The US Air Force has developed a viable corridor for launching to polar and other high-inclination orbits from Cape Canaveral. I spend some time thinking through who may be interested in using that corridor and what its existence could mean for the newer launch vehicles in development.
Robin Seemangal joins me for a free-flowing discussion on the stories we found most important in 2017 and what we’re looking forward to in 2018, including SpaceX’s huge year, Blue Origin’s under-the-radar work to lay foundations for their future, SLS’ rough year, and—what else?—Falcon Heavy.
Mike Lewis, CTO of NanoRacks joins me to talk about what they’re working on today, as well as their big plans for the future, including their upcoming airlock and the Ixion project—their ongoing work to turn spent upper stages into useful spacecraft.
A special preview of the MECO Headlines shows: Elon Musk kinda-sorta-maybe announces the Falcon Heavy demo payload, Russia and China carry out successful military launches, NASA announces some very interesting NextSTEP-2 contracts, OA-8E Cygnus departs ISS, and SpaceX’s SLC-40 is back, baby!
SES gives us a preview of their new GEO strategy (which may be a harbinger of the future), Orbital ATK tests a new composite case to be used for their Next-Generation Launcher and future SLS boosters, NASA approves the use of previously-flown Falcon 9 first stages, and SpaceX sets off some LOX fireworks down in McGregor, Texas.
Eric Berger returns to the show to talk about Elon Musk and SpaceX’s crusade against cost-plus contracting, the end of Red Dragon, where NASA policy is heading, and what SpaceX may have in store for the Air Force’s next round of development contracts.
Ted Cruz called a hearing on NASA’s space exploration policy in the next president’s administration. The president of France’s CNES discussed some policy statements, and I went on a rant about his thoughts on Ariane 6 and its competition.
The ExoMars 2020 rover received a funding boost and a reassessed schedule, the 2016 orbiter/lander set its sights on Mars, NASA and ESA coordinated a practice communication session, and China opens up to the international space community.