am: ISDC summary... I've finally
posted some comments here on the presentations I attended on the
21st and I end with my general impression of the meeting. After
3 days of the ISDC plus the Crossroads meeting I was burned out
on space talks and skipped the final sessions on the
I went to several excellent panel discussions on Saturday. The first
one dealt with space prizes
and included Peter
Diamandis, Brant Sponberg, who, along with Ken Davidian,
runs NASA's Centennial
Challenge, and Ben Shelef of the Spaceward
Foundation. The first Centennial Challenge contest
is in cooperation with Spaceward and involves
competitions aimed at improving the technology for space elevators.
talked about the X PRIZE and then about the XP
Cup. The X
PRIZE Foundation has some recent additions to the board of trustees
that include Craig
Venter, who ran the company Celera during the human genome project,
Page, a founder of Google.
a brief history of the Centennial
program and noted the announcement
of the second challenge at the meeting. He was asked during the
Q&A about whether the top prizes could be raised above the current
$250K limit and he said they would be asking Congress to allow awards
up to $50M.
on the status of the two space elevator competitions,
one involving tether climbers and the other a contest for the strongest
tether material. Spaceward set up a crane outside of the hotel with
a prototype climber.
Speaking of space
Edwards, who led the revival of the idea a few years ago, spoke
on the Breakthrough Space Technology
panel. This panel also included Scott Mize of the Foresight
Nanotech Institute, which has been pushing nanotechnology since
the 1980s, and Jordin Kare, who spoke about laser launch.
a quick review of space elevators and showed a terrific animation
that illustrated the climbers and other basic elements of the scheme.
He noted that the meter wide ribbon needed for the elevator needs
to be made of a material that is 30x stronger than steel. Very short
lengths of nanotubes already display strengths on the order of 70x
and so the trick now is to make very long lengths of them while
retaining their strength. He talked about a $10B program to build
along these lines with regard to the promise of nanotechnology and
described how this technology will support space development.
a description of laser launch similar to that given in his talk
at the SA'05
meeting last month. Essentially all the technological elements are
now available and it's just a question of raising the money. It
would take about $2B to build a system that could launch 100Kg payloads
to orbit at high rates. A prototype system with a small array of
lasers could be started soon for much less. ...
on Space Tourism panel
was described by George Whitesides as a high point of the conference
and it was certainly quite impressive. Mark Jannot
Editor-in-Chief of Popular
Science Magazine moderated the event and asked a number of interesting
questions. Panelists include Peter Diamandis, Eric Anderson (Space
Adventures), Michael Gold (counsel for Bigelow
Aerospace), Will Whitehorn (President of Virgin
Galactic), and Stephen Attenborough (VP Astronaut Relations
at Virgin Galactic).
on the ZERO-G parabolic flight service, which is apparently doing
quite well. Anderson reviewed the eight years that SA has been doing
space related experiences.
Gold said that
Bigelow plans to launch two of the small Genesis inflatable prototypes
in 2006, two of the mid-sized Guardian modules in the 2007-2008
period, and the full-scale module in 2009-2010. He then talked at
length about the problem of ITAR restrictions on dealings with friendly
countries. He said ITAR had significantly affected Bigelow's progress.
a brief review of VG and emphasized how important safety is in making
the industry viable and sustainable. Attenborough, whose job is
to interact with the customers, reported on the 30K people who indicated
via the website an interest in purchasing tickets and he also discussed
the special arrangements in the works for first 100 who have now
was very lively with lots of discussion on safety, ITAR, coping
with disasters, and liability risks. Peter made an impassioned plea
for society to let people take risks. Anderson noted that after
the Columbia tragedy, none of the people in preparation for Soyuz
flights or the people who had placed deposits for suborbital flights
had shown any interest in pulling out of the programs. In fact,
they were typically even more serious and enthusiastic about proceeding.
There was talk
about the conditions for the passengers during the flights, e.g.
how many g's they could take.
tickets could drop to $25K within 6 to 7 years from the start of
passenger flights. He thought they would probably plateau at that
level for a long time....
In the afternoon I attended the session Spotlight
on Virgin Galactic. Jeff Foust has already posted a fine
review of it: Virgin
Galactic and the future of commercial spaceflight - Space Review
The final session that I attended was a panel on The
Future of Space Advocacy. It was moderated by Lori
Garver, former head of the NSS,
and included George
Whitesides, who is the current head of the NSS, Rick Tumlinson
of the Space Frontier
Foundation, Bruce Betts from the Planetary
Society, and Joshua Neubert who heads the Students for the Exploration
and Development of Space (SEDS).
Greg Allison of HAL5
There was a
lot of talk about the different approaches to advocacy, projects
to pursue, political actions needed, and how to reach out to young
people and get them involved. There was a plea for more interaction
with other groups involved in some way with space related activities
like the Young
Astronauts program and the Civil
Air Patrol. ...
to George Whiteside and to DC-L5,
the NSS Chapter that organized and ran the conference. It was a
great meeting and very encouraging. Michael Mealling reports
that 400-500 people were expected but over 800 showed up.
I last attended a NSS conference in 1990 and much of that meeting
dealt either with NASA or with theoretical proposals for grand futuristic
projects of all sorts. This time most of the focus was on projects
the private sector
are actually doable. The discussions dealt extensively with real
has flown, like the SS1, or is under development, like
time there were representatives from well financed companies with
believable business plans such
as those that are getting ready to offer spaceflight services to
a space tourism market that looks increasingly viable and sizable.
Companies like ZERO-G are offering spaceflight related services
today and seemed to be doing it profitably.
NASA and its
exploration initiative certainly had a place at the conference but
I didn't detect any great excitement with the agency's long term
plans. Skepticism towards NASA and its ability to carry out its
plans has been well earned. Most activists have learned that nothing
great is going to happen in space until the costs come down significantly.
So there seemed to be much greater interest in the t/Space consortium
and its plan for an Earth-to-LEO transport system with a price tag
a factor of ten below the expected price.
has had many ups and downs over the past 30 years or so since the
end of Apollo era. There will certainly be many more disappointments.
However, there is a substance and vitality to what is happening
now that I've never seen before. I think this conference definitely
is an sign that things have changed fundamentally. The old "NASA
is space, space is NASA" paradigm is fading fast and a new
age of independent space pioneering is upon us.
am: News briefs ... If there was more
arguing than before, maybe it's because there is now the possibility
of real money to be made in human spaceflight: Conflict
at Space Confab - Wired - May.24.05
pm: News briefs ... Leonard
David reports on Elon Musk's talk on Friday at the ISDC: Private
Rocketeer Looks To August Flight - ad Astra/Space.com - May.23.05
Leonard reports here on a talk by Peter Diamandis at
the ISDC: Private
Moon Trips Forecast - ad Astra/Space.com - May.23.05.
that within about three years of private human orbital flights…you’ll
have the first private teams of people stockpiling fuel on orbit
and making a bee-line for the Moon,” Diamandis said.
ask for permission…maybe cryptically hiding what they are doing…but
there will be somebody making a bee-line to the Moon,” Diamandis
said. The first private team to reach the lunar landscape will
stake out the ground. “They’ll say this is ours. Stay away. I
claim this for my company…my new nation,” he said.
Foust reviews the talk given by Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin
Galactic, at the ISDC: Virgin
Galactic and the future of commercial spaceflight - Space Review
pm: More ISDC ... I'll eventually do a
summary of Saturday's ISDC sessions but in the meantime you can
check out the comments from other people who blogged the conference.
Elliot Kulakow posted this ISDC
2k5: Day 1 - Space Race News! - May.21.05 and Michael Mealling
postings at RocketForge...
I skipped today sessions (four days of conferencing is enough for
me) and unfortunately missed Michael's talk on Space
Value Networks. He
gave me a preview of it the other day and it seems like a cool project
that could inspire a lot of interesting term papers and theses for
students. I've posted a description in the Space
Log, where I deal more with space business topics. ...
Be sure to check out the many
papers and slides. Here
is a sampling from a quick scan:
pm: Space value networking ... If you
are a business student looking for a great space related subject
for a term paper project, Michael Mealling has a suggestion for
you. In his
NSS ISDC presentation,
he talked about developing Value Networks. ISDC
Presentation: Value Networks in a Space Economy - Masten Space Systems
- May.10.05 and Value
Networks in a Space Economy (pdf) by Michael Mealling - ISDC - May.05.
I missed his
presentation but he gave me a condensed version the other day. As
I understand it, the basic idea is that no company stands alone
but is embedded in a network of supporting companies that provide
it with goods, services, markets, and other necessary resources.
One way to model such an economy is as a set of interconnected nodes,
where a node represents a particular company or type of company.
one could model a space economy this way and learn from it. Each
company node would require the development of a business plan showing
the necessary resource inputs and market outputs, i.e. the connections
to the other nodes. The models of all of the nodes would need to
match up their inputs and outputs with each other.
A company using
lunar regolith to produce oxygen, for example, would need equipment
and energy as inputs and it would need customers, e.g. Moon base
occupants and in space rocket transport services.
pm: News briefs ... Tomorrow I'll post
a summary of my Saturday at the ISDC. For now I'll catch up on some
miscellaneous news items
Leonard David reports on the presentation at ISDC of AST
chief Patricia Grace Smith: Space
Tourism: An 'Adventure Sport' In the Making - ad Astra / Space.com
- May.20.05 ...
Here are some more t/Space
CXV sighted at ISDC - Space Race News! - May.19.05 * tSpace
Model at ISDC - NASA Watch - May.20.05 (includes pictures of
the CXV mockup. ...
was heard on the radio: Space
Travel Pioneer Rutan Honored - NPR - May.20.05
And here is another review of his press club speech: Space
pioneer finds NASA dull -UPI/WashTimes - May.20.05
(right) accepts the first annual Space Journalism Prize.
Sam Dinkin (left), founder of the prize, presented the prize during
the National Space Society's conference in Washington D.C.
10:45 pm: Space Journalism Prize Winner ...
The newly-formed Space
Journalism Association announced Friday that it awarded its
first annual Space Journalism Prize to Eli Kintisch. The $1,000
award goes to Kintisch for a three-part series about the Ansari
X Prize and SpaceShipOne published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
in September 2004:
new space race - Sept.21.05
launch one spaceworthy rocket ship - Sept.22.05
aims to claim $10 million - Sept.23.05
The press release
goes on to say:
best described the challenges and prospects of personal spaceflight
and the new commercial frontier that SpaceShipOne opened last
year," said prize founder Sam Dinkin. "He was able to communicate
the promise of a new commercial era in space to a broad, general
audience, giving him the winning edge in a very competitive field
The Space Journalism Prize was founded earlier this year as a
way to promote outstanding journalism on spaceflight topics in
print and online media. Journalists ranging from established reporters
in print media to new voices online submitted several dozen articles
The prize is the first major activity of the Space Journalism
Association, a new organization dedicated to supporting high-quality
journalism on space topics. More details about the association
will be announced at a later date. Additional information about
the prize can be found at the association's web site, www.spacejournalism.com.
I served as
one of the judges for the contest along with Sam Dinkin and Jeff
Foust. There were over thirty entries and I was very impressed that
so many of them were of very high quality and depth.
am: t/Space making a bid for the vision ...
Before I get started on the review of my Friday at the ISDC, I will
point you to the new
t/Space website. They've added a lot more info on their projects
and describe some hardware tests,
which were carried out using only their $6M study contract money.
- A pamphlet
describes the company's proposal to build the CXV and fly it with
a crew by the end of 2008 for a fixed price contract of $400M.
Interim payments would be made only as they meet each of a series
- Once in operation,
a crew mission to the ISS would cost only $20M.
- Note the
table at the bottom of the pamphlet
that compares the features and costs of their vehicle vs. what
is offered by the "primes".
- "A 23%
scale version of the CXV and its booster has been dropped by Scaled
Composites from its Proteus aircraft, testing a new air launch
release approach with significant safety improvements over the
methods used in the X-15 and Pegasus systems."
- Here are
of the reversible seat that I mentioned yesterday.
- They show
some preliminary artwork of the VLA
(Very Large Airplane) that would carry a larger version of the
QuickReach rocket. The actual VLA design has not been released
by Scaled Composites but this gives an idea of the sizes involved.
It will be interesting
to see how NASA and Griffin respond to this. I hope the response
duplicate what happened with the Industrial
am: More ISDC
... As on the first day of the conference,
I could only sample from the many excellent presentations available
in the various parallel sessions on Friday.
morning I went to the panel discussion entitled "Successful
Space Entrepreneuring". It was moderated by the satellite industry
Musey and included Eric Anderson of Space
Adventures, Lon Levin from Mobile
Satellite Ventures (and a co-founder of XM
Radio), Jim Maser (President of Sea
Launch), and David Gump of t/Space.
panel certainly showed the growing diversity of space businesses.
However, they all have problems with ITAR restrictions and with
insurance. They all need to work with government in some way, e.g.
regulation of spectrum or indemnification from third party liability,
but also need to avoid getting crushed by it.
Maser said that
Sea Launch has ten people working full-time on ITAR issues and he
and several other employees spend a good portion of their time on
Maser also made
the interesting point that Sea Launch now offers half the price
per pound to GEO as compared to the average price when they first
started the project. However, they have seen demand drop rather
than grow. This confirms what I've heard predicted: demand, and
profits, will actually drop as launch prices fall and will only
start to grow when prices are reduced by a factor of ten or so.
I dropped in on a review
by Anne Collins Goodyear of NASA's commissioning of art during its
early days. Thor Hagan reported
on the Space Exploration Initiative in 1989 and compared it to the
current vision for space exploration (VSE) from another President
I managed to get a ticket to the luncheon in which Elon Musk gave
a talk about SpaceX.
Some highlights included:
- They expect
to do the Falcon I pad fire on Saturday 21st, around 1pm PST
- They expect
the first flight of the Falcon I to take place in the July/August
- The Vandenberg
flight depends on when a Titan 4 rocket launches
- It's possible
the first launch may occur from their site in the Marshall Islands.
The last of the concrete pours for their launch pad at Kwajalein
will take place in the coming week. There may be an overlap period
when they have rocket on the pad at Vandenberg and one at Kwajalein.
- Their goal
of $500/lb to LEO remains their goal and he believes it is possible
by the end of the decade.
- They do much
of their development in house because of high prices of subcontractors.
- Some aerospace
subcontractors have done well, but generally they find that non-aerospace
firms offer far better prices, delivery times, and quality.
- Though the
quoted prices don't depend on the reusability of the first stage
booster, he has become increasingly confident that it will do
fine because of its durability during tests on the outdoor firing
- After the
Falcon V they will work on a heavy booster that could put 60k
lbs in LEO.
In the afternoon I mostly attended talks in the Space
Tourism and Experiences session. It began with Alan
Ladwig giving a vigorous recounting of the history of space
tourism promotions and the public's response going back as far as
J. Moltzen (sp?), substituting for Eric
Anderson, described the programs and experiences available from
Adventures. One item of particular interest: he said Greg Olsen
will probably fly to the ISS within a year or so. Apparently, the
medical problem that scrubbed his original flight has been cleared
Chris Jones described
Planet Expeditions project that he is working on with John
Spencer. This involves a simulated Mars base located in the
Mojave area in which people will pay to experience what life would
be like on the Red Planet...
missed most of it but there was a presentation by Manuel
Pimenta on the Lunar-Explorer
virtual reality space exploration project....
Ed Wright gave an update on X-Rocket
and the Rocket
Academy. Unlike the other "space van" type of space
tourism ride with 5 or 6 passengers, the emphasis at the Academy
will be on a training mission experience in which the trainee flies
with an instructor while wearing a space suit and interacting with
the controls. Ed described the Archangel,
in which the turbojet of a MiG-21UM is replaced with rocket engines
made by XCOR....
Baily gave an entertaining report on ZERO-G.
So far the parabolic flight company has been very busy. They have
carried out flights for 3 reality TV shows, 1 TV commercial, 10
research projects, and over 1000 individuals....
ended with a talk by the Tom Rogers, who has been pushing space
tourism for decades.
Burt Rutan speaking
to the ISDC audience. Buzz Aldrin can be
seen in profile in the bottom left and Conrad Dannenberg is seated
on the right. The silver NSS Von Braun trophy is on the table.
am: Back from the ISDC
... Not having much luck with my conference
blogging. The NSS
ISDC began today [Thursday
May 19th] but the wi-fi at the hotel
was down until the afternoon. After I finally got connected, I could
download but could not ftp through the firewall. The
conference has so many talks
and parallel sessions, I don't have much time to go online anyway.
many of the papers and or slides can be found online.
got off to a bang with a dynamite talk by Burt Rutan, who spoke
after receiving the NSS
Von Braun Trophy in a presentation with Conrad
the many failures and disappointments of the US space program since
Apollo and said it need not have been that way. He repeated the
point several times that a development program must take risks to
of the SS1, for example, was a very risky technology, but it worked
and greatly reduced the risks of disaster on reentry. NASA, on the
other hand, spent
tens of billions trying to make a fundamentally flawed Shuttle safe,
when it should have taken risks in developing new vehicles with
new technologies that would make flying to space both a lot safer
and a lot cheaper.
When NASA did
finally start building some test vehicles, it did things like canceling
the X-34, despite spending a several hundred million dollars on
the project. Even if a vehicle had crashed on the first flight,
something would have been learned. Instead, NASA decided a failure
would make the agency look bad, especially in the aftermath of two
Mars mission failures during the same time period.
this, Burt is very impressed with Mike Griffin and optimistic that
he can refocus the agency on doing frontier research and will leave
boring stuff like launch services to commercial services.
Burt did not
reveal any new details on his projects. As in previous talks, he
stated his belief that the SS2 can be made as safe as the early
airliners. If they can achieve this level of safety, he thinks it
is reasonable to expect as many as 100,000 people to fly SS2 vehicles
in the first 12 years of operations. (The modeling for this assumes
about 40 vehicles flying by the end of that time span.)
he sees going on to orbit and beyond. Now over 60, Burt thinks he
will not only fly in space before he dies, but has a good chance
of going to the Moon. (Note that his father is still alive and his
grandfather lived to 104.)
view of his talk: Burt
Rutan Chides NASA for Dullness, Says Space should be Fun - ad Astra/Space.com
spoke later in the day at the National Press Club. A video of
his talk will be available at CSPAN.org
for a couple of weeks. Here's the AP's take on his speech: Private
Spacecraft Builder Gives U.S. Tips - Guardian - May.19.05
the following session, Brant Sponberg of the Centennial
Challenge announced a new prize contest in which teams will
compete to extract oxygen from simulated lunar regolith. They must
extract at least 5kg of oxygen within eight hours using equipment
that weighs in total no more than 25kg. The contest deadline is
June 1, 2008. The program will be carried out in collaboration with
the Florida Space Research
In the afternoon
the parallel sessions began and it became a toss of the coin(s)
to decide which presentation to attend. During the lunch break I
had the opportunity to meet and speak with Tim Pickens of Orion
Propulsion for the first time and later attended his talk in
and Propulsion session. He has been and continues to be involved
in an amazingly big number of propulsion projects. These include
the SS1, t/Space, AirLaunch, and several others.
He also described
his work with the Huntsville
Alabama L5 (HAL5) group that has carried out a number of sophisticated
projects, including some high altitude rockoon projects.
