space rides... Sending coins, medallions, stamps and
other items into space and bringing them back as souveniers has
been going on since the earliest days of manned spaceflight. Flown
artifacts are a popular segment of the space
Now some are
trying to make flying items in space as a business all on its own.
Space and sci-fi related items will get an added cachet if they
are certified to have been in space.
in sending packages of items into high altitude suborbital and also
orbital space. They already have a number of customers. TOSPACE
chief Laurie Wiggins gave a presentation
at last week's Space
Access'03 conference and said that the company would
pay up to $2000 per kilogram to launch providers who could send
payloads to 100km and bring them back safely.
space agency is also trying to make some money in a similar way
to offer space mail - BBC - Apr.25.03
Solar sail support... Team
Encounter will use a solar sail to take personal mementos into
deep space. The company is also offering the sail for scientific
applications and NOAA
has given them funding to examine the feasibility of using sails
to provide a so-called polesitter
orbit” in which a spacecraft hovers over one of the Earth’s
placed in a geostationary orbit over the equator revolve around
the earth at the same speed as the earth turns so they appear to
remain stationary over a particular point on earth. Such a technique
obviously won't work over the poles. However, by using the continuous
propulsive force provided by solar light, a sail could be put into
a high stable orbit above the poles. From such a position the weather,
magnetospheric conditions, and other uniquely polar phenomena could
be continuously monitored.
Encounter and NASA Langley to Develop and Design a New Form of Propulsion
for Space Travel - Team Encounter/SpaceRef - Apr.25.03
fun... Peter Diamandis gave an interesting
update on the ZERO-G Corporation at the Space
Access'03 conference last week. The company will begin
offering rides this summer on planes flying parabolic trajectories
that provide 25-30 seconds of micro-gravity at the top of each parabola.
At $4000 per flight this could become a popular adventure tourist
See also the
section in Space Tourism and this interesting article
about some students riding on NASA's parabolic flyer : Gravity,
zero; thrills, countless: Weightlessness: Students experience zero
gravity and are exhilarated despite also experiencing motion sickness.
- Baltimore Sun - Apr.29.03
Internet at the top of the world via satellite : Satellite
Cafe Reaches New Heights - SkyREPORT - Apr.29.03
Students compete to design the best space settlement : NASA
Contest Explores Designs for Future Colonies in Space - SpaceRef
to Space Access ...
No updates till next the 29th. Going to the Space
Access Society'03 Conference in Arizona. Hope to see you there.
to contact Congress to save rocketry ... The threat to
amateur rocketry from misclassification of the most commonly used
fuels as explosives has been discussed here several times - see
in Rocketry. The bill
S724 sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R - Wyoming) to protect
rocketry from the Homeland Security restrictions has now been introduced
and has a good chance of passing. However, it needs a big push from
constituents who should contact their senators and representatives
and ask them to support the bill.
For more details
Writing Campaign To Senate Judiciary Committee : Send Your Letter
Now! - ARSA - Apr.21.03 and the section Letter
Discussion Points for recommendations on how to write your letter.
make a difference ... The Columbia investigation has
obtained tremendously important information from the photos and
videos taken by amateur observers - 3,000
Amateurs Offer NASA Photos of Columbia's Demise - NY Times - Apr.22.03
space getting off the ground... The realization of the
profound implications of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne
project will take time to sink in. The project still
must take several steps before reaching its goal of routine launches
to 100km but clearly it has proven a lot already.
hardware components have been built and the White Knight carrier
stage is building up flight time. Most of the SpaceShipOne rocket
stage is ready and test flights probably will begin in a few months.
Two companies are competing to provide the flight version of the
fuel core and some other propulsion components but the essential
design of the hybrid motor is finalized and has been ground tested.
simulations have been carried out and the funding is in place to
support the project through till completion.
All of this
has been done for something in the range of $20 million - far less
than it would take NASA to develop even a new sounding rocket.
of this project :
- We will see
a deep crack in the firm belief throughout the society that even
suborbital space cannot be reached by anyone but NASA and huge
- The public
will start to think about trips to space as a genuine reality
rather than a distant futuristic fantasy.
- Even if Rutan
grabs the X PRIZE purse, his success will inspire similar projects.
Competitors in the America's Cup sailing competition each spend
up to $100 million on their quest for the trophy (there is no
monetary prize). When it is proven that one can build a system
capable of reaching space for tens of millions of dollars, many
others will be inspired to develop their own spaceship.
