Academy, which teaches CAD using rocketry related projects, has
announced the A
New Space Odyssey. Students can participate in a collaborative
project to design and build an ARV, or Avionics Return Vehicle.
The ARV will act as "a miniature space shuttle, which serves
to return the expensive guidance system of expendible rockets."
Access'01 Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, April
27-29. Come hear an "interesting mix of the usual suspects
and some unusual new additions, once again providing an intensive
informal snapshot of where the nascent cheap space access industry
is this spring of 2001."
is an 85% scale version of the X-37, which will be taken to
orbit in a shuttle in 2003 and released for orbital tests and
reentry. The X-40A is on loan to NASA from the Air Force. An
drop test occurred in 1998.
is aimed at developing a vehicle, usually referred to as a space
maneuvering vehicle or SMV, for the military that could carry
out a number of activities. During a crisis, for example, it
could be dispatched to do tactical reconnaissance if
no in-orbit spysat was in a suitable orbit to do the job.
It could also
rendezvous with a satellite and inspect or even refuel it. Whether
it should be capable of disabling an enemy satellite during
time of conflict is, of course, a very controversial question.
Aerospace's X-1 replica project described
in the article at [--Error--]Fledgling
Company Has A Reach Stretching Into Space Rockets Scientists
Start Out Small With Replica Of Famous Engine - SPACE.com -
to the Feb.19 issue of Aviation Week, the German aerospace center
DLR and the Austrian Space
Company are cooperating on development of metallic thermal protection
materials for RLVs. ...
company MAN Technologies and Astrium have built a heat shield
for the orbital version of the X-38, which is apparently canceled
due to ISS overruns.
The same announcement
that of the X-33/X-34 cancellation stated that the SLI grants
had been decided but it did not reveal their names. Apparently,
there was some further negotiations involved with each company.
firms such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing will also receive funds.
aerospike engine tests canceled. Despite the disappointment
of the X-33 project, the engines have frequently been cited
as one of the great successes of the program. This technology
could be very useful for other vehicles, so one would hope that
these tests could be completed regardless. But apparently they
will be stopped as well - [--Link
Dead--]X-33 Engine Testing Halted - Space.com - March.7.01.
death of the X-33 has been rumoured for sometime, the X-34 cancellation
is somewhat surprising. As mentioned here previously, the X-34
program came under review and revision in the aftermath of the
Mars orbiter and lander failures when all major programs were
examined to avoid similar management and technical failures.
for the X-34 the review led to considerable cost increases which
in turn caused the program cancellation:
NASA/Orbital Sciences Corporation review of the project last year
revealed the need to redefine the project's approach, scope, budget
and schedule. To ensure safety and mission success of the X-34
it became necessary to increase Government technical insight,
hardware testing and integrated systems assessments. As a result,
the projected cost of completing the X-34 program at an acceptable
level of risk rose significantly above the planned budget. NASA
decided that such additional funding for X-34 risk reduction would
have to be competed within the SLI evaluation process. As with
X-33, NASA determined that the benefits to be derived from continuing
the X-34 program did not justify the cost." - NASA
could also be seen as NASA killing a program not because it
was without merit but to avoid the chance of another public
embarassment if a vehicle crashed. Here a "no failures
allowed" approach drove up the cost to the level where
it had to be canceled. So nothing will be learned despite the
nearly completed vehicles sitting in storage.
X-43 flight in May according to the latest issue
of Space News (Feb.26.2001). A flight readiness review was completed
in February. The first vehicle will be released from its Orbital
Sciences Pegasus booster at Mach 7.
has tested scram-jet engines on missiles, this would be the
first time a vehicle will actually be powered during flight
purely by scram-jet propulsion. The powered time will last 11sec.
The vehicle will be lost into the Pacific but instrumentation
telemetry is designed to return the essential performance data.
reports from Kistler - The Kistler
website just posted two new papers based on presentations
given at the Space Technology and Applications International
Forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 11-14, 2001.
LEO - The K-1 Active Dispenser - 1.7MB pdf - the active
dispenser is an expendable orbital module with its own propulsion
system. It can take a payload to orbits beyond LEO. For example,
it can send a satellite of up to 1500kg to geostationary transfer
orbit. This is performance comparable to the Boeing Delta II
7960, which costs $45-60 million versus Kistlers $25 million.
