2:00 am: Going out of town ... No
postings till late Monday or early Tuesday.
2:00 am: News briefs ... Burt
Rutan joins the likes of "Orville Wright, Howard Hughes, Chuck
Yeager, Scott Crossfield and the crew of Apollo 11": Spaceshipone
Team Wins 2004 Collier Trophy - EAA - Feb.9.05 (via spacetoday.net)
... Now I'll have a chance
to see the SS1 whenever I go downtown and visit the Mall:
Headed for Air and Space Museum - Space.com - Feb.25.05.
2:30 pm: News briefs ... The
photography team of Jim Sugar and Brian Lawler has been working
for several years on a one hour documentary about Burt Rutan. They
were given behind-the-scenes access at Scaled Composites so they
could follow developments on projects like the SS1 and Global Flyer.
The article - Documenting
Aviation History - Apple - Feb. 05 - describes the video project
and includes some samples. The photographers' website
also offers a video of the SS1 landing after the last X PRIZE flight.
... I wonder what the contingency
plan is if the rescue shuttle also has TPS damage? Crew
ready to fly, but unsure about repairs: Astronauts would rather
stay on station to await rescue - Florida Today - Feb.25.05.
2:05 pm: News briefs... Robert
Zimmerman reports on SMART-1
and other missions that will offer hi-res mapping of the Moon's
Watch: An oasis on the moon? - UPI- Feb.24.05 ...
... Irene Mona Klotz reports
on space tourism regs: FAA:
Space Tourists Fly at Own Risk - Discovery Channel - Feb.23.05.
12:35 pm: SSI update... The
Space Studies Institute
web site has been down for awhile. Lee Valentine informs me that
SSI is doing fine but they were hit by a virus attack and in the
process of recovering decided to make a "long overdue upgrade
of the website." As part of this effort, they will post the
entire "contents of the O'Neill library including the Space
This has turned into a major project that involves scanning "hundreds
of thousands of pages including the results of NASA studies that
can be found nowhere else." In addition, they will post an
"extensive collection of slides and space art ."
12:35 pm: News briefs... The
SS1 will stop in Oshkosh on its way to the Smithsonian:SpaceShipOne
coming to AirVenture - Oshkosh Northwestern - Feb.23.05 ...
... Leonard David reports on
Ltd. project: Have
Spaceplane Will Travel - Space.com - Feb.24.05...
Limited will put a radiation detector experiment on the Virgin
Atlantic Global Flyer when it does it's flight around the world:
builds for space weather project - SolarMetrics/SourceWire - Feb.24.05.
which is involved in various hypersonics projects with the Air Force
such as the X-43,
announces development of a new facility for testing ramjet/scramjet
Certifies Advanced Propulsion Research Complex for Ramjet and Scramjet
Technology Demonstrations - ATK - Feb.18.05 ...
... Articles on the Space Transport
for rocket dashed, founders leaving Forks - The Seattle Times -
Rocketeers who once dreamed of space travel in Forks leaving town
- peninsuladailynews.com - Feb.22.05 (via spacetoday.net)
... ESA tests the procedures
that will allow it to load cargo on the ATV
as late as a week before a launch: Successful
late access loading test for Jules Verne - ESA - Feb.23.05.
10:55 am: News brief... Alan
Boyle reports on the status of Space Transport Corp.: ‘Rocket
boys’ still rolling - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.22.05
... Another award goes to Burt:
Annual Wired Rave Awards: Burt Rutan wins the industrial designer
category for SpaceShipOne. -AP/ X PRIZE Space Race News! - Feb.23.05.
10:35 am: News briefs ... Burt
Rutan and other commercial spaceflight leaders will speak at the
National Space Society's ISDC
2005 conference during May 19-22: Leaders
Of Government And Private Space Efforts To Speak At The 2005 International
Space Development Conference - NSS - Feb.22.05 ...
... Leonard David reports that
the giggle factor is gone from discussions of space colonization:
Colonization: The Quiet Revolution - Space.com - Feb.23.05 ...
... Here are some presentations
at a recent NASA meeting on lunar exploration that included topics
such as in-situ resource utilization:
Robotic & Human Lunar Exploration - Meeting Information (pdf's)
- NASA Advanced Planning and Integration Office ...
... NASA is shooting insulation
divots from a F-15B: Shuttle
return gets a 'LIFT' from F-15B - Spaceflight Now - Feb.22.05.
1:10 pm: Kistler and station access ...
Irene Mona Klotz's latest Space Race article reports on the status
and the possibility of commercial transport to the ISS: Space
Race 2: NASA ups the space-ride ante - UPI/MENAFN - Feb.22.05.
The article says that Kistler now has "financing lined up
to emerge from bankruptcy within a month or two". I hope it
happens but that kind of prediction has been coming from Kistler
for a long time so I'll wait to believe when it happens.
4:00 pm: Space startup discussion...
Ken Schweitzer is hosting a discussion
Investor Forum on the
"Signal-to-Noise Ratio" paper mentioned below about space startups.
1:15 pm: Promoting spacefaring ...
Sam Dinkin announced
the debut of the 2004
Space Journalism Prize in today's issue of the Space
Review. The contest will award a $1000 prize for "the best
article promoting human spacefaring that appeared in a print or
web publication during 2004". Sam, Jeff Foust and I will serve
as the contest judges. I offer some additional comments in the Space
1:15 pm: Space startup ...
David Livingston of the Space
Show and Thomas Olson and Paul Conuris of the Colony
Fund offer a list of warning signs when evaluating the viability
of an entrepreneurial space project: The
"Signal-to-Noise Ratio" for New Space Startup Companies by Thomas
Andrew Olson, Paul J. Contursi, and Dr. David Livingston - Colony
Fund - Feb.21.05.
1:15 pm: News briefs ... Jeff
Foust reviews the recent developments on the suborbital spaceflight
regulation front: The
safety dance - The Space Review - Feb.21.05 ...
... Taylor Dinerman looks at
the obstacles in Congress this year to funding for the VSE
2005 NASA budget and policy shuffle - The Space Review - Feb.21.05.
2:25 am: News briefs ... Aviation
Week reports that Boeing will use the Delta
IV Heavy launcher to develop "options for NASA Crew Exploration
Vehicle (CEV) and unmanned cargo transportation architectures to
the Moon and Mars, now that the massive new rocket has been flight
tested." - Trial
by FIre - Aviation Week - Feb.20.05 ...