Within a year
we should see the startup company SpaceX
delivering 300kg to low earth orbit for a $5-6 million, about a
quarter of the current cost. With a suborbital manned system flying
and an orbital unmanned system in operation both built by small
companies, it will clearly imply that we are just a few years away
from a privately developed system capable of sending passengers
to orbit. See the Commercial
Stairway to Space Timeline for a discussion of possible
scenarios for such a possibility.
on the Moon... Check out the cool photo of the ISS passing
in front of the Moon :ISS
Lunar Transit - Tom Laskowski.
daily space views... I recently mentioned the debut of
the Space Station
Science Picture of the Day, which has been great and I hope
continues when Don Petit leaves the station.
Now the Mars
explorers want to show off their latest snapshots as well: NASA
Orbiter Camera Team Begins Daily Mars Picture Postings - JPL - Apr.15.03
. See the
Mars Picture of the
Day at the Malin
Space Science Systems (MSSS) home page.
sites and don't forget the original Astronomy
Picture of the Day.
get noticed... Satellites provided key services in the
Iraqi campaign. Their central role has open the eyes of many who
had come to ignore or take for granted space technology. For example,
the Ground in Iraq, the Best Compass Is in the Sky - NY Times -
Apr.17.03 reports on the importance of GPS location finding
to everyone from generals to infantrymen.
War, Satellite Industry Is Born Again - Washington Post - Apr.17.03
discusses the extensive use of satellite telephones and other telecommunication
services in Iraq. This demonstration of the capability of satellite
phones to work regardless of the state of local infrastructure is
finally getting noticed by those in charge of responding to disaster
situations when cell phone systems may not work.
Memories ... The late Robert Forward was a respected
scientist, engineer, and renowned visionary who developed numerous
leading edge concepts ranging from space tethers to starships. He
had been working on his autobiography but did not finish it before
he passed away. So unfortunately there will not be a book but his
family has now posted the partially finished materials at www.robertforward.com.
Space League is "a new organization which arranges for
student science experiments to be taken to remote places normally
accessible only to professional scientists: up into the atmosphere
twenty miles high, out to the bottom of the sea off the coast of
California, flying on innovative aircraft when they attempt to break
records, and so on."
The League has
announce that schools in Oklahoma and in Santa Clara, California
have signed up to participate in the organizations programs. One
such exploration program involves paper airplanes made by the students
and then taken and released from a high altitude balloon or sounding
event planned for July 4 of this year, students from Global Space
League member schools will be given an opportunity to make a paper
airplane that is decorated to best express why they want to become
a scientific explorer, in honor of the memory of the scientist-explorers
onboard the last flight of the Shuttle Columbia. Planes will be
judged based on originality, clarity of message, overall design,
and conformance to other requirements we will make available to
we plan, subject to regulatory approval, to place these planes
in special carrier boxes, each of which will be carried by a lighter
than air vehicle from a release site near Frederick, OK up to
approximately 100,000 feet. At peak altitude, the paper airplanes
would be released. Each plane will have a registration sticker
on it that will state that it is an Oklahoma spaceplane and that
the finder should register it on a website. Makers of planes can
then see how far their particular message went."
Director Joan Horvath said, "There are quite a few Global Space
League events in the planning and fundraising stages. In particular,
we are looking at summer oceangoing explorations onboard a miniature
submersible off the California coast; ride-along experiments onboard
various professional research vessels; and meteorology experiments
over Frederick [Oklahoma] in the fall." She further noted that
sponsors are currently being sought for these and other events.
for more about these programs and how to get your school involved.
The May issue of Wired magazine has a nice review of several commercial
and scientific projects planning to go to the Moon - The
Race Back to the Moon - Wired - May.03 issue.
will have to wait... director James Cameron (Titanic)
has a couple of major space projects he would love to do : go to
the ISS to film a documentary and an epic Mars mini-series. However,
the ISS trip is indefinitely postponed due to the suspension by
Russia of space tourist trips after the Columbia disaster. And he
has to finish some other projects before he can work on the the
Mars project. A
moviemaker's space mission - Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log - Apr.11.03
- James Cameron
briefs ... Rocketry fuel woes gets some more publicity
rock model rocketry - OrlandoSentinel - Apr.13.03 ...
Satellite radio increasingly looks like a winner - XM
Tops One-half Million Subscriber Mark - XM Radio - Apr.14.03
Don't forget to boogie for space this Saturday at a Yuri's
Night Party. Check the map for a party
camps comeback... The Space
Camp organization has suffered through some tough
times. A failed promotional campaign a few years ago
at the main Huntsville site left the organization with serious debt
problems and near bankruptcy. A camp in California closed and the
post-9/11 drop in attendence led to the closure of a camp near the
Kennedy Space Center.
looks like the Huntsville program has survived the financial storm
and new programs are in the works - Space
Camp aims for the stars - Huntsville Times - Dec.1.02.