The hybrid engine designs for these projects heavily influenced
the design work he did on the SS1. (Shows again the influence of
activist groups on space development.)
in the same session I heard Dae-Sung Ju of C&Space
in South Korea talk about their suborbital VTHL vehicle that will
be powered by a LOX/Methane engine. He said they expect first flight
in 2008 and they will soon test a demo version of the engine. They
have already tested a turbopump. However, they still need a partner
who can build the actual vehicle. He said they will be fully funded
from Korean sources and it should take about $30M to build it. ...
... Bruce Betts
described the various activities of the Planetary
Society and then focused on the Comos
1 solar sail project. He said they expect to fly it in June....
I dropped in
on the "Polling and Space" session
to catch the talk of Geoffrey
Crouch who described a sophisticated analysis of data from polling
over 700 people on the appeal of space tourism. (ISDC
- Marketing Research Imperatives for Space Tourism) The poll
participants were given descriptions of four types of space related
experiences that ranged "from high altitude jet fighter flights
to zero-g flights to sub-orbital space tourism and orbital space
tourism." From their responses to questions, the researchers
could get some idea of the degree to which risk, price, hardships,
etc. affected interest in such adventures.
The bottom line
is that they see results in the 15% range for those who would be
interested in suborbital flights. This is similar to the Futron/Zogby
Starzyk also talked about this study but I only caught the end
of her presentation). I'll note that If 15-20% of wealthy people
buy suborbital tickets, that will provide billions of dollars for
the industry. ...
Esther Dyson moderated an interesting panel discussion called "The
New Entrepreneurs". The panel included David Anderman of CSI,
Rich Pournelle of XCOR,
Charles Lauer of Rocketplane,
Jim Benson of SpaceDev,
and Pat Bahn of TGV
Rockets. They each described their backgrounds and their companies
and then Esther and the audience asked various questions about building
a business on spaceflight.
Ms. Dyson pressed
them, for example, on the issue of how soon they expect to move
to profitable, commercial markets that don't rely on government
contracts and/or angel investors. Space tourism was held as the
best chance for a large market that can bring profits and drive
a cycle of better products and greater profits. Jim Benson, however,
noted that his company has already achieved a profit with a diverse
range of customers. Pat said its not unusual for a particular company
to build a long lasting and profitable business model around a government
Between sessions there were exhibits to see and t/Space
brought an impressive full scale model of their CXV capsule:
I'm told that
some of the writeups about the CXV project that were displayed at
their booth will soon be posted on their website. ...
Gee, it's late and I gotta get up early and drive back downtown
for another day packed with more reports about space topics of every
am: News briefs ...
More about the SA'05
meeting can be found from the
Trip Report: Space Access '05 just posted by Richard
Zimmerman finds that the 'traditional" aerospace companies
want to avoid competition but may get it anyway as "nontraditional"
companies try to crash their cozy cost-plus party:
Watch: A shrinking, timid industry - UPI/WashPost - May.19.05....
The latest SpaceX update
says that Delta II launch delays have pushed the Falcon I pad test
back to this Saturday...
the Shuttle, and the CEV: Concerns
aired over shuttle replacement plan - New Scientist - May.19.05.
Hearing on Space Shuttle and Beyond - NASA Watch - May.19.05.
speaking during the Space
at the Crossroads meeting
in Washington D.C., May 18, 2005..
pm: Back from the crossroads... Well,
unfortunately I didn't succeed in blogging from the [Space
at the Crossroads] meeting so I'll give a rough review here.
name suggests, the general theme of the meeting was that 2005 will
bring lots of important decisions and events that will set the course
for space development in the US for a long time.
consisted mostly of a series of panel discussions bracketed at the
start by Representative Dave
Weldon and at the end by Mike Griffin. (See the agenda.)
sure how to characterize the audience except to say that I felt
a bit out of place in my brown corduroy sport coat amid a sea of
gray and dark pinstripe suits. (A few other media types were casually
dressed.) So it definitely seemed to be mostly a government and
aerospace industry crowd. ...
couple of strong impressions came through. Firstly, the end of the
Shuttle in 2010 is now taken for granted by everyone. Weldon wants
NASA to assign a manager full-time to monitor the transition so
that the community disruptions as happened after the end of the
Apollo program don't hit the KSC area again.
I also noticed
a widespread awareness of the existence of an entrepreneurial space
industry and that it is becoming a force to reckon with....
me the most interesting panel was the one that discussed the question:
Entrepreneurs: The Future of Space? George Whitesides (head
of NSS) was the moderator
and it included Debra Faktor Lepore of Kistler,
David Gump of
, and Rich Pournelle of XCOR.
Each gave a brief review of their companies and then participated
in Q&A period..
that Kistler had emerged from Chapter 11 and is looking for money
to finish the K-1. Kistler will pursue the ISS cargo delivery and
payload return business.
for the CEV Earth-to-LEO system, which involves a vehicle considerably
larger than the AirLaunch
QuickReach. Instead of a C-17, it will be launched from a super-sized
White Knight type of vehicle (Rutan's design has not been released
to the public.) The crew rides in the CXV capsule.
aspect of their capsule is that it enters into the atmosphere in
the same forward orientation as it leaves. Therefore, the seats
need to be reversed so that the occupants experience eyes-in
rather than eyes-out deceleration. They have built a full
scale test system for the seats and shown that the reversal can
be done in about two seconds.
Gump gave the
following definition of what a "nontraditional" aerospace
contractor should offer:
- Rapid prototyping
meets specific milestones.
contracts. This removes the need for the heavy paperwork requirements
of the usual aerospace cost-plus approach. The contract is judged
instead by how well the company meets its milestones.
- The cost
should be about 10% of what the traditional contractor will charge.
Rich spoke along
similar lines as he emphasized that space developers need to think
in terms of "products". Products get better and cheaper
with each new generation as they build on what was learned with
the previous one. He finished with a description and video of the
LOX tank project. ...
panel on Shuttle, ISS & Beyond focused one issues related
to the retirement of the shuttle in 2010, the completion of the
ISS in that time frame, and the availability of a new vehicle capable
of taking people to the ISS by then. ...
The panel on US Legal Environment: Too Risky for Future Space
Ventures? discussed the liability problems facing commercial
space companies, especially space tourism operators. They noted
the extreme difficulties in devising any sort of informed consent
that would stand up in court. ...
talked for about 30 minutes. He listed several historical events,
such as the Louisiana Purchase and obtaining Alaska, that he believes
parallels the space program in that they were severely criticized
at the time but later accepted as wise policies. It seemed clear
to me that he sees the expansion of humanity into space as profoundly
important and the top long term priority for NASA.
to entrepreneurial space companies, Griffin takes them very seriously.
He said NASA will definitely include funds for buying cargo delivery
services to the ISS. Furthermore, if a company develops a crew vehicle
and shows that it is safe and reliable, then NASA will gladly buy
seats on the vehicle.
On the other
hand, he also made it clear that there will not be a parallel contract
for a "nontraditional" company to develop a CEV system
for Earth-to-LEO and back, as some have suggested. Such a company
can compete for the prime contract like any other company. If it
doesn't win, then it will have to develop its crew vehicle with
non-NASA funding. It can then come to NASA and offer to take people
to the ISS for a fee.
asked a question about when a decision would be made as to whether
to develop a Shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle. Griffen wouldn't
commit to any date but did say that, unlike the end of the Saturn
V program, he wants to keep the tooling and assembly lines for the
ET/SRBs available in case they need to start them up again.
am: Heading for the Crossroads... I will
try to blog today from the Space
At The Crossroads conference, assuming I can actually get in
on a media pass and they have wi-fi. Otherwise, I will try to do
a review on it by late evening.
The rest of the week I will be at the NSS
conference and will also try to blog from there.