Home
  Home
|| Tech || Culture || Activities || Resources || Links || Weblogs || Features ||
Site Info
Home
    
Links Index
       
RLV News
          Archive
 Index
Space News
Headlines
Space Blogs
Launch_Schedules
Forums, etc
Launchers/Propulsion
New/Proposed
Hypersonics
Living in Space
Moon_&_Planets
Space_Colonies
RLV:
General, US
World
Technology
History
News
Table
Space_Systems
SpaceTech&Science
More_Space_Links
More_Link_Lists

Science & Tech
Amateur Sci/Tech
Aviation
Energy,Transportation
More Technology
Developing Countries
Science

Google
Web
HobbySpace

 



  

 

Reusable Launch & Space Vehicle News
March 2003
Index

Armadillo X Prize Vehicel
Copyright of Armadillo Aerospace

An artist's composite rendering of Armadillo Aerospace 's X Prize
vehicle under development.(Large Image
)


This section contains brief articles concerning developments in the field of reusable launch and space vehicles with links to news sources, NASA, company sites, etc.

See the Space Log for entries
on related topics such as amateur rocketry, space businesses, etc.

RLV News Archive Directory

Special Topics

March 31, 2003

XCOR coming to Space Access '03 ...

"XCOR to present at Space Access 03 It's that time of year again! The Space Access Society's annual meeting will be taking place on April 24th through the 27th, 2003 in Phoenix, Arizona. XCOR founders Jeff Greason, Dan DeLong and Aleta Jackson will make presentations on various aspects of XCOR's development, including new rocket engines, progress on the Xerus suborbital vehicle project and related techonology. CEO Jeff Greason will also give a seperate presentation about reusable rocket design considerations and tradeoffs."

"The Space Access Society's purpose is to promote radically cheaper access to space. Space Access '03 will begin on Thursday evening April 24th, 2003, and all day and evening on Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th. Registration is $100 in advance, $120 at the door and a $30 student rate at the door only. More information on the conference can be found at Space Access Society web site, www.space-access.org or by calling 602-431-9283."

XCOR Successfully Tests New Engine... XCOR today announced that "it has successfully completed multiple test firings of their new LOX/kerosene rocket engine, the XR-4K5. The new engine is considerably more powerful than the previous isopropyl alcohol fueled rocket engine used in the EZ-Rocket. The new engine produces 1,800 pounds of thrust, and runs at two and a half times the chamber pressure of the previous engine."

The engine uses a new igniter that is "smaller and lighter than previous generations.” This is also XCOR's first LOX/kerosene engine.

Jeff Greason says " “We are very excited about the new engine since it moves us closer to our goal of a reliable and economical vehicle for space tourism as well as educational and commercial uses. The more powerful engine and use of readily available and nontoxic fuels is a notable development in reliability and cost control of operating suborbital vehicles. XCOR is developing the XR-4K5 for future applications, including the propulsion system for the Xerus project."

XCOR Presse Release - Mar.31.03

Note: The "Mojave Civilian Flight Test Center" mentioned in the engine test photo captions is the official name of the Mojave Airport. XCOR is located in a facility at the airport. As can be seen in the photos, they use a mobile test stand. For new engines they test at a site also on the airport grounds with a nearby bunker. When the fire marshal is satisfied that it's safe, they test in the parking lot by their building.

Big amateur rocket motor test ... See this Space Log item about a 80,000 Ns P motor test in preparation for a launch this month.

News brief ... Making at least the first stage reusable : The Universal Reusable First Stage: The Next 'Stage' In Space Transport by Kenneth Schweitzer - SpaceDaily - Mar.28.03 ...

... The Air Force wants fast access to space but doesn't expect it with RLVs anytime soon: Air Force to Focus on Quick Reaction Spacelift Vehicles - Space.com - Mar.28.03

Columbia/Shuttle Program links...

