pm: Science friction ... Robert
Zimmerman makes all the right points in his article
Analysis: Scientists and engineers at war - UPI - Dec.30.04.
I've written many times here on the reflexive (even robot-like!)
and counterproductive antipathy towards human spaceflight that dominates
the science community. So I won't rant about it further. I'll refer
you instead to my comments
on one Nobelist's attack on the President's space initiative, to
my mostly failed
efforts to find scientists who could make intelligent
informed comments on the use of reusable suborbital spaceflight
vehicles for research, and to this section
with a collection of comments and links on the subject.
pm: X PRIZE needs donations...
Only a short time left to trigger a matching grant to your X PRIZE
a few days left! - Space Race News! - Dec.30.04. Help the X
PRIZE develop the X PRIZE Cup and other important projects that
will continue to inspire progress in lower cost access to space.
pm: Learn how to build a SpaceShipOne ...
Here's a chance to participate in building a copy of the SS1: Incredible
Opportunity!! Students and Young Professionals Wanted for the Chance
of a Lifetime - Space Race News! - Dec.30.04
pm: News briefs ... Skylab astronaut
Owen Garriott urges NASA to move faster to obtain a Shuttle replacement:
says speed up plans for new craft: NASA could have shuttle replacement
in 6 years, he says - Huntsville Times - Dec.30.04.
I don't see this happening if it depends on NASA designing and
building the replacement. A CEV will only happen quickly and for
a reasonable price if NASA contracts launch services out to low
cost, innovative organizations like t/Space
and SpaceX ...
... NASA certainly needs something
not only to replace the Shuttle but also to compete with the Soyuz:
U.S.-Russia teamwork unraveling - UPI/Washington Times - Dec.30.04
... AST opens an educational
section on its web site: Commercial
Space Transportation - FAA / AST - Education
am: Being there... I'll soon be
making regular trips to the National
Air & Space Museum with our nieces and nephews (and later
their kids) so that I can point to a strange and beautiful little
spaceship hanging up there in the center
gallery and can tell them, "I was there when it flew to
space for the last time": SpaceShipOne's
final trip - MSNBC - Dec.28.04 ...
2:05 am News briefs ... Remember
the giggle factor that use to come with the term "space tourism?
The Year Space Tourism Finally Took Off - Space.com - Dec.29.04.
Hope I live long enough to see the giggle factor similarly removed
from terms like space hotel, space settlement, space community,
... Keith Cowing wonders why
NASA has to hire a British
firm to study small launchers: Going
Offshore to Study the Domestic Launch Market - NASA Watch - Dec.29.04.
... After charging a couple
of tourists for rides to the ISS, it looks like the Russians are
now taking the next step and making all passengers pay: Russia
to charge for space trips - BBC - Dec.29.04. Sounds like a commercial
human spaceflight service to me.
pm: A David and Goliath battle...
There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today
- Can Defense Contractors Police Their Rivals Without Conflicts?
- about a conflict between SpaceX
and Northrop. [Update Jan.22.05: The article is available for free
defense contractors police their rivals? - Military & Aerospace
Electronics Magazine/AP - Dec.28.04]
Due to a lack of in-house expertise, Pentagon often hires aerospace
contractors to do evaluations of projects carried out by other aerospace
contractors. The potential for conflicts of interest has grown as
the number of companies has decreased.
Northrop was hired to evaluate the Falcon I for launching military
payloads. Northrop bought out TRW a few years ago and several people
formerly at TRW now work for SpaceX. It appears that information
learned from the evaluation led Northrop to accuse SpaceX of using
proprietary information on pintle-injector technology developed
SpaceX denies that it used any proprietary information and both
companies have lawsuits against each other over the dispute. There
is supposed to be "firewall" between the Northrop group
doing the evaluations and the rest of the company. Northrop stands
to lose out on other consulting contracts if it appears that it
can't be trusted to keep confidential the information that it learns
From the article it seems that SpaceX has the stronger position
and the dispute might get settled out of court.
Apparently, the delay in the first launch of the Falcon I is not
due just to technical difficulties. The article indicates that because
of the dispute "the Air Force hasn't given the green light
for SpaceX's first launch, which has been rescheduled for sometime
Also, the pintle system wasn't a great bonus to the project anyway.
The article says Elon Musk
now regrets choosing the pintle technology -- but not because
of the legal problems it spawned. Contrary to Northrop's claim
that trade secrets enabled SpaceX to develop an engine in mere
months, SpaceX hasn't achieved the performance it seeks. "We will
get to our objectives, in spite of the bloody pintle," says Mr.
Musk, who is already looking to scrap the part for another engine
pm: News briefs... See the update
below to my speculation on future SpaceShip[#] development...
More about Branson and rockets: Rocket
Man: Richard Branson conquered the world. Now he wants to fly you
to space. - Wired - Jan.05 issue ...
... More about the recent engine
tests at Interorbital: Hypergolic
Engine Test - Interorbital Systems - Dec.4.04 (via X
PRIZE Space Race News!) ...
Skiff enters America's Space Prize contest (via X
PRIZE Space Race News!) ...
... The new improved ET is
prepared for the Return-to-Flight: Shuttle's
Next External Tank Near-fit to Fly - Space.com - Dec.28.04
am: SS2 news and some speculation... The
BBC reports on more details revealed about the SpaceShipTwo design:
soars towards new frontier - BBC - Dec.27.04.
As mentioned here recently,
the SS2 will carry up to 8 passengers plus a pilot. In addition:
- It will have "the same diameter crew cabin as a Gulfstream
V business jet" (1.9m by 2.2m).
- They are "aiming for a top altitude of between 84 and 87
miles (135-140 km)" to provide additional time to experience
- "'Instead of shoulder harnesses and tight seatbelts we want
this roller coaster-type bar that you fold out of the way and
you can float around,' Rutan said."
- There will be the "option of landing in a different place
from where they took off." For example, they could "launch
not far from Las Vegas and land in Mojave"
... There seems to be considerable
overlap among the SS2 vehicles, the Air
Launch system proposed for DARPA's Falcon
project, and the Transformational
Space (t/Space) proposal
for NASA's CEV/Lunar exploration system. (Air Launch and Scaled
Composites are members of the t/Space collaboration.)
A new carrier aircraft, larger than the White Knight, will be built
for the SS2. Slide 8 of the t/Space
presentation shows the "Air Launch LLC Option". I
assume the new SS2 carrier could also serve as the carrier for the
CCB (Common Core Booster - slide 11).
It certainly should be suitable for the Air Launch QuickReach
unmanned rocket that is intended to put 1000lb payloads into orbit.
Air Launch says that "later versions of QuickReach can deliver
10,000-lb. payloads simply through modest increases in the diameter
of the vehicle and its engines."
This all leads to a number of scenarios that could produce a privately
owned manned orbital system in the not so distant future. For example,
say that NASA doesn't select t/Space for the CEV but DARPA selects
QuickReach for Falcon Phase III. Then the government would be funding
the orbital rocket portion of the system while the SS2 project builds
the carrier and gains experience with manned spaceflight operations
in the suborbital realm. It doesn't take a big leap in imagination
to see them making the next step to a SS3 orbital module.
3:50 pm: Update... Gary Hudson
of Air Launch
says that while "all three [mission sets] involve air-launching
technology and carrier aircraft", the carrying capacity of
the next version of the White Knight will probably be 3-4 times
too small even for QuickReach and a factor of 10 too small for
"Bottom line is that while there are superficial [similarities],
the actual aircraft payload requirements (and even launch strategies)
vary widely between the three mission sets."
Still, even if a third generation White Knight is required, it's
still looks to me like a building block technology development
sequence is being followed that can lead to a commercial orbital
manned system. Slide 8 does, after all, show a carrier that looks
a lot more similar to the White Knight than to a C-17.
pm: AIAA 2004 reviews... Via a
posting on aRocket
come these reviews of space technology development for the past
Technical Committee Highlights. They include references to various
entrepreneurial organizations such as Armadillo
and others. Some topics of interest (select the pdf links):
... A radar aid to Shuttle
may see launch at night: Radar duo could help lift restriction -
Florida Today - Dec.24.04.
pm: News briefs... I've been told
by Bill Colburn that Interorbital
"had a 40 second full up test of their upper stage 3000 lbf
Thrust engine". Bill says this "matches the old PRS [Pacific
Rocketry Society] civil rocketry highest total impulse of 120,000
lbf-sec if in a single burn of 40 seconds."
[Please contact Bill, not me, if you want to argue about
rocketry records.] ...
... More about the space bill
history from Alan Boyle: Private-spaceflight
bill signed into law: After long struggle, law opens way for tourism
- MSNBC - Dec.24.04. (Via Space
... The EAA
recognizes Mike Melvill and the SS1 project: Audience
Journeys into Space with Mike Melvill at EAA Wright Dinner - EAA
News - Dec.18.04 * Mike
Melvill Tours EAA - EAA Headquarters - Dec.17.04 (links via
Aleta Jackson) ...
... I've heard from a subscriber
to the Starchaser
"supporters magazine" that the latest issue expresses
various sour grape criticisms of the SS1, e.g. Starchaser would
have won if someone as rich as Paul Allen had backed them, that
the SS1 was over-complicated ("Ferrari when a VW was all that was
needed"), and it should have had an escape system. Sound rather
petty to me but at least they are continuing with their program.
"Thunderstar has more to offer than the competition and will corner
a large percentage of the new and evolving markets".
pm: Commercial space act becomes law... President
Bush signed the commercial space bill: XCOR
Congratulates President Bush: HR 5382 Becomes Law - XCOR/PR Newswire
- Dec.23.04 (via spacetoday.net.)
pm: News briefs ... Robert Zimmerman
argues that we need to take risks if we are to suceed in developing
Space and the willingness to die - UPI - Dec.23.04...
... The web cast of the launch
was impressive but I apparently the performace was less than perfect:
Delta 4 Heavy launch comes up short - Spacetoday.net - Dec.22.04.
... Maybe in a decade or so
we will see a bump in the number of majors in aerospace engineering
as students inspired as kids by SpaceShipOne reach college age:
the final frontier: A new exhibit at Tampa's Museum of Science and
Industry lets visitors explore space without leaving the ground.
- St. Petersburg Times - Dec.23.04
pm: News briefs ... Burt Rutan
is awarded Entrepreneur
of the Year - Inc.com - Jan.05. The article provides an extensive
profile of Burt. ...
... More about the SpaceX launch
of a Space
Services payload: Space
Race 2: Rest In Space by Irene Mona Klotz - UPI/SpaceDaily - Dec.21.04.
(both links via spacetoday.net.)
am: News briefs ... A side business for SpaceX's
Falcon I get some attention in the press: Space:
Final frontier is final resting place: At the end of February, SpaceX's
Falcon 1 rocket will make its maiden voyage with some 125 civilian
passengers. - CNET News - Dec.21.04 * Rest
in...Space? [Motley Fool Take] - Fool.com - Dec.21.04 ...
... Another one of those "we
can't do anything in space without radical new technologies"
type of articles: Toward
a New Vision of Manned Spaceflight - Technology Review - Dec.04.
(Adding more shielding seems less of a hassle than "radical
biological enhancements".) ...
... Bill Colburn tells me about
his book, A
Manual for Hybrid Propulsion System Design by William H. Colburn,
which includes info on hybrid propulsion from the "GIRD vehicle
in the 1930's to the SpaceShip One".
11:35 am: SpaceShipOne
and Two news... In this interview - SpaceShipOne
designer talks about flight’s future - thedesertsun.com - Dec.20.04
(reprint at Space
Race News) - Burt Rutan says:
- SS1 will not fly again. Paul Allen doesn't want to risk damaging
it. Instead it is headed for the main gallery area in the Air
& Space Museum in DC.
- SS2 will carry 9 people. Previous statements had indicated 5.
- " It would also fly higher, and further down range. So
this is going to be a craft that could do sustainable business
for a long time, flying thousands of people."
8:45 pm: News
briefs... Spaceflight Now has posted an impressive 10-part
report by Bill
Harwood about the next Shuttle mission: Returning
the space shuttle to flight - Special 10 part report at Spaceflight
Now | STS-114 Shuttle Report ...
... A newspaper editor believes
that it was necessary to pass the commercial space bill but laments
the fact that it was necessary: Regulation
vs. innovation: Space-industry oversight bill has its merits, but
why must government get involved? - Victor Valley [CA] Daily Press
- Dec.20.04 ...