September 13, 2000, Pioneer signed a MOU with the Oklahoma Space
Industry Development Authority. Under the terms of the MOU, the
Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority agreed to provide
up to $300 million in revenue bond" [ed. my emphasis]
"financing to help finance the development of the Pathfinder
launch vehicle. In exchange for this financial assistance, Pioneer
agreed to conduct launch operations from the proposed Oklahoma
Spaceport at the former Clinton-Sherman AFB in Washita County,
Oklahoma. Until such time as the FAA authorizes over-land launch
corridors, Pioneer plans to base its vehicles at the Oklahoma
Spaceport and ferry-fly to approved launch sites on the East or
West coasts." - page 10. Info obtained from an "Interview
with Mitchell Clapp, CEO, Pioneer Rocketplane, January 4, 2001"
funding is contingent on other factors, e.g. matching funds
from other sources such as NASA, isn't revealed.
over how to lower space access will certainly be
among the big space stories of the coming year. With big projected
overruns in the Space Station program and demands from military
strategists for cheaper and faster access to space, the
pressure is increasing to decide on a clearly defined path to
a post-shuttle successor.
Most of the
frequently cited $100 billion ISS lifetime price tag comes from
the tremendous costs of operating the shuttle as its primary
as the Space Frontier
Foundation, are pushing instead for NASA to contract with
commercial companies for operational vehicles and concentrate
solely on incremental X vehicle development and generic technology
oxygen on the run. The article Into
space on thin air - New Scientist - Feb.14.01
discusses Andrews Space & Technology's "Alchemist"
concept in which a vehicle first accumulates liquid oxygen from
the air during an initial phase while flying within the atmosphere
for 3 hours or so. Then it uses this with the fuel on board to
power a rocket engine for a second phase boost to orbit. NASA
gave them $70k to study this concept further.
propulsion goes commercial. Lightcraft
Technologies has been formed by Leik Myrabo and his daughter
Tregenna to commercialize the laser propulsion technology that
he has been developing for almost two decades.
flights at White Sands Missile Range sent an 18.5 in diamater
lightcraft model as high as 233 ft with a 10KW laser.
vehicle is shaped such that the
of the craft is a large, highly polished parabolic mirror that
is designed to capture the laser beam projected at it from the
ground. This mirror focuses the pulsed beam into the shroud, rapidly
heating the air and creating a blast wave that pushes this vehicle
upward. As the beam is rapidly pulsed, the vehicle is continuously
propelled forward, on its way to orbit." - LTI
laser power the vehicle could reach orbital speeds (an on-board
system, of course, would be required for the exo-atmospheric
propulsion requirements.) The plan is to develop the capability
to send nano-satellites into orbit within 5 years.
have obtained a "vintage pulsed electric discharge carbon
dioxide (CO2) laser that can propel our Lightcraft to the edge
of space, after its subsequent upgrade to 100 kilowatts of beam
power they should reach sub-orbital altitudes of 50-100 km.
With this capability they expect to receive some commercial
business such as testing space components for rad-hardness and
for micro-gravity experiments.
brief...Check out the [--Error--]X33
News Center with the latest news on the engine tests
and other developments. [--Error--]Engine
Frontier Foundation Says Space Launch Initiative Program (SLIP)
Fix it or Kill it - Yahoo - Feb.8.01....
Dead--]Qualification Testing on X-33 Flight Engines Now Underway
at Stennis Space Center, Miss. - NASA - Feb.7.01 : "The
ignition test went the full scheduled duration of 1.1 seconds
with no observed anomalies."
security study pushes for better space access. The
U.S. Commission on National Security (also called the Hart-Rudman
Commission after its co-chairmen - Gary Hart and Warren Rudman)
recently released a report - "
Road Map For National Security: IMPERATIVE FOR CHANGE" .
It presents a host of recommendations for improving and modernizing
the US security systems.
They see space
as playing a crucial role in US security but they see a number
of problems in how space policy is created and carried out.
There is a lack of organization and coordination among the various
departments and agencies that deal with space. They also see
space access as needing improvement:
"..the nation's access
to space must be expanded in ways that are more cost-effective.
The more robust U.S. space launch capability, the more able
the United States will be to retain its space superiority, reconstitute
systems after attack, and reduce its vulnerabilities. The Commission
strongly recommends that the modernization of the nationís space-launch
capability be accelerated."
This follows a report
recently released from a separate commission, headed by the
new Defense secretary Rumsfeld, that also recommended improved
space access. These combined reports should bring much greater
support for the military spaceplane
2040 - Marshall Space Flight Center Exhibits team
has developed a traveling educational exhibit to introduce the
public to NASA's long term program developing advanced space transportation
The exhibit "invites
visitors to explore futuristic technological possibilities and
gain new insight into real-world space transportation and propulsion
challenges.." See the tour
dates page for the schedule.
brief...the Rotary Rocket announced last week that
it was closing down its Mojave facilities and auctioning off the
contents this weekend. (No word on what will happen to the ATV.)
The corporate offices in San Bruno, California will remain open.