March 29, 2003

Burt Rutan's mystery plane... Someone mentioned to me a recent Popular Mechanics article that indicated that the Scaled Composites' mystery plane was the first stage of their X PRIZE system. However, the plane was first mentioned in Aviation Week last summer (see RLV News items from August.02 and October.02) and many speculated at the time as to whether it was for the X PRIZE. I've not seen the PM article but I believe they were just speculating like everyone else. We shall soon see if it really is so.

March 28, 2003

Rutan's X PRIZE Vehicle debut?... There are rumors that Scaled Composites will roll out its X-PRIZE vehicle in early April.

Columbia/Shuttle Program links...

March 27, 2003

Japan RVT development ... The Japanese continue work with the RVT (Reusable Vehicle Test), which is a DC-X type single stage suborbital - Firing Test of Reusable Rocket Engine RVT-7 - ISAS - Feb.20.03.

The RVT-6 flew low altitude flights in the summer of 2001. As this report - Flight Demonstration and a Concept for Readiness of Fully Reusable Rocket Vehicles by Yoshifumi Inatani - Space Future - Nov.01 - indicates, this low budget project will follow a step-by-step approach, gradually developing higher altitudes. Note that in the section "Second Flight Test RVT#2", the vehicle shown has the RVT-6 logo. So that implies that RVT-7 corresponds to the "(2002) RVT#3" vehicle in the evolution chart. This vehicle will use composite tanks, test in-flight engine restarts, and carry out flight envelope expansion.

Nice to see that the RVT project is still in business despite budget problems in Japan and the merging of the ISAS with the much larger NASDA.

Thanks go to Kaido Kert for the RVT engine test link. He also notes this news from 2001 - Cryogenic Propellant Composite Tank Test for Reusable Launch Vehicles - ISAS - Nov.5.01 about the progress at ISAS with composite LOX and LH2 tanks. This item says they were "able to pressurize the liquid hydrogen tank to its maximum capacity and the liquid oxygen to its proof pressure loaded with actual liquids."

[The search tool at the ISAS site brings up a couple of other RVT related items but they are in Japanse, which I cannot read. If anyone can read the items and let me know if they say anything significant, I would appreciate it.]

News briefs ... Water employed for thermal protection - Water could replace spacecraft heat shield tiles - New Scientist - Mar.26.03. (I've heard of using water as part of a TPS before but perhaps the implementation here is novel.)...

... More about SpaceX in Will Spacex Succeed where Beal failed? by Alan Breakstone - Space Future - Mar.26.03...

Columbia/Shuttle Program links...

March 26, 2003

SpaceX articles ... The SpaceX website has posted reprints of a couple of articles about Elon Musk and his rocket company:

X-37 going on an EELV... This week's Space News cover article discusses the decision by NASA and Boeing to switch the launcher for the X-37 from a Delta II to a Delta IV or Atlas 5. The weight growth is nearing the limit of the Delta II and the price difference would be minimal since the Delta II would require one-time modifications anyway.

Another issue not yet decided involves whether to launch with the X-37 inside a shroud or not. A shroud would eliminate various aerodynamic and structural issues but eliminates learning anything that could apply to the OSP. The much larger OSP won't fit in a shroud and will need to deal with aerodynamic stresses put on the launcher by a winged (or lifting body) vehicle sitting on top of it. ( Of course, if the OSP becomes a capsule, this is no longer a problem.)

Columbia/Shuttle Program links...

March 25, 2003

The million man and woman march to space - The Space Review - Mar.25.03 - I wrote this essay about the need to create a community of space enthusiasts large enough to sustain space ventures, such as suborbital RLVs, regardless of the interest in space by the general public.

Buran memories... The Buran may have patterned itself after the wrong role model, but it did have many fine features all its own. This nicely designed site - Buran - Russia's Shuttle - gives the Buran the respect it deserves. See also Jeff Wright's essay - Cut The Umbilical Cord And Roar Into Space - SpaceDaily - Mar.24.03

Columbia/Shuttle Program links...

