Space

Launches: We are going! Plus, a private space station

Lauanches: Large rocket with an orange stage and boosters on each side launching through the atmosphere on a tail of flame.
Launches for August 23, 2022. Artist’s concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. It’s powerful and fast but carries a high price tag. Image via NASA.

EarthSky’s Launches blog brings you the best in spaceflight updates. See more from Launches here.

Previously on Launches: NASA solicits plans to deorbit ISS

Launches for August 23: We are going!

NASA said yesterday that – so far – all is well for the launch of the Artemis 1 mission as scheduled for Monday, August 29, 2022. The two-hour launch window opens at 12:33 UTC (8:33 a.m. EDT) on that day. It’s the first step in our return to the moon! Read more about Artemis 1.

A private space station

In other news … Private rocketeers Blue Origin and Sierra Space announced Monday (August 22) that NASA has given the nod to advance development plans to build a privately-owned space station. Their proposal, dubbed the Orbital Reef, was conceived using funding from NASA’s Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development Program. And the plans recently underwent a review to ensure the concept meets the agency’s requirements.

A press release announcing NASA’s OK to move ahead described why the achievement is noteworthy:

It demonstrates to NASA that the space station design is feasible and achievable while validating that the Orbital Reef system is on-track to proceed into the design phase.

Working with Sierra Space and Blue Origin on the project are Amazon Supply Chain, Amazon Web Services, Arizona State University, Boeing, Genesis Engineering Solutions and Redwire Space. NASA’s review of the project is intended to make sure the planned station does what NASA needs it to do and does it well.

The next industrial revolution

A quote from CEO of Sierra Space Tom Vice makes it clear why commercial spaceflight is about more than just sending billionaires into space:

We are on the doorstep of the most profound industrial revolution in human history. An industrial revolution marked by the transition from the last 60 years of space exploration to a future where humanity extends our factories and cities into space. It isn’t solely about tourism. It is about unlocking the next great discoveries using the microgravity factories that we will build just 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The microgravity factories and services provided by Orbital Reef have the potential to revolutionize every industry and become a major growth contributor to the U.S. and world economies.

Many linked cylinders, end to end and at right angles, with wide solar panels connected.
This artist’s concept drawing depicts the Orbital Reef, a private space station, being developed using funding from NASA. Monday (August 22, 2022) NASA gave the OK for further development of Orbital Reef. Image courtesy of Business Wire.

Bottom line: NASA tweeted yesterday that Artemis 1 is still scheduled to launch August 29 … And has now given the nod to a private space station concept.

In the past week, on Launches:
Russians unveil space station model
U.S. Space Force takes command
Surprise rollout for Artemis 1

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