7:00 pm: News briefs ... Griffin
is showing some leadership skills: 'We're
going to fix it': Griffin believes shuttles will fly before year-end
- Florida Today - July.30.05 ...
... John Schwartz of the NY
Times noted earlier that all the new cameras trained on the shuttle
could very well exaggerate the dangers of any anomalies that are
Hunt for Signs of Damage Could Raise Problems of Its Own - New York
Times - July.27.05
"The more NASA looks for damage, engineers and other experts
say, the more it will find. And the risks of overreaction to signs
of damage while the shuttle is in orbit may be just as great as
the risks of playing them down."
Perhaps Schwatz is now overreacting in For
NASA, Misjudgments Led to Latest Shuttle Woes - NY Times - July.31.05
when he says,
"Last Tuesday morning, NASA's contention that it had produced
the safest fuel tank in shuttle history was shattered two minutes
into the Discovery's mission to the International Space Station."
Griffin, in fact, still thinks it's the safest fuel tank ever (Spaceflight
"Discovery is the cleanest bird we've seen," Griffin said, referring
to the overall number of dents, dings and chips seen in the shuttle's
heat-shield tiles. "Six times cleaner than the average across
113 (previous) missions. So the fact that we have three or four
things that we still need to clean up from our first test flight
in two-and-a-half years - I'm not a spin kind of a guy, you all
know that - but in the world of engineering, we did pretty well."
... "Almost everything we did on the external tank to get it
ready for flight has worked," Griffin said. "We expected and we
have seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of debris that was
generated. Looking at the photography we've seen so far on Discovery,
we've had about 25 dings as opposed to a mission average of about
145 (in earlier flights). So the engineering work we did on the
external tank has reduced scarring on the orbiter by a factor
of about six. I thought all that was really kind of nice and you
should know it."
It's just that past fuel tanks were a lot more dangerous than were
... The new in-orbit inspections
are also finding anomalies that may or may not be significant: Cloth
Protrusions on Discovery May Constitute a Threat - New York Times
- July.31.05 ...
... Gee whiz, a few pieces
of foam fall off a shuttle tank and it's the end of human spaceflight!
Woes Signal Uncertain Future For Human Spaceflight - SPACE.com -
July.31.05. (I'll note that the Concorde accident led eventually
to the end of Concorde operations not to the end of humans flying
on aircraft, supersonic or otherwise.) ...
... More Shuttle articles of
... Double gee whiz! Can't
NASA do better in the 21st century than Apollo-lite? NASA
outlines plans for moon and Mars - Orlando Sentinel - July.31.05
... Enough of this depressing
government space junk. Thank goodness an alternative route to space
and the Moon and beyond is opening up:
2:50 am: Stairway to the space elevator
... Brad Edwards reports on his favorite topic: A
Hoist to the Heavens: A space elevator could be the biggest thing
to happen since the Stone Age, but can we build one? - IEEE Spectrum
I think it's counterproductive for him to trash rockets in an
attempt to make space elevators more appealing. Rocket transport
will in fact provide the crucial first steps to a space elevator.
At present, very few people outside of alt.space see a pressing
need to send huge amounts of cargo and lots of humans into orbit.
A bootstrapping process is required in which lower cost access to
space is developed in parallel with the creation of destinations
in space, such as Bigelow's space hotels, that will attract people
there and require lots of cargo to build and support them. The more
people that go, the higher the launch rates and the lower the costs
via economies of scale. As ticket prices fall, even more people
will line up to go, etc., etc.
Rocket launch costs will probably flatten out in the +$200/kg range.
(No, the rocket equation doesn't outlaw this.) At that point, the
high flight demand will support development of high rate systems
like space elevators and laser launchers. But to get to there from
here, we need to ride rockets.
2:50 am: News briefs ... I'm
certainly no fan of the Shuttles, but I still like that Griffin
isn't going into a panic over the debris problem: Griffin
doesn't rule out quick resumption of flights - Spaceflight Now -
... But just in case there
is a long delay before the next Shuttle flight, the ISS crews are
grabbing all the supplies they can from Discovery: Shuttle
gap sets off station scramble Scavenger hunt begins due to suspension
of future flights - Jim Oberg - MSNBC - July.29.05
... Tile repair procedures
will be tested on a space walk today: Discovery
takes a long hard look at itself - New Scientist - July.29.05.
2:50 am: Zimmerman talking space ... I've
Zimmerman's weekly articles since UPI dropped most of its science
and technology columns. However, he says that he will be talking
about space developments on a Coast-to-Coast
radio show next week:
With Discovery in orbit, the shuttle fleet grounded, an American
tourist and a Chinese crew going into space in October, and NASA's
authorization winging its way through Congress, the future of
space exploration looks alternatively gloomy and bright.
In an effort to bring some clarity to the situation, I have
been invited to appear as a guest for a three hour radio interview
on the nationally syndicated radio show, Coast-to-Coast with George
Noory, this coming Monday night to Tuesday morning, August 1 to
2, from 11 am to 2 pm (PST), or 1 am to 5 am EST Tuesday.
In the Washington DC area the show airs on WMAL 630-AM. In New
York it airs on WABC 770-AM. For other parts of the country you
will have to do your own research.
It looks like Coast-to-Coast will archive
the show if you miss the live event.
5:00 pm: News briefs ... NASA
had considered three different schemes to deal with the insulation
on the protuberance air load (PAL) ramp, but decided to leave it
Weighed Redesigns for Shuttle's Foam - WashPost - July.29.05.
... A long delay will cause
big problems: If
grounding lingers, what's the impact? Uncertainty abounds with flights
on hold again - Florida Today - July.29.05 ...
... But Griffin thinks a fix
can be made fairly quickly: NASA
Chief Griffin Confident Shuttle Will Resume Flying Quickly - SPACE.com
- July.29.05 * NASA:
Another Shuttle Could Launch Soon - AP/Yahoo - July.29.05. ...
... The Troubleshooters.Com
magazine has its latest issue on the pre-launch problem: NASA's
Intermittent Fuel Gauge ...
Kliper - RussianSpaceWeb for diagrams and tables. ...
... A resourceful reader found this paper - Spacecraft
of capsule, winged and hybrid type by Vladimir S. Syromiatnikov,
Space Regatta Consortium, Korolev, Russia - about the hybrid
alternative design to the Kliper mentioned here on Wednesday. The
paper was presented at the Moon
Base - Venice Workshop, May26-27, 2005.
2:15 am: News briefs ... Despite
all of the debris ruckus, Discovery makes it to the ISS without
any big problems: Discovery
docks with ISS - spacetoday.net - July.28.05 ...
... Eileen Collins does some
fancy driving on the way: Discovery
does pirouette, then docks to space station - Spaceflight Now -
... I recommend listening to
while watching this video.
... See NASA's NASA
- Return to Flight site for updates, images, videos, etc. ...
... Debris info:
... Russia brings an offer
of help wrapped in irony: Russia
to the rescue? - Cosmic Log / MSNBC.com - July.28.05 ...
... Keith Cowing gives some
counterpoint to Alex Rowland: NASA
Will Halt Future Space Shuttle Missions Due to Unresolved Foam Problem
- Online NewsHour - July 28, 2005.
5:55 pm: News briefs ... The
Frontier Foundation publicizes the presentation given by Chris
Shanks at the RTTM conference: NASA
Calls on Private Sector to Help Make Exploration Affordable - Space
Frontier Foundation/Yahoo! - July.28.05
... Aviation Week says that
the draft of a 10-year strategic plan for the Russian Space Agency
includes some funding for the Kliper
but international partners will be sought to help develop it. A
mock-up of the 6-seat reusable module will be displayed at an upcoming
features mock-up of the Clipper spacecraft - RIA Novosti - July.28.05.
2:25 pm: Suborbital tourism: companies
and customers ... Virgin Galactic has distributed a press
release about the formation of the Spaceship Company: Branson
and Rutan Form "The Spaceship Company" To Jointly Manufacture and
Market Spaceships for the new Sub-Orbital Personal Spaceflight Industry
- Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites - July.27.05 ...
... The number of firm reservations
for suborbital spaceflight continues to grow: Sir
Richard Branson 'Takes Five': $200,000 could take you to the final
frontier - Milwaukee Journal Sentenel - July.27.05 :
So far, 178 people have signed contracts to fly into space,
and more than 100 have paid for their tickets.
This should be added to the numbers given out by Space Adventures:
Cowboy - Forbes - May.9.05
Awaiting the arrival of such a spacecraft are more than a hundred
Space Adventures clients who have plunked down deposits of $10,000
or more toward the $98,000 mission cost. Twenty-six Space Adventures
clients have paid in full for suborbital flights, which guarantees
them a spot near the front of the line.
So depending on how you count, that's between $20M and $45M in
firm ticket reservations already, two years before an operational
ship is flying. ...
... More here: Branson:
public space travel expected in three years - Oshkosh Northwestern
1:55 am: News briefs ... Persistence
pays off for Greg
Adventures' Orbital Spaceflight Candidate, Greg Olsen, Confirmed
to the Soyuz TMA-7 Crew: Third private space explorer scheduled
to launch to the International Space Station this October - Space
Adventures - July.27.05 ...
... Alan Boyle gives some background
to the Olsen flight and the Rutan/Branson arrangements for Virgin
Galactic and the Spaceship Company: Space
deals confirmed - Cosmic Log / MSNBC.com - July.27.05 ...
... The foam debris is embarrassing
for NASA but I doubt it will cause a long delay before the next
Pieces of Foam Fly in Shuttle Launch, Forcing Fleet Grounding -
SPACE.com - Jully.27.05 ...
... Bill Harwood posts a more
detailed report - Foam
loss grounds shuttle fleet again - Spaceflight Now - July.27.05
- and some excellent PAL
Ramp images. ...
... Beat swords to ploughshares
and exoatmospheric kill vehicles to jumping Moon bots: 'Hopping
Penguin' lunar lander may give Raytheon new space role - Arizona
Daily Star - July.27.05 ...
... Another cool link from
- a table of delta-V's for getting from here to the Moon and Mars:
and Space Transportation - Delta-Vs - Chris Hirata.
8:55 pm: News briefs ... Orion
Propulsion has posted some graphics,
including an animation, of the fly-back booster concept that they
are proposing to the Air Force for the Hybrid Launch Vehicle
Study and Analysis program (formerly ARES Affordable
Responsive Spacelift). Here "hybrid" does not refer to
hybrid propulsion but to combination reusable first stage and expendable
(I should note that Orion also supported the recent Air Launch
LLC/HMX engine tests.) ...
new Russian crew vehicle design provides an alternative to the Kliper:
to develop a hybrid shuttle - ITAR-TASS - July.27.05. Here they
use "hybrid" to mean a "combination of spacecraft
of a capsule type (Soyuz) and of a winged one (Buran)". ...
... More about the SS1 at Oshkosh:
Team Makes Triumphant Arrival at AirVenture - AirVenture - July.27.05.
... In another report from
Oshkosh sent to me by a reader, it was stated that Virgin Galactic
has received over 4000 applications for the 75 or so pilots that
it will need to fly its fleet of SS2s. An alternative route is to
participate in a planned "reality TV show in which contestants
would go through a full training program to become commercial space
8:55 pm: Sci-fi vs. reality...
A basic premise of The
Rocket Company, first published online at HobbySpace
and now available in print (Amazon: US
), held that a rocket builder should concentrate on selling its
vehicles and not get involved in operating them. Flight services
should be left to firms that know best how to do that. Such specialization
should produce the greatest efficiency for both manufacturer and
Now comes The Spaceship Company, which will focus on building
vehicles and selling them to spaceflight operators:
"The Spaceship Company will own the intellectual property
of the new spaceship design. Furthermore, the company will build
spaceships -- not only for Virgin Galactic and its initial order
of five spaceships and two carrier craft -- but for other customers
as well, Whitehorn added." - Leonard
4:30 pm: News briefs ... More
articles now about the arrangement between Burt Rutan and Virgin
Galactic. Leonard David gives details in Richard
Branson and Burt Rutan Form Spacecraft Building Company - Space.com
I like this item from Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic:
At least 50 to perhaps as many as 100 test flights of the new
spaceship design may be undertaken at the Mojave, California spaceport.
That shakeout test period would stretch out over 9 to 10 months,
Whitehorn said. “There’s nothing at the moment holding us up in
our tracks,” he concluded.
Fully reusable, fast-turnaround space transport lets you do lots
of test flights before going into operation just as is done with
a new airliner. On its 101st launch, the CEV's Stick
will still be on its maiden flight.
See also Branson
and Rutan Form 'The Spaceship Company' To Jointly Manufacture and
Market Spaceships for the new Sub-Orbital Personal Spaceflight Industry
- Business Wire - July.27.05 ...
... Congratulations to George
and Loretta: Virgin
Galactic Signs First Honeymoon Trip - Space.com Spacenotes - July.27.05.
I heard from a friend at ISDC'05 about this trip but swore not to
break the news ...
... Attaching foam securely
to the ET is apparently a really tough problem: Discovery's
fuel tank shed unexpectedly large pieces of foam - Orlando Sentinel
- July.27.05. (Via NASA
11:55 am: News briefs ... A
reader reports that Richard Branson was at the EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh 2005 this week and discussed his company's
space tourism plans. This article - Passenger
spaceship firm set up - London Evening Standard - July.27.05
- says that Rutan and Virgin will setup a joint firm called "The
Spaceship Company" to own the design of the White Knight Two/SpaceShipTwo.
Virgin Galactic will order five of the seven passenger vehicles.
... Jack Hodgson is blogging
from Oshkosh and has posted pictures from the event including this
view of White Knight and SS1. (Item via Kay J.) . ...
... On its way to the ISS,
astronauts begin looking at the Discovery exterior for signs of
damage that might have occurred during launch: Sensor
boom to scan shuttle during inspections today - Spaceflight Now
News briefs ... See the links above for the latest
updates on the Shuttle mission. Here are some reports on the debris
seen during launch:
... Via an item on aRocket
came the link to this informative site AEHS
- Aircraft Engine Historical Society, which includes a section
Engines. See the extensive Space
Shuttle Main Engine: The First Ten Years by Robert E. Biggs.
... I mentioned yesterday the
AirLaunch LLC rocket
engine tests, which were sponsored by the DARPA Falcon program.
also reports on tests of its engines for the Falcon competition:
Completes Successful Series of Tests on 20,000 lbf Low-Cost Rocket
Engine - Microcosm - May.23.05 (Item via Kaido Kert) ...
... Keith Cowing of NASAWatch.com
did a fine job on the The
Online NewsHour: NewsHour (audio)
this evening in the segment on the Discovery launch. ...
... Only two main contractors
were selected in Phase II of the CEV program but there is still
room for small companies to get subcontracting work: NASA
Sources Sought Notice: Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) Phase II -
SpaceRef - July.26.05 ...
... Frankly, I've been rather
confused as to what is happening with the NASA budget, CEV/Exploration
program, commercial launch services, etc. The latest Space News
(print edition) has an article titled Revised White House Budget
Aims to Accelerate CEV Development that seems to clarify things
a bit. Here are the main points I extract from it:
- The administration will request an additional $292M for NASA
to boost the agency's CEV and "new launcher" programs.
(I assume the latter refers to the shuttle derived "Stick"
launcher for the CEV capsule.)
- The Project Constellation budget would then total $1.4B. This
would cover the CEV, its ELV, and robotic missions in support
of the VSE like the Lunar
- Less money will be allocated for the nuclear power and propulsion
programs (e.g. Prometheus). Also, some robotic Mars missions will
be delayed or canceled.
- The two teams selected for CEV Phase II have eight months to
refine the designs they submitted.
- Plus they will have to incorporate any additional features that
will come out of NASA's 60 day Exploration Systems Architecture
Study, which is supposed to finish on August 1st.
- One team will be selected in April to build the CEV.
- After two successful shuttle missions are completed, there will
be a formal announcement of a Hubble service mission.