Space & Voight team for SLI Bid. Like
Orbital Science and Northrop below,
Kelly Space and Voight
Aircraft are collaborating to bid for some of the [--Link
Dead--]Space Launch Initiative funds to be awarded this
The RLV concept
will follow the design that Kelly has been pushing for several
years: a 2-stage vehicle with a reusable first stage and expendable
orbital stage. The combo is towed by a 747 into the air before
the first stage fires.
the largest independent airframe manufacturer and will bring
valuable resources and engineering talent to the design of the
awards will most likely be only for studies and component prototypes.
Kelly has been quite successful at winning NASA study contracts.
This has kept it alive while it continued looking for the major
investments it needs to actually build a working vehicle.
[--Error [--Time Out--]--]San
Bernardino, Calif.-Based Space Plane Designer Embarks on 2001
Odyssey - SPACE.com - Jan.2.01
Siamese-twin from Orbital Sciences and Northrop-Grumman? According
to an Aviation Week online article, the two companies are teaming
together to compete for the next-generation space shuttle contract
expected around 2005. Their design will involve two nearly identical
boosters mated side-by-side at launch.
vehicles would fire at launch, one booster would provide the
fuel for both until it separated and glided back to the launch
site. The other would be left with full tanks and would proceed
to orbit. Additional boosters could be added for heavier payloads.
The top of
the orbital vehicle could carry either an unmanned payload or
a crew compartment. After releasing its payload or delivering
a crew to the space station, it would return to earth for a
at a satellite investment conference yesterday, Orbital CEO
David Thompson said that manned spaceflight would be one of
the companies primary growth areas in the next 5 years. He didn't
mention the above next-generation shuttle proposal but he did
mention a space station crew rescue vehicle. He is probably
referring to Orbital's CCTV
Propulsion Laboratory is working on a reusable two stage
sounding rocket (X-Bow I) and a reusable 3 stage rocket (X-BowIII)
that could put a small payload into orbit.
NASA RLV concepts pop up occasionally on the web.
Most are certainly nothing but slideview- ware. However, they
might give an indication of the kind of in-house proposals that
will be made for the SLI (Space
Launch Initiative) funding later this year.
Fusion Digital Media, for example, has been creating artwork
with NASA teams at Marshall on various [--Link
Dead--]Pathfinder and [--Link Dead--]ASTP
artwork page shows the above VTVL demonstrator that looks like
a combination DC-X and lifting body.
The same page
also shows a Sub Orbital Tour Bus and a RBCC Demonstrator.
page - Advanced Concepts & Studies - shows a [--Link
Dead--]Balloon-Assisted Reusable Rocket (BARR) that is
certainly novel if nothing else.
Arrow becomes the latest X-Prize
entry. The Arrow is a 2-stage, V2
inspired vehicle but with modern materials and controls and
with both stages fully reusable. The first
stage holds a single single engine that is a close reproduction
of the V2 engine. After a one minute burn, the first stage separates
and deploys parachutes for safe return and recovery at sea.
rocket motors then propel the second
stage, with a
pilot and 2 passengers, to a height of over 50 miles. A cold
gas jet system allows the pilot to orient the vehicle as desired.
A ballute/parachute return system brings the vehicle safely
back for a recovery at sea.
launch operations were outlined in a talk given by
Curtis Johnston at the ASRI
2000 Conference in Brisbane, Australia last December 2000.
No details are given in the on line report - [--Error--]The
Kistler K-1 launch operation (30kb PDF) - but there are
some interesting comments nonetheless.
"The testing of the
vehicle is accomplished using a Vehicle Health Monitoring System.....The
only ground test equipment are two redundant laptop computers.
There are 5 persons in the launch control room."
"The launch has one
additional activity not usually present in the automatic sequence.
The engines are evaluated at 50% thrust and key parameters are
determined to be correct before the engines are advanced to
There is no hold down system;
when the thrust exceeds the weight, the bird flies."
pays bills. The LA Times reported a couple of weeks
ago that the Rotary Rocket had failed to pay its property tax
bill on its Mojave Airport facility and it had been seized for
Dead--]Kern County Seizes Rotary Rocket Property - LA Times
- Dec.22.00. This included the ATV, which was successfully
tested in 1999.
the bill has now been paid and the property will be released
once the check clears: [--Link
Dead--]Delinquent rocket firm sends cash, insults to Kern -
Bakersfield.com - Dec.28.00.
Rotary has a separate corporate headquarters in San Bruno California.
to a Space
Access Society report last August, although Gary Hudson
and most of the technical staff left the company, Rotary is
maintaining a skeleton crew while the search for funding goes
America's X-33 Reusable Launch
Vehicle NASA Single-Stage Rocket Prototype
World Spaceflight News - CDROM. Encyclopedic resource of nearly
3000 pages, mostly from the Critical Design Review. Lots of images, diagrams,