People who argue that space travel will soon be common after witnessing the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship come to the International Space Station on Wednesday, Aug 16 should not be blamed. This time the routine assortment of supplies and experiments were coupled with a welcome treat, of some ice cream delivered to the orbiting lab workers.
This is the 12th time the Space X has launched a cargo flight since they signed the deal with NASA for Commercial Resupply Service. 8 more commercial launches are still on the docket under the contract. The success of this nascent space tech firm is becoming a motivating factor for other firms to throw their hats in the ring of the space world.
One of the space companies that is sponsored by Max Polyakov is Firefly Aerospace, and they build effective and affordable solutions for space launch for customers. This is for those who may not be able to afford the huge conventional orbital launchers. The load carrying capacity of the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to orbit is 22 000 kilograms. Clients who need to send large payloads may love it, but universities and smaller companies that need to get their graduate project into space need something significantly smaller.
The trend of designing smaller satellites has grown over the years. With just a few kilograms, these smaller, lighter, and more affordable machines can achieve what the older, huge satellites achieved with tonnes of steel in times past. 10 kilograms of high tech material is far more efficient than the behemoths of old. But smaller satellites can even weigh less than a single kilogram. The use of many smaller satellites to achieve what one huge satellite would have achieved vastly reduces the need for such huge space travelers.
Despite this, the companies that develop these big satellites still focus on the bigger payloads. There are still plans for SpaceX to test the Falcon 9 Heavy later this year. To launch even bigger satellites, they intend to design the ITS launch vehicle that can lift a 550 000-kilogram payload to the space with the same technology.
The S7 Space Transportation Systems is a Russian company, which reaffirmed that it will start launching from the Sea Launch floating platform again. The platform has only one compatible rocket and that is the Zenit-3SL, which boasts a payload of 6000 kilograms. This is 12 times bigger than what would be needed for even the biggest microsatellites.
The discovery by one team competing for the $20-million Lunar X Prize is that another way these smaller satellites are launched is by adding them as secondary payloads. A team from Israel named Space-IL, agreed with SpaceX to launch their entry on a Falcon 9. But, they may not meet up with the March 31, 2018 extended date for the launch because of an endless string of delays. According to Max Polyakov of Noosphere Ventures, situations like this would not happen if smaller rockets like Firefly were available.
In 2016, Firefly Space Systems, which later gave birth to Firefly Aerospace, filed for bankruptcy. However, Max Polyakov of Noosphere Ventures used one of his private space company, EOS Launcher, to buy the technology and assets of the defunct company at auction. Max Polyakov later reopened the company, and brought back Thomas Markusic the CEO and other senior staff. By doing so, Max Polyakov has assembled a small high-powered team to take access to space to the next level. The plan by Noosphere Ventures’ Max Polyakov is that by 2019, they will launch their first rocket into orbit.