Jeff Foust discusses RLV regulations and issues brought up at the
Space Access'03 meeting : RLV
regulation: licensing vs. certification - The Space Review - Apr.28.03
Elon gets more press: Way
Out There: Elon Musk made a fortune from the Internet. Now he wants
to deliver payloads into space--and save mankind by colonizing Mars.
- Forbes/Yahoo - Apr.24.03 ...
Funny how entrepreneurial launch companies don't exist in Republican
Dave Weldon's universe : Speech
by Rep. Dave Weldon at the 2003 Space Congress - Apr.28.03
Rutan's SS1 and regulation questions : Private
Innovation, Public Stagnation by Rand Simberg - FOXNews.com - Apr.25.03
Vinci Project home page indicates that they have gotten 90%
of the five million Canadian dollars they need for the project....
Brad Stone of Newsweek will
discuss on line his article
about Jeff Bezos's rocket company this Friday, May 2, at noon ET....
More about SS1 and SpaceDev : A
quest to bring space within reach: Designer betting a reusable winged
rocket just the vehicle - SignOnSanDiego - Apr.29.03.
from Space Access ...
Henry Vanderbilt threw another great Space
Access Society Conference last week. I'll be posting my
review and synopses of the talks later in the day. In the meantime,
here are some reviews already online:
I guess everybody has allready seen the news about Jeff Bezos and
his rocket company
in Space: Amazon.com’s founder and a few other high-tech high rollers
are spending millions on a shared dream: to re-ignite the exploration
of space - Newsweek/MSNBC - May.5.03 issue. I knew he was a
physics major but I also heard a rumor that he was in SEDS
while in college. If true that certainly indicates this space venture
is no lark but something he is deeply dedicated to.
to Space Access ...
No updates till next the 29th. Going to the Space
Access Society'03 Conference in Arizona. Hope to see you
Aerosciences press release:
Aeroscience Corporation (eAc) announces selection as a team member
providing the hybrid rocket propulsion system for
Burt Rutan’s Manned Space Program
Miami Florida - April 22, 2003
1994, eAc has pioneered the development of nitrous oxide hybrid
propulsion including the first ever sounding rocket flight of
such a system from a NASA launch facility. eAc has been designing,
testing, and flying hybrid rocket motors for tactical missiles,
sounding rockets, and satellite launch applications; and with
this announcement, space tourism. After two years of secret development
with Scaled Composites,
we are proud to announce our involvement as a vendor for the propulsion
system for SpaceShipOne.
We are excited
to have participated in the unveiling of this historic program
on Friday, April 18, 2003. “Even though they are a tiny company
… they’ve fired over a thousand hybrid motors, and that’s why
they were selected,” said Burt Rutan at the event. Korey Kline,
eAc Director of R&D was quoted as saying “These are the Wright
Brothers days of Civilian Space Flight”.
firings at our test facility in Miami were conducted in support
of the SpaceShipOne propulsion system. The experiences of the
South Florida testing allowed eAc to bring to Scaled a functional
and proven system resulting in the efficient execution of the
first successful static test in Mojave. eAc’s forward bulkhead
with the SpaceShipOne oxidizer filling and vent systems was selected
and qualified thru a competition with another vendor and will
be used for all ground and flight testing. The hybrid rocket design
represents the state of the art in low recurring cost nitrous
oxide hybrid propulsion for space tourism applications.
eAc is currently
working on advanced hybrid propulsion developments with AFRL and
DARPA, including the world's smallest orbital launch vehicle,
The MuLV is a safe, responsive, and affordable launch system that
will carry 350-1200lb payloads into low earth orbit. A turbo-pump
fed 30,000 lb thrust common-core booster design is used to lower
development costs. A single motor system is designed and used
for the central booster motor, with a variety of combinations
of strap-on boosters of the same design. The lifting capacity
is determined by this first stage configuration. Developmental
firings include a 16” diameter nitrous hybrid that has produced
11,000 lbs thrust levels. The first series of nine test firings
on this scale have been very successful allowing us to fine-tune
the fuel grain geometry and injector design..
simulations... An Aviation Week reporter takes the SS1
to space and back in this detailed account of his simulator piloting
Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne Simulator - Aviation Week - Apr.21.03
Scaled apparently uses the X-Plane
simulator. See the White
Knight X-Plane simulation at X-Plane.org....