... The Space
Transport auction was not a going out of business sale but just
a way to raise some money while they develop a plan for the future
of the company: STC
Update - Space Race News - Feb.20.05. Phil Storm, president
of STC says, "we have no intention of calling it quits. Our
small company is highly flexible and determined."
2:25 pm: News briefs ... To
compliment the AST
suborbital report, see these earlier, related reports:
Corporation is keeping a low profile in Temecula: Inland
firm launches plan to take tourists into space - Riverside Press-Enterprise
- Feb.18.05. Seems quite ambitious to talk about commercial
passenger flights in 2006 before even a prototype has been built.
Spacelines says it is planning space tourism flights in the
time frame but doesn't show any evidence of hardware development.
All of the imagery and animation are old stuff from Pat Kelley's
Vela Technology Space
Cruiser project. The management
lists him as an advisor but the site doesn't indicate if they are
actually planning to build anything. ...
... Brad Edwards of space
elevator fame is profiled in this article - Elevator
Man: Bradley Edwards Reaches for the Heights - Space.com - Feb.18.05.
The article mentions his new company Carbon
Designs that will do R&D on "carbon nanotube-based
materials to achieve tensile strength many times that of steel,
polymers, or carbon composites"....
... For the latest in space
elevator happenings, check out LiftWatch.org:
Space Elevator News ...
... NASA is pushing for a mid-May
return to flight: NASA
sets May 15 launch date for shuttle - spacetoday.net - Feb.19.05
... A major figure in the successful
development of the Mojave
Airport and Spaceport has passed away: Airport
leader Sabovich dies at 79 - AV Press - Feb.19.05.
10:15 pm: AST/FAA suborbital report...
now posted: Suborbital
Reusable Launch Vehicles and Emerging Markets - February 2005 (pdf).
The 36 page report surveys proposed markets, launch vehicle companies,
space tourism companies, spaceports, and then finishes with a review
of several vehicles of historical interest.
11:50 am: News briefs... The
in-space inspection system for the Shuttle wing panels is approved:
Moves Closer to Resuming Shuttle Flights - Space.com - Feb.18.05
... But the TPS repair techniques
continue to be worked on: Shuttle
repair plans remain uncertain - Florida Today - Feb.18.05.
1:25 am: Another space tourism contest...
I missed this announcement in January from Space
Adventures about a Norwegian chocolate company's sponsorship
of a suborbital spaceflight contest: Norwegian
Chocolate Company Launches Space Ride Sweepstakes - Space Adventures
Beginning in April, customers of chocolate bars from the Nidar
company will find codes on the wrappers. These codes can then be
submitted on the web site at www.spaceride.no
where participants must answer some space-related questions. They
can also participate via a weekly radio program. A winner will be
selected in September.
This and other items can be found on the Space Adventures newsletter
PRIZE Space Race News.
More suborbital spaceflight contests are listed in the Space
1:25 am: News briefs... I remembered
today that Robert
Truax was originally a part of the American Astronautics project.
I don't see any indication, though, that he is contributing to AERA
... The Nautilus Moon Cruiser
shown on the Bigelow
Aerospace home page is one impressive looking space ship. I
can imagine it zooming past a NASA CEV. ...
... Unfortunately, some private
space projects don't have billionaire sponsors. Space
Transport is holding an auction
this Saturday, February 19th to sell off equipment.
1:05 am: News briefs...
Zimmerman worries that the newly released RLV guidelines
from the FAA indicate that the industry is now on a course towards
rules that will become increasingly more complicated and restrictive,
especially after an accident happens: Space
Watch: Private space, more rules - UPI - Feb.17.05. ...
... Speaking of more regs,
Jeff Foust reports that Rep. Oberstar's H.R.
656 with admendments to the Commercial
Space Launch Amendments Act is now available online: HR
656 provisions - Space Politics - Feb.16.05....
... More about the Cosmos
1 project from Nature: Space
technology Setting sail for history - A small budget and big dreams
make for a heady mix. But solar-sail pioneer Lou Friedman is ready
for anything as spacecraft Cosmos 1 prepares to take on the Sun
and the space agencies. - news @ nature.com - Feb.16.05
12:35 am: A dark horse spaceflight company
emerges... I had recently noticed that the American
Astronautics web site had gone dead and wondered why since I
knew the former X
PRIZE team led by Bill
Sprague was making a serious effort. Turns out that they were
up going quiet before making a dramatic reemergence under a new
name - AERA Corporation
- and with a promise to begin regular suborbital spaceflights in
The news release -
Corporation to Become First Commercial Space Travel Provider -
Company Unveils New Interactive Website; First Flight Scheduled
for 2006 - Feb.15.05.
says the company has "completed the design of the safest space
flight system ever created and is now working on details and logistics
for its first flight scheduled for 2006." They say they have
" institutional capital" and the Altairis spacecraft will
"become the first space travel provider [...] two years ahead
of the competition."
The Altaris will rollout at the Hayden Planetarium in New York
City. There are no images of the Altairis yet on the website. The
only includes some promotional items. The FAQ
says the "vertically launched spacecraft" will carry "six
passengers and one Mission Commander".
One might guess that it will look similar to the Spirt of Liberty
described in the X
PRIZE team data sheet, which also was specified as a seven passenger,
vertically launched vehicle. The booster and crew cabin separate
and return via parafoils.
They may become an America's Space Prize contender as well: "In
a few short years, AERA will follow on its success in spaceflight
to offer three-day orbital vacations."
This news comes via X
PRIZE Space Race News.
2:30 pm News briefs ... Brian
Binnie talks about spaceflight: Former
Navy Pilot shares space travel experience - Collegiate Times - Feb.16.05
... Irene Mona Klotz reports
on the AST/FAA spaceflight guidelines: Space
Race 2: New Rules For Space Tourists - Space Race News/UPI - Feb.16.05
... A HS
reader points to an interesting paper by James R. Wertz of Microcosm
who reports on a study of options for Mars round trips. The study
focused on minimizing trip times rather than energy: Interplanetary
Round Trip Mission Design - AIAA Lunchtime Seminar - Microcosm -
Dec.2004 (pdf) ...
... This paper
(pdf) by Captain Mike Hecker presented at NASA's recent Exploration
Conference in Orlando gives concise one page summaries of the
systems proposed by each of the CEV teams.
1:25 am Bigelow update ...
Aerospace website has been revamped, though it doesn't yet offer
much information. The Technologies
page, for example, promises soon to describe the Nautilus Space
Hotel. There is also a News
page with a listing of media articles, most of which were linked
here over the past few months.
