11:30 am: News briefs ... Alan
Radecki has posted several photos of the X-37
& White Knight at the Mojave Spaceport in preparation for
the drop test. (Note the new address - www.mojaveweblog.com
- for Alan's photoblog.) ...
... A bit more info on ESA's
funding of some studies of the Russian reusable Kliper
crew module: ESA
Looks East for Future Space Cooperation - SpaceNews/space.com -
1:45 am: News briefs ... The
has several space transport related interviews scheduled:
Tuesday, May 31, 2005, 7:00-8:30 pm (Pacific Time ) - Elon Musk
of SpaceX will
discuss progress and plans with regard to the development of the
Falcon launch vehicles. I'm sure he will comment on the recent
pad test firing of the Falcon I.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005, 7-8:30 pm (Pacific Time) - George Tyson,
CEO of Mojave based Orbital
Commerce Project, Inc., will discuss plans to offer suborbital
training to both businesses and individuals.
Thursday, June 2, 2005, 7-8:30 PM (Pacific Time) - Robert
Zimmerman will review the recent ISDC conference.
Sunday, June 5, 2005, 12-1:30 PM (Pacific Time) - Dr.
Brad Edwards "returns to discuss all matters relating
to the space elevator."
The interviews are discussed on the Spaceshow
Forum at Space
10:45 am: Falcon I test success ...
I pad test on Friday apparently went quite well. My thanks to
Jon for posting a notice about the test while I was on a trip: SpaceX
Hot-Fire Pad Test Successful - RocketForge - May.28.05.
NASA Watch has the SpaceX press release anda video of the firing:
Test Fires Falcon 1 Engine (Movie) - SpaceX/SpaceRef - May.28.05.
Justin Ray at Spaceflight Now has a long article about the test:
Falcon 1 rocket roars on the pad - Spaceflight Now - May.27.05
Showing that this is not your usual rocket, after the test, which
needed a ground crew of only seven people, the company moved the
vehicle back onto its carrier trailer to return it to the factory
for inspection. The SpaceX
update hasn't appeared yet, perhaps so that it can include details
on the condition of the engine and other systems after they look
10:45 am: News briefs ... Leonard
David offers a report on the X-37 and the preparations at Mojave
for drop tests: White
Knight Prepares For New Mission - Space.com - May.27.05 ...
Space wants to build its vehicles in Florida: Sky
really is the limit for new cruise line - Florida Today - May.29.05.
The company is still claiming it will be flying passengers in his
suborbital rocket by the end of next year. ...
... Space Race News posts a
long TV report about Rocketplane
Television Coverage - Space Race News! - May.29.05 ...
... The guidelines for licensing
a RLV as an experimental vehicle have now been posted at AST: Guidelines
for Experimental Permits forReusable Suborbital Rockets - May, 2005
- AST/FAA. The guidelines were discussed last week by Leonard
Ground Rules Proposed For Civilian Spaceflight Industry - Leonard
David /space.com - May.25.05. ...
... Alan Boyle reports on the
problems that Greg Olsen is having with the Russian space doctors:
ailed space millionaire? - Cosmic Log/MSNBC.com - May.27.05.
And there are still mixed signals from Russia on whether he will
tourist chair vacant in Russia spacecraft - Perminov - ITAR TASS
- May.27.05 * Olsen's
Trip to Outer Space Might Be Cancelled - RIA Novosti - May.29.05.
12:55 am: Going out of town...
I'm leaving on a trip today, so no more postings till Sunday at
the earliest. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!
12:55 am: News briefs ... The
is supposed to occur today and then the company update will be emailed
out. It usually isn't posted on their website until a few days later.
You can receive it by signing up on their mailing
list. Usually I post a summary from Jon
Goff of the highlights of each update, but since I will be gone
he will post it at RocketForge.
... Check out Jim Muncy's
on the SpaceShow. He talked quite a bit about t/Space.
One item that stood out was his statement that the carrier to be
built by Burt Rutan for the CXV will also be used for SpaceShipTwo.
The SS2 is considerably smaller and I was under the impression that
it would use a somewhat bigger version of the White Knight.
Having one vehicle doing two tasks would seem a reasonable approach
but I'm surprised that it would be economical for (eventually) daily
space tourism flights to use a carrier that is a lot bigger than
necessary. The Very
Large Aircraft (VLA) is really, really large. Maybe the SS2
is going to be bigger than generally assumed....
... The Shuttle Discovery is
back in the VAB to be refitted with a new external tank. You can
get the latest reports on its preparations for flight at Spaceflight
Now | STS-114 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center.
slung beneath the White Knight.
6:30 pm: X-37 test ... The
above photo shows the DARPA X-37
attached to the Scale
Composites White Knight at the Mojave Spaceport in preparation
for a drop test. (Via a Mojave HS reader.)
6:30 pm: News briefs ... Robert
Zimmerman detects sings of a revolution in space explorarion
similar to what happened in other areas of technology: Space
Watch: Signs of a renaissance - UPI/WashTimes - May.26.05
... Leonard David on the GarveySpacecraft/Cal
State Long Beach rocket launch: High
Hopes for Low-Cost Rocket After Successful Launch Test - Space.com
- May.26.05. More photos
and videos, including a cool onboard view. ...
... I doubt CNN will pay for
his ticket on a Soyuz going to the ISS, but maybe they will buy
him a suborbital ride to space in a couple of years: Shuttle
accident ends dream: CNN's Miles O'Brien was oh-so-close to being
the first U.S. newsman in space. - OrlandoSentinel - May.26.05
1:30 am: News briefs ... At
the news conference in Mojave following the second X PRIZE flight
last October, a representative of 7UP announced
that the company would sponsor a suborbital spaceflight contest.
However, the contest would not start until sometime in 2005. Well,
now it has officially kicked off: Buzz
Aldrin Announces that the only way to go is up with the diet 7up
free ticket to space sweepstakes - 7UP/Space Race News! - May.25.05.
... Go to the www.7up.com
site and click on the "Win the First Free Ticket to Space"
box and a popup window with more info and registration info will
... More suborbital space contests
listed in the Space
Tourism section. ...
... Space tourism interest
in India: 'There
are space flights to suit every budget' - The Economic Times - May.25.05.
6:00 pm: News brief ... At
AST will release its
rules governing experimental-class permits for piloted RLVs: Interim
Ground Rules Proposed For Civilian Spaceflight Industry - Leonard
David /space.com - May.25.05.
3:25 pm: News briefs ... As
indicated by a Space
Adventures representative during the ISDC meeting, Greg Olsen
is back in training for a Soyuz flight: Millionaire
resumes space training: Greg Olsen is back in Russia, seeking trip
to orbit - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - May.25.05 ...
... More about the Canadian
Arrow / PlanetSpace
launches firm for space flight - IndiaPost - May.25.05 (via
of the event at U.C. ...
padfire test appears to be on for Friday: Falcon
Engine Test Aborted - Astronotes/space.com - May.25.05
10:20 am: Space transport jobs ...
I recently saw a Blue
Origin ad for engineering jobs
on the SpaceDaily website. It seems that a number of the space transport
companies are looking for people. For example, during his talk
last week at the ISDC, Burt Rutan said that Scaled Composites had
a lot of openings
for people to work on the SS2 project. Generally, if you've heard
that a company has funding for a vehicle project, then it is probably
10:20 am Space cruising ...
Peter Diamandis points to a convergence of rising personal wealth
and advancing technology that is leading to sophisticated and ambitious
private space development: Private
Moon Trips Forecast - ad Astra/Space.com - May.23.05 * "We
Are The Payloads Of The Future" - Transterrestrial Musings
A short extrapolation of this and one can see that it is no longer
in the James Bond fantasy realm to consider the possibility of a
privately owned manned spacecraft or even a "space yacht".
(I think it was John
Spencer that I first heard talk about this.)
Paul Allen, for example, owns three enormous sea yachts, including
"Octopus", which cost $200M and takes about $20M per
year to maintain and operate. (Note that if he simply bought US
Treasury notes with his fortune of $20B, give or take a few billion,
his interest alone would reach over $800M per year.)
consortium is offering to build an crew transport system for $400M
that would provide regular flights to orbit for $20M. If Mr. Allen
bought this and combined it with a Nautilus Moon Cruiser,
as shown on the Bigelow
Aerospace home page and built from the company's inflatable
habitat modules, he would have his own private space fleet.
Of course, I don't think Mr. Allen, or any of the other multi-billionaires
in the world, will do any such thing. But what I find amazing is
that he could if he wanted to. ...
... The Wall Street Journal
recently reported that the number of US households with a net worth
of at least $1M (not counting their primary residence) now exceeds
7.5 million. If we use the Zogby/Futron
market study results, then about 1.3M people in the US alone
would be willing to spend on the order of $100K on a suborbital
10:20 am News briefs ... Irene
Mona Klotz reports on Griffin's plans for retiring the shuttle and
for hiring ISS cargo shippers: Space
Race 2: After the shuttle - UPI/WashTimes - May.24.05 ...
