10:55 am: News briefs ... Lockheed
Martin CEV team sends out some press releases: Lockheed
Martin's Crew Exploration Vehicle Team Includes Top Industry Innovators
- Lockheed Martin - Jan.31.05 * Orbital
Joins Lockheed Martin-Led Crew Exploration Vehicle Team: Company
to Play a Key Role on Industry "All-Star" Team - Orbital
- Jan.31.05 ...
... Testing versus simulation
is a difficult issue for the Shuttle RtF: NASA
warned over shuttle safety modelling - New Scientist - Jan.31.05.
2:10 am: Exploration news ...
From Craig Covault's description, it seems the CEV procurement is
a battle only among the big guys: NASA
Sets Crew Exploration Vehicle Procurement Guidelines - Aviation
Week - Jan.30.05 ...
... He also says, "NASA
is trying to reduce risk and increase cost efficiency and contractor
accountability through the way it will procure the new manned space
flight systems." This request for proposals "cites about
35 broad management-related topics in addition to about 40 diverse
engineering areas, each involving dozens of advanced technologies
just for the CEV." Not sure what all this means but it doesn't
sound like NASA is just setting goals and lettting private companies
provide the means to achieve those goals in whatever cost-effective,
timely manner they see fit. ...
... A lot of companies want
to jump on the CEV money train before it leaves the station. According
to AvWeek, the AIAA
1st Space Exploration Conference: Continuing the Voyage of Discovery,
which is taking place today and tomorrow, has been very popular:
"AIAA officials said they originally planned the event for
about 600 participants, but 1,500 have tried to register, filling
display space and conference facilities to the maximum." You
can watch the presentations via webcast.
(Link from NASAWatch.)
2:35 am: News brief... Elon
Musk and SpaceX
are profiled in
12:25 pm: News briefs... Some
of the shuttle modifications requested by the Columbia accident
review board will still be in development during the next flight:
6 of 15 shuttle fixes done - Florida Today - Jan.28.05 * Majority
of CAIB recommendations still unmet - spacetoday.net - Jan.28.05
... Correction: Luke
Colby pointed out that in the entry
below I had left out the link to his feedback
comments and also that the link to the Boston
University aerospike item in the rocketry archive was
not working correctly. He also wants to make it clear that he is
not "calling for massive antigravity funding and dinner with
the little grey men from Roswell!" He just wants to point out
that the field of gravity research is an active one with many credible
1:15 am: Lunar Transportation Systems
is a venture formed by Walter
Kistler and Bob Citron to develop a "new Earth-Moon transportation
system." The system uses four
vehicles, which share many structural features. A propellent
tank transfer scheme for in-space refueling allows for the Lunar
Lander "to carry payloads from LEO to the lunar surface
and return payloads from the Moon to the Earth".
Check out all the imagery and videos of their system on the website.
Here is their announcement:
A New Private Commercial
Space Venture for Lunar Exploration
BELLEVUE, WA, January 28, 2005—Walter Kistler and Bob Citron
formed Lunar Transportation Systems, Inc. (LTS) early last year
in response to the President’s new Vision for Space Exploration.
LTS’s goal is to raise major financing from the private sector
to develop, build, ground test, flight test, and operate a new
Earth-Moon transportation system. Initially, the government would
be an important customer, and eventually, LTS would serve new
lunar commercial markets.
The two entrepreneurs have a long history of stimulating new
space market activities using private investment. Kistler founded
Kistler Instruments AG and was the first investor in SPACEHAB,
and co-founded Kistler Aerospace Corporation with Bob Citron,
who also founded SPACEHAB.
LTS goals also fit nicely with the new White House Space Transportation
Policy, which recognizes the need for commercial systems, particularly
for launch and exploration. The new policy echoes the President’s
vision and encourages the government to facilitate commercial
“Our new LTS lunar architecture enables NASA to meet the near-term
strategic objectives spearheaded by President Bush in the Vision
for Space Exploration a year ago, as well as recommendations presented
by the Aldridge Commission on how to implement that Vision,” said
Bob Citron, CEO of LTS. “We are thrilled to see the new White
House Space Transportation Policy further support commercial activities,
just like what we are proposing.”
Walter Kistler, who conceived the LTS Earth-Moon transportation
system, said, “The Vision for Space Exploration calls for a greater
role of the private sector in space exploration. Bob Citron and
I firmly believe that entrepreneurial companies can bring new
perspectives to the Vision, building opportunities for a strong
future for space exploration.”
Lunar Transportation Systems, Inc. has launched a website to
introduce its innovative concept to create the equivalent of a
two-way highway to the Moon as part of NASA’s new space exploration
plans. The website, www.lunartransportationsystems.com,
contains a lot of detail about their plans, including descriptions
and artwork of LTS spacecraft, lunar architecture, mission profiles,
trade studies in progress, as well as photo and video galleries.
This is the second new private organization, Transformational
Space being the first, to offer a complete CEV Earth/Lunar system
that needs only the currently available launchers. No new heavy
lifter is required.
I'm wondering, though, how LTS can get in the game since the first
set of NASA study contracts
was already awarded last September.
1:15 am: News brief... X
PRIZE Space Race News has posted more updates on rocket development
projects. These include Bristol
Liberator / Orion Propulsion, and Micro
3:50 pm: News briefs...
Following up on my comments yesterday about Dennis Tito,
Rand Simberg suggests that Tito may have business
problems that are distracting him from space investments: Not
Quite Full Disclosure - Transterrestrial Musings - Jan.28.05.