Engineers should check out their Employment
Opportunities. (If you get hired, please tell them you found
the ad via HS.)
There is also a page on the America's
1:25 am News briefs ... At
least one organization is making money from alt.space rocket transportation:
souvenir sales aid community - AV Press/Space Race News- Feb.15.05.
[Update 2:00 pm: changed to a permanent link.] Check out the selection
of SS1 souvenirs at Rocket
Boosters. Proceeds go for good causes. The store, which has
been run by volunteers, will close on March 15th. ...
... Here's another article
about the MXER tether project:
tether to send satellites soaring - New Scientist - Feb.15.05.
1:25 am The Space Access '05
announcement just arrived from Henry Vanderbilt. Register soon:
Access Update #109 02/15/05
Copyright 2005 by Space Access Society
Space Access '05 Conference
April 28-30, Phoenix, Arizona
We have our hotel nailed down. It's the Four Points Sheraton,
10220 N Metro Parkway East, Phoenix Arizona 85051, 602 997-5900
for reservations, mention "Space Access" for our $79 conference
room rate ($109 for cabana suite), rate good for up to two days
before and after our conference dates of April 28th through the
30th. The Four Points is next to Phoenix's Metrocenter shopping
complex, fourteen miles from the Phoenix airport, with fifty bars
and restaurants and two hundred stores within walking distance.
Rooms have a work desk, high-speed internet, coffee maker, etc,
and hotel has a heated olympic-sized pool, spa, and fitness center,
and free parking. We're quite pleased to be bringing you a newer
hotel in a better location for the same rate as last year.
Our early list of confirmed presenters includes Armadillo Aerospace,
FAA AST, Jim Muncy/PoliSpace, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Rocketplane
LLC, SpaceX (conditional on their having completed their current
launch campaign), Henry Spencer, Andrew Case/The Suborbital Institute,
TGV Rockets, and XCOR Aerospace. We are still in the process of
contacting potential speakers; we expect by the time the conference
rolls around we'll once again have lined up more than two dozen
highly relevant presentations and panels over the course of our
two-and-a-half day event. The conference gets underway 2 pm Thursday
and runs through Saturday night.
This year's theme is "Still A Long Hard Road Ahead"; we plan a
session on the process of turning the new Commercial Space Transportation
law into practical regulations, and we're looking at a session
on the new spaceports coming onto the scene. Along, of course,
with the usual wide variety of progress reports, technical backgrounders,
viewpoints, and new ideas from various players in this burgeoning
Space Access '05 will once again be a mix of the usual suspects
and some interesting new additions, once again providing an intensive
informal snapshot of where this fast-moving new cheap space access
industry has gotten to as of spring 2005. Be there!
Space Access '05 registration once again holds steady at $100
in advance, $120 at the door, $10 off for SAS members. $30 Student
rate, no member discount. Day rates available at the door only.
One year's SAS membership is $30, please include your email address
update for the registration form.]
Space Access Society
space.access @ space-access.org
2:00 am News briefs ... The
cover article for the latest issue of Popular
Science is about Bigelow
Aerospace and its space habitat projects. PS has generously
put the article online already: The
Five-Billion-Star Hotel - Popular Science - March 2005 (via
... A group
at Tennessee Tech University is working with Tethers
Unlimitied under a NASA contract to design a "Momentum-Exchange
Electrodynamic Reboost" (MXER) system. MXER is a rotating tether
that would grab a spacecraft in LEO and throw it to a high orbit
or to escape velocity. Space
Transportation Transformed with High-Tech Game of Catch and Toss
- Newswise /Tennessee Tech - Feb.14 (via spacetoday.net)
... More on the AST/FAA spaceflight
proposes rules for future spaceliners - www.GovExec.com - Feb.14.05
Zimmerman will be on a special edition of the Space
Show on Wednesday at 7-8:30PM Pacific Time. Among other things,
he will discuss the AST meeting last week and the release of the
new guidelines on suborbital RLV operations. ...
... Tuesday's show
(7-8:15PM Pacific Time) features Michael Laine, President and founder
of LiftPort, which
was started to support and promote the business prospects for the
11:20 pm Armadillo Aerospace update ...
John Carmack reports on recent hover
tests with a large prototype on a tether. See the movie.
3:15 pm Draft guidelines for
commercial suborbital RLV operations are available at the AST
11:55 am: News briefs ... Sam
Dinkin suggests to Rep. James Oberstar "some better options
to try to save people from themselves": The
safety lode star - The Space Review - Feb.14.05
... Biophysicist John Jurist
begins a series of articles on human factors issues that suborbital
space tourism services will need to deal with:Human
factors in commercial suborbital flight - The Space Review - Feb.14.05
... Taylor Dinerman argues
that NASA should reduce the vagueness surrounding the CEV
and "make it clear what exactly it plans to do with the CEV".
Furthermore, if the agency does not plan to make the CEV "truly
multipurpose", then it will be difficult to maintain long term
support for the program: CEV:
let's try and clear this up once and for all - The Space Review
- Feb.14.05 ...
... More on the Cosmos
1 program: Ambitious
solar sail could launch this spring - Spaceflight Now - Feb.14.05.
... Another article about
the suborbital spaceflight industry and its concerns about over-regulation:
fear excessive regulation - L.A. Daily News - Feb.13.05.
7:25 pm: News briefs... Congrats
to Arianespace: Ariane
5 ECA launches - spacetoday.net - Feb.12.05.
1:45 pm: News briefs ... The
5 launch is scheduled for 2:49 pm EST today. You can watch via
... Sure seems like $145 billion
could have gotten us a lot farther into space than we are today:
Tally of Shuttle Fleet Costs Exceed Initial Estimates - Space.com
- Feb.11.05 ...
... There seems some confusion
about the TPS repair tests: Spaceflight
Now | STS-114 Shuttle Report | 3 repair demos, not 4, planned for
Discovery * Astronauts
still unsure which repair plan will be tested in flight:Managers
need to decide soon, Collins stresses - Florida Today - Feb.11.05.
... The Department of Transportation
has posted the comments from Mineta about personal spaceflight guidelines:
Mineta Announces Proposed Guidelines for Commercial Space Travel
- DOT - Feb.10.05 ...
... It's really a microwave
sail, not a solar sail: Earth
To Mars In A Month With Painted Solar Sail - Technovelogy.com -
1:20 pm: News briefs ... Gee,
too bad they can't hire Rep. Ken Calvert as NASA head. He says all
the right stuff: Rep.
