11:15 am: ARCA rolls out ORIZONT...
The Romanian ARCA organization, formerly a X PRIZE team, rolled
out its ORIZONT suborbital vehicle on August 27th. Check out pictures
of the event on their website.
They also offer several pdf documents describing the vehicle:
The vehicle uses an innovative variable geometry wing
that adapts to each phase of the flight.
It will be air launched at a low altitude and initially use a turbojet
to reach 17km. The jet engine is then "detached", The
wings move into a sweep-back configuration, and the rocket engine
fires to send the vehicle to 100km. At apogee the wings sweep forward
and the vehicle falls back in tail first mode. A parachute deploys
If I understand the documentation
correctly, the cabin can detach from the vehicle in case of an emergency
Engine tests will take place in this year and test flights next
year. The vehicle can fly via ground control or with one pilot and
(Item via Space
11:15 am: XCOR methane engine ...
XCOR announces the
successful development of a compact methane rocket engine: XCOR
Aerospace Completes Successful Development of Methane Rocket Engine:
Engine seen as advantage for (RCS) and satellite maneuvering operations
- XCOR - Aug.31.05
11:15 am: News briefs ... The
text of the Discover magazine cover
article for September about SpaceX is now available in full
on the SpaceX
... The launcher for the Kliper
will use an engine originally developed for the Soviet lunar program:
engine to power spacecraft - Flight International - Aug.30.05
... Glenn Reynolds ponders
the legal implications of a space elevator: Space
Elevator: Stuck Between Floors - TCS: Tech Central Station - Aug.31.05
... Just what the world and
the high-power rocketry community needs, the Political Wacko's Guide
to Hybrid Rockets: Manual
for [Hybrid] Rocket System (link via a HS
2:45 am: DARPA wins for startups ...
The latest issue of Space News reports that there are strong indications,
but no confirmation yet, that Air
Launch and SpaceX
will win the funding for the next phase of the DARPA
Falcon program. Microcosm
has already starting laying off people. The other apparent loser
is Lockheed-Martin but there are factions within the military who
are uncomfortable with the award going to a new company and not
to a familiar one like LM. So the decision might still be reversed
or other money found to give to LM.
Assuming things do go as expected, Air Launch will receive about
$40M to develop its vehicle and to launch a small satellite in 2007.
SpaceX would get funding to develop ways to shorten the call-up
time for launching a payload with the Falcon I from two weeks to
A public announcement from DARPA is expected soon.
2:45 am: Blue Origin news ...
A couple of Blue
Origin items via HS reader D. De
Sloover. The company carry out some jet engine tests in 2004 at
a college in Seattle: Jet
engine testing creates stir on campus - South Seattle Community
College - June.2006 * Picture.
I'm told these were probably in preparation for test flights of
a jet engine powered VTVL platform that took place at the beginning
of this year. ...
... And Blue Origin paid $7.8M
for a facility in Kent, Washington according to this King
County real estate market report.
2:45 am: News
brief ... Michael Griffin will lay out the
grand NASA space transport plan today: Sneak
Peek at Griffin's AIAA Speech Tomorrow - NASA Watch - Aug.30.05.
12:35 pm: News brief ... The
takes off again with Dick Rutan in the cockpit: EZ-Rocket
rises again - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Aug.29.05. Former astronaut
Rick Searfoss will fly it at the XP Cup: XCOR
To Fly EZ Rocket at X PRIZE CUP Countdown in Las Cruces, NM - XCOR
8:40 am: News briefs ... An
update on the XP Cup
Expo in October: X
Prize Cup: Rocket demo flights slated - Las Cruces Sun-News - Aug.28.05
... Financing and insurance
services will be crucial parts of the space tourist transport industry
infrastructure according to Sam Dinkin: General
(Rocket) Motors - The Space Review - Aug.29.05
... The Kliper
will have an escape module to save the crew in an emergency situation
according to this Russian SpaceNews.Ru
article (via F. Novozhilov). ...
... Taylor Dinerman reports
on knowledge gained from the recent Discovery mission: A
few lessons from the return to flight - Space Review - Aug.29.05
... India is developing technology
for spacecraft reentry and recovery: Eye
on space return ticket - The Telegraph - Calcutta - Aug.27.05
1:35 pm: News briefs ... Alan
Boyle has a lengthy interview with Jim Benson of SpaceDev
about the company and its long term plans: How
one company is making space pay: SpaceDev's Jim Benson on the "killer
apps" that lie beyond Earth - MSNBC.com - Aug.25.05
... Dan Schrimpsher likes the
agile approach of SpaceDev: SpaceDev
gets Agile Development - Space Pragmatism - Aug.26.05.
... An essay pushing for private
space development: The
Space Elephant Meets the Gazelle - TheRealityCheck.Org - Aug.25.05
... Here's an article about
Challenges program: Cosmic
Contests - GovExec.com - Aug.15.05 ...
.... Khrunichev wants to compete
with Energia and offer an alternative to the Kliper that would be
based on a 100ton lifter: Angara-100
- Russian Spaceweb (via F. Novozhilov)
.... Another article on the
India RLV-TD project: Reusable
launch vehicle (TD) lift-off in 2008 - India Monitor - Aug.25.05
... DVDs of presentations at
the recent 6th Lunar
Development 2005 Conference: Return to the Moon - Reality Check
are available at www.AcceleratingMedia.com.
1:55 am: Pentagon
smallsat push ... The Wall Street Journal
has an article today reporting that the US military wants to give
a much bigger priority to small satellites that "cost between
$15 million and $30 million apiece, compared with current versions
costing several hundred million dollars.": Pentagon
Envisions Operations With Small Satellites: Technical, Budget Problems
With Big Ones Spark Push For Cheaper, Flexible Birds - WSJ - Aug.26.05
The article discusses the "operationally responsive space"
emphasis of the Air Force that has led to efforts like the DARPA
Falcon program. They want the capability to launch small tactical
satellites on short notice, from mobile platforms, for things like
providing "targeted surveillance of nearby enemy movements
over a critical few weeks or months."
There is a lot of disappointment and fatigue from dealing with
large satellite programs that take forever to develop, usually experience
severe overruns, and are anything but quick to launch. (Of course,
some tasks like high resolution imaging with large telescopes will
continue to need big spacecraft.)
If the Pentagon really does follow through with this (and it's
not just some general
spouting off), it could have some significant consequences for
"For major U.S. aerospace contractors, beset by a string
of high-profile cost overruns and embarrassing technical problems
affecting some of the largest, most ambitious satellites, the
shift means reduced revenue but also reduced outlay. Furthermore,
the anticipated changes are likely to open the door to competition
from a bevy of entrepreneurs and industry newcomers, not to mention
ripples of innovation potentially affecting space tourism or other
The total funding for smallsat programs, though, will remain comparatively
small: "less than $600 million on small-rocket development
through the end of the decade".
