holiday period slowdown will continue for another week or so
but I'll post the occasional item. Today, I've posted the page
a Commercial Stairway to Space: A Plausible Timeline?,
which outlines a plausible sequence of incremental steps that
would lead to development of low cost space transport and private
orbital facilities within a decade or so.
briefs... Florida Today posted a couple of articles
on NASA's Orbital Space Plane program : NASA's
new challenge : Space plane plan will test limits of agency's
budget - Florida Today - Dec.21.02 * Launch
initiative scrapped over cost: Shuttle replacement could cost
$35 billion - Florida Today - Dec.21.02 ...
On the sci.space.policy, Dave Salt posted a response to a discussion
about the capabilities of small RLVs including the possibility
of carrying modules to assemble GEO comsats in LEO. This paper
with Marcus Lindroos for the 12th European Aerospace Conference
in 1998 looks at the business case for such a scheme - The
Business Case for Small Reusable Launchers by D.J. Sale & M.
briefs...The latest Wired magazine includes a short
blurb about John Carmack and Armadillo Aerospace - The
Rocketeer - Wired - Jan.03 issue ...
& Space magazine includes an article about the X-37 - Will
the Air Force Finally Get a Spaceplane? : If Boeing's X-37 can
maneuver politically as well as in space. - Smithsonian Air
& Space Magazine - Dec. 2002/Jan. 2003 issue (written
before NASA's switch to the Orbital Space Plane emphasis and
the decision to push for an orbital version of the X-37.). There's
also an article about the sad history of the Soviet Buran shuttle
Using a new sounding rocket with hybrid propulsion, NASA launched
the Suborbital Aerodynamic Reentry Experiments (SOREX-2) on
Wednesday. The experiments included tests of a wave rider
that is shaped like a flying wedge and a "linear aerobrake
(or hypersonic parachute)". The waverider wedge "is
about 50 inches (127 centimeters) long and was to free fly like
a glider after deployment." NASA
Tests Future Flight Vehicle Concepts - NASA Ames - Dec.20.02
a busy year... Former NASA administrator Dan Goldin
once promised that the sky would soon be filled with NASA X
rocket test vehicles. Well, I think he was right except for
the NASA part.
most of NASA's efforts resulted in EX-projects, I believe we
will see an increasing number of X Prize test launches as 2003
proceeds and then peak in 2004 when most of the teams will start
flying. The funding for the prize will be withdrawn at the start
of 2005 so that will certainly focus the minds of the contestants.
(Even after one team wins, though, I'm sure that most of the
other projects that have made significant progress will continue
example, this article - Rocket
man prepares himself for 2003 launch: Leasider Brian Feeney
is heading to outer space - Town Crier Online - Dec.18.02
(found via Spacetoday.net)
- reports on progress in the Canadian da
Vinci project, which
around 200 volunteers.
" flown their engines twice, reaching an altitude of
120,000 from the ground"
" looking at launching at the end of summer 2003. The
group will launch the da Vinci rocket from an old military
range outside of Moose Jaw, Sask."
is a list of other projects that have indicated they will carry
out test flights in the coming year:
Aerospace - will continue its Design-as-We-Build approach
that involves many prototype vehicles, each greater in capability.
- A launch
of a half scale version of Pablo
is planned for May 2003.
Arrow - a full scale test flight is scheduled for "mid-2003".
says an unmanned test of the Thunderbird will take place in
August 2003 (the first manned flight in October 2004.)
only the projects that have made public announcements on launches.
I assume several of the other projects are planning launches
in 2003 as well.
to Investment ... Interorbital,
a Mojave, California company that has developed sounding
rockets, plans to enter the X Prize contest with its Solaris-X
vehicle. (The Solaris is also the 2nd stage of their two stage
is pursuing an innovative funding approach. The first ten people
to purchase a ticket to ride on the Solaris-X "at the special
promotional fare of $250,000 (regularly priced at $2 million)
[will] get a full rebate two years after" their flight.
While other projects are using ticket sales to help raise funding,
this is the first time I've seen a rebate incentive offered.
briefs...The Australian HyShot
hypersonics project makes the New York Times Magazine's top
ideas list for
Scramjet - NY Times Magazine - Year in Ideas...
Meanwhile, less regal newspapers begin to pick up on local happenings
in private launcher development such as : Bethesda
man reaches for the stars - Gazette.net - Nov.6.02.
you come across similar articles in local papers about X Prize
and other private RLV efforts, please forward the links to me
and I'll post them here.
brief...Henry Vanderbilt has posted the latest Space
Access Society Update that includes comments on SAS
policy towards the OSP and other space transportation issues plus
info about the next SAS meeting in April 2003
brief...Marshall Space Flight Center starts on OSP
design - Marshall
to lead orbital space plane project, NASA says: Designers of America's
newest spacecraft will begin with blank slate - Huntsville Times
Prize entry updates... A couple more of the X Prize
teams have posted their specification sheets:
Projects Table using info mostly from the Commerce
Department report mentioned below.
