However, the costs are going up, and there is no substitute for real-time information. Echelon was created to provide this service, and it has been designed to be flight-ready in as little as two years. "The information that we are able to provide is a critical part of the preserve of our national security," said General Kelly. "We need to be able to communicate with our military partners and our allies in ways that are consistent with who we are and what we stand for."
"The technology has to be proven," he added. "It has to be proven before we can take it to war. That's why Echelon has been designed to be flight-ready in two years." The space satellite-based network would provide information to the military on the location and strength of enemy forces, the size and composition of their forces, and the availability of support to those forces, the general said. Related: Cruise ship's daring escape from Moon but it may not be easy Despite the limited number of companies that are offering space tourism, the numbers are growing. Space tourism company Skybox Imaging has announced a deal with the German Space Agency to launch a small spacecraft to the International Space Station. The company is currently planning to launch a rocket carrying a balloon to the International Space Station in December, then land the balloon on the ISS.
Skybox Imaging founder and CEO David Thompson told CNNMoney in June that he expects the company to launch a rocket in the second quarter of 2015, and will launch a small satellite as a test flight in 2016. The US already has a company, Blue Origin, that plans to launch a suborbital spaceflight test from New Shepard. The first commercial flight of a spacecraft to the International Space Station, Soyuz MS-06, was in 2013. SpaceX also has a private spaceflight program in development, called Dragon, which will propel cargo to the International Space Station. That program is scheduled to launch in 2018. The company plans to begin flying Dragon with astronauts by the end of 2018, SpaceX representatives said. The first Dragon spacecraft was launched to the ISS in May 2016. The company is still working on a crew capsule that will carry the crew to the station.
Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com. This launch will be the first to use a new vehicle, the RLV. First stage The first stage of the rocket will be powered by a Russian-built RD-180 engine, which is the same engine that powers the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets.
The RD-180 is a liquid-fueled engine that can perform a thrust vectoring maneuver, which allows the rocket to climb to higher orbits. Second stage The second stage of the rocket will be powered by a modified version of the RD-180 engine, which is used in the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets. The modified version of the RD-180 engine will be used in the next-generation Dragon spacecraft, which is being built by SpaceX. Third stage The third stage of the rocket will be powered by a modified version of the RD-180 engine, which is used in the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets.