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Main article: Boeing

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Reaction Engines’ Mach 5 engine is just the tip of the new aerospace boom

00:28 | 2 November

Imagine a hypersonic passenger aircraft that would cut the journey time between London and New York to around two hours. At Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, the aircraft would complete a trip across the Atlantic in around 120 minutes. Mach 5 is more than twice as fast as the cruising speed of Concorde and over 50% faster than the SR-71 Blackbird – the world’s fastest jet-engine powered aircraft. A flight across the Pacific would take roughly three hours. Flight times from London to Sydney could be 80% shorter. Who needs Elon Musk?

Reaching these speeds would require an aircraft engine that has never previously existed. But last week, the world got a glimpse of a new future via a project which has been germinating for 30 years.

Reaction Engines was founded in 1989 by three propulsion engineers from Rolls Royce: Alan Bond, Richard Varvill and John Scott Scott. Their idea was that in order for an engine to reach hypersonic speeds, the air going into it would have to be rapidly cooled, otherwise the engine would melt. Reaction’s breakthrough was inventing a “precooler” or heat exchanger which can take the air down to minus 150 degrees centigrade in less than a 20th of a second.

These ultra-lightweight “heat exchangers” would enable aircraft to fly over five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere. Thus the SABRE – Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine – was born. The Sabre engine “breathes” air to make 20 per cent of the journey to orbit, before switching to rocket mode to complete the trip.

Last week, Reaction Engines passed a significant milestone. It successfully tested its innovative precooler at airflow temperature conditions representing Mach 5.

The ground-based test at the Colorado Air and Space Port in the US, saw the precooler successfully operate at temperatures of 420ᵒC (~788ᵒF) – matching the thermal conditions corresponding to Mach 3.3 flight.

Reaction Engines

But this technology wouldn’t just be applicable to hypersonic flight. The precooler technology, developed by Reaction Engines, would significantly enhance the performance of existing jet engine technology, along with applications in automotive, aerospace, energy and industrial processes. Reaction Engines has attracted development funding from the British government, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the European Space Agency. It’s also raised over £100m from public and private sources and has secured investment from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing’s venture capital arm HorizonX. Reaction is expected to start building and testing a demonstrator engine next year.

The success of Reaction Engines to date is a sign that the ‘AerospaceTech’ sector is now booming. It is most certainly not alone.

Last month, Boeing and the UK government launched a £2m accelerator program to look for new innovations in this area. Boeing’s HorizonX is backing the initiative.



U.S. Air Force experimental test spaceship lands after a record 780 days in orbit

15:40 | 28 October

The X-37B, a test vehicle operated by the U.S. Air Force, has returned from orbit and landed successfully at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, over two years after it originally launched on its latest mission aboard a SpaceX rocket.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, as its formally known, was on its fifth mission, which involved – well, we don’t really know. The whole point of X-37B is that its mission is mostly clandestine, so we likely won’t ever know the full particulars of what its been up to in its orbital jaunts. But we do know that it’s demonstrating technologies for USAF use, and specifically to help them develop a “reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform.”

We know from the Air Fore that that means running a battery of test across systems including avionics, guidance, thermal shielding, propulsion, spacecraft re-entry systems and more. We also know that it’s around 30-feet long, like a kind of shrunk-down Space Shuttle, and we know that it’s built by Air Force contractor Boeing. And since this is the Air Force we’re talking about, we also know that the goals of any experiments run in the spaceplane are likely going to ramp up to defence and military use, which is a logical thing for the U.S. to pursue, given how quickly space is becoming a relative boom town, and how much money other states are spending on in-space defence and militarization.

The X-37B will spend some time on the ground after its record-breaking 780-day flight, and then will launch again sometime in 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.



Airstream’s new Astrovan II is ready to move the first Boeing commercial crew astronauts

15:30 | 25 October

NASA and its commercial astronaut program partners are laser-focused on getting crew into space, but to get to space you first have to get to the rocket, and that’s where the Airstream Astrovan II comes in. This vehicle, which is the sequel to the original Astrovan that brought America’s astronauts to the launch pad in the days of the Shuttle Program, features modern updates, and is heading straight from being on display at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington to Cape Canaveral to ready for Boeing’s first CST-100 Starliner crew launch next year.