... An astronaut joins the
t/Space project: Astronaut
Jim Voss to Lead Engineering for New Space Company - RedNova News
- May.24.05 (via Space
2:05 am: ISDC summary... Along
with some comments on the presentations I attended last Saturday
and my general impression of the meeting, I've collected all the
posting about the ISDC on a single page. Continue
to the ISDC section ...
10:35 am: News briefs ... If
there was more arguing than before, maybe it's because there is
now the possibility of real money to be made in human spaceflight:
at Space Confab - Wired - May.24.05 ...
... A report from JP Aerospace
on its latest high altitude balloon flight: Away
26 - JP Aerospace - May.23.05 (Via Space
am: News briefs ... Space News follows up on Griffin's
remarks last week that NASA would pay for cargo delivery to the
ISS and eventually pay for crew transport as well: NASA
to Seek Bids for ISS Cargo Deliveries - Space News/space.com - May.23.05
... More about the Cosmos 1
solar sail: Cosmos
1 Solar Sail Spacecraft Heads to Loading Site - space.com - May.23.05
. Related links at TPS:
... India pursues hypersonic
Unveils Hypersonic Demonstrator Model - Aviation Week - May.22.05.
Related links: India
soars on missile, aerospace technology - IndiaDaily - Apr.13.05
Country Overviews: India: Missile Chronology.
... Delay in Discovery's return
to the VAB: Rollback
reset for gear check: Cracks found inside Atlantis prompt delay
- Florida Today - May.23.05.
2:20: News brief ... The Cosmos
1 launch window opens on June 21: Cosmos1
Ships in Preparation for June Launch: First Solar Sail Spacecraft
Ready for Daring Flight - Planetary Society - May.23.05. If
if flies, it should be easy to spot from the ground. The Solar
Sail Watch site will provide viewing info.
1:45 pm: News briefs ... SpaceX
their pad test: "A facility ground valve supplying helium spinstart
to the turbopump was incorrectly in the closed position, causing
the vehicle computer to abort the startup sequence. Hotfire rescheduled
to Friday, May 27, the next available day at Vandenberg." ...
... Leonard David reports
on Elon Musk's talk on Friday at the ISDC: Private
Rocketeer Looks To August Flight - ad Astra/Space.com - May.23.05
... Leonard reports here on a talk by Peter Diamandis at the ISDC:
Moon Trips Forecast - ad Astra/Space.com - May.23.05.
“I predict that within about three years of private human orbital
flights…you’ll have the first private teams of people stockpiling
fuel on orbit and making a bee-line for the Moon,” Diamandis said.
“They’ll not ask for permission…maybe cryptically hiding what
they are doing…but there will be somebody making a bee-line to
the Moon,” Diamandis said. The first private team to reach the
lunar landscape will stake out the ground. “They’ll say this is
ours. Stay away. I claim this for my company…my new nation,” he
... And there may be a orbital
X PRIZE program in the making: X
PRIZE to Orbit & Beyond! - Space Race News! - May.23.05
... Jeff Foust reviews the
talk given by Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, at the
Galactic and the future of commercial spaceflight - Space Review
- May.23.05 ...
Aerospace flew one of its airships to near space over the weekend:
at JP Aerospace * Away
26 has flown! Great mission, great recovery! - Space Race News -
1:45 pm: Parabolic privatization... After
a decade or so of efforts, NASA is finally going to let a private
company provide parabolic flights for its astronaut training and
microgravity experiments: NASA
(Finally) Goes Private for Parabolic Flight Services - NASA Watch
- May.23.05 * NASA
Solicitation: Parabolic Flight Services (Zero Gravity Corporation)
- SpaceRef - May.19.05. ...
... Note that back in the 1990s,
led an unsuccessful effort with his Interglobal
firm and Weaver Aerospace to offer parabolic flights in the US.
FAA and NASA resistance blocked the project.
... Keith Cowing points to
the Russian firm Atlas
Aerospace, which offers parabolic
flights. See also RusAdventures.
... More about weightlessness
experiences for the public can be in the Space
2:35 am: News brief ... John
Carmack posts the latest on their Engine,
Gimbal, Pump - AA - May.22.05. Includes lots of photos and a
couple of videos.
9:40 pm: Prospector 6 flight a success...
Garvey reports that the big Prospector 6 rocket was launched
successfully on May, 21, 2005 by the Cal
State Long Beach/Garvey Spacecraft group. See photos and a description
of the flight in the Advanced
Rocketry section. The vehicle is a full scale prototype
of the NanoSat
Launch Vehicle that they hope to build to put 10 kg payloads
to low Earth orbit.
8:50 pm: More ISDC ... I'll
eventually do a summary of Saturday's ISDC sessions but in the meantime
you can check out the comments from other people who blogged the
conference. Elliot Kulakow posted this ISDC
2k5: Day 1 - Space Race News! - May.21.05 and Michael Mealling
had several postings at RocketForge...
... I skipped today sessions
(four days of conferencing is enough for me) and unfortunately missed
Michael's talk on Space Value Networks. He gave me a preview
of it the other day and it seems like a cool project that could
inspire a lot of interesting term papers and theses for students.
I've posted a description in the Space
Log, where I deal more with space business topics. ...
... Be sure to check out the
papers and slides. Here is a sampling from a quick scan:
8:50 pm: Crew
access contract lever ... With regard to t/Space,
I've only heard discussions about a contract from NASA for the Earth-to-LEO
segment of the CEV program. Griffin has indicated that he will provide
just one such contract and I suspect it will be extremely difficult
for a "nontraditional" aerospace company to win even if
they offer a price that's a factor of ten lower than what a "prime"
However, Griffin did say he would be very interested in commercial
cargo service deals and eventually he would consider buying seats
on a vehicle to deliver crews to the ISS. I've not heard if t/Space
would consider trying to obtain such a commercial services contract
and use that as a lever to raise the $400M it needs from private
L. DeBiase discusses this type of approach in Jump-Starting
The Space Frontier By NASA Purchase Of Crew Access - ISDC - 2005.
This level of investment is certainly not out of the question.
after all, is trying to raise just such an amount of money to complete
and fly the K-1. The company hopes to obtain an ISS cargo delivery
contract to use as its lever. (During the 1990s Kistler raised $600M
but, unfortunately, spent $800M.)
Kistler was actually awarded
such a contract for ISS cargo service in early 2004 but it was successfully
challenged by SpaceX on the grounds that the award was not open
to other competitors. I expect NASA this year will issue a new request
for proposals and give contracts to more than one cargo delivery
service. Seems like NASA could do the same thing for crew delivery
5:55 pm: News briefs .... ESA
is seriously considering support for the Russian Kliper
reusable crew module: Europe
to hitch space ride on Russia's rocket - Guardian - May.22.05
Whittington lays out the story of the Shuttle program and also
includes a review of other launch development programs at NASA and
in the private sector: The
Space Shuttle: The Solution that Failed - finetuning.com - May.22.05.
1:05 pm: News briefs .... The
test scheduled for yesterday was canceled yesterday due to a problem
with the pad facility: SpaceX
Falcon 1 Hotfire Scrubbed - NASA Watch - May.22.05 ...
... On the Armadillo/Space
Race News forum site, John Carmack has posted a video (gimbals.mpg)
of a bench test of their engine gimbal mechanism: Roll
control backup - Armadillo Q&A - May.19.05 ...
... Via a posting on the aRocket
forum comes this paper on paraffin based hybrid rocket engine: Design,
Optimization, and Launch of a 3' Diameter N2O/Aluminized Paraffin
Rocket by McCormick et al at Hybrids
- Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics - 2004.
11:15 pm: News briefs ... Tomorrow
I'll post a summary of my Saturday at the ISDC. For now I'll catch
up on some miscellaneous news items ...
... Leonard David reports on
the presentation at ISDC of AST
chief Patricia Grace Smith: Space
Tourism: An 'Adventure Sport' In the Making - ad Astra / Space.com
- May.20.05 ...
... Here are some more t/Space
CXV sighted at ISDC - Space Race News! - May.19.05 * tSpace
Model at ISDC - NASA Watch - May.20.05 (includes pictures of
the CXV mockup. ...
... Burt Rutan was heard on
the radio: Space
Travel Pioneer Rutan Honored - NPR - May.20.05
... And here is another review
of his press club speech: Space
pioneer finds NASA dull -UPI/WashTimes - May.20.05
... Some changes to the space
transport regs: Miscellaneous
Changes to Commercial Space Transportation Regulations; Proposed
Rule - AST - May.19.05 (pdf) * Commercial
Space Transportation - FAA / AST ...
