The Verge - SpaceX and Virgin Galactic: countdown to the era of commercial space flight 2014-03-09T18:31:14-04:00 2014-03-09T18:31:14-04:00 2014-03-09T18:31:14-04:00 'Red Dragon' could visit Mars in proposed NASA mission <img alt="" src="" /> <p><a target="_blank" href="">Is there life on Mars</a>? NASA is still trying to find out, discovering evidence of water&nbsp;<a href="">in a Martian meteorite</a> just over a week ago. But though scientists are happy to investigate meteorites and live vicariously through robotic rovers roaming the Red Planet, they're really itching to get their hands on samples scooped right off the Martian surface to analyze here at home. Now, a team at NASA believes they can do so cost-effectively, as soon as 2022, by relying on commercial spaceflight provider&nbsp;<a href="">SpaceX</a> for a little help.</p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Sean Hollister 2014-01-10T18:30:02-05:00 2014-01-10T18:30:02-05:00 Virgin Galactic finishes third supersonic flight, reaching its highest altitude to date <img alt="" src="" /> <p>Today, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two <a href="" target="new">ascended to the upper atmosphere</a> for its third supersonic flight, and the highest to date. The ship reached an altitude of 71,000 feet, 2000 feet higher than <a href="">the previous record</a>, before returning safely to the ground under the guidance of chief pilot Dave Mackay. The mission was designed to test the thermal coating on the craft's tail as well as the ship's reaction control system, which will allow pilots to maneuver the craft once in space.</p> <p>Previously, Virgin Galactic had promised to run their first commercial space voyages in 2014 and, with less than a year to make good on the promise, the company seemed confident it would meet the self-imposed deadline. "With each flight test, we are progressively...</p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Russell Brandom 2013-12-06T13:50:02-05:00 2013-12-06T13:50:02-05:00 How many satellite launches does it take to get to Mars? <img alt="" src="" /> <p>On Tuesday, <a href="">SpaceX successfully launched</a> a commercial communications satellite into orbit after two abortive attempts, a major milestone in entrepreneur Elon Musk&rsquo;s lofty mission to build a private space program. In 2012, an ISS supply mission made SpaceX&rsquo;s Dragon capsule the first privately owned spacecraft to dock with the station; Musk himself has become one of the figureheads of a new, aspirational entrepreneurship that prizes impossible ideas alongside traditional business. And SpaceX&rsquo;s success comes after years of worry about whether NASA is still capable of the grand feats it achieved in the mid-20th century &mdash; and speculation that SpaceX and its many competitors, not an old guard of aerospace companies and government...</p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Adi Robertson 2013-12-03T16:57:45-05:00 2013-12-03T16:57:45-05:00 SpaceX succeeds at third attempt to launch a commercial satellite <img alt="" src="" /> <p>After dealing with numerous setbacks and&nbsp;<a href="">last-minute delays</a>, SpaceX's third launch attempt of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral appears to have gone smoothly. The rocket is carrying a commercial SES-8 communications satellite into orbit, an achievement that &mdash; if all continues to go well &mdash; marks a major milestone for its private space transport ambitions. The Falcon 9's takeoff has been&nbsp;<a href="">abruptly pushed back</a> more than once this month, but SpaceX earlier this week reassured the public that "all known rocket anomalies have been resolved."</p> <p></p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Chris Welch 2013-11-28T17:08:56-05:00 2013-11-28T17:08:56-05:00 SpaceX's Thanksgiving rocket launch aborted twice at the last second <img alt="" src="" /> <p>Having originally been scheduled to celebrate Thanksgiving by taking to the stratosphere, SpaceX's launch was aborted at the last moment today. The Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to take off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station sometime during a 65-minute launch window starting at 5:39 PM ET.</p> <p></p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Katie Drummond 2013-11-25T17:33:27-05:00 2013-11-25T17:33:27-05:00 SpaceX's first satellite launch delayed until at least Thursday <img alt="" src="" /> <p>SpaceX's upgraded Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral, Florida this evening, where it'll be attempting to place a communications satellite into orbit, 22,000 miles above the equator,&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="">reports <i>USA Today</i></a>. The launch is scheduled for 5:37PM local time and is being streamed live online. This is reportedly SpaceX's first launch of a commercial communications satellite, and if successful, would be a major step forward for the private space transportation company. The satellite onboard is&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">an SES-8</a>, which satellite operator SES has contracted SpaceX to launch.</p> <p></p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Jacob Kastrenakes 2013-10-22T11:19:29-04:00 2013-10-22T11:19:29-04:00 Latest space tourism trip uses balloon to take passengers 100,000 feet up <img alt="" src="" /> <p>You may soon have a less expensive way to get into space. A new space tourism venture plans to bring visitors 30 km (about 100,000 feet) into the stratosphere in what is essentially a space-ready air balloon for $75,000. The capsule won't technically be in space &mdash; and that's not high enough to enter orbit and achieve the sensation of "weightlessness" &mdash; but there should be a wonderful view of the curvature of the Earth, the blue atmosphere around it, and the dark void beyond. Those joining in on the trip won't have to undergo training, and they'll spend two hours up at that height, where they'll be free to stand and walk about the cabin. Trips could start as soon as 2016.</p> <p>The new project comes from World View, a subsidiary of...</p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Dante D'Orazio 2013-10-18T16:07:51-04:00 2013-10-18T16:07:51-04:00 Virgin Galactic hopes its spacecrafts might someday be used for superfast flights across Earth <img alt="" src="" /> <p>Virgin Galactic&nbsp;<a href="">may be closing in</a> on launching its first-ever commercial space flight, but the company is also thinking about how its technology can help improve travel on Earth, as well. Speaking at the Wired 2013 event in London, Virgin Galactic's commercial director Stephen Attenborough hinted that his company's spaceplans might be the basis for long haul aviation across the planet someday.&nbsp;"If we can get this first step right, take people into space and keep them safe in commercially viable aircraft," Attenborough said, Virgin might be able to "push long haul aviation." The bottom line could be flights between London and Australia in as little as 2.5 hours &mdash; and Attenborough said that such a flight would be better for the...</p> <p> <a href="">Continue reading&hellip;</a> </p> Nathan Ingraham