Shuttling along year after year... Keith Cowing reports on the recent NASA Space Shuttle Service Life Extension Program Summit March 19-20, 2003 - Enhancing and Replacing NASA's Space Shuttle: Ideas? Yes. Funds? No. by Keith Cowing - Mar.24.03.

From Cowing's questions at the meeting, it's clear that NASA has no idea where it will fine the money to run the shuttle, carry out major upgrades, and also fund the OSP. Furthermore, this ignores the need for cargo delivery to the ISS:

"...the OSP seemed to be taking on the Shuttle's crew carrying role (but not completely), nothing seemed to be in place to taken on the cargo role given that the Alternate Access portion of the Space Launch Initiative (SLI). 'Alt Access' was designed to examine unmanned and commercial alternatives to ISS resupply however, it is being ended in July 2003. I asked Kostelnik if he was not able to speak to this issue in an integrated fashion, who could? He passed on suggesting who could address this, noting that "this will be a continuing debate" that will go on in the coming months..

See also

March 24, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace updates... The latest AA posting discusses a pressure test of the crew cabin of their X PRIZE system and two hover tests of the subscale version. The hover tests failed due to continued problems with miscellaneous electrical and controls problems. The tether prevented serious damage, though, and the more tests upcoming.

John Carmack will be a guest at the upcoming I-CON 22 sci-fi meeting in Stony Brook, New York on March 28-30. (My thanks to T.J. Allcot for this item.)

News briefs... In Opening the Next Frontier Anthony Tate makes the case for a nuclear powered RLV. (My thanks to T.J. Allcot for this item.) ...

... More about resistance to the OSP in the Advisory Council - NASA Advisory Council expresses skepticism about OSP - spacetoday.net - Mar.23.03

March 23, 2003

March Storm for AAS... An article in the March 17th issue of Space News discussed the recent campaign on Capitol Hill by the space advocacy group ProSpace that focused on saving the Alternate Access to Space program. This goal of this program was to examine concepts from various startup launch companies to determine if they could provide low cost cargo delivery to the Space Station.

As mentioned in the recent item here about the AAS proposal of HMX, Gary Hudson said that NASA had undermined the program from the beginning and intended to discontinue it to obtain funds for the OSP. The Phase I studies from the four companies will be accepted in July and then apparently shoved into a drawer.

The forty ProSpace volunteers used its annual March Storm campaign on March 10-12 to try to convince Congress to force NASA to restore the program and to take the proposals seriously.

The other companies involved in the AAS include Constellation Services International (CSI), Andrews Space & Technology, and Kistler Aerospace.

News briefs... Medical emergencies driving force behind building space plane: First design requirement is that it hold four astronauts, including one lying down - Huntsville Times - Mar.21.03 ...

...The Texas based Amateur Spaceflight Association receives some publicity for its advanced rocketry projects - High-flying ambition: Race is on to build first amateur rocket to reach space - HoustonChronicle.com - Mar.23.03 (link found at spacetoday.net)

Columbia/Shuttle Program links...

March 21, 2003

Space Access '03 Conference April 24-26, 2003, in Scottsdale Arizona... The latest update on the upcoming meeting has been released. Speakers this year include:

"Plus panel discussions on Low Cost Launch Finance/Markets, Regulatory Considerations, and Politics, and possibly a special panel on the loss of Columbia."

News briefs ... Calpoly Space Systems has posted pictures of the January flight of their scale model version of the Starbooster RLV system (Buzz Aldrin's concept). It is a a 1/3 scale version of the Starbooster Demonstrator, for which the company got an Air Force SBIR grant last year. [My thanks to Kaido Kert for this item.] ...

... The latest issue of SpaceEquity.com includes this reprint of an essay from the late Max Hunter - The SSX Design for Flight Safety - Jan.2000 (See the RLV History section for more SSX links) ...

