Weekly Nerd News

After being alternately busy, sick, and/or otherwise occupied, it’s time to catch up with blogworthy stuff. And since NASA’s apparently spending our hard-earned money etching pictures of their junk into the Martian dirt, maybe it’s time we caught up with what’s happening in the serious space industry…

Click to enlarge. I dare you.

First up: Round Two of commercial space’s ascendancy. Orbital Science’s Antares launcher just put its first payload into orbit last week.

Next up: SpaceX keeps raising the bar with the latest Grasshopper hover test. This time it hovered over 800′. Word is their next ISS mission will demonstrate 1st-stage return – no plans to actually land the thing, but they’ll work out the guidance and powered descent techniques to at least plant the thing where they want in the Atlantic.

Next-next up: Virgin Galactic plans to make SpaceShipTwo’s first powered flight next Monday, and figures they might as well go supersonic while they’re at it. It might just be more trademark Branson Bluster, but if so that particular horse is already out of the barn. It’ll either happen or it won’t. I can’t recall if SpaceShipOne did that its first time under power, but once that motor’s lit it’s a mighty short trip to Mach 1.

Not to take their thunder away (okay, maybe I am), but Michael Belfiore visited XCOR Aerospace and posts this profile. I hope both they and Virgin are successful, but have to admit I prefer XCOR’s approach as a more useful long-term system.

Finally: any good movies coming out? Darned if I can think of any

Once you go green, you never…whatever rhymes with green.

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