... KSC gets the news first
Chief to KSC: Shuttles' End is Coming - Space.com - May.20.05
... Results of the Discovery
tests shuttle external tank - spacetoday.net - May.21.05
... The Russian site Novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru
posts a set of pictures
of the Kliper
1:50 am: t/Space making a bid for the
vision ... Before I get started on the review of my Friday
at the ISDC, I will point you to the new
t/Space website. They've added a lot more info on their projects
and describe some hardware tests,
which were carried out using only their $6M study contract money.
Some highlights include:
- A pamphlet
describes the company's proposal to build the CXV and fly it with
a crew by the end of 2008 for a fixed price contract of $400M.
Interim payments would be made only as they meet each of a series
- Once in operation, a crew mission to the ISS would cost only
- Note the table at the bottom of the pamphlet
that compares the features and costs of their vehicle vs. what
is offered by the "primes".
- "A 23% scale version of the CXV and its booster has been
dropped by Scaled Composites from its Proteus aircraft, testing
a new air launch release approach with significant safety improvements
over the methods used in the X-15 and Pegasus systems."
- Here are pictures
of the reversible seat that I mentioned yesterday.
- They show some preliminary artwork of the VLA
(Very Large Airplane) that would carry a larger version of the
QuickReach rocket. The actual VLA design has not been released
by Scaled Composites but this gives an idea of the sizes involved.
It will be interesting to see how NASA and Griffin respond to this.
I hope the response doesn't duplicate what happened with the Industrial
1:50 am: More ISDC
... As on the first day of the conference, I could only
sample from the many excellent presentations available in the various
parallel sessions on Friday.
In the morning I went to the panel discussion entitled "Successful
Space Entrepreneuring". It was moderated by the satellite industry
Musey and included Eric Anderson of Space
Adventures, Lon Levin from Mobile
Satellite Ventures (and a co-founder of XM
Radio), Jim Maser (President of Sea
Launch), and David Gump of t/Space.
The panel certainly showed the growing diversity of space businesses.
However, they all have problems with ITAR restrictions and with
insurance. They all need to work with government in some way, e.g.
regulation of spectrum or indemnification from third party liability,
but also need to avoid getting crushed by it.
Maser said that Sea Launch has ten people working full-time on
ITAR issues and he and several other employees spend a good portion
of their time on them.
Maser also made the interesting point that Sea Launch now offers
half the price per pound to GEO as compared to the average price
when they first started the project. However, they have seen demand
drop rather than grow. This confirms what I've heard predicted:
demand, and profits, will actually drop as launch prices fall and
will only start to grow when prices are reduced by a factor of ten
or so. ...
... I dropped in on a review
by Anne Collins Goodyear of NASA's commissioning of art during its
early days. Thor Hagan reported
on the Space Exploration Initiative in 1989 and compared it to the
current vision for space exploration (VSE) from another President
... I managed to get a ticket
to the luncheon in which Elon Musk gave a talk about SpaceX.
Some highlights included:
- They expect to do the Falcon I pad fire on Saturday 21st, around
- They expect the first flight of the Falcon I to take place in
the July/August time frame.
- The Vandenberg flight depends on when a Titan 4 rocket launches
- It's possible the first launch may occur from their site in
the Marshall Islands. The last of the concrete pours for their
launch pad at Kwajalein will take place in the coming week. There
may be an overlap period when they have rocket on the pad at Vandenberg
and one at Kwajalein.
- Their goal of $500/lb to LEO remains their goal and he believes
it is possible by the end of the decade.
- They do much of their development in house because of high prices
- Some aerospace subcontractors have done well, but generally
they find that non-aerospace firms offer far better prices, delivery
times, and quality.
- Though the quoted prices don't depend on the reusability of
the first stage booster, he has become increasingly confident
that it will do fine because of its durability during tests on
the outdoor firing pads.
- After the Falcon V they will work on a heavy booster that could
put 60k lbs in LEO.
... In the afternoon I mostly
attended talks in the Space
Tourism and Experiences session. It began with Alan
Ladwig giving a vigorous recounting of the history of space
tourism promotions and the public's response going back as far as
... J. Moltzen (sp?), substituting
Anderson, described the programs and experiences available from
Adventures. One item of particular interest: he said Greg Olsen
will probably fly to the ISS within a year or so. Apparently, the
medical problem that scrubbed his original flight has been cleared
... Chris Jones described
Planet Expeditions project that he is working on with John
Spencer. This involves a simulated Mars base located in the
Mojave area in which people will pay to experience what life would
be like on the Red Planet...
... I missed most of it but
there was a presentation by Manuel
Pimenta on the Lunar-Explorer
virtual reality space exploration project....
... Ed Wright gave an update
on X-Rocket and the
Academy. Unlike the other "space van" type of space
tourism ride with 5 or 6 passengers, the emphasis at the Academy
will be on a training mission experience in which the trainee flies
with an instructor while wearing a space suit and interacting with
the controls. Ed described the Archangel,
in which the turbojet of a MiG-21UM is replaced with rocket engines
made by XCOR....
Baily gave an entertaining report on ZERO-G.
So far the parabolic flight company has been very busy. They have
carried out flights for 3 reality TV shows, 1 TV commercial, 10
research projects, and over 1000 individuals....
... The session ended with
a talk by the Tom Rogers, who has been pushing space tourism for
Burt Rutan speaking to the ISDC audience. Buzz Aldrin can be
seen in profile in the bottom left and Conrad Dannenberg is seated
on the right. The silver NSS Von Braun trophy is on the table.
1:25 am: Back from the ISDC
... Not having much luck with my conference blogging.
The NSS ISDC
began today [Thursday May 19th] but the wi-fi at the hotel was down
until the afternoon. After I finally got connected, I could download
but could not ftp through the firewall. The conference has so many
and parallel sessions, I don't have much time to go online anyway.
Note that many of the papers and or slides can be found online.
The meeting got off to a bang with a dynamite talk by Burt Rutan,
who spoke after receiving the NSS
Von Braun Trophy in a presentation with Conrad
Burt recounted the many failures and disappointments of the US
space program since Apollo and said it need not have been that way.
He repeated the point several times that a development program must
take risks to reduce risk.
The feathering of the SS1, for example, was a very risky technology,
but it worked and greatly reduced the risks of disaster on reentry.
NASA, on the other hand, spent tens of billions trying to make a
fundamentally flawed Shuttle safe, when it should have taken risks
in developing new vehicles with new technologies that would make
flying to space both a lot safer and a lot cheaper.
When NASA did finally start building some test vehicles, it did
things like canceling the X-34, despite spending a several hundred
million dollars on the project. Even if a vehicle had crashed on
the first flight, something would have been learned. Instead, NASA
decided a failure would make the agency look bad, especially in
the aftermath of two Mars mission failures during the same time
Despite all this, Burt is very impressed with Mike Griffin and
optimistic that he can refocus the agency on doing frontier research
and will leave boring stuff like launch services to commercial services.
Burt did not reveal any new details on his projects. As in previous
talks, he stated his belief that the SS2 can be made as safe as
the early airliners. If they can achieve this level of safety, he
thinks it is reasonable to expect as many as 100,000 people to fly
SS2 vehicles in the first 12 years of operations. (The modeling
for this assumes about 40 vehicles flying by the end of that time
After suborbital, he sees going on to orbit and beyond. Now over
60, Burt thinks he will not only fly in space before he dies, but
has a good chance of going to the Moon. (Note that his father is
still alive and his grandfather lived to 104.)
Here's another view of his talk: Burt
Rutan Chides NASA for Dullness, Says Space should be Fun - ad Astra/Space.com
Burt Rutan spoke later in the day at the National Press Club.
A video of his talk will be available at CSPAN.org
for a couple of weeks. Here's the AP's take on his speech: Private
Spacecraft Builder Gives U.S. Tips - Guardian - May.19.05
... In the following session,
Brant Sponberg of the Centennial
Challenge announced a new prize contest in which teams will
compete to extract oxygen from simulated lunar regolith. They must
extract at least 5kg of oxygen within eight hours using equipment
that weighs in total no more than 25kg. The contest deadline is
June 1, 2008. The program will be carried out in collaboration with
the Florida Space Research
... In the afternoon the parallel
sessions began and it became a toss of the coin(s) to decide which
presentation to attend. During the lunch break I had the opportunity
to meet and speak with Tim Pickens of Orion
Propulsion for the first time and later attended his talk in
and Propulsion session. He has been and continues to be involved
in an amazingly big number of propulsion projects. These include
the SS1, t/Space, AirLaunch, and several others.
He also described his work with the Huntsville
Alabama L5 (HAL5) group that has carried out a number of sophisticated
projects, including some high altitude rockoon projects.
The hybrid engine designs for these projects heavily influenced
the design work he did on the SS1. (Shows again the influence of
activist groups on space development.)