There's nothing in the article about how much money would go to
the program to fund commercial ISS cargo service missions.
News briefs ... .Jeff Foust reports on the NASA presentations
at the RTTM conference: A
vision for commercialization - The Space Review - July.25.05
... Low cost operations will
produce low cost access to space: Interview:
two guys at the vanguard (part 3) - The Space Review - July.25.05
... Taylor Dinerman reports
on military interest in high altitude operations: Near
space: balloons, satellites, and suborbital rockets - The Space
Review - July.25.05 ...
... Rand Simberg comments on
NASA's decision to launch today without fully understanding the
fuel sensor problem: Yes,
It's Fail Operational - Transterrestrial Musings - July.25.05.
And last week there were entries on heavy
lift launch vehicles and the t/Space
12:55 pm: Shuttle in Orbit ...
Congratulations to NASA on the successful Discovery launch. See
for tons of links about the launch and for updates as the mission
12:55 pm: News briefs ... Back
in Rockville now and I'll try to catch up on postings and plus do
a review of the RTTM meeting. ...
... Jonathan Goff has posted
several items about the RTTM at his Selenian
Boondoks weblog ...
... Alan Radecki has posted
some pictures of AirLaunch
LLC test facilities and of the Proteus carrying the test article
for the t/Space
airdrop tests: Two
Different Air Launch Projects Test at Mojave - Alan's Mojave Weblog
- July.25.05 (via Space
Race News!) ...
... Following the link from
there to AirLaunch
LLC, I came across this interesting paper that I don't remember
seeing before: Trade
Studies for Air Launching a Small Launch Vehicle from a Cargo Aircraft
by M. Sarigul-Klijn et al - AIAA-2005-0621. Also, in the news
section there is a report about recent tests of a Propane/LOX engine:
News- July 12, 2005 ...
has several links on the White Knight/SS1 visit to Oshkosh, e.g.
lands the future of flight in Oshkosh - Oshkosh Northwestern - July.26.05
Spaceship draws crowd: Suborbital aircraft set to retire after EAA
- Post-Crescent - July.26.05 ...
... I recently saw an article
(unfortunately, I lost the link [Update: 7/31: Here is the link]
about astronaut Alan
Bean in which he boldly predicted that lunar tourism would happen
in a couple of hundred years. Well, I think it will happen a good
deal sooner than that, starting with trips around the Moon in the
manner of the Lunar
Express flights proposed by CSI: Fly
me to the moon? - Cosmic Log / MSNBC.com - July.26.05 * Space
Tourism: two-week tour around the moon for $100 million - RIA Novosti
- July.26.05 ...
... I hope third time will
be charmed for the Planetary Society's solar sail launch efforts:
Society planning another solar sail - spacetoday.net - July.26.05.
1:00 am (Pacific Time): News briefs ...
Well, I tried to do my bit to help raise funding for humanity's
transition into outer space. However, the $140 that I won on the
slot machine falls somewhat short of what even an alt.space startup
needs. So I decided instead to put it towards one of the astronomically
high-priced tickets for Cirque
du Soleil - KA. Didn't get us closer to space but it must certainly
be one of the best shows in this region of the cosmos. ...
... Frank Sietzen and Keith
Cowing continue their series of articles on the RtF and CEV programs:
Studying Unmanned Solution to Complete Space Station as Return to
Flight Costs Grow - SpaceRef - July.24.05 ...
... Some other postings at
NASA Watch last week about about the Shuttle and CEV: Kicking
the Architecture Issue Down the Road - NASA Watch - July.22.05
of the Senate Regarding Shuttle and CEV - NASA Watch - July.22.05.
... Jeff Foust reports on the
NASA authorization bill: House
passes NASA authorization bill - spacetoday.net - July.23.05
on the authorization bill - Space Politics - July.24.05 ...
... An objectivist voice for
commercial spaceflight: Privatize
Space Exploration - The Ayn Rand Institute - July.21.05. ...
... Catch the SS1 at Oshkosh:
to the occasion: Smithsonian-bound spacecraft plans detour to mingle
with WWII bombers and vintage planes at EAA - Milwaukee JS - July.24.05.
11:40 am (Pacific Time): News briefs ...
Still in Las Vegas and won't get back home till late Monday night.
So probably few postings till Tuesday.
... Jeff Foust comments on
Chris Shank's presentation: Commercialization
becomes essential - Space Politics - July.23.05. Check the Space
Review on Monday for a longer article from Jeff about the meeting.
... Keith Cowing reports that
the exploration architecture is still in flux: Kicking
the Architecture Issue Down the Road - NASA Watch - July.23.05.
... Jim Muncy gave a brief
but interesting summary yesterday of how he sees the situation with
US space policy. He saw Shank's presentation as an indication that
the long battle by the entrepreneurial space community to get commercial
spaceflight companies welcomed as partners in space development
has been won. However, winning a battle can actually mean tougher
consequences than losing since now comes the challenge of fulfilling
that partnership successfully.
Getting another "big idea" accepted is also making progress.
Large scale space settlement must become the primary goal of the
space program. No Antarctica-like outposts on the Moon but Las Vegas-es
instead. Griffin, in fact, stated in testimony to Congress that
human expansion into the solar system is his long term vision for
space policy. However, this big idea is still foreign to many at
NASA, in Congress, the press and the general public.
Muncy believes the advocacy community should concentrate its fight
on these battles of the big ideas rather than over the details of
particular projects like the Heavy Lift Vehicle and whether it will
be derived from the shuttle. If the war of big ideas is won, it
will become much easier to fight for the optimum hardware to implement
9:20 am (Pacific Time): Return to the
Moon: update ... Michael Mealling has posted the presentation
given by Brant Sponberg yesterday: Innovative
Programs announcements - Rocketforge - July.22.05. The image
on the posting shows the particular slide I mentioned yesterday
that outlines the areas where NASA will use service agreements and
prizes to encourage development progress.
6:25 pm (Pacific Time): Return to the
Moon: update ... Another impressive day at the RTTM meeting.
Way too much material to cover here before I head to the conference
banquet. I'll just hit some high spots. See Michael Mealling's RTTM
VI Day 2 posting for pictures and more comments.
- One of the major presentations of the day was given my Chris
Shank, special advisor to the NASA Administrator. He began
with a general outline of the NASA exploration program and showed
a multi-year 2-D timeline chart. He stated flatly that the goals
shown on the chart could not be accomplished if NASA continued
"business as usual". Only with substantial innovation
in the way NASA implements the plan and with far greater involvement
of commercial companies will the goals be met.
Opening ISS cargo delivery to commercial services looks to play
an important part in making the plan affordable and sustainable.
That was the good news. The bad news (in my opinion) is that he
made it clear that a shuttle derived launcher for the CEV and
a heavy lifter will almost certainly be included in the grand
I think Jeff Foust will provide a detailed review of Shank's talk
in the Space Review either this Monday or the next.
- Brant Sponberg of the Centennial
Challenges program announced
a new Space Glove competition. It will be carried out in partnership
Aerospace / Spaceflight America. Alan Boyle broke the story
earlier - Building
a better space glove - Cosmic Log / MSNBC - July.22.05 - and
I'll note that Rand Simberg suggested
such a competition when CC first solicited ideas for prizes.
- Brant also reviewed NASA's plans for the Innovative
Partnership Programs (IPP) . He showed a chart that began
with Suborbital in the bottom left corner and ended with
Small Lunar Transport in the top right. In between were
categories like Low Cost Earth-to-Orbit, Re-entry,
and Crew Transport. Each came with a set of goals that
NASA hopes to achieve with the partners. NASA will manage the
partnerships with service procurements, "Other Transaction
Authority" (OTA), and prizes. (I hope to get a link to this
slide if I can find it online.)
The suborbital category goals included services hired for micro-gravity
experiments and technology payloads. Prize competitions will be
held in the areas of altitude and reusability for science experiments
and development of VTVL prototypes for lunar landers.
- Space Age
Publishing has awarded SpaceDev a third contract in a series
of studies for its lunar
observatory project: Human
Service Mission to the International Lunar Observatories - Spacedev
... Lots of presentations
on various business models for lunar technologies and development.
