SpaceX, NASA's Historic Launch Marks a New Age for Human Spaceflight and the ISS

The verge | June 03, 2020

  • This will be a new era of human spaceflight where private vehicles and state-operated vehicles fly along aside one another, getting humans into space, and to the ISS.

  • That’s been good for the relationship between NASA and Roscosmos. Mutual dependency actually makes for a pretty good working relationship.

  • The reality is NASA’s dependency on Russia’s Soyuz rocket gave Roscosmos an important reason to keep its rockets and capsules in production.

With the success of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon launch this weekend, NASA now has the capability to launch its own astronauts from the US once again — and that means changes are in store for the future of the International Space Station. Soon, a new suite of vehicles could be regularly flying people to the station from the Florida coast, along with the Russian Soyuz rocket that has been solely responsible for taking humans to the outpost since 2011.

This will be a new era of human spaceflight where private vehicles and state-operated vehicles fly along aside one another, getting humans into space, and to the ISS. Here’s how traffic to the space station will evolve as SpaceX and NASA’s other commercial partner, Boeing, start sending people to and from the ISS on a regular basis.



Since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, NASA and Russia’s space corporation, Roscosmos, have been locked in a symbiotic relationship. NASA needed Russia in order to get its own astronauts and international partners to the International Space Station. Russia benefitted from NASA’s money — one seat on Russia’s Soyuz capsule runs NASA upward of $80 million.

That’s been good for the relationship between NASA and Roscosmos.

Mutual dependency actually makes for a pretty good working relationship, By all accounts, everyone I’ve talked to at NASA has said that even as the geopolitical relationship between the United States and Russia has deteriorated, their relationship — when it comes to the ISS — has remained as strong as ever.

-Todd Harrison, the director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Now that NASA has a brand-new ride, that once codependent relationship between the space agencies is going to evolve. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that he has had discussions with Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, about trading seats on each nation’s vehicles moving forward, rather than purchasing them. “If we are going to maintain a complement of both Russian and American astronauts on board, then we need to be willing to launch Russian cosmonauts on Commercial Crew, and they need to be willing to launch American astronauts on the Soyuz,” Bridenstine said. “And my last conversations with Dmitry Rogozin, I think we were both in strong agreement that was necessary for both nations as we move forward.”


The reality is NASA’s dependency on Russia’s Soyuz rocket gave Roscosmos an important reason to keep its rockets and capsules in production. It brought in a lot of funding, too. “What’s going to change is that Russia is losing a major source of revenue for their space industry,” says Harrison. “As the US will no longer need to buy Soyuz flights.” This year, the budget for Roscosmos is about 176 billion rubles, according to a report in TASS, which equates to $2.77 billion. It’s a fraction of NASA’s budget, which is set at $22.6 billion for 2020. All told, NASA’s purchasing of Soyuz seats accounted for 17 percent of the annual Roscosmos budget in 2018, according to CSIS.

As a result of this new operational shift, it’s possible we could see fewer flights of the Soyuz in the future, Harrison says. “Economically, demographically, they are in a decline,” he says. “And there’s little chance they’re going to pull out anytime soon. So in terms of a space power, they’ve got the technology, but they are going to be able to do less and less with that technology as years go by.”

For now, NASA maintains that its relationship with Roscosmos is strong, and the space agency did purchase one additional seat on a Russian Soyuz rocket for this fall. But after that, the new trading will begin, and it’ll become more clear how that affects the bottom line for Roscosmos.



Though SpaceX was the first to fly astronauts, the company is not the only company working on a private spacecraft for NASA. Boeing is still developing its own crew capsule, the CST-100 Starliner, aimed at doing the same thing as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. But there’s still a way to go before people will be flying on the vehicle.

Boeing conducted an uncrewed test flight of the Starliner in December, which didn’t go to plan. A number of software glitches surfaced during the mission, ultimately preventing the capsule from reaching the space station as expected. The company had to bring the Starliner home early without ever demonstrating its docking capabilities. Boeing will have to redo that flight, without crew on board, sometime this fall.

That means for the year ahead, SpaceX will probably be the only private company sending astronauts to the ISS. But once Boeing demonstrates it can dock the Starliner safely with the space station and then bring the capsule home, the company will also send its own crew into orbit. When that happens, three vehicles capable of carrying NASA astronauts to the station will be in operation, when there was just one before.

With this change, eventually other people might join NASA astronauts on journeys to the space station. Bridenstine has made the main goal of the Commercial Crew Program very clear: return human spaceflight to American soil. But a second goal of the program has been to open up access to space, allowing both SpaceX and Boeing to sell seats on their vehicles to private customers. NASA is also making the space station available for commercial opportunities, something the agency has been strictly against in the past.

SpaceX has already announced plans to send tourists into space on the Crew Dragon. The company is sending four tourists on a trip to orbit. They also plan to send private citizens to the ISS next year for a private company called Axiom, which plans to build its own space station to launch in 2024. And there’s a big possibility that Tom Cruise will fly on the Crew Dragon to film some kind of movie on the ISS in the future.

Whether these kinds of private trips become routine depends on the price. One seat on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon runs NASA about $55 million, while one seat on Boeing’s Starliner runs $90 million. While SpaceX is less expensive, for the average customer, both costs are still well out of reach. “A lot of it depends on how much they can get the cost down for both SpaceX and Boeing,” Harrison says. “SpaceX clearly has its eye on space tourism, in offering flights to folks that can afford it, and that would generate more volume for sure.”

Harrison argues this could go a long way toward commercializing the ISS — using the station for private production, manufacturing, or space tourism. It’s something that NASA is very keen to make happen. Once SpaceX and Boeing start flying regularly, we’ll find out whether other non-space companies are even interested in sending people and property to the space station. It’s possible they may not be. “It’s not clear that the business case will close on these things,” says Harrison. “We’ve got to see experimentation, adaptation, before we really know what’s going to work in terms of commercialization, and what’s not going to work.”

Rogozin publicly congratulated NASA and SpaceX on the launch. That positive reaction stands in stark contrast to Rogozin’s comments from 2014, when he publicly decried US sanctions against the Russian space industry and made a dig at NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline,” Rogozin tweeted at the time. (SpaceX CEO Elon Musk joked about this comment after the launch this weekend, arguing that “the trampoline is working.”)



Designed to deliver high availability, high performance in your network core, these SBx8100 chassis guarantee a complete high performance solution for your network.

Other News

MediaTek Launches First mmWave Chipset for Seamless 5G Smartphone Connectivity

MediaTek | May 23, 2022

MediaTek today announced the Dimensity 1050 system-on-chip [SoC], its first mmWave 5G chipset that will power the next generation of 5G smartphones with seamless connectivity, displays, gaming and power efficiency. Through dual connectivity using mmWave and sub-6GHz, the Dimensity 1050 will deliver the speeds and capacity required to provide smartphone users with an incredible experience, even in some of the most densely populated areas. The Dimensity 1050 combines mmWave 5G and sub-6GHz to fluidly migrate between network bands, and is built on the ultra-efficient TSMC 6nm production process with an octa-core CPU. Supporting 3CC carrier aggregation on sub-6 (FR1) spectrum and 4CC carrier aggregation on mmWave (FR2) spectrum, the Dimensity 1050 will be capable of delivering up to 53 percent faster speeds and greater reach to smartphones compared to LTE + mmWave aggregation alone. The SoC integrates two premium Arm Cortex-A78 CPUs with speeds reaching 2.5GHz and the latest Arm Mali-G610 graphics engine. "The Dimensity 1050, and its combination of sub-6GHz and mmWave technologies, will deliver end-to-end 5G experiences, uninterrupted connectivity and superior power efficiency to meet everyday user demands," With faster, more reliable connections, and advanced camera technology this chip delivers powerful features to help device makes to differentiate their smartphone product lines." CH Chen, Deputy General Manager of Wireless Communications Business Unit at MediaTek. In addition to 5G optimizations, the Dimensity 1050 offers Wi-Fi optimizations alongside MediaTek's HyperEngine 5.0 gaming technology to ensure lower-latency connections with the new tri-band – 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz – that extends game time and performance. Additionally, high-end UFS 3.1 storage and LPDDR5 memory ensure ultra-fast data streams to accelerate apps, social feeds and faster FPS in games. About MediaTek Inc. MediaTek Incorporated (TWSE: 2454) is a global fabless semiconductor company that enables nearly 2 billion connected devices a year. We are a market leader in developing innovative systems-on-chip (SoC) for mobile device, home entertainment, connectivity and IoT products. Our dedication to innovation has positioned us as a driving market force in several key technology areas, including highly power-efficient mobile technologies, automotive solutions and a broad range of advanced multimedia products such as smartphones, tablets, digital televisions, 5G, Voice Assistant Devices (VAD) and wearables. MediaTek empowers and inspires people to expand their horizons and achieve their goals through smart technology, more easily and efficiently than ever before. We work with the brands you love to make great technology accessible to everyone, and it drives everything we do.

