reports on the rocketeers... The PBS
News Hour had a nice segment tonight on private spaceflight
projects with a focus on Burt Rutan and the X PRIZE. The reporter
interviewed Burt and also Peter Diamandis. He generally gave an
accurate description of the competition and its feasibility and
made the usual comparison to the early aviation prizes. There was
also an examination of Sea Launch as the first totally privately
financed launch system.
The report is now available on line : Transcript,
Ed.: Gee, maybe
next even the New York Times or Washington Post will recognise that
there is more to human spaceflight than NASA.
Tito joins X PRIZE Board... The X PRIZE announced today
California Businessman and private space travel pioneer Dennis
Tito has been elected to the X PRIZE Foundation Board of Trustees.
"I'm joining the X PRIZE Foundation Board of Trustees because
I'd like to see a new generation of privately owned and operated
spaceships. These are the ships that will fly thousands of people
into space on an annual basis."
Mr. Tito is
one of two civilian space travelers who have ridden with the Russian
Space Agency to the International Space Station. Tito explains
“Millions of people could easily be qualified for space. Once
the price of traveling to space comes down to the price of an
SUV, I think we'll see thousands of people sign up.”
Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation and fellow California businessman
Dr. Peter Diamandis stated "We are very excited to have Dennis
join our Board of Trustees. His dedication to this field and position
as a spokesperson for this emerging public space travel industry
will help make X PRIZE a visible and global success."
PRIZE has done an excellent job of capturing the public imagination
and stimulating dozens of teams to design and develop new low-cost
methods of traveling on sub-orbital trips into space." - Dennis
became the first private citizen to travel into space when he
boarded the International Space Station on April 28, 2001. The
world's first private space explorer, Mr. Tito is the Founder,
Chairman, and CEO of Wilshire Associates. He began his career
in 1964 when he joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
in Pasadena, California, where he worked for five years. While
there, he helped design trajectories for the Mariner 4 and 9 missions
to Mars and the Mariner 5 mission to Venus.
he left NASA's JPL and began using his mathematical and engineering
knowledge to develop new approaches in the analysis of stock market
risks. He then worked on Wall Street as an investment management
consultant. In the early 1970s, he founded Wilshire Associates,
an investment management consulting firm based in Santa Monica,
California. Wilshire integrated computers with engineering and
investment concepts and developed portfolio management tools.
Mr. Tito created the Wilshire 5000 stock index, the broadest indicator
of US stock market activity. By 1998, Wilshire Associates was
the third-largest investment management consulting firm in the
U.S. -- its 250 specialists advised clients with a total of half
a trillion dollars in assets. Since the early 1990s, Mr. Tito
has concentrated on philanthropic projects, such as building a
medical research facility at the University of California, Los
received his B.S. from New York University College of Engineering
in astronautics and aeronautics in 1962 and an M.S. in Engineering
Science from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in 1964. He resides
in Santa Monica, California.
to the X PRIZE Board was Diane Murphy, Vice President, Communications
at the European Aeronautical Defense & Space Company (EADS) and
Barry Thompson, career entrepreneur and CTO of JBThompson, LLC.
This is great news. Mr. Tito was dismissive of suborbital tourism
during Q&A after a lecture
he gave at the National Air & Space Museum last year, saying
that few would pay for such "joy rides". It's encouraging
that he is willing to change his mind and get involved in such a
promising approach to the incremental development of a true public
space transportation system.
PRIZE chief judge announced... The X PRIZE has selected
Space Shuttle Commander Richard Searfoss as Chief Judge of the X
PRIZE competition. According to the press release,
Chief Judge's initial duty is to complete the development of a
pool of world-renowned aviation and space experts to judge the
X PRIZE Competition. The judges will ensure that the $10 Million
X PRIZE is awarded to the first team to fly a privately financed
reusable three-person spaceship to an altitude of 62 miles-and
repeat the trip within two weeks."
competition is heating up. We could see a winner within the next
12 months. It’s time to complete our judging panel. Rick Searfoss'
extensive career in aviation and space, linked with his skills
as a professional speaker make him the perfect candidate to be
our Chief Judge'explains Dr. Peter Diamandis, Founder and Chairman
of the X PRIZE Foundation."
Rick Searfoss is an Astronaut and Shuttle Commander. Throughout
his career as an astronaut, test pilot, and fighter pilot, he
has logged over 5000 flying hours in 60 different types of aircraft
and nearly 1000 hours in space. In addition to commanding the
Neurolab team (STS-90) he piloted two previous space flights,
one of which was a joint Russian-American mission to the International
Searfoss was the number one graduate in his United States Air
Force Academy and Air Force Squadron Officer School classes and
earned a graduate degree from the California Institute of Technology,
which he attended on a National Science Foundation fellowship.
He was selected for Outstanding Young Men of America and is a
distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons (Topgun)
School and Naval Test Pilot School. His numerous other awards
include USAF F-111 Instructor Pilot of the Year, Distinguished
Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, and NASA Outstanding Leadership
briefs ... The da
Vinci project decides to launch from Kindersley, Saskatchewan
Prize Contestant Chooses Launch Site - Space.com - June.30.03
Aerospace will begin drop tests from a helicopter of its parachute
system as early as this weekend according to the latest
seeks hypersonic cruiser... The Force
Application and Launch from CONUS (FALCON) - DARPA solicitation
looks to develop a "reusable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV).
This autonomous aircraft would be capable of taking off from a conventional
military runway and striking targets 9,000 nautical miles distant
in less than two hours." It also could "potentially provide
the first stage of a two-stage access to space vehicle."
Trans Policy Proposal... The Space Frontier Foundation
issued a Space
Transportation Policy proposal that emphasizes private development
of launch vehicles and to re-orient NASA towards contracting out
such projects rather than dominating them in house. They hope to
influence the "current White House policy review, ordered by
President Bush before the loss of the shuttle orbiter Columbia,
[and] underway within the Space Policy Coordinating Committee".
Frontier Foundation Proposes Space Policy - SFF - June.23.03.
On line discussion
of the policy is at A
New US Space Transportation Policy - Frontier Files Online - June.26.03
briefs ... The Cosmos
1 solar sail, funded by the Planetary
Society and Cosmos
Studios, assembly is proceeding
towards completion in July and launch in September. [Via Kaido Kert]
... More about the Canadian Arrow astronauts : Astronauts
race to fly rocket first - London Free Press - June.27.03
Arrow 'has right stuff' for space race Ontario team announces crew
in contest to send first private-sector rocket to edge of outer
space: 5 countries vying for US$10M - National Post - June.27.03
[Both links via spacetoday.net]
update... The recent aerospike
engine test by a group at Cal
State University Long Beach (CSULB) and Garvey
Spacecraft followed a previous test
in April of 2002, which ran for 200ms before the plug broke off.
tells me that the redesigned engine "managed to get us past
the point where the engine failed during the our first test of this
kind of engine." (The recent firing lasted for 4 seconds.)
that "[h]opefully we will get a similar burn when we attempt
to launch it on the Prospector 2 later this summer."
engines were tested by Rocketdyne in the 1960s and later
for the X-33 program, no liquid fueled aerospike engine has ever
actually powered a rocket in flight. Aerospike engines are ideal
for single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicles since they automatically
compensate for air pressure changes to maintain efficient performance.
More about the
test at Successful
Aerospike Engine Static Fire Test by CSU Long Beach and Garvey Spacecraft
- Cal Space Authority - June.21.03.
PRIZE double win... The X PRIZE project and its founder
Peter Diamandis both received awards at the 2003
World Technology Summit & Awards meeting held in San Francisco
this week : Peter
Diamandis & X PRIZE Receive World Technology Award - X P R I Z E
It was given
for "the non-profit foundation's tireless efforts to spawn
a new groundbreaking industry and educate the public about commercial
space travel." and for Peter's efforts in this and other space
development projects. This was the "first time in the history
of the World Technology Awards that a Company and its Chairman have
been selected as winners in the same year."
big guy thinking small? ... It was revealed during the
recent Paris Airshow that Scaled
Composites is now nearly half owned by Northrop Grumman: Northrop
Acquires Share of Scaled Composites - Aviation Week/PARIS 2003 -
June.03. While Northorp's primary interest is probably in the
company's composite technology and UAV projects, the item suggests
that Northrop may also be interested in the company's "small
space vehicles, including Scaled's own Tier One suborbital vehicle
-- unveiled in April -- and the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency RASCAL small launcher program."
If so, I hope
Northrop shows more staying power than it did with Kistler.
If Northrop had stepped up and funded the completion of the K-1
back in 1999
when Kistler's resources dried up after the LEO constellation market
collapsed, the company would now control the leading launcher technology
in the world and would be sending regular cargo shipments to the
ISS. Instead they wrote off their investment and waited for Kistler
to find other funding sources.
Arrow astronauts revealed... The Canadian
Arrow X PRIZE project has announced
the 6 people selected to become the astronaut crews for its
first two flights. Two "pilot astronauts" will fly on
each mission and so two of the six will serve as backups. (I assume
the third "person" required by the X PRIZE rules will
be ballast, which is allowed.)
Geoff Sheerin indicates that the Arrow may "launch by the end
of the year, although there are still engine tests to perform"
according to the article
Prize's Canadian Arrow Announces its First Astronauts - Space.com
is a former astronaut with the Ukraine National Space Agency and
trained with NASA as backup for a shuttle mission : Astronaut
joins private space race - CNN.com - Jun. 26, 2003.
Institute Press Release:
Institute Applauds Administration
Space Commercialization Action
MD. June 25, 2003 -- The SubOrbital Institute today praised the
Bush Administration for appointing an acting director for the
Department of Commerce's Office
of Space Commercialization ("DoT/OSC"). "We're extremely pleased
to finally see some movement on this issue," said Pat Bahn, Washington
representative of the SubOrbital Institute. "The Office of Space
Commercialization has been without a permanent director off and
on now for two or so years. The SubOrbital Institute has worked
very hard over the past several weeks trying to get the Administration
to appoint at least an acting director to fill this empty job
slot. So we're quite happy and thankful that an acting director
has now been appointed," Bahn continued.
The new acting director is Dr. Gary Gravatt. Dr. Gravatt was Deputy
Director of DoT/OSC under Secretary Malcolm Baldridge, and has
extensive experience throughout the Department of Commerce. "We
believe his experience and history, such as his distinguished
service on the Landsat interagency commercialization team, will
be vital in rebuilding DoT/OSC," said Ed Wright, Executive Director
of the SubOrbital Institute.
The mission of the Office of Space Commercialization is to foster
an economic and policy environment that ensures the growth and
international competitiveness of the U.S. commercial space industry.
It is thus one of the most important points of contact between
the emerging suborbital launch services industry and the federal
Suborbital flight is a small market of huge strategic and economic
importance. The suborbital market exists in the gap between airplanes
and orbital spacecraft. Suborbital vehicles share some characteristics
with airplanes, some others with orbital spacecraft, and still
others with launch vehicles; but they are also different in many
significant ways. Suborbital spaceflight presents a number of
extremely interesting business opportunities with important economic
and national security implications, in areas as diverse as imaging,
science, and tourism.
"Since this office is so important to our nascent industry," Ed
Wright said, "it's imperative that it finally have appointed to
run it be a permanent director. That's what the SubOrbital Institute
will start to work on next," he stated.
The SubOrbital Institute is also vitally concerned with achieving
full staffing for DoT/OSC. "DoT/OSC is currently fully funded
and authorized to have a staffing level of three FTEs, but it
only has one employee at this time," said Wright. "The Department
of Commerce clearly needs to fix this situation. Unless it is
rectified, DoT/OSC simply won't have the manpower to conduct a
study on the obstacles to the further development of a suborbital
launch services industry, as it has wanted to. This is a study
we view as vital," he concluded.
"We're glad DoT/OSC finally has someone at their helm. Now it's
time to also get come crew aboard, too," Bahn finished.
Founded in 2002 by several new, entrepreneurial commercial space
companies, The SubOrbital Institute's mission is to promote regulatory
and legislative initiatives it finds to be important to the promotion
of a robust suborbital industry. It is headquartered in Bethesda,
MD and may be reached at 301/913-0071.
- See the excellent
Reusable Launch Vehicles and Applicable Markets - Oct.02(pdf,
1.8MB) produced by the DoT/OSC last fall.
- The institute
has a web site -
www.suborbitalinstitute.org - but it is not yet activated.
briefs... According to the latest update,
the HSFD (High
Speed Flight Demonstration) Phase 2 Drop Test at Esrange in
northern Sweden should begin any day now. [Via Kaido Kert] ...
As noted here earlier,
SpaceX will fly
out of Cape Canaveral in addition to Vandenberg : SpaceX
to Fly from Florida Space Authority Launch Pad - Space.com Astronotes
- June.25.03 ...
Elon Musk is certainly not keeping a low profile. Besides
the National Space Club
talk in Florida mentioned in the previous link, he will speak
at the Mars Society's
in Eugene Oregon, August 14-17. ...
The two companies in competition for the SpaceShipOne propulsion
contract carried out a couple of tests this month according to the
update at Scaled.com. Spacedev
have each done four tests since last November.
X PRIZE team... A team called Vanguard
Spacecraft has joined the X PRIZE competition. Led by Steve
McGrath of Bridgewater, Massachusetts the team will build a 3-stage
vehicle called the Vanguard
Eagle. It consists of two booster stages and an unpowered capsule
(it has a reaction control system to maneuver for reentry) . The
boosters use both liquid and solid fuel propulsion systems. Each
of the stages lands via parachute into the water (see diagram)
aerospike test success... The Cal State University, Long
Beach Aerospace Engineering Department rocketry group posted this
A team from
California State University, Long Beach, in partnership with Garvey
Spacecraft Corporation (GSC), successfully conducted a static
fire test of a 1000 lbf ablative annular aerospike rocket engine
in the Mojave desert on June 21, 2003 using LOX and ethanol. The
engine ran successfully for the planned 4 seconds. The test also
demonstrated the avionics architecture to be used in subsequent
Prospector-3 flights as part of the development of a low cost
thrust vector control system.
includes more information about the engine and pictures and a video
of the test. They hope to power a Prospector
with an aerospike this summer.
to the CSULB / Garvey team!
I received the following press release from Geoff Sheerin, Team
Leader of the Canadian
Arrow X PRIZE entry:
Arrow to Introduce Astronauts
2003 - The Canadian Arrow Team has selected six individuals who
will train to become X PRIZE astronauts.
The six individuals will be introduced at a news conference on
Thursday, June 26th at 11:30 a.m. and will take part in a gala
fundraiser for Canadian Arrow that evening.
Canadian Arrow Team Leader Geoff Sheerin says he received more
than 200 inquiries and applications from over 100 highly qualified
individuals from around the world.
Fighter pilots, engineers, and people who are already working
for space-related organizations were among the applicants, according
to Sheerin, who says they also heard from many everyday people
such as teachers, software engineers and a taxi driver.
"It has confirmed for me that there are people in every walk of
life who want to travel to space," said Sheerin. "While the people
we've chosen to fly our X PRIZE flights are more highly qualified,
it does tell us there will be many people ready to join us when
we begin taking passengers."
The Canadian Arrow is a passenger space rocket that is being built
by a London-based team of engineers and designers. It is one of
20 space vehicles that are registered in a competition for the
$10 million X PRIZE. The X PRIZE will be awarded to the first
team that creates a flight vehicle that can achieve two manned
space flights with a 14-day period. Each flight must carry at
least one person to minimum altitude of 100 kilometres.
Four of the six Canadian Arrow astronauts will fly the two X PRIZE
flights (two on each) and the other two will be trained as backups.
Date & time: Thursday, June 26th - 11:30 a.m.
Location: Four Points Sheraton
1150 Wellington Road South, London
For more information call:
Ann Hutchison (519) 858-0972
Canadian Arrow Communications
briefs ... The Starchaser
X PRIZE project will conduct "the Nova mark 2 drop tests from
the Red Lake drop zone, Arizona between 21st-25th July 2003."
This test will use an actual flight capsule. Previous
tests used an ATV. ...
... This sidebar
to the recent Popular
Science article on Burt Rutan presents comments from other X
PRIZE competitors on the SS1.
[These two items
suggested by a RLV News reader.]
progress... The HyTECH
scramjet project reaches a milestone: World's
First Flight-Weight, Hydrocarbon-Fueled Scramjet Completes Mach
4.5 Testing, Running at Mach 6.5 - P & W - June.19.03
roadblock? ... Rand Simberg has a post
about a possibly serious conflict between Burt Rutan and regulators
over the test flights of the White Knight/ SpaceShipOne.
Note that their
are two players within the FAA that are involved - the dominant
aviation part, which, among other things, "certifies"
planes for passenger flight, and the much, much smaller Space
Transportation Office (AST), which licenses rockets for launch.
At the SA'2003
meeting, the AST representatives generally gave the impression that
they wanted to work with the suborbital companies and help the industry
develop. (For example, they said "certification" was not
in their vocabulary.) I believe Rand is expressing this positive
impression and suggesting that Burt give AST a chance. He could
apply for a multi-launch license and see how it goes rather than
rejecting that process out of hand.
[One very knowledgeable
source counters that the AST also seemed to be working well with
orbital RLV companies a few years ago but once the AST lawyers got
involved, the actual regulations issued were "onerous, ill-considered,
counterproductive and idiotic." So maybe it's a good idea for
Burt to keep the pressure on.]
wants suborbital regs... Keith Cowing at NASA
Watch today highlighted S.
1260 Commercial Space Transportation Act of 2003 (introduced
in the Senate on June 13th), which explicitly instructs that within
6 months the Department of Transportation must "submit to Congress
a report on the need for a distinct regulatory regime for suborbital
vehicles taking into account the unique characteristics and purposes
of these vehicles."
This could be
another benefit of the Suborbital
Institute's recent campaigns (in February
for progress on a suborbital RLV regulatory framework.
Progress on rocket/ramjet/scramjet combo system (Rocket Based Combined
Cycle or RBCC):
Successfully Tests RBCC Single Thruster, Demonstrating Tri-Fluid
Rocket Injector Capabilities - Aerojet - June.19.03
keep a good business down... Space
Adventures and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency have agreed
to send two tourists to the ISS in 2004-2005. For
Those Who Can Afford It, 2 New Chances to Fly to Space - NY Times
Available: Explorers Wanted - Space Adventures Announces First
Commercial Mission to the International Space Station - Space
Adventures - June.18.03
Note that the
mission involves "two explorers to the ISS aboard a new Soyuz
TMA spacecraft." The previous missions used the one spare seat
when two Cosmonauts were sent to the ISS. The vehicle will be "self-sufficient,
bringing its own food, water and medical supplies and that it may
transport supplemental supplies for the resident crew aboard the
More at Tourist-Class
Soyuz Seats Open for International Space Station Trip - Space.com
- June.18.03. Space Adventures says they have 10 candidates
in "various stages of being ready for orbital flight."
See also : For
Those Who Can Afford It, 2 New Chances to Fly to Space - NY Times
More at Tourist-Class
Soyuz Seats Open for International Space Station Trip - Space.com
- June.18.03. Space Adventures says they have 10 candidates
in "various stages of being ready for orbital flight."
Note that this
evidence of a strong market for orbital tourism even at these high
ticket prices (~$20M) should have a big positive effect on raising
interest and funding for passenger friendly RLVs for both suborbital
and orbital trips.
RLVs a boost... More about the Tethers
Unlimited proposal, recently awarded a NASA grant, for a rotating
tether system to grab a payload from a RLV in very low orbit and
throwing it to a higher one: Tether
Technology: A New Spin on Space Propulsion - Space.com - June.18.03
a ticket & (maybe) get a refund.... If you buy a
ticket for the remaining seat on Starchaser's
X PRIZE second flight, you will get your money back if they win
the competition: Buy
a Ticket into Space! - Starchaser - June.03
It's not only the little guys who are developing hydrogen-peroxide
Grumman Achieves Significant Milestone in Missile Defense Agency's
Liquid Booster Development Program - Northrop-Grumman - June.18.03
brief ... NASA handing out OSP contracts : Analex
Receives New NASA Tasks On Orbital Space Plane - Analex/Spaceref
RLV highlights... David Livingston will interview Dr.
John Brossard on the SpaceShow
tonight (Tuesday 7:00-8:15PM PDT on www.live365.com)
to discuss, among other things, his Air Turbo Rocket propulsion
system. See this older writeup on the design - Rocket
Turbine Powerplant Nears Completion - Aviation Week (reprint) -
... On Sunday (June 22, 2003, 8-9:15 PM PDT) David will
interview John B. Barber, founder and President of Modern
Transport Systems Corp. (MTSC), on using a maglev system for
boosting a launch vehicle.
... Check out the recent interviews, now available in
the archive, with Brian
Walker, aka Rocket Guy, and Rand
brief ... The SpaceShipOne article for the July issue
of Popular Science,
is now on line: Burt
Builds Your Ride to Space - Popular Science - June.16.03 along
with the article
about who is backing the project. ...
1: No magic allowed : X
Prize Rejects Gravity Control Rocket Group - June.15.03.
Scale Gauchito Fully Destroyed... The following notice
was posted at espacial.com
by the De Leon
PRIZE page) :
Release De Leon and Associates.
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
June 11, 2003
11, 2003 the first launch test of the Suborbital Launch Vehicle
of De Leon and Associates, Argentine competitors for the X Prize,
ended in failure when an explosion completely destroyed the rocket
in the pad at the launch site, at 100 miles south of Buenos Aires.
The rocket was a half scale vehicle of the original design to
compete for the X Prize. Pablo de Leon, Team Leader of the Argentine
effort said; “ This is a new rocket and new rockets trend to explode.
Every test is a learning and with this particular vehicle we learned
a lot. We worked hard with our launch vehicle and it was sad to
see it blow up, but there is nothing else we can do, but to learn
of our mistakes and make a new launch vehicle as soon as we can.
A failure will not stop us. These things happens, and since the
only thing destroyed was the vehicle, in a few months we will
test another rocket, and another, and another, until the flights
For more information
about the test, still photos or videos please e-mail to: email@example.com
includes a couple of pre-explosion photos. [News item via Andrew
brief ... SpaceX offered a free pad at Cape Canaveral
taps into small rockets: Businessman could launch $6 million device
by year's end - Florida Today - June.14.03
non-sequitur times ... In the coming months we can expect
to read more articles like this one - Report
on Shuttle Likely to Leave Important Questions Unanswered - NY Times
- June.14.03 - which postulates that the Shuttle disasters prove
that reusables are more dangerous than expendables!