... Later in the same session
I heard Dae-Sung Ju of C&Space
in South Korea talk about their suborbital VTHL vehicle that will
be powered by a LOX/Methane engine. He said they expect first flight
in 2008 and they will soon test a demo version of the engine. They
have already tested a turbopump. However, they still need a partner
who can build the actual vehicle. He said they will be fully funded
from Korean sources and it should take about $30M to build it. ...
... Bruce Betts described the various activities of the Planetary
Society and then focused on the Comos
1 solar sail project. He said they expect to fly it in June....
... I dropped in on the "Polling
and Space" session
to catch the talk of Geoffrey
Crouch who described a sophisticated analysis of data from polling
over 700 people on the appeal of space tourism. (ISDC
- Marketing Research Imperatives for Space Tourism) The poll
participants were given descriptions of four types of space related
experiences that ranged "from high altitude jet fighter flights
to zero-g flights to sub-orbital space tourism and orbital space
tourism." From their responses to questions, the researchers
could get some idea of the degree to which risk, price, hardships,
etc. affected interest in such adventures.
The bottom line is that they see results in the 15% range for those
who would be interested in suborbital flights. This is similar to
the Futron/Zogby study (Janice
Starzyk also talked about this study but I only caught the end
of her presentation). I'll note that If 15-20% of wealthy people
buy suborbital tickets, that will provide billions of dollars for
the industry. ...
... Esther Dyson moderated
an interesting panel discussion called "The New Entrepreneurs".
The panel included David Anderman of CSI,
Rich Pournelle of XCOR,
Charles Lauer of Rocketplane,
Jim Benson of SpaceDev,
and Pat Bahn of TGV
Rockets. They each described their backgrounds and their companies
and then Esther and the audience asked various questions about building
a business on spaceflight.
Ms. Dyson pressed them, for example, on the issue of how soon they
expect to move to profitable, commercial markets that don't rely
on government contracts and/or angel investors. Space tourism was
held as the best chance for a large market that can bring profits
and drive a cycle of better products and greater profits. Jim Benson,
however, noted that his company has already achieved a profit with
a diverse range of customers. Pat said its not unusual for a particular
company to build a long lasting and profitable business model around
a government customer. ...
... Between sessions there
were exhibits to see and t/Space
brought an impressive full scale model of their CXV capsule:
I'm told that some of the writeups about the CXV project that were
displayed at their booth will soon be posted on their website. ...
... Gee, it's late and I gotta
get up early and drive back downtown for another day packed with
more reports about space topics of every sort.
1:25 am: News briefs ... More
about the SA'05
meeting can be found from the
Trip Report: Space Access '05 just posted by Richard
Zimmerman finds that the 'traditional" aerospace companies
want to avoid competition but may get it anyway as "nontraditional"
companies try to crash their cozy cost-plus party: Space
Watch: A shrinking, timid industry - UPI/WashPost - May.19.05....
... The latest SpaceX update
says that Delta II launch delays have pushed the Falcon I pad test
back to this Saturday...
... Congress, the Shuttle,
and the CEV: Concerns
aired over shuttle replacement plan - New Scientist - May.19.05.
Hearing on Space Shuttle and Beyond - NASA Watch - May.19.05.
11:55 pm: Back from the crossroads...
Well, unfortunately I didn't succeed in blogging from
so I'll give a rough review here.
As the name suggests, the general theme of the meeting was that
2005 will bring lots of important decisions and events that will
set the course for space development in the US for a long time.
The presentations consisted mostly of a series of panel discussions
bracketed at the start by Representative Dave
Weldon and at the end by Mike Griffin. (See the agenda.)
I'm not sure how to characterize the audience except to say that
I felt a bit out of place in my brown corduroy sport coat amid a
sea of gray and dark pinstripe suits. (A few other media types were
casually dressed.) So it definitely seemed to be mostly a government
and aerospace industry crowd. ...
... A couple of strong impressions
came through. Firstly, the end of the Shuttle in 2010 is now taken
for granted by everyone. Weldon wants NASA to assign a manager full-time
to monitor the transition so that the community disruptions as happened
after the end of the Apollo program don't hit the KSC area again.
I also noticed a widespread awareness of the existence of an entrepreneurial
space industry and that it is becoming a force to reckon with....
... For me the most interesting
panel was the one that discussed the question: Entrepreneurs:
The Future of Space? George Whitesides (head of NSS)
was the moderator and it included Debra Faktor Lepore of Kistler,
David Gump of t/Space
, and Rich Pournelle of XCOR.
Each gave a brief review of their companies and then participated
in Q&A period..
Lepore reported that Kistler had emerged from Chapter 11 and is
looking for money to finish the K-1. Kistler will pursue the ISS
cargo delivery and payload return business.
Gump reviewed the t/Space proposal for the CEV Earth-to-LEO system,
which involves a vehicle considerably larger than the AirLaunch
QuickReach. Instead of a C-17, it will be launched from a super-sized
White Knight type of vehicle (Rutan's design has not been released
to the public.) The crew rides in the CXV capsule.
One interesting aspect of their capsule is that it enters into
the atmosphere in the same forward orientation as it leaves. Therefore,
the seats need to be reversed so that the occupants experience eyes-in
rather than eyes-out deceleration. They have built a full
scale test system for the seats and shown that the reversal can
be done in about two seconds.
Gump gave the following definition of what a "nontraditional"
aerospace contractor should offer:
- Rapid prototyping of hardware
- Hardware meets specific milestones.
- Fix-price contracts. This removes the need for the heavy paperwork
requirements of the usual aerospace cost-plus approach. The contract
is judged instead by how well the company meets its milestones.
- The cost should be about 10% of what the traditional contractor
Rich spoke along similar lines as he emphasized that space developers
need to think in terms of "products". Products get better
and cheaper with each new generation as they build on what was learned
with the previous one. He finished with a description and video
of the XCOR composite
LOX tank project. ...
... The panel on Shuttle,
ISS & Beyond focused one issues related to the retirement
of the shuttle in 2010, the completion of the ISS in that time frame,
and the availability of a new vehicle capable of taking people to
the ISS by then. ...
... The panel on US Legal
Environment: Too Risky for Future Space Ventures? discussed
the liability problems facing commercial space companies, especially
space tourism operators. They noted the extreme difficulties in
devising any sort of informed consent that would stand up in court.
talked for about 30 minutes. He listed several historical events,
such as the Louisiana Purchase and obtaining Alaska, that he believes
parallels the space program in that they were severely criticized
at the time but later accepted as wise policies. It seemed clear
to me that he sees the expansion of humanity into space as profoundly
important and the top long term priority for NASA.
With regard to entrepreneurial space companies, Griffin takes them
very seriously. He said NASA will definitely include funds for buying
cargo delivery services to the ISS. Furthermore, if a company develops
a crew vehicle and shows that it is safe and reliable, then NASA
will gladly buy seats on the vehicle.
On the other hand, he also made it clear that there will not be
a parallel contract for a "nontraditional" company to
develop a CEV system for Earth-to-LEO and back, as some have suggested.
Such a company can compete for the prime contract like any other
company. If it doesn't win, then it will have to develop its crew
vehicle with non-NASA funding. It can then come to NASA and offer
to take people to the ISS for a fee.
Robert Zubrin asked a question about when a decision would be made
as to whether to develop a Shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle. Griffen
wouldn't commit to any date but did say that, unlike the end of
the Saturn V program, he wants to keep the tooling and assembly
lines for the ET/SRBs available in case they need to start them
12:45 am: Heading for the Crossroads...
I will try to blog today from the Space
At The Crossroads conference, assuming I can actually get in
on a media pass and they have wi-fi. Otherwise, I will try to do
a review on it by late evening. The rest of the week I will be at
the NSS conference
and will also try to blog from there.
12:45 am: News briefs ... More
about the Canadian Arrow/Planetspace project: Spaceflight
Partners to Offer Public Suborbital Flights by 2007 - Space.com
- May.17.05 ...
... Florida wants CEV builders:
shuttle replacement be built here? Organizations hope to lure manufacturers
- Florida Today - May.17.05 ...
... The Space News article
I mentioned yesterday about NASA possibly retracting some R&D
contracts is now available online: NASA
Rethinks Technology Needs - Space News/Space.com - May.16.05.
1:15 pm: More PLANETSPACE ...
Alan Boyle reports on the new company: Space
partners plan flights in 2007 MirCorp veteran joins forces with
Canadian Arrow - MSNBC - May.17.05
... A long article from India:
your visit to space @ Rs 1.12 cr - India Times - May.17.05
... Plus here is the major
part of a second press release from Planetspace:
PLANETSPACE and the
University Of Chicago are Holding a Panel Discussion On Space
Tourism May 18th
On the panel will be Canadian Arrow President Geoff Sheerin
and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, along with the test pilot astronauts
who will fly Canadian Arrow on its first manned missions and University
of Chicago faculty. Discussions will start at 11:00am at the University
of Chicago International house 1414 east 59th St.