The CNN article, though, is from September 2003 so maybe the problems
were not too serious. ...
Zimmerman, on the other hand, suggests Tito may have the same
doubts about the new commercial space act as Bob has expressed.
My impression, however, has been that Tito supported the bill.
... I hope NASA listens to
Dennis Wingo: Rocket
design up in air, says Marshall chief - Huntsville Times - Jan.28.05
... The Shuttle Return-to-Flight
program is making progress: Shuttle's
return-to-flight panel issues third report - Florida Today - Jan.27.05.
to Flight Task Group does independent assessments of the RtF
progress. You can monitor RtF progress at NASA
- Return to Flight. ...
response to this RLV
News item, Luke Colby a graduate student in space systems
at Georgia Tech and a rocket
developer, offers this feedback
about the possibility someday of gravity
control propulsion. [Update Jan.29.05: I originally left
out the link to Luke's feedback comments and the rocketry link didn't
go to the correct item.]
5:40 pm: News briefs...
. In this week's column, Robert
Zimmerman suggests that the greatest advances in human spaceflight
in the next decade or so might happen with Russian launchers and
spacecraft rather than American: Space
Watch: the Russians are Coming - UPI - Jan.20.05 ...
... This is rather disappointing.
Despite the passage of the commercial space act, Dennis Tito indicates
that "[w]hile he is happy to promote space travel, he said
he currently has no financial interest in the development of tourism
in space.": Dennis
Tito's Space Adventure - Pacfic Palisades Post - Jan.27.05.(Link
This comes despite his testimony
to a Congressional committee in the summer of 2003 that he was “ready
to make an investment in a suborbital vehicle”. He declared that
the "only big problem that stands before myself and others
who want to do this is the regulatory risk.”
9:30 am: News briefs... Florida
officials worry they may lose the suborbital space tourism business
to other states: State
fears losing grip on space - Florida Today - Jan.26.05 Note
Galactic has had expressions of interest
from thousands of people but not deposits. Space
Adventures has said they have about 100 deposits (as soon as
a suitable vehicle becomes available) but Virgin Galactic has not
yet begun taking deposits. ...
... The ISS partners expect
that the ISS construction and support will be provided by a "met
by a mix of support vehicles" :ISS
partners reaffirm assembly plans - spacetoday.net - Jan.27.05.
They promise to take advantage of "the capabilities from potential
future commercial providers": Joint
Statement by International Space Station Heads of Agency - NASA
- Jan.26.05 ...
PRIZE Space Race News has posted an item on the status of Micro-Space,
a former X PRIZE competitor: Micro
Space News Update - Space Race News! - Jan.27.05
4:45 pm: News briefs... The
Space Exploration 2005
meeting on April 3-6 in Albuquerque, New Mexico is sponsored by
the Space Engineering and Science Institute and Los
Alamos National Laboratory. The goal is for people from diverse
backgrounds "to exchange ideas and collaborate on the development
of technology in the area of space exploration."...
... Sponsored by the Lindbergh
Foundation , the "Legends
of the Sky" hangar party on Friday, May 20 will be held at the
Museum on the grounds of the Anoka County Airport in Blaine,
Minnesota. The event will feature Burt Rutan...
to find a shortcut around up and down: Antigravity
has feet of clay - Space agency report is a downer for gravity-control
researchers. - news @ nature.com - Jan.26.05 ...
... HS reader Matthew Morris
to the comments
from Dave Ketchledge about what type of crew module design is best
to launch on a Falcon V. [I can't support a genuine comments forum
but I'll occasionally post feedback items of interest.]
1:20 am: News briefs ... Space
Adventures will soon have lots of opportunities to send paying
customers to the ISS: Space
Race 2: Seats open for Soyuz flights By Irene Mona Klotz - UPI/Washington
Times - Jan.25.05. Eric Anderson says "he has several clients
waiting for flights." ...
... The cosmonauts, though,
would rather not be bothered: ISS
Crew To Find Tourists Nuisance, Warns Russian Space Veteran- RIA
Novosti - Jan.25.05 (Link via spacetoday.net)
... The X-43 inspires a musical
composition called Waverider: Art,
engineering join for Space Week celebration - The Tullahoma News
- Jan.25.05 ...
... More shuttle prep: Shuttle
given tools for inspection: Robot arm vital step toward return to
flight - Florida Today - Jan.24.05
10:10 am: News briefs... JP
Aerospace has posted an update
at Space Race News
on its recent activities and plans for the future. Joining SpaceX,
JPA says it will compete for America's Space Prize. See ATO
- Airship To Orbit - April.2004 (pdf) for an introduction to
the technique the organization plans to pursue...
... Though America's Space
Prize has been placing full page ads in various aerospace publications,
it remains relatively low key. For example, there is no web site
yet where you can find information and news about the project (and
buy an America's Space Prize T-shirt). I've heard that after some
number of competitors sign up for the contest, the project will
become more visible...
... Two majors cooperate on
a CEV proposal: Northrop
Grumman, Boeing Finalize Space Exploration Teaming Agreement - Northrop
Grumman - Jan.24.05.
1:25 pm: Armadillo update...
John Carmack has been too busy with Id Software projects and other
tasks lately to post regular Armadillo updates but the work continues.
The forum at Space
Race News got this Quick
Update - Official Armadillo Q&A thread - Jan.24.05, which reports
on a recent attempt to launch a prototype.
1:25 pm: Orion hopes... Sam
Dinkin examines the pros and cons of nuclear bomb propulsion in
Project Orion - The Space Review - Jan.24.05. The Orion
scheme would be the ultimate space transport but the political opposition
seems insurmountable, at least for a ground launched system.
A purely space based system might survive the onslaught of anti-nuke
forces but the huge amount of mass required makes this an unlikely
near term option. Perhaps it will be feasible when a low cost cargo
train to orbit becomes available via a space elevator or laser propulsion.
A test of pulse propulsion via external explosions is shown in
this cool video
posted with the article: The
Road Not Taken (Yet) by Glenn Harlan Reynolds - TCS - Sept.11.02.
Note that Reynolds, a lawyer, says that the Orion vehicle should
pass the Outer Space Treaty since a "nuclear 'bomb' used for
space travel, arguably, isn't a 'weapon' " just as the converted
missiles used to launch astronauts in the early 1960s were not weapons.
A more politically viable system would be something like Mini-Mag
Orion, under study by Andrews Space & Tech with a NASA SBIR
grant. This system would use micro-pulse fusion propulsion. The
only problem is that, unlike nuclear fission bombs, micro-pulse
fusion has yet to be demonstrated on earth. (See also Mini-MagOrion:
A Pulsed Nuclear Rocket for Crewed Solar System Exploration by Ralph
Ewig, Dana Andrews - AIAA JPC - July 2003 pdf and Pulsed
Power - Sandia National Lab)
1:25 pm: Europe's Space Prize?
Yet another space-related essay in the Wall Street Journal - Space:
The Private Frontier by Jacob Funk Kirkegaard - WSJ.com - Jan.24.05.
Unfortunately, like the others, it requires a subscription. The
main theme is that Europe should follow the lead of the US and do
more to encourage private, entrepreneurial approaches to space development.
The author suggests that Europe fund its own version of America's
Space Prize since the rules for that contest require participating
organizations to be based in the US. He also urges the development
of a regulatory framework for commercial human spaceflight like
that in the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act.
2:25 am: News briefs ... The
Rocket Company by Patrick J. G. Stiennon and David
M. Hoerr, with illustrations by Doug Birkholz, tells the story of
the development of a two-stage orbital space transport system. Though
fictional, the book provides an excellent introduction to the technical
aspects and challenges of designing a cost-effective, fully-reusable
rocketship. The book was provided here in serialized form over several
months and became a popular part of HobbySpace.
There is good news and bad news to report about the book.
The good news is that the book has been accepted for publication
in print by a reputable publisher. (I'll post information on where
it can be purchased as soon as I'm told.) The printed version will
contain revised and updated material, a new chapter, and over 30
The bad news is that the publisher has, not surprisingly, asked
that the text be taken off line. I've now done this for everything
1 and Chapter
4 , which I'm allowed to post here as samples.
My congratulations to Patrick, David, and Doug on the publication
of the book. I want to thank them for kindly letting me post it
here. I believe their work will have a significant influence on
space transport design by one or more companies in the not so distant
1:15 am: News briefs ... The
Space Launch Amendments Act may have passed but there
remain other issues of interest to the suborbital launch industry
such as ITAR
reform. So another Suborbital Action Days event on Capitol
Hill is in the works: Suborbital
Institute lobbying - Space Politics - Jan.23.05 ...
... This would take place just
before the FAA
Commercial Space Transportation Conference, the agenda
of which is now posted. ...
... NASA Watch reports
that Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) will be giving up the chairmanship
of the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space to Sen. Kay
Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Though Hutchison is a strong NASA supporter,
I find this a bit disappointing since my impression is that Brownback
is more aware of the alt.space companies
visitor Dave Ketchledge offers some feedback
on the suggestion
of launching an upgraded Gemini on top of a Falcon V.
2:15 pm: News briefs ... The
latest from Starchaser
on their engine development - Thruster
Performance Levels Achieved - starchaser.co.uk - Jan.05 - and
the establishment of an office in New Mexico - US
Visit Successful - starchaser.co.uk - Jan.05 (Via Space
Race News) ...
... Another article about Virgin
riders ready to go - Sunday Times - Jan.23.05 (Link via spacetoday.net)
11:15 am: SpaceX vs. the Majors ...
The Wall Street Journal article (subscription only) mentioned back
28th that dealt with a conflict between SpaceX
and Northrop over pintle injector technology and conflicts of interest
is available for free here: Can
defense contractors police their rivals? - Military & Aerospace
Electronics Magazine - Dec.28.04 (Distributed by AP).
Note that SpaceX and Boeing also had a conflict over the Falcon
when Boeing insisted that SpaceX re-qualify a range safety device
rather than use a Boeing report written for the Air Force. (See
News April 24, 2004).
11:15 am: CEV definitions...
Someone at sci.space.policy noted that the Crew
Exploration Vehicle Solicitation Documents (mentioned below)
includes a glossary
(doc file) that defines the acronyms used by NASA and is actually
For example, the CEV is defined as follows:
Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) - The CEV provides crew
habitation and Earth re-entry capability for all Exploration Spirals.
In Spirals 2 and 3, the CEV has been functionally defined as the
vehicle in which the exploration crew will be transported to the
lunar vicinity and subsequently returned to the Earth surface.
The CEV will also have the capability to perform automated and/or
autonomous operations (loiter), from LSAM separation from the
CEV for descent to the lunar surface, until the end of the lunar
"Spiral" is NASA's term for a stage in the development
of the CEV system starting from earth-to-orbit crew delivery and
then gaining the capability to send people to land on the Moon and
Exploration Spiral 1 (Crew Transportation System Earth Orbit
Mission) - Encompasses the capabilities necessary to insert
humans into Earth orbit and return them safely to Earth, employing
a post-Space Shuttle flight system. A programmatic constraint
has been imposed on Spiral 1: "NASA shall conduct the initial
test flight for the Crew Exploration Vehicle before the end of
the decade in order to provide an operational capability to support
human exploration missions no later than 2014". The flight elements
of the Exploration Spiral 1 Crew Transportation System are the
Crew Exploration Vehicle and Crew Launch Vehicle. Robotic Precursor
Missions that are scheduled to launch prior to the Earth orbit
demonstration of the Spiral 1 CTS are considered Exploration Spiral
The other spirals (see the glossary for the long version):
- Spiral 2 or "Extended-Duration Lunar Campaign" refers
to a system capable of a 4-14 day mission on the Moon between
2015 and 2020.
- Spiral 3 or "Long-Duration Lunar Campaign" will provide
for 14-98 day lunar missions.
- Sprial 4 will allow for a crewed mission to fly to Mars but
- Spiral 5 will put people on Mars.
The CEV module carries the crew (or cargo) but can be launched
(at least in most schemes) by different launchers, which may or
may not be reusable. The CEVLS refers to the whole launch system:
Crew Exploration Vehicle Launch Segment (CEVLS) - The
CEVLS consists of a Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), a Crew Launch
Vehicle (CLV), and all the dedicated ground support infrastructure
necessary to launch the CEV to Earth orbit.
CTV refers to the CEVLS system for reaching LEO plus those elements
needed to send the crew on to the Moon and Mars:
Crew Transportation System (CTS) - The CTS encompasses
the flight elements needed to deliver a human crew from Earth
to a mission destination, and return the crew safely to Earth.
In Spiral 1, the CTS includes the CEV and CLV. For Spirals 2 and
3, the CTS includes the CEV, CLV, plus other elements to be defined
at a later date such as EDS [Earth Departure Stage] and the LSAM
[Lunar Surface Access Module]. The CTS must interact with the
Ground Support System (GSS) during all Spirals; current architectures
require delivery of the EDS and LSAM through use of the CDS to
Though Spiral 1 drags on till 2014, there will be some flight tests
before then: "Phase 1 - Demonstration of a flight test in 2008
that minimizes risk for the CEV to be delivered in 2014."
1:55 am: News brief... Via
Race News comes reports
on recent near space
projects and tests by JP
8:45 pm: News brief... In this
Cosmic Log entry - The
next space millionaire - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.21.05 - Alan
Boyle provides the video to "The new space race" shown
today on CNBC. It briefly surveys some of the millionaires like
Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and John Carmack who are pursuing serious
space business projects. ...
... I don't understand how
these things work but the part about "Cost-Plus-Award-Fee (CPAF)
contracts" sure sounds like something that would put your typical
Big Aerospace manager into a state of delirious lust and desire:
Letter to Potential Offerors to Review The Draft Crew Exploration
Vehicle solicitation - NASA/Spaceref - Jan.21.05. * Crew
Exploration Vehicle Solicitation Documents.
2:30 pm: News brief... I've
been told that the Closing
Bell program on CNBC will air a segment today at 4 pm ET on
the "new commercial Space Race". (Via. J. Roche.)
12:35 pm: News brief... With
the delay in the Falcon I launch, I guess this news was to be expected:
V launch delayed - Space Race News! - Jan.20.05.
1:55 am: News briefs... SpaceX
is seeking to lease Complex
36 at Cape Canaveral for launching Falcon rockets starting in
the 2007 time frame: Cape
launch site could host new commercial rocket fleet - SpaceFlight
Now - Jan. 20.05...
... And this companion article
reviews Elon Musk's plans for SpaceX: SpaceX
starting small as it dreams of grand plans - Spaceflight Now - Jan.20.05....
... Meanwhile, here's more
about another private space program: Bezos
to build space venture on ranch near Van Horn - The Desert-Mountain
Times - Jan.20.05. (Link via spacetoday.net)
1:15 pm: News briefs... In
this week's column, Robert
Zimmerman examines the serious problems in the arrangement between
the US and Russia over access to the ISS: Space
Watch: Cooperation's failure at ISS - UPI - Jan.20.05...
... The Washington Post profiles
Guillermo Soehnlein and the International
Association of Space Entrepreneurs, which he founded: A
Launching Pad for Space Entrepreneurs - Washington Post - Jan.20.05.
1:55 am: News briefs... Seems
like we should first get our money's worth out of the current generation
of heavy lifters before we start building an even bigger launcher,
which many space advocates claim is needed for the VSE
times for heavy-lift rockets - New Scientist - Jan.19.05 ...
... Here's a review of the
new book Rocket Science (Amazon)
by Alfred J. Zaehringer, who was interviewed on the Space
Show earlier this month: Book
Review: Rocket Science - Universe Today - Jan.19.05 ...
... NASA decides it's better
to focus on two shuttles rather than three: Workers
shift to Discovery, Atlantis: Endeavour employees will labor on
shuttles first in line to fly - Florida Today - Jan.18.05 ...
... The Air Force gets serious
about major near
space operations: Air
Force may spread wings in near space - CNN.com - Jan.19.05 (Link
via Ken Schweitzer.)
1:55 am: News briefs... Eric
Anderson of Space
Adventures answers questions about space tourism: Space
Tourism: The Next Steps - SpaceDaily - Jan.19.05 ...
... Alan Boyle reports that
plans for the first X
PRIZE Cup event will be decided in the next week or so: Off
to the space races! - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.18.05
... This is an important year
for the VSE
to get going: NASA's
future tied to strong showing now, supporters say - Orlando Sentinel
... I hope that "new ways
of looking at human spaceflight" will happen at NASA: Time
for decisions: NASA should think outside the box as it develops
its moon-Mars plan - Florida Today - Jan.18.05.
8:20 pm: News briefs... Irene
Mona Klotz reports on Jeff Bezos and his rocket plans: Space
Race 2: Bezos And Life Beyond Amazon - UPI/SpaceDaily - Jan.18.05
was pointed to this thread for a suggestion on how the Falcon V
could launch a crew: Gemini:
We can rebuild it, we have the technology - Space.com Forum - Oct.18.04.
10:35 am Successful SpaceX engine test
took place last Friday in Texas: Race
for Next Space Prize Ignites - Wired - Jan.18.05. (Link via
HS reader K. Luojus). This was apparently
the first time the Merlin
first stage engine fired without problems for the full 160 seconds
required if the Falcon I is to get its payload to orbit.
Sure hope this gets them back on track for launching the Falcon
I, and in turn the Falcon V. Elon says he will use the latter to
take on America's Space Prize:
Musk told Wired News that he intends to win America's Space Prize,
and that he can do it by the Jan. 10, 2010, deadline (that's when
Bigelow wants to open his commercial space station for business).
The space prize is right in line with Musk's business plan. "We
hope to be the company that takes people back and forth from Earth
to either the International Space Station or to Bigelow's space
station, or to applications we don't know about today," said Musk.
Ultimately, though, his ambitions extend beyond even orbit. "I
think it's very important that we become a spacefaring civilization,
and that we eventually become multiplanetary."
... So it looks like the US
will have a manned spaceship in the 2010-2014 gap between the end
of the Shuttle program and the start of CEV operations regardless
of what happens at NASA: NASA
seeks spaceship proposals Two teams to be chosen - LA Daily News
- Jan.18.05. (Link via spacetoday.net)
2:35 am: News briefs... On
this evening at 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time), David Livingston will
interview James Nugyen, President of Odyssey
Space Lines. Nugyen is "a space entrepreneur with over
16 years of business experience." (The imagery and video look
a lot like that from the old Space
Cruiser proposal from Vela
Technology.) More info in the newsletter
... NASA engineers struggle
to fully understand and quantify the impact threat to the Shuttle
wing's leading edges: STS-114
Shuttle Report | NASA struggles to define shuttle impact damage
threat - Spaceflight Now - Jan.17.05
... The NY Times reports on
Bezo's Texas space base plans: Add
to Your Shopping Cart: A Trip to the Edge of Space - NY Times -
1:35 pm: News briefs... The
building blocks for Boeing's Space Exploration System are laid out
in this Media
Gallery. (Link via N. Rogers)...
... Taylor Dinerman analyses
the new SpaceX/SSTL connection: SpaceX
buys into SSTL - The Space Review - Jan.17.05. ...
... Sam Dinkin discusses the
possibilities of systems that might someday provide "space-based
and lunar-based catapult launches": Night
on the lunar railroad - The Space Review - Jan.17.05. ...
... More about the launch of
the X PRIZE Cup
as early as this year: X
Prize Cup may start in Sept. - Las Cruces Sun-News - Jan.13.05.
2:35 am: News briefs... "Space
tourism is less than three years away", according to Richard
boss unveils space trips - BBC - Jan.16.05...
Transport gets its X PRIZE entry launched by Estes
... NASA says it is "wired
for success": The
Vision for Space Exploration: A Progress Report - NASA/SpaceRef
- Jan.14.05 ...
... We will find out whether
it is truly rewired or just repackaged when the agency picks "two
industry teams this summer to build prototypes of the Crew Exploration
Space plans to firm up - Florida Today - Jan.14.05. Will NASA
choose two of the usual suspects or will it choose at least one
new organization that can actually produce a vehicle that's practical
and cost effective? Stay tuned...
1:05 pm: News briefs... More
about Blue Origin : Amazon
CEO chooses nowhere for space program - The Register - Jan.14.05.
(I'm sure West Texans love headlines like that.) Amazon
CEO gives us peek into space plans - The Seattle Times - Jan.14.05.
... The Van Horn report believes
the project wll "move a little faster than they're letting
on." I'm also guessing that the "six or seven years"
time frame for tourist flights is an exaggeration to reduce press
focus and attention on the project. ...
... Peter Diamandis talks about
the X PRIZE teams staying in the suborbital spaceflight game: Other
X Prize Teams Pressing On Toward Flight, Diamandis Says - Aviation
Week - Jan.14.05.
12:45 am: More dot.com spacers...
The X PRIZE Foundation has announced
that Larry Page, co-founder and president of Google
and a billionaire after the company recently went public, will become
a trustee of the foundation. Also, SpaceX
chief Elon Musk joined along with Jack Bader of St. Louis based
Blue Origin to Fly Up
12:10 am: Blue Origin launches in West
Texas... Jeff Bezos has revealed that Blue
Origin will build a suborbital spaceflight facility at his huge
ranch in West Texas. Alan Boyle gives details in Amazon
founder unveils space center plans: Bezos’ Blue Origin venture -
MSNBC - Jan.13.05 (plus an entry at Cosmic
Earlier in the week, Bezos had given the news to a local Texas
Origin picks Culberson County for space site - Van Horn [Texas]
Advocate, Newspaper - Jan.05.(Space
Race News reprint.)
The company will operate a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle
(VTVL) from the site. Negotiations have begun with FAA/AST
for a spaceport license. Vehicle development, however, looks to
be stretched out since the article says, "Flight operations
could begin in as soon as six or seven years."
Note that both TGV
Rockets and Armadillo
Aerospace could be flying VTVL vehicles to 100Km in two to three
years. The air launched SpaceShipTwo
is expected to begin operations by 2008.
(Link to the story via Ken
3:15 pm: News briefs... Robert
Zimmerman reviews what might happen in the coming year with
regard to various space programs and projects: Space
Watch: The outlook for 2005 - UPI - Jan.13.05 ...
... Space Race News reprints
a couple of items related to the X
PRIZE Cup and New Mexico. The governor appoints a new
director of space commercialization and this brief
item from a TV station confuses the X PRIZE and Cup formats.
It does give the somewhat surprising news that the first Cup event
might happen as early as this September. I wasn't expecting it before
2:15 am: News brief... Brazilian
spaceport offered for space tourism operations: Brazil
gears up for commercial spaceport - UPI/Washington Times - Jan.13.05
2:15 am: Eclipsing old aerospace...
I recently commented
in the Space Log section about the development of the Eclipse
Very Light Jet and how that company's struggles compared to
those of the alt.space firms that want to prove that space hardware
can be built far cheaper than it usually is.
The article Cheap
Jet Update - Forbes - Jan.10.05 underscores this theme. The
author highlights the "hyperconservative" nature of the
business jet industry, which is reluctant to upgrade its technology
and manufacturing methods because it doesn't believe a market will
appear if lower prices are offered.
"Thus bizjets remain inefficiently manufactured; costs and
prices remain high; and the pool of buyers stays small. We have
here a classic case of self-fulfilling prophecy."
This reminds me of stories I heard about the DC-X
team that tried to convince MacDonald Douglas management to pursue
RLV development on its own. The managers just couldn't believe that
a market would appear that would demand enough flights of a low
cost, low margin reusable vehicle to make up for the lost revenue
from no longer launching their high cost, high profit ELVs.
Eclipse already has 1400 orders and the company says it will break
even at just 500 because of advanced manufacturing techniques like
friction-stir wielding. If the Eclipse succeeds in making money,
perhaps it will shake up not just the bizjet industry but all of
P.S. This project also highlights a point made by Elon Musk in
with him and also by Burt Rutan in his presentation
at the Space Frontier meeting - projects need to start off with
sufficient "capital to reach the finish line". Unexpected
setbacks are bound to occur and money will be needed to overcome
7:35 pm Shuttle tech - the sounds of the
70s ... The Wall Street Journal has an article
(subscription required) about the bankruptcy of the last company
in the world making high quality tape for reel-to-reel recorders.
That's bad news for audiophiles who claim music on such tape "confers
a warmth and richness to recordings" not found in digital files.
It also turns out to be bad news for NASA:
"The crunch reaches far beyond the recording industry. The
National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses Quantegy tape
on its space shuttles to record information ranging from pressure
to temperature. This week NASA has been trying to buy 20 reels
I don't think this is because sensor data on tape has greater warmth
and richness but is just another sad sign of the obsolescence of
2:55 pm: News brief... SpaceX
plus Surrey Satellite
pursue smallsat/low cost launcher synergy: Surrey
Satellite Technology Limited sells stake to SpaceX: Deal unites
firms with shared vision of affordable access to space - Univ. of
Surrey - Jan.11.05. (via spacetoday.net).
1:35 pm: News briefs... Found
via a news group posting, here's an article about the Falcon I launch
TacSat launch delayed till March - GCN - Jan.4.05
... Comments to the House of
Representatives by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher about the "frontiers
of imagination": ‘A
Second Kind of Frontier’: The X Prize Triumph and the Future of
Space Travel - The New Atlantis -Fall2004/Winter2005 issue (via
10:15 am: SS2 to CEV ... Buzz
Aldrin and Taylor Dinerman, who has a regular column in the Space
Review, have an opinion piece today in the Wall Street Journal:
A Space Odyssey by - WSJ.com - Jan.11.05 (subscription required).
They advocate that NASA take advantage of the development of space
tourism vehicles for the CEV.
They point out that though there is a big hurdle to jump from suborbital
operations to orbit, "Mr. Rutan, and Richard Branson's Virgin
Galactic, might, if they move one stage at a time, develop a craft
that could actually reach orbit." They go on to say:
The embryonic space-tourism industry gives NASA new alternatives
for spacecraft development. Future versions of SS1, or a Multipurpose
Crew Module, could be the basis for a versatile yet low-cost NASA
CEV. One version could carry six to eight astronauts from Earth
into orbit. This could fulfill all personnel transport roles of
the CEV and could even be used on the Moon itself, as the crew
compartment of a manned Lunar rover. These vehicles would share
the same pressurized shell, similar life-support systems, and
a standardized docking mechanism and attachment points for attitude
control and propulsion thrusters. Most important, they'd all be
built on the same production line.
If it is to succeed, evolved versions of this craft will remain
in production for 40 or 50 years. If NASA and industry can get
the design right today, the payoff over the life of the program
will be huge. On the other hand, any mistakes made in the early
phase will lead to delays and increased costs that could cripple
future exploration missions. Relatively small entrepreneurs might
be able to do the work faster, and at less cost, than the aerospace
giants, but they'd need a less bureaucratic contracting system
than the one that exists today.
