A sampling of items related to traveling to and through space:

** Virgin Galactic pilots Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and CJ Sturckow received Commercial Astronaut Wings from the FAA for flying to space on SpaceShipTwo:

The SpaceShipTwo motor from the flight was also given some special recognition:

Richard Branson never ceases to be optimistic on flight schedules: Richard Branson says he’ll fly to space by July – AFP/phys.org.

** Orbex Space in the UK shows a

completed engineering prototype of the Stage 2 rocket (the stage that will transit into orbital flight after launch) [that] is made from a specially-formulated lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium composite and includes the world’s largest 3-D printed rocket engine.

Orbex upperstage engineering prototype “#Prime, the completed stage 2 rocket and the world’s most efficient #smallsat launcher. It includes the world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine and designed to run on bio-propane, a #clean, #renewable energy source”.

More about the roll out:

The first stage booster will be reusable. Orbex has not shown a prototype of the booster or given details about its design.

Orbex is aiming for the first orbital launch in 2021.

Orbex has also obtained launch contracts with two companies:

** PLD Space of Spain also makes progress in development of a smallsat launcher with a reusable first stage booster:

PLD Space reusable first stage prototype.

Plus:

** Intro to NASA’s Launch Services Program, which hires commercial rockets to launch the agency’s unmanned payloads:

** Space elevator proponents continue to pursue this replacement for rockets:

From the magazine article:

While most engineered structures operate at a fraction of their material’s tensile strength—how far they can be pulled without breaking—most biological structures, such as tendons, operate near their max.  That’s because biological structures are constantly breaking themselves down and rebuilding, which allows for continual repair.

Space elevators won’t require such a strong cable if the cable also continually renews itself, Sun and Popescu reason. This feat could be achieved, they suggest, by developing a cable that’s constantly serviced by autonomous robots. Rather than waiting for breaks in the cable, these robots can dynamically break down and rebuild the cable to make sure it’s always in good working order. This cable would be segmented so that if a break occurred, it wouldn’t extend beyond a small site, note the researchers, who recently reported their solution on the pre-print website arXiv.

** SpaceX:

*** Latest pictures of StarHopper work underway in Texas:

*** More about Raptor engine tests:

*** More on Crew Dragon demo mission scedule -test flight with no one onboard is now set for no earlier than March 2: First unpiloted test flight of SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule reset for March 2 – Spaceflight Now

*** Other SpaceX related items:

** Rocket news included in the latest TMRO.tv space news report: SpaceX Engine Tests, ISRO Spaceflight, Lunar Craters and SpaceIL

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