A New Launch Complex Opens Up in the Ocean

The Spaceport Company's prototype mobile sea platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: The Spaceport Company

The commercial space sector (aka. NewSpace) is one of the fastest-growing industries of the 21st century. In the past twenty years, what was once considered an ambitious venture or far-off prospect has become a rapidly-accelerating reality. Today, companies are conducting launches using their own rockets and spacecraft, often from their own facilities, to send everything from satellites and cargo to astronauts (commercial and professional) into space. The growing number of launch providers has also led to a dramatic increase in demand for launch-related services.

This includes retrieval operations designed to provide launch flexibility and safe retrieval. This is the purpose behind The Spaceport Company, a Virginia-based aerospace company dedicated to creating a global network of mobile, sea-based launch and landing site systems. On Monday, May 22nd, the company successfully tested its prototype platform by conducting the first-ever commercial rocket launches from U.S. water. This test demonstrated the potential for mobile sea platforms to ease congestion at on-shore launch facilities and expedite the delivery of payloads to orbit.

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Gulf Oil Leak: Day 62 Update

Satellite image of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, as seen on June 19, 2010. Credit: MODIS Rapid Response Team.


Here’s the latest satellite image of the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil keeps spreading towards the northeast, and appears as a maze of silvery-gray ribbons in this image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The MODIS team said that the spot of black just north of the location of the oil well may be smoke; reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that oil and gas continue to be captured and burned as part of the emergency response efforts.

The MODIS team is putting out about two satellite images of the region a day, which can be seen at this link.

Below is a video from reporter David Hammer from the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, Louisiana, who is covering the BP oil spill, explaining the latest developments as of June 21,2010. Apologies for the 15 second ad at the beginning, but Hammer provides a good overview of what has been happening.

Oil spill video: Times-Picayune reporter update