Also on display will be the 54ft long Canadian Arrow rocket
in its new PLANETSPACE identity. Invited to this discussion are
members of the media, university students and the general public.
Also invited are some local schools to view the rocket and meet
the Canadian Arrow Astronauts.
The University of Chicago has invited children and young adults
to this event for the purposes of inspiring a new generation to
become excited about the opportunities that space travel can provide.
Just the sight of the PLANETSPACE Canadian Arrow full scale rocket
is enough to inspire a young boy or girl to become an aerospace
engineer or even an astronaut. We know that from other expositions
that this rocket has attended, the response from these groups
has been profound.
Panel Discussion on Space
- Faculty from the University of Chicago
- Dr Chirinjeev Kathuria Chairman PLANETSPACE
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, M.D., M.B.A., has had measurable success
in building innovative technology and healthcare businesses.
He was a founding director of MirCorp, the company that made
history on April 4th, 2000 when it launched the world's first
privately funded manned space program and signed up Dennis Tito
as the world's first "citizen explorer."
- Geoff Sheerin President and CEO PLANETSPACE
- Jason Dyer Astronaut Canadian Arrow
- Terry Wong Astronaut Canadian Arrow
Canadian Arrow, a Canadian company originally formed to compete
for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, has continued its progress
toward building a spacecraft that will take passengers into sub-orbital
After opening announcements there will be presentations from
some of the panel members and ending in an open discussion on
- Why PLANETSPACE was formed. (Dr Chirinjeev Kathuria)
- Overall review of Canadian Arrow and V-2 rocket technology
to be used to fly first commercial passengers to space. (Geoff
- Presentation of the PLANETSPACE educational initiative that
allows schools and universities to fly all types of experiments
into space. (Jason Dyer & Captain Terry Wong)
11:55 am: PLANETSPACE to fly in 2 years
Arrow and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria have released more details
about their partnership, which they had announced
on May 4th. The press
release posted on the Planetspace
home page includes the following details:
Geoff Sheerin, President of Canadian Arrow and Dr. Chirinjeev
Kathuria have announced that they have joined forces to form a
new corporation called PLANETSPACE that will complete construction
and testing of its first suborbital rocket called the Canadian
Arrow. The goal of the company is to make space flight available
to the public within 24 months.
PLANETSPACE expects to fly almost 2,000 new astronauts in the
first five years of flying and generate revenue from suborbital
flights of USD $200 million in the fifth year. Fares will start
at USD $250,000 for a suborbital flight, including fourteen days
There was a press conference today in London Ontario. If you live
near Chicago, you might want to attend this event:
On May 18th The University of Chicago will be holding a Panel
discussion on space tourism. This Panel will consist of Planetspace
management, Canadian Arrow astronauts and faculty from the University
Geoff Sheerin also has posted a statement
of his own.
2:00 am: News briefs ... Congratulations
to Jim Benson and SpaceDev.
Dan Shrimpsher pointed me to the company's Quarterly
Report and noted that at least one alt.space firm has reported
a profit: SpaceDev
made money - Space Pragmatism - May.16.05. And the trend has
been upward for awhile according to the plots on SpaceDev's
Investor Relations page. The $100k income isn't quite at Boeing
or Lockmart levels but it does makes the company infinitely more
profitable that 90% of those dot coms that got billions of dollars
of investment during the time SpaceDev was getting started
... In the latest Space News
there is a rather worrisome article about NASA deciding to review
a billion dollars worth of R&D grants that it awarded late last
year. Griffin wants them reevaluated to see if they support the
exploration imperative. If not, then NASA will retract the award.
The reevaluation will even include contracts that NASA has already
signed such as the one with XCOR
fuel tanks and Andrews
Space for its solar-electric spacetug (see next item). ...
... The Andrews contract will
provide up to $18.7M to "design, develop, launch, and operate
a small spacecraft, called SmallTug,
that will demonstrate key technologies and advanced orbital mechanics
for application to NASA’s human and robotic exploration of the Moon
and Mars." The first flight would go from LEO to L-1 and back.
Space, Inc. Wins $18.7M Contract To Build And Fly Technology Demonstration
Spacecraft - Andrews Space - Apr.15.05 ...
.... Bruce Behrhorst at nuclearspace.com
comments on NASA's nuclear power and propulsion plans: NASA
Prometheus 1 Nuclear Fission: A First Step Public Comment - NuclearSpace.com
- by Bruce Behrhorst -May.11.05
1:25 pm: News briefs ... CNN
interviews Burt Rutan: The
dawn of a new space age - CNN.com - May.16.05
... New Scientist reports on
proposal for a crew transport system for the CEV progam: Replacement
shuttle: Astronauts not included - New Scientist - May.16.05
11:40 am: News briefs ... In
the second part of his report on the Space
Access'05 conference, Jeff Foust looks at the various
regulatory and policy issues that were discussed: Entrepreneurial
space and policy - Space
Review - May.16.05 ...
... The issue of ITAR restrictions
on sharing space technology was discussed at SA'05. Taylor Dinerman
looks at it in: Fixing
ITAR: the saga continues - Space Review - May.16.05. ...
... Sam Dinkin examines the
challenges of using a lottery to fund a space tourism business:
lottery territory - Space Review - May.16.05. ...
... Eric Hedman offers reasons
technology projects fail - Space Review - May.16.05. ...
... Charles Pooley has posted
some of his presentation given at SA'05 on Microlaunchers.
1:45 am: News briefs ... The
Falcon I pad test delayed according to the latest update:"May
13: Due to continued Delta II launch delays, the hotfire has been
rescheduled for next Thursday." ...
... Leonard David gives a very
interesting review of the challenges facing space tourism businesses:
of a Space Tourism Operator - Space.com - May.13.05.
.... The White Knight is an
More pictures from a typical Thursday
3:55 pm: AST/AIAA collaboration ...
On May 3rd,
I mentioned that FAA-AST
had posted the document: Guide
to the Identification of Safety-Critical Hardware Items for Reusable
Launch Vehicle (RLV) Developers. I forgot to mention that it
was developed in collaboration with the AIAA
and it was announced during the SA'05 meeting. AIAA served as the
"facilitator" between AST and an industry working group.
More about this on the AIAA
- RLV Guide page and in the news release: AIAA
Releases Important Guidelines for RLV Design - AIAA - Apr.29. 05
1:15 pm: Space
tourism roster ... Here is a list of the firms that now
claim to have obtained full funding to build vehicles for suborbital
space tourism and have specified (or soon will) a date for when
they will start service:
Crew + Passengers
+ parafoil landing
Arrow / PlanetSpace
+ parafoil landing
Aerospace Ventures - (Scaled
Composites + Virgin
launch + glide landing
- vertical takeoff. HT - horizontal takeoff, HL - Horizontal
* Date of the the Canadian Arrow / PlanetSpace news
** I've heard passenger numbers in the 5 to 8 range mentioned
for the SS2.
Several other companies who are known to have money may also enter
the business in the coming years. Examples include:
Aerospace is fully funded but currently focused on R&D
for VTVL vehicles.
- Blue Origin
is fully funded but has given only a vague description of its
vehicle and long term plans.
- TGV Rockets
has several million dollars in funding to develop its VTVL vehicle
but has no plans to enter the tourist business.
- Jeff Greason of XCOR,
which recently won a large
contract from NASA for composite tank R&D, indicated
at SA'05 that
he is now quite optimistic about obtaining funding for the Xerus
- See the list
of other firms pursuing suborbital space transport.
Delays to carrying ticketed passengers could be caused by the government
licensing process (I think Canada will follow a similar licensing
procedure as in the US) and by difficulties in obtaining insurance
for second party liability.
Thus far, about 250 people have committed to paying $100K to $200K
fares for suborbital flights. A hand-waving guess of about $200M
for the sum of the investment by the above companies implies that
only about two to three thousand such people need to be found to
cover this investment and provide a tidy profit. (I'm assuming low
So things look quite good for the creation of the very first commercial
industry based on human spaceflight. Real vehicles will be flying
real people who will be paying real money from their own pockets.
11:35 am News briefs ... The
Canadian Arrow home page
says that on May 12th their "engine successfully tested at
50,000 lbs thrust". Videos
are available. This follows the recent announcement that they had
reached 45K lbs. The design goal is 57K....
... Irene Mona Klotz reports
on the Canadian Arrow and its new space
Tourism Competition Heats Up - Discovery Channel - May.11.05
Race News) ...
