What if Your Delivery of Pizza in Space Doesn’t Come?

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station never admit to isolation and resupply anxiety, but launches of cargo ships to the multinational platform in the last year have not gone well and may have the crew wondering just how secure they are, especially since the difference between resupply missions with cargo aboard are not all that different from missions with humans aboard.

The latest mishap involved the launch of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft on March 24. The Cygnus was flying atop an Atlas V rocket, one of the most reliable launchers in the world. It was not flying atop Orbital’s Antares rocket specifically designed for this mission because the Antares launched in October 2014 to resupply the space station blew up on the launch pad at Wallops Island, Va. Orbital still is recovering from the launch anomaly. This month, it will retry to launch an Antares rocket for its next scheduled space station resupply mission for NASA.

There is a tremendous opportunity for private sector companies to step into the vacuum created by these failures. NASA increasingly is looking to non-governmental solutions to its space supply challenges. This is where the long-term investment opportunities will be for us.

The first stage of the Atlas V carrying the Cygnus on March 24 was powered by a Russian RD-180 engine, which shut off too soon, forcing controllers to use all the reserve fuel in the second stage, powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine. Cygnus got to the space station, but it was a tricky flight at best.

Russian Spacecraft

A Russian Progress spacecraft approaches the International Space Station. This spacecraft was launched in 2014 and is nearly identical to the one that failed last year. Source: NASA

Last June, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a cargo payload aboard its Dragon spacecraft exploded a few seconds after launch — SpaceX’s first failure with the Falcon 9.

Two months earlier, a Russian Progress M-27M spacecraft achieved Earth orbit but began spinning uncontrollably after separation from the upper stage of its Soyuz launch vehicle. The craft burned up on re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The Russian Soyuz is also used to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

The most recent completely successful resupply mission to the space station was Space-X’s Falcon 9/Dragon launch on April 8. Even with the past year’s failures, there is no turning back for NASA. The private sector continues to play a pivotal role in our national space policy. And we’ll be there to profit from it.

To your health and wealth,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. To read more in-depth articles on the prospects for success for the private sector in space as well as other cutting-edge technology updates and how you can benefit from owning the hidden companies driving the biggest advances in high-tech right now, click here to subscribe to Breakthrough Technology Alert written by Stephen Petranek.

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Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek’s career of over 40 years in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for excellent writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics and more. He has been editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald’s prestigious Sunday magazine, Tropic, and has covered a wide range of topics for Time Inc.’s Life magazine. His...

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