Calvert Addresses Commercial Space Transportation Conference - SpaceRef
- Feb.10.05 ...
... More also on Mineta's comments
yesterday at the AST
meeting : Feds:
Before entering deep space, get a physical - Reuters/CNET - Feb.11.05
... Hope things go well with
the Ariane 5: Expectations
ride on super-rocket - BBC - Feb.11.05. Who knows? ESA might
want to launch a crew on one someday.
12:50 am: News briefs ... Alan
Boyle and others comment on the regulation of commercial spaceflight:
... NASA will use the first
shuttle flight to test TPS repair schemes: STS-114
Shuttle Report | NASA picks shuttle repair techniques for space
tests - Spaceflight Now - Feb.10.05
4:05 pm: News briefs ... Here
is what Rep. Oberstar said in support of his bill: Comments
on the House Floor upon Introducing a Bill to Enhance the Safety
of Commercial Space Flight by Rep. James Oberstar - SpaceRef - Feb.10.04.
However, I've been told that the bill has already been "sidetracked"
to the relevant committee ...
... Here is a press release
from the SubOrbital
Institute on this week's activities in Washington D.C.:
Washington, DC (February 10, 2005) The SubOrbital Institute,
an industry association for the emerging suborbital launch services
industry, conducted a series of briefings for congressional staffers
this week. "We need to raise awareness of this emerging high technology
industry." said Andrew Case, Washington Director of the Institute.
Briefings covered a range of topics, including regulations governing
hiring of rocket scientists who are non-US citizens, and educational
opportunities created by low cost suborbital spaceflight. According
to Case the overall response from staffers was "generally positive,
though the all important Congressional committees are still in
flux after the recent election, which makes it difficult to start
work on new legislation until later in the session." The Institute
plans further briefing events in the upcoming year.
11:15 am: News briefs ... Rand
Simberg - Interesting
News On The Regulatory Front - Transterrestrial Musings - Feb.10.05
- and Jeff Foust - Oberstar
strikes back - Space Politics - Feb.10.05 - give their views
on the Commercial
Space Transportation hearing and Rep. Oberstar's regulatory
... Other reports on the hearing
and the new space entrepreneur "federation": Space
Entrepreneurs Worry About Fed Rules - AP/Yahoo! News - Feb.9.05
Vow Outer-Space Vacations - AP/Wired - Feb.10.05 * Space
tourism industry federation formed - spacetoday.net - Feb.10.0
... JP Aerospace has posted
related to their airship and sounding rocket projects. (Via X
PRIZE Space Race News!) ...
... The Planetary Society's
1 solar sail is now scheduled to launch in April: A
Pre-Launch Review by Louis Friedman - Planetary Society - Feb.9.05.
Check out the photos.
2:15 am: News briefs ... Robert
Zimmerman argues that NASA has the time and money to save the
Hubble and that such a mission would "prove to everyone, in
and out of NASA, the agency is serious when it says it wants to
send humans back out into space.": Space
Watch: Saving Hubble, defeating fear - UPI - Feb.10.05 ...
... You can now watch online
videos of the presentations and panel discussions at the 1st
Space Exploration Conference, January 30-February 1, 2005, Orlando,
... The Russian Kliper
crew module prototype will be on display at the Paris Air Show in
to Present New Kliper Space Shuttle at Le Bourget Air Show - MOSNEWS.COM
- Feb.9.05 * Manned
multi-entry spaceship ready for Le Bourget Air Show - ITAR-TASS
2:15 am: Space travel hearing...
As someone who has for many years followed space development and
its impact, or lack thereof, on society, I found yesterday's House
Transportation Committee hearing
on Commercial Space Transportation to be quite amazing. Even
just a couple of years ago, a scenario with a congressman expressing
passionate views on the best approach to regulating suborbital space
travel to a witness from a company named Virgin
Galactic would have seemed like a wild fantasy.
And I find it a bit astonishing to hear the head of the FAA giving
well-informed responses to questions about suborbital space transport.
Maybe we are making progress....
of the hearing are now available online. Here are comments from
Michael Kelly, head of the COMSTAC
RLV Working Group and formerly of Kelly
Space, and Mr.
Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin
... Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn.,
who nearly killed the Commercial
Space Launch Amendments Act last year, showed that he
is still intensely focused on the passenger safety issue. He wants
the FAA to make their protection to be as high a priority as the
safety of the uninvolved public. No one can convince him
that a transition period is needed that allows passengers to take
an informed risk while the technology is under development.
He feels so strongly about it, in fact, that he has introduced
a bill to modify the CSLAA to do just that. Alan Boyle informed
me that Oberstar has introduced H.R.656 Title: To amend title
49, United States Code, to enhance the safety of the commercial
human space flight industry. (As of this time, Thomas.loc.gov
recognizes the number but doesn't have the text.)
I doubt the bill has much chance if only from the fact that he
is a Democrat in a Republican Congress. In addition, there certainly
won't be any space activists pushing for it and I doubt many consumer
safety groups will assign it a high priority.
Rep. Oberstar is making it clear, though, that he will continue
to pursue the issue. I can imagine, for example, that he will try
to add amendments to space legislation that comes up in the future.
1:25 pm: News briefs... I've
been informed that the SpaceX
Merlin-2 engine mentioned below,
will not be the F-1 size engine but an intermediate model. Detailed
specs will be released in a few months.
1:00 pm: News briefs ... Alan
Boyle reports on the new Personal
Spaceflight Industry organization and also talks with Andrew
Case about the Suborbital
Institute and its activities in Washington this week: Space
racers unite in federation: Industry group will follow up on new
law - MSNBC - Feb.8.05 ...
... Leonard David reviews
the CEV spiral (i.e. incremental) development scheme: A
Spiral Stairway to the Moon and Beyond - Space.com - Feb.9.05
Simberg comments on using the Shuttle to save the Hubble, the
shortcomings of robots, and saving vs. replacing the observatory:
Hubble, Worth the Trouble? - TCS: Tech Central Station - Feb.9.05.
1:10 am: News briefs... I should
note that other brave activists will continue with Suborbital
Action efforts today but I copped out. ...
... I expect that a Futron
study sponsored by AST/FAA
on commercial suborbital spaceflight will be released to coincide
with the AST
Commercial Space Transportation Conference this Thursday and
... Jon Goff has posted an
on recent happenings at Masten
Space Systems ...
... The Fourth
International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion (ISBEP 4)
will take place November 15-18, 2005 in Nara,
... Alan Boyle comments on
the Volvo contest/commercial: Boldly
going, and going, and going - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.8.05.