A new camp may
open this summer in California - New
California Space Camp may open in summer: Center set to take off
in former home of 'Spruce Goose' - Huntsville Times - Apr.10.03
- and a camp is in the works for Maryland - Maryland
group wants to open Space Camp: Facility would be near NASA's Goddard
site - Huntsville Times - Oct.24.02.
programs now include camps opened or soon to open in Turkey,
and South Korea.
For more about
the official Space Camp programs and other similar space simulation
experiences, see the Space
needs students... Despite the seeming dominance of aerospace
by the US, at least in the military area, the American aerospace
industry is having tremendous problems in attracting students: Help
Wanted: Troubled Space Industry Seeks Best and Brightest - Space.com
- Apr.10.03. Heavy layoffs in the past decade and a lack of
exciting projects has driven away all but the most dedicated young
aviation and space enthusiasts from entering the field.
As we start
to see significant steps in the X
PRIZE and other programs that bring space closer to the public,
I hope we will see a resurgence in interest in space and aviation.
views from space...
Check out the latest
images from the ISS including this one illustrating how to drink
tea with chopsticks - High
Tea - Space Station Science Picture of the Day - Apr.7.03 and
one showing mysterious
space briefs... Nice article on space memoribilia collecting
from the Space Age: Auction: Scores of artifacts from the golden
age of manned space flight will go on sale tomorrow, with some expected
to fetch prices that are out of this world. - Baltimore Sun - Apr.11.03.
hotels are on the DaVinci
of great things left to do : Immortalizer
songs CD status...
The status of the long promised CD of space inspired songs sponsored
by the National Space Society
should be appearing by the summer according to Eli Goldberg of Prometheus
Music. The latest issue of the Newsletter of Prometheus Music
(Vol. 6, Issue 2, Apr.03) included this update (reprinted with permission)
SOCIETY CD - PROJECT UPDATE!
The National Space Society/Mars Society projects is still in production.
I do hope it'll ship before my...err... 30th birthday this summer,
as we begun it at age 23. ;-]
The "Long Pole in the Tent" remains the task of remixing the CD,
Kristoph is doing with meticulous attention to detail --- and
it's going slowly. Five songs are mixed, with twelve more to go.
Stuff that's been happening on the CD includes:
* NSS Executive Director contributes afterword to liner notes
The National Space Society's energetic new Executive Director,
Brian Chase, completed his afterword to the CD booklet, explaining,
"I am confident that music and songs -- perhaps from this very
album -- will make
an impact on a future explorer and inspire him or her to reach
to the stars,
and evoke, in society at large, a desire to explore the wonders
Julia Ecklar is currently editing the entire 30 page stack'o'liner
* Gunnar Madsen records new lead vocals to "Dance on the Ceiling"
Renowned vocalist Gunnar Madsen returned to record new lead vocals
"Dance on the Ceiling". (He had previously contributed new lead
As a special treat for Eagle Bytes subscribers, you may hear Gunnar's
kick-*** rendition of Leslie Fish's "Surprise" at:
* Michael Moricz produces a space CD track!
Michael Moricz (producer, _Divine Intervention_) surprised us
by producing a track for the space CD project at the last minute.
The new "Dog on the Moon" track features New York City folksinger
Novikoff, alongside a Pittsburgh-based cellist and guitarist.
Spacesuit, Will Travel to Movie...The
movie rights to Robert Heinlein's novel for young people has been
sold to the producer of the Harry Potter movies - Heinlein's
'Spacesuit' Optioned - Sci Fi Wire - Apr.9.03
Space board game ... ESA offers a board game that you
can download and printout - A
fun way to learn about space - ESA - Apr.3.03.
Space & Tech News
in a pinch... Researchers at Sandia
National Lab in New Mexico are using a pulsed
power facility to send huge currents through a mesh of tungston
wires to produce intense magnetic fields that compress the mesh.
This in turn puts tremendous pressure on a foam cylinder inside
the mesh. This fast compression leads to the production of X-rays
that blasts a pellet of deuterium. The resulting shockwave in the
pellet compresses the inner material to the point that the deuterium
atoms come close enough to fuse and release energy:
See the Z
-Pinch links for more information on this project.
in a pinch for a spaceship... Andrews
Space & Tech is using the same machine at Zandia to look
at the feasibility of producing mini-nuclear explosions to propel
a space ship. The Mini-Mag
project is funded by NASA. The project attempts to do at a smaller
scale what the famous Project
Orion back in the 1950's and early 60's sought to do
with nuclear bombs: use the detonation waves of the explosions to
push a ship to very high speeds at a much higher efficiency than
chemical propulsion can provide. Access to Mars, for example, could
be reduced to weeks rather than several months.
project proposes a system that
small pellets containing a few grams of simulated fissile material
to beyond their supercritical point using a magnetic field. The
explosion, equivalent to five tons of TNT (several orders of magnitude
smaller than a traditional nuclear bomb), creates plasma that
is directed by a magnetic nozzle to generate vehicle thrust. This
highly efficient form of nuclear propulsion can produce enough
thrust at high efficiency (specific impulse) to dramatically reduce
the time required to travel between planets."