... NASA Advisory Council wants a shuttle replacement - Space plane runs into criticism - Orlando Sentinel - Mar.21.03.

Columbia/Shuttle Program links...

March 20, 2003

Photos of SpaceX engine test... Spaceref has some photos of the engine test mentioned below. Nothing yet about the test on the SpaceX site.

Columbia related links...

March 19, 2003

Successful SpaceX engine test... [Modified - 19:00] Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies company announces a test of their first stage main engine: Performs First Rocket Engine Firing: Successful Internet Entrepreneur Now Targets Space Industry - SpaceX PR/Yahoo - Mar.19.03 :

... "Satellites and spacecraft urgently need a more reliable and cost- effective launch vehicle than the options available today. SpaceX is confident that our Falcon rocket will achieve that end in the near future," said Elon Musk, SpaceX Chairman and CEO. "In only nine months we've designed, built and initiated testing of our rocket's main engine, which is a testament to the capability and determination of the SpaceX team to deliver on promised goals in record time."

"This is the most successful engine test program I have managed in more than 15 years of rocket engine development," said Tom Mueller, SpaceX Vice President of Propulsion and former head of liquid rocket propulsion development at TRW Space and Electronics(TM). "It is all the more exceptional given that the engine is a clean sheet design with several new technology innovations."

In initial tests, the liquid oxygen and kerosene engine, named Merlin, achieved full expected thrust of 60,000 lbs and a combustion efficiency of 93%. With further testing, the company expects to exceed a 96% efficiency level. This compares well with the much larger Saturn V Moon rocket's F-1 engine, which used the same propellant combination, but achieved only 93.5% efficiency....

As noted in a previous update, they are doing the tests at a former Naval engine test site in Texas where Beal also tested his engines. (XCOR did not build the test stand as I reported earlier.)

The company hopes to launch its new vehicle by the end of THIS year. They will charge $6 million to put 450-1,350 kgs in LEO.

[Thanks to SpaceToday.net for this news.]

Columbia related links...

March 18, 2003

News brief ... Jeff Foust discusses the drought in payloads : The launch industry depression: when will it end? - Space Review - Mar.17.03

Columbia related links...

March 17, 2003

An Interview with Brian Chase, Executive Director of the National Space Society. Mr. Chase talked with me about space activism, space policy, the Columbia aftermath and efforts to replace the Shuttle, the Alternate Access to Space program, and other issues.

Armadillo updates ... Armadillo has continued posting regular updates on their progress. The latest posting includes a video of a manned drop test of the full sized (for the X PRIZE vehicle) crush cone that will cushion the parachute landing. The test pilot survived in good shape.

There is also a video of a brief hover test of a 2 foot diameter vehicle that failed because the inertial measurement unit went dead. However, the vehicle was on a crane tether and no extensive damage occurred. They will re-test when they get a new or repaired IMU.

Columbia related links...

March 16, 2003

News brief ... Elon Musk will speak about the SpaceX project at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in April : Space X Leader to Speak at CSBR [Colorado Space Business Roundtable] Luncheon [Apr.9.03] - Space Foundation - Mar.14.03

Columbia related links...

March 14, 2003

Space Launch gets RASCAL contract.... DARPA has selected the Space Launch Corporation for phase 2 of the Responsive Access Small Cargo Affordable Launch (RASCAL) program.

For this 18 month stage of the program the company will "design, develop and reduce the risk of critical technology" for the two stage system capable of launching 75kg to 500km sun-synchronous orbit. The program required that the first stage use a plane with a "mass injection pre-compressor cooled turbojet engine". The second stage will be a small EELV.

Initially, two contractors were to be chosen in the down-select from Phase 1 but apparently to save money they only chose one. If Phase 2 is successful, the company would then get a Phase 3 contract to build hardware and carry out a first launch by 2006.

See also

[Thanks to Spacetoday.net where I first saw this new.]

Columbia related links...

