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Space: A new era begins

Summary:
On 30th May the USA will launch its first manned spacecraft since 2011.  Provided all goes well the 30th of May 2020 will mark the real beginning of the Space Age.The key to this new age is that SpaceX has managed to build a launcher, the Falcon 9, that is both low cost and high capacity.  You can now send a Kg bag of sugar into orbit for under 00 which means you can have a cup of coffee in space for only 0. Just cheaper than fifty cups in Lille (France).SpaceX is a commercial success and says "We’ve had many years of profitability".  This is surprising because the early days of such an R&D heavy industry as space flight are extremely expensive.  The Banks and Markets know that hi-tech needs time, they financed Amazon for decades of losses and will keep faith with SpaceX.In the

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On 30th May the USA will launch its first manned spacecraft since 2011.  Provided all goes well the 30th of May 2020 will mark the real beginning of the Space Age.

The key to this new age is that SpaceX has managed to build a launcher, the Falcon 9, that is both low cost and high capacity.  You can now send a Kg bag of sugar into orbit for under $5000 which means you can have a cup of coffee in space for only $500. Just cheaper than fifty cups in Lille (France).

SpaceX is a commercial success and says "We’ve had many years of profitability".  This is surprising because the early days of such an R&D heavy industry as space flight are extremely expensive.  The Banks and Markets know that hi-tech needs time, they financed Amazon for decades of losses and will keep faith with SpaceX.

In the past few years SpaceX has been dominating the space launch market:

Space: A new era begins
Wikipedia: Space Launch Competition
The only mystery is why anyone is using Ariane at over $10,000 a kg.  Even the Soyuz comes in at over $7000.  The contenders for the heavy launch market are SpaceX, United Launch Alliance (also known as “ULA,” a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin), Northrop Grumman, Europe’s Arianespace, Russia’s Khrunichev, India’s ISRO and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. A company called "Blue Origin" will enter the market in 2021.

The Falcon 9 will fly for years to come but the big story is the BFS (The Big Fracking Starship), the crew stage of which is shown in the photo below:

Space: A new era begins
The SpaceX BFS
It is really big.  The Starship crew configuration can transport up to 100 people from Earth into low earth orbit (LEO) and on to the Moon and Mars. The  crew configuration of Starship includes private cabins, large common areas, centralized  storage, solar storm shelters and a viewing gallery.

The BFS is being tested in LEO this year and should be ready for a lunar fly-by in 2023.  SpaceX is looking at Mars as the real destination with a moon base as a step on the way.  Why Mars?

Mars is of immense interest to geologists and biologists but of greater interest to business. Less than a five hundredth part of the Martian atmosphere is oxygen but this can be extracted relativity easily.  Mars has exploitable water resources with ice sheets that are easily accessible.

Space: A new era begins
Korolev Crater Mars. The white stuff IS ice.
Water provides oxygen and rocket fuel using simple electrolysis. Mars gravity is 38% of that on Earth which is relatively healthy for explorers and even better for launching rockets.  Anyone hoping to exploit the asteroid belt needs a Mars base. Estimates of the mineral value of just the asteroid Anteros are in excess of $1 trillion.

Mars itself might rapidly develop a large economy if mining takes off.  Once the Martian economy grows to a few hundred thousand people it is likely to boom because everything that would be done would need advanced technology and consumption. The industry on Mars will use the latest 3D printing technology that is already printing spaceships on Earth.

Space: A new era begins
Provided there is a financial return from the asteroid mines I would predict that Mars will be the centre of human power in 2100.  As the site of fleets of spaceships the Martians will expand galactically.

This is the beginning.

Returning to Earth, the next step in Lunar exploration will begin shortly.  NASA has commissioned three companies to produce Lunar Landers: The space agency awarded a $135 m contract with SpaceX and also also a $579 million agreement with Blue Origin and a $253 million deal with Dynetics for work on their own human-rated lunar lander concepts.  Although SpaceX is likely to get the contracts for International Space Station human flight NASA states that the late delivery of this capability plus the complexity of BF Starship weighed against it when selecting Lunar Landers.  All three companies will proceed with their landers but Blue Origin will be given the first landing slot in 2024.

Space: A new era begins
Blue Origin Lander

One cannot help but sense bitterness from NASA whose own rocket programme is in jeopardy because of being undercut massively by SpaceX.  When the SpaceX lander is compared with the other contenders there is no doubt about which would create a real moonbase.

Space: A new era begins
SpaceX Lander. Spot the people.
The future for the UK lies in Low Earth Orbit launches.  With just a bit more of a push projects such as the Sabre Rocket could capture this market.

27/05/2020

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