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Space Tech News Round-Up | Volume 2

Updated: Feb 6

We’re kicking 2024 off with the second volume of our space-tech news round-up, where we break down the latest happenings in this fascinating sector.

Take a look!

Space-Tech Trends to Look Out For in 2024

With 2024 underway, it’s key to understand how the industry might evolve through the next year. 

Following a year of historical accomplishments, like India’s Chandrayaan-3 moon landing, it’s likely that rivalries between nations will bolster, fostering empowered domestic launches and opportunities.

And as tech continues to develop, more opportunities will emerge - like revolutionary return-to-Earth capabilities. Similarly to how low-cost launches revolutionised the sector, making this tech affordable and accessible could mean unlocking potential in delivery possibilities and space-based manufacturing. VC investments are expected to follow this growth, increasing throughout the sector and paving the way for further global expansion.

Space Commercialisation is Closer Than You Think

In early 2024, NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) will launch two private spacecraft to the Moon. The initiative aims to establish a commercial transportation service for delivering NASA experiments to the lunar surface. If successful, these missions would mark the first private company-designed and flown landings on the Moon, potentially ushering in a new era of commercial lunar exploration and science.

The American X-37B’s Seventh Mission - And How it Compares to China’s Divine Dragon

On December 28th, the U.S. military’s X-37B spaceplane launched into orbit on its seventh unmanned mission, two weeks later than planned. However, two weeks prior, the Chinese Shenlong (or “Divine Dragon”) spaceplane, launched a near-identical mission. Had the American launch happened on-schedule, the two crafts would have entered space at the same time - so how big is this competition?

The U.S. Space Force operates the X-37B, a Boeing-built reusable robotic spaceplane resembling a glider. Measuring 29 feet in length, 9.5 feet in height, and with a wingspan of 14 feet 11 inches, it has a clamshell-covered payload bay during launch. The crewless design allows for extended orbital durations, with the ongoing OTV-7 mission expected to exceed the previous record of 908 days. In contrast, China's Divine Dragon, developed by CASC, remains shrouded in secrecy, with no released images. 

Speculations suggest similarities to the X-37B, including small satellite deployment and diverse experiments, such as ion thruster viability.

Shetland Breakthrough: UK’s First Licensed Site for Vertical Rocket Launches is Here

SaxaVord Spaceport, located on Shetland's northernmost island, has secured a license from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for vertical rocket launches, allowing up to 30 launches annually. The privately-owned facility, a former Royal Air Force base, has gained approval for operations from German firms HyImpulse and Rocket Factory Ausburg in the coming year. 

SaxaVord Spaceport anticipates a pivotal role in the UK's emerging rocket industry. This development precedes a promising year for the industry, as the UK aims for its inaugural rocket launch from domestic soil.

Looking to get ahead on the latest in space-tech and launch your next big step in this fascinating and vital sector?

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