10:05 pm: News briefs ... Robert
Zimmerman examines the NASA budget: Analysis:
A promising NASA budget? - UPI - Feb.8.05. He believes the budget
indicates that maybe NASA is changing:
In the past, much of this research money would have disappeared
into the black hole of corporate welfare, producing little that
could be used by NASA to further space exploration.
With this budget, however, the president's space initiative has
brought a remarkable focus to NASA. Unlike the past, every project
has been required to justify its relevance to the goal of exploring
the solar system. Whether this demand finally forces NASA to produce
new and innovative space technologies -- something the agency
generally has failed to do in recent decades -- remains as yet
an unanswered question.
... Irene Mona Klotz reports
on the Volvo space prize and the Super Bowl commercial about it:
Race 2: Spaceflight ad hits TV - UPI/Washington Times - Feb.8.05.
9:20 pm: The latest
SpaceX update just appeared
and Jon Goff
has already provided a nice summary:
Falcon I News:
- Engine development for the Falcon I is drawing to a close.
It turns out that the pintle on the Merlin-1A wasn't able to
deliver the mixing efficiency they were hoping for at higher
flow rates, so they missed their Isp target by about 6s (304s
vs 310s planned). They've upped the thrust in the chamber to
slightly compensate. Also, the Kestrel, being lower pressure
actually exceeded their expectations by 2s (327s vs 325s planned),
which should also help things out.
- Structural testing for Falcon I is almost completed. Their
first stage tank has over 160 full cycles on it with no signs
of fatigue, and the upper stage has undergone several pressurization
cycles too. Ground wind tests have verified that if you can
stand up vertically at the launch site, the winds aren't too
high to launch in. A test to mimic conditions at maximum angle
of attack and max-Q have been performed with a 23% margin of
safety over the limit case. Only the maximum g-load at first
stage burnout test remains.
- Elon comments that due to the environmental tests and structural
tests they've done on the first stage, he's very optimistic
that the Falcon I will be at least as reusable as the Space
Shuttle. He mentioned as he had previously that if they can
reuse parts of the first stage, that the $5.9M price tag for
the Falcon I will go down. I wish them a lot of luck on that,
because even though it isn't a purist RLV, its an excellent
step in the right direction.
- Avionics testing is done including thermal cycling, vibration,
shock, acceleration, and salt fog tests. Also, their TVC "hardware-in-loop"
simulator is completed. This simulator is used to verify their
flight control software.
Falcon V News:
- The aluminum for the Falcon V tanks should be arriving in
the near future. They'll be using a friction-stir welding process
for the tank once they have the circumferential stir welding
machine in later this year. Delta II and Delta IV also use some
friction stir-welding as I understand it, but Falcon V will
be the first rocket with fully stir welded tanks according to
- The Merlin-1Bs for the Falcon V first stage will be finished
by about June, at which time they will start testing on their
large tripod test stand.
- Avionics will be a triply redundant version of the Falcon
I avionics, with upgraded (and retested) software, and will
use more digital sensors and controls to cut down on the wiring.
- Most of the launch infrastructure for the Falcon V is in place,
though they will need to build a new mobile launcher for a 12ft
Other Cool Stuff:
- The coolest new news in their update
is the announcement of the Merlin-2 engine. This engine will
be in the F-1 size range (1,500,000lbf!), will operate at higher
pressures than the Merlin-1A and 1B, and serious development
will start on that in a few years (probably after the uprated
Falcon V is in operational service). Target performance numbers
will be released this spring.
[Feb.9.04 Correction: The Merlin-2 will not be the F-1
size engine but an intermediate model. Detailed specs will be
released in a few months.]
- Due to pintle woes, they'll be developing some in-house injectors,
using a unique variant of the coaxial injector that is commonly
used in many rockets today. They hope to have some test data
on that later this year.
- They're up to four rocket engine test stands, with their biggest
being a massive tripod stand capable of tests of up to 3,000,000lbf!
- They have a new FAQ
page as well as some cool movies of their tests.
Anyhow, all of this is pretty exciting news, and it's good to
see that after all the hard work they've been putting in, that
they're getting pretty close to the home-stretch.
7:45 pm: Political action ...
The first day of the Suborbital
Action Days went well. We briefed a number of Congressional
staff members on issues of importance to the suborbital spaceflight
industry. These issues include ameliorating the difficulties caused
pushing NASA to buy launch services (this also applies to orbital
transport) and to take advantage of the scientific and educational
benefits offered by the new suborbital space vehicles.
... Similar efforts for many
years by space activists to push NASA to purchase commercial launch
services, as opposed to dictating how launch vehicles are to be
built and operated, may be making progress. This article - Cuts
target shuttles, defense - Florida Today - Feb.8.05 - on the
budget notes the following:
Gaining less notice: $160 million included to buy cargo and crew
delivery services from other countries or private companies.
The idea: Shift supply runs from the shuttle to less-expensive
space freighters and station crew changeovers to the Russians'
Soyuz, which has done the job while the U.S. fleet was grounded
the past two years. [my emphasis]
I think this is intended mostly to encourage the private companies
since the Soyuz has Congressional restrictions on its use by NASA.....
... Several of the new space
companies are working together to develop high safety standards:
Entrepreneurs Resolve To Create Industry Group to Promote Safety
Standards and Growth of the Personal Spaceflight Industry - Space
Race News/Business Wire - Feb.8.05
... Don't forget to watch the
of the Commercial
Space Transportation hearing at 2:00 pm (EST) tomorrow.
7:45 pm: News briefs ... Peter
Diamandis gets a well deserved award: Distinguished
Service Award to Peter Diamandis - Space Race News - Feb.8.05...
... In an interview in the latest Space News, Peter says
is doing better than expected. They had 30 flights in the first
four months of operation. They were able to raise prices because
of the demand. Here's a nice multimedia Zero
g Achieved! - Space.com presentation about a flight...
... Peter also said the first
X PRIZE Cup event
would be in 2006, though the "maximum number of X Cup teams"
won't compete until 2007...
... Neil Halelamien has posted
from Virgin Galactic promo video mentioned below...
Schweitzer sent me this link about a test of a hybrid engine
for one of the contractors in the DARPA Falcon
rocket successfully tested - Air Force Link - Feb.4.05 (Not
sure which company this is.)
1:05 am: Suborbital action ...