... More about Griffin's plans
for NASA and the CEV:
2:05 am: News brief ... Mike
Griffin makes it very clear that he wants to retire the Shuttles
by 2010 and to have an Earth-to-LEO capable CEV core module by then:
7:30 pm: News brief ... John
Carmack reports on progress at Armadillo and includes a video of
a recent bi-prop engine test: Engines,
Gimbals, Vehicle - Armadillo Aerospace - May.12.05. (Via a HS
2:30 pm: News brief ... The
Falcon I pad test moved to Saturday according to the latest update:
" May 12: Hotfire rescheduled for May 14 due to the Delta II
launch delay. SpaceX update will be sent out as soon as the hotfire
11:55 am: News briefs ... Looks
like SpaceDev could
make a good run for the America's
Space Prize if it can raise the money to build its Dream Chaser:
Dream Chaser-TM- Human Space Transport System Designed - USA Today
- May.12.05. The NASA involvement in the design, though, would
probably eliminate it from the contest. SpaceDev could still make
money from ISS crew transport and from a contract with Bigelow to
deliver passengers to an orbiting hotel. (Item via a HS
... In an interview with Alan
Boyle, AERA Space
founder Bill Sprague implies that the firm has now gotten the funding
it needs to build its vehicle and start passenger fights by the
end of 2006: Entrepreneurs
put space tickets on sale: Aera Corp. joins race to attract suborbital
passengers - MSNBC - May.12.05. The company sent out a press
release today announcing that they will begin selling tickets
for flights. See www.aeraspacetours.com.
It's sure going to be a busy year and a half for them. They need
to build the vehicle, test it, and get an AST license plus insurance..
... And yet another space tourism
item. This one about Chirinjeev Kathuria and his collaboration with
to form the PlanetSpace
space tourism firm: Indian
American entrepreneur to sell space tourism - WebIndia - May.12.05
3:00 am: News briefs ... Burt
Rutan will inform the general press establishment about the entrepreneural
"Spaceflight Entrepreneur Burt Rutan to Address National Press
Club on the Future of Space Travel" - U.S. Newswire - May.11.05
... Tim Pickens shows the Discovery
Channel his rockets for biking and space travel: Rocket
Bikes & Beyond - Space Race News! - May.11.05 ...
... Well, I hope NASA doesn't
form a commission to investigate the threat to spaceflight of silicone
wristbands : Klyde
Morris (via a HS reader).
12:15 pm: News brief ... Robert
Zimmerman spots signs of a worldwide effort to colonize space:
Watch: The new colonial movement - UPI - Mar.11.05.
11:35 am: German/Swiss private rocket
project ... Project
Enterprise is an alliance of the German TALIS-Institute
and the Swiss Propulsion Laboratory
(SPL) and is supported by the VEGA
aerospace consulting firm. The project will develop a two stage
rocket with LOX/Kerosene engines that is capable of placing 250kg
to 500kg microsats into orbit:
... the booster rocket Enterprise will be available starting
from 2008 with transport of commercial and scientific satellites
and also for manned suborbitale missions with science astronauts
or space tourists.
[Update May.12.05: I'm told that the text on the English
was incorrect in implying that the manned suborbital version will
be available at the same time as the unmanned version, which starts
to fly in 2008. They have not yet announced a date for debut of
the manned version]
It will be entirely funded with private investment and no state
money. The total cost is expected
to be 18M euros (~ US$23M).
Much of the documentation is in German, such as these articles
in a journal published by TALIS, but this site
describes the project in English. This report
(pdf), which is also in English, reviews other low cost rocket
projects and then describes the project. See also this animation
(38.1MB mpg) of a launch from an oil platform. This graphic
shows a version with a capsule for suborbital space tourism.
My thanks to Jens
Lerch for info on this project.
11:35 am: News brief ... In
another example of European private space development, the English
project unveiled its 33K pound thrust liquid propellant engine today:
Tourism' Rocket to Be Unveiled - Scotsman - May.11.05 * Starchaser
Press Release - May.9.05
1:55 am: News briefs ... Space
Adventures says it currently has a total of $2M in deposits for
suborbital space flights (full ticket price now at $102K). The company
is getting a strong response in Japan where it has opened a new
Adventures Opens Tokyo Office in Response to Overwhelming Interest
in Commercial Space Travel: Over 25 percent of suborbital spaceflight
clients from Asia-Pacific region - Space Adventures - May.11.05
... Now here is one gorgeous
suborbital transport (and it's well armed too): Sentimental
Journey - Alan [Radecki]'s Mojave Airport Weblog - May.9.05
(Via an HS reader in Mojave) ...
... Some of the links in my
section were dead but a resourceful reader was able to track down
a new URL for this one: X-37
Demonstrator to Test Future Launch Technologies in Orbit and Reentry
Environments - MSFC FactSheet - May.03. (Note the optimistic
Guess I'm wimpy and old fashioned but calling O'Keefe
an idiot seems way out of line to me. That's why I didn't get past
that part in CEV:
The Last Battlestar? - SpaceDaily - May.10.05 but maybe others
care what the author has to say.
X-37 at the Mojave
3:05 pm: News brief ... A HS
reader in Mojave sent the above photo and says the X-37 is "being
integrated with the White Knight but today it's too windy to be
12:35 pm: News brief ... Irene
Mona Klotz reports on the t/Space
Race 2: Son of shuttle - ScienceDaily/UPI - May.10.05.
11:35 am: News briefs ... I
had forgotten that Scale Composites was going to do some drop tests
for the X-37
program, which was transferred last year from NASA to DARPA: Rutan
to test Boeing X-37: 3 drops planned from jet that launched spaceship
- L.A. Daily News - May.10.05 (via spacetoday.net)
... Rand Simberg wonders if
Griffin will push NASA back to a 1960s approach to space development:
New Sheriff In Town - TCS - May.10.05 ...
... Aerojet gets a contract
to develop a high power Hall Thruster:Aerojet
Wins Contract to Develop Propulsion System for Future Space Cargo
Vehicles - Aerojet- May.9.05
2:35 am: News briefs ... Like
Sciences also gets a "$100 million indefinite delivery/indefinite
quantity (IDIQ) contract": Orbital
Awarded Contract By U.S. Air Force To Provide Responsive Launch
Vehicles: Company to Offer Two Air-Launched Raptor Vehicles Based
on Flight-Proven Launch Technology - Orbital - May.9.05. Note
that Orbital is planning an air-launched vehicle carried by a C-17
as is also proposed for the QuickReach vehicle from AirLaunch
will take the wraps off its large bi-propellant engine this week:
Unveiling of the Churchill Mk3 Liquid Propellant Rocket Engine -
Starchaser - May.11.05 - May.9.05
8:55 am: News briefs ... NASA
is showing some interest in the proposal from t/Space
in which the company would develop a 4-passenger capsule called
the CXV that would launch on a larger version of the QuickReach
vehicle from AirLaunch.
The CXV would provide earth to LEO transport while the CEV, to be
built by the LockMart or Northrop teams, would serve as Earth-Moon
Offers an Option for Closing Shuttle, CEV Gap - Space News/Space.com.
Perhaps the most radical aspect of the t/SPace proposal is that
it would be developed under a fixed price contract instead of the
... Jeff Foust posts part one
of his review of the Space
Access'05 meeting: The
post-X Prize hangover - The Space Review - May.9.05.
12:25 am: News briefs... Looking
for work for Michoud, Lockheed may build the K-1
for Kistler: BACK
DOWN TO EARTH With the end in sight for NASA's shuttle program,
the Michoud Assembly Facility is turning to other projects - The
Times Picayune - May.8.05
And Lockheed recently renewed talks with Kistler Aerospace Corp.
about possibly building the company's K-1 rocket at Michoud. The
K-1 would be capable of delivering commercial, military and NASA
payloads in orbit around the Earth.
Kistler initially talked to Lockheed about the rocket several
years ago, but the private company put the project on hold after
filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Kistler, which is
still operating, said in March that it was preparing to emerge
from the bankruptcy process.
... The Washington Post follows
NASA Watch: NASA
Chief Speeds Plan For Spacecraft: Griffin Wants to Launch Shuttle
Replacement by 2010 - WashPost - May.9.05 * Washington
Post (Finally) Picks up on NASA CEV Acceleration Efforts - NASA
Watch - May.8.05.
3:25 pm: Space
Access ' 05 Summary ...
I finally finished my wrap
up of the meeting.
3:25 pm: Hybrids, AMROC, and busting bootstraps
... Yesterday while jogging I listened to the Space Show
with Jim Benson of SpaceDev.
(The SpaceShow is great for my cardiovascular system!) Mr. Benson
made some interesting comments about their hybrid
propulsion program. Supported by funding
from the Air Force, SpaceDev this year will be testing enhancements
to their hybrid engines that he said could bring their performance
up to that of solids and could surpass pressure fed LOX-Kerosene
systems were "derived from the initial knowledge base produced
by American Rocket Company (AMROC)." AMROC
was one of those startup space companies that are typically dismissed
as miserable failures because they burned up a lot of money and
never got anything into space. However, AMROC and many of those
other long gone space firms made crucial contributions to the creation
of an entrepreneurial space industry.