... Northrop also gets an inflatable
aerobrake project funded by NASA: NASA
Selects Northrop Grumman To Help Achieve Vision for Space Exploration:
Company Offers Innovative Concepts for Human and Robotic Technology
- Northrop Grumman- Dec.17.04 (via spacetoday.net.)
... Here's a long report on
O'Keefe's tenure: Three
Years in the Hot Seat by Brian Berger - Space News/Space.com - Dec.20.04.
11:50 am: News
briefs... It was a spectacular year for alternative approaches
to space development: 2004
the breakout year for space entrepreneurship? by Jeff Foust - The
Space Review - Dec.20.04 ...
... And projects like those
of Bigelow Aerospace indicate the next few years could be even better:
big at Bigelow Aerospace by Sam Dinkin - The Space Review - Dec.20.04
Gold at Bigelow Aerospace - The Space Review - Dec.20.04 ...
... The SS1 continues to impress
the press around the country: For
aviation pioneer, high risk is routine: Mike Melvill flew SpaceShipOne
into outer space - Post-Crescent (Wisconsin) - Dec.18.04 (via
... Low cost expendables could
be around for a long time: Russians
harness Cold War demons for space: Military plans test launch of
ICBM - MSNBC - Dec.17.04.
11:50 am: O'Keefe notes...
Taylor Dinerman sees solid progress during O'Keefe's tenure: Sean
O’Keefe: NASA’s indispensable reformer - The Space Review - Dec.20.04
... Robert Zimmerman believes
O'Keefe was too
squeamish with respect to human spaceflight, but the NASA chief
himself says putting humans in space is a primary task for the agency:
spaceflight the key for new NASA boss - New Scientist - Dec.17.04
... Despite O'Keefe's improvements
in NASA's accounting systems, the agency still has problems making
clear and definitive statements on the costs of projects past and
report criticizes shuttle cost estimates - spacetoday.net - Dec.18.04
... Rand Simberg believes the
agency is manipulating these numbers to justify the decision to
cancel the Shuttle repair mission: Fudging
The Numbers - Transterrestrial Musings - Dec.20.04...
... John Young thinks NASA
hasn't changed all that much with respect to safety issues: Astronaut
counters O'Keefe, says NASA culture hasn't changed - Houston Chronicle
... Rand disagrees with Keith
Cowing over Young's views: Failure
Has To Be An Option - Transterrestrial Musings - Dec.17.04 ...
... Jeff Foust wonders if there
is really a way to affect the selection of the next NASA administrator:
administrator lobbying effectiveness? - Space Politics - Dec.18.04
... Keith Cowing reports on
the status of the rumor watch: Name
Game Update - NASA Watch - Dec.19.04
2:30 am: Space bill debate...
The Thursday special edition Space
Show, which is now available in the archive,
was one of the best as far as intensity and strong back-and-forth
discussion are concerned. Robert Zimmerman presented his case that
the new space legislation gives too much power to AST and will inevitably
lead to the regulators causing big trouble for the rocket entrepreneurs.
In turn, David and several callers made strong counter arguments
that he was overreacting and the bill has far more positives than
negatives. (One caller also made some keen and insightful comments
about HobbySpace... Thanks Patrick!)
Tune in also to the two
shows this Sunday, both of which will probably also include
discussion of the space bill among other space policy issues. The
regular 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) show features Professor Joanne
Gabrynowicz, director of the National Remote Sensing and Space Law
Center and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Space Law.
A special show at 5:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features Frank Sietzen,
co-author with Keith Cowing of New
Moon Rising, about the development of the President's
initiative. He is a Washington-based writer covering
space issues for UPI Science News, Geospatial Solutions magazine
and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He also
worked with SpaceX and was the former president of the Space Transportation
Association. He was also
2:30 am: News briefs... The
from the International
Association of Space Entrepreneur (IASE) includes a couple of
space transport related articles: 2004:
A Breakout Year for Space Entrepreneurs? by Jeff Foust and Of
Rockets and Rich Men by Paul Contursi and Thomas A. Olson, the Colony
... Amazing that a trained
historian like Roger Launius cannot recognize a distinction between
a silly Pan Am PR stunt (which actually occurred
in the 1960s, not the 1980s) and today's situation with the SS1
flying and the SS2 project well funded and underway: Fly
me to the moon... - Financial Times - Dec.17.04.
3:15 pm: Pete Worden info ...
Some miscellaneous items about Pete Worden on various space sites
and via a Google scan:
According to different commentators, his chances of getting the
NASA job are either snowballing or have a snowball's chance in hell.
I tend to believe the latter point of view. The alt.space crowd
[which includes me] may manage to get a space bill passed (barely)
but choosing the next NASA director is a bridge way too far.
1:30 am: News briefs... Pete
Worden gets a booster in the Senate: Brownback
Urges General Worden for NASA Administrator - Senator Sam Brownback
office - Dec.16.04 ...
... Some in New Mexico see
the X PRIZE Cup
as a :X-Prize
may bring economic boom - Alamogordo News - Dec.16.04...
... The Shuttle Return-to-Flight
program is moving along well according to the Stafford-Covey Task
Makes Progress in Columbia Board Recommendations - Space.com - Dec.16.05...
... Raytheon has some in-house
technology it wants to use to develop a low-cost lunar lander: Missile
team homes in on the Moon - BBC - Dec.16.04
X PRIZE entrant pursues new goals...
Transport has altered its business plan and reconfigured the
vehicles that it is developing:
Three-Stage Rocket - sounding rocket that will take 2-10 pound
(1-5Kg) payloads to 100 km and back for $5000 per flight.
- emphasis has shifted to unmanned launches for this vehicle,
which would send 600-pound (270Kg) payloads to 100 km. Per-launch
costs for Rubicon will start around $75,000.
Orbital Launch Vehicle (N-SOLV) - an expendable launch vehicle
to send 20 pounds (9Kg) into orbit. "Projected recurring
costs for N-SOLV are around $300,000."
I expect that some of the other ex-X PRIZE competitors, rather
than disappearing, will pursue similar markets.
4:15 pm: NASA Administrator news briefs...
The next administrator will probably be more supportive of manned
spaceflight and also a Hubble repair mission by Shuttle astronauts
than O'Keefe, according to Bob Zimmerman: Analysis:
O'Keefe's exit may save Hubble - UPI/Wash. Times - Dec.16.04...
... On the other hand, Pete
Worden has been mentioned
as a candidate and, while supportive of manned spaceflight, he's
not keen on flying the Shuttles at all:
"I’m absolutely convinced that we don’t ever need to fly the
shuttle again. We’ve got three of them. Put them in the Smithsonian
... school parking lots. Kids can climb on them" (Space
... From this and other quotes
in that article,
Worden and Robert Walker both sound like they would make excellent
NASA administrators and reformers.
3:30 pm: Some space transport news
comes in this article from the Economist about space tourism: One
small step for space tourism... - Economist - Dec.16.04.
Highlights about SpaceShipTwo include:
- As announced before, Virgin
Galactic plans to spend up to $100m and so far has committed
$20M for licensing of the SS1 technology.
- A mock-up of the interior is under construction.
- A construction contract for the 5-passenger SS2 will be signed
in early 2005
- Exterior work will then begin
- Star Trek names will be assigned to the vehicles - VSS Enterprise
and VSS Voyager for the first two.
- There will be a new mother ship instead of the White Knight
- Testing of the first vehicle will occur "some time during
- The $200K for the ticket will buy a 3-day experience that includes
"medical checks" and a custom molded flat foam seat
so that riders "will barely notice a G-force that might cause
them to pass out if they were sitting upright".
- Passengers will remain tethered to their seats by "rubber
bungees that allow them to float about a bit, but will reel them
in for descent after four or five minutes of weightlessness".
- About 13K people have registered to pay a deposit. Virgin needs
5K customers over 5 years to make a profit.
- "they do not intend to fly unless they can make their spacecraft
as safe as a private jet."
There are also some rumors about Blue
- The Blue Origin vehicle will fly 7 passengers
- It will be a single-stage, liquid-fueled, Vertical-Takeoff-Vertical-Landing
BTW: I heard that a couple of Blue Origin reps came to the recent
meeting held by the AST. However, they were apparently there just
to listen and did not give a presentation.
3:30 pm: News briefs... Andrews
Space wins a grant to study an inflatable aerobrake: Andrews
Space, Inc. Wins Contract To Flight Test A Variable-Drag Ballute
- Andrews Space - Dec.16.04 (pdf) * (html
version at Primezone.) ...
... Looking around for space
tether info, I came across this interesting article about Tether's
Unlimited and its project called MXER (Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic
Reboost tether system) funded by NASA: Lassos
in Space: Giant Slings Seek to Capture, Launch Spacecraft - NASA
Langley - Nov.19.04.
9:55 pm: More space bill article edits...
I've been informed by Robert
"the paragraph that was removed
from my UPI
column, 'Congress restricts private space,' has been put back
in. After discussing the deletion with my editor I decided I didn't
want to change my article. While my analysis of the new law might
certainly be wrong (and it certainly is in the minority), I wish
to stand by that interpretation. I am sincerely worried about
the consequences of the new law. I also think that had the new
law been in effect, AST could very easily have felt obliged to
step in and interfere with the X-Prize after the problems on the
As he indicates, those in the suborbital spaceflight business that
were involved with pushing the bill through Congress strongly disagree
with him. They believe that AST
is obligated to encourage development of the industry and the office
realizes that problems during test flights are bound to occur. The
industry obviously won't develop if it can't make mistakes during
testing. (A serious problem during a paying passenger flights is
Tomorrow night there will be a special version of the Space
Show with Mr. Zimmerman at 7:30PM - 8:30 pm (PST). I hope an
industry proponent of the bill will participate in the discussion
of the legislation.
I think all can agree that it is important in the coming months
that industry people work as closely as possible with the AST while
it translates the bill into explicit regulations and policies. If
it does start heading off in a bad direction of some sort, it can
then perhaps be nudged back on track.
(You can find links to Robert Zimmerman's UPI columns, archived
interviews, etc., on his home
9:55 pm: News briefs... Speaking
of the space bill, Jim Benson gives it his support: SpaceDev
Chairman Weighs-In on Landmark Commercial Space Legislation - SpaceDev
- Dec.15.04 ...
... Gee, maybe there is finally
writing on the wall of the Shuttle hangar: Space
Shuttle Service Life Extension Program Discontinued - NASA Watch
2:45 am: News briefs ... Irene
Mona Klotz reports on efforts to find sponsors for spaceflight projects.
It has been extremely difficult over the years but seems to be getting
slightly easier: Space
Race 2: Selling space - UPI/Washington Times - Dec.14.04
... Jim Oberg reports that
development by the Russians and Germans of an inflatable re-entry
system continues quietly: Russians
keep working on ‘space parachute’ : Test flight delayed; inflatable
craft could eventually bring cargo or crew back to Earth from orbit
- MSNBC - Dec.14.04...
... It seems to me that NASA
should be serving the development of the space industry, not the
other way around: Report:
NASA tech transfer programs could hamper return to moon - www.GovExec.com
2:45 am: The X PRIZE needs your donations:
TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO
NON-PROFIT HAS GONE BEFORE...
by Erik R. Lindbergh
It has been an honor for me to be a part of a small, passionate
group of individuals that have managed to change the way the public
thinks about space travel, much like my grandfather and the Spirit
of St. Louis organization changed the world's perspective on aviation.
The X PRIZE Foundation
has met with unequivocal success. We have accomplished our objectives
and passed beyond them. Our bold vision of re-opening the space
frontier is no longer just a dream, it is a reality.
We look forward to a future when regular people will fly into
space. A future when we can improve our quality of life on earth
by realizing the resources and research potential of space.
I believe that the most powerful legacy of the X PRIZE Foundation
thus far, is that we have inspired a new generation of people
to dream about the possibilities of the future.
The X PRIZE Foundation is in a unique position to continue motivating
kids of all ages, to reach for the stars and expand the human
potential. We need your support in order to continue this extraordinary
Earlier this week we announced a $100,000 matching donation challenge
where we will receive a matching dollar for every dollar that
you donate. Thank you for the wonderful response! We have already
raised $9,000 but we still have further to go.
Please consider making a donation today or increasing your support
so that we don’t lose this matching gift.
Donate online on our secure site by clicking HERE
- or call us at
Erik R. Lindbergh
Executive Vice President
9:50 am: News briefs... The
idea of selling space memorabilia that has actually flown
in space gets a boost from this auction: "SpaceShip-flown
rocket to be auctioned" - collectSPACE - Dec.13.04. The
for example, has been offering fledgling suborbital companies money
to fly collectibles to 100Km ...
... More comments from Mike
Melvill on his flights: Space
travel ideas soar with civilian astronaut - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
- Dec.13.04 (via spacetoday.net.)
... A lunar
space elevator is starting to sound more reasonable than
I thought when I first heard the idea: Going
Up, Next Floor: Elevating to the Moon - Astrobiology Magazine -
Dec.14.04. Could be the thing it makes it practical to send
Platinum Group Metals from the Moon to the Earth (e.g. see MoonRush)
... And maybe payloads of bulk
materials could be dropped to earth via low cost re-entry systems
like this - Flight
experiment by a deployable flexible structure - ISAS/JAXA - Sept.9.04
- or this.
5:30 pm: Space bill briefs...
This week's Space Review includes an article by Sam Dinkin on the
space bill: Getting
into the act - The Space Review - Dec.13.04. (See also Nathan
Horsley's earlier analysis
of the bill.)...
... Robert Zimmerman returns
for a special program on the Space
Show this Thursday at 7:30PM - 8:30 pm (PST) to "examine
the pending Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 legislation
waiting for the President's signature." ...
... Also, on the Space
Show this Sunday at 12:00PM - 1:30 pm (PST) there will be a
return visit of Professor
Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, who is a space law specialist from
the University of Mississippi Space Law Center. I imagine she will
also give her views on the new law.
1:15 am: News briefs... The
Return-to-Flight program seems to be gathering momentum: Space
Shuttle Milestone: NASA Installs Main Engines on Discovery - NASA
- Dec.10.04 * Shuttle
Pace Accelerates Toward Return to Flight - Aviation Week - Dec.12.04...
... For archived links to recent
articles about the commercial space bill, see the Space
Legislation - Space Activism Section and the Regulatory
& Legal Issues subsection in RLV
12:05 am: The Commercial Space Launch
Act with the amendments of H.R.
5382 include is available at the Suborbital
Institute (109KB doc).This is an unofficial, "hand-made"
version that shows what the final act should look like when it is
signed into law. This is convenient because otherwise, you have
to insert all the amendments
yourself into Chapter
701 of Title 49 of the US Code to understand what has changed.
My thanks to Andrew Case and others in the Suborbital
Institute who worked on this and made it available.
5:05 pm: No halting
the SS1... I've been informed that the official UPI version
of Robert Zimmerman's article on the space bill no longer includes
the paragraph that says if the bill had been in effect at the time,
the spinning on the first SS1 X PRIZE flight "would have forced
AST to halt the second flight".
The language in that paragraph was due to the editor's "editing,
not Bob's reporting or analysis." [Dec.15: See update.]
4:50 pm: News briefs... I'm
told that Lou
Dobbs will include a segment about space tourism on his CNN
program this evening...
... Jeff Foust comments further
on the space bill: HR
5382's close call - Space Politics - Dec.10.04.
8:55 am: News briefs... Official
press release from the House Committee on Science: Commercial
Space Bill Wins Final Approval From Congress - House Committee on
Science - Dec.9.04 ...
... The SFF praises the space
bill success: Permission
to Fly: Granted! Senate Passes Commercial Space Bill Enabling Private
Space Flight - Space Frontier Foundation - Dec.9.04 ...
... With the money that Larry
Ellison spends on sailing ships, he could build his own suborbital
spaceship to fly winners of the Oracle
contest (e.g. mounting an America's Cup entry averages around
married a Java developer from outer space! - CNET News - Dec.9.04
(These three links via spacetoday.net)
2:10 am: News briefs... More
space bill commentary:
... Dennis Tito told a Senate
Committee in July
of 2003 (pdf) that Congress should "mandate in law an enabling
regulatory framework for commercial suborbital human space flight,
and ensure that this job be carried out by the Office of Commercial
Space Transportation." If Congress did so, that he indicated
he would invest in a suborbital project. Well, now he can show us
if he really meant it. ...
... NASA specifies the architecture
for the CEV and the overall earth-lunar transportation system: CEV
Specs - NASA Watch. Seems overly specific to me at this early
stage but maybe there is still room for innovative approaches like
that from t\Space.
1:10 pm: More space bill follow up...
I think it will be awhile before we know the full ramifications
of this bill (I take it for granted that the President will sign
it). The FAA/AST office,
for example, will certainly need some time to decide how it will
implement the legislation with specific regulations and guidelines.
I'm also wondering how Burt Rutan will react to the new regulatory
said at the recent SFF meeting that he preferred to follow an
aviation style certification procedure for his vehicles because
he believes this offers the best defense against liability lawsuits.
But while he did not support the bill, he did not actively campaign
against it either. So I assume he must have believed he could live
with it if it passed.
Charles Lurio, a space activist who campaigned for the bill and
helped to raise the bill's visibility with the media, said this
in his newsletter:
Was this legislation perfect? No. But it does what is needed,
and at the time needed: It opens the door for an infant industry
to get started, one that could lead to a transformation in spaceflight
as significant as the personal computer revolution that came from
the early home computer tinkerers of the 1970s.
This isn't the end of this story, not even of the political one.
But assuming the legislation is signed into law, we can hope that
the primary focus can shift to where it should be: the investors,
designers and inventors that must now step up to the plate.
Jeff Foust comments on the bill at HR
5382 lives - Space Politics - Dec.9.04
1:10 pm: Space in your Christmas list...
During your holiday shopping this year be sure to drop in at the
gift shops sponsored by various companies and organizations involved
in commercial space transport development.
For example, Rocket
Boosters, highlighted in this article - SpaceShipOne
souvenirs hot items for charities - Antelope Valley Press - Dec.8.0,
offers lots of SS1 memorabilia. Other shops include:
(Sorry if I left your space transport company's shop off the list.
Glad to add it if you let me know.)
Update - 11:50 pm: Follow up...
Here are some comments and articles related to the bill:
11:25 pm Commercial Space Bill Passes
Senate! Amazingly, at the last possible moment, the bill
was finally passed:
HR 5382, The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act, just passed
the US Senate by unanimous consent. Having already passed the
House of Representatives, it will now go to the President for
signature and at that point become law. Our heartfelt thanks to
everyone who has worked toward this moment over the last year.
The lack of this law would not have been the end of the world
for the emerging "alt space" industry, and the passing of it will
not solve all problems from this moment on. Nevertheless, we believe
that HR 5382 is a significant step forward in establishing a regulatory
regime that, whether or not it's perfect, is Good Enough for this
new industry to get underway with.
Thanks again, all.
Congratulations to Jeff Greason, Jim Muncy, Charles Lurio, Henry
Vanderbilt, and the many others who worked really hard to get this
bill into law.
1:15 pm: X PRIZE contributions... THE
X PRIZE Foundation
has "received a $100,000 matching dollar challenge from a small
group of generous X PRIZE donors.": The
X PRIZE Foundation: We Did It! - Space Race News - Dec.8.04.
So, for example, a $50 donation will be matched with $100.
Money will go for educational and advocacy programs and for projects
like the X PRIZE Cup.
Donations can be make here.
11:35 am: News briefs... An
essay in today's Wall Street Journal talks about the regulatory
hurdles faced by the nascent commercial space tourist business and
argues that Congress has not helped the situation by blocking the
commercial space bill: The
'Final Frontier' May Be a Senate Waste Basket By Holman W. Jenkins
- WSJ.com - Dec.8.04. (This is a subscription link. I'll check
later to see if they they move it to the free Opinion
Journal section.) Rand Simberg discusses
... The article - Last
rocketeers set sights on Mars - USATODAY.com - Dec.8.04 - reports
on the remaining members of von Braun's rocket team in Huntsville
and makes the point that today's rocket entrepreneurs are taking
over where they left off. ...
... They may have to put in
extra seats for the first commercial SS2 flight as demand continues
to rise: Car
chief plans to be first Irishman in space - Belfast Telegraph -
Dec.6.04 (via spacetoday.net)
2:30 am: News briefs... More
about the GoldenPalace/daVinci
balloon first stage: Space
Race 2: Inflatables take shape By Irene Mona Klotz -UPI/Washington
Times - Dec.7.04 plus a brief mention of Bigelow
Aerospace's inflatable spacecraft...
... The latter have also been
mentioned as possible safe havens for shuttle crews: How
a ‘safe haven’ could help save Hubble: Study suggests launching
module by Jim Oberg - MSNBC - Dec.7.04...
... Alan Boyle talks about
the status of the suborbital space tourism business: Selling
the Sky: Marketing efforts take aim at the suborbital frontier -
CosmicLog/MSNBC - Dec.7.04...
... More Kudos for the SS1
new craft receive awards: State authority honors late senator, SpaceShipOne
- L.A. Daily News - Dec.6.04...
... Based on this song,
I doubt Vim
will be getting a NASA
arts grant anytime soon. (Via Space
1:15 pm: Oracle suborbital contest...
Oracle and Space Adventures have teamed to offer a suborbital
trip to some lucky programmer: Oracle
Gives Developers Opportunity to Reach for the Stars with a Trip
to Suborbital Space - Space Adventures - Dec.7.04.
Participants register at the Oracle
Space Sweepstakes site and then must complete online quizzes
on topics related to the company's software development tools. Those
who pass the quizzes will gain an entry in a drawing for the flight.
The contest is part of the promotion of the Oracle OpenWorld conference
now going on in San Francisco. The contest will last till May and
the winner will be announced in June.
12:20 pm: T/Space space transport concepts
are included in the company's recent report to NASA: Mid-Term
Architecture Briefing - T/Space - Dec.3.04 - flash - pdf
The ETO (Earth-to-Orbit) system includes a White Knight type of
first stage to launch S1 CSX modules, which can be configured to
launch crew, cargo, or fuel. (See page 8 - Pictorial Taxonomy of
Transportation Elements.) The S1 is also shown riding on top of
other vehicles including the SpaceX
Falcon V and a Kistler
The ETO second stage is called the Common Core Booster (CCB). The
CCB is an expendable. Engines on the S1 provide the third stage
A triple CCB second stage would be required to launch the much
larger S2-CEV module that provides transport from LEO to the lunar
surface for crews, cargo, or fuel. Though the CEV/Triple CCB combo
is much larger than the S1-CCB (see page 13), the report indicates
that the same aircraft (to be built by Scaled Composites) could
be used for both. (Drop occurs at 25K ft.)
Multiple S1 flights would bring propellant to LEO for transfer
to the CEVs, which would provide repeated trips to the Moon and
2:30 am: News briefs... More
about the Shuttle Return-to-Flight campaign: NASA
Says Shuttle Is On Track for May Flight - Washington Post - Dec.7.04
Return to Flight on Track, Shuttle Officials Say - Space.com - Dec.6.04...
... Reports presented at the
October COMSTAC (Commercial Space Transportation Committee) meeting
have been posted on the FAA/AST
website. These include (in PPT format) :
... The Cal
State Long Beach/Garvey Spacecraft group launches a big one:
5 XL Launch - Adv. Rocketry News - Dec.7.04
10:15 am: News briefs... John
Carmack reports on setbacks in development of a new engine design:
engine failed - Armadillo Aerospace - Dec.6.04...
... In orbit repair of Shuttle
wing damage presents a difficult problem: NASA
unsure shuttle fixes can be made in-flight - HoustonChronicle.com
2:00 am: On line classes in
space tourism and "cost engineering" are available from
Japan. The latest bulletin from Robert Goehlich at Keio University
Why not join “Space Tourism II live broadcasted Lecture” and
share your ideas? It takes you only about 5-10 minutes to setup
your computer. You are welcome to join as a passive online member
(just watch occasionally like “TV style”), an active online member
(communicate with classroom and join “Space Tourism Market Simulation”
Game) or online speaker (if you like to give a presentation).
Login at: www.robert-goehlich.de.
Please let me know your wish when you register. Handouts are available
for download latest 1 day before lecture starts.
This month's schedule:
- Space Tourism II Class:
- December 8: “Feasibility of Suborbital Spaceplanes” presented
by Prof. Yoshiaki Ohkami (Keio University, Japan)
“Recent Developments in Space Commercialization from Industry
and NASA: Tourism and Beyond“ presented by Mr. A.C. Charania
- December 15: “Future Space Transportation Systems” presented
by Mr. Hirokazu Suzuki (JAXA, Japan)
- Cost Engineering I Class:
- December 8: “How Valuable is Your Spaceship: Determining
Cost, Operations, and Safety of Future Space Vehicles“ presented
by Mr. A.C. Charania (SpaceWorks
- December 15: “Case Study for a Typical Suborbital / Orbital
Rocket for Space Tourists”
You can also download the lecture
presentations in pdf format.
11:00 am: Rocket auction... One
of the rocket sculptures that flew on the SS1 X PRIZE flight is
on sale at ebay: eBay
item 3945035703 (Ends Dec-13-04 05:00:00 PST) - RETRO BRONZE MINI
ROCKET by Erik Lindbergh.
The sculptures were designed and created by Erik Lindbergh, who
is the grandson of Charles Lindberg and is a Vice President and
Trustee of the X Prize
Foundation. The proceeds from the auction will "benefit
A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation, a public 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of improving the
quality of life through balance between technology and the environment."
The current bid is $13,600.00.
11:00 am: News briefs... Robert
Zimmerman reports on NASA's prize programs and the difficulties
the agency is having in convincing Congress to allow it to offer
X PRIZE sized awards: Congress
Impedes NASA Prizes - UPI/SpaceDaily - Dec.2.04...
... The recent Space
Show interview with Zimmerman is now in the archive.
He is a frequent guest there and you can find his other interviews
also in the archive...
.... NASA decides there is
little risk in announcing shuttle launch times: Space
shuttle launch times no longer secret - Spaceflight Now - Dec.3.04.
1:00 am: SAS Update... Henry
Vanderbilt sent out this bulletin
on the status of the commercial space bill:
Space Access Update #107
Copyright 2004 by Space Access Society
Launch Bill Nears Final Test In Senate
Urgent - Call Or Fax Both Your Senators Before Monday
When last we saw HR 5382 (The Commercial Space Launch Amendments
Act, which does useful things for would-be private space passenger
carriers) it had just been approved by the House of Representatives.
for details.) (By the way, thanks again for your efforts!
5382 needed a two-thirds majority to pass the House under the
streamlined procedure used in the last- second Congressional rush,
and got it, barely - chances are good you all made the difference
in that one.)
At the time, we told you that the Senate might also pass HR
5382 before this 108th Congress gives way to the newly elected
109th (at which point all unfinished 108th business simply goes
away) but we were a little short on details, and asked you all
to stand by.
Alas, we're still a little short on details, but the time has
come to act. HR 5382 does still have a long-shot chance to pass,
we know that. This Congress will be back in session one last time
early next week, mainly to once again try to pass two major bills,
the huge catchall "omnibus budget" spending measure and the "9/11"
intelligence agencies reorganization. The situation is complicated
- more about it in the "Background" section below - but what you
can do to improve 5382's odds is simple:
Between now and the beginning of next week, contact both Senators
from your state and ask them to support HR 5382. The mechanics
of this should be familiar by now, though given that we have a
bit more time (Monday December 6th is the earliest the Senate
might look at HR 5382 again) you have some options:
If you don't have the phone number of your two Senators' DC offices
handy, log on to http://www.vote-smart.org
and enter your nine-digit zip code in the Find Your Representatives
box, and scroll down to "Senators". Then phone both Washington
DC offices (the area code 202 numbers) and tell whoever answers
that you're from [your hometown], and you're calling to ask Senator
[your Senator's name here] to support HR 5382. If they ask you
for more info, do your best to provide it (take a quick look at
"Background" 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. If you get answered
directly by a voicemail (more likely over the weekend) give the
same basic short pitch.
If you fax, be polite, brief, and straightforward - keep it well
under one page of reasonably large and readable print (a paragraph
that's read is better than an essay that isn't), make your basic
point at the start, support it briefly, then sign it with your
name, city, and state and send it. (No paper-mail letters - word
is those currently are backed up for months by security checks
- and email comes in such volumes that individual emails carry
little weight. If you want to write, fax it if you can.)
EVERBODY reading this who votes in the US needs to do this - every
Senator counts, as the only way the Senate will consider HR 5382
in the very short time remaining in this Congress is under "unanimous
consent" rules - meaning all it takes is one Senator to put an
(anonymous by Senate custom) "hold" on HR 5382 and the bill is
Our information is that when HR 5382 came up the week before last,
several Senators did so - but we don't know anything useful about
who, or why - all we have is rumor and speculation.
Our estimate of the situation is that any attempt to do precise
targetting or message-tailoring would likely do more harm than
good. Our best shot is to contact the entire Senate and make the
positive case for HR 5382 to each and every Senator. If we're
lucky, the combination of constituent interest, information, and
possible persuasion from fellow Senators who've also been hearing
about it will sway all the holdouts. As we said, it's a bit of
a long shot - but every last one of you can help improve the odds.
As soon as we've sent this out, we're going to go look up the
numbers and make the calls - you do it too!
For more info on the history and content of HR 5382, see
(HR 5382 is the latest hard-fought compromise version of HR
3752, which in turn started out life as HR 3245.)
Our Brief Supporting Pitch
This new commercial space passenger industry has huge promise.
It's appropriate to have the FAA stringently regulate risk to
uninvolved bystanders from the start, but the technology is still
brand new and there's a lot yet to learn about the best most reliable
ways to do things. Industry participants have to be able to take
some risks in these early days in order to learn enough so that
rockets can eventually be as safe as airplanes took generations
of accumulated aviation experience to get.
Some Points From The Chair Of The House Science Committee
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...
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.
[SAS note - this new compromise provision has caused some confusion
- our understanding is it allows FAA AST to regulate only specific
matters that have caused actual problems for passenger/crew safety
for the first 8 years.]
[Aircraft industry-style "mature technology" regulation] would
be the equivalent of not letting the Wright Brothers test their
ideas without first convincing federal officials that nothing
could go wrong.
Space Access Society
... Alan Boyle also provides
an update on the bill: Lost
in (congressional) space: - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Dec.2.04.
1:00 am: News briefs... Robert
Pearlman of collectSpace.com
reports on some memorabilia flown on the SS1 that is coming up for
"SpaceShip-flown rocket to be auctioned" - collectSPACE - Dec.2.04...
... Here is an interesting
on sci.space.history that reports on a discussion with Mike Melvill
about flying the SS1...
Vinci homepage now includes a picture of the helium balloon
(in a rolled-up state) that they reported on yesterday.
... Jim Oberg reports on a
NASA deal with the Russians for another year of Soyuz flights to
the ISS: NASA,
Russians forging a deal for rides: Crew-hours would be swapped for
seats on Soyuz - MSNBC - Dec.2.04.
1:20 pm: News briefs... Scaled
has recently updated its galleries of photos for X
PRIZE Flight #1and X
PRIZE Flight #2...
... More about the Kliper:
Unveils Model of New Clipper Space Shuttle - MOSNEWS.COM - Dec.1.04
2:15 am: "Worlds
Largest Reusable Helium Balloon"... GoldenPalace/da
Vinci posted this announcement today:
The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project
announced today that it has completed construction and flight
qualification of the “Worlds Largest Reusable Helium Balloon”
for its planned manned flights to space. The balloon will carry
the projects Wild Fire MK VI manned spacecraft to its launch altitude
of 70,000 feet (21,340 meters).
News briefs... Burt's tips
for engineers: Space
pioneer Rutan offers down-to-earth engineering advice - EDN - Dec.1.04...
... More about Winglee's beam
through space on a plasma beam - csmonitor.com - Dec.2.04. (Both
links via spacetoday.net)...
Space Lines will work with Boeing on a "small-scale prototype
of a lunar and planetary lander that can skillfully detect and avoid
natural and man-made hazards.": Boeing
set to build lander prototype: The $34 million project is part of
a plan to explore the moon and Mars. - OC Register - Nov.25.04
(Link via HS reader T. Rusi.)
5:45 pm: Falcon 1 launch delay... The
first launch of the SpaceX
Falcon 1 has been pushed back again according to the article: Falcon
1 Launch Delayed Until At Least February - Space News - Dec.1.04
-subscription required (via spacetoday.net).
No specific problems are cited, but general difficulties with the
engine development seem to be the main culprit.
"Musk said that in hindsight, the company’s engine designs
could have been less ambitious, a decision that might have permitted
an earlier first flight."
10:45 am: News briefs... More
about the Kliper project from Jim Oberg: Next-generation
Russian spaceship unveiled Getting the money to build it may not
be so easy - MSNBC - Dec.1.04...
... Leonard David reports on
designs for inflatable aerobrakes: Fly
Higher, Fly Lighter: 'Ballute' Technology Aimed at Moon Missions
- Space.com - Dec.1.04...
... Here is a brief article
from Burt Rutan for the December issue of Wired: After
the X Prize - Wired - Dec.04...
... And here is a report on
his remarks to students at San Jose State University: Designer:
Sky's the limit for space travel: Students told of road to first
commercial rocket: - San Jose Mercury News - Dec.1.04 (via spacetoday.net)...
... Jeff Foust reports on chances
for the commercial space bill to pass in the upcoming mini-session
of Congress: More
on HR 5382 - Space Politics - Dec.1.04.
2:15 am: Saving
the VSE from NASA & The Three Stooges... Now that
Congress has approved a generous budget for NASA, the obvious fear
is that the extra money will not produce real progress towards implementation
of the VSE (Vision
for Space Exploration) but instead it will all vanish
in the overruns and overheads for the Shuttle Return-to-Flight,
ISS, and Hubble rescue programs.
With regard to this threat, Leonard David reports on some interesting
comments made at the recent SpaceVision
2004 meeting at MIT: Experts
Say Path Beyond Earth Orbit Has Its Challenges - Space.com/SpaceNews
- Nov.29.04 (via HS reader P. Underwood
For example, former Congressman Robert Walker noted:
"There are lots of people inside of NASA who believe that their
individual little programs are vastly more important than the
totality of the program...
...So one of the things that NASA has to do is fight its way
through its own culture..."
For example, there are those inside NASA, Walker said, who see
getting the space shuttle back to flying and completing the International
Space Station as the "be all and end all" of the President’s vision.
Those people, he said, believe that "if we can do those two things
over the next few years ... we can keep the shuttle flying out
to about the year 2015 ... and everything will be hunky dory."
I'm particularly in agreement with retired Air Force Brig. Gen.
Simon "Pete" Worden who said:
"I’m absolutely convinced that we don’t ever need to fly the
shuttle again. We’ve got three of them. Put them in the Smithsonian
... school parking lots. Kids can climb on them,"
... Worden said his Capitol Hill experience demonstrated to him
that NASA actually stood for "Never A Straight Answer."
Worden also criticized the state of the aerospace industry calling
large aerospace contractors "the three stooges" -- companies in
which the average age of engineers is far too old. He complained
that the companies are not likely to reinvent themselves, and
that those firms should not be expected to help shape an affordable
program in response to President Bush’s space vision. "We have
a problem with the companies. It's not necessarily their fault.
They really are Department of Defense design bureaus," Worden
Worden went on to say that NASA should turn to "non-traditional
start-up commercial space firms. As a first step, commercial services
should provide all of NASA’s launch needs, starting with the international
However, Walker points out that "[m]ost of the private sector
regards NASA as hostile to their interests...They regard NASA as
being a place that will tell them all the reasons why they can’t
do what it is they are looking to do."
2:15 am: News briefs... The
project and one of its astronauts
gets profiled in Space
Race 2: Young Pilot Aims For Space - UPI/SpaceDaily - Nov.30.04
... The XCOR
Steam Engine contest is described in Steam
Engine Prize goes up for grabs - Antelope Valley Press - Nov.30.04...
... Keith Cowing posts
a link to an interesting set of photos
of a full-scale mock-up of the Russian Kliper
crew module ...
.... GoldenPalace/daVinci posted
a report dated November 25th on their home
page about the status of the project and preparations for the
first launch ...
.... Another innovative Scaled
Composites vehicle will soon set off on a record breaking flight:
the World, With 13 Fuel Tanks and a Single Seat - NY Times - Nov.30.04.
Continue to November 2004