Heading to Capitol Hill to do my part in the first Suborbital Action
Day of 2005. Organized regularly by the Suborbital
Institute, participants meet with congressional staff members
to inform them about the commercial suborbital spaceflight industry
and the various political issues that affect its growth.
Previous Action Days contributed to the successful effort to pass
Space Launch Amendments Act. This year we will focus "on
which currently prevents US companies from exporting certain space
related technologies to other countries, including US allies with
similar levels of technology."
1:05 am: News briefs ... Speaking
of Congress and space, the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing
on Wednesday Feb. 9th on the topic of private space transport: Future
Of Commercial Space Transportation To Be Focus Of Congressional
Hearing - House Committee on Transportation - Feb.7.05. The
president of Virgin
Galactic will be on the witness. A webcast of the hearing at
2:00 pm (EST) will be available here.
... Neil Halelamien points
to the animation
(at bottom of the page) at Virgin Galactic that provides a nice
demonstration of the SS1/SS2 flight profile and at the end show
"CG snapshots of a Virgin Galactic craft docked at an orbital
space station. It looks a little bit like a combination of a Bigelow
inflatable module and a small O'Neill-style torus."...
... The open-source flight
offers an X-15 and a shuttle module in the
12:05 pm: News briefs ... Stephen
Ashworth argues that government and commercial space development
efforts "must travel in tandem at each step of the cosmic staircase.":
mission, the business, and the tandem (part 2) - The Space Review
... However, some worry about
the influence of "space libertarians": EELVs
Are A Bad Deal by Jeff Wright - SpaceDaily - Feb.4.05...
... Sam Dinkin reviews the
space habitat concepts promoted by Gerard O'Neill and suggests
incremental, "spiral development" of space technologies
could "hasten the day that an L5 colony will be funded and
high risk frontier - The Space Review - Feb.7.05...
... Bill Harwood posts an
in-depth report on the efforts at NASA to develop on-orbit thermal
protection repair techniques: Engineers,
astronauts debate shuttle repair ideas - Spaceflight Now - Feb.6.05....
... Note that Spaceflight Now
is posting regular updates on progress in the RtF
program at STS-114
1:45 am: News briefs... The
X PRIZE Space Race
News! has been a great resource in the past year for news, information
about the X PRIZE and, after the SS1 triumph, of other suborbital
spaceflight projects. Unfortunately, it has run into funding problems:
Difficulties: Advertisement for Hosting - X PRIZE Space Race News!
- Feb.6.05. If you can help with advertising or other support,
please contact them ...
... I saw the Volvo commercial
last night during the Super Bowl about their new car and the space
tourism contest in support of it (www.boldlygo.com.)
It was OK but it went by very quickly early in the game and didn't
stand out. I doubt if very many people heard the part near the end
of the commercial about the contest. The Wall Street Journal review
of the Super Bowl commercials said the Volvo ad "seemed to
lack rocket fuel." ...
... Get ready for a big controversy
over launching the Shuttle without all of the review board's recommendations
fully implemented: Critics
Question NASA on Safety of the Shuttles - NY Times - Feb.7.05.
1:05 am: News briefs... It
back in December that Scaled
Composites and the X
PRIZE Foundation would be sponsoring an educational project
in which students would build full-size mockups of the SpaceShipOne.
Here is a report on the project, which is now underway: Students
creating SpaceShipOne replicas - L.A. Daily News - Feb.5.05...
... In response to a
reader's question, I collected several links in the Space
Models section to sites offering paper card, plastic,
and prebuilt SpaceShipOne
... The RC Flight simulaor
now includes a SpaceShipOne model and screensaver (zip).
You need PRE-Flight installed to run both but if you don't own the
program, a free demo is available for downloading.
Shuttle Columbia model is also available
... A cosmonaut suggests smaller
shuttle crews if NASA expects to use the ISS as a refuge in case
of trouble: Cosmonaut
criticizes "safe haven" plan - spacetoday.net - Feb.5.05.
12:15 pm: News briefs... Here's
a long and interesting article about Elon Musk and SpaceX:
in Space: The ex-CEO of PayPal is spending a fortune to prove you
can build rockets faster, cheaper, and better. Innovation, it seems,
isn't always rocket science. - Fast Company - Feb.05. (Via spacetoday.net)
... In response to my note
about the EADS suborbital.com
Lerch reminded me of reports
back in 2003 that EADS was studying the development of a 12 seat
that could reach Mach 3 and 30km in altitude. The riders would experience
about a minute of low gravity. Jens says that one proposed flight
plan would go from Munich to the resort island of Mallorca.
The plan is described in Tourists
get chance of flying to 82,000 feet - RedNova News - Aug.22.03
and a July
2003 article in German. (Try the Google
translator). I haven't heard anything about the project recently.
12:45 am: News briefs ...
In this week's column, Robert
Zimmerman maps out the players, shifting alliances, and surprising
strategies in the upcoming NASA budget battles: Space
Watch: Turf war heating up - UPI - Feb.3.05 ...
... More about the Volvo space
tourism contest: Volvo
and Virgin Galactic Team Up in Space: Richard Branson in Volvo's
first-ever Super Bowl ad. Viewers can win a trip to space on Branson's
space craft at www.boldlygo.com this Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6th.
- PR Newswire/Volvo - Feb.3.05. (Via spacetoday.net)
... Note that since the SS1
won the X PRIZE, three suborbital space tourism contests sponsored
by major companies have been announced:
... Burt Rutan continues to
spread the word about the promise of private spaceflight: Space
travel pioneer says he reached new heights to win X Prize - mcall.com
(Allentown PA) - Feb.3.05. (Via spacetoday.net)...
... This kind of thing should
also help inspire public interest in spaceflight: NFL
Players Turn Astronauts for a Day As They Go for Zero With Diet
Rite and ZERO-G - PR Newswire/ZERO-G - Feb.3.05.
1:30 pm: News briefs ... To
promote its XC90 V8 model, Volvo will broadcast a commercial during
the Super Bowl that will announce a suborbital space tourism contest:
Sees Liftoff During Super Bowl - Space Race News - Feb.3.05.
You will be able to sign up for a chance to fly on the SS2 at www.boldlygo.com.
... Via the article Games
Join Space Race - Wired - Feb.3.05, I found the web site of
Commons, which develops sophisticated 3D modeling and simulation
tools and applications. These include some CEV related projects:
... Also, Vision
Videogames is working with Raytheon on CEV simulation projects:
Videogames Assists Raytheon in NASA Initiative to Develop Virtual
Moon Vehicle - Vision Videogames -Jan.18.05 ...