The companies created new technology and the quality of that technology
gradually raised the credibility and visibility of non-mainstream-aerospace.
A cadre of engineering talent available for startups has slowly
grown via these projects. The number of non-technical participants
who were knowledgeable about entrepreneurial space expanded and
eventually came to include a number of high wealth angel
We still don't have cheap access to orbit but we are getting there
step by step, and (necessarily) misstep by misstep. I can't think
of anything more excruciatingly difficult than the bootstrapping
vertical climb from the 1970s, when space development by small companies
was considered a ludicrous fantasy, to the point we are at today
with startup firms on the verge of flying people routinely to near
space and of delivering payloads to orbit at a budget price.
I expect that within a decade there will be a grand opening of
an orbiting space habitat owned by a private firm or consortium.
I hope one of the first toasts will be in tribute to the blood,
sweat and tears of all those fallen AMROCs that made it possible.
3:25 pm: News briefs... More
about the shuttle RtF: Discovery
to Switch to New Fuel Tank for July Launch - Space.com - May.7.05
High Despite Shuttle Flight Delay - Space.com - May.6.05 ...
... This rocket
boy ain't no shuttle fan:
"I hate the space shuttle. Every once in a while, they (NASA)
will rattle my cage enough for me to write an editorial in The
Wall Street Journal, and I'll recommend over and over again that
they get rid of the shuttle. I think it's an engineering embarrassment,
and it will kill again."
on his childhood - and beyond - Birmingham News - May.8.05....
... While Florida watches,
support for the X
Cup grows in New Mexico: X
Prize committee to form - Alamogordo News - May.7.05. (Via spacetoday.net.)
3:15 am: Launching tourists from the Sunshine
State ... At least some people in Florida think the state
should do more to support space tourism:
2:55 am: News briefs ... The
shuttle Discovery launch is pushed back to July. The vehicle will
return to the VAB for restacking with new ET and SRBs: STS-114
Shuttle Report | NASA managers meet to settle shuttle schedule issues
- Spaceflight Now - May.6.05...
... Rocketplane posts its first
Navigator - Volume 1, Issue 1 - May.5.05 (via Space
Race News.) ...
... Masten Space Systems makes
progress with their ignitor project: Igniter
Tests on Cinco de Mayo - Masten Space Systems blog - May.6.05.(I
had missed the posting of their April
2005 Update - Masten Space Systems - Apr.27.05) ...
... Here's a Powerpoint file
by Brad Edwards on the space elevator concept and targeted for a
general audience: Space
Elevator PPT Presentation - SpaceElevator.com (via spaceelevator.com.)...
... Jeff Foust points to a
Capitol Hill forum hosted by the AIAA on May 10th that will focus
on the topic of public and private collaborations in aerospace:
partnerships forum - Space Politics - May.6.05. Here's the announcement
5:35 pm: Falcon I pad test date... Elon
Musk says, "Pad hotfire scheduled for Friday the 13th :) Hopefully,
there will be reverse bad luck for SpaceX."
In case you were interested in going to see it, I asked if there
were any visitor accessible areas at VAFB
where outsiders could view the firing and he replied that unfortunately
there were not.
3:25 pm: News briefs ... SpaceX
pad hotfire test: "May 4: Hotfire delayed by one to two weeks,
pending reschedule with Vandenberg Air Force Base. SpaceX update
will be sent out as soon as the hotfire is done." ...
... NASA's exploration program
is undergoing significant revisions, especially with regard to eliminating
the famous 4 year gap in human spaceflight capability:
... 20 by 20 meter solar sail
tested in a giant vacuum chamber at NASA Glenn RC: ATK
and NASA Successfully Test First Solar Sail Propulsion System: ATK
Solar Sail Technology Will Enable Solar-powered Interplanetary Probes
and Solar Observatories - ATK - Ma.6.05
2:50 pm: Canadian Arrow engine test ...
Canadian Arrow rocket
engine successfully tested at 45,000 lbs thrust - moving private
space company closer to flight status
May 5, 2005 - Canadian
Arrow has successfully tested their main engine designed to
produce the thrust required for liftoff of the rocket.
The test, conducted on May 5th at a site north of London, is the
latest in a series completed on the rocket engine for the Canadian
Arrow launch vehicle.
“Canadian Arrow now has an engine with the thrust required to
launch passengers to space,” said Canadian Arrow president and
CEO Geoff Sheerin.
The engine, designed for 57,000 pounds of thrust at sea level,
is a reproduction of the V-2 engine flown by the Germans during
the WWII and later by the USA and Russians in the early days of
the cold war. It became the genesis of each country’s present
space programs. It is fueled by a mixture of liquid oxygen and
ethyl alcohol and, at full pressure, consumes approximately 250
pounds of propellant per second. Thursday’s test was a significant
milestone in the test of this actual flight hardware.
The engine and test stand are part of a 45 ft. tall structure
that is surrounded on three sides by concrete walls that are two
feet thick. Large earth berms stand between the engine test structure
and the control centre that is built into the ground, and is where
the team electronically directed and monitored the test.
“The decision to rebuild the V-2 engine was a good one” said Sheerin.
“We now have an engine that we know works from the launch pad
all the way into space.”
Over the next few months additional tests will be performed that
will bring the engine to optimal performance. The engine will
then be removed in preparation for its installation in a Canadian
Arrow booster. The booster will then be tested on the ground for
a full duration burn in preparation for its first flight into
Video of the test is available to the media at:
1:55 pm: Back online ... The
automatic domain renewal process by my website hosting service (Earthlink)
failed to work properly yesterday when HobbySpace.com
was set to expire. The name temporarily referred to a filler site.
Earthlink warned that it could take from 24 to 72 hours to fix but
the renewal seems to have gone through this morning OK.
Sorry about that. Believe me, I was more shocked than anybody!
2:30 pm: Back to the Moon meeting...
Conference manager Jeff Feige urges everyone to consider attending
to the Moon - RTM Conference VI, "Reality Check",
July 21-23 at The Flamingo, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Recognizing the critical nature of this discussion to the country's
future, the Space Frontier Foundation presents Return to the Moon
VI, "Reality Check." This conference will be the point where the
entrepreneurial space development community and NASA's exploration
agenda intersect. All discussions will be focused on what we are
doing and what we can do in space within the next decade; leaving
longer, idealized concepts behind, hence the, "Reality Check."
2:25 pm: News briefs ... The
latest edition of Rockets
Away! offers an interview with Jeff Greason of XCOR and Dick
... Maybe an anti-ITAR meme
is finally starting to spread: Space
Race - Investor's Business Daily - May.5.05 ...
... Alan Boyle reports on shuttle
launch schedule changes: Shuffling
the shuttles - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - May.4.05 (See also the schedule
revisions posted at NASA Watch.) ...
... SpaceDev gets a grant to
develop "standardized, miniaturized, lower cost avionics for
small launch vehicles, such as SpaceDev Streaker": SpaceDev
Awarded Air Force Research Laboratory Phase I Innovation Research
Contract - SpaceDev - May.5.05
2:20 pm: Weighty decisions ...
Dan Shrimpsher warns that NASA and the exploration program may get
bogged down with endless debate over whether to build a new heavy
lift launch vehicle (HLLV): Space
Community Infighting revisited - Space Pragmatism - May.5.05.
It's certainly reasonable to set a decision deadline. Many parts
of the program will need to know what launcher(s) to plan for before
they can move forward.
However, I sure hope NASA decides not to start a HLLV project
until the exploration program is much farther along. Henry Spencer
pointed out at the Space Access meeting last week, that it is inevitable
that after you fix a size for the HLLV, its launch capacity will
soon be exceeded by weight growth in payload hardware. Since you
will end up needing to do in-space assembly anyway, you might as
well accept it from the beginning and go with the launchers you
have rather than using up a lot of time and money on a new one.
9:40 pm: Canadian Arrow going commercial
with a new name ...
Canadian Arrow Partners
with Leading American Entrepreneur to
LAUNCH FIRST COMMERCIAL PASSENGERS TO SPACE
Two companies at the forefront of the 'race to space' have announced
they are joining forces to complete and fly a spacecraft capable
of carrying passengers into suborbital space. Canadian
Arrow has announced that it is partnering with an American
businessman, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, to form a new Canadian corporation
The goal of the company is to make space flight available to the
Canadian Arrow, a Canadian company originally formed to compete
for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, has continued its progress
toward building a spacecraft that will take passengers into sub-orbital
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, M.D., M.B.A., has had measurable success
in building innovative technology and healthcare businesses. He
was a founding director of MirCorp, the company that made history
on April 4th, 2000 when it launched the world's first privately
funded manned space program and signed up Dennis Tito as the world's
first "citizen explorer."