June 13, 2003
briefs ... More X PRIZE press. The cover article for
the July issue of Popular
Science is about the SpaceShipOne.
[The article is not on line yet but they do offer this speculation
on IT moguls & space: Is
ex-Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen backing Rutan? More on the Silicon
Valley connection - PopSci Exclusive - July.03.] The May issue
also had a long
article on Armadillo and other competitors .
... Rand Simberg says
that we may be entering the Cambrian age of RLV development.
June 12, 2003
news item... The photos
page now includes two images of the first captive carry test
and one of the SS1 undergoing vibration tests.
briefs ... More about the faster (or less slow) OSP development
plane push eyed to aid station: New rescue vehicle needed to expand
crew, council told - Huntsville Times - June.11.03
PRIZE press in India: Ready
for a private space mission? - Business Standard - June.12.03
by Rand Simberg on my interview
with Gary Hudson.
highlights... Jonathan Goff came across the latest update
at SpaceX and he
sent me the following summary :
- Lots of progress
on their turbopump system. After initial snags, they are now up
past 2/3 the expected performance.
- They're looking
at full duration testing of their flight-weight ablative chamber
- They're looking
at (maybe next month) starting testing of their 2nd stage engine
(I think they called it Kestrel).
- They're looking
at using a similar Li-Al alloy to what the shuttle ET uses for
the second stage (and if they can work out production issues,
the 1st stage too).
- They're moving
along their environmental paperwork for a pad at VAF. He said
they ran into a lot of snags, but it is still moving forward.
- Barring anything
surprising popping up, they're still planning for a Dec 17 launch
from VAF (they've filed for a launch on that date, but it still
depends on them getting everything working by then, as well as
- Elon stressed
that fact that his vehicle is not an expendable. Over 80% of the
mass will be recovered from the ocean after each launch (the first
stage). This is compared to 90% for the shuttle.
- They've got
their telemetry system up and running for the first few flights.
What a ride ... I watched the
Mars Spirit launch yesterday via a web cast and as I was admiring
the beautiful view from the "look
back" camera of the ocean and the earth's curvature I heard
the announcer say that the vehicle had reached 30 miles in altitude.
Gee, it was only half way to where an X PRIZE vehicle will travel
and it already felt really, really high. I guess that's the difference
between knowing something as a fact and internalizing it at a gut
level. Even if it only lasts half an hour, a suborbital rocket ride
to 62 miles is going to be one of the most intense and spectacular
experiences of anyone's life.
SS1/WK news items... I've begun
collecting SpaceShipOne/White Knight news items at SpaceShipOne
- Updates. News items about the rollout and the
aftermath are collected at SpaceShipOne
Rollout - Special Edition. (There's some overlap
Civilian astronaut waiting list...
Arrow got hundreds of applicants
to join the crew for its vehicle according to this article on the
X PRIZE: After
Columbia, X Prize Entrants Remain Committed to Space -Space.com
OSP accelerating ... NASA may
be responding to the criticism that it canceled the X-38/CRV project
only to replace it with a project with a much longer development
time : NASA
to hurry space station crew rescue vehicle: Orbital plane aimed
for 2008 instead of 2010, O'Keefe says - Huntsville Times - June.10.03
Wired on Rutan & the X PRIZE...
The cover article for the July issue of Wired magazine reports on
the X PRIZE with an emphasis on Burt Rutan's SS1
project : The
Right Stuff Forget cyberspace. Geeks are about to conquer outer
space. And the $10 million X Prize is just the beginning - Wired
- July.03 issue.
There's also a sidebar about Bezos and his Blue
Origin company : Amazon
Enters the Space Race Jeff Bezos blasts off with his own jet propulsion
laboratory. - Wired - July.03 issue. Another sidebar gives brief
descriptions of other IT moguls pursuing space projects: Techies
Go Trekky - Wired - July.03. issue.
Hope-X prototype tests... NASDA
offers more info on the upcoming high altitude drop tests in Sweden
of a scale spaceplane prototype:
News brief... The FAA AST office
has posted powerpoint presentations and other files from the recent
2003 COMSTAC and RLV working group meeting.
with Gary Hudson - I talk with the long
time RLV advocate about the history of RLV development, the Rotary
Rocket failure, battles with NASA, sub-orbital RLV prospects,
and some of the current projects with his company HMX.
EZ Rocket in Sports Aviation...
The cover story for the June
issue of Sport
Aviation is about the XCOR
EZ-Rocket : The
EZ-Rocket No, really, we’re not kidding! - Sports Aviation - June.03
(pdf, 212kb) . The article includes some interesting details
on the XCOR rocket designs.
SpaceX ramps up its lobbying...
SpaceX hires Frank
Sietzen to lead its new DC office: SpaceX
Announces Opening of Washington, DC Office - SpaceX/SpaceRef - June.9.03.
Frank is head of the Space
Transportation Associaton [this link is down, I assume temporarily],
an industry group. He is also the editor of the National
Space Society's Ad Astra magazine and writes the Spacelift
Washington column at Spaceref....
Half H2O2 better than none...
here a few times, it's become a big problem for small rocket organizations
to obtain significant quantities of 90% pure hydrogen
peroxide, which provides for a fairly straightforward,
non-cryogenic monopropellent propulsion system. In the latest Armadillo
Aerospace update, John Carmack reports on progress with 50%
peroxide using a "platinum impregnated ceramic monolith catalyst"
combined with methanol in bi-prop mode. He says:
"Throttling may not be as good as the screen pack monoprops,
but the plumbing is exactly the same, the thrust to weight is
much better, the Isp should be much better, and the propellant
cost is about 1/10th that of 90% peroxide, with no availability
problems. It is also more gratifying to see flames come out of
your rocket engines."
News briefs... The X-38 discussion
is still not over : Lawmakers
urge resurrection of X-38 space lifeboat - HoustonChronicle.com
- June.7.03 (via spacetoday.net)
... Pat Bahn reports
that the Office
of Space Commercialization in the Commerce Department has named
an acting Director. This was a top goal of the recent
campaign on Capitol Hill by the Suborbital Institute....
... Getting the shuttles back
to space is looking harder all the time : Costs
and Risk Clouding Plans to Fix Shuttles - NY Times - June.7.03
Japanese spaceplane prototype test...
Japan's National Aerospace
Lab and the French Space Agency (CNES) will carry out high altitude
drop tests at the Esrange
test site in Sweden this month of the Phase
II spaceplane prototype:
These tests are part of a series of High-Speed
Flight Demonstrations that began with the Phase
I test on Christmas Island in the Pacific of a subsonic vehicle
that carried out an autonomous takeoff and landing flight. The goal
is the eventual orbital flight of the Hope-X
Space acts ... Some tax credit
help may come for small RLV startups : Calvert
and Ortiz Introduce "Invest in Space Now" Act - SpaceRef - June.5.03.
I can't find the bill number for this legislation but I did find
Gravity, Zero Tax Act of 2003 introduced in the House by Rep.
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).
See the Space
Activsm - Space Legislation section for more about these
and other space laws and proposed legislation.
[Kenneth Schwietzer, a HobbySpace
advertiser, notes that his book Made
In Space, discusses how companies and investors will benefit
from these two pieces of legislation.]
Orbital RLV prize... Mark
Whittington speaks up for a billion dollar prize to motivate
low cost RLV development : Summoning
the Future by Mark R. Whittington - The Washington Dispatch - June.5.03
... But Rand Simberg says the
big guys would try
to block such a proposal.
Spaceshows of interest... Speaking
of Rand, the audio of his interview on the SpaceShow
is now on
line.... Other upcoming
- Sunday, June 15, 2003: Brian Walker, Rocket
- Tuesday, June 17, 2003: John Brossard "regarding RLV technology"
- June 24, 2003: Jason Andrews, Andrews
Space and Technology
- Sunday, August 10, 2003: Pat Kelley, Vela
Interview with Larry Young - OK, I will
abuse my RLV News page again to hawk my latest interview. However,
I do talk about suborbital flights with Larry Young, the creator
and writer of the Astronauts
in Trouble comic book series (also called graphic
novels by adults wanting to read comic books). The series follows
a near-future approach to space sci-fi and does it in away that's
fun and appealing for all ages.
News briefs... The latest issue
of Aviation Week has an article about progress in the NASA/Air Force
hydrocarbon fueled scramjet project - Researchers
plan civil and military scramjet flight tests - Aviation Week -
June.4.03. Primarily about the X-43C
programs, the article reports on a growing effort to expand research
into using the engines for missiles.
|Photos - Aleta
XCOR continues to use the
the EZ-Rocket for engine tests. These pictures are from the
first test at their new hangar. Apparently, some of the static
test rumblings at the Mojave Airport are not just from the
X PRIZE updates ... The X
PRIZE site recently added documents to the Teams
List page with tables summarizing various aspects of the entrants
such as vehicle configurations, propellants, hardware status, and
status of the pilots. The chronology
(pdf, 123kb) includes what's happened with teams in the past
and also a schedule of upcoming events.