A somewhat more modest SS1 simulation is included in this Java
applet at SpaceTethers.com.
to contact Congress to save rocketry - Space Log
SS1 info ... Jeff Foust writes more about the SS1 rollout-
aims for space: A look at SpaceShipOne - The Space Review - Apr.21.03
In his latest update,
John Carmack comments on the SS1 and how it will affect (or not)
the plans at Armadillo Aerospace for the X PRIZE competition.
has announced that it will begin development of a small launcher
- 1000lb to orbit - based on the hybrid propulsion system developed
for the SpaceShipOne program - SpaceDev
Announces Streaker Launch Vehicle : SpaceDev Propulsion Technology
Spin-offs from SpaceShipOne Program - SpaceDev - Apr.22.03.
development began after it purchased the rights to the AMROC
technology. The company is also developing an orbital transfer “space
tug” for the Air Force called the Maneuvering
and Transfer Vehicle (MTV™) that also uses hybrid propulsion.
SpaceX articles... Elon Musk's launcher project keeps
getting noticed - Can
Net Whiz Kid Conquer Space? - Wired - Apr.22.03 * Entrepreneur
Tries His Midas Touch in Space - LA Times - Apr.22.03
press for the SS1... Jon Bonné at MSNBC has written a
couple of excellent articles about Rutan's spaceship (found the
links via Transterrestrial
Musings). The article - Flying
to space: A cockpit view : A trip 62 miles high and back down, all
in 90 minutes - MSNBC - Apr.21.03 - gives a nice overview of
what a flight would be like.
The other article
space race, public hurdles : Regulations may hampter efforts to
prove technology - MSNBC - Apr.21.03 - discusses potential regulatory
roadblocks for suborbital tourism and possible solutions.
Note: I exchanged
some emails with Mr. Bonné a couple of months ago, first
about the Kistler K-1 and then about private suborbital rocket development
and the X PRIZE. He was very skeptical and indicated that he didn't
think there had been much progress since the competition was first
announced back in 1996. He now seems to be much more positive.
Knight on cover of Aviation Week... AW&ST
gives extensive coverage this week to the White Knight and the SpaceShipOne
rollout. Thankfully, they put the long and detailed article online
Spaceship - Aviation Week - Apr.21.03.
Some of the
items from the article include:
- The project
funding comes from an undisclosed source. AW&ST estimates
the project cost at $20-30 million.
- Project development
started as far back as 1996 and the designs went through a number
of modifications over the years. Serious development started when
full funding arrived in April of 2001. They hoped to be flying
by now but development has been slower than expected.
Ed. Note: A common proposition on
the space newsgroups and other forums has been that Rutan was
waiting for the X PRIZE to obtain full funding before he would
start building his vehicle. However, it turns out that he had
started the hardware development long before the purse reached
the $10 million.
- Outside of
the atmosphere attitude, control of the SS1 will come from a "redundant
set of pitch, roll and yaw thrusters powered by 6,000 psi. bottles
of dry air in the cabin." The pressurized air will also
power the feather actuator, defog the windows (fogging has been
a serious problem in ground tests), and maintain the cabin pressure.
- No pressure
suits for the pilot and passengers. "Rutan believes the overbuilt
structure of the cabin provides the same safety backup as a spacesuit."
There are no ejection seats. The crew will need to crank open
the hatch and parachute out.
- They will
carry out a number of test flights that gradually build up to
the 100km altitude. Once the funded test flight phase is done,
Rutan would like to do one flight a week for a few months to determine
operational issues. He estimates an eventual cost of $80k per
Rutan only recently
talked with the FAA about the project. He makes a guess of $100-300
million to certify a craft for regular tourist service. So he is
pessimistic about using the system for space tourism.
I think Burt should talk with Jeff Greason of XCOR and others involved
in the recent Suborbital
Institute campaign on Capitol Hill - Feb.11.03 (see also
Jeff Foust's article : Suborbital
activists go to Washington - Spaceflight Now - Feb.22.03) The
issues of licensing and certification for suborbital vehicles were
at the top of the agenda. Comments from the AST
representatives indicated they were quite aware of how the costs
of unrealistic certification demands might kill the infant industry
in the cradle.
a general recognition by regulators and the Congressional staff
with whom we talked that this brand new flight service can't instantly
meet the same level of safety and reliability that the mature aviation
industry reached after many decades in business. I'm fairly optimistic
that some compromise can be reached. Perhaps the "Accredited
Passenger" concept discussed by Peter Diamandis will
become the basis of such a compromise.
more steps to space - Popular Science - Apr.21.03 ... Rutan
unveils reusable suborbital spacecraft - Spacetoday.net - Apr.19.03
SpaceShipOne info... Funtech Systems of Altamonte Springs,
Florida developed the FTS
- Flight Navigation Unit for the White Knight & SpaceShipOne.
Note that Funtech is also a X PRIZE entry
but has not announced any vehicle development progress....