I got a chance to take a look at the Astrovan II in person, but the Airstream staff on site had cordoned off the door to the van and when I asked if I could go in, they explained it was off limits to attendees – for good reason, since this is literally the van that will be used by NASA’s commercial crew astronauts during the first launches next year.

The original Astrovan had that signature Airstream ‘silver bullet’ look, as you can see in the photo below. The updated version looks more like your standard commercial shutter van, but what it lacks in exterior styling it makes up for in interior creature comforts.

Astronauts and Astrovan NASA Photo

The outside of the Astrovan II has a full-wrap which shows off Boeing’s CST-100 Starline capsule, which is the spacecraft that Boeing is developing for NASA as part of its commercial crew program, along with second supplier SpaceX, which is simultaneously readying its Crew Dragon capsule for service.

[gallery ids="1903180,1903175,1903174,1903176,1903177,1903178,1903179"]

The Astrovan II status up to eight passengers (compete with flight suits) and is a custom version of the Airstream Atlas Touring Coach that was handbill in Jackson Center, Ohio. As you can see, they opted for a minimalist, sci-fi stainless steel look on the inside, with large, comfy looking chairs that should provide a smooth ride before the considerably rockier one commercial crew will experience strapped to a massive, powerful rocket en route to the International Space Station.



Porsche and Boeing are partnering to develop “premium” electric flying cars

17:44 | 10 October

The electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) industry is heating up, with a lot of companies finding dancing partners for what looks like it could be a boom industry – provided the significant technical and regulatory hurdles still standing in the way of viable commercial consumer air travel are overcome. Now, automaker Porsche is throwing its hat in the ring through a new partnership with Boeing, with the two singing a new memorandum of understanding to work together on developing a concept for a “premium” eVTOL.

This new partnership will explore what a “premium” offering might look like in the era of urban air mobility, including working together on the aircraft design (all the way up to developing and testing an actual prototype), as well as figuring out what the potential market for a premium air service would look like.

The irony is that likely for the foreseeable future, any air mobility service will be “premium” in terms of the cost of access and use. Already, Uber and others have launched short distance commuter helicopter service for routes connecting busy airport hubs, but the cost of these trips means they’re not alternatives to mass transit arteries connecting cities and airports, for instance.

Still, it sounds like this Porsche and Boeing tie-up anticipates a future where air mobility ranges in terms of price, level of service and access. The automaker cites a study by its own consulting group that found urban air transportation could increase significantly starting at around 2025, which is one reason it’s entering into this deal now.



Sources: Lilium is looking to raise up to $500M for its electric flying taxis

14:18 | 10 October

“Flying cars” — airborne vehicles designed for urban and other short-distance commutes to replace conventional private automobiles — are (at best) still years away from being a reality, with significant safety, technology and business model hurdles to clear before they ever hit the sky. Now, sources tell us that one of more promising startups in the field, the German startup Lilium, wants to put itself into pole position, by ramping up its financial position.

Lilium has been talking to investors to raise a big round of funding, between $400 million and $500 million, according to those familiar with its plans. “It’s a very large round at a very large valuation,” one VC told TechCrunch.

It’s not clear yet who is investing in this latest round, or what that valuation might be.

Lilium already has some deep-pocketed investors behind it. In addition to WeChat owner and Chinese internet giant Tencent; it counts Atomico, founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, as a repeat investor. Obvious Ventures, the early-stage VC fund co-founded by Twitter’s Ev Williams; LGT, the international private banking and asset management group; and e24, a fund from Christian Reber (co-founder of Wunderlist and now Pitch), have also backed it, among others.

In all, Lilium has raised over $100 million in financing to date in previous rounds. But given that its plans involve not only building ground-breaking aircraft but then operating them in fleets, that’s not nearly enough to establish its service and have the impact that founder and chief executive, Daniel Wiegand, hopes he can have.

