congress seemingly bent on collectivizing the entire healthcare industry — a presidentially appointed committee has apparently found one thing the government cannot pay for, at present: manned exploration of space.
According to a report in the Associated Press, South Korea aborted its first launch of a new rocket just minutes before its scheduled liftoff. The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (or Naro-1) was to be the first rocket launched from the new Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Korea.
Aabar Investments of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates agreed on July 28 to buy a 32 percent stake in Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism venture known as Virgin Galactic. The $280 million deal was inked on the grounds of the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture fly-in event held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
As millions of Americans remember “where they were” 40 years ago when they first heard Neil Armstrong’s famous first words from the surface of the moon, the nation is poised between different possible futures for manned space exploration.
Neil Armstrong’s famous “small step” at the moon’s Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969 was among the defining moments of an entire generation.
A July 16 article posted to the online tech journal The Register entitled, “Former Astronaut Takes Control of NASA” was among the numerous reports of the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Charles Bolden as the new administrator of NASA. Bolden was nominated by President Obama on May 26 to fill the position as head of the space agency.
“Obama's NASA selection is a boost for manned spaceflight” proclaimed the headline to the May 24 Los Angeles Times story. Apparently, “the choice of astronaut Charles Bolden as NASA administrator reassures many who feared that Obama was lukewarm on future manned missions,” and is being interpreted as supporting NASA’s goal of humans once again going to the moon by 2020.