Space & Technology Successfully Completes Compression Experiments
in World's Largest Pulse Power Machine - AS&T PR/SpaceRef -
Apr.7.03 - reports that recent tests with the Sandia machine
"successfully verified the process of compressing solid matter
to high densities in an electromagnetic field. A space propulsion
system using the same processes would have the same thrust as the
Space Shuttle Main Engine, but be fifty (50) times more efficient."
More about the
Mini-Mag Project at
a lift... The complete space
elevator study for NASA done by HighLift
Systems is now online at LiftPort,
a spinoff from HighLift.
more Mars photos ... The NASA
Mars Global Surveyor posts many more amazing images : Prolific
NASA Orbiter Adds Thousands of Photos to Mars Album - JPL - Apr.4.03
positives ... Author Matt Ridley looks at how tech fears
are often based on false impressions - We've
never had it so good - and it's all thanks to science : Acclaimed
author Matt Ridley on why it's high time we cheered up about the
new technologies - Guardian Unlimited - Apr.3.03
Advanced Rocketry News
The new section
Rocketry News - will report on the latest developments
in the world of advanced amateur and student rocketry, experimental
rocketry, and small entrepreneurial rocket companies. I often come
across or receive information sent to me about advancements in these
areas but they don't quite fit into this section or the RLV
I decided to open a section dedicated the latest developments.
Note that news
in these areas seem to fall in between the interests of the general
rocketry news sites and the major space news sites that focus on
NASA and large commercial companies.
not an expert in advanced rocketry but I only intend to post items
in this area and not provide commentary or original work. (I'm not
an expert on RLV's either and that didn't stop me with that section!)
Also, Andrew Case, who does participate seriously in this area,
will provide me expert advice.
Links and information
Rocketry can be found in the Rocketry
snapshot from the Station... NASA's science.nasa.gov
site has begun a Space
Station Science Picture of the Day patterned after the very
Picture of the Day.
the wonderful photo of an Iridium Flare. Check out the other beautiful
images as they accumulate in the archives.
on the Senate floor... Read Senator Enzi's fine speech
in defense of sensible policies towards rocketry fuels : Senator
Enzi Addresses Senate On Rocketry Exemption Bill - ARSA - Apr.2.03
Here are some miscellaneous
& Technology articles and sites I've come across
recently that I found interesting:
student rocketry in Switzerland... Students at the Swiss
Propulsion Laboratory (SPL) continue to show progress in developing
sophisticated rocket technology as in this recent milestone - First
firing with the regeneratively cooled 2.5 kN LOX/Ethanol engine!
- SPL - Jan.22.03. The group is working towards a 8kN engine
that will power their X-BOW
I sounding rocket.
HobbySpace Traffic Record... March traffic at HobbySpace
set new records - over 86,000 visits and 140,000 pageviews. About
half of this came from the spike when someone posted on Slashdot
an item about the Satellite
Station section. Traffic dropped considerably from the
peak but seems to have settled at a higher level that before. Currently
the site is getting about 1750 average visits per day.
(A visit means
one or more pageviews delivered to same IP address within 30 minutes.)
tourism paths... Jeff Foust examines the extremes of
pessimism and optimism with regard to space tourism and sees a modest
ramp up of suborbital tourism as the most likely scenario : Space
tourism: managing expectations in uncertain times by Jeff Foust
- The Space Review - Mar.31.03 .
The latest issue
Space News also includes an article about the Russian space tourism
program and discusses a bad news / good news situation. The bad
news derives from the horrible news of the Columbia accident that
caused the suspension of the space tourist flights. All the Soyuz
capsule seats will be reserved for astronauts for at least a year
and maybe two.
The good news
is that Energia claims to have 10 candidates for space tourist flights.
Also, the Russian TV program that gave them $2 million deposit for
a flight for a contest winner has not yet demanded their money back,
indicating a willingness to wait for the program to restart.
Night - space party time...
The third annual Yuri's
Night celebration of space and the memory of Yuri Gagarin's
first flight will happen this April 14th. This year's program includes
62 parties in 30 countries. Yuri's
Night 2003 - SpaceDaily - Mar.28.03
The April 2,
2003 Space Show
program will "feature both Loretta Hidalgo and George Whitesides,
co- founders of Yuri's Night. Loretta and George are experts in
non-traditional space outreach and education." Here the show
live on www.live365.com,
KKNW 1150 AM Seattle and the KKNW streaming site on April 2, 2003,
to March 2003 articles in archive