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This week was jam packed with rocket-related news and we've rounded up some of our faves below along with a blurb on a promising air-taxi (flying cars!) venture out of Germany. Schönes Wochenende!
Ridesharing is all the rage and Arianespace wants to be your Uber to the moon. The European launch provider revealed that its two-stage, medium-heavy lift launch system, Ariane 6, will aim to deliver the first rideshare mission to the moon by 2023. Ariane 6 will be able to transport up to 8.5 tons of cargo to direct lunar transfer orbit, setting the stage for crewed missions to follow. The company's first test flights are scheduled for next year and hopes to book paying customers for its 2023 lunar orbit mission.
Don't have time to wait until 2023 for a ride to the moon? Grab your coats, Rocket Lab is leaving in five minutes – well, next year. The smallsat launcher is targeting moon missions for 2020 using a new satellite launch platform it has developed called Photon. Photon will enable small spacecraft to reach lunar orbit or conduct lunar flybys. While the company hasn't publicized fares for a ride aboard its launch vehicle, it's already got paying customers lined up.
Wait you're going to the moon? Can NASA come with? The agency will likely invite commercial rocket companies to compete for the honor (and millions of dollars!) of giving the agency a lift. This according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who said the agency plans to send its VIPER rover to the moon's south pole by the end of 2022 to examine whether the water ice there can be harvested for fuel and to support human habitat.
If a $250K trip aboard Virgin Galactic's rocket is too rich for your blood, you can get your money up by investing in the company. Sir Richard Branson's spaceflight venture is going public and will list directly on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. The world's first space tourism stock will trade under the ticker symbol SPCE and will have a valuation of $1.5 billion.
Too broke for rockets and too bougie for cars? Then meet in the middle with an air-taxi or electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL). German startup Lilium Aviation just released footage of its eVTOL prototype which completed the first phase of flight testing, now flying at speeds exceeding 100 km/h. The 350-person company is flush with $90 million in investments, including cash from Daimler, which is being used to transform its Lilium aircraft into an electric air-taxi service.
No, don't leave us! Check out last week's Weekly Roundup instead.