- William H. Stoddard
Transorbital Coloration, headquartered in La Jolla, California, announced a successful satellite launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 20, 2002, in cooperation with ICS [International Space Company] Kosmotras. Transorbital and Kosmotras plan to begin commercial Earth-Moon transportation in October 2003.
Transorbital is the first corporation licensed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct private sector flights to the Moon. Transorbital's president, Dennis Laurie, envisions the Moon as a point of departure for interplanetary missions and as a site for secure data storage. Future launches will also carry cargo for $2,500* per gram.
ISC Kosmotras is a private firm founded in l997 to convert one hundred fifty SS-18 missiles for use in space launches. Known as the Dnepr Program, this venture was instituted by the governments of Russia and Ukraine. By the end of 2002 it had placed 12 satellites in orbit in three successful launches. An SS-18 can deliver 3500-4000 kg (7700-8800 pounds) to orbit.
The first launched satellite, the Trailblazer Test Article, served as a demonstration of launch capability. It has been observed in low Earth orbit by members of the organization SeeSat. Astronomical information is available through the Web site of Heavens-above.com.
Plans for the first launch of a fully functional satellite include sending video footage of the lunar surface, Earthrise over the Moon, and the launch itself to Transorbital for resale to entertainment firms. Images are planned to cover the entire lunar surface at a resolution of 1 meter. Trailblazer will carry HP iPAC h5550 computers. Future planned launchers include Electra, a micro-lander capable of transporting 10 kg (22 pounds) of payload to the lunar surfaces and Electra II, which will transport several small robotic rovers.
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