“It’s not only a benefit in terms of relieving society from transit traffic, but the much, much bigger benefit would be that everyone can use it and that people can get to their destination five times quicker, basically a five times increase of their daily radius of life,” Wiegand said in 2017. “This connectivity is going to be a huge benefit to society but also economic growth.”

Tencent, Atomico and Obvious were among the investors backing Lilium in its most recent $90 million raise. Sources tell us that Tencent is again in this latest round, and the startup has been pitching potential new investors since at least this spring, visiting with firms in Silicon Valley.

It seems this latest, bigger round has yet to close. The target size implies the involvement of big names, with big funds behind them.

“I sincerely hope they get the funds to transform transportation,” one source said.

When (if) the round closes, that would make it the biggest fundraising to date for flying taxis, an area that has lots of potential, but is still far from tested — a fact that one source suggested could contribute to the longer period needed to close the outsized round.

“It’s a known secret how hard it is to raise growth rounds in this space because it’s such a new and untested market,” an executive from another air-taxi startup noted. “Early investments were betting on the market vision and the concept of radically new mobility, but now it’s dawning on investors and others that it’s also a regulation play, and more.” That translates potentially to sustained costs, “and that may be one reason why it’s taking some time.”

Add to that the ambition at hand — designing completely new transportation hardware, then manufacturing the aircraft at scale, and then finally building a transportation, taxi-style service around them — and you can start to see why the round might be very large.

Lilium, Atomico, Tencent and Obvious all declined to comment for this story. We’ll update the post if that changes.

Up, up and away

It’s been a little over two years since Lilium and others in the same space such as Volocopter began publicly discussing their visions for the future of mobility alongside incredibly well-funded industry giants like Uber and established aerospace companies like Airbus, Boeing, and others.

Lilium raised its first round of funding in December 2016 and only a few months later, Uber convened its first Elevate conference, which included discussions on the transportation industry’s flying future.

Since those initial discussions, the companies developing technologies and services to bring those plans to fruition have made significant strides.

Earlier this year Lilium announced the first successful flight for a new five-seat electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle. Others are readying pilot projects in their first launch cities, with the timeline for first full-launch services currently hovering around the three-year mark from now (note: dates do get pushed back).

For Lilium and its competitors, the development of completely new, air-borne vehicles are a means to solving a specific problem: roads in and between cities are too congested with traffic; and electric, air-based options can be a way to offset that situation in an environmentally-friendly way.

Many companies building these new craft are considering taxi-style services as the first or primary point of market entry because — similar to fully-autonomous cars — the cost per vehicle will likely be too high for most individuals to consider buying for private/sole use, notwithstanding the safety features of being able to manage a full fleet autonomously that would be harder to execute with single users (who would have to be pilots, in the case of flying cars).

Lilium’s new vehicle claims to have a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour and a 300 kilometer range, which would make it capable of covering longer distances than its competitors. Lilium says this is partly because it’s designed it in the form of a small jet aircraft instead of mimicking the mechanics and form factor of drones or helicopters (the latter is the approach that Volocopter, another startup out of Germany backed by the likes of Intel and Daimler, is taking). The fixed-wing design of the plane means that it can rely on lift to stay aloft, cutting down on the power demands on the electric 2,000 horsepower engines when it’s aloft.

“This efficiency, which is comparable to the energy usage of an electric car over the same distance, means the aircraft would not just be capable of connecting suburbs to city centres and airports to main train stations, but would also deliver affordable high-speed connections across entire regions,” Lilium said in a statement at the time.

But physics is just one part of the complex system of moving pieces that would need to come together to get Lilium (or any of its rivals) off the ground.

For one, any system will need to integrate with existing air traffic control infrastructure as well — as local and national regulators grapple with increasingly crowded skies.

Another involves the logistical components to operate a service. The company also established a software engineering base in London to help build out the fleet management software and mobile phone application that will connect customers to the jets for transit, and it has been hiring.

Although we have yet to see any commercial services emerge built on the concept of fleets of providing short/medium-distance, air-based taxi-style transportation, there are a number of hopefuls that have identified the opportunity of both designing aircraft and building services around them.