The SpaceX Falcon
I project is highlighted as a company that is crucial in validating
the policy. The last item of the article quotes from one general
who says the success of the upcoming Falcon I launch is "very
important". If it is, he is confident that they ""will
get more money from Congress" for the responsive launch programs.
1:55 am: News briefs ... The
issue of AIAA
(Houston) Horizons Newsletter is now available online. It includes
the article Accelerating the Crew Exploration Vehicle by
Steve King. Also, there is a call by Jim Akkerman for help with
launch project: Advent Launch Services Soliciting Volunteers.
Speaking of DARPA programs, I've not been able to find
out any info on the status of the X-37 drop tests at Mojave. Someone,
however, was kind enough to send an image of the cool looking patch
for the project:
... Sounds like Zero-G
is doing well: Firm
offers weightless flights: Zero Gravity starts trips here in November
- Florida Today - Aug.25.05.I think this is the first article
on this topic that doesn't mention airsickness. This schoolteacher
's experience seems to be the more common effect of microgravity:
"She was supposed to conduct some experiments onboard during
the weightless periods, but she got caught up in the moment and
was having so much fun that she didn't get everything done."
... New Mexico is getting into
gear on its spaceport development: New
Mexico Charts Future of Spaceport - SPACE.com - Aug.25.05.
11:40 am: News briefs ... NASA
Watch reports that the cost for the new exploration plan is encountering
some resistance in the White House: Rollout
Plan for Griffin's Architecture Stumbles - NASA Watch - Aug.25.05
... India is planning to test
a demonstrator for a reusable launch system:
Reusable launch vehicle (TD) lift-off in 2008 - The Hindu - Aug.25.05
(Via F. Novozhilov). The unmanned winged RLV-TD will be launched
on an expendable solid rocket booster called the S-9. The suborbital
flight will test technologies for reentry and hypersonic flight.
More info at ISRO's
RLV Project - V. Kthakur - Nov.28.04. ...
... More on possible European
involvement in the Kliper:
may be ready by 2010 - New Scientist - Aug.25.05
... Alan Boyle says the ceremony
for the installation of the SS1 into the Smithsonian will take place
on October 5th: A
date with SpaceShipOne - Cosmic Log/MSNBC.com - Aug.24.05
... Jon Goff has been reading
report found in the list of studies at NASA
- Exploration Systems - Reports from the Concept Exploration &
Refinement Broad Agency Announcement (CE&R) BAA, He found
their analysis of the potential size of the orbital space tourism
market to be of particular interest: Interesting
Orbital Space Tourism Numbers - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.24.05
... Jon also examines possible
applications of the Spacehab Apex series of modular spacecraft mentioned
here yesterday : SpaceHab
Announcement and Launch Services Ideas - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.24.05
4:40 pm: News briefs ... Spacehab
plans to offer a set of modular spacecraft for carrying cargo and
eventually people to orbit. The modules could be launched by different
Aims High with Apex Spacecraft Trio - SPACE.com - Aug.24.05.
Here's a previous article by Alan Boyle: Swiss-knife
spacecraft - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - July.12.05.
... Leonard David reports on
Clipper Ship Draws European Interest - SPACE.com - Aug.24.05
... The cover article for the
September issue of Discover Magazine is about SpaceX
and Elon Musk: Shooting
the Moon: Internet multimillionaire Elon Musk bets his entire fortune
developing a subcompact rocket that could make outer space as accessible
as cyberspace. - Discover - Sept.05 (need subscription to read
2:05 pm: News briefs ... Low
cost space tourism (as compared to the Soyuz) may reach orbit sooner
rather than later: Space
tourism companies aiming for orbit - New Scientist - Aug.24.05
... Several space transport
sessions will be included in the upcoming AIAA
Space 2005 - Long Beach, California - Aug.30-Sept.1.05 * Agenda
... Glenn Reynolds sees progress
in space development: Space
Program: Looking Up - Tech Central Station - Aug.24.05 ...
... NASA looks on the positive
side and says the Discovery flight actually went really well: A
Spectacular Test Flight - NASA - Aug.23.05
11:20 am: News brief ... NASA
will go with the in-line design for the heavy lifter: NASA
picks rocket for return to Moon: Agency opts for 100t launcher using
Shuttle technology - Flight International - Aug.23.05. (Via
10:40 am: Inflatable reentry system ...
According to this Russian article - Space
"Parachute" to Fly in September - SpaceNews.RU - Aug.23.05
- there will be another test of the inflatable reentry system by
(Inflatable Reentry Descent Technology) project. IRDT, which is
operated by a collaboration
of S.A.Lavochkina and EADS. They have carried out three
previous tests, the first was a partial success but the second
two failed because of launch vehicle problems.
The system could provide a low cost way to return
cargo from space. (How about products from the Moon like platinum?)
Also, their light weight makes them suitable for sample return missions
from Mars and elsewhere. Crew
rescue is another target application.
(This item via F. Novozhilov).
9:55 am: News briefs ... Scaled/Virgin
will go to orbit after SS2: SpaceShipThree
poised to follow if SS2 succeeds - Flight International - Aug.23.05
... NASA suborbital spaceflight
pilots finally get the astronaut wings they deserved (though too
late for two of them):
NASA X-15 pilots awarded astronaut wings - collectSPACE - Aug.23.05
Space Systems will be one of the sponsors of the X-PRIZE
Cup in October: Masten
Space Systems Announces XPrize Cup Sponsorship - Masten Space Systems
- Aug.23.05 ...
... Here's an update on the
space elevator competition sponsored by Centennial
Challenges and the Spaceward
Elevator Update - Spaceward Foundation/SpaceRef - Aug.22.05.
Several university and hobbyist teams are competing for the prize:
12:35 pm: WSJ space post ...
In response to Requiem
for the Future: Where Are the Interplanetary Wonders We Read About
When We Were Kids? - by Tim Hanrah & Jason Fry - Real Time/WSJ
- Aug.15.05, I sent an email to the authors that offered a more
optimistic view of space development. They received a record number
of reader comments on the article and posted
a number of them today and kindly included my entire message.
I can't find today's piece in the free section at WSJ, so I''ll
show here what I wrote:
You are greatly exaggerating the death of the future; and wildly
exaggerating the death of humanity's expansion into outer space.
While it's true that space development is far behind where it
could have been, please don't hold to the false logic that "if
it hasn't happened by now, then it can't happen."
We are, in fact, well into the start of a private-industry-led
revolution in space development. Like the PC revolution, it will
take place in an evolutionary way, starting with very simple systems
and applications. (Remember that for the first decade or so after
the Altair, the main apps for PCs were games.) Private space will
be mainly self-financed as it proceeds through step-by-step improvements
in capability, each step paid for by profits from the previous
There are at least a half-dozen serious companies developing vehicles
for suborbital spaceflight. Within two to three years they will
be flying payloads and passengers routinely up to and back down
from 100 km in altitude. The leading company, of course, is the
collaboration of Burt Rutan and Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic
will begin flying seven passengers at a time on their SpaceShipTwo
vehicles in 2008. Already well into an incremental development
process, this vehicle will be the second-generation of the SpaceShipOne
that won the X Prize last year.