Lots of articles in various newspapers about the rollout but most
are rehashes of the AP article or the press release. This one from
the LA Daily News provides extra background info: Rutan
unveils privately funded spacecraft - L.A. Daily News - Apr.18.03
taken by Jeff
Foust during the rollout of the White Knight & SpaceShipOne
shoots for the stars with SpaceShipOne
by Jeff Foust
aircraft designer Burt Rutan ended months of speculation Friday
when he publicly unveiled an aircraft and a spacecraft that
together offer what his company calls "the first private manned
event attended by several hundred journalists and invited
guests at the headquarters of Rutan's company, Scaled
Composites, in Mojave, California, Rutan displayed for
the first time both the SpaceShipOne rocket-powered suborbital
vehicle and the White Knight aircraft that will carry it aloft.
Guests of the event ranged from Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin
and Apollo-era spacecraft designer Max Faget to space tourist
Dennis Tito and balloonist Steve Fossett.
fighting laryngitis during his speech, said he is developing
this private spacecraft now in the hopes of igniting a "renaissance"
in spacecraft development similar to the one seen in aviation
between 1909-1912. While by 1908 only the pilots had flown,
by the end of this three-year aviation renaissance hundreds
of aircraft types had been developed and thousands of pilots
had flown. The development of a private suborbital spacecraft
could create a similar renaissance in spaceflight to end the
decades of stagnation in government-run programs, Rutan said.
the concept started back in April 1996, inspired in large
part by the X Prize. Design work started about three and a
half years ago, and full development of both vehicles commenced
in April 2001. The first test flight of the White Knight aircraft
took place on August 1, 2002; photos of that were published
by Aviation Week shortly thereafter, leading to speculation
about Rutan's plans, but the veil of secrecy surrounding the
program remained largely in place until Friday's event.
planned, SpaceShipOne will be carried aloft attached to the
underside of the White Knight. At an altitude of 15,000 meters,
SpaceShipOne will separate, ignite its rocket motor, and go
into a steep climb. The vehicle would achieve a peak speed
of about Mach 3 and climb to an altitude of 100 kilometers.
SpaceShipOne would make a similarly-steep descent before leveling
out at about 24,000 meters and gliding to a runway landing,
less than 70 kilometers downrange from the launch point.
design feature of SpaceShipOne reduces the heating loads of
the vehicle on reentry. Before reentry begins, the vehicle
raises the trailing edge of its wing, along with its twin
tails, to more than a 60-degree angle to the horizontal. This
"carefree" reentry mode, Rutan said, is designed to put the
spacecraft into a "superstable" configuration that is far
more forgiving to trajectory errors than the space shuttle
or the X-15. The wing and tail sections are rotated back to
the horizontal position at 24,000 meters to allow the vehicle
to glide to a landing.
will be powered by a single hybrid-propellant rocket engine,
using nitrous oxide oxidizer and rubber fuel. Much of the
propulsion system will not be developed by Scaled; as Rutan
noted, "we're not rocket scientists here." With propulsion
systems from major engine developers too expensive, and concerned
about putting such a critical system in the hands of a single,
small company, Scaled is instead running a competition. Two
Aerosciences Corporation and SpaceDev,
are each developing and testing engines, one of which will
be selected for use on SpaceShipOne. Rutan would not disclose
when he would select a winning design, but a source with one
of the competing companies said that a decision would likely
come late this year.
for the whole SpaceShipOne flight test program is also shrouded
in secrecy. Rutan hinted that the first phase of the flight
test program, captive carry test flights where SpaceShipOne
is carried aloft under White Knight but not released, would
begin in the very near future, with glide tests taking place
afterwards in the next few months. However, Rutan refused
to disclose any schedule for later flight tests, or even when
the first rocket-powered flight or first flight into space
would take place. Part of that reticence to disclose information,
Rutan explained, is because "we just don't know yet" how many
test flights will be required.
the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded this program prior
to Friday's event will likely remain in place for the foreseeable
future. "We're not going to have any press conferences during
the test regime," Rutan said. Instead, Scaled will post a
monthly summary of the events that took place in the last
month of the test program, but not what is scheduled to take
place in the next month. "We'll tell what we have done, not
what we're going to do," he said.
also left open questions about the long-term status of the
SpaceShipOne program. He made it clear that SpaceShipOne is
not a commercial vehicle, and even though it is an X Prize
competitor there are no plans to sell seats on flights to
paying passengers, or use it for other commercial purposes.
Rutan said he plans to flight test the vehicle to determine
what the cost is to operate it, and possibly use that as the
basis for other vehicles.
also declined to discuss the cost of the program, although
when asked he said that winning the $10 million X Prize would
not allow SpaceShipOne to pay for itself. Scaled documents
provided at the event state that the cost of the program is
projected to be "close to a Soyuz ride", suggesting something
on the order of $20 million. Rutan didn't disclose the source
of his funding, only to say that when he went out to look
for money shortly after starting the program two years ago
he "immediately found it."
while White Knight and SpaceShipOne are definitely private
vehicles, the overall feel for the venture was one that was
far more research and development oriented than commercial.
"Fun is more important that profit," Rutan quipped at one
point. He said his chief motivation was not winning the X
Prize but laying claim to the title of the first private manned
spaceflight, a feat that he hoped would inspire others to
develop vehicles that would inaugurate a renaissance in space
flight similar to the one in aviation. "Even if there's only
a tiny bit of what we did that inspires others," he said,
"then that's everything."
SpaceShipOne info... eAc has posted more info now on
their work to win the hybrid motor contract : eAc
- Environmental Aeroscience - Tier I ...
In the Slashdot
posting about the rollout, John
Carmack responds to the news.
briefs... Even after Friday's rollout, I doubt NASA will
change its collective mind about whether other companies besides
the big guys can develop space hardware : NASA
Should Re-start Alternative Access to Space Station ASAP! Secret
Decision to Kill Program a Mistake - Space Frontier Foundation -
Major Columbia disaster clue: Shuttle
Doomed at Takeoff: Telltale Heat Spike Was Recorded After Debris
Strike - ABCNEWS - Apr.18.03
Burt Rutan rolls out
"History's First Private Manned
Knight airborne launcher in a test flight.
in Mojave, California Burt Rutan's Scaled
Composites company rolls out their two stage suborbital
transportation system to compete for the X
PRIZE and to serve the space tourism market. According
to the company:
photo shows the rocket powered second stage -
- slung below the launcher.
Lower photo shows a
event will show not just dreams or mockups in search
of funding, but an extensive two-year-old research program
including all new hardware: airborne launcher, spaceship,
rocket propulsion, avionics, simulator and ground support
Composites, the most prolific research aircraft development
company in the world, is tired of waiting for others
to provide affordable human space access. Active and
hidden for two years, an aggressive, manned sub-orbital
space program has been in work in the Mojave, CA desert.
event is not about dreams, predictions or mockups. We
will show actual flight hardware: an aircraft for high-altitude
airborne launch, a flight-ready manned spaceship, a
new, ground-tested rocket propulsion system and much
more. This is not just the development of another research
aircraft, but a complete manned space program with all
its support elements.
unveiling is not a marketing event. We are not seeking funding
and are not selling anything. We are in the middle of an important
research program - to see if manned space access can be done
by other than the expensive government programs. After the
unveiling, we will go back into hiding to complete the flight
tests and conduct the space flights."
event will include a flight demonstration and opportunity
to inspect and photograph a new, never-seen spaceship"
and present "unique rocket propulsion hardware, conduct
interviews, and [...] a technical Q & A session." Cliff
Robertson will be the MC.
note 1: I received an invitation to this event
(thanks Burt!!) but unfortunately I could not attend. Instead
Jeff Foust of spacetoday.net
took my invitation and will post a report here over the weekend.
With this debut of a privately developed suborbital passenger
transportation system and with the launch by the end of the
year of a privately developed unmanned orbital system at SpaceX,
are we really so far from low cost commercial passenger transportation
to orbit?? Looks like construction of the stairway
to orbit is well underway.
The Scaled site provides a lot of info but it's hard to reach
at the moment due to the posting at Slashdot about the rollout.
However, here are some miscellaneous items from what I was
able to download:
- * The
SpaceShipOne "wings are folded up to provide a shuttle-cock
or "feather" effect to help stabilize the vehicle for reentry."
The "'Care-Free' configuration allows a 'hands-off
reentry and greatly reduces aero/thermal loads.
- * Everything
reusable except they will "replace the fuel casing
and nozzle between high altitude flights."
uses hybrid propulsion with nitrous oxide and rubber propellent
and an ablative nozzle.
and AAE Aerospace are assisting Scaled in making the composite
nitrous tank and case/throat/nozzle.
which entered hybrid
development after buying rights to the technology of
AMROC a few years ago, and Environmental
Aerosciences (parent of Hypertech,
which makes high power rocketry hybirds) are "being
competed" to develop the motor and plumbing components.
picture shows a ground test of the motor system so it seems
fairly far along even though its still "being competed".
design allows for glide landing.
for a 'shirt-sleeve' environment, the 60" [~1.8m] diameter
cabin has a space-qualified ECS [Environmental Control System]
and dualpane windows."
White Knight and SpaceShipOne have identical cockpit and
systems "allowing component flight-qualification testing
and realistic pilot training."
articles & sites:
news in suborbital space development...
Full story at 1:00pm EST. (This
moving on up to Hangar 61. XCOR
Aerospace is relocating this weekend to a much larger building
on the Mojave Airport grounds. Looks like there's plenty of room
for lots more rocketplanes now. (Thanks go to Aleta Jackson for
briefs ... Boeing blurb on its OSP contract : Boeing
Launches Orbital Space Plane Design - Boeing PR - Apr.18.03
- includes this image.
of their design....
on a test microwave beam propulsion : Researchers
develop 'microwave rocket' - Daily Yomiuri - Apr.15.03
Open source space... Michael
Mealling talks about the possibilities of applying the open source
software approach to space project development : From
Buck and Wernher to Erik Raymond and Linus Torvalds - RocketForge
Space Access'03 - latest
"Book your flights and rooms now - it's just one week till
Society's eleventh annual conference on the business, politics,
and technology of radically cheaper access to space, Space Access
'03, Thursday evening April 24th through Saturday night April 26th,
2003, at the Old Town Hotel & Conference Center in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"Our conference will once again be a cross-section of who's
who in the emerging low-cost launch industry, presenting an informal
snapshot of where things are this spring of 2003. Be there or miss
out - part of our relaxed atmosphere and up-to-the-second inside
information is that we don't ask for formal papers and we don't
- Brian "Rocket Guy" Walker, on Plans & Progress
- Dave Salt, "Small RLVs And On-Orbit Assembly: The Business Case
- Ed Wright, X-Rocket LLC
- Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society
- George Herbert, Retro Aerospace, "Orbital Space Plain: Low-Cost
Approach To OSP"
- Henry Spencer, "Orbits and Approaches" plus a short special
- Henry Vanderbilt, SAS, "Markets & Finance Open Forum" and "Interesting
- Jeff Greason, XCOR, "Reusable Rocket Design Considerations &
- Jess Sponable, AFRL, "Military Spaceplane Technology & Planning"
- John Carmack, Armadillo Aerospace
- John M Jurist PhD, CRM Inc, "Biomedical Aspects Of Commercial
- Jonathan Goff, "Brief Report On A Work In Progress: Pintle Injector
Product Design Generator"
- Jordin Kare, "Laser Launch - A Quick Review Of The Field"and
"An Economic Approach"
- Laurie Wiggins, TOSPACE Company Inc, "TOSPACE Launch Requirements"
- Len Cormier, "Bear Cub"
- Pat Bahn, TGV Rockets
- Pat Kelley, Vela Technology, on Low Wing-Loading Launch Assist
- Peter Diamandis, X-Prize
- Wes Kelly, Triton Systems, "The Stellar J: Should You Build
Orbital Space Plane - Observations On A Slippery Slope"
- XCOR Aerospace, "Xerus Spaceplane & Other Developments"
- Reusable Launch Regulatory Considerations & Developments
- Randall Clague (XCOR), Jay Garvin (FAA AST), Neil Milburn (Armadillo),
Michelle Murray (FAA AST), Brian Walker
- NASA And Orbital Space Plane: Revolution, Evolution, Or Business
- George Herbert, Rand Simberg, Henry Vanderbilt, others TBA
- Cheap Access Politics: DC Doings And Activism's Role
- Pat Bahn (Suborbital Institute), Frank Sietzen (Space Transportation
Association), Henry Vanderbilt (SAS), others TBA
- Reentry & Risks: Technical Lessons From The Loss Of Columbia
- Jeff Greason, Henry Spencer, Wes Kelly, others TBA
"We may yet add one or two talks. (Speakers with specific
scheduling requirements, please contact us.) "
Continue to the update
at SAS for more information...
Big news soon with regard to
private space development. Stay tuned....
Suborbital respect... Jeff
Foust looks at the increasing interest in suborbital rocket flight
ascending trajectory: Once dismissed as a dead end, reusable suborbital
spacecraft are finally getting respect - Space Review - Apr.14.03
Technology Review looks at rocket planes...
Just came across this article : Countdown
for Rocket Planes: In the wake of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster,
a new generation of rocket-powered launch technologies gets a closer
look - Technology Review - Feb.7.03 (free registration required.)
It looks at the various private companies like XCOR and the X PRIZE
competitors who are developing low cost rocket technology.
SpaceX article... Leonard David
interviews Elon Musk in the article Internet
Entrepreneur Sets His Sights on the Satellite Launch Market - Space.com
"'So far it has gone quite smoothly…much better than I thought,'
Musk reported. "So far I can't really complain. It has been smooth
Falcon's reusable first stage is nearly built. The rocket's second
stage is in fabrication. The nose fairing is nearly complete.
Propulsion system goals are being met.
"I think we've got the risks pretty well characterized," Musk
said, although the rocketeer admitted he might feel differently
three months from now.
If all goes as planned, Falcon is to fly in the fourth quarter
of this year .."
... And yet another SpaceX
article : Taking
a cheap shot at space -USA TODAY/SpaceX reprint - Apr.15.03
XCOR raises equity investment...
$187,500 Equity Investment - XCOR PR - Apr.16.03 : " XCOR
Aerospace announced today it has successfully acquired an additional
$187,500 in equity investments. This round of investment qualifies
the company for a Department of Defense program that matches private
capital four to one up to $750,000. The funds will be used for development
of rocket engine pump technology."
Prize incentives... This report
Stages To Orbit by Adrian Tymes, Michael Wallis, and Randall
Clague of ERPS
will be presented at the ISDC
2003 meeting in May. It outlines a federally funded program
of prizes for specific milestone accomplishments patterned after
the X PRIZE. A
set of 5 competitions, with prizes for runners-up instead of winner-take-all,
would generate incremental development going from low altitude rocket
vehicle flights to orbit. (Thanks go to Kaido Kert for a newsgroup
posting about this report.)
European RLV status... The
April 14th issue of Aviation Week offers an article on the status
of RLV development in Europe: More RLV Delays: Europe's space
managers fear Ariane problems could slow efforts to restart an RLV
Program. Some of the items in the article include:
- ESA has not had a RLV development program since the Festip
initiative ended in 1998.
- ESA is proposing to start the Future Launcher Preparatory
Program (FLPP). They are seeking 145M euro ($155M) to build
one demonstrator to test thermal protection systems and another
for testing general RLV technology.
- However, the Ariane 5 problems threaten to eat up all of ESA's
funding and the FLPP will have difficulty obtaining the funding.
- There is strong interest in getting involved with the OSP program,
provided there is some protection against another unilateral cancellation
as with the X-38.
- A couple of national programs continue:
- The German Astra Phoenix
lander demonstrator will begin test flights next year.
- Italy's Prora
program will develop a 1.3 metric tone Unmanned Space Vehicle
(USV) demonstrator under development. It will carry out suborbital
reentry tests in the 2004-2005 timeframe. An orbital flight
test program might be part of the FLPP program in 2006-2008.
News brief ... The X PRIZE
article in this month's Popular Science is not online but this other
launcher article is: Space
Shuttle: The Next Generation - Popular Science - May.03
Popular Rockets... Not seen
it yet but the May issue of Popular
Science has the article "A Few Dreamers Building Rockets
in Workshops: X Prize contenders aim for space and $10 million."
Includes pictures from Armadillo Aerospace and other projects.
Shroud decision shrouded...
This week's Space News (April 14,2003) includes the article "Decision
to Shroud X-37 Launch Puzzles OSP Hopefuls". An item
on March 26th discussed the decision to move the X-37
to an EELV launcher and the issue of whether to shroud the vehicle.
Apparently, NASA decided on its own to do that and the OSP teams
are wondering why. The OSP will almost certainly not be shrouded
since this would seriously complicate crew rescue during a launch
Some OSP designers think they could learn something from an unshrouded
X-37 about the structural effects of a winged or lifting body on
an ELV. NASA, however, claims that its aerodynamacists report that
an unshrouded X-37, whose size and shape significantly differ from
the proposed OSP designs, would not provide useful data. NASA is
more interested in the re-entry and landing performance and wants
to avoid dealing with the question of the bending forces on the
News brief ... The April 6th
Space Show interview with Henry Vanderbilt of the Space
Access Society is now available in the Space
News brief ... Armadillo's
update reports on progress but serious problems with availability
of high purity hydrogen peroxide. Hover test of subscale vehicle
... Here Buzz Aldrin and others
discuss a commercial approach to space development via a webcast
of the Cato Institute's meeting: Space:
The Free-Market Frontier on Wed. Apr.16.03 - 12:00pm.....
uses a conservative approach in a NASA commissioned study to predict
the future for launch rates, new space markets, elasticity of demand
to launch costs, and how a 2nd gen RLV in 2012 time frame would
affect launch market - Futron
Reviews Our Orbital ASCENT- Futron/SpaceDaily - Apr.14.03 -
“Top Ten” Things We Learned During the ASCENT Study -pdf report
Starchaser engine test ...
successfully tested on April 9th a bi-propellant liquid rocket engine.
"The liquid oxygen/kerosene powered system generated some 2,200
kilos[4.84k lb] of thrust for 15 seconds." The tests will continue
for increasingly longer periods and will eventually reach "a
full 3 tonnes of thrust". They will install five of these engines
in the Nova vehicle, which they plan to use to launch a single passenger
late this year to 10km (see the crew capsule item below).
These engines will also power their Thunderbird X PRIZE vehicle.
The Canadian da
Vinci X PRIZE Project gets another sponsor - Ramius
Corporation- and software design support from CFD Research Corporation.
The project is also seeking volunteer engineers to help with the
design of the vehicle.
News briefs ... OSP speedup?
- NASA chief vows to speed development of space plane - Apr.9.03
hope lives on -Hypersonics
Work Speeds Ahead - Space.com - Apr.8.03
News briefs ... Latest Armadillo
Aerospace update reports on the delivery of a full sized prototype
fuel tank for the X PRIZE vehicle (photo
of tank and crew cabin), the examination of alternate propellents
if large quantities of 90% peroxide become unavailable, and continued
efforts to attain stable hover of the subscale prototype.
