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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -     June 17, 2002     -         Vol. 2 No.12

Near Space

Near Space
Developing the Shore to Our New Ocean

Copyright - JPAerospace
JP Aerospace's Stratostation concept for a "manned sub-orbital space station.
Floating at 140,000 feet this structure will serve as a launch platform, research facility
and tourism destination. At over a mile across, it will be supported by multiple Helium lift cells."

For those who want to go to space to explore the Moon and Mars and to develop human settlements, the transition region between earth and space may seem a dull byway off the road to orbit.

But perhaps it is time to see our high altitude realm in a new way. Rather than as an area merely to pass through, we should view Near Space as the shore line where we develop and perfect our ships and techniques for the deep sea voyages.

Like a sea shore, Near Space offers numerous features that allow for recreational and practical activities.

The new Near Space section discusses the activities that are going on in the region of 25km to 200km. Balloons can reach about half-way into this region and sub-orbital rockets can traverse the entire domain and beyond. Such vehicles are referred to as nearcraft.

Near Space offers cheap and quick access to spacelike conditions as compared to getting a launch to orbit. For a few hundred dollars a high altitude balloon can take a payload to 30km or so.

Because of the low cost, amateur groups are participating in more and more activities in Near Space. Ham radio enthusiasts, students, and amateur scientists carry out high altitude experiments in astronomy and atmospheric studies, take high altitude pictures, and test equipment that will be used on satellites.

As discussed in the article Sub-orbital Rockets to Space: The Next Logical Step?, developing sub-orbital RLVs by small private companies will be much quicker and cheaper than developing orbital vehicles. The technology and operations techniques developed from experience with sub-orbital systems will then be applicable to second generation vehicles intended for orbit.

The payoff for these vehicles will come not just from taking over the current sounding rocket market, but also from creating new markets as well. For example, a high altitude camera on an RLV can see for several hundred miles farther than with aerial photography and access to a given area is more flexible than via the infrequent flyovers of remote sensing satellites. (Balloons can also be used but they are limited by winds and other weather conditions.)

The most exciting new market is sub-orbital space tourism. Though such trips may last only half an hour or so, at the top of 100km trajectory you will see the curvature of the earth below and a dark starry sky above. And you will experience the accelerating thrill of riding a rocket and a few minutes of microgravity.

Although expensive (at least $100k), many people may actually prefer this kind of brief initial space experience over a full blown stay in orbit for several days. See the Sub-orbital Space Tourism section.

There are also advanced concepts such as manned platforms at high altitudes and parachuting from high altitudes as the ultimate extreme sport.

The Near Space section will monitor developments in this exciting realm. Visit often!

The Spacefaring Web
John Carter McKnight is taking a break from his column

Investing - Sponsorships
Logo Driven Rockets

Can private rocket and space companies use advertising sponsors to help fund their projects? Race cars are covered with logos and ads that pay for most of their costs.

It has been suggested that commercial space projects, especially private launch vehicle developers, might find support via similar sponsorships (see the Space Access'02 meeting review). While logos and ads probably would not cover the total project costs, they could nevertheless provide a significant revenue stream.

When XCOR, for example, flew its EZ-Rocket in 2001, there were reports about it in numerous major newspapers, magazines, and TV news programs. The possibility of such media attention should attract considerable interest from potential sponsors.

In July of 200, a Russian Proton rocket carried a Pizza Hut logo on its side and was seen in numerous articles about the stunt.

However, as seen by the challenges of arranging sponsors for space tourism related games and contests, (see the Lance Bass article on this page and the Contests entry in the Space Tourism section), it can be difficult to convince companies to enter into sponsorships in such a new and unknown field.

Before spending large amounts of money, potential sponsors want to know with high reliability what audiences, and of what size, will be see their ads. With so little data available on space events, it's difficult for promoters to promise specific numbers.

Nevertheless, we can expect to see many such efforts. In the Space Investing section we will keep a list of X Prize and other private space projects that take advantage of sponsorships:

Other Highlights in HobbySpace

Space Property Ownership & Development - shall the Moon, Mars and the asteroids be owned and developed by the first people to settle them? Or should international law on earth protect them from bad ol'commercialism and exploitation?

A recent proposal to limit development on the Moon got more than one space activist in a tizzy.

For more about these and other legal issues, see

Space History Books Online - The NASA Space History Office has been posting entire books online. A list of books in the History section shows interesting titles such as:

Space Enthusiast Picks Up Spy-cam: A space radio and TV hobbyist made news recently when he announced that he was easily able to pick up video from NATO spy planes over Bosnia.

The planes send their transmissions via commercial satellites because the military satellites are over-subscribed for Afghanistan and other priorities.

Strangely, the NATO countries could not even afford to encrypt the images, even though they clearly give away information on the quality and resolution of the cameras.

Also, the war criminals that are being searched for can now simply avoid the regions currently under scan.

The Space Show Now On Line is now available on line. Previously known as Business Without Boundaries, Dr. David Livingston interviews leading figures in the development of outer-space commerce and space tourism. Archives from weekly show since June 2001.

Amateur Rocket Record Attempt - Ky Michaelson 's Rocketman's Civilian Space Exploration Team will attempt this month to launch a rocket across the threshold of space and reach 60miles (~100km) in altitude, breaking the current record of 53miles for an amateur rocket.Amateurs to Make a Stab at Space With Rocket - Space.com - June.18.02
[Added June.18.02]

Find previous space news in
Articles Index 1999-2002


See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links

Space Tourism

Will Lance Sing in Orbit?

Lance Bass of the group 'Nsync will probably find out this week whether he will be going to space in October.

According to an article at Entertainment Weekly (re-typed at a fan site), he and producer David Krieff are attempting to arrange a group of seven sponsors to pay the $20 million needed for a flight to the ISS.

Another $10 million or so would also be required for the promotion costs and for the TV shows that will follow his training and experiences during the flight (there's a lot of speculation as to whether he will sing on the station!)

However, time is running out to fit in the 5-6 months of training normally required for Soyuz passengers.

Since Soyuz supply trips occur twice a year, it's possible that if he cannot fly this October, he could go on the next flight in April 2003.

Space activists are hoping the trip will bring greater public interest and excitement towards space, especially among young people.

The activist organization Space Future is hosting the site Basstronautical that provides the latest news about the project.

The official site LanceInSpace - is not yet active.

Natural Radio, Natural Radio Music


Lightning storms, auroral effects, and even the planet Jupiter emit radio signals that can be picked up by fairly cheap ground stations.

The emissions can be converted to audio and often have characteristic sound qualities that identify them.

Picking up Whistlers, Tweaks, Sferics, and the Auroral Chorus has developed from a science to a hobby.

The Natural Radio section of the Space Radio section includes several sites that provide lots of information and audio files for this interesting activity.

A recent addition is the SFERICS site of Dick Fergus (W9DTW). He offers an on line set of instructions for how to build a PC based station to pick up SFERICS - electromagnetic pulses generated during severe electrical storms.

He provides a list and description of the hardware required and also he has software to download.

This would be a great project for either a hobbyist or for a high school science class.

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