Even before the vehicle's debut, Virgin Galactic has gotten deposits
on or the full amount of the $200,000 price tag for tickets from
more than 150 people. More than 30,000 people have indicated a
strong interest in tickets when flights become available. Space
Adventures similarly has gotten payments from more than 100 people
towards a suborbital ride when it becomes available.
(With regards to space being only for "techno-zillionaires," come
on. You of all people should know that almost every product or
service imaginable -- cars, airline flights, DVD players, etc.
-- starts off being affordable only to the rich. Gradually, economies
of scale bring the price down to where everyone else can afford
them. The rich are essential to initiating the bootstrapping process
that reduces the price.)
You may scoff at suborbital spaceflight as falling far short of
interplanetary travel, but so what? PC's were scoffed at as toys
by top computer-industry gurus right up until the early 1990s.
What is important is whether a big enough market will appear that
can sustain the companies and allow them to recycle a portion
of their profits back into incremental improvements just as the
PC companies did. So far, the market for suborbital spaceflight
looks plenty big enough to do that.
Suborbital spaceflight is not the only area, however, where private
spaceflight development is heating up. For example, Elon Musk's
plans the first flight of its low-cost launcher early this fall.
The company now has at least six customers for its first-generation
launcher and is well into development of a second-generation vehicle.
Though the company will start with spacecraft payloads, Musk has
made it very clear that human spaceflight is a primary goal for
the company and Mars is the long-term target.
a collaboration of several firms including Rutan's, is proposing
to NASA a cargo- and crew-delivery system for the International
Space Station. They are offering to do this for one-tenth of what
NASA expects to pay for its planned Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Unlike the cost-plus approach of mainstream aerospace companies,
t/Space wants a fixed-price contract and will only take payments
incrementally as it meets each of a clear set of milestones.
Meanwhile, Bigelow Aerospace (www.bigelowaerospace.com),
funded by Robert Bigelow of Budget Suites, is well on its way
to developing low-cost but large and roomy orbital habitats using
an inflatable-materials technology that it is working on with
NASA. The first launch of a prototype module will take place early
next year. Bigelow is also funding a $50 million prize contest
for the first private firm to put a crew into orbit by 2010. Furthermore,
the winner will get a contract to bring passengers to his orbital
habitat, i.e. space hotel.
So the lunar fly-by mission proposed by Space Adventures is just
the most ambitious of a wide range of vibrant and viable private-spaceflight
activities now in gear. Things may not be advancing nearly as
fast as you want, but things are definitely moving along. I once
read an article about Alan Bean, who walked on the Moon during
Apollo 12, in which he said he expected that lunar tourism wouldn't
happen for at least 200 years. Well, we now know that he was off
by about 200 years. That seems like progress to me.
12:35 pm: News briefs ... Here
is a recent posting by Jerry Pournelle on his suggestions for developing
space transport: NASA
and the Dream, and How To Get Back To The Moon - Jerry Pournelle
- July.27.05. Reader responses are available at
372 July 25 - 31, 2005 ...
... The Brad Edwards article
in IEEE Spectrum about space elevators that I commented on back
got a revival in the Blogosphere yesterday when it was posted by
Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.
Rand Simberg finds that Edwards exaggerates the limitations of rockets:
Strong A Claim - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.21.05 ...
... Here is a nice collection
of pictures taken during a recent aerospace trade show in Russia:
Forums - Aug.20.05 (via F. Novozhilov). Photos of the Kliper
mockup are midway down the page. ...
... This Florida Today editorial
talks about NASA's "shuttle woes": On
life support: NASA's shuttle woes get much worse, and so does the
program's credibility - Florida Today - Aug.21.05
1:50 am: News briefs ... ARCA
says on its homepage that it will roll out its suborbital ORIZONT
spaceship on August 27th:
ORIZONT vehicle rollout - ARCA News - Aug.20.05 ...
... With its NASA Exploration
developed a modular and fairly straightforward approach to the CEV
and lunar exploration systems. The page Exploration
Initatives - Concept Exploration and Refinement includes the
Lunar Exploration System of Systems Overview (4.5ppt), which
outlines their scheme (link via N. Rogers). On the plus side, they
only need currently available ELV launchers; no new heavy lifter
required. However, huge amounts of stuff are thrown away. Why not
collect all those used modules in LEO? If nothing else, they could
be useful later for spare parts and radiation shielding mass. ...
... Dwayne Day gives an interesting
report about a 1992 NASA study done with several former Apollo astronauts
to obtain practical advice about what is needed to live and work
on the lunar surface: Working
on the Moon - Space Review - Aug.22.05. ...
... Taylor Dinerman sees the
recent announcement of a lunar tourist trip based on Russian hardware
as another sign of the vigor and commercial adroitness of the Russian
space industry: Russia,
space tourism, and exploration - Space Review - Aug.22.05
... China meanwhile continues
a slow but steady pace in development of its own space program.
Jeff Foust reviews the book - China’s Space Program: From Conception
to Manned Spaceflight by Brian Harvey: Review:
China’s Space Program - Space Review - Aug.22. 05. ...
... Sam Dinkin thinks big when
it comes to space settlement: Next
Trillion Dollar Colonization - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.20.05.
If the money won't come from the government, he suggests that you
can make a significant contribution towards the effort as your last
a foundation for space settlement - Space Review - Aug.22.05
... Jonathan Coopersmith suggests
laser launching nuclear waste into space: Nuclear
waste in space? Monday, Aug.22.05. Talk about a really tough
sell. Many people can't even be convinced that it is possible to
build nuclear containers tough enough to withstand derailments and
truck crashes on the highway, much less reentry into the atmosphere.
10:35 am: Russian space tug ...
Speaking of Russian projects, Energia proposed back in May the development
of a space tug called "Ferry" that would replace the Progress
Russian system " Ferry " to replace "Progress" Spacecraft -
Space Inform - May.19.05 (Russian article link via F. Novozhilov).
From the rough translations via an online
tool, it appears that the tug would rendezvous with cargo and
fuel containers placed into temporary 200km orbits and take them
up to the ISS or other destinations. 30Kt could be moved this way
as compared to 2.5t with Progress alone. (Any launcher could put
a container into the temporary transfer orbit.) The Kliper/Ferry
combo would provide for a flexible system that would include, for
example, return of cargo and crew via the Kliper.
2:20 am: Kliper news ... The
author of this article is very sure of European support for the
to Join Russia in Building Next Space Shuttle: Development agreement
takes shape during the Paris Air Show - IEEE Spectrum - Aug.20.05.
