2021 Promises Very Exciting Year In Space Exploration And Technology

Despite the mind-numbing stream of bad news surrounding the coronavirus, lockdowns, politics and much more, the year 2020 was full of progress in the space technology industry, and 2021 promises much more to come, and all at a rapid pace. Here’s a quick roundup of just a few of the major players in space, and some of their plans for the coming months. SpaceX is of course front and center with their reliable Falcon 9 launch system and it’s rapid turnaround ability and multiple reusability of it’s booster stages. Everyone said it couldn’t be done, but Elon Musk’s company has proven it certainly can be done, and is doing so with almost monotonous regularity. They are launching frequently and efficiently, putting into orbit satellite additions to their own Starlink internet satellite constellation and carrying payloads for other companies, as well as supplies and crew members for the International Space Station. Two more crewed flights are scheduled in 2021. The loudest buzz however, surrounds their full-scale Starship test flights, the first of which (SN8) launched December 08, 2020. The amazing launch and flight of SN8 was a spectacular success, and despite it’s hard (and fiery) landing, it was right on target , and provided SpaceX the engineering data needed to continue improving it’s design, systems and software. SpaceX has always pushed the envelope very hard, often forcing failures in testing, but actively uses those events to identify problem areas and produce success. Starship, the company’s program for eventually returning humans to the Moon and Mars , is still in the early stages of development, but progress at the company is always extraordinarily fast. Several other test versions of Starship have already been built or are being assembled, and necessary design changes will be made according to data gained in each test flight. According to several sources, the next iteration (SN9) is likely to launch within the first few weeks in January, 2021, and promises to be another spectacular event at their Boca Chica Beach launch facility near Padre Island, Texas. Another mover and shaker in space technology is Rocket Lab , a U.S. company which live-streams their launches from a gorgeous launch facility on the rocky coast of New Zealand. Rocket Lab is making excellent progress on reusability of their small, lightweight launch vehicles, Electron. Launched last July, NASA’s latest Mars rover Perseverance will also be making news with a landing on February 18th, 2021, and will demonstrate new technology in the form of a multi-rotor helicopter which will deploy then fly in the thin atmosphere of the “Red Planet”. Richard Branson’s space tourism venture Virgin Galactic is nearing the end of testing, and is rapidly moving closer to taking paying passengers into low altitude space, and Blue Origin’s first manned flight of it’s New Shepard vehicle, and Boeing’s Starliner project is making progress in it’s contract with NASA for manned spaceflight. These are just a few U.S. companies, all making fantastic achievements, and all, just a few years ago, were nearly unheard of. Two great sites I follow in my feeble attempts to stay current are: Behind The Black and Spaceflight Now . Another great up-to-the-minute source is an app called Space Launch Now, available at the Google Play and iTunes app stores. —————— Be sure to tune in to the Chad Hasty Show airing weekday mornings live, from 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM on News/Talk 95.1 FM and 790 AM KFYO. You may also listen to the show live online at KFYO.com , on the fantastic, free and easy to use KFYO App , all Alexa-enabled devices using the KFYO Skill , as well as on Google Home devices. You may follow Chad on Twitter: @ChadHastyRadio , Instagram: instagram.com/chadhastyradio , Snapchat: @ChadHastyRadio. Much more information about Hasty, as well as his extra-show content and commentary may be found at kfyo.com/author/chadhasty . Be sure to tune in daily to KFYO and check our website for the latest news and commentary, follow KFYO Radio on Twitter: @KFYO , and subscribe to KFYO’s You T ube channel .

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