March 13, 2003

Capsule option .... An article in this week's Space News issue discusses the possibility that an "Apollo-style capsule" design might become the preference for the OSP, despite the P for Plane. O'Keefe made clear that he is open to the idea and the recent clarifications to the OSP Level 1 requirements allow for a capsule design.

There is some worry that a capsule won't be sexy enough and not appeal to the public. Bruce Mahone of the AIA says it might be analogous to the President driving "around in a Volkswagen beetle instead of a limousine." California representative Dana Rohrabacher, not known for understatement, used words like "flying trashcan", "bath tub", "suitcase" and "trunk" to describe a capsule, which he believes is less amenable to reusability than a plane design.

Interestingly, the term Orbital Space Plane apparently came from O'Keefe himself. He wanted to avoid NASA's predilection for "inscrutable acronyms".

News briefs... See my posting on sci.space.policy for Gary Hudson's responses to comments and questions about the HMX proposal for the Alternate Access to Space program. (See below.) ...

... The following gives an indication of what small contractors like HMX are up against when trying to swim through the NASA red tape : Presolicitation Notice: Root Cause Analysis for Future Reusable Launch Systems - NASA/Spaceref - Mar.12.03.

Columbia related links...

March 12, 2003

News briefs ... In Space entrepreneurship, buy the book - The Space Review - Mar.10.03, Jeff Foust reviews the books "They All Laughed at Christopher Columbus : An Incurable Dreamer Builds the First Civilian Spaceship" by Elizabeth Weil and "Making Space Happen: Private Space Ventures and the Visionaries Behind Them" by Paula Berinstein. ...

... Now available in the SpaceShow archive - Interview with Jeff Greason of XCOR on The Space Show - Feb.26.03 ...

... Arguing for a real spaceship: The Case For Orion by Wayne Smith - SpaceDaily - Mar.12.03

Columbia related links...

March 11, 2003

Columbia related links...

March 10, 2003

TrailBlazing commercial space exploration - check out my interview with Paul Blase, co-founder and CTO of TransOrbital, which plans to launch its TrailBlazer spacecraft to the Moon this autumn. Last December the company successfully launched a test spacecraft on a Dnepr rocket and last August received all necessary licenses for the lunar mission.

Mr. Blase discussed with me the status of the project, the challenges of getting such a mission underway, how activists can contribute to space hardware development, and what TrailBlazer will mean for commercial exploration and development of space.

While not directly related to vehicle development, TransOrbital provides an example of the kind of entrepreneurial space projects that could appear with the availablity of low cost access to space. Despite all the legal hassles of launching on the Dnepr, a converted Ukrainian ICBM, its low launch price made it all worthwhile.

BTW: Mr. Blase says there is extra room on the Dnepr for a small payload. If you know of a university project or other group in need of a ride for a nanosat, tell them to contact Paul Blase for more information.

March 9, 2003

Columbia related links...

March 7, 2003

Beamed energy proceedings ... The proceedings of the First International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion, November 5-7, 2002, Huntsville, Alabama, are now available for order. See RLV News items for Nov.4, 2002 and Nov.5, 2002.

Information on the next meeting now available at : Second International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion, Sendai, Japan - Oct.20-23, 2003.

March 6, 2003

American Astronautics test flight in September... The X PRIZE team American Astronautics plans to launch its single passenger Freedom Flyer vehicle this fall from a location in Mexico. The web page says the vehicle uses a "man-rated, TR-201 rocket engine", which is "an AAC modified version of the Delta configuration derived from the Apollo Lunar Lander descent engine". (Saw this news via a posting at sci.space.policy.)

Making things perfectly clear... NASA has posted a lengthy interpretation document that explains in detail what the recently released OSP requirements actually mean - Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Level I Requirements Program Interpretation Document (Text version) - MSFC/Spaceref - Mar.6.03

Suborbital vehicle design review... My thanks go to Nesrin Sarigul-Klijn for letting me know about her and her husband's excellent review of suborbital RLV designs. They examine a wide range of launch and recovery systems previously used and make some conclusions on which would produce an X PRIZE winner and a successful space tourism vehicle.