... I accidentally discovered
that a former rocketry store domain - www.suborbital.com
- is now an "EADS SPACE Transportation Web site." I wonder
if EADS (I actually
prefer to call it EgADS) has some suborbital space transportation
plans beyond the Phoenix/Hopper
8:30 pm: News briefs... Eric
Meier and Phillip Storm have decided to put the Space
Transport project into hibernation while they try to find long
term funding: Financing
woes leave ambitious Forks space commercialization project up in
the air - Space Race News/Peninsula Daily News - Feb.2.05....
is the "Free Encyclopedia" in which users can edit the
pages and add content. It seems to be growing in popularity as the
content expands. For example, there is now quite a lot of space
related material. For example, check out the pages on:
2:35 pm: RASCAL Canceled...
DARPA has ended the RASCAL
smallsat launcher program: Pentagon
Cancels RASCAL Small Launcher Effort - Space News - Feb.2.05 (subscription
only). No reasons were given. Last August
I noted a report from the Utah SmallSat meeting that a DARPA representative
had indicated serious problems with the program. However, no specifics
were given. I later heard a rumor that cost overruns were the primary
The RASCAL program required that the system use a first stage air
launch from a jet that used Mass
Injection Pre-Compressor Cooling, or MIPCC, to achieve a
high altitude. The jet would then release an ELV to take a 150 kg
payload to orbit. Space
Launch Corp reported last November
that it had successfully completed Phase II of the program.
DARPA will now focus on the Falcon
Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) program. In this program, DARPA has not
specified the type of technology to use but just requires
that the SLV should be able to launch
"a small satellite weighing approximately 1,000 pounds into
a reference orbit defined as circular, 100 nautical mile altitude,
due east, and launched from 28.5o north latitude for a total launch
cost of less than $5 million (excluding payload and payload integration
Last September DARPA awarded
second round Falcon contracts to four companies: Lockheed-Martin,
Microcosm , AirLaunch
LLC (Gary Hudson & Bevin McKinney), and SpaceX.
(It's a coincidence that the SpaceX launcher line is also called
2:35 pm: SpaceX and Northrop drop lawsuits
... Space News also reports that SpaceX and Northrop
have dropped lawsuits against each other over improper access to
each other's technologies: SpaceX,
Northrop Grumman Drop Legal Dispute Over Falcon - Space News - Feb.2.05
(subscription only). The dispute was originally reported in
the Wall Street Journal but the article can be found reprinted here:
defense contractors police their rivals? - Military & Aerospace
Electronics Magazine - Dec.28.04. ...
... The above two items come
1:20 am: News brief... Irene
Mona Klotz reports on SpaceX
and its plans to use Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral: Space
Race 2: New life for old pads - UPI/Washington Times- Feb.1.05.
3:00 pm: Space Access Society news...
Henry Vanderbilt reports on the latest SAS news and space transport
Access Update #108 01/31/05
Copyright 2004 by Space
Contents this issue:
- Space Access '05 Conference Set For Phoenix AZ, April 28-30
- New Administration Space Transportation Policy
- Who Will Run NASA?
- What A Difference A Year Makes: Industry Roundup
- Space Access '05 Preliminary Speakers List
Space Access '05 Conference,
April 28-30, Phoenix Arizona
We've gotten a number of queries as to whether our conference
is happening this year, if so when, where's the hotel, and so
forth. We're actually pretty close to our usual just-in-time pace
on pinning down and publicizing these things, but to reassure
y'all (and let you start to make travel plans) here's where we
stand right now, three months out:
We've narrowed our list of a dozen possible hotels down to a primary
and an alternate, and our hotel liaison is currently working out
a contract with the primary. Both primary and alternate are newer
hotels than last year's, at about the same room rate - both have,
in response to numerous requests, high-speed internet - and both
have the space we need open for our dates (as do several tertiary
backups) so we can guarantee the conference will take place starting
2 pm Thursday April 28th, running through Saturday night April
30th, within a moderate cab or shuttle-van ride of the Phoenix
airport. Both hotels are great sites - the primary has a wide
variety of nearby places to eat drink and shop, the alternate
is a really nice self-contained resort, and either would work
well for our conference. We expect we'll have a contract signed
in the next week or so, at which point we'll publish the hotel
Take a look at http://www.space-access.org/updates/sa04prgb.doc
for our 2004 conference program book to give you an idea what
sort of conference we put together just-in-time last year. This
year's conference will be broadly similar, modulo a year's rapid
progress in the field of radically cheaper space transportation.
Space Access '05 conference registration remains at $100 in advance,
$120 at the door, mail checks to (note new address!)
Space Access '05
5515 N 7th st #5-348
Phoenix AZ 85014
New Administration Space
The President signed off on a new national space transportation
policy at the end of last year, and there's a lot to like in it.
(Summary at http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=15010)
It formally gets rid of the mid-nineties division of labor that
gave NASA a monopoly on reusable rocket development (which NASA
proceeded to expensively botch) while confining DOD to expendables;
each now can develop to meet its own space transport needs. It
also mandates NASA develop new capabilities only where its needs
can't be met by capabilities already in use in the defense or
commercial sectors. It acknowledges the importance of the US commercial
space transportation sector in general, mandates a supportive
government-purchase, regulatory and launch-range environment for
the commercial sector, and specifically supports commercial human
spaceflight efforts. It says the US government "must provide sufficient
and stable funding for acquisition of US space transportation
capabilities in order to create a climate in which a robust space
transportation industrial and technology base can flourish", and
cites fundamental transformation of capabilities and capitalizing
on the entrepreneurial spirit of the US private sector in that
context, which implies that at least some share of the funding
should go to the innovative startups.
Have we died and gone to heaven? Well, no, not exactly. The policy
necessarily spends considerable time dealing with various aspects
of the legacy space establishment - keep both EELV's until further
notice, return Shuttle to flight then retire it when Station is
complete, and so forth. And it mandates a massive DOD/NASA/industry
central-planning exercise for "next-generation space transportation
capabilities" that we suspect has far too good a chance of turning
about as many billions into as many viewgraphs over as many years
as most previous such efforts.
But this policy allows for and by implication encourages a lot
of smaller efforts, defense and commercial, outside the old-space
megalith project complex. Mammals scurrying around under the dinosaurs'
feet, if you will. And it does tell the dinosaurs NOT to go out
of their way to step on the new arrivals, though absent ongoing
adult supervision from the top political levels we wouldn't bet
the mortgage on that being scrupulously observed.
Ultimately, any such policy depends more on continuing top-level
political support for its effectiveness than it does on the finicky
details of this paragraph or that subclause. Recent history gives
us some cause for optimism here - we'd estimate that the amount
of government space funding (out of thirty billion or more overall)
actually going in what we regard as the right general direction
to produce a space transportation revolution has risen to a decent
fraction of 1%. That doesn't sound like much - but the whole point
of our revolution is that it doesn't cost much, done right.
Give us a full 1% for reusable rocket R&D and we'll change the
world - and under this Administration and this policy, we might
just get that 1%.
Who Will Run NASA?
It is no denigration of Sean O'Keefe to say that he leaves NASA
still short of being a useful and efficient government space exploration
agency. Given how wilfully dysfunctional major parts of the organization
were a few years ago, the fact that all of the agency's centers
now have some handle on what they're spending and pay some attention
to what NASA HQ tells them is a triumph. We thank Mr. O'Keefe
for the considerable progress, and we wish him well in his new
But the major strides NASA has made in accounting and accountability
are, we believe, only a start. If the agency is indeed to take
the lead in resuming outward human space exploration progress
without radical budget increase, it is going to have to undergo
radical transformation. Much of what it does now will have to
be shut down to free up the needed resources. More vitally, much
of HOW it does things now will have to be set aside. Much accreted
bureaucracy from the last thirty years has to go, organizationally
We will not presume to tell the White House who they should pick
to succeed O'Keefe. Indeed, this close to his departure, we suspect
they may well have already made up their mind. But we will, on
the off chance someone might be listening, say a few things about
what sort of person we think should take over at NASA.
He should have a thick skin. He'll be making painful changes and
he's going to take considerable flack. (For the same reasons,
he should also have the confidence and ongoing support of the
White House. Strong Congressional support, away from existing
NASA centers, wouldn't hurt either.)
He should be well-grounded (or at least extremely and independently
well-advised) in space technology. He'll be making important technical
decisions, and the old NASA bureaucracy has a long history of
trying to stack the deck in their advice on such.
He should probably not be from within NASA. The old-line NASA
bureaucracy demonstrably has a number of pernicious technological
and organizational prejudices; the average career NASA person
will tend to have internalized far too much of this baggage.
He should be bureaucratically astute (or at least extremely well-
advised). His main job will be not so much conducting future human
space exploration, but rather finishing the transformation of
NASA into an organization capable of conducting that future exploration.
That is still a long shot at this point. We'd be satisfied if
NASA ends up merely getting out of the way of the radically cheaper
space transportation revolution we push for. But if NASA can actually
be rehabilitated to the point where it recommences useful outward
expansion of the human frontier later this decade, we wouldn't
mind at all.
Space Access Society
"Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System"
- Robert A. Heinlein
2:20 pm: News briefs ... The
today of the "Discussion Panel: Project Constellation & Crew
Exploration Vehicle" at the AIAA
1st Space Exploration Conference was quite interesting. Hope
it becomes available in an archive. Really sounds like NASA is trying
to find new approaches to procurement that will bring lower costs
and faster development. It seemed to me, though, like the NASA speakers
were treating the t/Space
concepts of commercialized services and fix priced contracts for
space transportation as something very strange and unknown.
... With regard to my comments
below on Taylor Dinerman's ISS article, I should have noted that
Bob Zimmerman a couple of weeks ago also examined NASA's ISS transportation
Watch: Cooperation's failure at ISS - UPI - Jan.20.05 ...
... Alan Boyle comments on
the AIAA conference and other Lunar project related topics: Looking
to the moon - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.1.05 ...
... The Shuttle RtF is approaching:
ticks for shuttle liftoff - Florida Today - Jan.31.05.
... A space tourism base in
Asia may open up in a few years: Malaysia
may be hub for space travel - Space Race News - Feb.1.05.
1:45 am: Riding a microwave beam ... Gregory
Benford and his brother James have developed a clever scheme
for a microwave beam driven light sail: Solar
super-sail could reach Mars in a month - New Scientist - Jan.29.05.
In addition to the usual light propulsion effect, heating of paint
by the beam causes the desorption of the paint molecules from the
material and these in turn produce thrust.
James runs the company Microwave
Sciences, which does High Power Microwaves (HPM) development.
A writeup of the basic scheme is given in Desorption
Propulsion And Deployment (this deals with suborbital lifters
rather in space transport.) See also Near-Term
Beamed Sail Propulsion Missions: Cosmos-1 and Sun-Diver from
2002 and other articles in the papers
12:55 am: News briefs ... John
Carmack reports on preparations for hover tests of a large prototype.
The first test may take place today: Progress
- Armadillo Aerospace - Jan.31.05. Earlier, fellow Armadillian
Matthew Ross posted a brief status report on the X PRIZE forum:
Aerospace News Update - Space Race News! - Jan.31.05...
... X PRIZE Space Race News
also provides an update from JP
Aerospace on recent high altitude balloon platform tests: JP
Aerospace News Update - Space Race News! - Jan.31.05
... The Japanese will begin
flying the HTV spacecraft in 2009 to supplement the Russian Progress
and European ATV vehicles for cargo delivery to the ISS: HTV
spacecraft eyed as supply vehicle - Daily Yomiuri - Feb.1.05
12:55 am: ISS: where's
it going? Looks like the US is working hard to
finish the ISS in time to turn it over to Russia: What
do we do with the ISS? by Taylor Dinerman - The Space Review - Jan.31.05.
Taylor points out that according to the current plan when the shuttle
retires in 2010 there will be no NASA vehicle available to take
crews to the ISS. Furthermore, even though the CEV starts manned
operations in 2014, crew transport to the ISS is not currently included
in the CEV mission requirements.
So with only the Soyuz available for crew transport, human access
to the ISS, which was 80% paid for by the US, becomes controlled
by Russia. An odd situation indeed.
With regard to whether a US commercial crew transport vehicle could
be ready by 2010, Taylor is very pessimistic:
Will the US be able to find a commercially-viable, human-rated,
private sector alternative to the shuttle, within the required
timeframe? This is highly doubtful: though Robert Bigelow’s America’s
Space Prize might produce a suitable vehicle, no one should count
on such an outcome. Another possibility is that whoever is developing
the NASA CEV might decide to build a privately-financed, quick
and dirty version of this manned spacecraft. Such a vehicle and
its launch system would lack all the features of the fully-developed
Spiral 1 system, but it might be barely acceptable as an alternative
to the Soyuz or its successor, the Clipper.
Continue to January 2005