(There is a set of pictures of the latest Kliper mockup at the Russian
I certainly hope it is true (the more reusable spacecraft development
the better) but I have my doubts that it is a done deal. This article,
for example, Europe
envisages cooperation on new Russian space plane - ESA - July.1.05
says that "the key decision on Europe's future involvement
in Kliper could be made in December."
ESA can provide some study money on its own but obtaining hundreds
of millions or billions of Euros for a project of any kind is not
something that happens overnight. Whenever you hear that a crucial
decision has been made on some project in Europe, you later find
out that actually there is yet another ministerial meeting at the
next higher level that needs to sign off on it.
For example, I'm fairly sure that the Galileo GPS system has gotten
the final stamp of approval but I've been thinking that for several
years and it never quite seems to be completely off the ground.
Check out the following sample of headlines:
It also took a major effort over a long period for Italy to get
backing from other EU countries for its Vega
launcher and its cost is only in the 300M Euro range.
Anyway, maybe things will fall into place more quickly for the
2:20 am: AST feedback ... The
AST (FAA Office of
Commercial Space Transportation) website offers a lot of informative
documents ranging from regulatory
materials to the COMSTAC
working group presentations to commercial launch
They also seem to be quite interested in interacting with the launch
industry and the wider community that supports it. For example,
I recently mentioned the AST 3rd
Quarter Launch Report, whose title I thought was a bit odd since
the 3rd quarter isn't over yet. Paula Trimble, a space transportation
analyst at AST, responded to this and also to my suggestion of a
price/wt estimate in the table of launches:
I am pleased that you have found the FAA Office of Commercial
Space Transportation's Quarterly Launch Report useful and I appreciate
your comments. AST produces reports such as these to assist industry,
so we always seize opportunities to gain feedback and insight
into how we can improve the data we provide.
The title of the report may at first appear confusing. The title
indicates the quarter in which the report is published. The launch
data for the previous quarter, in this case the 2nd Quarter 2005,
become available after the quarter closes, which is during the
3rd Quarter 2005. The report, which includes forecasts for the
two future quarters, is a snapshot in time, and is accurate as
of a point of time in that quarter. Given that launch dates are
often subject to change, the title denotes when that information
was compiled and accurate. An archive of all of AST's Quarterly
Launch Reports is available at http://ast.faa.gov/rep_study/qlr.htm.
In your posting, you also said you would like payload mass data,
which you would like to use with the estimated launch prices to
calculate the launch price per kilogram or pound. In future reports,
we can provide the payload weights, if there is a strong desire
for this data. However, there are some considerations for how
to apply this data. The launch prices provided in our reports
are estimates rather than prices reported by the companies themselves.
Often, these launch prices are given as a range of estimated prices,
and the price of any launch is negotiable. Using the launch prices
and payload masses to calculate price per kilogram or pound would
yield another estimate. In addition, a given payload or payloads
may not use the full capacity of a launch vehicle, so the price
per kilogram calculated could vary widely for the same vehicle.
(Posted with her permission.)
Yes, I should have noted that it's probably unrealistic to get
good price/wt numbers for most launches since many companies are
secretive about their launch deals. I suggested to her that maybe
future reports could include a separate listing of price/wt for
those cases, such as the Falcon I launches, where numbers are available.
This might encourage the others guys to be more open about their
My thanks to Paula for the quick feedback. If you have suggestions
and/or comments about the launch reports, I can pass along her contact
(BTW: George Nield, Deputy Associate Administrator for AST, was
interviewed on the Spaceshow
12:45 pm: News briefs ... Microgravity
research does, in fact, have value and significance as this direct
spinoff shows: The
True Potential of Space Life Science Research - NASAWatch - Aug.19.05
tech could sway stem cell debate - CNET News - Aug.18.05. If
space access became significantly cheaper (factor of ~10), it really
would make sense to do all kinds of basic research on the ISS. ...
... Meanwhile, the available
alternative access to the ISS gets more expensive for NASA: Soyuz
spacecraft to cost NASA $65 million - RIA Novosti - Aug.18.05
... Does this minority report
members criticize NASA return to flight work - spacetoday.net -
Aug.18.05 - predict an abbreviated future for the Shuttle program?
the problems Our position: NASA should take seriously the new criticism
leveled against it - Orlando Sentinel - Aug.19.05 * Mismanaging
the Shuttle Fixes - New York Times - Aug.19.05. ...
... This report doesn't encourage
much confidence in even a March launch: Michaud
not sure when they'll get tanks or what they'll do - New Orleans
Times-Picayune - Aug.19.05 (via spacetoday.net).
1:55 am: Spacecast news ... I
missed the live broadcast of the Spaceshow
tonight but I heard from a HS reader
that Joe Latrell of Beyond
Earth Enterprises (a HS advertiser)
announced that they will launch a 17-foot, two-thirds scale version
of their unmanned suborbital vehicle at the X
Prize Cup in October. The will fly below a 24,000 foot limit
allowed by an amateur waiver from the FAA.
Several other recent space transport related interviews on the
As I mentioned earlier, Pat Bahn of TGV
Rockets was on a Oklahoma radio show: Pat
Bahn interview - Oklahoma "Innovations" ' Radio - August 8.05
(They start talking with Pat about 9 minutes into the broadcast.)
1:55 am: Space Adventure news... Check
Deep Space Expeditions (DSE) website set up by Space
Adventures to advertise its commercial lunar mission. A video
animation nicely illustrates the mission (I wonder, though, why
the vehicle is spinning as it approaches and as it leaves the Moon?)
[Update: 11:30am: A reader tells me the spinning is probably "the
famous 'barbeque roll' to even out the thermal stresses on the spacecraft.
No earth-shadow to spend half its time in."] ...
... Today Space
Adventures also announced a partnership with a huge Japanese
travel agency (16,000 employees and $12B annual revenue). See the
Space Adventures Announces
Exclusive Marketing Agreement
with Travel Agency, JTB Corp.
Tokyo - August 18, 2005 -- Space Adventures, Ltd., the world's
leading space experiences company, announced today a partnership
with Tokyo-based travel agency, JTB Corp., to exclusively market
Space Adventures' diverse range of experiences in Japan. The company,
which organized spaceflights for the world's first private space
explorers, American businessman Dennis Tito and the 'First African
in Space' Mark Shuttleworth, disclosed the details of the agreement
during a press conference.
Leonard David also reports on the announcement: Japan
Embraces Space Tourism - SPACE.com - Aug.18.05.
1:55 am: News briefs ... Alan
Boyle gets the status of PlanetSpace
and the project's plans to test launch their vehicle's escape system
this fall at the Cape
Rich site in Ontario: Red
tape and rockets - Cosmic Log / MSNBC.com - Aug.18.05. ...
... Dan Schrimpsher expands
on his comparison of space hardware development with software development
techniques used to make program modules more flexible and reusable:
Space Mission Development Part 1 - Quality Infrastructure - SpacePragmatism
... Meanwhile, the less than
flexible and reusable Shuttle program gets another big delay: Next
shuttle launch: March 2006 - Spaceflight Now - Aug.18.05.
12:15 pm: News briefs ... Jon
Goff continues on a space blogging roll. In SpaceX
and Learning Curves - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.17.05 he responds
to what he considers unfair bashing of private companies like SpaceX
. In Musings
About Agile Space - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.17.05 he warns
that we should avoid rigid, top-down unitary space development schemes
and instead focus on "incrementalism and modularity".
And in A
Battle of Memes? - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.17.05, he finds
that arguments about space development often center around different
world views regarding the capabilities of private companies versus
... Rand Simberg comments on
the recent discussions about dry-launch: Wring
It Out - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.18.05 ...
... Michael Belfiore reports
on NASA's Innovative
Programs plan (see the Return
to the Moon review and this graph)
to use "nontraditional" funding approaches to take advantage
of private space development: NASA
Launches Startups for Ships - Wired - Aug.18.05 ...
... This seems optimistic:
Clipper spacecraft to be launched in 2012 - ITAR-TASS - Aug.18.05.
Even with $65 dollar a barrel oil, I'm not sure Russia could develop
without an EU partnership, and there's no agreement on that yet.
... So there has been at least
one suborbital spaceflight passenger who has paid his way: SpaceShipOne's
Extra Passenger Auctioned Off - SPACE.com /Astronotes - Aug.17.05.
1:15 am: News briefs ... XCOR
will fly the EZ Rocket at the XP
Cup Expo this October: XCOR
To Fly EZ Rocket at X PRIZE CUP Countdown in Las Cruces, NM - XCOR
- Aug.17.05 ...
... A reader points me to this
interesting weblog posting: 4
segments + 1 segment = 1 real problem - Chair Force Engineer - Aug.10.05.
It says that a 5
segment version of the SRB will sink so low in the water that
divers will violate OSHA regulations on working depths when they
put the plug in the nozzle. Probably cheaper just to let the things
sink to the bottom anyway but then that will probably violate EPA
title of this document - Quarterly
Launch Report - 3rd Quarter 2005 - from AST/FAA
is a bit confusing. It gives a summary of launches worldwide during
the 2nd quarter of 2005 and forecasts for launches during the 3rd
and 4th quarters of 2005. Anyway, it has some interesting plots
and tables, including one showing the price for each launch (Too
bad the payload weights were not included so price/kg could be calculated.)
4:50 pm: News briefs ... In
response to Jon Goff's article,
Dan Schrimpsher says dry-launch would allow for an agile
development process that adapts quickly to changes in technologies,
new priorities and requirements as they inevitably appear: Agile
Space Mission Development - Space Pragmatism - Aug.17.05 ...
... I wonder if ATK
would propose a SRB based vehicle on its own if it had to compete
on price and performance against commercial launch companies rather
than getting picked by a NASA committee? NASA
Successfully Competes Solid Rocket Motor Test - SpaceRef - Aug.16.05
... The Stafford-Covey
Return to Flight Task Group (SCTG) releases its final report:
Summary: Return to Flight Task Group Final Report - SpacerRef.com
1:15 am: Fueling a space town ...
Apparently not yet giving up hope, Jon Goff suggests that Dr. Griffin
forget the Shuttle derived heavy-lifters and go with the "dry-launch"
approach in which the various VSE spacecraft are launched empty
(and light) and fueled in space via tanks brought to orbit. As Boeing
has said, this could all be done with existing and near-future launch
Constructive Suggestions for NASA - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.16.05.
Jon points out that this approach has a number of advantages. For
example, it encourages competition among the launch services who
will supply the fuel and this will bring costs down over time. If
the launch vehicle for one of these suppliers is grounded for some
reason, there will be other providers available to take up the slack.
It means the lunar program can get started now instead of waiting
several years for the SDVs to come on line.
I think an orbiting fuel depot also has the potential to become
the nucleus of a genuine space frontier town. First it will supply
fuel, then water, then spare parts, then all sorts of other goods
and services. Next a habitat is added so that there are people on
hand to do maintenance on the growing facility. They will be joined
by astronauts passing through on the way to the Moon and by a stream
of tourists. Before long, you got a real live community in space.
This kind of organic growth nurtured by commerce is the normal
way that frontier settlement happens. What's neat is that this could
actually get started now with the technology on hand and within
the NASA budget. What's disappointing is that NASA has decided to
take a different route to the Moon and Mars; one that is longer
and more expensive and much less conducive to space settlement.
2:15 am: News briefs... Alan
Boyle reports on the Russian Kliper
shuttle reloaded - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Aug.16.05 ...
... He also reports that the
installation of SpaceShipOne into the Smithsonian's Milestones of
Flight gallery has been pushed back to the first week of October:
schedules shift - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Aug.16.05. That's getting
uncomfortably close to the XP
5:25 pm: Virgin progress ...
gets ITAR clearance for obtaining technical info from Scaled Composites:
Okays Virgin Galactic Spaceship Plans By Leonard David - Space.com
- Aug.15.05. Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic said,
“It allows us to activate all the parts of the project”.
I think this is a further sign that ITAR is not an impenetrable
barrier but rather a hurdle to be jumped. That's not a good thing
either since some companies may not have the financial wherewithal
of Virgin to hire the lawyers to do the jumping. It does show, however,
that ITAR can be overcome with time and money. ...
... This sure sounds like a
good sign of the existence of a suborbital spaceflight market:
“We have a significant level of deposits now…nearly $10 million
worth,” Whitehorn said. Some people are paying the full price
to be founders and some are putting down deposits to fly in the
future, he said.
“We’ll be in the position by the time we actually launch this
business…I’m sure we would have sold out at least the first couple
of years by the time we start flying,” Whitehorn speculated.
5:25 pm: The ISS tourist bus ... Jeff
Foust talks about the NY Times anti-ISS/Shuttle editorial: NY
Times on the ISS - Space Politics - Aug.14.05. See also the
entry by Dwayne Day in the comments section. He notes that the NY
Times, as do many others, confuses the lifetime cost of the station
with the amount spent already.
I would propose that the lifetime cost could go down significantly
if transportation costs to the station could go down significantly,
e.g. by retiring the Shuttle and switching to private transport
like that proposed by t/Space.
Several other companies, e.g. Kistler
and SpaceX, have
also indicated manned orbital operations by 2010.
Furthermore, I would push for at least partial privatization of
the ISS. Attaching a Bigelow
habitat for use by space tourists would quickly create a viable
space hotel. As Henry
Spencer has long pointed out, the ISS orbit is ideal for sightseeing
since it crosses lots of land (as opposed to an equatorial orbit
that crosses mostly ocean). Tito said he never tired of watching
the infinitely varied patterns of the Earth seen through the observation
No, this is not trivializing anything. It's OK to go to space for
sightseeing just as it is OK to go to the Grand Canyon, Niagara
Falls, Yosemite, the Great Wall, Tahiti, Antarctica, the Amazon,
etc. just to see beautiful and amazing sights. In the process sightseers
create profitable businesses with lots of employment. I don't see
a problem with that.
12:20 pm: News briefs ... Business
Week looks at entrepreneurial space companies:
Billionaires Blasting Off: Space Adventures, which is selling around-the-moon
jaunts for $100 million, is but one of several privately funded
outfits in the space race - Business Week - Aug.15.05 (via spacetoday.net).
... Pat Bahn talks about TGV
Rockets and suborbital spaceflight in this interview: Pat
Bahn interview - Oklahoma "Innovations" ' Radio - August 8.05
(They start talking with Pat about 9 minutes into the show.) ...
will prosper from NASA's SDV plans: ATK
likely to continue with NASA: Utah firm: Ex-astronauts push for
it to give a boost to future space shuttles - Salt Lake Tribune
1:30 am: News briefs ... Sam
Dinkin talks with a grandma who is going to space: Go
granny go! - The Space Review - Aug.15.05 ...
... John Jurist talks about
range of safey issues facing suborbital spaceflight operators: Human
factors in commercial suborbital flight: Failure modes and survival
strategies - The Space Review - Aug.15.05 ...
... T.L. James gives a review
of the talk by Chris Shank of NASA at last week's Mars Society conference:
Shank on VSE - MarsBlog - Aug.13.05. (See the reviews of a similar
talk he gave at the Return
to the Moon conference back in July.)
4:00 pm: Launch costs and regulations
... Thomas Olson has posted a couple of interesting papers
in the Colony
Fund reading room. They include the paper about launch costs,
which was the basis of a discussion panel at the Space Access '05
meeting last April: "When
Physics, Economics and Reality Collide: The Challenge of Cheap Space
Access", by Jurist, Dinkin and Livingston - John M. Jurist, M.D.
Sam Dinkin, Ph.D David Livingston, DBA, (first presented April,
There is also this long paper on regulatory issues facing RLVs:
You Want to Launch a Rocket?” : An Analysis of FAA Licensing Requirements
with a Focus on the Legal and Regulatory Issues Created by the New
Generation of Launch Vehicles - by Nathanael Horsley (Full
paper in pdf).
page has been started at the Space
4:00 pm: News briefs ... In
this article - The
New Astronaut: Plays Well With Robots - NY Times - Aug.14.05
- I find at least one thing on which I agree with Prof. Logsdon:
John M. Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George
Washington University, recalled a recent talk with a graduate
student who had asked what steps to take to become an astronaut.
He walked the student through the dismal math: the reduction in
shuttle flights from 28 to as few as 15, a space station that
can take only a few people at a time and reserves some slots for
non-Americans, and possible trips to the Moon. Considering those
odds, he recalled telling the student, "If I wanted to go into
orbit, I'd go to work for Richard Branson" - the businessman who
is pursuing a private program to send people into space.
His student should know, however, that there are already 4000
applications for 75 pilot positions at Virgin Galatic according
to a report
of statements by Branson at Oshkosh. ...
... Eric Anderson continues
proselytizing for space tourism: The
Last Word: Eric Anderson - Newsweek - Aug.22.05 issue ...
... Small pieces of foam can
have big consequences:
More than shuttle lies idle: Station parts, workers waiting - Florida
Today - Aug.14.05 ...
... Maybe real big if they
end up destroying support for both the Shuttle and the ISS: Is
the Space Station Necessary? - NY Times - Aug.14.05. See comments
and discussions by Sam
Dinkin and Rand
2:30 am: News briefs ... The
has posted a set of images and documents "showing NASA's plans
for the Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle (SDLV) concepts". An
introduction is at SDLV/CEV
exclusive images and info by Chris Bergin, Jason Harrison, Matt
Davids - NasaSpaceFlight.com - Aug.13.05. and document text
and images are in the forum
Looks similar to what was described in the article
posted at Spaceref last Monday, but the text and graphics come directly
from the original NASA study documents.
(Item via a HS reader) ...
... The August issue of AIAA
Aerospace America - August 2005 includes the article Private
Launch Plans Aim Higher - AIAA Aerospace America - Aug.2005,
which talks about entrepreneurial launch companies in general and
then focuses on Kistler, SpaceX, and Rocketplane. Nothing new about
the latter two, but the article does report that Kistler says it
will build two K-1 vehicles by 2007 and after proving the vehicles
reliability with unmanned flights, it will offer crewed flights.
Nothing about whether Kistler has actually raised the money to do
any of this. ...
... Also, the Aerosapce America
issue includes the article: Creating
a space exploration industry by Marco Cáceres (Teal Group),
which calls for a new NASA that will
"... accept a diminished role in space activities. It can
play a critical part in providing incentives and eliminating roadblocks
to the industry’s growth. It is already playing the most critical
role—that of defining the new vision for space. But it is private
industry that will have to decide what to do with that vision."
... The next shuttle launch
may not happen till March: STS-121
in March 2006? - NASA Watch - Aug.13.05....
... Via a forum
came this link to a page with pictures of the Starchaser
Rocket from Tameside Area Photo Gallery by Jean Fitzhugh at pbase.com.
2:05 am: News briefs ... Jon
Goff notes that Michael Griffin originally discounted the relevance
of "man-rating" the EELVs before launching a crew capsule:
on "Man-Rating" - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.12.05. I'll note
that Rand Simberg often criticizes the man-rating concept as a leftover
from the missile-to-launch-vehicle days of the early 1960s (e.g.
Musings - May.4.2002). ...
... I wonder if the Shuttle
will fly even in November: No
Quick Fix Likely For Shuttle Tank Foam Problem, NASA Says - Aviation
Week - Aug.12.05 ...
... Southern California is
a hotbed of entrepreneurial space companies: Local
companies gamble on low-Earth orbit space travel - San Diego Source
- Aug.12.05. (Note that he is missing a factor of ten in the
"cost of rocket travel".)
4:00 pm: News briefs ... Leonard
David has a lengthy article about SpaceX: SpaceX
Private Rocket Shifts to Island Launch - SPACE.com - Aug.12.05.
Some items of interest include:
- There may be a nasty battle brewing with Vandenberg AFB over
the SpaceX launch facility there. "After spending an estimated
$7 million on its Vandenberg Air Force Base facilities, the private
rocket company is being told to get out of its Complex 3 West
launch site." This is due to "Lockheed Martin moving
back to use a Complex 3 East site at Vandenberg for Atlas 5 launches."
However, the AF tells David that no decision has been made yet
to evict SpaceX.
- There is a discussion of the advantages (fewer regulations)
and the disadvantages (a "perfect environment" for corrosion)
of using Kwajalein as a launch site.
- The new launch contracts are coming from the Swedish
Space Corporation, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd
(MDA) of Canada,
and an unnamed US company.
- "In the next few weeks, Musk said, plans beyond Falcon
5 are to be announced, “and some of them are going to be some
pretty significant announcements…it’s going to make a big splash."
[See recent item about the Falcon
- Musk's long term goal is Martian settlement.
... And another SpaceX article
here, which includes a video report: Space
X - ScienCentral - Aug.12.05 ...
... LockMart and its employees
hope the CEV will keep the company's Louisiana factory in operation:
Exploration Vehicle could be next challenge for Michoud - Slidell
Sentry - Aug.12.05 ...
... Tim Pickens talks about
and his involvement with SpaceShipOne: Dreams
put Orion on track for stars - Huntsville Times - Aug.12.05
Race News! ).
I should use some of his quotes in support of the HobbySpace
credo: "A hard-core enthusiast can do this stuff, if you have enough
passion" and "The HAL5
Society was my passion for years. I became a project engineer
as a hobby.'"
12:45 am: News briefs ... NASA
will be calling for improvements in the CEV in Phase II of the proposal
JSC Presolicitation Notice: Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) Phase
II Call for Improvements - SpaceRef - Aug.11.05 ...
... No Shuttle launch till
November at the earliest: NASA:
Foam Problems Make September Launch for Atlantis Unlikely - SPACE.com
- Aug.11.05 ...
... As usual, Bill Harwood
gives a nicely detailed and understandable description of the foam
launch all but ruled out - Spaceflight Now - Aug.11.05 ...
... A reader sent a link to
this article - Rain
puts Discovery on a California course - The Australian - Aug.10.05
- and pointed to this vivid quote from Dana Rohrabacher:
"You can have only so much faith in people who have all the money
and time and still don't do the job," Republican congressman Dana
Rohrabacher said. "That big plume of flame coming out of it (the
shuttle), those are $1000 bills being burnt."
3:15 pm: News briefs ... A
couple more good articles about the lunar tourist trip: Space
tourists aim for dark side of the Moon - New Scientist - Aug.11.05
(includes comments from Andrew Case of the Suborbital
Institute) * Sinatra,
eat your heart out: Got $100m? Then an American firm can fly you
to the moon - The Economist - Aug.11.05. ...
... The X
PRIZE Cup website offers this slick
brochure about the upcoming exhibition. ...
... Speaking of the Suborbital
Institute, I occasionally update the FAQ
section there that deals with suborbital spaceflight.
12:50 pm: Lunar opportunities ... As
I told a reader, I doubt the Energia/Space Adventure's lunar tourist
trip will ever happen but it's fantastic to know we've reached the
point where it COULD happen. According to the company there are
several hundred people worldwide who could afford a $100M ticket.
It would seem, though, that the offer would appeal more to countries
than individuals, particularly those countries without a manned
spaceflight program. The flight could easily be developed as a scientific
mission with some instrumentation taken along but it would mostly
be a "We are in space too" statement.
The country I would most like to see take advantage of this opportunity
is Taiwan. I think it would be great to see a representative of
this democratic country reach the Moon before its big bullying autocratic
Plans Private Moon Tours: Space Adventures seeks to charge $100
million per seat for the lunar voyage but there won't be any moonwalks
- Red Herring - Aug.10.05
1:45 am: News briefs ... Looks
like NASA will soon get formal approval of its plans for Shuttle
derived vehicles: Pentagon
Signs Off on NASA Launcher Plans - SPACE.com - Aug.10.05 * Shuttle-derived:
a done deal - Space Politics - Aug.10.05 ...
... I wonder how $100M compares
to the funding (corrected for inflation,
spending power, etc.) spent by private groups on exploration
of the North and South poles in the early 1900s? $100
Million Moon Trip: Space Tourism's Hot Ticket? - National Geographic
- Aug.10.05 ...
... Michael Kelly, formerly
of Kelly Space
and recently head of the COMSTAC
RLV Working Group becomes an X-PRIZE-er: Michael
S. Kelly joins the X PRIZE Foundation as Vice President of Operations
for the X PRIZE CUP - Space Race News! - Aug.10.05
Update 4:15 pm: News briefs ... I
forgot that Jim Oberg had a story last fall about a possible Russia/private
company partnership for a lunar space tourist mission: A
trip around the moon? It could happen MSNBC.com - Nov.23.05.
However, CSI got bumped by Space Adventures.
... Alan Boyle comments on
the story: Moon
trips marketed - Cosmic Log/MSNBC.com - Aug.10.05.
2:55 pm: News briefs ... Looks
like I misunderstood; each seat to the Moon is actually $100M each:
Adventures Offers Private Voyage to the Moon: First and only company
to launch private explorers to space partners with the Russian space
agency and RSC Energia to offer an expedition to the lunar far side
- Space Adventures - Aug.10.05. Maybe if you bring a coupon
from the newspaper you can get half price... ...
... This debate reminds me
of one of those old Ray
Harryhausen movies where two unconvincing dinosaurs wrestle:
Discovery Lands Safely - Online NewsHour - Aug.9.05.
10:30 am: News briefs ... Now
that Discovery is back on land, the big question is how soon will
Aerospace is attracting student groups for its Pongsat
near space flights not just from the US but from overseas as well:
ACE - Secondary School Students flying... up, up and away.
Education may never become a hugely lucrative market, but, as I've
said many times before, a side business of carrying student payloads
on suborbital RLVs could grow to a level that provides some significant
Space Systems, in fact, sees it as the primary market for their
VTOL rocket vehicle, which they hope to fly for as little as $25,000
per flight. ...
... The British
Interplanetary Society is sponsoring the two day UK
Spaceplanes meeting at the RAF Museum Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire
on 17-18 September 2005. Presentation topics will range from historical
spaceplane designs such as the Saenger-Bredt
‘Antipodal Rocket Bomber' to current projects like the Skylon
and Burt Rutan's VSS Enterprise for Virgin
9:15 pm: News brief ... Space
Adventures is arranging a deal with the Russians for a CSI
Lunar Express type of mission (but without CSI) to send two
private individuals around the Moon as early as 2008: Private
Company Plans $100 Million Tour Around the Moon - NY Times - Aug.9.05
(via a HS reader.) This assumes two
customers with $50M apiece can be found. ...
... Meanwhile, NASA is rolling
out its own Moon travel plans: Griffin
Exploration Rollout Plan - NASA Watch - Aug.9.05. ...
... The Space
Frontier Foundation wants to push NASA to include private companies
in its plans: Advocacy
Group Considers New Ways to Open Space Frontier - Space Frontier/Space
Race News! - Aug.9.05.
11:55 am: News briefs ... Congratulations
to NASA and the crew of Discovery: Shuttle
lands in California - spacetoday.net - Aug.9.05. Hope this begins
the steady countdown of missions to the successful retirement of
the Shuttle program. ...
... Jeff Foust is blogging
from the Utah Smallsat
meeting. His first report is about the keynote address by a
NASA rep on the agency's approach to smallsat programs and how to
launch them: Science,
the Vision, and Smallsats -Space Politics - Aug.9.05. ...