Canadian Arrow President Geoff Sheerin and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria,
along with the test pilot astronauts who will fly Canadian Arrow
on its first manned missions will be holding a news conference
on May 18th at 11:00am at the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago,
Illinois to announce details of the company's plans along with
the unveiling of the Canadian Arrow rocket with its new PLANETSPACE
identity. Their will also be a press conference on May 17th at
11:00am at the Canadian Arrow Space Center in London Ontario Canada
before departure of the rocket for the Chicago event the next
Dr. Kathuria is quite an interesting person. Here's some background
info via Google: Reaching
Out to Stars - Chirinjeev Kathuria * Dr.
Chirinjeev Kathuria For Lt. Governor [Illinois] 2006 * The
Chirinjeev Kathuria Chat - rediff.com - 2001.
9:40 pm: News briefs ... Robert
Zimmerman argues that providing exciting space projects to inspire
engineering research and to attract new students into the field
is just as important as space science: Space
Watch: The engineering crisis redux - UPI - May.5.05. "[N]o
scientific research can occur if there are no engineers to design,
build and launch the rockets and space probes the scientists use."
(More about science and space in the Space
Controversies section.) ...
... The Australian HyShot
hypersonic vehicle project has a cool new website with a bulletin
board format: www.hyshot.info.
2:15 pm: News briefs ... Mike
Griffin talked about a lot of issues, including the CEV and heavy
lift vehicles, yesterday on Capitol Hill: Breakfast
with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin - by Keith Cowing - SpaceRef
- May.3.05 * Griffin:
NASA Will Pick Cheapest Option For Boosting CEV - AvWeek - May.4.05
... Dan Shrimpsher comments
on Giffin's remarks about NASA public relations: PR
at NASA - Space Pragmatism - May.4.05
12:15 pm: News briefs ... Sam
Dinkin opens a discussion of the Boeing concept for a commercially
supplied fuel depot in LEO: Launch
Dry - Transterrestrial Musings - May.3.05e (Rand Simberg, who
is currently consulting at Boeing, gave a brief presentation
on this at SA'05.) ...
... Sam linked to an interesting
set of slides shown by Boeing at a NASA meeting last December, which
discussed concepts like dry launch: Space
Exploration Systems - Boeing - Dec.1.04 - report to NASA ...
... Tim Pickens, who helped
Burt Rutan design the propulsion system for SpaceShipOne, gives
his kid a boost(er): Rocket
Bike - Popular Mechanics - Mar.05 (via Space
3:40 pm: News briefs ... Irene
Mona Klotz profiles XCOR:
Race 2: A little help from Uncle Sam - UPI/WashTimes - May.3.05
... Turns out that David Livingston
recorded a show at the SA'05 meeting. He has now posted it online:
Space Show Recorded at the Space Access Society Conference - April
2:00 pm: RLV safety guide ... The
AST office has posted the following 60 page document: Guide
to the Identification of Safety-Critical Hardware Items for Reusable
Launch Vehicle (RLV) Developers - 1 May 2005- (pdf). The document:
provides guidelines for the identification of potentially safety-critical
hardware items in RLV designs. Possible risk-mitigating design
strategies that may be incorporated into designs are also included.
Such risk reduction measures may be necessary if vehicle operation
poses risk to the uninvolved public beyond established thresholds
of acceptability. The sole purposes of this document are to:
- assist developers by illustrating a systematic approach to
identifying and mitigating the risk associated with safety-critical
- identify relevant and more in-depth documentation; and
- enhance understanding and communication.
It is expected that this document will be used by RLV developers
in the design process to initiate the identification of potentially
safety-critical items early in the development cycle. With this
knowledge in mind, sufficient actions can be taken early in a
program to bring the risk to the uninvolved public associated
with a safety-critical item to an acceptable level.
I haven't read it but the explanation of how they do things like
the "Expected Casualty Analysis" looks interesting.
2:00 pm: News briefs ... Speaking
of regulations, this article from today's business section of the
Washington Post gives the industry a positive spin: Giving
a Fledgling Industry Space to Breathe - Washington Post - May.3.05.
One more nudge towards greater credibility for the new commercial
spaceflight business. ...
of the Heliosphere offers another blog report on the Space
Access ' 05 meeting. Check it out for more space blogging
in the future. ...
... BTW: I plan soon to add
some additional info and concluding remarks to my SA'05 report.
... I missed this article
from last week about the Falcon I test: Low-cost
rocket gets test - Lompoc Record - Apr.27.05. It says the pad
test will happen today but I haven't seen any confirmation. ...
... More about the LockMart
CEV design at NASA
Receives Crew Exploration Vehicle Proposals - Space.com - May.3.05
offers space-vehicle bid - DenverPost - May.3.05 (HS
reader Rick Boozer notes a resemblance to the Russian Kliper
design.) Lots of comments on the design at Transterrestrial.
2:35 am: Congrats to SpaceX
for Big AF Win... The
Air Force decides that SpaceX
is responsive enough for now: Spacex
Awarded $100 Million Dollar Contract By U.S. Air Force For Falcon
I - SpaceX - May.2.05. The contract requires SpaceX
to provide low cost orbital launch vehicles and responsive (launch
12 months from award of basic contract) launch services, on a
recurring basis, using a mature vehicle design and a commercially
derived booster to meet mission/payload requirements.
It think this contract could have a big impact on the space world.
It means that all the players in the launch business must eventually
meet the SpaceX price/performance standards. Even if there are problems
with the initial launch(es), this contract should give SpaceX the
means to achieve its goals for Falcon I (670kg/$5.9M) and Falcon
V (6,020 kg/$15.8M). ...
... It will be interesting
to see how this contract affects the DARPA Falcon
program, which is funding SpaceX, Air
and LockMart to develop a Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) that can launch
1000 pounds (~500kg) to LEO for $5M. I would hope that the AF splits
off SpaceX into the above operational program while continuing to
do R&D with these other companies to nurture alternative technologies
... First heard the SpaceX
news from Dan Shrimpsher when I got back late tonight. He comments
on the news here: Whole
Bag o' Stuff - Space Pragmatism - May.2.05.
2:35 am: News briefs ... While
competition enters at the low end of the payload range, it exits
at the top end: Boeing,
Lockheed form EELV joint venture - spacetoday.net - May.2.05
Lockheed Join to Build Rockets - Forbes.com - May.2.05. I know
there are practical justifications for this (e.g. the desire to
maintain two independent launch systems when there are only a small
number of launches per year), but it still doesn't seem quite right.
... The LockMart CEV design
is revealed at Popular Mechanics: Lockheed
CEV Proposed Shuttle Replacement - Popular Mechanics - June.04 issue
Peek At The Future? - Transterrestrial Musings - May.2.05)...
... This has probably been
around for awhile but I just noticed this nicely done tribute to
the SS1 at AvWeek: SpaceShipOne
Team Hits New Heights - 2004 Collier Trophy Winner - Aviation Week
... Irene Mona Klotz reports
again about Virgin Galactic's stumble into the ITAR bramble: US
export rules frustrate Virgin - BBC - May.2.05.
2 , 2005
8:05 am: News briefs ... I
will spend most of today traveling back home from Phoenix. So postings
won't return to normal (whatever that is) till tomorrow....
... The latest Space
Review offers four interesting articles:
... Here are more details
regarding Griffin's cancellation of the request for proposals for
systems engineering and integration (SE&I) to support the exploration
initiative - NASA's
Griffin Cancels Planned Exploration Procurement - Aviation Week
1:25 am: Conference News ... The
last day of the conference included several presentations about
companies with exciting projects in development. There were also
sessions dealing with politics and with the strategies needed to
promote commercial space.
As on the previous days, both Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial
and Michael Mealling at Rocketforge
blogged the sessions.
Here are short summaries of Saturday's talks ...
to the Space Access 2005 Conference page
1:25 am: News briefs ... Genetics
guru Craig Venter, space tourism innovator Eric Anderson, and Japanese
businessman Takafumi Horie join the X PRIZE board Innovative
Businessmen Join X PRIZE Foundation Board of Trustees - X PRIZE
/ BusinessWire - Apr.29.05...
... Speaking of Eric Anderson:
Cowboy - Forbes.com - May.05 ...
... NASA funds research into
space sails: Testing
a Sun-Powered Space Sail - Wired - May.1.05 ...
... So it looks likely that
Griffin will go for a shuttle Hubble repair mission: NASA
to start planning for shuttle Hubble mission - spacetoday.net -
1 , 2005
8:35 pm: Conference brief ... Another
great Space Access ' 05 Conference finished late last night. I decided
to do a bit of schmoozing at the after-conference parties rather
than do my reviews of Saturday's talks. Also, today I will drive
up to Prescott to visit friends. I hope to wrap up the conference
to April 2005