Lots of discussions on NASA policy. I'll try to review these next
week if Jeff or someone else doesn't in the meantime. ...
... A local story on the conference:
promotes man’s return to the Moon - Las Vegas Sun/Space Race News!
6:55 pm (Pacific Time): Return to the
Moon: update... The meeting has been going quite well.
Michael Mealling has posted pictures and comments at RTTM
VI Day 1 - RocketForge - July.21.05.
This is my first RTTM meeting but I heard that this one is the
second biggest ever in terms of registered participants. There are
also a number of NASA and major aerospace company reps, which is
apparently new. Several participated in the sessions.
Most of the sessions are panel discussions rather than individual
presentations. There are brief overviews from each panelist and
then a Q&A. This is good in that a lot of ground is covered
but I wish some of the speakers had more time to give a longer account
of their projects.
I don't have time to review each session, so I'll just give some
- Rick Tumlinson got things started with one of his usual rousing
sermons on the need for commercial space development. I liked
his analogy of Apollo to the Viking activity in the New World.
Neither managed to set up a viable, commercial settlement worth
fighting to maintain and so the initial effort was quickly abandoned.
- A session on earth-to-LEO transportation included Debra Lapore
She gave the usual info on Kistler: the K-1 is 75% complete, they
will compete for ISS cargo delivery and use that to raise the
money to finish the K-1. One thing new that I saw was a graphic
with an image of a heavy lift version of the K-1 with a cluster
of first stage boosters. (I assume all are reusable.)
- Charles Lauer of Rocketplane
talked briefly about their suborbital vehicle and said they were
on track for test flights in late 2006. He then showed some graphics
depicting a 2nd gen system that could be used to compete for the
Bigelow Prize. It looked similar to the original orbital Rocketplane
concept of a first stage fueled in-flight but it had a reusable
manned second stage.
- Jim Voss of t/Space
reviewed their CXV project. At the end of the day, Bretton
Alexander, VP of t/Space and a former administration official
who helped craft the VSE, discussed the project as well. Unlike
Kistler, t/Space will not try to develop their system with commercial
money but will seek a fixed-cost contract, milestone payment approach
with NASA. Alexander said that for human spaceflight there is
no current commercial market and it would not be possible to raise
$400M to develop a vehicle to serve an unproved market. Instead,
they see the CXV as serving a specific NASA crew delivery requirement.
Once the CXV is flying, they will spin off a commercial version
to help develop the orbital space tourism market.
- A session on LEO-to-the-Moon included Bruce Pitman of LunarTransportationSystems.com
(affiliated with Spacehab and Kistler), Charles Miller of CSI,
and Dallas Bienhoff of Boeing. Pitman's talk was quite similar
to that of Tom
Taylor's at SAS'05 and like David
Anderman at SAS'05, Miller reported on the Lunar
Express. Bienhoff discussed a number of different lunar transportation
architectures that Boeing is studying, including the use of L1
as a staging area.
- In response to a question about lunar transportation architecture,
Lauer had said he favored the "dry launch" concept (mentioned
Simberg at SAS'05) in which modules and fuel are launched
separately. Interestingly, Bienhoff later concurred that this
approach would obviate the need for development of new launchers
like the shuttle derived vehicles.
- The other sessions were more directly related to lunar operations
and I will try to come back to them later, perhaps in a summary
I will only be making occasional updates. My wife and her god-daughter
came along so I'll be spending time enjoying the delights of the
city with them rather than pounding the keyboard. In addition, there
is no wireless provided by the hotel and only an expensive line
connection in the room. (I've heard, though, that near the meeting
room someone has set up a wireless node for the participants so
I may give that a shot tomorrow.)
6:55 pm: News briefs ... The
Christian Science Monitor has a good review of commercial spaceflight
NASA: The push to privatize spaceflight - csmonitor.com - July.20.05
... The Discovery launch will
take place next Tuesday (maybe): NASA
reschedules STS-114 launch for July 26 - spacetoday.net - July.21.05
... There's a report out on
the Cosmos 1 launch failure but the Planetary Society says it falls
short of a full and convincing picture of exactly what happened:
Issue Report on Failed Solar Sail Launch - SPACE.com - July.21.05
... The book Space Tourism
: Adventures in Earth's Orbit and Beyond by Michel van Pelt
is reviewed at Space
Tourism: The Road Ahead - Spacedaily - July.20.05. (Via Rick
... Unfortunately, the Mojave
Air Show 05, at the Mojave
Spaceport scheduled for Sept.21, 2005 has been canceled and
no new date has been set yet: Mojave
Airport cancels air show - AV Press - July.21.05. So to see
the EZ Rocket
fly you will have to go to the X
PRIZE Cup exhibition in Las Cruces, New Mexico, October 4-9,
2:50 pm: Returning to the Moon ...
I'm off to Las Vegas this evening to attend the Return
to the Moon - RTM Conference VI, which starts tomorrow. The
promises a number of interesting presentations and panels. I'll
try to post an occasional update from there. Regular postings will
resume next Tuesday.
Michael Mealling promises to blog from the meeting at RocketForge.
I'm looking forward to his session of "entrepreneurs/technology
development companies talking ... about their innovative technologies.
The plan is to paint a broad picture of what the private sector
could offer and do so quickly."
2:50 pm: News briefs ... Rand
Simberg says the success of Apollo and the failure of the Shuttle
program doesn't prove that RLVs are bad and ELVs with capsules are
Eagle Landed - Transterrestrial Musings - July.20.05 ...
...You can buy a piece of Shuttle
history at eBay: eBay:
Original NASA Space Shuttle Prototype .006 Scale Convair. Check
out the video report at Shuttle
Prototype For Sale On eBay - WESH.com - July.19.05 (via spacetoday.net)
... From the title, I thought
this article -
The man who pioneered space travel speaks out - The Times of India
- July.20.05 (via spacetoday.net)
- would be about Buzz Aldrin, John Glenn, etc.
9:35 am: News briefs ... So
maybe on the 56th anniversary of the first Moon landing, Google
Moon will be providing higher resolution info such as directions
to the nearest lunar pub or shopping mall. ...
... Jonathan Goff gives reasons
why a Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) is not a great first step towards
the creation of such a lunar community: Shuttle
Derived Sillyness Part II: The Case Against Heavy Lift - Selenian
Boondocks - July.18.05. (The Feedback
section includes an exchange about Jon's first
posting on HLVs.) ...
... Alan Boyle reports that
SpaceShipOne will be formally handed over to the Smithsonian's National
Air and Space Museum on September 28th: SpaceShipOne's
last trip - Cosmic Log / MSNBC - July.19.05 ...
... Alan also provides more
info about the Space Adventures deal
with Florida and about other Cape Canaveral space tourism developments:
tourism at the Cape - Cosmic Log / MSNBC.com - July.19.05 ...
... Meanwhile, it remains uncertain
as to when Discovery will leave the Cape: Next
Tuesday earliest launch date for shuttle - spacetoday.net - July.19.05.
2:05 am: News briefs ... Alan
Boyle reviews the various criticisms of the shuttle design: Shunning
the shuttle - Cosmic Log/ MSNBC - July.18.05
... Meanwhile, NASA ponders
what to do if it cannot soon isolate the exact cause of the fuel
sensor problem: NASA
mulls launch options - Spaceflight Now - July.18.05.
3:40 pm: News briefs ... Florida
begins to support commercial suborbital spaceflight in cooperation
Bush and Space Adventures Announce the Opening of a Suborbital Vehicle
and Spaceport Development Office: Kennedy Space Center will be ground-zero
for Space Adventures’ suborbital spaceflight program development
- Space Adventure PR - July.18.05. ...
... Peter Diamandis campaigns
for commercial spaceflight in Britain: Pushing
for the next giant leap - BBC - July.18.05 ...
.... An update from JP
Happenings at JPA - Space Race News! - July.17.05.
