3:35 pm: News briefs... John
Carmack reports on electronics and propulsion progress: Electronics
work, LOX Engines - Armadillo Aerospace - Nov.30.04...
... Space Transport says on
page that it will sell rocket motors and launch services. Their
page provides info on their "scalable solid propellant
(APCP) motors, suborbital rockets, and plans for orbital rockets."
10:55 am: News briefs... Though
NASA plans to discontinue its support for scramjet research, the
Air Force will continue with its programs to develop hypersonic
may play key role for craft:Research for hypersonic flight requires
corridors - L.A. Daily News - Nov.29.04 (via spacetoday.net)
... The Governator praises
the Mojave Spaceport: Mojave
Spaceport Recognized by Governor Schwarzenegger; SpaceShipOne's
Triumph Acknowledged - CSA - Nov.29.04 (MS Word 168kb)
... Came across another SS1
photo album: Pictures
of SpaceShipOne's space flights - June/September/October 2004 -
12:05 am: News briefs... I've
been in Knoxville and saw this article Sunday about a local company
that built the audio system for the SS1: Sound
Venture - Knoxville New Sentinel - Nov.28.04...
Spaceplanes is still talking about suborbital tourism flights
from a spaceport in Malaysia:Malaysia
may be first in Asia to launch tourists into space - The Star -
Nov.25.04 (via spacetoday.net)
... AvWeek reports that India
has a long term RLV program that currently is focused on development
of a recoverable spacecraft called the Space-capsule Recovery Experiment
(SRE). The 500-kg. (1,100-lb.) capsule will be ready for launch
in 4 years. They recently carried out atmospheric drop tests...
... AvWeek also reports that
Japan is giving up on the Hope-X prototype spaceplane project due
to soaring costs and a need to focus on fixing H-IIA problems...
... More about the solid rocket
booster stacking for the RtF Shuttle launch: Big
step taken to again fly shuttle: NASA begins assembling solid rocket
boosters - The Huntsville Times - Nov.28.04...
... NASA's prize plans get
some press: NASA
seeking new pool of talent: Millions offered for space innovation
- L.A. Daily News - Nov.27.04
3:15 pm: News briefs... GoldenPalace/daVinci
plans an unmanned test launch and then a launch with Brian Feeney
on board in January: da
Vinci delays launch attempt to January - spacetoday.net - Nov.27.04...
... I hear there is still a
chance that the commercial space bill will get a vote in the Senate
when it comes back for a short session.
3:15 pm: News briefs... Glad
we left early and missed traveling in the holiday crowds and rainy
mess today. Here are some links gathered in a quick scan of sites...
... Leonard David reports on
the FAA's seal of approval of Bigelow's Genesis spacecraft, which
will test the company's inflatable structure technology: Bigelow
Space Module Flight Gets Government Okay - Space.com - Nov.24.04...
... If this was the year of
private suborbital space development, next year promises to be the
year of private orbital space development with SpaceX
launching the Falcon I and Bigelow
orbiting their first test spacecraft...
... Jim Oberg reports on a
clever, relatively low cost scheme proposed by Constellation
Services to send a manned mission around the Moon : A
trip around the moon? It could happen: Experts say it’s technically
possible but expensive - Jim Oberg/MSNBC - Nov.24.04. (The article
includes comments from Jon Goff, occasional contributor to HobbySpace.)...
... The APS take it for granted
that the exploration initiative will need a huge increase in funding
for new human spaceflight projects and that at least some of the
money will come out of science funding: NASA's
Moon-Mars Initiative Harms Science: American Physical Society Report
- Space.com - Nov.23.04. However, this doesn't have to be the
case if the program is carried out with money made available with
the end of the Shuttle program and ISS construction and with smart,
low cost approaches like that mentioned above ...
... This UPI article reports
on the space bill saga: Space
Race 2: Congress Weighs In - UPI/SpaceDaily - Nov.23.04 ...
... AvWeek article on the X-43A
X-43A Hyper-X Reaches Mach 10 in Flight Test: Mach 10, but now what?
- Aviation Week - Nov.23.04...
... NASA continues the preparations
for the Shuttle return to flight: NASA
Reaches Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster Milestone - NASA - Nov.24.04.
2:00 am: News briefs... Alan
Boyle notes a transition to a new phase in commercial spaceflight
stage for the space race - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Nov.22.40
... Robert Zimmerman sees the
X-43A as typical of NASA's technology development programs that
don't lead to practical systems: X-43A
Rockets Into Oblivion - UPI/SpaceDaily - Nov.22.04
... The latest California Space
Authority newsletter is available: SpotBeam
California - Nov.19, 2004.
11:45 am: News briefs... Space
Transport launched one of its three-stage
sounding rockets successfully: Rocket
boys of Forks capture a town's imagination - SeattlePI - Nov.22.04
Race News!) ...
... This week's issue of the
Space Review has a couple of space transport related articles:
... The Instapundit
comments on the space bill: Another
small step: Space tourism takes a step forward - GlennReynolds/MSNBC
2:15 am: News briefs... The
SS1 gets some well deserved recognition: SpaceShipOne
named Time's 'Invention of the Year' - AP/Monterey Herald - Nov.21.04
... The B-52 that carried the
X-15 and the X-43A and a lot of other experimental aircraft in between
is finally heading off for retirement: B-52B
test plane flies final mission - The Washington Times - Nov.21.04
... More about prize motivation:
Prizes: Substantial cash awards have inspired inventors and advanced
technology throughout history - SanDiego Union-Tribune - Nov.21.04.
(These links via spacetoday.net)
12:45 pm: The Senate, as mentioned
below, will return for a short session after Thanksgiving. There
is a small chance the space bill will then get a vote.
I remember George
Schultz, former Secretary of State in the Reagan administration,
once saying that the thing he hates most about Washington is that
nobody there ever gives up on anything.
This case certainly illustrates the good and the bad about such
political tenacity. On the one hand, I find it remarkable and admirable
how the proponents of the space bill kept it going even when all
hope seemed lost.
On the other hand, I'm amazed and disappointed that despite two
overwhelming votes in the House in favor of the legislation and
with passage in the Senate all but certain, opponents still would
not give up and instead used a procedural trick to block it.
It's like every piece of legislation, no matter how technical or
obscure, becomes a fight to the death with no quarter given by either
(Well, OK, maybe the bill was blocked for reasons unrelated to
its specific content, but with Senate rules and confidentiality
being what they are, we may never know. The above comments still
hold for much of what goes on in Congress these days.)
... Meanwhile, NASA was one
of the few agencies to get the budget it requested. This will be
very important for getting the new space
initiative off the ground. As with the election, this
President Bush succeeded where his father did not.
The Congress in 1993 went out of its way to zero out any funds
whatsoever for the original Space
Exploration Initiative. Most probably a similar zeroing out
would have happened in 2005 with a Kerry administration. Now NASA
will have four years to fully entrench a deep space exploration
orientation to its structure and operations that will remain in
place long after this president leaves office.
Jeff Foust offers comments and links about the budget:
1:15am: The Senate has apparently
shut down for the evening and perhaps for the year. From what I've
heard, the space bill had been on the way to unanimous consent passage
when a "hold" was put on it. Any senator can use this
technique to keep a bill from coming up for a vote.
A lot of other bills were blocked, especially those originating
from the House. So the block may not have been due to specific problems
with this particular bill. On the other hand, there may have been
someone who wanted to stop it, e.g. a sore loser on the House side
could have asked a friend in the Senate to place the hold.
The Senate may come back for a brief session after Thanksgiving
to vote on a major Intelligence reform bill. At that time, there
might be a chance of passing the space bill.
If it doesn't pass this year, then the commercial space legislation
is dead and the whole process must start from square one in the
new Congress. However, the FAA and AST may take HR3752/HR5382 as
the general intent of Congress, especially with the two large votes
in the House in favor of them.
This means that the legislation would guide their regulatory approach
to suborbital spaceflight until they were told to do otherwise in
a bill that was actually passed by the whole Congress. So at least
not all would be lost after all the work that a lot of people put
into passing this bill...
... See also House
Passes Private Spaceflight Bill - Space.com - Nov.20.04.
7:45 pm: Senate vote might
happen tonight according to another source.
7:35pm: Space bill status...
Just got back home and don't see any sign that the Senate has voted
on the bill yet. Currently on C-SPAN there is a tribute to outgoing
Senator John Breaux taking place in the Senate Chamber.
Jeff Greason sent a message after I left and said, "Anyone
who supports this bill should now call their Senator and urge swift
Alan Boyle has a longer summary of the House action: Space
tourism legislation makes comeback: After ups and downs, House revives
and approves bill - MSNBC - Nov.20.04.
Here's an AP report: Safety
rules for space tourists ahead FAA can issue regulations in 8 years
- AP/CNN - Nov.20.04.
Jeff Foust at SpacePolitics.com: HR
5382 passes the House.
I've also heard it's possible that the Senate vote might not happen
for a few days, perhaps not till after Thanksgiving. Gee, I think
I would actually prefer to watch sausage being made...
3:40pm: Commercial Space Bill passes house!!
The bill finally got through the House. Now the Senate must vote
on it for it to become law: House
Passes Commercial Space Bill: Legislation Establishes Clear Regulatory
Framework for Emerging Industry - House Science Committee/SpaceRef
- Nov.20.04 + House
OKs suborbital bill - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - Nov.20.40 ...
... Here is the most recent
message from Henry Vanderbilt:
Things ran a bit slower than expected and the House recessed
Friday night without voting on HR 5382. They're back in session
and voting on "A Motion To Suspend The Rules And Pass" 5382 right
now - this looks like passing by a healthy but far from unanimous
margin; the current tally is 269 for, 117 against, 47 not yet
OK, the motion got the required 2/3rds majority; the House has
passed HR 5382.
Our thanks to everybody who called and helped out - we'll be
writing about what comes next (presumably Senate action) as soon
as we have details.
Space Access Society
2:15 pm: Space bills update...
The NASA did get its full $16.2B budget: Comments
from Frank Sietzen on NASA Budget - NASA Watch - Nov.20.04....
... Still no word on the status
of the commercial spaceflgith bill. Here is a message from around
noon today from Henry Vanderbilt of the of the Space
Access Society (The link is down at the moment.):
Latest on all this: The House called it a night before getting
to HR 5382 Friday night. Current best guess is they'll get to
it sometime today. They're currently in session, working on various
bills. Calls (and faxes) asking Representatives to vote for HR
5382 are definitely in order during the day today, Saturday 11/20/04.
(Note that you too can follow all this - the House session is
broadcast live on C-Span 1.)
10:50am: Space bills status... Haven't
heard yet if the commercial spaceflight bill has come up for a vote.
Jeff Foust reports here on the situation: Last
call for HR 5382 - Space Politics - Nov.20.04...
... NASA may get its full budget
request after all: Extra
money for NASA? - Space Politics - Nov.20.04. This could determine
whether companies like XCOR actually get the exploration
study grants that they were awarded.
News briefs... Alan Boyle
reports on the latest news from JP
and downs for space balloon: - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Nov.19.04...
... No news about a launch
Vinci. However, I've heard a rumor that they decided to build
their own paraffin
fueled hybrid rocket engine rather than buying an engine
from a commercial firm ...
gets the interest of a stock analyst: Rocket
Maker, Rule Breaker?- Motley Fool - Nov.19.04...
has four firm launch orders so far: SpaceX
lands 1st launch orders: Private El Segundo company founded two
years ago will get a chance to put its low-cost rockets to the test.
- DailyBreeze - Nov.19.04...
... Burt Rutan communicates
his vision of the future of spaceflight to UCLA students: Space
cowboy envisions new frontier: Maverick aviator seeks to launch
travel, tourism into Earth orbit - Chicago Tribune - Nov.20.04...
... Sigourney Weaver thinks
a suborbital spaceflight ticket is worth the price: Is
she pining for Alien? - The Sun Newspaper Online - Nov.19.04....
... More on the X-43 flight:
X-43A rockets to Mach 9.8 at Edwards - Air Force Link - Nov.19.04
built here roars to new speed record - The Tullahoma News - Nov.19.04.
11:00 pm: More on the bill's status
from Alan Boyle: Suborbital
showdown - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Nov.19.04 * Closing
arguments - Cosmic/Log - Nov.19.04.
10:50pm: Space bill vote on Saturday...
I've been out for the evening so I'm a bit late in posting
all this. First, here's the latest from Jim
Muncy via NASAWatch:
Update: "The House Leadership just announced that there would
be no more votes tonight. The House of Representatives will convene
at 9am on Saturday morning to consider outstanding votes plus
the Omnibus approps bill, etc... so phone calls, faxes, and emails
to House Members, especially House Democrats, should continue
until at least mid-morning Eastern Time on Saturday. Remember:
HR 5382 is a *bipartisan* bill that was developed as a compromise
between the House-passed HR3752 and the Senate Commerce Committee's
Democratic Staffers. So nobody should think it is a partisan issue
or a pro-Republican bill."
Then here is the latest from Henry Vanderbilt of the Space
Space Access Update #106
Copyright 2004 by Space Access Society
URGENT! Call your Congressman TONIGHT, Friday 11/19, and ask
them to support HR 5382, The Commercial Space Launch Amendments
Act, when it comes up for a vote by the full House - probably
late tonight. If you don't know who your Congressman is, or if
you don't have the phone number of their DC office handy, log
on to http://www.vote-smart.org
and enter your nine-digit zip code in the Find Your Representatives
box. Then phone their Washington DC office (the area code 202
number) IMMEDIATELY - minutes may count - and tell whoever answers
that you're from , and you're calling to ask Representative
to vote for HR 5382. If they ask you for more info,
do your best to provide it (take a quick look at the info below
- the short version is "because it's important for the success
of the new commercial space flight industry") then thank them
for their time and ring off.
EVERBODY reading this who votes in the US needs to do this - every
vote counts, as the way to get the Senate to also pass HR 5382
in the very short time remaining in this Congress is for the House
to pass it by an overwhelming margin. As soon as we've sent this
out, we're going to go look up the number and make the call -
you do it too!
HR 3752, which provided important regulatory support for a new
commercial space flight industry, has widely been reported dead
in the last day or two, and it almost was. It has been reintroduced
in the House of Representatives as HR 5382, it was debated today,
and it should be up for a vote by the full House sometime in tonight's
extended session - possibly as early as 8 pm EST, possibly well
into the small hours of tomorrow morning.
For more info on the history and content of HR 3752, see http://www.space-access.org/updates/sau105.htm.
HR 5382 is the latest hard-fought compromise version of HR 3752
that everyone interested had finally agreed on. The current problem
is largely a matter of a few who hadn't been following the issue
closely not understanding why certain features of the bill are
necessary for the healthy birth of the new industry. A letter
from the head of the House Science Committee summarizing the issues
A few minutes ago you received a letter from congressman Oberstar
about H.R. 5382 which will be before the house shortly. Mr.
Oberstars objection to the bill is well intentioned but reflects
fundamental misunderstandings about the bill. Here are some
The house passed earlier this year by a vote of 402 to 1 and
earlier version of this bill (HR 3752) that gave the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) less regulatory authority over
commercial human space flights than does the bill before us
The Science Committee which has primary jurisdiction over this
bill which was given the sole initial referral had several hearings
on the bill and has talked about it frequently with the press,
engendering more public discussion.
This bill concerns the commercial space flight industry, an
industry that is now of interest only to entrepreneurs and daredevils
and should not be regulated as if it were a commercial airline
acting as common carrier, which is basically what Mr. Oberstar
The bill does give FAA unlimited authority to regulate these
new rockets to ensure that they do not harm anyone on the ground
and to ensure that the industry is learning from any failures.
The bill also gives FAA additional authority after 8 years by
which time the industry should be less experimental.
The Oberstar approach would be the equivalent of not letting
the Wright Brothers test their ideas without first convincing
federal officials that nothing could go wrong.
Without this Bill the FAA will continue to license private space
flights without adequate authority to protect either the safety
of the public or the finances of the government.
Please support HR 5382, just as you voted for the initial version
in March. Todays bill is an equivalent of a conference report
as it reflects bipartisan negotiations with the Senate.
So - again, we ask you ALL to call, tonight, and ask your Congressman
to vote for HR 5382. This is important. Thanks!
Space Access Society
Space bill vote... Just got
HR 3752 has been superseded by HR 5382, which is coming up for
a vote in the House this afternoon. Please call your Congressperson
immediately and ask them to vote yes on HR 5382.
[Update 5:40pm: Jim
Muncy's Thoughts on HR 5382 - NASA Watch]
More on rocket safety from
David Masten of Masten
Space Systems: Going
to Space - The Right Way - Catallarchy - Nov.19.04. (Includes
a cool graphic of the XA-1.0 vehicle.)
Commercial space bill still breathes....
Alan Boyle reports that the Senate Transportation Committee has
relented and will let the commercial spaceflight bill proceed. (See
related items on Wednesday.)
However, there is a Democratic representative who is threatening
to block unanimous consent passage due to his objection to the limits
on crew/passenger safety regulations: Space
tourism backers keep hope alive: Legislation revived, but obstacles
loom large - MSNBC - Nov.18.04.
Boeing engine... Boeing to
test 250K pound thrust engine: Boeing
to test experimental rocket engine - Spaceflight Now - Nov.18.04.
NASA and the Air Force are funding the project, which is called
the Integrated Powerhead Demonstration, or IPD. Other info on the
at Air Force Research Laboratory : "The first goal is
to increase turbine life by using a full flow cycle staged Integrated
Powerhead Demonstrationcombustion design. This is achieved by
lowering operating temperatures by using pre-burners. The second
goal is to increase bearing lifetime and reduce their wear by
incorporating hydrostatic bearing technology in the powerhead
or pumping portion of a rocket engine."
Sega's comments to Congress on NASA-Air Force joint projects -
March.18.04 : "This new liquid engine cycle should enable
a 25% increase in rocket engine reliability, a 200-mission life
for the engine, and a reduction in maintenance time and cost."
Suborbital spaceflight safety...
Rand Simberg responds to the Tabarrok
Unsafe At Any Speed - TCS: Tech Central Station - Nov.19.04.
Here also are two discussions on Rand's blog: Not
Unsafe At Any Speed - Transterrestrial Musings - Nov. 18.04
At Any Speed? - Transterrestrial Musings - Nov.18.04
News briefs... More on Mike
Melvill's visit to Florida: Famed
pilot still looking up: America's first commercial astronaut visits
Brevard - Florida Today - Nov.17.04...
... Looks like lots of interesting
SPACE stuff in the December issue of Wired: Director
James Cameron Guest Edits WIRED Magazine, Unveils the New Age of
Space & Deep Sea Exploration in December Issue - SpaceRef -
... Discussions in Russia about
space tourism: Space
Privatization Underway- RIA Novosti - Nov.18.04...
... An additional commercial
payload for the first Falcon
I flight: Falcon
1's "Loved Ones" Flight - Space.com/Astronotes - Nov.18.04
Probably wrong... If statistics
were a child, Alexander Tabarrok would be arrested for abuse: Is
Space Tourism Ready for Takeoff? Probably Not - TCS: Tech Central
Station - Nov.18.04.
Aerospace engineers can comment more knowledgeably on his analysis
than I can but here are some points to consider:
- He relies on a lump of technology fallacy in which rocket
vehicles of all manner of designs and configurations and that
were developed and launched over many decades are all lumped together.
From this lump he draws conclusions on a new suborbital vehicle
that uses a design and a propulsion system quite different from
what those vehicles used. (Not that I believe conventional liquid
fueled engines are incapable of achieving high safety levels.)
- How can expendable orbital rockets be compared to a reusable
- How can the massive, hyper-complex, hyper-fragile, first-of-a-kind
shuttle be compared to a small, Mach 3 suborbital?
- He cites problems that occurred during the initial test flights
of the SS1 and implies that these prove the SS1's unreliability.
This is misleading in two ways:
- Finding problems is what a test phase is supposed to do.
You gradually push the envelope, find problems and fix them.
That is HOW you make a vehicle reliable. That is HOW you build
in the margins that lead to high reliability and safety.
- Despite the problems like the spin on the first X PRIZE
flight, the SS1 survived without any damage to the vehicle
or pilot. This would indicate that even at this early stage,
the vehicle has substantial margins and is remarkably robust
considering that it is a whole new type of vehicle.
- Burt Rutan believes the SS2 can achieve the safety levels of
the first generation of airliners. He wants to follow a certification
process similar to what airplanes must follow. This will certainly
mean a significant number of test flights before paying passengers
start flying. From a large sample of flights, one can then make
a reasonable estimate of reliability.
- Comparing the first space tourism vehicles to current airliner
safety is silly. Achieving current safety levels took many decades
and many accidents to learn from.
- There's nothing in his analysis that proves that there are fundamental
reasons the first generation of space tourism vehicles cannot
provide as good or better safety as that found with other common
adventure tourism activities such as parachuting, scuba diving,
mountain climbing, etc. These are carried out by many thousands
of people daily despite the occasional fatal accident.
[Update: Here are some stats
on mountain climbing risks provided by David Nishimura. Link via
Shuttle sims... Just downloaded
the Space Shuttle Simulator
Lundberg. Its currently just "10%" complete but nevertheless
displays impressive detail and strong graphics. See also the Orbiter
simulation and other shuttle
News briefs... Comments from
Jeff Foust about the fate of the commercial spaceflight bill: RIP
HR 3752. Or not? - Space Politics - Nov.17.04...
... NASA gets a budget increase
but it may be eaten up by the Shuttle return-to-flight and Hubble
rescue programs: Report:
Congress settles on $15.9 billion NASA budget - spacetoday.net -
... Elon Musk is pursuing
sub-$1,000 per pound launch to orbit costs: Space
Pioneer Musk Betting $100 Million - Investors Business Daily/Space
Race News! - Nov.17.04 ...
... Boeing will apply X-43
data to military scramjet
to use X-43A results for future hypersonic ideas - Spaceflight Now
... Mike Melvill flies the
in Florda: Pioneer
commercial astronaut makes stop in Melbourne - Florida Today - Nov.17.04.
Legislative launch failure...
Alan Boyle this evening posted a lengthy review of what happened
to to HR:3752 when it got to the Senate Transportation Committee:
spaceflight legislation fizzles out: Clock runs out as House panel
raises concerns - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - Nov.17.04.
A compromise had been worked out to overcome the main roadblock
that had held up passage of the bill. New language instructed the
FAA to consider crew and passenger safety only if a serious problem
arose and to focus, as every agrees it should, on safety for the
uninvolved public. This would hold for eight years, giving time
for the new industry to mature and to develop the technology to
a higher, safer level.
However, this compromise language "stuck out like a red flag"
when the bill got to the Transportation Committee and there wasn't
time left in the short session to decide if they could accept it.
As Alan indicates, "barring a miraculous revival" it
looks like a goner for this year.
Commercial spaceflight bill dies....
Back to square zero next year for legislation to regulate commercial
suborbital manned spaceflight: Senate
Gives Final Passage To Bill Extending Protection For Satellite Launches;
House Committee Kills Commercial Space Bill Deal - House Committee
on Science - Nov.17.04 [Via NASA
[Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY)] said, “I’m very disappointed
that this bill, on which Dana Rohrabacher and I have labored so
long and hard, is not going to be signed into law. Dana has convinced
all of us of the importance of this bill, of its potential to
help get a new industry off the ground and to spur technology
development. I hope we will be able to revive the bill next year.
But everyone should understand that the final deal was a delicate,
carefully calibrated compromise on precisely how much regulation
was appropriate, and when. Those kinds of carefully tuned instruments
tend to decay pretty rapidly over time. I fear that we’re going
to have to start all over next year.”
