|Photo by blogger MarekFloryda|
- Third operational orbiter (after Columbia and Challenger)
- Flew the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit
- Has deployed a further 30 satellites
- Flew over 238,539,663 km during service
My own current state, New Mexico, is at the forefront of space transportation. Spaceport America is currently developing launch vehicles as the world’s first commercial spaceport. Owned by the state and its people, this space launch facility is designed to with customers in mind, as well as attempting to inspire visitors. Since dedication in October 2010, the spaceport has successfully launched several vertical rockets. Most recently, the 10th launch reached the highest altitude on record for the facility.
Additionally, Virgin Galactic has entered a 20-year contract with Spaceport America, with the spaceport serving as headquarters. Virgin Galactic’s space vehicles have already taken over the skies with their WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo vehicles. Over 500 people have signed up to take flights into space. Including lucky number 500, Ashton Kutcher.
New Mexico further aides in space-related progress through the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC). New Mexico State University (where I currently am attaining my Masters degree) is the lead institution for this program, which aims to support students in multiple disciplines with a united interest in aeronautics, space, and related fields.
This PayPal funded company hopes to pick up where NASA budget cuts left off. SpaceX aims to develop launch vehicles that ultimately reduce cost and increase viability of space access. The jewel of the space fleet vehicles is Dragon, a free-flying craft designed for transport of (un)pressurized cargo and/or crew members. Dragon is scheduled to launch April 30 and will make history by docking with the International Space Station. While this flight is still considered a test, success would bring the company ever closer to becoming the first commercial carrier to deliver payloads.
Questions of The Day:
What are your hopes for the future of space exploration?