Companies like Kitty HawkeHang, Joby and Uber all hope to play a role in offering short-range flights as an affordable alternative to road-based transportation. (Blade and SkyRyse, two other air taxi services of sorts, are offering more conventional helicopters and other vessels in limited launches for well-heeled travelers willing to spend the money.)

Last week at San Francisco Disrupt 2019, Kitty Hawk announced its latest vehicle, Heaviside. It’s an electric aircraft designed to be a personalised vehicle, less obtrusive than a helicopter, ableto go anywhere and land anywhere fast and quietly, and as easy to operate as “pushing a button,” according to CEO Sebastian Thrun.



Blue Origin’s passengers will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a ticket on New Shepard

21:29 | 2 October

After committing to having a first crewed launch of its rocket ship in 2019, Blue Origin, the rocket manufacturer and launch services company backed by Jeff Bezos, is likely going to have to push that timeline back to 2020.

Speaking onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, Blue Origin chief executive Bob Smith said that the window for getting the crewed flight done within the 2019 timeframe was narrowing. “We’re not going to be date driven,” Smith said.

But as commercial launches come to market, customers can expect to pay “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for a ticket on the New Shepard suborbital flight.

Blue Origin isn’t the only commercial space company looking to conduct a crewed launch before the end of the year. In June, NASA set a timeline to get crewed launches from Boeing and SpaceX in September and November, respectively.

In an August statement, SpaceX said it was still planning on getting astronauts to the International Space Station later this year.

Blue Origin is still moving ahead with its planned launches and the near-term setback is something that likely won’t make much of a dent in a company backed by the world’s richest man — and one who’s strategy and vision extends on a global timeframe.

For Blue Origin’s chief executive (and its financial backer) the company’s ultimate goal is to ensure that humanity is an extra-planetary species — something that will take decades to achieve.

What Smith and others are sure of is the commercial viability of the space industry.

“Launch volume is going up and has been going up for quite a while,” says Smith.  According to the Blue Origin founder, launch volumes in the space industry have been increasing at 3% per-year and some market analysts have predicted that number could rise to 50% to 80% per-year. 

And those numbers don’t include the mega-constellations that companies like Facebook, Alphabet, and Amazon are all hoping to bring to orbit.

“The launch volume is really looking very attractive over the next ten years,” Smith says. And that’s transforming the space industry, which for decades had been dominated by government customers. “It is fundamentally shifting to a more commercial model,” says Smith. 



SpaceX’s CRS-18 mission delivers a new automated docking adapter to the ISS – here’s why that matters

17:22 | 24 July

SpaceX is set to fly its CRS-18 resupply mission for the International Space Station later today (or tomorrow depending on weather). One big, important part of its cargo is the new International Docking Adapter built by Boeing, otherwise known as IDA-3. This new docking station will offer new types of standard ports that are designed to work with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon, and any other ISS-destined spacecraft to follow.

Thanks to these new standard ports and sensor arrays found on the IDA-3, the new docking station will be able to dock with these new spacecraft autonomously, without any assistance required by astronauts on board the ISS. That’s a big upgrade from today, when the final docking procedure for spacecraft like the Dragon cargo capsule making the trip today typically involve astronauts making use of the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the capsule and bring it in for the final connection.

This is actually the second brand new docking adapter with this automated docking capability to be delivered to the International Space Station – the first, IDA-2, was installed in 2016 and was actually already used by SpaceX during its list uncrewed Dragon crew capsule test flight. That mission, Crew Dragon Demo-1, flew in March, with a successful docking procedure taking place with IDA-2 on March 3.

Canadarm2 actually gets a chance to shine with this delivery, however, since it’ll be used to unload IDA-3 and set it in place on the ISS’s Harmony module in preparation for its permanent installation, to be performed by astronauts via spacewalk later this year.

Once installed, IDA-3 will provide twice the automated docking capability for the ISS for future crewed mission, allowing for a lot more opportunities for future ISS missions  of all stripes.

In case you’re curious about the numbering, there was indeed an IDA-1 – this was the supposed to be the first docking port of its kind attached to the ISS, but it was destroyed when the Falcon 9 rocket for SpaceX’s CRS-7 resupply mission exploded due to a second-stage failure post-launch in 2015.



