Space Travel Progress

Space Travel

The is another step forward for the Virgin Galactic start up. It has now completed several trips into space including a recent flawless return cycle. And the mechanism used to launch the space vehicle is to get the craft to a high altitude using conventional lift then use a much smaller rocket to do the rest.

Here is the video which shows a vehicle much smaller than a Space Shuttle.

The full news story is at  Virgin Galactic wants to do moon cruises.

Space X has demonstrated rocket launch and is the first private space company to successfully dock with the International Space Station. I covered this in Space Goes Private. 

NASA Space Launcher

NASA has demonstrated assisted Space Launch using a glider.

 The key to the assisted launch is that it remove the need to keep enough fuel on the spacecraft to get the fuel into space. Up to 80% of the fuel on the space shuttle is to get the space craft and fuel into space. If you aren’t having to lift the fuel then you need a much smaller rocket.

And the use of aeronautical lift saves fuel for both the lift vehicle and the rocket. In the  case of NASA’s glider assisted lift, there is no fuel at all on the lift vehicle.

 The full IEEE article on NASA supported air and space technology programs is at Meet NASA’s Futuristic Drone Research Program.

Space Elevator

The ultimate lift vehicle is the Space Elevator.

It may be a while before we get to the Space Elevator but the gliders and use of aeronautical lift make a lot of sense as an next best step in getting into space.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2013 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

NASA: Congratulations on Curiosity Landing

Curiosity Landing

We were an excited bunch of Engineers as we watched the live feed from NASA of the landing of Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Given the telemetry delay of 15 minutes, the real landing had already happened. Here we were looking back in time as we were watching history being made. The tension and excitement were evident in the room and we felt it too.


Curiosity Landing

Curiosity Landing taken from the Mars Orbiter

As a team of Engineers who focus on the delivery of a brand new Electronics Design with the supporting Embedded Software, we know a little of what it is like to fire things up for the first time but celebrate that it didn’t go up in smoke. Not that this happens literally very often, but it is a good feeling to get confirmation that the careful design work has been successfully implemented. We develop up to 100 new Electronics Products each year so we have had some practice at this.


In space this is harder still for 3 reasons:


  • You can’t easily rework it if it goes wrong. It is too hard to get to it. It has to be right.
  • Radiation is much worse and the environment is more demanding. You can’t just use any technology for Aerospace Electronics Development.
  • A lot more investment is at stake.


The celebration when the first telemetry feeds came through as ‘Nominal’ was overwhelming. So this is what it looks like to deliver on $2B of R&D Investment!


Curiosity On Mars after successfully landing

Curiosity On Mars – front leg in view

And thoroughly deserved too. Though the use of ‘Nominal’ for such a great outcome is a little understated. But then this is Engineering and science. We know a little of what that is like though we don’t get to spend that level of investment in creating the future. Certainly the win last year for the Industrial Electronics Future Awards 2011 was a moment we savour.


You can watch the whole landing here:



And some links you will enjoy if you are an enthusiast as I am


Curiosity parachuting to Mars


Curiosities first images


Mars Mt Sharp images


NASA Multimedia gallery


And some other space related posts are at Space.


Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2012 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd