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Friday, September 26, 2014

Space Race 2020, Introduction

This is the first new post of a new series I'm calling "Space Race 2020," although I will very likely go back and reflag some earlier posts with it. This is what really inspired me to start blogging regularly again, after a bit of a hiatus. We are entering a very exciting time in space exploration, and I really enjoy geeking about it online. Why 2020? Partly because it is the nominal end-of-mission date for the International Space Station (although I won't be terribly surprised if it continues flying crewed missions for another decade beyond that), partly because it is a target launch date for a number of upcoming programs, but mostly because it sounded better than "The New Space Race," and I'm lazy and won't have to change it for another six years or so.

In the series I intend to talk about both the challenges ahead and the hardware being developed to meet those challenges, and focus on both big players like NASA and much smaller independent players as well. I'm specifically going to look at the immediate future of this decade and the next, meaning realistically probably no further afield than Mars. Well, maybe Ceres or Europa, if someone gets really ambitious.

So, quick disclaimers. I do not presently work in any part of the aerospace industry, and I do not own shares in any part of the aerospace industry, nor am I in any way affiliated with any particular part of the aerospace industry. I do live in Seattle, which is the home of Boeing, and also Blue Origin. I previously served aboard submarines which carried and launched both Poseidon C3 and Trident C4 missiles, and spent a fair amount of time at Port Canaveral for ballistic missile testing and telemetry (and incidentally got to see a number of space shuttle and satellite launches in the process), but my specialty was navigation, not weapons. The last time I was directly or even indirectly involved with the design, development or deployment of any rocket that did not have the word "Estes" on it somewhere, Ronald Reagan was president. I am a US citizen and a veteran of the US Navy, so naturally I have some bias toward American space programs, but my main thrust is to see successful human spaceflight under all and any flag. Russia, China, Japan, India, the European Union and other governmental agencies, and also the various commercial and otherwise independent space ventures, all are contributing to our exploration and eventual colonization of the solar system, and will be covered here in various detail. Also, my age informs my biases. I was barely old enough to watch (and be enthralled by) the Apollo moon landings, and it is my great hope to be able to watch the first humans land on Mars as well. Also, selfishly, I would very much like for the cost of commercial spaceflight to become affordable to the point of experiencing it personally, while I am still young enough to do so. Nothing too extravagant; if I can get over the Kármán line before I'm 75 or so, I'll call that a win.

The race is on.

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