Round One, September 29th, 2004 - Joan Horvath reports
on the SpaceShipOne X PRIZE flight event.
News briefs... More SS1 articles:
... Brian Feeney reveals more
details on the GoldenPalace/daVinci
Letter to Da Vinci [and] Brian Feeney's Reply - Space Race News!
SpaceShipOne flight info... SS1
reached 337,500 ft.( 63.9miles, 102.9km):
SpaceShipOne Surpasses 100 Km Altitude on First X-Prize Flight -
Scaled Composites - Sept.29.04 ...
... Announcement of date for
next flight is expected by Thursday evening.
Event and flight re-runs... Here
are links to where you can watch and/or hear the whole event or
just the flight:
SS1 flight news links... Here
is a selection of articles and commentaries on the flight:
and ANSARI X PRIZE
Space Race News! for more article links.
New X PRIZE sponsors... Here
is the official announcement of the M&M sponsership: M&M'S
Brand and The Ansari X Prize announce an "out-of-this-world"
partnership -- literally. - ANSARI X PRIZE - Sept.29.04. The
M&M's has a
... The X
PRIZE home page also shows a 7-UP Plus banner but I don't see
an announcement about the sponsorship yet.
News briefs... The Mission
Status Center at Spaceflight Now has excerpts from the post-flight
news conference. Still no explanation for the roll...
... Jim Benson thinks SpaceDev
can do better: SpaceDev
founder says his craft offers better approach to tourism - SeattlePI
... New Mexico looks forward
to the XP Cup: Private
space travel industry now eyes New Mexico - New Mexico Business
Weekly - Sept.29.04....
... More about commercial
spaceflight development: Prizes,
Profit Could Fuel Private Space Race - Voice of America - Sept.29.04....
... More awards for Scaled
Scaled Composites to Receive Awards – Space Frontier Foundation
to Recognize "Revolutionary" Space Efforts - Space Frontier Foundation
SpaceShipOne X PRIZE Flight a Success!
Exceeds 100km limit... The
cause of a fast roll at the end of the burn must be determined before
a date for second flight is scheduled.
9:55am Latest updates at SS1
News - Mission Status Center at Spaceflight Now
9:30am: Melvill to pilot SS1 again...
Experience counts: Melvill
to fly SpaceShipOne - Spacetoday.net - Sept.29.04.
mission schedule... Winds permitting, the flight should
go as follows:
- White Knight with the SpaceShipOne will taxi to the runway at
California's Mojave airport at 6:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m.
EDT; 1330 GMT).
- Airborne around 6:45 a.m. PDT (9:45 a.m. EDT; 1345 GMT).
- About an hour later White Knight will reach an altitude of nearly
50,000 feet where SS1 is dropped at 7:45 a.m. PDT (10:45 a.m.
EDT; 1445 GMT)
- and SS1 ignites its rocket engine
- Powered flight of about 80 seconds
- SpaceShipOne coasts up to an altitude of at least 62 miles and
then reenters the atmosphere
- Glides to a landing on the Mojave runway by 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30
a.m. EDT; 1530 GMT)
X PRIZE news briefs ... The
media around the world is full of articles about the flight and
the X PRIZE. Examples:
and ANSARI X PRIZE
Space Race News! for lots more...
... Alan's article
reports that the American Mojave Aerospace Ventures deal with Virgin
is non-exclusive. AMAV managing director David Moore said, "I've
actually had four other parties approach us." ...
... The SS1 will again carry
look back cameras from Ecliptic Enterprises: Ecliptic's
RocketCam Featured in Live Webcast of SpaceShipOne X Prize Flight
on Sep 29 - Ecliptic Enterprises - Sept.28.04. See their Gallery
for a clip from the June 21st flight...
... All the publicity is starting
a snowball effect. Now other sponsors want to jump in. New
X Prize sponsors - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.28.04. Note
that Melvill's release of M&Ms got the attention of Mars, Inc.
(Guess they didn't want Hershey's to grab another space related
publicity event: M&M's
Loss Was Hershey's Gain with E.T.)
X PRIZE cup has a new web
site XP CUP. The
latest info about the cup is at
X PRIZE Space Race News!
Commercial space investing...
The Virgin announcement is getting the attention of investors who
are wondering if space tourism will grow into a big industry: Virgin
Starts (70) Mile-High Club [Motley Fool Take] - Fool.com - Sept.28.04.
Not very active yet, but Motley Fool has a forum for spaceflight
Motley Fool Discussion Boards: Space Exploration & Terraforming
Space Tourism Study released... The
study with the Zogby poll showing a real and substantial market
for space tourism is now available for free: Space
Tourism Market Study: orbital space travel & destinations with suborbital
space travel - Futron - October 2002. (Until recently it was
priced in the plus thousand dollar range.) See a copy of the press
release at Futron
Releases Space Tourism Market Study to the General Public - Futron
News briefs... Tonight the
Space Show features "the return of Jim Benson, Founding
Chairman and Chief Executive of SpaceDev,
a publicly traded space development and exploration company. SpaceDev
specializes in affordable, high-performance small satellites and
safe, affordable hybrid-based rocket motor propulsion systems. ..."
Online at Live365
at at 7-8:15pm Pacific Time...
... X-43A captive carry flight
went well, so the test flight will take place in November: STATUS
UPDATE: Captive Carry Rehearsal Flight Successful; Mach 10 Free
Flight Next - NASA Dryden - September 28, 2004...
... The SpaceX news release
on the DARPA FALCON launch contract: Spacex
Selected For Responsive Space Launch Demonstration Under Darpa Falcon
Program - SpaceX - Sept.20.04
Sky gems... I received the
beautiful image above and the following news
release yesterday from Joe Latrell of Beyond-Space
Third Time's the Charm-and Fourth
FREDERICK, OK-Beyond-Earth Enterprises, a Colorado Springs-based
small payload sub-orbital launch company, proudly announces the
successful launch and recovery of the first rockets of the Gem
Series of launch vehicles at the Capps Space Science Center in
Frederick, OK on Saturday, September 25th.
The Amethyst rocket reached an altitude of 9,347 feet then deployed
two parachutes to bring it safely back to the recovery team in
Frederick. The Sapphire rocket left the pad at mach 1.5, reaching
an altitude well over 15,000 feet. The Sapphire rocket tested
a larger engine design than the one used on Amethyst. It deployed
a different parachute package and was also fully recovered by
the ground team in Frederick.
These flights were considered a success by the Beyond-Earth team
and the people of the Capps Space Science Center. The tests showed
that multiple launches can be accomplished in a single day, using
the infrastructure available in Frederick. They demonstrated that
the teams from different companies and locations can work together
to launch and recover the commercial payloads that Beyond-Earth
Joe Latrell, CEO of Beyond-Earth Enterprises says the company
is highly motivated to encourage the average American to reach
for space again. "We're on the Road to Space. With the great support
we're receiving from the City of Frederick, we're now ready to
pursue funding and start marketing to the public. We want [the
public] to see that they can send something to space -- soon.
Both rockets of the Gem series of Launch Craft -Mission One (LC-MO01-03)
carried a simulated payload of student contest entries, commercial
test materials, and other memorabilia.
About the Road to Space series-This series of rockets is prove
over the next year that rockets can be at least as safe as airplanes,
leading the way for Space Travel.
About Beyond-Earth Enterprises--Originally an X-Prize competitor,
Beyond-Earth is leading the way to commercialization of space
by providing small payload launch capabilities at affordable rates.
Beyond-Earth officers are committed to revitalizing the American
Public's interest in Space and conducts educational demos and
lectures at area schools. The company is headquartered in Colorado
Springs, Colorado with launch facilities Frederick Oklahoma. Additional
information can be found at http://www.beyond-earth.com
X PRIZE TV... Don't forget
the upcoming TV shows about the X PRIZE: Discovery
Channel to air documentary on Mojave Aerospace Ventures team - X
PRIZE - Sept.26.04. Part 1: October 3rd, 9 p.m. EST, Part 2:
October 7th, 9 p.m (Check local listings for starting times in your
As HS reader R. Burmeister says,
"Finally! Something on the Discovery Channel that doesn't have
to do with building motorcycles."
News briefs... Alan Boyle reports
on the momentum building in commercial space development: Private
space race reaches its height: Visionaries already looking beyond
$10 millon prize - MSNBC - Sept.27.04....
...The Financial Times reports
on Branson's space tourism plans: Virgin
plans space tourism by 2007 - FT - Sept.27.04 *
Branson aims to make space flights his star turn - Financial Times
... Recent updates at Starchaser
on their Churchill
MK3 engine and
... The alternative to RLVs
for lowering launch costs is to build dirt cheap expendables. Here
are a couple of documents from Microcosm,
which recently won a contract from DARPA, on its approach to cheap
Suborbital legislation stalled... In
a recent report from activist Charles Lurio, he notes that Branson's
of starting space tourist flights in 2007 are "subject to the
necessary safety and regulatory approvals." He worries that without
the legal framework provided by HR
3752. it may not be possible even for Richard Branson to obtain
Currently the bill is stalled and this "stalling has virtually
nothing to do with the merits of the legislation itself". He
says that instead it is because certain aides on the Senate
Commerce Committee believe "that HR3752 is of no importance
If your Senator is on this committee (see membership
list), contact them to express your support for this legislation.
Researcher in search of a clue...
Yet more keen insights on commercial space from the science community:
space flights possible but extremely difficult: expert - SpaceDaily
- Sept.27.04 (via P. Underwood). The notion that any academic
with the word "space" in his or her title, in this case
a space scientist specializing in solar physics and the magnetosphere,
should automatically be declared an expert on space transport and
the prospects for space tourism is preposterous.
It's as if in 1976 you asked some guy in the math department doing
numerical analysis on IBM mainframes what he thought the chances
were for a successful business in home computers and video games.
He would certainly have an opinion but it would be worth little
more than the bits of paper from his punch cards.
News briefs... More on the
da Vinci flight delay: Last-minute
delay for X Prize rival - New Scientist - Sept.27.04...
... A profile of Mojave California:
Town: Mojave's isolation, can-do spirit work to its advantage in
race to the stars. - FresnoBee.com - Sept.27.04 (via spacetoday.net)...
... More Virgin news: Branson
reaches for the stars - Guardian - Sept.27.04...
... The instapundit talks about
the X PRIZE: X-Prize
News - MSNBC/GlennReynolds - Sept.27.04.
Virgin update... BBC reports
that Branson will order five vehicles from MAV, each capable of
carrying five passengers: Virgin
boss in space tourism bid - BBC - Sept.27.04."The final
design for the maiden ship, the VSS Enterprise, should be signed
off in 2005." Also,
"Every passenger will have a spectacular view; they will have
considerable windows and luxurious seats," Sir Richard said.
"Initially, they will take off from the Mojave Desert near Los
Angeles. It will be a three-hour journey. Passengers would have
about a week's training prior to taking off."
Virgin, known for great marketing if nothing else, finds that there
is a substantial market even at $200k per ticket:
"We've done quite a lot of research; we think there are about
3,000 people out there who would want to do this," Sir Richard
told the BBC.
"If it is a success, we want to move into orbital flights and
then, possibly, even get a hotel up there."
... News wire report on the
Galactic to Offer Public Space Flights - Space.com/AP - Sept.27.04
More news... Alan Boyle comments
on the Bigelow prize: Orbital
space prize proposed - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.27.04...
... Leonard David reports
on the upcoming SS1 flight: Set
to Soar: First X Prize Flight This Week By Leonard David - Space.com
- Sept.27.04 ...
... More fuel for this flight:
Major Engine Changes for SpaceShipOne, Builder Says - Space.com
... Space.com promises
Full Coverage ...
... Creating Wings for civilian
space explorers: New
Set of Wings for a 'Milestone' - Washington Post - Sept.27.04...
... The mysteries of Slashdot.
I post space related stories there occasionally and I've found it
impossible to predict what will be accepted or rejected. Last night
I submitted an item about the Bigelow space prize announcement and
the Aviation Week article. It seemed of obvious interest but it
was rejected. This wouldn't be surprising if someone else got there
first but so far there is no entry about it. Maybe someday they
will make their decision making process open source...
Richard Branson enters suborbital space
tourism business... Richard Branson, head of Virgin
Group, has made an agreement with Mojave Aerospace Ventures
to build a suborbital vehicle for space tourism: Virgin
boss in space tourism bid - BBC - Sept.27.04. Mojave Aerospace
Ventures is the company formed by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen to exploit
the SS1 technology. The deal is worth £14M [$25.2M].
The announcement was made on Monday at a joint news conference
with Branson and Rutan at Royal Aeronautical Society in London.
"Virgin has been in talks with Paul Allen and Burt throughout
this year and in the early hours of Saturday morning signed a
historical deal to license SpaceShipOne's technology to build
the world's first private spaceship to go into commercial operating
service," Sir Richard said.
"Virgin Galactic will be run as a business, but a business with
the sole purpose of making space travel more and more affordable."
According to the BBC, "Prices for each seat into space are
expected to start at around £115,000. [$207,000]."
The web site for the company Virgin
Galactic says that it "will own and operate privately built
spaceships, modelled on the history-making SpaceShipOne craft. These
spaceships will allow affordable sub-orbital space tourism for the
first time in our history."...
... The article British
Tycoon Branson Unveils Plan For Commercial Space Flights - AFP/SpaceDaily
- Sept.27.04 also reports on the announcement. Branson said
at the briefing,
"We plan to construct launch pads for commercial space travel
in a number of countries over the next few years."
The ticket price will include "three days of flight training
before taking the real trip." [The Virgin Galactic site, though,
of six days of preparation.]
Branson also said,
"Burt and I will be fortunate enough to have fulfilled our own
personal dreams and to experience all of this on the inaugural
flight over Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise in three years' time."
... Scaled Composites press release...
On the SS1 web site there is also this announcement: Virgin
Group Sign Deal with Paul G. Allen’s Mojave Aerospace Licensing
the Technology To Develop The World’s First Commercial Space Tourism
Operator - TierOne/Scaled Composites - London, September 27th 2004.
It says that
"The licensing deal with M.A.V. [Mojave Aerosapce Ventures]
could be worth up to £14 million ($21.5 million) over the next
fifteen years depending on the number of spaceships built by Virgin."
"It is expected that around £60 million ($100 million) will
be invested in developing the new generation of spaceships and
ground infrastructure required to operate a sub orbital space
News briefs... John Carmack
reports on the ZERO-G flight for him and his team and includes a
video. He also reports on progress with reducing the uneven performance
of the monopropellant engines and on work with the bipropellant
Smooth monoprop, LOX engine work - Armadillo - Sept.26.04...
... This week's Space Review
includes the following space transport related articles:
heroes of the personal spaceflight revolution by Robin
Snelson recognizes Gregg Maryniak and Bob Weiss as major forces,
along with top leader Peter Diamandis, in making the X PRIZE happen.
launch costs: a lower limit? by Jeff Foust reports on a study
by Steven Buckley of Northrop Grumman that showed that costs beyond
that of just the hardware, such as range safety and launch site
facilities charges, seem to conspire to keep launch prices at
or above $20M.
It will be interesting to see if SpaceX succeeds in beating this
lower limit and making a profit. According to Jeff, the price
given for a Falcon I launch is $5.9 million plus the range fees.
Update: GoldenPalace/da Vinci warning
sign... I was wrong
when I said that Brian Feeney didn't mention any potentially serious
problems with the launch during his interview
on the Space Show. I listen to the interviews while jogging and
only got through about three quarters of the show on Friday evening.
I ran again last night and heard the last five minutes or so of
the show when he said that the project was in serious need of a
large scale filament winding machine to finish a tank they needed
for the launch. Apparently they did not find one and this contributed
to the delay in the launch.
More Bigelow info... The Aviation
Week issue discussed below has three other articles about the Bigelow
projects but they are in the paid subscription area (and print issue,
of course). These include:
- Bigelow Facilities Filled with Unique Technologies -
The reporters saw a lot of interesting items such as full and
sub-scale inflated module test hardware, ballistics test articles
of the micrometerorite shield showing successful resistance to
penetration, and a common berthing mechanism mock-up that could
work with an America's Space Prize winner, a Soyuz, and a Chinese
- Bigelow Using 'General Contractor' Philosophy - The company
is using about 2 dozen subcontractors and often gives out 2-3
subcontracts for the same component. This is intended to build
a "subcontractor base for the future and also to compare
workmanship among contractors." Bigelow expects that inflatables
will become commonly used for many other spacecraft for both civilian
and government applications and he wants the ability "to
ramp up to volume production". Some of the subcontractors
are big companies (see next item) but many are small. This broadening
of the base could help the whole aerospace industry.
- EADS, Boeing Among Life-Support Subcontractors - By the
end of the year, EADS will deliver a carbon-dioxide removal system.
Boeing is providing a "flight ready" water handling
[Update: The reprint
at Spaceflight Now includes these supporting articles plus
a couple of pictures. Also, a reprint is available at Spaceref.]
Even more good stuff in Av
Week. The article - The
Space Business Lifting Off - Aviation Week - Sept.27.04
- recognizes the many commercial space projects coming from innovative
new companies. These projects include the SS1 and the vehicles of
the other X PRIZE teams, SpaceX
and the other FALCON
contractors like Air
Launch, and the introduction of the new ZERO-G
... The last page editorial
- Commercial Space At a Tipping Point - notes that there
have been entrepreneurs who have long been
" saying that making human spaceflight both reliable and
affordable was possible with existing technology. The problems,
they said, were not technical but financial and political, even
NASA didn't help matters by competing with the private sector and
"when NASA tried to develop a new, cheaper-to-operate reusable
vehicle, it opted to include challenging cutting-edge technologies,
making program execution difficult and expensive." This made
it increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs to raise money because
potential investors became even more convinced that "human
spaceflight was inherently costly, dangerous and prone to failure."
"On top of that was a chicken-and-egg problem of economics.
To drastically lower the costs of spaceflight, a vehicle needs
to fly frequently. But to find enough customers to fly frequently,
one needs to have low prices, and that requires low costs. The
solution seemed to lie in new markets, and the one many believed
could jump-start the private sector was 'space tourism.'"
The editorial goes on to note the success of the first SS1 flight
and how that has taken the giggle factor out of low cost suborbital
spaceflight projects. However, the editorial warns that failure
of Congress to pass HR3752 may prevent the development of a regulatory
and liability framework on which a thriving industry can grow.
News briefs ... Info on the
flight day: SpaceShipOne
chases $10 million: Rutan's rocket ready to go - Valley Press -
Sept.26.04 (permanent copy at ANSARI
X PRIZE Space Race News!)...
... The AIAA meeting Space2000
this week in San Diego will include a number of space transport
related talks. See, for example, the Access sessions on the first
... Patricia Grace Smith of
the FAA-AST gets a
profile in the Washington Post: Helping
New Space Industry Lift Off: FAA Official Balances Oversight, Booster
Roles for Manned Commercial Flights - Washington Post - Sept.27.04...
... KSC hit again but no major
shuttles survive Jeanne; assembly building loses more panels - Florida
Today - Sept.26.04
Bigelow to Announce $50M
America's Space Prize
For orbital transport ... The
cover article for the latest Aviation Week reports on developments
Aerospace and says that the company will announce this week
that it will sponsor a $50M contest patterned after the X PRIZE
but for development of passenger orbital space transport rather
than suborbital: Bigelow's
Gamble: Inside the Bigelow Inflatable-Module Plant - Aviation Week
[Update: The reprint
at Spaceflight Now includes a couple of pictures. Also, a
reprint is available at Spaceref.]
Items of interest include:
- The winner must develop a commercial vehicle capable of flying
5-7 astronauts to a Bigelow inflatable space habitat by
the end of this decade.
- "winner would also be guaranteed first rights on a contract
from Bigelow for ongoing orbital servicing missions to its inflatable
45 X 22-ft. "Nautilus"
modules--possibly docked together as a small space station"
- 2005 - Genesis 1/3 scale test module launch on a SpaceX
- 2006 - Genesis launch on a Russian Dneper
- 2007 - two Guardian 45% scale modules on two Dneper flights
- These test modules will remain in orbit for several years and
Bigelow is offering room onboard for free to researchers.
- Bigelow is 5 years ahead of the schedule they set out on in
- Bigelow is working closely with NASA and has become a "mini-Skunk
Works for the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC)."
- A Proton class vehicle will be needed to launch the first full
scale Nautilus unmanned in 2008. Crew operations could begin in
Lots more in the article including news of patents on radiation
shielding, markets for orbital operations, etc.
X PRIZE news briefs... Space
Race News has posted the latest X
PRIZE Newsletter, which includes items about several of the
... Houston hears about a different
space program for a change: SpaceShipOne
just two flights from the X Prize: Rutan's privately built spacecraft
made successful manned mission into space in June - HoustonChronicle.com
- Sept.26.04 ( via spacetoday.net)
... This article talks about
the Mojave airport and the "nine companies [...] working on
space-related projects" there: Space
cowboys writing next chapter in history of flight: Second trip beyond
Earth's atmosphere is set for Wednesday - Tri-Valley Herald Online
- Sept.26.04 ( via spacetoday.net)
News brief... Pays to have
friends in high Congressional places: Senate
OKs $25M seed money to keep X-43A project alive - The Tullahoma
News - Sept.25.04
More on the GoldenPalace/da Vinci flight
postponement... I have still have not seen any details
about the missing "few key components" that caused the
delay. In Feeney's interview
on the Space Show last Wednesday he talked as if the flight was
on schedule. So the problems must have come up suddenly.
Here's Alan Boyle's report from yesterday Canadian
space launch put on hold: Delay solidifies SpaceShipOne's lead in
$10 million race - MSNBC - Sept.24.04 and the statement on the
project's web site: Temporary
Hold on planned Launch to Space - DA Vinci - Sept.23.04.
Race News have links to many more articles.
X PRIZE news briefs... BBC
profiles Burt Rutan: Rutan
ready to realise vision - BBC - Sept.25.04...
... While CNN looks at the
broader picture of the creation of a space tourism industry:. Space
tourist industry bets on a dream: For some, blastoff may be right
around the corner - CNN.com - Sept.24.04.
Alt.space education... David
Luther founded the Orioncraft
Aerospace Guild as a "non-profit professional and educational
venture" in which "students and volunteers can experience
hands on design projects, and learn about engineering and manufacturing."
The program aims "to provide the tools and workers for America's
new space initiatives."
The participants use suborbital spaceflight vehicles and other
exciting new concepts as design projects.
They have provided free drafting services to several X PRIZE and
advanced rocketry teams.
Space blog reporting ... Brad
Neuberg, a volunteer with the Ansari X Prize Foundation on the Media
Relations team, brings up the question of giving space bloggers
press credentials for the upcoming flights as well as future events:
Get Press Credentials for Bloggers at the X Prize Foundation Launch
Attempt - Coding In Paradise - Sept.24.04.
This is obviously of interest to me and I hope something can be
arranged. (I will be attending the second SS1 flight, tentatively
set for the 5th and I've applied for credentials.) Many blogs and
private web sites receive visitor traffic rates comparable to that
of the readerships of small to medium size town newspapers. Seems
arbitrary to give credentials to reporters from the former but not
Also, enthusiast publications, such as in car racing and other
sports, usually get favorable treatment at events in the area of
interest. For spaceflight enthusiasts, the dedicated publications
are almost entirely on the web.
I can see, of course, that there are practical problems. For the
print media, there are credible measures for the number of readers
while for web sites there is no universal independent traffic indicator.
The cost of entry in web publishing is quite low so offering credentials
to anyone with a space blog or news site would produce a flood of
Perhaps a ranking system could be developed. For example, the X
PRIZE could ask its newsletter readers to enter a short list of
their favorite sites and then the 3 or 4 with the most votes would
be offered credentials.
GoldenPalace/da Vinci flight postponed...
Alan Boyle reports Canadian
rocket bid on hold - MSNBC/CosmicLog - Sept.24. Brian Feeney
is quoted saying that the
"...launch is delayed because it could not be done safely
in the previously planned time frame. "We've evaluated where we're
at in the project. We're essentially short a couple of key pieces
of hardware that is putting us a few weeks out of sync. Not (by)
months, but not days," the Star quoted Feeney as saying."
I happened to notice earlier today that the launch clock on the
Vinci home page was on "hold" and wondered what was
Space Show interview from Wednesday with Brian Feeney is now
X PRIZE news briefs... More
from Eli Kintisch regarding the X PRIZE and the SS1 flight:
... SpaceDev employees sign
their rocket: Poway's
SpaceDev part of historic civilian launch - SignOnSanDiego Union-Tribune
... More media attention: Final
Countdown - Forbes.com - Sept.22.04.
SS1 webcasts... For the SS1
flight on Sept. 29th, webcasting should be more elaborate and robust
than for the June 21st flight when many people had trouble getting
a connection. The X PRIZE will offer its own stream via the X
PRIZE Webcast Page. Also, The
Space Show plans to webcast again. I will keep a list of stream
sites posted at the top of the page here.
News briefs... The RASCAL project
has overrun problems: Defense
Tech: TROUBLE FOR DARPA SPACE PROGRAM...
... More storms: Tattered
KSC secures shuttle fleet - Florida Today - Sept.23.04.
X PRIZE news briefs... The
revolution will be televised (at least on the Web): ANSARI
X PRIZE Flight Attempt 9/29/04 X PRIZE - Sept.22.04 - AOL partners
with the ANSARI X PRIZE to webcast the $10 million competition flights
... Eli Kintisch at the St.
Louis Post-Dispatch is writing an interesting series on the history
of the X PRIZE beginning with yesterday's A
new space race - St.Louis Dispatch - Sept.21.04. Here are today's
Another article will appear tomorrow. (Links via spacetoday.net)....
... Photoshop-pers get creative,
funny and weird with the SS1: SpaceShipOne
gets more nitrous, thrust. Pimp it out to give it even more power
- FARK.com. (Via BoingBoing)
News briefs... Captive carry
test for the X-32 reschedule to Sept.27th: X-43A
captive carry flight rescheduled - Spaceflight Now - Sept.22.04
... Here's a well-crafted model
of a possible design for the Crew Exploration Vehicle: Scratchbuilt
1/32 scale CEV "Schirra" by David Hanners
News briefs... A profile of
former astronaut Rick Searfoss who works as chief judge for the
X Prize competition: Space
Race 2 Beyond The Final Frontier by Irene Klotz - UPI/SpaceDaily
... Status of the GoldenPalace/da
Vinci launch plans: Cape
Kindersley Update - Space Race News - Sept.22.04 - “We’re expecting
10,000 to 15,000 people, a lot from Ontario, quite a few from B.C.
and Alberta. We’re selling the registration packages and only have
500 to sell.” ...
... Leonard David looks at
the possible effects of a successful Zero-G flight business on the
development of commercial spaceflight: Zero
G Flights Could Bolster Space Tourism, Research Industries by Leonard
David - Space.com - Sept.22.04 ...
... A history of the X PRIZE
new space race - St.Louis Dispatch - Sept.21.04. "Some
of the leading citizens of our community have too much money and
too little sense." said the Post-Dispatch's Bill McClellan
in 1996 about those investing in the project. ...
... Speaking of wild ideas,
if there are people doing things like this - Man
Flies with Two Jet Engines and a Nine-Foot CFRP Composite Wing -
Composites News - Sept.21.04 (see video at the
flying man ), then why not this?
(Item via Tony Rusi)
X rockets going up all over the place...
traffic jam - Alan Boyle - Sept.21.04. It's not happening, though,
the way Dan Golden expected back in 1997 when he predicted
NASA would "blacken the sky with X-vehicles".
X PRIZE news... Space Race
Robert K. Weiss who is helping the X PRIZE organize its broadcasting
and webcasting of the SS1 flights: ...
... The buildup to the countdown
PRIZE countdown enters final days - X PRIZE - Sept.20.04...
Space Transport news... More
about the next Rubicon
Transport plans test launch for late September - X PRIZE - Sept.20.04...
... And hear a radio interview
co-leader Philip Storm at www.kuow.org/program_theworks.asp?Archive=08-17
... See also the latest STC
Rubicon 2 (R2) is coming along nicely.
The capsule is being fabricated in a Port Townsend machine shop,
Reynold Grey Machining. Greg Mika, the co-owner of Reynold Grey,
calls the Rubicon 2 welded aluminum capsule/nosecone a "monument
to bauxite" (bauxite is aluminum ore). See nearby photo of Rubicon
2 welding work in early September. At STC's Forks headquarters,
the R2 engine assembly is also basically complete.
STC conducted a successful Rubicon solid rocket motor test on
the 12th of September. Several quality control measures have been
implemented since the Rubicon 1 motor malfunction. See the engine
test video at www.space-transport.com/?stc=gallery.
The R2 flight is scheduled for the 2nd or 3rd of October from
the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
Many thanks to our recent French investor from Sequim, to Spacefleet
for an additional $5,000 investment, and to several other small
investors. We are proud to have them take part in STC and will
work hard to convert their capital into a successful and valuable
space transport business.
Spaceflight installment plan... Buy
your suborbital spaceflight ticket a small bit at a time:
Adventures Unveils Its
Enables enthusiasts to work toward their dream of spaceflight
Arlington, Va. – September 21, 2004 -- Space Adventures,
the world’s leading space experiences company, announced today
the unveiling of their SPACEFLIGHT CLUB. The Club will be a unifying
voice for the next generation of space explorers and will provide
members with the tools, experience and training needed to achieve
their goal of spaceflight.
With each year of membership, the Club's annual dues and a percentage
of Space Adventures' program purchases will be set aside as credit
toward participation in a suborbital spaceflight. In addition,
members will be kept in the forefront of this new and exciting
industry via newsletters, conferences and many other members-only
benefits. Already, space enthusiasts are taking action to reserve
their spots for suborbital spaceflights. Space Adventures is the
marketing and experiences operation partner for several of the
leading space vehicle manufacturing companies and is the only
company currently accepting deposits from suborbital flight candidates.
"The dawn of private reusable launch vehicles is upon us. SpaceShipOne
is a true triumph, when ambition, hard work and amazing technologies
have demonstrated to the world that anything is possible," said
Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures. "Space Adventures'
SPACEFLIGHT CLUB enables private citizens to work toward their
own dream of spaceflight. The Club is the answer to many who question,
now that SpaceShipOne has flown successfully, how can I be a part
of private suborbital flight history?”
"I am very excited to join Space Adventures' SPACEFLIGHT CLUB.
Many people, including myself, have an amazing passion for spaceflight.
The Club is a perfect outlet for us to not only network, but to
also share our experiences outside of the space world," said Per
Wimmer, new SPACEFLIGHT CLUB member and future suborbital spaceflight
client, United Kingdom. "All the Space Adventures’ clients I have
met so far come from many different walks of life and it will
be quite invigorating to associate myself with such a diverse
and dedicated group of people as we pursue our dream of spaceflight
For more information on Space Adventures’ SPACEFLIGHT CLUB, please
Space Adventures’ suborbital program consists of a detailed four-day
flight preparation and training. This highly focused and inspiring
pre-flight experience will familiarize each passenger with the
flight program, critical vehicle systems, flight operations, zero-gravity
conditions, in-flight accelerations and space flight safety procedures.
On launch day, flight specialists will assist the passengers in
suiting up and guiding each through the final checklist. Each
flight will be directed by both a skilled-pilot and a precise
computer controlled system. As each vehicle reaches their maximum
altitude, the rocket engines will shutdown and the passengers
will experience up to five minutes of continuous weightlessness,
all the while gazing at the vast blackness of space set against
the blue horizon of the Earth below. For more information on Space
Adventures' suborbital program, please visit http://www.spaceadventures.com/flight/suborbital.
with Brian Feeny:
The Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2004, 7-8:15 PM PDT Special Space
Show features Brian Feeney, Team leader for the da
Vinci Project, live from Toronto, Canada. Mr. Feeney will
be discussing the da Vinci Project “go” for the X-Prize which
is currently planned for Oct. 2, 2004. This program will air live
from 7-8:15PM Pacific Time exactly in the same format as the regular
Tuesday Space Show, including live on KKNW in Seattle and all
Listeners can talk to Brian Feeney or the host, or send e-mail
or chat during the program using email@example.com
or chatting on AOL/ICQ Chat using the screen name “spaceshowchat.”
As this is a live taping session, this program will air in the
regularly scheduled time for Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004.
Online streaming via http://www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.
The Discovery Channel
will broadcast about Burt Rutan and the SS1 project:
Sky: The Race for Space
For the past three decades, Burt Rutan has produced one new research
airplane per year. Considered one of the most influential aircraft
designers, Rutan is building SpaceShipOne, a personal space vehicle.
They will broadcast this two hour program, which will focus on
the June 21 flight, first on Oct. 3rd at 9 pm and repeat it on Oct
4th at 12:00 am and on Oct 10 at 04:00 PM.
They will also show a one hour update on the X PRIZE on Oct 7th
at 09:00 PM and repeat it on Oct 8th at 12:00 am.
(Via an HS reader.)
SS1 site updates... HS
visitor, C. Dorrough, notes that the Scaled site has updated the
Information page (I had not seen, for example, this Scaled
Newsletter for the April 2003 rollout). And also the Gallery
photos are nicely organized.
News briefs... Check out the
program for the Third International Symposium on Beamed Energy
Propulsion (ISBEP 3) Troy, New York, October 11 - 14, 2004. There
seems to be a lot of substantive experimental work going on all
over the world...
... Alan Boyle reports on the
SpaceDev launcher project: New
team in space race - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.20.04.
Anti-general aviation bill update...
The bill, mentioned here on Sept.13th,
that would have put onerous security restrictions on private aviation,
was withdrawn last week: Weiner
Withholds "Outrageous" Anti-General Aviation Bill In House Subcommittee
- EAA Members, Aviation Community Make A Difference - EAA - Sept.15.04.
(Via a HS regular).
Stevie update... Stevie Austin
is back together and ready for another launch into the last frontier.
Check out the updated text and photos on the Project
Web Site and Episode
Five of the ongoing Stevie Austin Project Movie Series.
More about the SpaceDev suborbital...
SpaceDev is talking about a 2008 launch date for the Dream Chaser:
to Build Piloted Spaceship - Space.com - Sept.20.04...
... NASA announcement: NASA,
SpaceDev To Collaborate On Future Space Transportation - NASA/Ames
... By 2008 there should be
at least one and maybe several suborbital vehicles flying with conventional
liquid fueled engines. It will be interesting to see how the economics
compare for liquid versus hybird.
"Fuel it up and fly" liquid engines potentially offer
low operating costs assuming their higher complexity doesn't require
more servicing and overhauls.
Hybrids are simpler and safer than liquids (at least that's the
conventional wisdom. See this evidence
that liquid fueled engines can also be quite safe). However, hybrids
require that their fuel grain be packed for every flight, which
even with an assembly line operation is likely to be considerably
more expensive than filling up a tank for a flight.
SpaceDev suborbital vehicle project...
which is supplying the hybrid engines for the SpaceShipOne,
has announced that it will begin designing its own suborbital vehicle
in cooperation with NASA Ames.
The winged Dream Chaser would launch vertically using a
engine and then land horizontally. SpaceDev
Begins Work on ''Dream Chaser'' Space Vehicle Space Act MOU Signed
with NASA Ames Research Center - SpaceDev/Yahoo! - Sept.20.04
. (Item noted by a couple of HS readers.)
Legislation update... The HR3752
bill in support of commercial suborbital spaceflight is still alive
in the Senate according to Space News: House,
Senate Negotiators Working To Push Suborbital Bill - Space News
- Sept.20.04. If the liability waiver item is removed from the
bill, that will be a severe blow since liability protection is considered
by many to be crucial for obtaining insurance at reasonable rates
or at all.
News briefs... GoldenPalace/da
Vinci is encouraged by its recent balloon test: Canadian
Ansari X Prize Team Pushes Toward First Launch - Space.com - Sept.20.04
... Taylor Dinerman looks at
high altitudes as the next frontier for science and warfare: "Near
Space": a new area of operations or a new Pentagon buzzword?
by Taylor Dinerman - The Space Review - Sept.20.04 ...
... Jeff Foust reports on a
Space Elevator conference and where funding for such a system might
be found: Elevators
and exploration: Does a space elevator fit into the Vision for Space
Exploration? by Jeff Foust - The Space Review - Sept.20.04
Armadillo update this week
reports on tests of a LOX preburner system: LOX
Engine - Armadillo Aerospace - Sept.19.04. The team has had
trouble with rough, uneven thrust from the mixed monopropellant
(hydrogen peroxide and methanol) engines that they developed in
the past year or so. (This was motivated by difficulties in getting
a supplier for high purity H2O2 for single propellant engines.)
So they are thinking of going to bipropellant engines, e.g LOX and
methanol, but they want to retain deep throttling capability.
As explained previously,
the preburner burns a small amount of fuel in an oxygen rich flow
so as to "to supply hot oxygen gas to a primary cooled combustion
chamber." Throttling the preburner in turn throttles the overall
thrust of the engine. (Carmack credits Charles
Pooley for convincing him to try preburners.)
SpaceShipOne updates... Valley
Press posts a couple of articles about the SS1 (or SSO, as they
call it) and the recent meeting of the The
Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
(Note: AV Press only posts articles for a few days. Space Race
News is posting copies of the first
... The Mojave
Spaceport is gearing up for the first X PRIZE flight for the
SS1. Here's the most recent NOTAM
(Notice to Airmen) :
Mojave Airport will be engaged in spaceport operations 29 September
04 between 0500L and 1200L, with potential extensions through
13 October 04.
Aircraft will be PPR (prior permission required) for landing
beginning 1600 28 September 04. Mojave Airport tower will be in
operation Tuesday 28 September 04 from 0700L TO 2000L. Ramp space
is extremely limited and PPR aircraft are encouraged to bring
their own tiedown devices.
Mojave Airport tower will open at 0500L 29 September 04 and remain
open until 1700L. Follow-me truck available on 29 September 04
IAW FAR 91.143 Mojave Airport TFR in effect surface to 20,000
MSL, 7NM radius around KMHV. 0600L-0900L 29 September 04. Contact
KMHV tower on 127.6 or Joshua approach on 133.65 for TFR updates.
Stuart Witt, General Manager
These three items via a regular HS
ARCA test launch pictures
have been posted on their web
site. They report, "From the data we have until now, the
Demonstrator 2B flight was at the highest altitude and speed achieved
in the X Prize Competition with a liquid fuel rocket vehicle launched
from the ground."
Rocketplane Ltd. has spiffed
up their web site.
It includes, for example, additional info on their XP
(Item via Space
News briefs... Mojave prepares
for the next SS1 launch: Spaceport,
Scaled prepare for X-Prize launches - Desert News - Sept.16.04...
... Alan Boyle reports on Space
Transports Corp.'s plans for another Rubicon test launch over
the weekend of Sept.25-26: Rubicon
redux- Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.17.04. (I expect Stevie
will be back in shape by then.)...
... GoldenPalace/da Vinci posts
their own news
item about the recent balloon test...
... Masten Space Systems reports on the status of their engine
igniter project: Qualified
Igniter Success - Masten Space Systems Blog - Sept.18.04. Follow
developments at the company via the Masten
Space Systems blog
flights looking like a winner ...
so far. If they are a financial success, it will be a big boost
for the alt.space movement and will strengthen expectations of a
viable market for suborbital tourist flights. The crucial indicator
will be whether after the initial wave of publicity flight demand
remains strong. I think it will but there are no guarantees when
it comes to the fickle public.
Here are some more news items about the company's debut:
FALCON contracts announced...
First reported in August
by Space News, it is now official that the four companies listed
below have been selected by DARPA
for the second round of the FALCON program - DARPA
Press Release (pdf) (via spacetoday.net):
DARPA, Air Force Kick-Off Falcon Phase II
Small Launch Vehicle Effort
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the
U.S. Air Force have awarded funding to four teams for the second
phase of the Falcon Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) program. The goal
of the Falcon SLV program is to develop and demonstrate an affordable
and responsive space lift capability.
Each team was awarded an other transaction for prototypes agreement.
The teams and agreement values are:
LLC, Reno Nev.; $11,372,342 (Gary Hudson & Bevin McKinney)
- Lockheed Martin Corp., Space
Systems Co., New Orleans, La.; $11,691,215
- Microcosm Inc.,
El Segundo, Calif.; $10,498,353
- Space Exploration
Technologies Inc., El Segundo, Calif.; $8,000,000
Under the newly awarded agreements, each team will conduct a
10-month phase IIa preliminary design and development effort to
mature their launch vehicle designs. In addition, one of the companies,
Space Exploration Technologies, will conduct an early, responsive
launch demonstration. Next year, DARPA and the Air Force will
select one or more of the phase IIa teams to conduct detailed
design and fabrication of their launch vehicle. Phase IIb will
culminate in 2007 with flight tests to launch a small satellite
to validate vehicle performance.
In addition to DARPA and the Air Force, NASA has also expressed
interest in the Small Launch Vehicle capability and is a formal
partner in the Falcon Small Launch Vehicle development program.
I didn't realize that NASA was formally involved. Here is a FALCON
Fact Sheet (pdf). Note that LockMart's contract deals with the
hypersonic vehicle part of the program rather than with the small
News briefs ... Russia, Ukraine,
and two other former Soviet republics are forming a company to pursue
development of the Kliper
Countries Create Space Corporation - UPI/SpaceDaily - Sept.17.04.
(An earlier report
said no European or US organization had expressed interest in the
... More shuttle RtF info:
not repair, key flight issue - Florida Today - Sept.17.04
I've been informed that The
Rocket Boosters (great name), formed by a coalition of nonprofit
organizations in and around Mojave, CA., now include patches
in their lineup of Tier One merchandise..
News briefs ... From Alan Boyle
(and other sources) it appears that while HR-3752
may still be breathing, it desperately needs a last minute resuscitation:
legislation faces hurdles - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.16.04...
... Alan also comments on the
Corporation's plans for the Cosmopolis
21 vehicle: ‘Go’
for Russia's SpaceShipOne - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.16.04.
He says Dennis Tito and Space
Adventures are involved with the project. Eric Anderson of Space
Adventures visited Australia earlier
this year to look for possible spaceport sites....
... The GoldenPalace/da
Vinci test of the "EO-OS SEVEN" balloon, reported
took place in Colorado: Team
DA Vinci Scores Success In Test - X PRIZE - Sept.16.04...
... Here's an interesting new
approach to radioisotope
thermoelectric generators (RTGs): A
traveling-wave engine to power deep space travel - SpaceRef - Sept.16.04.
... Despite overruns and hurricanes,
NASA says the shuttle return to flight program remains on schedule:
to Flight on Track Despite Setbacks - Space.com - Sept.16.04
NASA requests commercial space transport
info... If you have a rocket company and think you could
supply launch services to NASA, the agency wants to hear from you.
It has issued a formal RFI (Request for Information): NASA
Special Notice: Commercial Space Transportation Services in Support
of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - comspacewatch
- Sept.15.04. This is in response to the Aldridge Committee
that urged NASA to take full advantage of commercial space transport.
NASA says that it "seeks any and all ideas for possible ways
of implementing of implementing the Commission's recommendation
as it relates to NASA space transportation requirements." The
RFI even includes manned launchers.
Note a couple of interesting support documents. One gives specifications
for vehicles that will approach the ISS: Interface
Definition Document for ISS Visiting Vehicles -ISS Program Office
The other details what NASA considers necessary for a launcher
to be considered "man-rated": Human-Rating
Requirements and Guidelines for Space Flight Systems - Last update:
News briefs... Wind tunnel
tests for a scale model of the X-37 were completed: Arnold
testing concludes on NASA's X-37 craft - Spaceflight Now - Sept.15.04...
... Check out the new discussion
forum dedicated to hybrid rockets: Hybriddyne
Forum - Hybrid Rockets...
... John Carmack reports on
forum about tests that generated "125 lbf with a preburner
LOX engine". He discussed the preburner development in this
Update and will report on the current tests in the next update.
Stevie update... This just
came in from Dr. James of the Rubicon ICU/R Facility at the Stevie
We have excellent news to report today:
After a grueling seven hour surgery, Stevie Austin has successfully
received a Full Body Transplant. The elite Rubicon Surgical Team
performed with outstanding skill and professionalism and their
hopes for Stevie's complete recovery are now higher than ever.
Stevie's donor body seems to be holding with no signs of rejection
at this time. Stevie will be in post-op recovery for some time
during which she'll be closely monitored around the clock.
Stevie's seven hour surgery was filmed. If you care to visit the
Austin Project Web Site, you may see still photos, text details
and a new
movie (37MB) documenting Stevie's complex and risky surgery.
We appreciate your support a great deal. Stevie's well being is
certainly enhanced by the fact that so many good people are out
there rooting for her as she endures these difficult times.
News briefs .. It's official,
DARPA is taking over the X-37
Transfers X-37 Project to DARPA - Space.com - Sept.15.04...
... Sounds like the Russian
PRIZE project might still be alive: Reusble
Spacecraft for [Sub-]Orbital Tourism - RIA Novosti - Sept.9.04
Spaceship for Tourism - Science & Technology at www.vor.ru - Sept.15.04.
Successful da Vinci balloon test...
Alan Boyle reports that a test of the GoldenPalace/daVinci
balloon last weekend went very well: Balloon
passes space test- Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.14.04. They
also have gotten an insurance policy for the X PRIZE flights.
News briefs... Boy was it big
mistake to forget about the X-37
link for a week. Here's yet another article about the
plan to test the vehicle in Mojave: NASA
Transfers X-37 to Unidentified U.S. Agency - Space.com - Sept.14.04...
... Russian cannot find any
help with the Kliper:
has no external offers of cooperation in spaceship project - ITAR-TASS
- Sept.14.04. (via spacetoday.net)
Zero-g flights... The company
more than a decade of effort, has finally begun selling rides on
a plane that provides micro-gravity experiences for periods of about
25 seconds as it flies a series of parabolas:
According to the Wall Street Journal article, the company "initially
expected to fill two trips on their plane during the first month
of operation, but through advance word of mouth and selective marketing
they already sold out 20 flights before the public launch of the
business. Individual tickets are $2,950 for a full day of training
and the airplane ride."
Although individuals are welcome to buy rides, the company is counting
on corporate incentive programs as the primary market. These programs
are for rewarding employee performance and providing team activities.
Companies can reserve a whole plane to carry 27 people at a time.
Diamandis reported at the 2003
Space Access Society meetings on the long struggle by himself and
his partners to overcome regulatory and other challenges. An important
innovation of the the company is the use of cargo planes.
They can quickly convert a plane back and forth between cargo and
zero-g mode. Cargo planes normally fly at night while the zero-g
flights will occur during the day. This dual use approach reduces
costs considerably over that of owning a dedicated single use vehicle.
It will be interesting to see how well the company does. The market
for the service will provide some indication of the market for suborbital
space tourism. Also, I expect that a suborbital spaceflight package
deal might include a ride on a parabolic flyer as part of the training
for the climactic rocket flight.
BTW: Alan Boyle reports
on similar services in Russia that are arranged in the US by adventure
travel companies. He also mentions a service under development in
Sweden called Xero.
This is an interesting because it is supported by MirCorp.
During an interview
on the Space Show last April, Walt Anderson mentioned that MirCorp
was developing a service in Sweden using a Russian plane for the
parabolic flights. The parent company is called, Zero
Group and this announcement last year - Zero
Gravity Experience Announced for Kiruna, Sweden Defy Gravity! -
the Zero Group - Nov.27.03 - lists MirCorp as one of its partners.
More Mojave news... Preparations
are on for the SpaceShipOne X PRIZE flights: EKAD
signs deal with X-Prize promoters - Desert News - Sept.9.04
preparing for X-Prize flights - Desert News - Sept.9.04...
... Dennis Cowing reports
that a NASA representative "didn't know what aircraft Scaled
Composites planned to use to drop the X-37 and that he should contact
them for that information".
News briefs... Contests have
motivated innovations in aerospace from the early days of aviation:
Race II Mind over matter by Irene Klotz - UPI/SpaceDaily - Sept.14.04...
... Modifications to the Shuttle
ET construction process should minimize the chance of insulation
chunks falling off during launch: Space
Shuttle External Tank slated to fly next spring ready for foam spray
on intertank; a major step to return Shuttle to flight - NASA MSFC
Good news on Stevie... Dr.
James of the Rubicon
ICU/R Facility reports that the Stevie
Austin web site was updated with new movie footage from Episode
Three as well as some new photo stills and text in the Medical Update
Section. "We have some very good news to report about Stevie."
Resisting restrictions on private aerospace...
I believe that the leading edge of the private sector - innovative
amateur groups and small entrepreneurial companies - will make the
key contributions to the development of a spacefaring civilization.
That obviously assumes that the government does not restrict the
private sector to a smaller and smaller area where it can operate
freely and does not cripple it with unnecessary and burdensome regulations.
While not directly related to spaceflight, the following notice
should be of interest to others who have a similar point of view:
Urges Members to Oppose Outrageous House Bill that Would Severely
Restrict General Aviation - Experimental Aircraft Association -
Sept.9.04. (Via a regular HS
Like the restrictions
placed on advanced amateur rocketry, these kinds of rules and regulations
bring few practical benefits as far as making us safer from terrorism.
They do, however, come at a big long term cost of less innovation,
reduced economic activity, and less inspiration and motivation for
young people to pursue education and involvement in technical fields.
SpaceDev engines for the SS1
X PRIZE flights have been delivered: SpaceDev
Delivers Rocket Motors for X-Prize Attempt: No “Laughing” Matter
- SpaceDev - Sept.13.04. (via R. Boozer)
These are "enhanced" versions of the one used in the
June 21st flight. SpaceDev "increased the amount of liquid
nitrous oxide for the spacecraft's initial burn and lengthened its
burn time by a few seconds": SpaceShipOne
Rocket Engine Gets an Upgrade - Space.com - Sept.12.04.
Mojave news ... I nearly lost
these two interesting items that arrived in my email last week while
I was away from home. XCOR
successfully tested its piston
fuel pump developed with funds from DARPA: Mojave
firm develops rocket fuel pump - Desert News - Sept.5.04....
Knight is getting a job from NASA to carry out drop tests of
next year: WhiteKnight
to launch X-37 test flights - Desert News - Sept.2.04. (Both
items via J.Lerch).
News briefs... In his latest
Armadillo update, John Carmack reports on development of alternatives
to their current mixed monopropellant propulsion system: Engine
alternatives, Preburner work - Armadillo Aerospace - Sept.12.04....
... The eleven companies recently
selected by NASA to develop designs for the Crew Exploration Vehicle
(CEV) and other systems need for the Moon-Mars program are meeting
in DC today to present their ideas: Firms
to Detail Mars Transport Plans - Washington Post - Sept.12.04...
... Jeff Foust reports on a
design using a Shuttle solid rocket booster to launch the CEV capsule:
a different approach by Jeff Foust - The Space Review - Sept.13.04
... Taylor Dinerman suggests
that the DOD assist the suborbital RLV companies with technology
development grants as a way to help its own long term launch needs:
RLVs - by Taylor Dinerman - The Space Review - Sept.13.04 ...
... The Space Frontier Foundation
praises rocket risk takers: Risk
in Private Rocket Flights Worthwhile - Space Frontier Foundation
Praises Heroes of a New Space Age - Space Frontier Foundation -
... X-43A drop test delay:
flight rehearsal postponed - Spaceflight Now - Sept.12.04
launch pictures... As reported earlier,
the Romanian ARCA
X PRIZE team successfully launched a prototype vehicle last week.
site now has pictures from the event. (Via Space
See also Breaking
News: ARCA Team Successfully Launches Demonstrator Rocket - X PRIZE
News briefs ... Alan posts
some items on X PRIZE happenings: Space
race update- Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.10.04...
Ltd. has hired Spirit
Wing Aviation to help convert a Lear
Jet 24 into the Rocketplane
XP suborbital space vehicle: Rocketplane
contract awarded - Space Race News! - Sept.10.04
... Rocketplane is working
with ORBITEC to
develop the "RP-1/LOX cold-wall vortex engine". (See engine
test photo). ORBITEC also is developing a paraffin fueled Advanced
Vortex Hybrid Propulsion System (AVHPS) for the Air Force....
... John Carmack answers more
questions on the Armadillo
Suborbital spaceflight legislation update...
As recently noted here,
legislation deemed by many to be crucial to the development of a
successful commercial suborbital spaceflight industry is at a critical
stage in the Senate. Though there is probably no real opposition
to the bill, the session will be very short and it will be difficult
to find time for it in a very crowded agenda. Public support will
be a great help in raising its chances for passage.
I've been informed by Charles Lurio that the Senate version of
any bill dealing with commercialization of private human spaceflight
would not be the previously mentioned S2772 (the 'CHASE' bill introduced
by Senator Inhofe) but instead it will be under the House Bill designation,
HR3752 ("The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004").
This is just an accounting measure, but if you contact Congressional
staff to give your support for the legislation, you should refer
to HR3752 to avoid any confusion.
Note that any improvements that were incorporated into S2772 will
likely be applied in HR3752 (a process known as creating a "perfected"
version of the legislation.)...
... You can hear Jim Muncy,
head of PoliSpace, talk about HR3752 in an interview
on the Space Show
recorded last Tuesday.
The DC-X in LEO... While I
expect that low cost commercial passenger space transport will only
emerge at the end of a long incremental development process beginning
with suborbital RLVs, it's still fun to think about designs for
getting to space on a shorter time frame. For example, in a recent
Space Show interview,
Meyers of the Space
Island Group (SIG) described a concept vehicle that derives
from the Shuttle system.
Launch Vehicle Model replaces the Orbiter with a DC-X
type vertical landing vehicle mated to the top of an ET structure
used for cargo or configured with living quarters for an orbital
station. This two part module is then attached to an ET/SRB configuration
similar to that of the shuttle except that the ET would also have
its own engines.
SIG claims that the "Clipper could be ready for orbital tests
in 3-4 years, at a cost of $2-$3 billion. It could carry 20-30 people
up and back."
SIG has long campaigned to use the ETs to build space stations.
The goal of the Dual-ET LV design is a launcher that provides the
ETs in orbit but at a much lower cost than with an Orbiter system.
Exploration funding... Despite
indications by Congress that it will cut next year's NASA budget
and ignore the President's space initiative, several small design
contracts for the new program were recently awarded.
Here are explanations for how they found the money: Space
Plan Takes A Tiny Step by Frank Sietzen Jr. - UPI/SpaceDaily - Sept.8.04
Politics: Funding the exploration studies - Space Politics - Sept.9.04.
launch of Demonstrator
2B according to a message
posted on the ARCA X PRIZE forum. (Via Space
Race News!) The Demonstrator 2B is a 1:2.5 scaled prototype
of the Romanian team's X PRIZE vehicle. The groups says the 2B uses
"the world first composite materials reusable monopropellant
rocket engine." It appears
they are using a mix of hydrogen peroxide 68% mixed with ethylic
News briefs... Shuttle return-to-flight
status discussed at a Senate committee meeting yesterday: Senate
hearing on the shuttle program - Space Politics - Sept.8.04...
... Costs through 2008 to fulfill
Columbia panel's recommendations could reach $2.2B: Fixing
Shuttle Fleet Could Top $2 Billion - AP/Space.com - Sept.8....
... Weather delays tests of
da Vinci balloon:
Prize test on hold - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.8.04.
News brief ... NASA/Northrop
complete tests of a LH2 composite tank: Northrop
Grumman, NASA Complete Testing of Prototype Composite Cryogenic
Fuel Tank: Nine Months of Testing Proves Integrity of Tank Manufacturing
Process, Boosts Confidence in Using Composite Fuel Tanks for Reusable
Space Transportation Systems - Northrop Grumman - Sept.7.04....
preparations begin for a Mach 10 flight test in late October: X-43A
set for captive carry flight test - NASA-DFRC/Spaceflight Now -
Space pathfinder ... Rand Simberg
lays out clearly the reasons why it currently costs so much to go
to space, why this high cost is not due to any fundamental laws
of physics or economics, and how the costs can be brought down significantly:
Path Not Taken - The New Atlantis - Sept.04.
News brief... GoldenPalace/da
Vinci says they have found an insurance policy for their test
hampers da Vinci test: Project team in U.S. for trial run of helium
balloon - Saskatoon StarPhoenix - Sept.8.04 (via Space
... Brief update from Alan
Boyle on the X PRIZE competition: Space
race update- Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.7.04...
... NASA must deal with yet
more unexpected expenses: NASA
Mum on Whether Launch Facility Damage Will Delay Next Shuttle Flight
- Space.com - Sept.7.04
News brief... More press attention
for the X PRIZE and private space development: Gentlemen,
Start Your Rockets: The race for space is heating up as private
outfits head for the launchpad - Business Week - Sept.13.04 issue.
News briefs... Space-Transport's
Rubicon I failed on its first launch but it succeeded in boosting
the company's funding prospects: Rocket
failure refuels dream of $10 million: Pair push on in bid to beat
Rutan team in space race - SignOnSanDiego.com - Sept.6.04 (via
... Jim Benson, founder of
profiled in Fortune: Rocket
Man: Space tourism and asteroid mining may seem like science fiction.
For Jim Benson, they're just part of his moneymaking business plan.
- Fortune - Sept.6.0 (via spacetoday.net)
The article also lists some other space entrepreneurs: Fellow
... I just noticed that GoldenPalace/da
Vinci posted a Team
Summary Sheet dated August 2004 on their homepage. It includes
the latest design specs.
In the latest Armadillo update,
John Carmack reports on a NOI (Notification of Intent to submit)
to NASA that was rejected. He also discusses miscellaneous engine
development problems and possible solutions: Rejected
NASA NOI, Miscellaneous - Armadillo Aerospace - Sept.5.04.
News briefs... This article
includes John Carmack's views on the da Vinci launch prospects:
Long Shots Still in Play - Wired - Sept.4.04....
... The suggestion that there
exists a direct step-by-step path from the SS1 to a Bigelow space
lodge is slowly losing its giggle effect: Holidays
in space are on the horizon - New Scientist - Sept.4.04 ...
... NASA wants to start a venture
capital firm. Oddly, it's not for investing in space startups but
in companies involved in "nanotechnology, robotics, intelligent
systems and high-speed networking and communication": NASA
Presolicitation Notice: Legal Services (creation of The Mercury
Fund) - ComSpaceWatch.com - Sept.3.04
Shuttle thinking... Frank Sietzen
reports on the Shuttle return-to-flight program and efforts to incorporate
"new thinking" into the agency:
The last article includes a section with comments from "Mike
McCulley, a former shuttle astronaut who now heads United Space
Alliance, the firm that operates the shuttles for NASA."
"... All of us wish (the shuttle) was less complicated,
less risky business than it is, but the fact is the first question
I ask those guys (in Congress) is, 'Hey, are we a human spaceflight
exploration nation or not and are we going to continue to be?'
If the answer to the question is yes, McCulley said, then the
shuttle is the nation's access to space, at least for a while.
It would take 50 years, he said, to reconstruct the capability
of the shuttles."
This deserves some kind of prize for the most self-serving, ridiculous
exaggeration of the year.
It would certainly mean great short term difficulty for the agency
to ground the Shuttles permanently, but this pales in comparison
to what the loss of a third vehicle will mean for the agency, the
country, and the families of the lost astronauts.
While tragedies could happen with new vehicles, as well, at least
these would happen in the cause of advancing space development and
not in the cause of giving a bureacracy a reason for its existence.
Truly new thinking would accept the unthinkable: the Shuttles must
be moved to the museums where they belong. Nothing that the shuttles
will do in their final twenty or so flights is worth the risk of
yet another disaster. The agency and the US space industry should
be freed from this awful albatross.
Suborbital legislation is reported
to be close to passage but only if time on the Congressional agenda
can be found for it during the short session starting next week.
Space advocate Charles Lurio sent me the following information
and perspective on the status of the legislation and how you can
Hope or Hoopla for Private Human Spaceflight?
Item: The fall Congressional session is scheduled for Sept. 7th
to Oct. 1st only.
Item: Even the most optimistic sources estimate that the chances
of reintroducing and passing 'infant industry' legislation for
private human spaceflight next year are, for various procedural,
non-partisan reasons, essentially zero.
Item: Yesterday, from an observer close to relevant events:
"Tangible issues regarding the legislation essential to opening
private human spaceflight markets (a version of HR 3752 and/or
it's recent Senate companion, S.2772) have become virtually
"And the only thing preventing the passage this fall
of such a Bill is that it will likely just not be given high
enough priority in time for action."
There will no doubt be (deserved) extensive coverage of Mr.
Rutan et al taking a shot at the X-Prize, presently scheduled
for September 29th and October 4th. If the legislation has not
been passed by then, however, even the most wildly successful
Prize flights will likely be a tragedy masquerading as a triumph.
Finally, the Hill is enmeshed in the latest act of the decades-long
drama, "How do we wrench an affordable human exploration program
out of the NASA behemoth?"
Shouldn't Congress give a moment's attention to passing the private
human spaceflight enabling Bill? It includes virtually no controversy,
may profoundly improve the cost and safety of all human spaceflight,
and doesn't cost the taxpayers a dime.
Target Senate Commerce Committee
[You should] contact the full Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to urge
them to take action that will allow Congress to complete passage
this fall of legislation allowing commercialization of private
human spaceflight (on the heels of the Xprize). If they are asked
about or wish to reference a bill number, people can say something
like 'a version of S.2772 or HR3752'.
McCain is the chair of the committee, Hollings is minority leader.
People should/can contact:
a) the committee office: 508 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg |
Washington, DC 20510-6125 | Tel: 202-224-5115
b) McCain's and (if possible) Hollings's offices - (commerce.senate.gov/about/membership.html).
c) their own senator's office if that person's on the committee
(see same linked page as in 'b')
Of course email is probably a waste. The next easiest thing
is to call the appropriate office. Writing via paper followed
by a call would of course be the ideal but given the short time
available the main thing is to get the message recorded to raise
the visibility, and if more than a couple of folks call they may
actually start keeping track of it.
If it gets to that, the key parts of the bill are the infant industry
provisions, which include reasonable licensing requirements, passenger
liability sign-offs while protecting uninvolved public, etc.
Of course, the Bill's other selling point is that a Member can
do something virtually instantly this fall that has the
potential of greatly aiding the future of all human spaceflight
while not costing a dime and not getting caught up in the controversies
over the NASA exploration proposals.
There's nothing more important for the future of spaceflight than
getting this legislation through - and when it can be gotten through.
See also Back
to the Space CHASE - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.2.04.
T/Space connections... Via
Race News came this press
release from Transformational
Space Corporation about its award from NASA for $3M "to
develop a comprehensive plan for renewed lunar exploration and development".
Interestingly, this company is headed by David Gump, who remains
listed as president of LunaCorp,
a firm that has long sought to launch a commercial lunar rover project.
The t/Space team includes several companies including Scaled
Composites and AirLaunch,
LLC. Gump is involved
with the latter company, which was founded by Gary Hudson and Bevin
Mckinney. AirLaunch recently was reported to be one of the companies
to win a second round contract from the DARPA FALCON
program for design of a low cost, rapid access small launcher.
News briefs... Alan Boyle reports
that 300 people have paid $10 each to put their name on the next
SS1 fight: Put
your name on a spaceship - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.2.04
... An optimistic endorsement
of commercial launch development: Calling
Flash Gordon: The final frontier is closer than you think. - Fort
Worth Weekly Online - Sept.1.04
News briefs... This is why
released the statement
about the environmental impact of the Rubicon: Rocketeer
says launches are environmentally friendly, but marine sanctuary
may prosecute over Aug. 8 launch - Peninsula Daily News - Sept.1.04....
... John Carmack responds
to various questions and comments posted on the Armadillo forum....
(part of Spaceref.com)
includes a page on X-Prize
Kistler updates... The Kistler
Aerospace web site had posted some new and not so new materials:
Bottom line figures released:
- Raised $600M
- Spent $800M
- Need $450M more to finish K-1 and fly it
Vision for Space
Exploration contracts... The first contracts related
to the President's space initiative have been awarded. A mix of
large and small companies are splitting $27M for 6 month studies
in the areas of human lunar exploration and development of the CEV
(Crew Exploration Vehicle): NASA
Selects Contractors for Exploration Studies - Spaceref - Sept.1.04
1 , 2004
News brief... Irene Klotz's
latest article on the X PRIZE reports on the insurance policy used
to raise the $10M for the contest purse: Space
Race II Looking for a hole in one - UPI/SpaceDaily - Sept.1.04.
That's one tough lady... Space
Transport's test pilot, though "severely injured"
(I'll say) in the first test of the Rubicon, battles to return to
flight status as reported in The
Stevie Austin Project. The video
(wmv) shows that when it comes to cool bravery and determination,
Stevie is way a-head of the rest...
... On a more serious note,
STC defends its environmental policies in Rubicon
Project is Environmentally Sound - STC - Aug.31.04 ....
... The company also released
this statement on its new major investor: Spacefleet,
Ltd. of the United Kingdom Funds Rubicon 2 Launch - STC - Aug.27.04
News briefs ... HARC
posts some videos
of an engine test, an annimation
(mov) of its Liberator in action, and of some cool rocket bikes...
... More on da
Vinci's insurance search and test plans: Space
racer fights back - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Aug.31.04....
... Check out the new look
for Keith Cowing's NASA
Watch. Great that it now includes permalinks so I can link directly
to items of interest. There is also the new Commercial
Space Watch and other pages in the works...
... Shuttles will continue
to land at Kennedy: NASA
will keep KSC as main landing site: Other paths just as risky, agency
decides - Florida Today - Aug.30.04
Continue to August 2004