SpaceX shares video of multiple Crew Dragon parachute recovery system tests

00:51 | 19 July

SpaceX is providing a closer look at some of its Crew Dragon parachute recovery system testing, with a new video compiling footage of a number of tests including those flown from a cargo plane and a high-altitude balloon. The video shows a test version of their Crew Dragon capsule falling through the sky over desert testing ground, and deploying the multi-parachute array it’ll employ to coast gently back to Earth after its planned missions ferrying astronauts to space.

Elon Musk’s private space company has been testing the Crew Dragon parachute system for a while now, and we don’t know too much about its progress yet, beyond that it performed an ‘advanced development test’ in April using a metal sled in place of an actual demonstration Crew Capsule that did not meet NASA’s expectations. Regardless, the test was seen as a ‘good one’ by both parties because of the data it provided in terms of working towards an ultimately successful system.

SpaceX shows footage from seven different tests in the highlight video it shared today, which include both reliability and qualification tests. It still has yet to announce that its parachute system is approve for flight, however, and that’s a milestone that Boeing achieved for its rival Starliner crew craft in June.

Beyond the parachute system, SpaceX is undertaking a wide range of tests in order to quality its craft for crewed flight with NASA personnel on board. The company also recently detailed progress it made into an investigation of the cause behind its failed Dragon abort engine test in April, and the steps it’s taking to remedy the issue so that it can move forward with a crewed test launch.

SpaceX had been targeting a 2019 date for its first crewed test mission for Crew Dragon, and had previously been aiming to run that mission at the end of July. At this stage, it seems increasingly unlikely that we’ll see astronauts on board a SpaceX spacecraft before the end of the year.



Boeing pledges $100M to families of 737 Max crash victims

20:26 | 3 July

Boeing has said it will offer $100 million to the families and communities of those who died aboard the two 737 Max passenger jets that crashed earlier this year. This “initial outreach” will likely only be a small part of the company’s penance for the mistakes that led to the deaths of 346 people.

In a statement, the company said it expected the money to “address family and community needs,” and “support education, hardship and living expenses.”

“These lives lost will continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and on our minds for years to come. The families and loved ones of those on board have our deepest sympathies, and we hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort,” said CEO and president Dennis Muilenburg in the statement.

Although the full reports on these crashes are still pending, Muilenburg earlier this year accepted the blame, acknowledging that “it is apparent that in both flights, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.”

Compounding this was a lack of training for pilots on how to handle this sudden takeover of the plane’s controls, though the pilots reportedly did all they could to counteract the effects of the faulty MCAS system. Since the accidents, Boeing has been dogged by allegations that it cut corners on safety, training, and regulations. It has been suggested that shoddy code may have been largely responsible for the crashes.

This initial payout is voluntary; it is highly unusual for an airplane maker to pay such a sum to the victims of a crash ahead of any lawsuits. Boeing, Airbus, and other companies involved in passenger flight have certainly in the past paid damages, directly or via insurance or some other means, but that was generally after a lawsuit forced them to. Sometimes a company will approach families with ready money to prevent them from filing a lawsuit, but that’s not often publicized.

And lawsuits are certainly underway already, with dozens of families bringing suits for each crash. The amounts these could bring are very difficult to predict, but given the loss of life and that the flaws that led to it can be traced directly to mistakes by Boeing, the company could be on the hook for hundreds of millions more.

The lawsuits and other court cases around these crashes will be closely watched, as it is not often that a tragedy of this scale is caused — even in part — by software.



Jeff Bezos aims Blue Origin at the Moon

23:45 | 9 May

Today at a packed event blocks from the White House, Jeff Bezos took the stage in front of select members of the media, executives, government officials and a gaggle of middle schoolers to reveal new details of his plan to get to the Moon by 2024

Blue Origin is going to send humans to space on New Shepard later this year and has unveiled a lunar lander, called “Blue Moon”, to access the resource-rich lunar surface, Bezos said.

