Main Engine Cut Off


Every week, I send out a long-form column with news, analysis, a preview of the weeks ahead, and an assortment of links to interesting articles, videos, projects, and more.

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Issue #15

Hey there! I hope you’re not too tired out from the launch mayhem that these last two weeks have been. They’ve sure been pretty, though.

There has been a lot going on the last few weeks, so let’s catch up.

Issue #14

We’re in a very interesting time in the history of spaceflight. I will venture to say that when we look back, the 2020s will be more interesting, exciting, and influential than the 1960s. The breadth of change we’re witnessing isn’t limited to just one aspect of spaceflight. Politics, technology, and economics are all being thrown into complete disarray by the trends taking place.

Issue #13

This week, NASA officially announced that NanoRacks will be adding an airlock onto the International Space Station to add capabilities and capacity to their already-up-and-running business. That announcement, along with some early insight into NASA policy in 2017, got me thinking about commercial opportunities within government programs.

Issue #12

Dream Chaser at Edwards

Image credit: NASA

There has been a flurry of activity of all sorts this past week, so I thought it might be time for a compilation of all that is interesting and worth reading. With updates from SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Aerojet Rocketdyne, some hints on 2017 NASA policy, and interesting developments in Russia, there’s a lot to keep up with.

Issue #11

In last week’s issue, and in the most recent episode of the podcast, I speculated how the slower fueling procedures SpaceX implemented for Falcon 9’s return to flight would affect overall performance, and specifically, first stage recoveries. Since then, we got some additional insight from Elon Musk, himself.

Issue #10

SpaceX Iridium-1 Launch

Image credit: SpaceX

SpaceX successfully returned to flight this weekend with the launch of Iridium-1. It was a beautiful launch out of a fog-free Vandenberg Air Force Base, which made for incredible views for the entire duration of the flight. The first stage landing on Just Read the Instructions couldn’t have been gentler or more dead center—they keep getting better with each recovery. The most interesting part of the launch, though, was the change in fueling procedures, and how those changes may affect future launches.

Issue #9

I’m back from my short hiatus with a few topics to kick off the year. On the public side, NASA selected two Discovery-class missions to study asteroids, and “awarded” four more flights for each Commercial Crew provider. On the private side, SpaceX is due to return to flight as soon as the once-a-decade weather clears out of California, and OneWeb recently received $1.2 billion in funding.

Issue #8

There are a ton of launches happening this month, but as we close out the year, there isn’t a lot to dissect at the strategic and political level like I like to do here. For that reason, I figured I’d do something different this week and give you a look at my own podcast feed and what space-related shows I listen to during the week.

Issue #7

After a quiet Thanksgiving week, things really picked up. United Launch Alliance unveiled a new website as part of their push into commercial launch services, and a Soyuz-U carrying a Progress cargo vehicle failed on its way to the ISS.

Issue #6

SpaceX Iridium NEXT First Stage

Image credit: Matt Desch

The next few weeks will be very telling for both SpaceX and ESA. Falcon 9 should be back flying by the end of the year, and ESA’s Ministerial Council is meeting next week.