News briefs... Mitchell Clapp
takes issue with various aspects of the Sarigul-Klijn
paper : Critique
of Sarigul-Klijn paper, Mitchell Burnside Clapp - sci.space.policy
/ Google archive - June.2.03....
... The SpaceShow
has posted the audio for David Livingston's recent interview
with David Ashford, Managing Director of Bristol Spaceplanes, which
has entered its Ascender
vehicle in the X PRIZE competition. Ashford is also author of Spaceflight
Revolution, 2003 (Amazon affiliate links
... Pat Bahn of TGV
Rockets and Neil Milburn of Armadillo
Aerospace recently were guests on the show
to talk about suborbital RLV regulations....
... Tonight's SpaceShow (Tuesday,
June 3) interview will be with Rand Simberg, a space entrepreneur
and commentator on space issues and launch vehicle development via
and column at Fox
White Knight/SS1 Updates Online...
Scaled is now posting descriptions of each test flight, going back
to the first White Knight flight last August. See the Test
Updates page. It also includes info on the SS1 ground tests
and the rocket motor tests. (Via sci.space.tech)
NASA X deja vu... X-37 starting
to sound like other NASA X vehicle projects : Potential
Problems With X-37 Testing by NASA? Keith Cowing, NASA Watch - June0.03.
Pressure grows for change...
Looking less likely that things at NASA will return to business
as usual - Flights
Likely to Resume, but NASA Itself May Enter New Orbit - WashingtonPost
- June.2.03 * NASA
plans to re-examine shuttle fleet's durability - Orlando Sentinel
Beamed Energy Symposium Announcement:
Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion (ISBEP2)
Beamed Energy Propulsion (BEP) is a concept of generating an
impulsive force using energy not carried by propellant itself
but through beamed light/electromagnetic wave irradiation. It
has a potential of hatching epoch-making flight and transportation
technologies in the new century. For example, when applied to
space transportation, it will promote space activities of humankind
by reducing the cost of transportation.
The research of BEP has gained its momentum due to the increase
of the number of scientists conducting research on the subject
and the volume of the activities. The most significant event of
the last year, 2002 was the 1st International Symposium on Beamed
Energy Propulsion (ISBEP I) held in Huntsville, Alabama, U.S.A.
The second ISBEP will be held October 20-23, 2003, in Sendai,
The scope of the BEP applications has also evolved in the recent
years from atmospheric condition to the near earth orbit and even
to the interstellar space or to micron-size inner space. "Beamed
Energy" includes all kinds of physical entities such as light,
microwaves, x-ray and particle beams. As practical R&D has begun,
interdisciplinary collaboration among hydro-dynamics, beam transportation
and energy driver science/technology will become crucial. The
symposium intends to provide a wide range of specialists who might
not otherwise meet with a unique international forum for exchange
ideas and information on every aspect of BEP technology.
All papers related to but not limited to the following subjects
of BEP are solicited. * Beamed energy propulsion science and technology
* Application of BEP technology * Beaming science and technology
* Beam driver science and technology
Abstracts should be submitted not later than July 25, 2003. For
further details, please visit the symposium web site: http://nana.ifs.tohoku.ac.jp/isbep2/
Jousting at NASA... HMX, headed
by Gary Hudson, protested to the GAO
the rejection by NASA in 2002 of the HMX
proposal for a flight demonstration under the SLI program (the TA-10
The GAO denied the protest last November and the documentation
was recently made public.
In wading through the legal mumbo jumbo, it looks to me like the
protest basically argued that NASA should just order launch services
as instructed by the Commercial
Space Act rather than demanding a specific vehicle implementation
and requiring a company reveal lots of proprietary information.
The GAO ruled, however, that submitting a bid meant that HMX had
to play by NASA's rules regardless of that act. And under those
rules, NASA gave the proposal a low score and rejected it, which
See the HMX Alternate Access to Space proposal(5.5
MB pdf) for more about their concept of using a Titan II expendable
[June 2: More about this next week in an interview with Gary.]
News briefs... Leonard David
reports on the recent White Knight/SS1 captive carry flight - Private
Spaceship Undergoes Sky-High Test - Space.com - May.31.03 ...
... Some OSP PR items have
been posted recently at SLI
fact sheet (05/03), Orbital
Space Place fact sheet (05/03), and OSP
Quick Facts (128kb pdf)
to May 2003