Read More


Huawei Retains Leadership in 5G RAN Portfolio

Huawei | January 31, 2022

Huawei's 5G RAN portfolio has been ranked a leader for the third year in a row in GlobalData's recent H2 2021 report 5G RAN: Competitive Landscape Assessment. This report is released every six months to evaluate the competitive advantages of 5G RAN products from major RAN vendors. In the H2 2021 report, Huawei's product portfolio outclassed its competitors in all four criteria: radio unit portfolio breadth, baseband unit (BBU) capacity, ease of installation, and technological evolution. In terms of radio unit portfolio breadth, Huawei's radio product range greatly facilitates ubiquitous 5G gigabit experiences. Through continuous innovation, Huawei has amassed various advantages that allow it to deploy across different scenarios and spur the industry forward. For example, MetaAAU improves both coverage and energy efficiency, BladeAAU Pro simplifies 5G deployment at sites with limited antenna space, 400MHz ultra-wideband AAU allows operators to utilize fragmented spectrum and construct shared multi-operator networks, and sub-3 GHz 4T-8T-Massive MIMO multi-antenna ultra-wideband products improve spectral and energy efficiency while reducing costs. These offerings can help operators upgrade their networks. According to the report, Huawei offers the largest variety of 5G radio products for deployment in different scenarios. The report also shows that the Huawei BBU5900 leads the pack in terms of BBU capacity, with the largest number of cells per unit volume, as well as industry-leading 400 MHz mmWave cell capability. The Huawei BBU5900 safeguards operators' return on investment and their ability to cope with future traffic growth. Ease of installation was another criteria, and Huawei's 5G RAN portfolio is already far ahead in terms of engineering and installation, including lightweight devices and compact form factors. Furthermore, Huawei provides a variety of innovative solutions to simplify 5G deployment. These include: a 19 kg 64T Massive MIMO AAU, which is light enough to be carried and installed by one person; a 10 kg 32T Massive MIMO AAU, which can be easily deployed in streets capacity scenario; and a Super BladeSite, which simplifies 5G deployment with its modular design, removing the need for equipment rooms and cabinets. Finally, with regards to technological evolution, Huawei's innovations can be seen in a variety of different areas. For example, its Adaptive High Resolution (AHR) algorithm improves network capacity and user experience, its SingleCell solution makes good use of mid- and low-band spectrum, the CloudAIR and SuperBAND solutions enable efficient coordination between 4G and 5G networks for operators, and PowerStar 2.0 improves energy efficiency. Software innovation is also an important area of interest for Huawei. Moreover, Huawei was the first to propose new directions for 5.5G, with the aim of promoting sustainable development for 5G into the future. Huawei will continue to place its utmost focus upon user experience and industry demand. Through innovation, and in conjunction with partners around the world, Huawei hopes to take consumer experience to new heights and bring digital to all industries.

Read More


Chroma Acquisition of ESS for Further Expansion into Semiconductor Testing Market