2:05 pm: News briefs ... Sam
Dinkin continues his interview at TGV
Rockets with a focus this time on operations costs: Interview:
two guys at the vanguard (part 2) - The Space Review - July.18.05
... Taylor Dinerman discusses
the possibility that NASA will hire commercial companies to provide
ISS transportation services: Will
NASA support space entrepreneurs? - The Space Review - July.18.05
... John Jurist continues his
series on the health effects of suborbital spaceflight: Human
factors in commercial suborbital flight: Impact acceleration: an
extreme skydiving experience - The Space Review - July.18.05
... Col. Gary Henry of the
USAF Space Command and author of The
Decision Maker's Guide To Robust, Reliable, And Inexpensive Access
To Space - 2003 (pdf) will be on the SpaceShow
Tuesday, July 19, 2005, 7:00-8:30 pm (Pacific Time ). Since he wrote
his thesis, he was stationed at Vandenberg and worked with SpaceX
to prepare for the Falcon I launch. It will be interesting to hear
if he still believes that only a waverider can bring significant
reductions in space access costs. ...
... No solution found yet for
the Discovery fuel sensor anomaly: Baffling
problem could prompt shuttle fueling test - Spaceflight Now - July.17.05.
1:35 am: News briefs ... NASA
may be compelled to limit the Shuttle program to no more than 15
flights before retirement: White
House Memo Calls For Slashing Remaining Space Shuttle Flights -
SpaceRef - July.17.05 Frank Sietzen and Keith Cowing ...
William Herbert and Rand Simberg explain that redundancy to
achieve safe operations and redundancy to achieve cost-effective
operations are not equivalent: Airlines
Are Fail Operational--NASA Is Only Fail Safe - Transterrestrial
Musings - July.17.05 ...
gearing up for its display of mockups and hardware at the new Spaceport
center in Liverpool: Countdown
to the opening of Merseyside's Spaceport Only 8 days to go! - Starchaser
5:20 pm: News briefs ... William
Harwood gives a good intro to the fuel sensor problem: Engine
Cut-Off Sensor Background - Spaceflight Now - July.16.05 ...
... And here's a recent update
on the status of the debugging of the problem: Shuttle's
fuel sensor problem remains elusive - Spaceflight Now - July.16.05
... Rand Simberg says that
combining crew and cargo was not a crucial flaw in the Shuttle design
as many now believe: Wrong
Lesson - Transterrestrial Musings - July.17.05 ...
... I didn't know that Ecliptic
Enterprises was a spinoff from the failed Blastoff! lunar
space missions weighed - Pasadena Star - July.17.05.
11:40 am: News briefs ... Discovery
will not launch before the end of next week: Late-week
launch is 'possible': Team still working on shuttle to decode source
of sensor failure - Florida Today - July.16.05 * Shuttle
launch pushed back to late next week - spacetoday.net - July.15.05
... As these problems indicate,
the Shuttle program won't fly enough times by 2010 to finish the
ISS. So NASA is considering launching some of the remaining ISS
modules on other vehicles in place of the Shuttle: Boeing
ISS Manager Expects Scaled Back Station Configuration - Aviation
Week - July.15.05 ...
... Alan Boyle reports on the
efforts to get Discovery into space: Launch
pad perceptions - Cosmic Log/MSNBC.com - July.14.05 * What
would Burt do? - Cosmic Log / MSNBC.com - July.15.05 ...
... Dr. Zubrin comments on
CEV, HLV, etc in this interview: Interview
with Dr. Robert Zubrin - SpaceAlumni.com - July.15.05 ...
... A very short story about
a suborbital space ride: Out
of this world: A science-fiction writer takes us on an imaginary
space journey - DallasNews.com- July.15.05 ...
... An aerospace museum is
planned for Mojave: Transportation
museum planned for Mojave - AV Press - July.15.05 ...
... China continues its ponderous
program to space: Plans
come together for China's next manned flight - Spaceflight Now -
1:40 pm: News briefs ... No
word yet on when Discovery will launch: Shuttle
launch pushed back to at least Sunday - spacetoday.net - July.15.05
... Check out the interesting
at the recent Lunar
Commerce Roundtable, which was sponsored
by Boeing, LockMart, etc. Discussions about creating businesses
around utilisation of lunar resources was not so respectable just
a few years ago. (Item via Space
1:35 am: News briefs ... This
article talks about Pat Bahn, TGV
Rockets, and the trials and tribulations of running a small
concerns weigh on rocket entrepreneur - Business Gazette - July.15.05
... Here's another article
about space startups: The
new space race: Entrepreneurs seek to offer flights - CNN Money
- July.13.05 ...
... While this one is about Burt Rutan and space tourism: Aerospace
pioneer looks to future of private space flight - Arizona Daily
Star - July.13.05 (via a HS reader.)
1:05 pm: News briefs ... Elon
Musk of SpaceX
offers some advice to Florida on how to attract new space enterprises:
Florida needs more aerospace talent: PayPal co-creator, SpaceX boss
addresses state space commission - Florida Today - July.14.05
Origin is briefly mentioned in this interview: Jeff
Bezos Reaches for the Stars: Jeff Bezos has just launched a brand-new
company, and nothing about - not the product, not the approach -
"is like Amazon.com - AlwaysOn - July.14.05 (via spacetoday.net)
1:45 am News briefs ... NASA
will try again in a few days: Fuel
sensor glitch scrubs shuttle launch - spacetoday.net - July.13.05
... Griffin says the Shuttle
test program will end by 2010: Cosmic
Log: Has the shuttle peaked? - Cosmic Log / MSNBC - July.13.05
... I hope that by 2010 there
will be several new players in the US spaceflight business: NASA
not alone in shooting for the stars: Failures and delays at U.S.
space agency have opened the door for businesses to enter space
- Newsday.com - July.13.05 (via Space
Race News!) ...
... The Eclipse
500 is one of several Very
Light Jet projects trying to show that aerospace can
still learn a few new tricks and reduce costs the way other industries
do. This article - Eclipse
500 Program Update - Business & Commercial Aviation - July.2005
- includes a quote similar to what I've heard many rocket entrepreneurs
Raburn often has said that the aviation industry is so risk averse
that technological progress is painfully slow, manufacturing costs
are among the highest of any industry, quality is marginal and
reliability is low. This is why airplane prices are so high and
they cost so much to operate, according to Raburn.
1:45 am XP Cup rocket
show ... I realized today that I had glossed
over the XP
Cup announcement last
week about the participants in the October
exhibition. (I still can't find anything on the X
PRIZE Foundation website about the press
briefing.) Here's a list of the participants so far (from the
- XCOR will fly the
EZ Rocket several
times during the event. (If you can't make it to New Mexico, you
will also have a chance to see it fly at the Mojave
Air Show 05, Mojave Spaceport, California, Sept.21, 2005.)
Aerospace will bring one of its VTOL demonstrators to do a
mini-DC-X flight. It will not go as high as their Perfect
- Beyond Earth
Enterprises (a valued HS advertiser)
will launch a "17-foot-long amateur-class
rocket to an altitude of 20,000 to 24,000 feet, laden with
10 pounds worth of mementos from X Prize Cup attendees".
which this week released
some info about its new office in Las Cruces, will test fire
one of its Churchill
Ltd., and da
Vinci will bring various hardware parts and mockups from their
projects for exhibit.
- Tripoli Rocketry
Association will fly high power rockets to 20K-30K ft. The
Diego State Rocket student team will also fire one of their
While not quite as dramatic as the rocket races promised for future
XP Cup events, these guys should do a fine job in getting the program
off the ground.
3:45 pm News briefs ... NASA
may retire one of the three remaining shuttles (Discovery,
in 2007 to save money: NASA
and White House Discuss Early Shuttle Fleet Retirement - Frank Sietzen,
Jr. and Keith L. Cowing - Spaceref - July.13.05. ...
... The Oklahoma Gazette reports
which is building its vehicle in the state and plans to operate
it out of the spaceport
facility at Burns Flat: Space
cowboys: Real rocket scientists say there’s gold in Burns Flat,
where it’s flatter than a fritter. But it’ll be slim pickin’s for
Oklahoma if Rocketplane doesn’t get off the ground. - Oklahoma Gazette/AltWeekles
- July.13.04. [Update: 9:10 pm: changed the link to a long version
of the article at AltWeeklies.]
10:40 am: News briefs ... The
suspense if over - the CEV study contracts were won by the only
two teams competing in the contest: NASA
Awards Crew Exploration Vehicle Contracts - NASA - July.12.05
awards CEV study contracts - spacetoday.net - July.13.05 ...
... See the set of links
on top for the latest updates on the launch of Discovery
... Final article in the Florida
Today series on Columbia and the return to flight campaign:
11: Time for a gut check: Once 'go' is given, nothing left to do
but wait - Florida Today - July.12.05 ...
... Alan Boyle gives some background
on how the press reports on the Shuttle flights: Guide
to the shuttlesphere - Cosmic Log/ MSNBC - July.12.05.
3:45 pm: News briefs ... This
announcement - NASA
Engineers, Tennessee College Students Successfully Demonstrate Catch
Mechanism for Future Space Tether - NASA - July.6.05 - describes
development of a rotating tether system for grabbing payloads from
low orbit and throwing them to high orbit. See Momentum-Exchange
Electrodynamic Reboost (MXER) Tether Fact Sheet - MSFC NASA - May.2005
MXER at Tethers Unlimited for an explanation of the system and
how the tether regains its orbit.
Some nice animations are available at MXER
group at Tennessee Tech University. The project is funded by
Space gives a contract to SpaceDev
for design of its SmallTug
demonstration spacecraft: SpaceDev
Microsat to Travel InterPlanetary Superhighway to The Moon - Yahoo!/Spacedev
- July.12.05. NASA gave Andrews an $18.7M
grant in April for the SmallTug project, which would "demonstrate
key technologies and advanced orbital mechanics for application
to NASA’s human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars."
... Sam DInkin reports that
Oklahoma has made progress in getting FAA approval for its spaceport:
Spaceport OK in 2005 - Transterrestrial Musings - July.12.05
news at Starchaser
update - Space Race News - July.11.05 and Starchaser
Launch Escape Hardware Tested - Space Race News/Space.com - July.12.05.
11:45 am: News briefs ... The
website has been updated, including the page on the Proteus.
Note that they are now separately marketing their Chase-10
LOX/LNG Engine. ...
... I don't see anything about
it yet on the Spacehab
website but the company has begun to offer a modular set of spacecraft
called Apex. A small version could fit on a Falcon I while a large
one could match with a Delta 4 size launcher: Swiss-knife
spacecraft - Cosmic Log / MSNBC - July.11.05 * Spacehab
proposes ISS cargo spacecraft - spacetoday.net - July.12.05.
This seems somewhat similar to the adaptable cargo canisters proposed
... Another shuttle waits in
line to orbit: Chapter
10: Atlantis’ team stands ready. ...
... I just noticed the videos
in the Transformational
Space Media Gallery. I can't help but think of Wile
E. Coyote riding on the test article when I see at the end the
little puff of dust.
4:35 pm: ORION reusable Bat...
Tim Pickens of Orion
Propulsion has unveiled a fly-back booster concept at an AIAA
Ship Begins by Robin Snelson - Space Race News! - July.11.05.
The vehicle is proposed for the Air Force Hybrid Launch Vehicle
Study and Analysis program, which was formerly called ARES (Affordable
Responsive Spacelift). They are after a 2-stage vehicle with a reusable
first stage. Tim's booster takes off like a typical vertical rocket
but after releasing the second stage it rolls out two wings from
its side and flies back to base under jet power. See the picture
in the article. (I don't see any images on the Orion site yet.)
4:35 pm: Shuttle briefs ...
Bill Harwood has posted a 10 part series on the preparations for
the Discovery flight: STS-114
Shuttle Report | NASA sets sights on next space shuttle flight -
Spaceflight Now ...
... Here are the latest two
parts in the Florida Today series: Chapter
8: Coming together: Despite storms' setbacks, things fall into place
for Stephanie Stilson *
Chapter 9: As tragedy shifts mission, crew feels pressure: Dress
rehearsals prepare astronauts to perform new in-orbit maneuvers.
2:25 pm: Turbopump defense ...
In response to my item
about Robert Truax's criticism of turbopumped engines, Elon Musk
says that turbopumps, in fact, saved them money:
"The early SpaceX analysis showed that, for an orbital vehicle,
it would have been much more expensive to scale up the vehicle
than add a turbopump. With the benefit of three years of rocket
development experience, I believe that the initial analysis was
He does agree with the general point that government programs designed
for performance and tended to maximize rather than minimize costs.
is also currently in the Phase
II of the DARPA
Falcon project. It will be interesting to see if they can achieve
their performance/cost goals with pressure fed systems and if they
can compete with turbopumped vehicles. This paper describes their
Access to Space – The Scorpius® Low-Cost Launch System - by Shyama
Chakroborty, Robert E. Conger, James R. Wertz - IAF, Oct.2004.
2:25 pm: News briefs ... Sam
Dinkin interviews Dr. Earl Renaud, chief operating officer of TGV
Rockets, about space tourism, insurance, suborbital reconnaissance,
two guys at the vanguard (part 1) - The Space Review - July.11.05
... Taylor Dinerman ponders
whether NASA can complete the final phase of the Shuttle program
to flight: has NASA changed enough? - The Space Review - July.11.05
... Speaking of Robert Truax,
here is an article from 1979 about his design for a suborbital tourist
Ticket to Space - Spaceflight / epizodsspace.testpilot.ru - Mar.
... The SpaceShow will interview
Charles Miller, CEO of Constellation
Services International, next Sunday at 12-1:30 PM Pacific Time.
(BTW: CSI is also a partner
in t/Space) ...
... The SpaceShow
interview with George Nield of AST/FAA
is now online, as is the one with Tim
3:15 am: Shuttle briefs ...
Craig Covault at Aviation Week reports on the significance of the
upcoming Discovery flight: Flight
of the Phoenix: Shuttle's Safe Return Key to Space Program's Future
- Aviation Week - July.10.05 ...
... And he discusses the extensive
efforts made by NASA to raise the reliability of the propulsion
Comeback: Space Shuttle Main Engine and solid rocket testing doubled
to buttress launch safety - AvWeek/NASA Watch - July. 10.05
... Also in AvWeek is the article
- Shuttle Main Engine Design Remains Exploration Candidate
(subscription required), which says that the SSME might be used
for the CEV program. "[O]ne NASA option is to reinitiate SSME
production to use it as a throw-away, as opposed to a reusable,
powerplant for NASA's new heavy-lift booster." Though it is
"the most highly efficient liquid rocket engine ever developed",
it is difficult to believe it could be economical to use even for
a true RLV, much less for a throw-away. ...
... Alan Boyle, Jim Oberg,
et al at MSNBC
- Space News will be posting lots of shuttle stories this week.
... Rick Tumlinson and the
Foundation don't exactly see the Discovery launch as a big step
back into space:
Scuttle the Shuttle!
Space Shuttle is a Dangerous Waste of Taxpayer Funds
Space Frontier Foundation
Los Angeles, July 11, 2005 - In anticipation of this week's planned
return to flight of NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery, the Space
Frontier Foundation renewed its call for the orbiters to be retired.
The Foundation, which for over 15 years has criticized the Shuttle
system as too costly, urged NASA and the Congress to announce
a firm date when the last orbiter will fly.
“If it were up to us the shuttle would never have flown in the
first place,” said the Foundation's Rick Tumlinson. “Far from
opening space to the American people, it has weighed down our
space program with its bloated budgets, massive support network
and tragic cost in terms of human life. It's time is passed. We
should kill it as soon as possible, before more money gets wasted
and, heaven forbid, anyone else gets hurt.”
12:55 pm: Big vehicles + less performance
=> low costs ... I've had a link to this 1999 article
Future of Earth-to-Orbit Propulsion, by Robert
Truax - in the RLV links section
for a long time but after seeing it posted on aRocket
yesterday, I thought it was well worth highlighting here again.
Truax makes a number of interesting points about why launch costs
remain so high but the the fundamental one is that government funded
programs have always designed for performance rather than for low
"Most often [the engineers who led the programs] neither
knew nor cared about the cost impact of their designs. High performance
and light weight invariably led to complication and high cost.
No development really focused on the economic aspects of high
performance. No one wanted to. The engineering of complex systems
is fun, and most programs were done on almost inexhaustible budgets.
No one bothered to ask, 'Is it worth the price?'"
Turbopumps exemplify this emphasis on performance over cost. Truax
says that "turbopump engines, whether high pressure or low,
were a mistake from the very beginning." Pressure fed engines
are simpler, cheaper, and safer. (See this paper: Using
Pressure-Fed Propulsion Technology to Lower Space by Charkoborty
& Bauer, Microcosm - AIAA July 2004) He argues that the performance
lost in giving up turbopumps can be regained by going to a larger,
but much simpler, vehicle.
He discusses other issues such as wings and water landings that
lead to all sorts of counter arguments. (Note that he was writing
when the X-33 program was still in gear.) However, his emphasis
on designing for cost holds regardless.
12:55 pm: Advanced dreams ... Slashdot
had a posting yesterday about this article - Positron
Drive: Fill 'er Up For Pluto - Universe Today - June.30.05 -,
which discusses the efforts by Positronics
Research, via Air Force grants, to develop storage traps for
positrons so they can be used for propulsion and other applications.
(I've always been impressed that Gerald Smith gave up a full professorship
State to pursue this commercially.)
See this NIAC abstract for a description of their latest project:
Positron Propelled and Powered Space Transport Vehicle for Planetary
Missions - Dr. Gerald Smith - Positronics Research - NIAC Abstract
- Spring 2005. There is also this article from last year: Interstellar
travel is just an antimatter of time / Energy from particle annihilation
could cut voyages by light years - SF Chronicle - Aug.8.04 .
The NIAC has sponsored studies of a number of other interesting
technologies. See this page - NASA
Institute for Advanced Concepts -- Funded Studies - for links
to reports on them.
For example, this report - Modular
Laser Launch Architecture:Analysis and Beam Module Design - NIAC
Phase I Meeting - March 2004 - gives the slide presentation
by Jordin Kare of his laser propulsion scheme.
Another antimatter study by Hbar
Technologies, LLC involves gathering antiprotons in space: Antimatter
Harvesting in Space - Gerald Jackson - Hbar Technologies LLC - NIAC
Robert Winglee at the University of Washington looked at sending
beams of plasma to spacecraft, which would in turn use the plasma
for propulsion: MagBeam
- R. Winglee et al - NIAC Report - March 2005 * Magnetized
Beamed Plasma Propulsion (MagBeam) - NIAC FInal Report - Winglee
& Ziemba - April-05
12:55 pm: News briefs ... You
can get updates on the preparations for Wednesday's launch of Discovery
Now | STS-114 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center
... More about last week's
Cup announcement: X
PRIZE Cup Participants Countdown To October - Space Race News! -
11:00 am: News briefs ... Alan
Boyle reports on the issue of liability insurance for suborbital
space tourism projects and talks with Pat Bahn of TGV-Rockets
about it: Final-frontier
insurance - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - July.8.05 ...
... If you need a long flat
stretch of concrete on which to land your spaceship, NASA wants
to talk to you: KSC
offers landing strip to public - Florida Today - July.9.05 *
Solicitation: Request for Information for Use of the Shuttle Landing
Facility at NASA Kennedy Space Center - SpaceRef - July.8.05.
... Storms added to NASA's
RtF problems: Chapter
7: 2004 hurricanes caused frustration: KSC workers suspend return
to flight efforts, pray orbiters remain safe - Florida Today - July.9.05.
8:10 pm: News briefs ... The
organizations participatiing in the rocket exhibition at the XP
CUP meeting, October 4-9, 2005, Las Cruces, NM., were announced
lineup revealed for X Prize Cup: October exhibition in New Mexico
to feature blasts, demos - MSNBC.com - July.8.05 * X
Prize Cup Starts Countdown For October Liftoff - SPACE.com - July.8.05.
... I just noticed that AST-FAA
has posted the minutes
(pdf) of the May 28th COMSTAC
meeting and the presentations
(PowerPoint files). The agenda
included a number of interesting topics such as space insurance,
commercial space transportation market forecasts, and satellite
financing (by a rep from www.nearearthllc.com)
... Don't miss the Return
to the Moon - RTM Conference VI, July 21-23 at The Flamingo,
Las Vegas, Nevada. The agenda
with the speakers listed is now available. Here is a press release
posted today: Commerical
Space Sector Uses Las Vegas Conference to "Call" NASA Leaders on
True Earth-to-Moon Business Oportunities - SpaceRef - July.8.05
3:55 pm: News briefs ... Jonathan
Goff analyzes the assumptions behind, and the pitfalls awaiting,
a Shuttle derived CEV program: Shuttle
Derived Sillyness Part I: Getting Shafted by "The Stick"
- Selenian Boondocks - July.7.05 ...
... Speaking of which, New
Scientist reports on the SDVs: New
NASA launchers based on shuttle booster - New Scientist - July.8.05
... On orbit repairs to the
thermal protection system turned out to be a lot harder than expected:
6: The shuttle tiles: In-space repairs become an impossible mission
- Florida Today - July.8.05. (See Florida
Today Columbia series for links to the previous chapters.)
... The latest issue of Popular
Science has a long article on the high power rocketry community:
Biggest Bang: Welcome to the Large Dangerous Rocket Ship launch,
where even failure is fun, if the explosion's big enough - Popular
Science - July.05 issue.
4:20 pm: News briefs ... TGV-Rockets
recently underwent a system design review in which the plans for
its suborbital vehicle were carefully examined by an independently
selected group of experienced engineers. No significant problems
were found and the project is on track for its first launch. [Update
July.8.05: I corrected "preliminary design review" to
"system design review".]...
... The next entry in the Florida
Today series: Chapter
5: Striving for accountability: NASA's procedures, culture under
fire - Florida Today - July.7.05 ...
... I wonder if the SRBs on
all those SDVs will produce lots of SDP (Shuttle Derived Pollution):
Study Finds Shuttle Exhaust Is Source Of Mysterious Clouds In Antarctica
- NRL/ScienceDaily - July.6.05 ...
... Following up on a previous
posting about reserving a seat on a SS2, Sam Dinkin gets a copy
of the deposit
form from Virgin Galactic: Virgin
Galactic OK - Transterrestrial Musings - July.7.05.
1:15 am: News brief ... The
CEV architecture is starting to look a lot like Apollo, i.e. expendable
launchers and capsules. However, for Robert Zubrin, the comparison
isn't quite close enough. He wants the capsules to hold 3-4 persons
instead of 5-6: The
Case for a Small CEV - The Mars Society/Space News editorial - July.4.05.
A central tenet of Zubrin's argument against small launchers and
in-space assembly is that with more launches there is a greater
chance of one of them failing. And he assumes this will result in
the failure of the whole mission. Also, he assumes that launches
are expensive and so the fewer the better.
However, this is a self-fulfilling arrangement. If you don't fly
a lot, you never get highly reliable launchers and you never achieve
the economies of scale that produce low cost launchers.
6:15 pm: News brief ... Rocketplane
encountering big liability insurance obstacles: Sub-orbital
flights on time for 2007 - NewsOK.com - July.5.05 -
Due to the risky nature of the company's venture, subcontractors
are "nervous" and demanding staggering insurance amounts, Rocketplane
Limited Inc. Vice President David Urie said. Rocketdyne, the company's
rocket engine supplier, is asking $100 million for ground testing
alone, he said.
3:25 pm: News briefs ... The
latest in the Florida Today series: Chapter
4: A sudden change: The shuttle shuffle: Discovery gets the call
- Florida Today - July.6.05 ...
... NASA will use 107 cameras
to watch Discovery during launch for signs of debris damage: Shuttle
return to flight: The most closely watched in history * 16:09 06
July 2005 * NewScientist.com ...