Here is the abstract:

Flight Mechanics of Manned Sub-Orbital Reusable Launch Vehicles
with Recommendations for Launch and Recovery

Marti Sarigul-Klijn, Ph.D. and Nesrin Sarigul-Klijn*, Ph.D.
Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Dept., Univ. of Calif., Davis

AIAA paper 2003-0909 (pdf, 910kb) [updated version Mar.31.03]

An overview of every significant method of launch and recovery for manned sub-orbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV) is presented here. Launch methods are categorized as vertical takeoff, horizontal takeoff, and air launch. Recovery methods are categorized as wings, aerodynamic decelerators, rockets, and rotors.

We conclude that both vertical takeoff and some air launch methods are viable means of attaining sub-orbital altitudes and wings and aerodynamic decelerators are viable methods for recovery based on statistical methods using historical data coupled with time-stepped integration of the trajectory equations of motion.

We also conclude that the preferred architecture for a manned sub-orbital RLV is Vertical Takeoff using hybrid rocket motor propulsion and winged un-powered Horizontal Landing onto a runway (VTHL) based on the additional factors of safety, customer acceptance, and affordability.

There has been renewed interest in civilian manned sub-orbital space flight due in part to the X-Prize competition, which has the goal of building a RLV that can carry three people to a sub-orbital altitude and back using private funds only. The X-Prize website shows that there are over 20 teams registered: yet none have chosen a winged VTHL configuration that lands on a runway.

News briefs ... Thinking about disasters and new ideas : Thinking the Unthinkable - Transterrestrial Musings - Mar.6.03 ...

... NASA funding air breathers - Sources sought for engineering capabilities for airbreathing propulsion, applied to future space launch vehicles - Glenn RC/SpaceRef - Mar.5.03 ...

... If a space elevator could really be built for ~$10 billion, then I guess maybe all these launcher designs and arguments become irrelevant (but I hope the rocket engineers don't stop working just yet!) : Review of the book The Space Elevator by Brad Edwards and Eric Westling- Slashdot - Mar.6.03.

March 5, 2003

HMX AAS Presentation
Credits: HMX
The HMX XV reusable space transfer vehicle concept.

Alternate Access, Alternate Future... Gary Hudson told me know today that he has posted on the HMX site the presentation that HMX made back in 2000 in its successful bid for a study contract with the Alternate Access to Space program. (Thanks Gary! He also said the site will soon undergo a major upgrade with a lot of "past papers, briefings, images, photos, etc.")

The file (pdf, 5.5Mb) is quite large so for those with slow links I've quoted here in its entirety the new preface in which Gary explains what happened with the program and what might have been:

"This PowerPoint file represents a distillation of the Alternate Access to Space (AAS) final report presented November 6, 2000 under contract to the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. Out of a field of 17 small business bidders, HMX, Microcosm, Andrews Space & Tech, and Kistler Aerospace were selected to perform concept studies of alternate methods for "contingency" resupply of the International Space Station. (Other contracts, to Boeing, Lockheed, Orbital and Coleman were awarded non-competitively.) Per the NASA Act of 1958, this information should have been made publicly available but the results were largely suppressed in order to kill the AAS program, which had been imposed on NASA by OMB and the Congress against NASA's will.

"Especially opposed to AAS was the Johnson Space Flight Center, on the grounds that any alternate to the Space Shuttle would reduce the need for expensive and dangerous Shuttle missions, and reduce the available flights for the large pool of unflown NASA astronauts. Also strongly obstructionist was Marshall's Dennis Smith, then SLI program manager and now in charge of the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) who simply wanted the money to be used for his massive Space Launch Initiative (SLI) boondoggle.

