Archive for June 25, 2021

06/25/2021 – Ephemeris – The era of commercial human space flight has begun

June 25, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, June 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 10:58 this evening.

It looks like this year 2021 is the year that commercial crewed spaceflight is going to take off, literally. There’s Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic with their air dropped VSS Unity that will achieve a few minutes of weightlessness in suborbital space like the old X15 did. Competing in suborbital space is Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin with their New Shepard rocket and capsule. Bezos and his brother are expected to ride the first crewed capsule flight later this summer. Running rings around these guys, actually, is Elon Musk’s SpaceX with three orbital Commercial Crew missions for NASA already under his belt and a completely civilian orbital mission, Inspiration 4, slated for the end of summer. So the era of commercial human space flight is finally beginning.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4). They may be different for your location.


VSS Unity launch

Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship VSS Unity ignites its hybrid rocket engine after being dropped from its carrier aircraft WhiteKnight Two on a test flight to the edge of space. Credit Sky News.

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket and Crew Capsule

The Launch of the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and Crew Capsule. Credit: Blue Origin.

SpaceX launches first two astronauts to the ISS

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off from historic Launch Complex 39A and sends Crew Dragon to orbit on its first flight with NASA astronauts. Credit: SpaceX/Twitter.

Boeing also built a human rated spacecraft, the Starliner, which will be used to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. It will be launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. They are scheduled to repeat their uncrewed test flight this summer before they can send crews to the ISS.

Virgin has Virgin Orbital a company to air launch small payloads, Blue Origin is developing the New Glenn rocket a partially reusable rocket, which is expected to launch in 2022 or 2023. SpaceX is actively developing its StarShip completely reusable rocket and booster near Brownsville, Texas.