SpaceX Unveils Plan for World’s Most Powerful Private Rocket

SpaceX unveils its plan for the Falcon 9 Heavy, what would be the world’s most powerful private rocket.

The new rocket will be able to carry about 117,000 pounds (53,000 kilograms) of cargo to orbit – about twice the payload-carrying capability of the space shuttle. The Falcon Heavy would launch more than twice as much weight as the Delta 4 heavy, currently the most powerful rocket in operation. Only NASA’s Saturn 5 moon rocket, which last launched in 1973, could carry more cargo to orbit, SpaceX officials said.

Musk said the rocket should lower the launch cost of cargo to about $1,000 per pound, about one-tenth the cost per pound on NASA shuttle launches.

Russia Speeds Up Moon, Mars Plans as U.S. May Cut Spending

Russia is accelerating its space program.

“It is the first time that the government has allocated decent financing to us,” Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said in a phone interview on April 2. The agency’s $3.5 billion budget for 2011 has almost tripled since 2007, reaching the highest since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. “We can now advance on all themes a bit,” Perminov said.

Unlike 50 years ago, when beating the U.S. into space marked a geopolitical victory in the Cold War, Russia is focusing on the commercial, technological and scientific aspects of space travel. President Dmitry Medvedev has named aerospace one of five industries the government plans to nurture to help diversify the economy of the world’s largest energy supplier away from resource extraction.

For Some Entrepreneurs, Moon Is Money

Software engineers to the Moon!

Crazy? Absolutely! Impossible? Probably not! There are a growing number of people who believe that with federal funding for our space program getting scarce, the future lies in private-public partnerships. Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s third job (after leading electric car company Tesla and acting as the Chairman of solar installer SolarCity) is heading up SpaceX, which was the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a rocketship. Virgin’s Richard Branson has a similar private space venture.

Some interesting comments about NASA’s future from Clark Lindsey

Clark Lindsey of has posted some interesting thoughts in reaction to the successful launch of the Air Force’s second reusable X-37b yesterday and how this relates to NASA’s budget battles in Congress. Key quote for me:

Charles Bolden doesn’t seem prepared to make a forceful case against the clear and obvious dumbness of the HLV/Orion program. Perhaps he in fact wants a make-work project for NASA to sustain the employee base.

As I’ve said before, the program-formerly-called-Constellation is nothing more than pork, and will never get built. Why waste any money on it now?

The Beer has Landed: Astronauts4Hire Completes Space Beer Microgravity Test

The beer has landed: The first test of space beer in weightlessness has been completed. Key quote:

Astronauts4Hire Flight Member Todd Romberger was selected to perform the flight research. Todd sampled the beer during 12 microgravity parabolas, each reproducing the weightless conditions of space for 30 seconds at a time, and recorded qualitative data on beverage taste and drinkability as well as biometric data to gain a first look at alcohol effects the body.

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