... PR about the SLI/OSP study
contracts : Northrop
Grumman, Orbital Sciences Join Forces to Refine Requirements for
Orbital Space Plane - Northrop Grumman PR - Apr.8.03
F-15 Hot Rod to Launch Satellites ...
Both Aviation Week and Space News report on a new Air Force project
to use a modified F-15E fighter to launch a 100kg payload to orbit
on a 3 stage booster. This month an F-15 with an souped-up engine
and stripped of bomb racks and other non-essential equipment will
carry out a practice run of a supersonic zoom maneuver that
will send the plane to an altitude of 12km and a speed of Mach 1.7.
The F-15 will carry a dummy payload to represent the rocket that
will be built by Orbital Sciences. If all goes well, a real launch
could occur within 6 months.
The goal of this microsatellite launch vehicle (MSLV) project is
to provide LEO access for 100-200kg payloads for around $5M. Currently
the Orbital Sciences Pegasus is the only US vehicle dedicated to
launching small payloads (~450kg to LEO) and it charges around $25M.
This is usually too much for the various R&D microsatellite
projects that typically cost less than $5M to build.
Note that the DARPA RASCAL
project aims to put 100kg payloads to 500km while the F-15 project
is going for 225km.
More rapid launchers... The
F-15 project is part of the Air Force's push to obtain fast access
to space for small payloads such as a "pop-up" imager
satellite that on short notice could be placed in an orbit that
provides good views of a crisis area. The Rapid
Response - Aviation Week - Apr.7.03 article mentioned below
describes the various ideas that will be studied in the coming year
as part of the Operationally Responsive Spacelift and Analysis of
Alternatives (ORS/AOA) program.
The same Aviation Week issue includes the article Quick Cheap
Launch: Year-long USAF study aims for new launchers by 2014,
which discusses projects at the Air Force that are examining designs
for low cost launchers for small payloads. One such program seeks
to carry out a demonstration launch in 2007.
Microcosm and SpaceX
are looking to provide this low cost launch capability and the article
describes both projects. Microcosm has been developing composite
carbon fiber LOX tanks and very low cost pressure fed engines. The
company claims that after it has launched 10 times the cost of the
Scorpius system would reach as low as $1.8M for placing 320kg to
a 167km (100 nautical mi.) orbit. The next test of the Scorpious
will be a suborbital launch in 2004.
SpaceX will use aluminum tanks and turbopumped first stage engine
and a pressure fed second stage. The company claims it will send
454kg to the same orbit for $6M. The first flight could occur by
the end of this year.
Another Aviation Week article in this issue call Space Shell
Game: The right launch vehicle and payload matchup will allow some
on-orbit sleight of hand discusses how rapid, low-cost delivery
of microsatellites to orbit could provide very interesting capabilities
when combined with in orbit refueling systems. This would allow
for frequent orbit changes so that, for example, an imaging satellite
could move to a more favorable orbit for viewing a particular area.
Boeing and ATK Thiokol are studying a multi-stage booster air-launched
from atop a 747. They are looking at whether a space maneuvering
vehicle (SMV), for which the X-37
is a prototype, could be launched with such a system. The reusable
SMV could release payloads, carryout rendezvous tasks, and carryou
out other on-orbit missions.
Not giving up on Alternate Access
to Space ... Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) asks NASA to
support and continue the AAS program, which NASA consistently undercut
and now wants to kill officially so as to shift funds to the OSP
[March 14] from Rep. Rohrabacher to NASA OET AA Creedon regarding
Alternate Access to Station funding - SpaceRef - Apr.7.03
Quick launchings... The military
wants the capabilty of launching payloads on the order of hours
rather than months - Rapid
Response - Aviation Week - Apr.7.03 . Except for the partially
approach [and the F-15 launcher above - Apr.8.03], however, they
will not push for a near term RLV system.
SpaceCub memories ... Geoffrey
Landis has posted a page - Remembering
SpaceCub - Geoffrey A. Landis - about the SpaceCub
suborbital rocket design project that he, David L. Burkhead and
others developed in the 1994. The vertical-takeoff-vertical-landing
vehicle, inspired by the success of the DC-X
project, was one of the first proposed for suborbital tourism.
Ironically, on the very same day at the 1995 International Space
Development Conference that they presented their design, Peter
Diamandis announced the X
PRIZE competition. Unfortunately, the Spacecub team did not
have the time or resources to take the design into hardware development
for the contest.
As we approach a major step in the X PRIZE competition, it is interesting
to reflect on the history of the suborbital passenger rocket idea
and how more and more people gradually came to see suborbital as
the logical first step for public access to space.