Setting the stage with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as the first man to walk on the moon, Bezos took to the stage to explain his vision of answering a very simple question. Given the finite resources available to humanity, “where would a trillion humans live?”

It’s a vision that Bezos has articulated before.

For Bezos, the only impediment to this space utopia comes down to a mundane roadblock that the founder of Amazon knows all-too-well — the lack of logistics and infrastructure to drive down costs.

“My generation’s job is to build the infrastructure,” said Bezos. “We’re going to build the road to space.”

According to NASA and the U.S. government, that road is going to go through the moon, which is one reason why Bezos unveiled the lunar lander today.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in March called on NASA to use “any means necessary” to put American astronauts on a Moon-orbiting space station and eventually on the Moon’s South Pole by 2024.

But why the South Pole? Because of the ice.

Speaking at a National Space Council meeting, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine stated that NASA scientists estimate there are upwards of 1 trillion pounds of ice at the lunar poles. This estimate comes from data collected by the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter, which detected the ice hiding craters tilted away from the sun.

The ice is locked in these craters, unable to evaporate, as temperatures reportedly never rise above -250 degrees Fahrenheit in these spots. NASA hopes to use this ice to make rocket fuel.

“In this century, we’re going back to the moon with new ambitions,” Pence said in March. “Not just to travel there, but also to mine oxygen from lunar rocks that will refuel our ships, to use nuclear power to extract water from the permanently shadowed craters of the south pole, and to fly on a new generation of spacecraft that will enable us to reach Mars in months, not years.”

Startups like Momentus are already building spacecraft which use alternative fuel sources (like oxygen) to propel their vessels.

Pence’s proclamation came after delays forced NASA to push back the first crewed mission to the Moon until 2028. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) has been in development for years amid delays and budget cuts.

Returning to the moon is set to be a pricey venture and even more so given the updated target. NASA and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget calculated the cost but have yet to reveal the price tag to the American public.

“Right now, [the cost estimate is] under review, and we can’t come up with a number,” Mark Sirangelo, special assistant to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, said today during a hearing of the space and aeronautics subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science, Space, and Technology committee. “We’ve provided the information, and the discussions have been very positive and open, and as soon as those discussions are complete and OMB has approved the numbers, they’ll provide them to you.”

As reminds, returning to the moon has been part of official U.S. policy since December 2017 after President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1.

Though NASA has yet to reveal the detailed plan, the general timeline calls for crewed moon landings in late the 2020s paving the space road to Mars landings in the 2030s.

That’s where Blue Origin comes in.

In addition to the lunar lander, Blue Origin has two space vehicles in development. The New Shepard is a suborbital rocket designed for short-duration flight and not launching large satellites into orbit. That will be handled by the New Glenn, which is slated for a 2021 launch and will be able to ferry 45,000 kg of goods to low Earth orbit. Both rocket platforms are designed for reusability.

Last week the Blue Origin New Shepard completed its 11th mission after launching and landing while carrying 38 experiments into low Earth orbit. The New Shepard rockets to 100 kilometers at which point, the capsule detaches and continues upwards on its momentum. The tests (or eventually humans) onboard are exposed to several minutes of microgravity before the capsule descends back to Earth on three parachutes. The New Shepard rocket itself lands independently on its deplorable struts.

It’s this launch platform Bezos intends to use in part for space tourism. Tickets could cost $200,000-$300,000 according to a Reuters report last year.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has taken a different path, designing and producing larger and larger rockets. The Falcon Heavy is the company’s current largest rocket and is capable of carrying 63,800 kg to low Earth orbit. SpaceX is also working on its next-generation launch platform Starship that is said to be able to lift over 100,000 kg of goods to low Earth orbit. The first orbital fight for Starship is planned for 2020.

There is plenty of space for both companies and others. Startups like Rocket Lab, Virgin Galactic, and Vector are also developing launch platforms intended to be used by commercial operations and government bodies. These startups have to compete with incumbents such as the Russian government and the United Launch Alliance, which is co-owned by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. And that’s just the rockets. Other startups are springing up to build different components, satellites, landers and telematic solutions needed for space travel.



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