SCEINCE

A new contender for Elon Musk? Another company plans to populate humans on Mars

A long time ago, the writer Edward Albee wrote: “Good, better, best, best.”

For a long enough timeline, this can reflect the experience of any large space company.

As the federal government rules in favor of NASA’s decision to choose SpaceX’s proposal to design and deploy a human landing system (HLS) on the moon, it looks like Elon Musk and his company will have the lion’s share of public-private cooperation. for lunar missions and more. But over the next decade, there are contenders for the role.

Beyond Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which lost a lawsuit against NASA over Musk’s contract with the agency, there are other aerospace companies looking at the award. And one of them, called Sierra Space, has just made a big leap to a rival position in Space Race 2.0, raising $ 1.4 billion, among other things, to modify its Dream Catcher spacecraft for human crews in order to to land on Mars and “allow humanity to build and sustain thriving civilizations beyond Earth,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Weiss in press release from his company.

Sierra Space is developing its Dream Chaser for human crew

Sierra Space’s new $ 1.4 billion has been raised in a series of A-series funding under Moore Strategic Ventures and Coatue, General Atlantic, and the aerospace firm will use its new funds to accelerate the development of its orbital spacecraft for reusable “Dream Chaser”. , according to the message. IN Dream Chaser is available in three modes: one for cargo space and crew space requirements and another for national security purposes. All three options have entered an advanced stage of development thanks to NASA’s contract to provide cargo travel to the International Space Station, starting in the second half of 2022. The investment will also allow the company to further accelerate the development of Large Integrated Flexible habitat environment (LIFE Habitat). Both this and Dream Chaser will be crucial parts of a new upcoming commercial space station called Orbital Reef.

The orbital reef is a joint project between Sierra Space and Blue Origin. “We are building the next generation of space transportation systems and space infrastructures and destinations that will allow humanity to build and sustain thriving civilizations beyond Earth,” Vice CEO said in a statement. “Space provides a unique environment that will allow for new breakthroughs in critical areas such as pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, fiber and energy that will directly improve our lives on Earth.”

SpaceX Starship will attempt orbital flight in January 2022

In partnership with Blue Origin, Orbital Reef can serve as a hub for Elon Musk’s SpaceX competition, attracting enough orbital traffic to become a major business hub in space. But while projects from Sierra Space, Blue Origin and many other private aerospace companies may one day become comparable to SpaceX at the fiscal level, it is doubtful Musk would worry much about that.

Following its victory in the Blue Origin lawsuit, NASA has resumed negotiations with SpaceX, and Musk’s company has already announced that its flagship launch vehicle, the Starship prototype, will resume testing in December. Even more exciting, SpaceX plans to test Starship’s first orbital flight in January, according to initial report from Business Insider. Starship consists of two stages; the booster (Super Heavy) and the ship itself, worthy of space (Starship). Both use Raptor engines, although the Super Heavy will have 33, while the spacecraft only six. The key breakthrough is, of course, the reuse of the two stages of Musk’s rocket. And the launch system is expected to raise people not only back to the moon (recently postponed until 2025), but to Mars and beyond. But before the end of the decade, Sierra Space, Blue Origin, and a handful of other private aerospace companies could say in Musk’s Starship rearview mirror, “We’re right behind you.”





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