Trivia Thursday: Private Space Technology

As Bezos announced that he will step down from the position of Amazon’s CEO and plans to focus on his other ventures like Blue Origin. In this week’s Trivia Thursday, let’s have a look at how the private space industry looks right now.

Crux of the Matter

SpaceShipOne

  • It is an experimental rocket-powered aircraft which completed the first crewed private spaceflight in 2004.
  • Its mother ship was named “White Knight”. It was developed and flown by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, which was a joint venture between Paul Allen and Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan’s aviation company.
  • Allen provided the funding of approximately $25 million.

SpaceShipTwo

  • An air-launched suborbital spaceplane type designed for space tourism, it is manufactured by The Spaceship Company, a company owned by Virgin Galactic.
  • In April 2013, after nearly three years of unpowered testing, the first one constructed successfully performed its first powered test flight.
  • Since then, Virgin Galactic plans to operate a private passenger-carrying service with a suborbital flight carrying a ticket price of $250,000. The spaceplane could also be used to carry scientific payloads for NASA and other organizations too.

Genesis I

  • It is an experimental space habitat designed and built by the private firm Bigelow Aerospace and launched in 2006.
  • It was the first module to be sent into orbit by the company, and tested various systems, materials and techniques related to determining the viability of long-term inflatable space structures.
  • If successful, this technology will help launch space habitats at a lower cost. It is similar to the TransHab concept pursued by NASA in the 1990s.

Some major companies in the private space technology are

Stratolaunch Systems
Officially announced in December 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, who had previously collaborated on the creation of SpaceShipOne.

Blue Origin
Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the company is led by CEO Bob Smith and aims to make access to space cheaper and more reliable through reusable launch vehicles. The company motto is ‘Gradatim Ferociter’, Latin for “Step by Step, Ferociously”.

Virgin Galactic
A spaceflight company within the Virgin Group. It is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital space flights to space tourists and suborbital launches for space science missions. SpaceShipTwo is Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spacecraft.

Bigelow Aerospace
A space technology startup company which manufactures and develops expandable space station modules. Bigelow Aerospace was founded by Robert Bigelow in 1998, and is funded in large part by the profit Bigelow gained through his ownership of the hotel chain, Budget Suites of America.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX)
Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has developed several launch vehicles, as well as the Dragon cargo spacecraft and the Starlink satellite constellation (providing internet access), and has flown humans to the International Space Station on the SpaceX Dragon 2.

Take a look at our last week’s Trivia Thursday here: When The Simpsons Predicted The Future