Zond, on NASASpaceflight.com, just posted a link to a new European commercial space venture, Orbspace. Like Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace, Orbspace is pursuing a suborbital VTVL vehicle, which they intend to use for both manned and unmanned applications. As I said over there on NASASpaceflight, I think this a really positive development. While there have been several international companies that have announced ambitions to field suborbital vehicles, only some of them have been taking an approach that I thought gave them a good chance to realistically go anywhere. One of the others that I think is taking a decent approach is Project Enterprise (some of the people involved in that project are friends of mine), which is partnered with the Swiss Propulsion Lab. If Orbspace is trying to be a European equivalent of MSS or Armadillo, Project Enterprise is more like an attempt at a European XCOR.
There are some bloggers who seem to be perpetually stuck in a Cold War mentality, always looking for the next USSR, and a return of the glory days of the Space Race. The fact that this would be totally counterproductive is apparently lost on these people (as is the weirdness of people who claim to be free-market capitalists rooting for socialist design bureaus that would’ve been right at home in the former Soviet Union). I really think that it is entrepreneurial space ventures like Orbspace and Project Enterprise that really represent the future of international space competition. I’m not afraid at all of the Chinese national space program beating us back to the Moon–they’re following a dying and deprecated model of space development that hopefully won’t last too much longer into this century. What does cost me a little sleep every now and then is wondering what’s going to happen when Chinese entrepreneurs start seeing the success of US and European commercial space groups, and decide that they could make a buck at that too…
Welcome to the club guys!
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