XV atop a Delta II"HMX determined that use of a fully proven launcher, the Titan II, would have allowed AAS missions to the station to begin in 2003 for half the money approved by OMB for this program. Instead of acting, NASA/ MSFC delayed the AAS program, and watered it down until for all practical purposes it became a technology research effort on the methods of docking unmanned vehicles to the ISS. While small follow-on contracts have been awarded, the program is set to terminate in early summer, and the OSP project will absorb the remaining funds.

"While the AAS program never intended the resupply vehicle to be crewed, HMX found that the only way to perform the mission was to build a reusable AAS transfer vehicle (designated the XV). This approach was also adopted by other AAS contractors. Reuse of the XV reduced per flight costs and enhanced reliability, but it also meant that the vehicle could serve as both a lifeboat for the ISS and also carry crews to orbit. Of course, given the vicious opposition to AAS on the part of JSC, HMX never briefed the manned option, but the last slide in this presentation illustrates one version of a crewed XV.

"It is ironic, in light of the Columbia disaster, that this capability would just now be coming on line if NASA had not badly bungled the entire program. Given NASA's track record of not being able to successfully complete a single space transportation project (e.g., X-33, X-34, X-37, X-43, X-38 and the SLI program) in the past twenty years, plus their mismanagement of the Shuttle program, one wonders why they should be entrusted with the development of the OSP. Only Congress can answer that question."

- Gary C. Hudson, CEO, HMX March 1, 2003

XV with crew
Credits: HMX
The XV with a crew of four.

Pentagon looks at small launchers... The latest issue of Space News (March 3, 2003) reports (abbreviated online version) that the Department of Defense is looking seriously at Microcosm's Scorpius/Sprite low cost ELV system. DOD has requested $25M to fund a program called Operationally Responsive Space-lift that will examine the Scorpius and other systems that could provide space access on the order of days and even hours when needed for launching small reconnaissance spacecraft.

Microcosm has been surviving on small grants for several years and has launched a couple of sounding rockets. Initally prodded by a group of Congressional members, the Pentagon got more serious when an independent review team said the Sprite 3-stage system could send 275kg to LEO for $5M per launch.

Microcosm actually claims they can do it for $2.5M but even the $5M is about third of the Orbital Pegasus, which currently provides the capability closest to what DOD wants. Microcosm says they can develop an operational launcher within 3 years for $90M.

If DOD decides to go for such a system, they will hold a competition. Besides the Sprite and Pegasus, Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon would probably compete for the contract.

Columbia related links...

March 3, 2003

Feedback on the Diamandis interview and other recent topics.

Columbia related links...

March 2, 2003

Fun with the Rocket Equation ... Joel Anderson has informed me about his nice little utility program - Joyride! Spaceship Designer Sketchpad - which you can use to do "back of the envelope" estimates by varying values of payload (including vehicle structure), delta-v, ISP, and GLOW.

See also the Rocketry section for links to other rocketry related software.

March 1 , 2003

An Interview with Peter Diamandis : Founder and President of the X PRIZE Foundation - Peter talks about a number of topics including the funding of the prize, the sub-orbital approach to developing spaceflight, regulatory issues, and follow-on contests.

News briefs... Ralph Hall still upset about the X-38 cancellation: Opening Statement by Rep. Ralph Hall - SpaceRef - Feb.27.03 ...

... Can do or wishful thinking? A patchwork plan for space rescue - MSNBC - Feb.28.03


Continue to February 28, 2003

Archives Index for 1999 - present

 

Other RLV News Sources
Space Frontier Society
Space Access Society

NASA SLI News
NASA SpaceTrans

Space-Travel.com
NASA Watch- Launch
OrbiReport - SpaceTrans
Spacetoday.net:Launch

 

RLV related discussion groups:
Space Frontier -
CATS Bulletin Board

ERPS Email

 
 
 
Home  |  Directory  |  Advertising  |  About  |  Contact  |  Disclaimer
© 1999-2013 HobbySpace, All Rights Reserved.
HobbySpace is a part of Space-H Services.