Chroma ATE Inc. | January 17, 2022

Chroma ATE Inc. acquired 100 percent of the shares of Environmental Stress Systems, Inc. (ESS). The main product of ESS consists of thermal forcing systems that can reach temperatures ranging from -104°C to +175°C. This technology enables Chroma to grow their expertise on temperature control in semiconductor test equipment and meet the testing requirements of the wafer market for extremely low and high temperatures. Driven by 5G, IoT (internet of things), IoV (internet of vehicles), and other emerging technologies, ESS has developed a cooling technology that reaches up to 1,500W and meet the high-power temperature control requirements for HPC (high-performance computing) and AI chips in advanced packaging processes. Research conducted by TrendForce indicates that the global satellite market could arrive at US$295 billion in 2022. Major countries around the world are deploying low Earth orbit satellites to propel the application of and integration between satellite and 5G communications. However, ensuring that the chips can still function normally in the extremely cold environment of space remains an important issue. ESS offers technology with high-power and extremely low-temperature cooling at the core, for simulating the harsh environment in space. In addition, biomedical test applications, such as RNA, DNA, vaccines, and drugs, require long-term storage of biological and pharmaceutical samples. ESS has rich experience in designing and manufacturing -86°C ultra-low temperature cold rooms for such environmentally controlled storage. This technology will also bring Chroma new business opportunities in the field of biomedical testing. The acquisition of ESS provides Chroma with the chance to further expand into the market of semiconductor test applications, such as in aerospace, electric/self-driving vehicles, 5G, AIoT, and biomedical test equipment. Chroma expects that the opportunities resulting from this synergy will create a strong platform for future growth. About Chroma ATE Inc. Founded in 1984, Chroma ATE Inc. is a world-leading supplier of precision test and measurement instrumentation, automated test systems, intelligent manufacturing systems, and test & automation turnkey solutions marketed globally under the brand name "Chroma". Chroma has branch offices in Europe, the United States, Japan, Korea, China, and Southeast Asia chartered to deliver innovative technologies with high value-added service to satisfy our global customers' demands. About Environmental Stress Systems, Inc. Founded in 1989, ESS is a supplier of thermal platforms, space simulation thermal chambers, cascade condensers, and liquid recirculating chillers, which adopt high-power cryogenic cooling to support emerging applications.

Read More


Fibocom Introduces Pioneering OpenCPU Solution for 5G FWA, Built with R16-Compliant Module

Fibocom | April 18, 2022

Fibocom (Stock Code: 300638), a global leading provider of IoT (Internet of Things) wireless solutions and wireless communication modules, introduces the pioneering OpenCPU solution. Built with Fibocom's R16-compliant 5G module FG160, the solution significantly improves price–performance ratio and competitive advantages, bringing seamless 5G experience to the global Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) market. Instead of using an external MCU, OpenCPU is an embedded solution that utilizes a module as the main processor, which greatly reduces power consumption of terminal devices with compact size. The solution supports secondary development based on comprehensive application requirements, remote firmware upgrade via OpenCPU FOTA, and secure data transmission. It simplifies circuit design by reducing peripheral devices, which makes hardware design easier for developers as well as improves cost-performance of end devices. Besides, product developers are able to utilize the software system integrated in the module and simplify the development of local communication protocol, facilitating product development process for manufacturers. The Fibocom OpenCPU solution is equipped with all the above advantages. Integrated with the Fibocom 5G module FG160, it is compliant with the advanced 3GPP Release 16 (R16) standards, supporting Wi-Fi 6E, up to 160 MHz of bandwidth as well as 4096 QAM. The solution also supports wired network deployment, allowing maximum 10Gb Ethernet, satisfying different application requirements. Instead of transferring data via UART, the FG160 OpenCPU solution pre-configures encryption algorithms, allowing higher security for critical data transmission. Specially, the solution integrates FIBO FWA, which is the Fibocom self-developed SDK, offering high flexibility for software developers when creating applications for different products. To date, Fibocom FG160 OpenCPU solution has been successfully verified by practical cases in the field, empowering FWA application scenarios includes MIFI, IDU, ODU, etc. To help customers develop devices quickly and effectively, Fibocom has achieved a major technology breakthrough on the OpenCPU solution, built with the R16 module FG160. We believe that the solution can meet customers' expectations with excellent performance, cost-effectiveness as well as optimized power consumption, providing OEMs and system integrators with robust 5G connectivity." Simon Tao, general manager of MBB Product Management Dept., Fibocom. About Fibocom Fibocom is a leading global provider of wireless communication modules and solutions in the sector of IoT (Internet of Things), as well as the first stock-listed (Stock Code:300638) wireless module provider in China. We provide end-to-end IoT wireless communication solutions for telecom operators, IoT equipment manufacturers, and IoT system integrators. With over two decades' engagement in M2M and IoT communication technology and extensive expertise, we are capable of independently developing high-performance wireless communication modules including 5G, LTE/LTE-A, NB-IoT/LTE-M, Android Smart, Automotive, WCDMA/HSPA(+), GSM/GPRS, Wi-Fi, GNSS, etc. Besides reliable, convenient, safe and intelligent IoT communication solutions for almost all vertical industries, we are also geared to customize the best and optimal IoT modules and solutions catering to your special requirements.

Read More


Designed to deliver high availability, high performance in your network core, these SBx8100 chassis guarantee a complete high performance solution for your network.