News briefs ... Orlando Sentinel
looks at the X PRIZE - Private
sector might open space to public, some say - Orlando Sentinel -
Apr.6.03 - while still claiming that lower cost space travel
will only arrive in a few decades from NASA technology development
ship - Orlando Sentinel - Apr.6.03....
... At least there is one country
with a spaceship available: After
Heated Debate, Russia Agrees To Fund ISS Flights - SpaceDaily -
Columbia/Shuttle Program links ...
OSP study money ... The funding
flows to the usual suspects : The
NASA awards $135 million to continue Space Launch Initiative work
- NASA - Apr.5.03
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 items sent to me about advancements in these areas
but they don't quite fit into this section or the Space
Log. So I decided to open a news page dedicated to these
Note that advanced rocketry news items 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. So
I'm hoping this provides a useful service to those working in these
I'm certainly not an expert in advanced rocketry but I only intend
to post items and not provide commentary or original work. (I'm
not an expert on RLV's either and that didn't stop me opening this
section!) Also, Andrew Case, who does participate seriously in advanced
rocketry, will provide me expert advice.
Links and background information about Advanced
Rocketry can be found in the Rocketry
Star Chasing Billions... The
capsule debut has attracted several articles - see collection of
links at SpaceToday.net.
Nice to see the Starchaser group making steady progress. However,
some of the articles leave one wondering about the diligence of
certain news reporters. For example, the Daily
Telegraph says Starchaser seeks to claim " the X-Prize:
a $10 billion (£6.5 billion) bounty..." and the Times
of London reports on the "launch of Nova, the world’s first
reusable passenger rocket, over Morecambe Bay..."
The X PRIZE, of
course, actually promises a more modest $10 million to the winner
and the Nova has so far had only a single, unmanned flight. I would
think the X-1, X-15, Shuttle, EZ- Rocket, etc. would take umbrage
other vehicles claiming to be the first reusable passenger rocket.
News briefs ... Brian
Chase, executive director of the National Space Society,
gives testimony to Congress on space transportation issues : Testimony
of Brian Chase before the Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee
of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
- SpaceRef - Apr.2.03 ...
... Register now for the Second
International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion in Sendai,
Japan on Oct.20-23, 2003. The
Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Beamed Energy
Propulsion: Huntsville, AL, November 5 - 7, 2002 now available....
... As mentioned below,
StarChaser unveiled its one seater capsule for a low altitude rocket
launcher : X-Prize
Competitor Unveils Manned Space Capsule - Space.com - Apr.3.03.
Columbia/Shuttle Program links..
News brief ... Orbital Sciences
in the lead for the X-43C
booster - Presolicitation
Notice: X-43C Booster and Launch Services - MSFC/SpaceRef - Mar.31.03
Columbia/Shuttle Program links...
Henry Vanderbilt interview...
The latest announcement from the Space Show:
Sunday, March 30, 2003: Henry Vanderbilt, 4-5:15PM Pacific Daylight
Time on www.live365.com.
[This interview is now in the Space
Show archives - April 15.03]
The Space Show for
Sunday, April 6, 2003 will feature Henry Vanderbilt. Mr. Vanderbilt
founded the Space Access
Society in 1992 for the sole purpose of promoting radically
cheaper practical space transportation. Henry publishes a semi-regular
Space Access Update newsletter and political alerts. In addition,
he has been running the annual "Space Access" conference which
is best described as "Hackers" for rocket people. Mr. Vanderbilt
will be discussing the coming conference scheduled for April 24-26
in Scottsdale Arizona, among other issues.
At the early age of six, while watching John Glenn's historic
flight on black and white T.V., Henry Vanderbilt figured out nobody
was going to pay for him to go to space and he wanted to go! At
the time, someone mentioned that the rocket cost ten million dollars
and they throw it away each flight. Henry's ongoing intense amateur
interest in spaceflight caused him to jump laterally out of a
techno career into successive opportunities to write online about
space and then to work in space politics. Vanderbilt immediately
discovered that everybody had grand schemes about what to do in
space, none of which first solved how to get there affordably.
As a result, Vanderbilt committed himself to solving the space
transportation problem. Vanderbilt discovered early on "that the
ball was being dropped through lack of continuous focus." This
is what prompted him to establish the Space Access Society.
Listeners can talk to Mr. Vanderbilt or send him e-mail during
the program by calling at toll free 1-866-687-7223 or using firstname.lastname@example.org
News briefs ... 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 ...
to debut the Nova II passenger capsule. The 200kg, 3m long, single
seater vehicle will undergo parachute drop tests and then unmanned
flights. The plan is then to launch a person to 30k ft on their
... Joel Anderson continues
to make updates to his educational simulator - Joyride!
Spaceship Designer Sketchpad.
to March 2003