Is a guy building the demand for private human space? – Techdoxx

Deepak Gupta February 14, 2022
Updated 2022/02/14 at 11:38 PM

When SpaceX’s first paying space customer flew a Crew Dragon with a handpicked crew of three last year, it had all the hallmarks of a unique stunt type. Billionaire Jared Isaacman was the driving force behind the trip, which lasted a few days and saw them spend time in low Earth orbit. But Isaacman seems to be interested in more than just a few photos (oh, and there was a Netflix series too).

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Isaacman is now behind a new program called Polaris, which includes plans for up to three additional SpaceX manned missions — all with private astronauts. The first of these, which is scheduled to take place before the end of 2022, will include a spacewalk. The missions crew includes Isaacman himself, as well as the mission director from last year’s Inspiration4 flight mentioned above, and two SpaceX operations engineers.

It’s a large program that most closely resembles the types of missions that NASA carries out on a regular basis. The third launch of Polaris, should it occur, is currently set to be the first flight of SpaceX’s in-development Starship rocket to transport humans on board, which would be a milestone for the private space industry.

Isaacman is funding possibly the most ambitious human private space program in history, giving him bragging rights at the exclusive billionaire retreat that none of us are invited to and that they won’t even admit to exist.

Image credits: Polaris Program / John Kraus

The massive James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first pictures – but they aren’t all that impressive, as the thing isn’t fully calibrated yet. They’re actually part of its mirror initialization and alignment process, but they’re the first evidence we’ve seen so far that the telescope, which has passed all the checks, is also capable of capturing images.

For good measure, the telescope also took a “selfie” of its primary mirror, which is NASA being its old cheugy self.

Image credits: NASA

One of Elon’s favorite information delivery methods is to invite a bunch of people (mostly fans of his companies and industry media) for an “update,” during which he mostly does what it says on the tin: tell people things news about the project since the last time he did one of these things. These are much more engaging and detailed than your typical sporadic bursts of social media activity and can provide a material insight into what’s going on behind the scenes.

This early 2022 Starship update was set against the fully stacked Starship prototype and Super Heavy booster, a stunning visual (and rivaling the background of the first Starship update, a very shiny early Starship prototype, but a bit dilapidated without the booster). The update contained a lot of new information, including that SpaceX is setting up Cape Canaveral in Florida as a backup test and launch site for the Starship.

In the meantime, many questions remain around its progress, specifically in Boca Chica where the update took place. The Texas site is under scrutiny by the FAA for its standard environmental impact review for launch sites, and this appears to be one of the limiting factors (if not the main one) at the time of an orbital launch. Musk said March could see an attempt, but then news on Monday morning came from the FAA saying they had extended the deadline for the review from February 28 to March 28, making that less likely.

Image credits: SpaceX

Other news from TC and beyond

from Astra Florida’s first rocket launch did not end well.

SpaceX lost 40 Starlink satellites to a solar storm shortly after launch.

A new startup called Destiny is planning hypersonic cargo aircraft.

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