Markets Report... The US Commerce Department just released
a study of possible markets for reusable suborbital launch vehicles:
114 page report examines current markets, such those carried out
by sounding rockets for microgravity and high altitude research,
and emerging markets, such as high altitude imaging, fast package
delivery and space tourism. The report also reviews a wide array
of suborbital vehicle designs.
to Jared Martin for sending me word about this publication. He
and Glenn Law at the Aerospace Corporation wrote the report.)
: You might also check out the reports on Fast
Package Delivery with suborbital vehicles that Jared
worked on while at MIT.]
Lobby ... A group is being
formed to influence government decisions that affect the development
of a reusable sub-orbital launch vehicle industry. Pat Bahn of
TGV Rockets recently
posted this announcement:
SubOrbital Institute (SOI) is meant to serve as a forum for
interested individuals, corporations, and associations to represent
their needs, wishes and desires before the policy making establishment
of Washington DC.
first activity is planned for February 10th. In coordination
with the FAA
Forecast Conference, which will be the 11th and 12th. The
planned event is a walk around with members of Congress to discuss
the impacts of
Regulatory Reform for Piloted Suborbital Vehicles,
Impacts on Small Suborbital Reusables
support to suborbital spaceports particularly inland or
in rural zones.
Impacts on suborbital vehicles since 9/11.
If you are concerned about the effect of ITARS on aerospace
or wish to see a spaceport in your community, you are invited
to join with us on February 9th for training and February 10th
for our Congressional/Executive branch tour.
tentative steering committee includes Jeff Greason XCOR
Aerospace, Bob Werb of the Space
Frontier Foundation, John Carmack Armadilo
Aerospace, Ed Wright Rocket
Racing Inc, Patrick Bahn TGV,
and Trent Telenko (Former Prospace Treasurer).
Contributions can be made to Treasurer Telenko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trent lives in Sealy TX and manages our checking account from
have begun enlisting interested individuals, this is a chance
to participate in our democracy and to make changes in an industry
we care about.
Software ... Universal
Space Lines, founded by the late Pete Conrad and some other
alumni, has posted a report on its Integrated
Development and Operations System (IDOS) (pdf in a 1.2MB zip file),
a study funded by SLI. The goal of the system is to provide a
unified set of tools for a RLV operator "to develop and analyze
flight mechanics designs; generate and validate software; and
plan and support operational missions." This includes flight
control software for navigation, guidance and controls.
software package grew out of the system originally developed for
the DC-X. One of the big surprises of that project was that the
software was created in just 14 months by a relatively small group,
was delivered on time, and worked very successfully.
that USL originally sought to develop a launch vehicle (hence
the name). See the Space
Futures vehicles page for information on one of their designs
called the Space Clipper. (A graphic of it is shown on the USL
homepage but not discussed anywhere that I can find on their site.)
While not yet building a vehicle, the company continues to survive
in RLV related niches such as this software project. Also, Universal
Space Network, a spinoff company from USL, has been quite
successful in offering low cost ground systems.
Papers ... The
web site for the recent Hypersonics 2002 conference - 11th
AIAA / AAAF Int. Conf. on Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems
and Technologies - Sept.29-Oct.4.2002 - Orleans, France -
offers a host of interesting papers.
Quest for Single Stage Earth-to-Orbit: TAV, NASP, DC-X and X-33
Accomplishments, Deficiencies, and Why They Did Not Fly by Ramon
Chase (ANSER) and Ming Tang (NASA) - pdf, 90kb which gives
an interesting review of SSTO projects and why they failed.
RLVs: I especially like
the paper Development
Study at University Laboratories on Small Scale Reusable Launch
Systems by K. Mizobata et al, pdf 542kb It describes projects
at several Japanese universities to develop small, low cost reusable
sub-orbital vehicles to serve as both technological testbeds and
educational tools for training students in aerospace.
first part of the paper describes efforts to develop a series
of enhanced hybrid motors of thrusts 0.2 tonf, 1 tonf, and 10
tonf. Hybrids offer a lot of advantages for university and amateur
groups including a high degree of safety and simplicity compared
to liquid fueled engines.
last half of the paper describes the program to develop a "reliable,
reusable, and affordable sounding rocket system". Beginning
with the 0.2 tonf thrust motor, they will build lifting body style
vehicles and launch and land them at a site in northern Japan.
Tests of autonomous navigation and guidance systems and parafoil
landing systems have been carried out so far.
incremental advantage: While I previously
lauded the benefits of VTOL vehicles, such as those of Armadillo
Aerospace, for low cost rocketry programs, I think its clear
that any reusable system that can be tested frequently in an incremental
approach has huge advantages over expendables for student and
amateur rocketry. The Japanese students involved in the above
projects will actually see their efforts get off the ground before
they graduate, probably many times in fact.
briefs... A general news media take on the OSP : NASA
takes a practical approach in its next spaceship - U.S. News -
I know of one satellite
company that wishes a satellite
rescue company was up and running - Stranded
satellite may be write-off - BBC - Dec.2.02 ...
highly reliable EELV would also be useful for future launches
while waiting for a highly reliable RLV : Futron
says Human-Rated EELV Could Be A Formidable Commercial Competitor
- Aviation Week - Dec.2.02