... I think the dogged persistence
Olsen to go to space is an indication of just how powerful
will be the attraction for space tourism for many people: Deal
signed to put Olsen in space - BBC - July.6.05 * Roskosmos
signs contract for Olsen flight- spacetoday.net - July.6.05
... The SpaceShow
interview with Tim
Pickens is now online. ...
... As I've noted many times
with projects like those at JP
Space is growing in importance for the military: Air
Force testing high-altitude balloons: Balloons could help intelligence,
communications - CNN.com - July.5.05 (via a HS
reader.) This will probably eventually include reconnaissance with
suborbital RLVs, e.g. see the Space
Review article by Sam Dinkin.
3:40 pm: News briefs ... The
issue of Air
& Space Magazine has an interesting article by Brian Binnie
on his two SS1 rocket powered flights and the embarrassment of the
landing mishap on the first one. There is also an article on the
Foust says the Commerce Department's Office
of Space Commercialization may be coming back to life.
11:10 am: News briefs ... This
Review includes two space transport related articles:
... Dwayne Day responds to
a recent Space
Review series by Alan Wasser claiming that space development
was halted by passage of the Outer Space Treaty and its restrictions
on space property ownership: Big
claims, little evidence - The Space Review - July.5.05. Sam
takes issue with Day's generalization that physics, as expressed
in high launch costs, rather than policy prevents lunar commerce:
V a Cost Barrier? - Transterrestrial Musings - July.5.05 ...
... The latest in the Florida
Today series on the Columbia aftermath: Chapter
3: Fixing the foam: Preventing disaster, getting clear picture -
Florida Today - July.5.05 ...
... More about NASA's post-Shuttle
NASA evolves, what will replace the shuttle? - Houston Chronicle
3:05 am: Expendable programs ...
Authorization bills merely set guidelines for budget appropriations
and are often not passed by the full Congress. But the relative
ease with which the NASA budget authorization was approved in the
House science subcommittee seems to indicate solid support there
for the long term Moon/Mars program. NASA's
Moon Plans Shift into High Gear - Space News/Space.com - July.4.05
I think this also signals that NASA will eventually get its requested
budget appropriated and probably will for many years. As I've indicated
my main concern is not that the VSE inspired program will be shut
down by a future administration but that we will see another Shuttle-like
program that is flawed from the start and unstoppable for decades.
An expendable crew launcher plus an expendable heavy lifter will
not provide low cost access to space or low cost operations in space.
They will offer lower costs than the shuttle perhaps but not the
big reductions needed to encourage large scale, long term development
Fortunately, we are now seeing real progress
made towards creation of a private space transport industry. It
also appears that some fraction of NASA's funding will go towards
buying ISS cargo and crew delivery services from commercial providers.
So regardless of what is achieved directly by the agency's primary
programs, as a side effect they may help launch the means to make
true space development a reality.
3:05 am: News briefs
... I missed the repeat on Sunday of the CBS 60
Minutes segment about Burt Rutan and the SS1 but here is the online
page about it: Next
Space Race Under Way - CBS News - July.3.05 ...
Today is presenting a series of articles on the Columbia disaster
and its aftereffects. Here are the first two entries:Chapter
One: The Worst Day: 02.01.03: The day spaceflight changed forever
Two: Picking up the Pieces - Solving the Columbia mystery ...
is contributing rocket related items to Spaceport,
which seems to be both a space themed adventure park and an education
center run by a collaboration of a commercial company and a university:
to the opening of Merseyside's Spaceport -Starchaser - July.4.05
(Item via Space
Race News!) ...
... Another article about the
move of the first Falcon launch to Kwajalein:Titan
4 delay bumps Falcon - Space Race News! - July.4.05
3:05 am: The SpaceShow
Tuesday, July 5, 2005, 7:00-8:30 pm (Pacific Time ) - Tim Pickens,
CEO of Orion
Propulsion, has been developing innovative propulsion systems
for many years. For example, he was the top propulsion designer
for Burt Rutan on the SS1 project. He led development of a balloon
rocket vehicle with the Huntsville
Alabama L5 Society (HAL5) that reached 36 miles in altitude,
a record at the time for an amateur group. Orion is currently
designing and building thrust stands (20k lb and 200k lb) for
Tim has a a reusable fly-back booster proposal submitted to the
“Hybrid Launch Vehicle” program. "This concept is a highly
responsive vehicle (launch turn around time of 24-48 hours), and
will reduce the cost of what is currently available by a factor
Sunday, July 10, 2005, 12-1:30 pm (Pacific Time ) - Dr. George
C. Nield, Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space
Dr. George C. Nield is the Deputy Associate Administrator for
Commercial Space Transportation at the FAA. He has over 30 years
of aerospace experience with the Air Force, at NASA, and in private
The interviews are discussed on the Spaceshow
Forum at Space
2:25 am: News briefs ... Just
watched the initial images from the Deep
Impact strike on Tempel 1. Quite a show. Meanwhile, the space
transport news has been a bit sparse this holiday weekend but here
are some items of interest. ...
... John Carmack posted the
latest Armadillo update: Spherical
tanks, vehicle work, engine work - Armadillo Aerospace - July.3.05.
... It's too bad the Challenger
investigation committtee didn't come to the conclusion that that
the Shuttle had to be replaced: Investigator
calls for replacement of 'dangerous' NASA shuttle fleet - HoustonChronicle.com
- July.1.05 ...
... There were certainly a
lot of close calls before the Challenger and up to the loss of Columbia:
NASA reviews past close calls: As shuttle flight looms, near-disasters
get second look - FLorida Today - July.2.05 ...
... And there's always the
possibility of a problem with an SSME: Powerful
propulsion system poses risks - Orlando Sentinel - July.3.05
... Here's one safe way to
ride a Shuttle: Space
center to launch fun ride: Attraction to simulate space shuttle
experience - Orlando Sentinel - July.2.05 ...
... A new reality show on the
Sci-Fi Channel called
Blasters [wa]s casting
for "amateur rocket scientists" in the Dallas/ Fort Worth
area. The catch [wa]s that they must be "attractive men and
women with outgoing personalities". (Item via R. Nech.) [Updated:
8:10 pm: News brief ... Keith
Cowing reports that NASA has definitely decided to go with the two
shuttle derived vehicles (SDV) previously rumored to be under consideration,
i.e. the "stick" CEV launcher and an "in line"
heavy lifter: NASA
Plans to Build Two New Shuttle-derived Launch Vehicles - SpaceRef
- July.1.05. Keith comments on the difficulties NASA will face
in funding the projects. Perhaps Griffin will also try some new
contracting/management approaches to keep the costs down.
3:00 pm: News briefs ... Leonard
David reviews what is known so far about the Blue
Origin project: Details
Emerge on Jeff Bezos' Space Plans - SPACE.com - July.1.05 ...
... Sam Dinkin reports on an
update he received from Virgin
Galactic, where he is registered as a potential passenger: Virgin
Galactic Update - Transterrestrial Musings - July.1.05 ...
... The ESA will decide in
December whether to participate in building the Russian Kliper
reusable crew module that will be launched on an upgraded Soyuz
envisages cooperation on new Russian space plane - ESA - July.1.05
The key decision on Europe's future involvement in Kliper could
be made in December. European government ministers responsible
for space will be meeting to consider ESA's programme of space
ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration
Programmes is confident that the response will be positive. "It
is not just that Kliper is a good political deal, or that it provides
us with a powerful piece of technology," said Daniel Sacotte.
"It will give us a vision, a scientific goal that young Europeans
badly need today."
1:30 am: News briefs ... A
news program on a Sacramento TV station did a nice piece about JP
Aerospace and its Pongsat
project. You can see it online by selecting the Tuesday June
28, 2005 entry on the list of videos at News10
- KXTV - Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto. ...
... Discovery could be heading
to space in less than two weeks: STS-114
launch set for July 13 - spacetoday.net - June.30.05 ...
... Story Musgrave "was
never comfortable with the shuttle" but thinks "this current
launch will be as safe as any they've ever done.": Interview
with Story Musgrave - Universe Today - June.30.05.
to June 2005