Geeks and Engineers Funding and Forging the Private Space Industry

In recent years, privately funded companies have made many efforts to develop and test space-capable vehicles. One of the most well-known, prize-based technology encouragement activities is the Ansari X Prize, founded in 2004 by the non-profit organization the X Prize Foundation. The competition’s rules were simple: The first privately funded, non-government organization to develop a reusable, manned spacecraft and launch it into space–not once, but twice in a two-week period–would win $10 million big ones.

The winning spacecraft was developed by Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites and was funded by $20 million from Paul Allen of Microsoft fame. In total, it was estimated that the competition bolstered more than $100 million of spacecraft research and development in pursuit of the prize.

The future of space flight...commercial sponsor anyone?Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), created in 2002 and founded by Elon Musk (founder of the popular, Web-based financial institution PayPal), has been creating a great deal of buzz lately with its expanding line of reusable rockets. In 2008, SpaceX, with its launch vehicles Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Falcon 9 Heavy, were selected to replace the soon-to-be-retired NASA Space Shuttles for the delivery and return of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). In 2010, President Obama and NASA Administrator Bolen decided to outsource astronaut transportation to the private sector, as well. SpaceX and its Dragon Manned Spacecraft carried by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle are considered by many to be the launch system of choice for the proposed commercial astronaut transportation system.

It’s clear we are coming close to Arthur C. Clarke’s predictions, as outlined in his classic, sci-fi epic 2001; yet, it looks like it could be a couple decades before I can book a PanAm (bankrupted in 1991) flight to the moon as did Dr. Heywood R. Floyd. This geek looks forward to the day when I can catch a flight off the third rock from the sun.

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Posted September 1st, 2010, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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9 comments on this post | ↓ Add Your Own

[...] NASA’s Space Shuttle program coming to an end, the private space transportation industry is heating up. Many players are [...]

Commented on November 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm
By Move over Battlestar Galactica « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] July 2008, WhiteKnightTwo was completed by Burt Rutan and his company Scaled Composites, which was founded in April 1982 by the Estacada, Oregon native. [...]

Commented on January 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm
By Take Me to the Moon….in 19 Years « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] a phenomenal ride so far, and it’s just the beginning. (Be sure to read about Virgin Galactic and SpaceX in my [...]

Commented on March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am
By Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon! « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] roster of competitors is set for the Google Lunar X Prize, a multimillion-dollar race to land a homemade robot on the [...]

[...] geek is encouraged to see this field thriving, with companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Google, and X Prize Foundation fostering greater development and growth. I see a [...]

Commented on April 26, 2011 at 10:29 am
By Holy Outsourcing Batman! « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] to develop the next-generation rockets and spacecraft for human transportation,” explains Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief designer. “With NASA’s support, SpaceX will be ready to fly its first [...]

[...] who, at the young age of just 40, has enjoyed an impressive career. In fact, today (June 28) is Musk’s birthday, and perhaps the opportune time to look back at his innovations and illustrious [...]

[...] Time will tell. In the meantime, this geek applauds current efforts, including those of Boeing, Microsoft, and Washington [...]

Commented on July 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm
By Moon Money « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] mil/aero geek is putting his faith squarely into the hands of the private sector for the next big boom in manned spaceflight—which he hopes to see in his lifetime. Several [...]

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