Cornyn, Culberson Restart Debate on Future of NASA’s Human Spaceflight Efforts

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Falcon 9 Launch. Source – SpaceX

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representative John Culberson (TX-07) have introduced a bill in Congress to require NASA to develop plans for the future of U.S. human space exploration, with the goal of landing an astronaut on Mars. The plan is called the Mapping a New and Innovative Focus on our Exploration Strategy (MANIFEST) for Human Spaceflight Act. According to a statement released by Senator Cornyn’s office, the plan is based on recommendations of a 2014 National Academies report. Continue reading

Launch Vehicles: Year in Review 2016

Recent Decline Continued, but Stage Set for Renewed Activity in 2017

Atlas V Launch

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

The year 2016 saw 85 launches into Earth orbit  (this count excludes the Falcon 9 that exploded in September, since the explosion occurred during the pre-launch phase). Launches were carried out by nine countries, utilizing 22 different launch vehicle families, built by 13 different manufacturers or organizations. Continue reading

ULA Introduces Future Vulcan Launch Vehicle

by Bill Ostrove, Forecast International.

United Launch Alliance's New Vulcan

United Launch Alliance’s New Vulcan (Source: ULA)

U.S. company United Launch Alliance (ULA) has unveiled its next-generation launch vehicle, dubbed Vulcan. In a much anticipated April 13 press conference, CEO Tory Bruno provided details about the new launch vehicle (formerly known as the Next Generation Launch System, or NGLS), including that it will feature a reusable main engine and a redesigned second stage that will extend on-orbit operating times from hours to weeks.

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