Perhaps in the meantime the suborbital companies will all agree
to a common set of proposals on how to proceed, especially with
respect to the question of AST licensing vs. a FAA aviation-style
certification for passenger vehicles.
[Well, like ET, Alan Boyle says there is still a faint glow of
bill on deathbed - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - 2;10 pm, Nov.17.04
Update 5:15pm - Charles Lurio also says the bill
still alive. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is appealing to the leaders
of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to let
Charles says at this point the public also needs to appeal to
this committee to let the bill through.
Get your 2005 SpaceShipOne calendar now
available at Rocketboosters.org: Officially
Licensed SpaceShipOne Mechandise - 2005 12 month Calendar.
More X-43 news... This BBC
page also includes a video report on the flight: Superfast
Nasa jet pushes Mach 10 - BBC - Nov.17.04. A summary and more
article links at Final
X-43 flight a success - spacetoday.net - Nov.17.04.
News briefs... Wired reports
on the SpaceVision
2004 Conference held last week at MIT: The
Final Capitalist Frontier - Wired - Nov.17.04...
... UPI report on the Centennial
Challenges Day: NASA
Gets Back Into The Rocket Science Game - UPI/SpaceDaily - Nov.16.04.
Suborbital spaceflight bill status...
Looks like the commercial space launch amendments act
which has serious implications for the development of the suborbital
spaceflight industry, still has a chance of passage during the upcoming
brief Congressional session. Alan Boyle reports on the status of
the bill: Politics
of the final frontier - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Nov.16.04. See
also comments by Jeff Foust at SpacePolitics.com.
grants... NASA's Exploration
Systems office announces awards to 70 proposals that "support
the research and technology goals and objectives of the Vision for
Space Exploration". See the announcement at NASA
Selects Exploration Systems Proposals - NASA/SpaceRef - Nov.16.04
and the list
Most of the awards go to the big mainstream aerospace firms but
several small companies also won some of them. Examples of these
- XCOR - $1.07M
for Long-Life Lightweight Oxidation- Resistant Cryogen Tank
Space - $2.67M for SmallTug: Miniature Flight Experiment
Demonstrating Cislunar Cargo Tug Technologies
- Space Works Engineering
(the group also includes the X PRIZE Foundation) $1.04M - Economic
Development of Space: Examination & Simulation.
where the company listed is the leader of a group of organizations.
A number of university led groups also received grants.
News briefs ... The X-43 reached
its target Mach 10 speed: NASA's
X-43A Scramjet Breaks Speed Record - NASA - Nov.16.04...
... Dr. Thomas Matula, a professor
at the School of Business at the University of Houston, offers his
Act of 2005 (ww.spacemarkets.org)
with lots of ideas for how the government could encourage the development
of space commerce. (His interview from Tuesday's Space
Show should be in the archive there soon.).
5:38 pm: X-43 flight appears to be a success...
Congrats to the X-43 team and NASA. See the post-flight
X-43 in the air... The B-52
with the X-43 has taken off and should launch in about half an hour.
Watch the event on
NASA TV and follow the updates at Spaceflight
Now status page.
News briefs... The Dryden
X-43 page says the "launch window for the X-43A/Pegasus
combination will be from 2-4 p.m., PST. [5-7 p.m. EST]"...
... Centennial Challenges wants
to give bigger space prizes: NASA
Lobbying For Authority To Grant Prizes Above $250K - Aviation Week
posts photos from the X PRIZE award gala: Photos
From X Prize Gala - St. Louis, - ARCA - Nov.6.04.
European re-entry tests...
The European Aurora
program, considered a response to the recent US exploration
initiative, is starting some projects to test re-entry designs:
Space Industry To Develop Re-Entry Vehicles - SpaceDaily - Nov.15.04.
[Nov.16 - Correction: Aurora has been around for about 3
years so obviously it's not a response to the US initiative. However,
I believe it can be said that Aurora was re-invigorated by the US
Here is a picture of the EADS PRE-X
atmospheric re-entry and one of the
PRE-X recovery at sea. According to this press
release, "the Pre-X family of reentry vehicles [are intended
] to validate hypersonic aerodynamics, hot structures and thermal
The German projects tie in with the Phoenix/Hopper RLV studies:
Future prospects in space transport through reusable launch systems
- EADS - May.10.04. See pictures in the EADS
(Concept of a Lifting Body for Reentry Investigations) is an earlier
(1994-1997) German re-entry concept. This brochure
from the Univ. of Stuttgart describes a more recent project called
DESIRE (Demonstrator Satellite for Reentry Experiments), referred
to as a "Lifting Body Reentry Demonstrator to prove Technologies!".
(This item via a HS reader
News briefs... The Centennial
Challenges Day meeting took place yesterday. Here is Brant Sponberg's
presentation (pdf). There is also an archived webcast
of the meeting. (Links via NASA
... Some lame responses to
the WTN X PRIZE
program that will award money for technology advancements: X
Prize offers big bucks for big science / Sponsors ask public to
suggest ideas -- critics aren't so sure - SF Chronicle - Nov.15.04
X-43 update... The flight was
postponed till tomorrow due to delays caused by glitches in the
X-43A avionics. See the Spaceflight
Now Mission Status page for details.
X-43 flight status... Looks
like the launch time is at 5 p.m. EST instead of 7pm (that's the
time for the post-flight briefing). Sorry about that. See the Mission
Status page at Spacefight Now for updates. NASA
TV will also broadcast the flight. (Correction via a HS
News briefs... John Carmak
reports on various engine projects in his latest update: Hydrogen
preheat, Pancake preburner - Armadillo Aerospace - Nov.14.04....
... The X-43
flight is scheduled for today at 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m.
EST) . The event will be webcast from www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/.
Check the NASA
X-43 page for the latest updates...
... The Shuttle Return-to-Flight
campaign promises to be tumultuous: Fears
rise over cuts, shuttle schedule: Interviews, documents show managers'
concern - Orlando Sentinel - Nov.14.04...
... Heres a new space
tourism blog from Chris
Sherman, who is also helping to organize a conference
on the topic.
News briefs... Here's Robert
Zimmerman calls the Boeing/Northrop CEV design "remarkably
or Small NASA Space Vision? - UPI/TechNewsworld - Nov.11.04
... X-43 flight on for Monday:
Status Update: X-43A Mach 10 Flight on Schedule For Nov. 15 - Dryden
FRC - Nov.12.04 ...
... SpaceX has posted videos
of various engine firings and other tests: Gallery
... Here's a transcript of
a roundtable discussion last August on Nuclear
Propulsion and Power for Space, sponsored by the AIAA (via Bruce
Rocket reliability study...
SpaceX has posted
a study that it commissioned from Futron
on what were the primary causes of launch failures of US vehicles
and what these imply for the reliability of the Falcon vehicle designs:
Reliability Comparison for SpaceX Falcon Vehicles - Futron/SpaceX
Here's an interesting excerpt:
"For launches of US-built vehicles in the last 20 years,
problems with the propulsion system caused 52 percent of all failures.
Six of the 13 propulsion failures involved liquid engines and
the other seven failures involved solid motors. After propulsion,
the second most common cause of launch failures was separation
events, which were responsible for 28 percent of all failures.
Separation failures included staging, payload separation, or fairing
separation. The remaining 20 percent of all failures occurred
in the avionics or electrical subsystems and at least one failure
was blamed on a lightning strike."
News briefs... Here's a report
on SpaceX developments:
Race 2: Half-Price Rockets - UPI/Spacedaily - Nov.10.04 ...
Spaceplanes is looking for a spaceport in Asia: Asian
Lift-off for British Space Holidays - Scotsman - Nov.10.04 (via
Race News). ...
... SS1 and tests of a new
radar system: Space
Ship One may help flight test - Hilltop Times - Nov.11.04 ...
... More about the Northrop
Grumman / Boeing collaboration: Firms
look to shuttle successor - BBC - Nov.10.04 * (B)old
new frontiers : Design of Space Vehicle - Newsday.com - Nov.10.04
... And more on the X-43A flight:
to Attempt Mach 10 Flight - Wired - Nov.11.04
Space Access Midterm Report...
The recent Space
Frontier Foundation Conference held in Long Beach, California
included a "Space Access Track" with presentations on the latest
in space transportation development, especially at small entrepreneurial
companies. This is a mid-year update between the Space
Access Society meetings held each April in Phoenix, Arizona.
I could not attend the meeting but Jonathan Goff of Masten
Space System generously agreed to do a writeup on the presentations
and has now posted his Notes
From Space Frontier Conference 13. He reports on talks by
John Carmack of Armadillo
Aerospace, Jeff Greason of XCOR,
and others involved directly and indirectly in the development of
low cost space transport.
News briefs... Jeff Bezos actually
mentions Blue Origin
in public but doesn't say much: Amazon
CEO Wants to Go Into Space on Own Rocket - Reuters/UK - Nov.10.04.
Race News) ...
... More about the X-43A flight:
'Scramjet,' NASA Shoots for Mach 10 - Washington Post - Nov.10.04....
... The Planetary Society's
1 solar sail now has a firm launch period set between March
1 to April 7, 2005:
November 6, 2004: Burt Rutan, American Mojave Aerospace Ventures
Team Leader, accepts $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE check. From left
to right - Burt Rutan, American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team
Leader; Gregg Maryniak, Executive Director, X PRIZE Foundation;
Paul G. Allen, Founder & Chair, Vulcan Inc.; Robert K. Weiss,
Vice Chairman, X PRIZE Foundation; Peter H. Diamandis, Founder
& Chair, X PRIZE Foundation. (Photo - X
News briefs... Northrop and
Boeing team up on the CEV
(Crew Exploration Vehicle) design proposal: Northrop
Grumman, Boeing Plan Space Exploration Team - Northrop Grumman -
Nov.8.04 * Boeing
to Join Northrop Bid for NASA's New Spacecraft- Bloomberg News -
... America's Space Prize gets
the attention of Nature magazine: Rules
outlined for $50-million space prize - news@Nature - Nov.9.04.
... The Russian space program
now has sufficient funds to develop improved versions of its vehicles
so this may indicate that their RLV development plans like, the
are not beyond reach: Soyuz
2 test launch a success - spacetoday.net - Nov.9.04.
News briefs... This report
It: Black Sky - Astrobiology Magazine - Nov.8.04 - on comments
made by Burt Rutan while in Alabama includes this interesting factoid:
"I bought the engines for $65,000 each." ...
... Background on the upcoming
"bittersweet" Mach 10 flight of the X-43: The
final flight of X-43A - HamptonRoads.com/Pilot Online - Nov.8.04.
(Both links via spacetoday.net)
America's Space Prize rules ... Robert
Bigelow has announced the rules for his contest that will award
$50M for the successful development of a crewed orbital launcher
by 2010: Rules
Set for $50 Million 'America’s Space Prize' by Leonard David - SpaceNews/Space.com
Rutan and the SS1 on 60 Minutes...
The segment was really terrific. They concentrated on Burt Rutan
but with a strong emphasis on the SS1 flights and the development
of a private spaceflight industry. See pictures and text at Next
Space Race Under Way - CBS News - Nov.7.04
60 Minutes is one of the most watched programs on US TV. While
many people saw snippets of the flights on the daily news shows,
this broadcast will give a much bigger audience the story of what
the flights were really all about. Can't imagine the alt.space movement
getting a better publicity boost.
News briefs... More on the
X PRIZE awards ceremony: Winners
of X Prize get their reward - St. Louis Post Dispatch - Nov.7.04...
Bahamas is an elaborate resort and real estate development with
a space/scifi theme. It probably will never get off the ground but
such a resort would be a great place to base a ZERO
G type parabolic flight service and eventually a space tourism
company like Virgin
SS1 news... The SS1 team got
their trophy and check yesterday:
Here is the official press release:
X PRIZE Foundation Awards
$10 Million Check Today
to Historic Winners of the ANSARI X PRIZE
$10 million check given to American Mojave Aerospace Ventures
Team at the St. Louis Science Center for their successful suborbital
space flights Sept. 29 and Oct. 4
St. Louis, MO. (November 6, 2004) - Ten million dollars was
awarded at 10:30 a.m. (CT) today to the American Mojave Aerospace
Team, led by research aircraft developer Burt Rutan, and financier
Paul Allen, for its successful completion of the history making
ANSARI X PRIZE. The team prevailed over 25 additional teams from
across the globe in developing and flying a privately financed,
manned spaceship to an altitude above 100km. The criteria called
for the spacecraft to fly twice, within a two-week period, before
the December 31 deadline, with a pilot and the weight equivalent
of two additional people. Ceremonies were held at the St. Louis
Science Center, a major supporter of the Foundation and St. Louis
University High School in St. Louis, Missouri.
“We are very excited to be able to celebrate this extraordinary
accomplishment here in St. Louis, the birth place of Charles Lindbergh's
flight and home of the X PRIZE Foundation,” said Gregg Maryniak,
Executive Director, X PRIZE Foundation. “The ANSARI X PRIZE was
the first step for people to realize their dream of space travel
and has since sparked a number of new creative endeavors including
the upcoming X PRIZE CUP in New Mexico.”
After the team's second successful sub orbital space flight October
4, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic Airways Founder, announced
his plans to partner with the American Mojave Aerospace Ventures
Team to develop a fleet of five passenger space ships modeled
from Burt Rutan's White Knight & SpaceShipOne vehicles.
“There is no question that the ANSARI X PRIZE was instrumental
in helping to inspire a new space renaissance,” said Burt Rutan,
American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team Leader. “The entire team
anticipates an exciting decade ahead, which will provide space
access for those for whom it was previously only a dream.”
In addition to receiving a $10 million check, the American Mojave
Aerospace Ventures Team also was awarded an impressive five-foot,
200 lb bronze trophy created by sculptor, James Todd of Troy,
Michigan. Francis G. Slay, Mayor, City of St. Louis, proclaimed
Nov. 6, 2004 “Space Flight Day” and designated the first week
in October as “Aviation History Week” to commemorate the second
flight of SpaceShipOne on October 4, 2004. With blue skies overhead,
the presentation ceremony was concluded as pilot and astronaut
Mike Melvill and pilot Robert Scherer flew overhead in the Beechcraft
Starship, one of the chase planes that accompanied SpaceShipOne
on its flights.
Dignitaries attending the event included Paul G. Allen, Founder
and Chair, Vulcan Inc.; Congressman Richard Gephardt, (D) Missouri;
Congressman Todd Akin, (R) Missouri; Francis G. Slay, Mayor of
St. Louis; William Readdy, NASA Associate Administrator, Space
Operations Mission Directorate; Byron Lichtenberg, PhD, X PRIZE
Board of Trustees and astronaut; John-David Bartoe, astronaut;
Richard Fleming, President and CEO, St. Louis Regional Chamber
and Growth Association; Erik Lindbergh, Director, Lindbergh Foundation;
Amir Ansari, Technology Entrepreneur; Dr. Peter H. Diamandis,
Founder and Chair, X PRIZE Foundation; Robert K. Weiss, Vice Chairman,
X PRIZE Foundation and Hollywood Producer, and Douglas R. King,
President, St. Louis Science Center. Additional attendees of the
ceremonies included many of the 26 competitors including: ARCA,
Da Vinci/Golden Palace, Pablo de Leon & Associates, Pioneer Rocketplane,
TGV Rockets, Inc., Vanguard Spacecraft, High Altitude Research
Corporation (HARC), and Suborbital Corporation.
... The two
DVDs with the Black Sky programs about the SpaceShipOne and
the X PRIZE, and shown recently on the Discovery Channel, are now
shipping from the Discovery Store. (Just got word that my set is
in the mail.) ...
... Meanwhile, don't forget
the 60 Minutes show tonight with a segment about Burt Rutan.
News briefs... Article on XCOR's
piston pump project: XCOR
successfully demonstrates new liquid oxygen pump - AV Press - Nov.6.04...
... NY Times Sunday magazine
has this brief interview with Richard Branson in which thre is some
discussion of space tourism at the end: Questions
for Richard Branson: Virgin Territory - The New York Times - Nov.7.04.
News briefs... Robert
Zimmerman finds shortcomings in the Shuttle return to flight
Shuttle's safe return illusory - Robert Zimmerman/UPI - Nov.5.04...
... On the other hand, NASA
certainly seems to be trying to find ways to reduce damage to the
shuttles during launch: NASA
grows ice for space shuttle testing - NASA/Spaceflight Now - Nov.5.04
... Latest on the upcoming
X-43 flight: X-43A
Launch, Pre-Flight Briefing Rescheduled - NASA - Nov.5.04...
... With the Russian economy
recovering, their space program may recover as well from over a
decade of decline and penury:
New Space Program: The Period Of Survival Is Over - RIA Novosti
60 Minutes profiles Burt Rutan
on November 7th:
NEXT SPACE RACE - The private sector's race to space is being
led by maverick aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan, who foresees
thousands of people enjoying the view from space in the very near
future. Ed Bradley reports.
(Via a HS reader)
Centennial Challenges Day... NASA's
Challenges program, which will be awarding prizes for successful
development of space related technology projects, is holding a meeting
about its efforts to get more input from the community:
November 15, 2004
At a special announcement event, the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) will present an overview of the Centennial
Challenges program and an explanation of two Requests For Information
(RFI) and one Announcement of Partnership Opportunity (APO).
The event will be conducted on November 15, 2004, at NASA Headquarters,
James E. Webb Auditorium, 300 E Street SW, Washington DC from
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- Introduction of Brant Sponberg
- Welcoming Remarks
- Introduction to Centennial Challenges
- Description of RFI for Flagship and Keystone Challenge Support
- Description of RFI for Quest Challenge Support
- Description of APO for Co-Sponsorship and Alliance Challenges
- Question and Answer Session
and APO are available at:
You can pre-register
online or at the door. The event will be webcast (see meeting
page for streaming link).
See the meeting
web page for further details, registration info, maps, etc.
XCOR sponsors pump contest... XCOR
Aerospace is sponsoring a contest to design and build a "four
cylinder piston machine that operates four water pump modules (provided
by XCOR)." The rules
are given at Steam
Engine Contest: $11,000.00 total prize money for three places -
Nov.5.04. There is also a discussion
SS1 articles in the November
issue of Sports Aviation include this interesting behind the
scenes report by EAA President Tom Poberezny who visited Scaled
Composites the day before the Sept.29th launch: “SpaceShipOne
— Cleared to Land” by Tom Poberezny - EAA Sports Aviation - Nov.04
Though not available online, the issue also includes the article:
Inside SpaceShipOne: Innovation-and a few dicey moments-highlight
the first private space program - Sport Aviation Magazine -
Nov.04. (Item via HS reader D. Hoerr.)
News briefs ... China copies
not only the NASA style, big-government space program model, but
even copies the rhetoric. Here it duplicates the standard NASA promise,
given since the 1960s, that in 20 years its efforts will lead to
commercialized spaceflight: China
eyes commercial space flights in 20 years - AFP/SpaceDaily - Nov.3.04....
... The X-43A Mach 10 flight
won't happen before Nov. 15th: Hypersonic
X-43A Takes Flight - NASA - Nov.3.04...
... Here are a couple of profiles
of engineers working on the X-43 project: Enthusiasm
for Flight Propels Researcher's Interest in X-43A - NASA - Oct.27.04
the Start: NASA Researcher Involved in X-43A Flight Program Since
its Beginning - NASA - Oct.15.04 ...
Goehlich is posting the lectures from his current Space
News briefs ... The latest
X PRIZE newsletter is now available: X
PRIZE NEWSLETTER : November 2, 2004...
... More space tourism press:
future of space tourism is looking up - Chicago Tribune - Nov.1.04...
... Eli Kintisch reports on
the upcoming X PRIZE awards event: .Ansari
X Prize will be awarded Saturday in ceremony - St. Louis Post Dispatch
- Nov.11.04 ...
... The latest NASA Shuttle
launch schedule: ISS
Launch Date Planning - NASA Watch - Nov.1.04...
... The latest CSA newsletter:
California - Cal Space Authority - October 25, 2004.
Suborbital orbital spinoff... AvWeek
reports that the SpaceShipOne
is having a positive impact on the RASCAL
Lessons Feeding Into RASCAL Aircraft - Aviation Week - Nov.1.04
"Lessons and technology from Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne
are being applied to the supersonic manned aircraft the company
is developing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's
(DARPA) RASCAL program, according to Jacob Lopata, chief executive
officer for RASCAL prime contractor Space Launch Corp."
How can this be? Numerous talking aero-heads have made categorical
claims that nothing significant can be learned from X PRIZE class
suborbital vehicles that will apply to orbital systems. But as we
see here (and also mentioned in this report),
if nothing else, suborbital vehicle technology can be applied to
the development of a robust, reliable, low cost first stage of a
two or three stage orbital system.
Kistler tries to emerge from bankruptcy...
According to the latest issue of Space News (there's
also currently an item in the online Space
News Briefs), Kistler
Aerospace has filed a restructuring plan with its bankruptcy
court that would allow it to emerge from Chapter 11 in January.
The Bay Harbour Management private-equity firm, which has long been
involved with Kistler, would become majority owner. They would "restart
program with $50 million in debt financing."
An additional $450 million would still be needed to finish the
K-1. They say it could fly within 18 months after obtaining the
Armadillo update... John Carmack
reports on progress with the assembly of a large
text vehicle and with the bi-propellant engine development:
work, Lox engine work - Armadillo Aerospace - Nov.1.04.
News briefs... Burt Rutan is
helping to inspire a new generation of students on the excitement
of space: Spaceship
designer boosts innovation: Speaker hopes to spark kids' interest
in space exploration - The Daily Texan - Nov.1.04...
... If nothing else, NASA helps
to maintain a spaceflight industrial infrastructure: Matrix
does its part for shuttle: Company one of hundreds of small contractors
- Florida Today - Oct.31.04.
Proposed scramjet first stage by 2015...
The current issue of Aviation
Week has an article titled: X-43A team claims $500-million
air-breathing first stage could handle 80% of payloads (subcription
required.) A reusable Mach 7 first stage using a scramjet engine
would be derived from X-43A
technology. A paper about the design was given at the recent International
Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Vancouver. The team claims such
a system could start putting 10K kg payloads into low-Earth orbit
(LEO) by 2015 or so.
The successful, though very brief, test
flight last March of an X-43A vehicle has given the team confidence
that Mach 7 is a speed that is achievable for a practical vehicle
on a 10 year timeframe. Usually proposed hypersonic vehicles are
designed to reach Mach 12 or higher.
They propose a $500M project that would deliver payloads to orbit
for around $800 per kg. The baseline system assumes an expendable
upper stage. The vehicle would takeoff horizontally using turbojets:
"Turbine-Based Combined Cycle (TBCC) engine burning hydrocarbon
fuel for the turbojet and liquid hydrogen for the ramjet/scramjet
phase of flight. The turbojets--a variant of the F135 or F110
engine--would push the first stage, an expendable upper stage
and the payload from horizontal takeoff to about Mach 2.5. At
that speed the transition to ramjet/scramjet operations is less
challenging than at the higher Mach 3.5-4 transition speeds needed
for a Mach 12-15 first stage."
The X-43A project plans its final
flight later this month. As a result of the resetting of priorities
after the announcement of the President's space initiative, NASA
decided to severely reduce its hypersonics R&D and it cancelled
a project to follow the X-43. (There is still considerable activity
by the military, which wants to use scramjets
The aeronautics side of the agency, which is in charge of the hypersonics
program, is apparently responding with this proposal to show that
a practical scramjet powered vehicle is feasible on a much shorter
time scale than previously thought.
to October 2004