Is the Ending of the Shuttle Program a Setback for Space Science, Or a New Opportunity?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 09:30 in Astronomy & Space

Blue Origin's Goddard The Goddard capsule, a test vehicle in Blue Origin's New Shepard program, heads back to the barn after its first test flight. Blue OriginAs spaceflight is privatized, scientists will pay for space trips alongside affluent adventurers Besides amateur camera-balloons, it's pretty difficult to get a viable science experiment into space. You need to buy a launch vehicle, license it, find a place to launch from, protect your payload, and get permission to actually launch, for starters. In the past, you might have partnered with NASA to do this, but it's never been easy to win federal support for a rocket or space station excursion, and it's about to get even harder after the space shuttles retire this summer. But the transition away from the shuttle is promising for experimenters, as a new generation of privately built and operated spacecraft is poised to take over. The commercial space tourism industry...

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