This is, of course, music to my ears. We can hope that NASA will
be more amenable to taking advantage of privately developed hardware
than it was in the 1980s when it actively discouraged suggestions
that it use the Industrial
Space Facility, a low cost space station developed by a company
led by Max
2:35 am: News briefs ... Irene
Mona Klotz reports on the new Space Transportation Policy: Space
Race 2: The feds weigh in - UPI - Jan.11.05. Klotz, by the way,
is also editor of the NSS
Ad Astra magazine. ...
... Alan Boyle provides some
miscellaneous space tourism news and he reports that the da Vinci
WildFire won't fly until this spring at the earliest: Stay
tuned on space tourism - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.11.05 ...
... I linked to a Wired article
on Richard Branson back on Dec.
28th (I probably got the link from spacetoday.net)
but a scan of various space blogs shows that the article wasn't
noticed much till this week. Here it is again in case you missed
Man: Richard Branson conquered the world. Now he wants to fly you
to space. - Wired - Jan.05 issue.
2:15 am: News briefs ... Blue
Origin is offering student internships for this summer: June
- August 2005. I can't swear to it but it seems like the Jobs
listing has also gotten longer since the last time I checked it
... I mentioned it in jest
to someone recently but maybe it's not such a crazy idea if the
Society organized a job fair session at its April meeting. I
know of at least half a dozen start-up rocket companies looking
... Here's an interesting article
on how high-def video was shot of the SS1 flights: Fujinon's
101x Zoom Lens Captures "X-PRIZE" Event: Science Channel
and CNN use "breakthrough" lens to capture space launch
- HollywoodIndustry.com - Jan.10.05 (via spacetoday.net)
... Jeff Foust notes the use
of state tax credits by Rocketplane
Ltd. in comments about the article
in Space Review on the effectiveness of such credits in spurring
space commercialization: Can
tax credits work? - Space Politics - Jan.10.05
2:35 pm: News brief... Maybe
there will soon be an index fund called The Alt.Space Top 20:
Final Frontier - Motley Fool - Jan.10.05. (Via a HS
1:55 pm: News brief... "XCOR
Aerospace was at the heart of the legislative battle to open
doors to commercial space travel": Bill
boosts space tourism - Antelope Valley Press - Jan.10.05.
12:45 pm: News briefs... Rocketplane
Ltd. has another update to their web
site. See, for example, enhanced pages on the spaceplane
training and flight
reservations (Item via Space
Race News) ...
... Looks like the VSE
is becoming firmly entrenched: NASA
Uses Budgetary Authority To Shift Funds Toward Exploration Vision
- Space News/Space.com - Jan.10.05
... From the Operating
Plan Expenditures spreadsheet file it appears that the Crew
Exploration Vehicle program at $421.9M gets most of what was
requested but the Centennial
Challenges competitions program is getting an allocation of
only $9.7M from a $20M request ...
... A.J. Mackenzie looks at
the question of how the US government can best encourage commercial
space development. Tax incentives may be less useful than providing
demand for space goods and services: Tax
policy and space commercialization - The Space Review - Jan.10.05.
12:45 am: News briefs ... If
Virgin Galactic ever
needs any extra funding, there will be plenty in Branson's Virgin
Group piggy bank:
Branson stands to gain $1bn from US flotation - Telegraph/Space
Race News! - Jan.9.05 ...
... Also via X
PRIZE Space Race News comes a tip on updates at Starchaser
used engine collection, and upkeep of the Nova/Starchaser
... There was an entry at Slashdot
a few months ago about a demonstration at MIT of a space elevator
type "lifter". Due to the traffic I couldn't reach the
photo page at the time but I see that it is now available: LiftPort
photo gallery :: Lifter Demo at MIT - Nov.04
... By the way, LiftPort
has created a "fan club" that you can join called the
Membership includes some cool space elevator gifts.
... The astronauts just want
to get going: Astronauts
Express Confidence in Safety of Planned Mission - The New York Times
1:30 am: News briefs ... Here's
an interesting profile of John Carmack: 'Doom'
creator also a space revolutionary: John Carmack exploded onto the
scene with a revolutionary video game. But he's also fueled by a
passion for rocketry. - Dallas News - Jan.9.05 (via spacetoday.net)
seems to be attracting customers: Journey
leaves her floating on air - Arizona Republic - Jan.9.05:
My legs shook as I left the plane. Mission accomplished. I had
faced down my fears, had experienced unbelievable fun and fulfilled
my oldest, wildest dream. More importantly, I had taken one small
step toward spaceflight.
... The Falcon I is taking
longer than expected to make its first launch but I'm sure it is
this kind of glitch that SpaceX engineers are hoping to avoid: Fuel
sensors halt Delta 4 engines too early - Florida Today - Jan.7.05....
... Jon Goff at Masten
Space Systems gives an update on their igniter project: Igniter
Project Status - MSS blog - Jan7.05.
5:30 pm: News briefs ... The
importance placed on the commercial sector in the new space transportation
policy guidelines is highlighted in these comments: Space
Foundation releases statement on new U.S. Space Transportation Policy
- Space Foundation - Jan.6.05 * Space
policy goes private: The White House blueprint includes strong support
for commercialization - OrlandoSentinel - Jan.6.05. ...
... I wonder if Roskosmos offers
an electronic ticket option or just paper? Maybe US astronauts can
just swipe their credit card in the machine next to the launch tower
in Baikonur: Ticketed
Passengers Only Aboard Soyuz, Says Roskosmos - Space.com - Jan.7.04
To End Free Space Rides for US Astronauts - Technology News - Dec.28.04
... That just makes NASA even
happier to see all the parts for the Return-to-Flight arrive at
the Cape: STS-114
Shuttle Report | All elements in place for shuttle's return to flight
- Spaceflight Now/NASA - Jan.6.05
7:15 pm: VSE status and space transport
Zimmerman notes in Space
Watch: Bush 43 vs. Bush 41 in space - UPI - Jan.6.05 that despite
flaws in implementation (e.g. a long needed "wholesale housecleaning"
of NASA management has unfortunately not happened yet), the President's
initiative looks to be solidly on track. ...
... And speaking of space policy,
the White House has released a formal set of guidelines for both
civil and military space transportation programs: U.S.
Space Transportation Policy Fact Sheet 6 January 2005 - SpaceRef/Office
Science & Tech. Policy - Jan.6.05.[pdf]
As Jeff Foust notes - Space
transportation policy finally done - Space Politics - Jan.6.05
- the administration maintains many existing policies such as supporting
both the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 EELV programs. The policy also is consistent
with previous plans to fly the Shuttle until 2010 (so that NASA
can finish the ISS assembly) and to develop the CEV by 2014. The
famous four year gap with no US human spaceflight capability remains.
The Commercial Space Transportation section is quite encouraging.
It says the US Government is "committed to encouraging and
facilitating a viable U.S. commercial space transportation industry
that supports U.S. space transportation goals, benefits the U.S.
economy, and is internationally competitive."
It instructs the government, for example, to purchase "commercially
available U.S. space transportation products and services to the
maximum extent possible, consistent with mission requirements and
We can hope this modifies NASA's well known obliviousness to the
space transport development activity in the private sector. Ideally
it would simply state what space transport services it needed, e.g.
X number of astronauts delivered per year to the ISS, and give the
contract to the lowest bidder, regardless of the system used by
However, I expect that NASA managers will only see the word "develop"
in the instruction that the agency "maintain the capability
to develop, evolve, operate, and purchase services for those space
transportation systems, infrastructure, and support activities necessary
to meet civil requirements, including the capability to conduct
human and robotic space flight for exploration, scientific, and
other civil purposes."
7:15 pm: Rocketing employment...
And speaking of space transport companies, they are now in hiring
Prize launches spaceport hiring boom - Antelope Valley Press/Space
Race News- Jan.6.05. I hear XCOR,
for example, is looking for composite engineers and technicians.
5:10 pm: News briefs ... Well,
speak of the devil, John posted a brief update today and said they
will be "hot-firing the vehicle engine" this weekend:
ready - Armadillo Aerospace - Jan.5.05. This refers to a "mixed
monoprop, now with the mini-nozzles" according to a Q&A
... The first SpaceX
Falcon I launch is now expected in March: Astronotes:
Private Rocket Liftoff Pushed to March - Space.com - Jan.6.05.
A pad firing test must be carried out before then.
1:05 am: Slow week on the
space transport news front. I expect things to pick up soon as several
projects (e.g. da
Vinci/GoldenPalace) start to carry out test flights
... John Carmack appears to
be focused currently on a programming priority at his day job and
will eventually return to giving us updates on Armadillo's progress:
Q&A Thread - Dec.22.04 ...
... One slightly space transport
related item involves SpaceDev's hybrid motors, like the ones that
propelled the SS1. They may be used to power the Aussie
Invader 2, which will attempt to set a new land speed record:
Goes for Rocket-Powered World Land Speed Record, SpaceDev Expected
to Provide Rocket Motors - SpaceDev - Jan.4.05
... Maybe someday we will see
an orbital "reusable" launch vehicle that doesn't require
the arrival of a barge before every flight: Shuttle
tank arrives at Kennedy Space Center - Spaceflight Now - Jan.5.05.
5:40 pm: Rockeplane Man... Rand
Mitchell Burnside Clapp of Rocketplane
4:55 pm: News briefs ... Jim
Muncy, who played a big role in the campaign for the Commercial
Space Launch Admendments Act, reflects on its successful
passsage and on the NASA budget: A
tale of two victories - The Space Review - Jan.3.05...
... A NASA scientist believes
the agency has made strong progress towards initiating the VSE:
NASA vision: Moon, Mars and a crew vehicle - Financial Express -
... Alfred J. Zaehringer,
author of Rocket Science (Amazon)
will be interviewed on the Space
Show on Tuesday evening. Now retired, he was involved in many
rocketry projects in the post-WW II period...
... Check out also John Garvey's
recent interview, which is now available in the archive.
His company, Garvey Spacecraft Corporation,
collaborates with students at Cal
State Long Beach. The team has succeeded with several ambitous
rocket projects, including the first
flight of a liquid propellant aerospike engine. He talks about
the struggle to carry out these projects with very little funding.
An interesting note is how the big aerospace companies have actually
undercut them (by stealing away students and staff) rather than
support their program.
11:35 pm: Alt.space timeline...
I've assembled a timeline
that lists some of the most significant developments in the alternative
space development movement during 2004.
11:35 pm: X PRIZE fund raising...
The X PRIZE Foundation
raises over $30K from the public and this results in over $60K total
with the matching grant: The
$100,000 matching dollar challenge ended - Space Race News! - Jan.1.05.
Continue to December 2004