... A reader pointed me to
a NASA web
page that actually shows an appreciation of incremental commercial
development starting with suborbital. I've had a link to the Space
Settlement section at Ames in my Space
Colonization section but I've not seen the site lately.
Other pages such as the Why
are nicely done. Though it is apparently the work of an individual
rather than an expression of NASA policy, it's still encouraging
that an alt.space meme
might be spreading in the agency.
1:15 am: News briefs ... Check
Now - STS-114 Shuttle - Mission Status Center for the latest
on the Discovery landing. Landing
reset for Tuesday: Discovery crew will stay extra day because of
weather - Florida Today - Aug.8.05 ...
... NASA doesn't want to lose
momentum after Discovery: NASA
still planning September launch of Atlantis - spacetoday.net - Aug.7.05
... Not space transport related,
but this article - Shakeout:
Too many companies for too few deals jolt satellite-imaging industry
- Rocky Mountain News - Aug.8.05 - illustrates some of the differences
between the entrepreneurial approach to space and that of the mainstream
aerospace companies. Some examples of the reasons why Space
Imaging, jointly owned by Lockheed and Raytheon, lost two major
"That wasn't Space Imaging's fault. Space Imaging didn't have
the support of their ownership," said Satterlee [of DigitalGlobe].
"That was tragic."
DigitalGlobe and Orbimage, in contrast, showed more entrepreneurial
zeal focused on serving the customer's needs - such as delivering
a satellite within the time frame stipulated by Uncle Sam.
"It was run like an aerospace company," another former Space
Imaging employee said of the company. "It couldn't run fast and
Excuse me for resurrecting my hoary old tune about the Kistler
K-1, but this reminds me of how Northrop fell over itself in
a rush to declare its investment in Kistler a loss when Kistler
ran into a cash crunch back in 2001. If it had instead stepped in
and funded the completion of the K-1, Northrop would now own the
ISS cargo delivery service. It would be the only firm in the world
with experience operating a fully reusable rocket system and would
be in a great position to build a RLV for ISS crew transport and
for orbital tourism. Instead it acted " like an aerospace company"
and got out as soon as some risks needed to be taken.
8:00 pm: News briefs ... A
HS reader pointed me to this article
from back in July, which provides a substantive look at the situation
with entrepreneurial launch companies, including a discussion of
the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act: Race
for the stars: Although the Ansari X-Prize has been won, the contest
to offer the first space tourism flights is hotter than ever. And
now there's even talk of starting a suborbital racing series...
- Flight International - July.6.05 ...
... Space News (print
edition) says in this week's issue that SpaceX
is expected soon to announce up to four new orders for launches
on the Falcon I. If all the deals come through, that would make
a total of seven launches on its backlog. ...
... The orders could be another
sign of a resurgence in small satellite payloads. The annual Utah
Smallsat meeting will break attendance records this week with
over 800 people registered: Logan
conference growing: Small-satellite event will have larger attendance
- StandardNET/Standard-Examiner [Utah] - Aug.8.05 (via spacetoday.net.).
I went to the meeting several years and really enjoyed it. I especially
liked seeing the participation of a lot of students, e.g. see the
for this year's student competition session ...
... In a separate section on
smallsats, Space News talks about the launch access challenges for
small satellite projects: Hopes rekindled for Low-cost Launches.
There will be a lot of hope from the smallsat community riding along
on the first Falcon I launch in September. Currently there is no
low cost small payload launcher available outside of Russia. Even
is developing its own Streaker
launch vehicle, is seriously considering buying multiple rides on
the Falcon I for its microsatellites
since the Streaker won't fly for about three years. ...
... If NASA and the Air Force
do start to support more smallsat programs, it would benefit the
manned suborbital RLV projects that have plans to add an expendable
second stage to send small payloads to orbit. ...
... BTW: The article says the
Falcon I first stage left August 2nd on a ship for a 28-day cruise
to Kwajalein while the second stage will go by C-17 later this month.
1:45 am: News briefs ... Sam
Dinkin interviews Richard
Garriott, the computer games and space tourism pioneer:
Garriott and the beginnings of space tourism - The Space Review
- Aug.8.05 ...
... After seeing SpaceShipOne
at Oshkosh. Eric Hedman considers "the tradeoffs between simplicity
and complexity' when comparing the SS1 and the Space Shuttle: Engineering
simple solutions to complex problems - The Space Review - Aug.8.05
... Hedman also offers some
pictures from the event: Photo
Gallery: SpaceShipOne at Oshkosh
10:45 pm: News briefs ... Frank
Sietzen and Keith Cowing post the second part of their detailed
report on the NASA study of the various Shuttle and EELV derived
launch systems in support the exploration program: NASA's
New Launch Systems May Include the Return of the Space Tug - SpaceRef
- Aug.7.05. The first
part of their report came last week. ...
... Discovery plans to land
early Monday morning: Discovery
Set for Monday Landing, NASA Flight Director Says - SPACE.com -
Aug.7.05 * Discovery
heads for predawn touchdown in Florida - Spaceflight Now - Aug.7.05.
... Scott Lowther posts a marvelous
of Discovery pictures from the mission.
3:55 pm: News briefs ... Jeff
Foust discusses the expected announcement of NASA's exploration
system plans: Rolling
out the new architecture - Space Politics - Aug.6.05
... The Kliper
will be 30 times cheaper to operate (not counting investment payback)
than the Shuttle according to RSC
Energia chief Nikolay Sevastianov as reported in this Russian
Lunar Power Station - ScienceRF.ru - July.28.05. - Try the Babel
Fish Translator. (Link via F. Novoshilov)
... The White Knight and SpaceShipOne
continue their trek across the country: Local
couple meet pilot of SpaceShipOne - Bartlesville [OK] Examiner-Enterprise
- Aug.7.05. ...
... The BBC is in West Texas
reporting on Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin according to the Van
Horn Advocate. (Unfortunately, the newspaper's archive system
is broken and the older articles about Bezos aren't accessible.)
It said that the visit "was in conjunction with other filming
in the U.S. on the burgeoning civilian space industry and the race
toward space." ...
... Following up on the previous
items about Discovery's Prandtl-Glauert ring, here's a big collection
of images and links about the phenomena: Prandtl-Glauert
Condensation Clouds, 1st Collection - ChamorroBible.org
1:50 am: News briefs ... Jon
Goff finishes up his RTM review with two final postings: Last
RTM Session: Space Law and Property Rights - Selenian Boondocks
- Aug.6.05 and RTM
Summary - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.6.05.
... Another sighting of the
urban space myth that the failure of the Shuttle program proves
that RLVs are impractical and so we are forced to return to capsules
on expendables: NASA's
next generation of spacecraft in the works: New design unlike shuttles
-- more like earlier models - SF Chronicle - Aug.7.05. See Rand
Choice - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.2.05 for a different
point of view.
2:10 pm: News briefs ... Jon
Goff has posted a couple more items about the Return
to the Moon conference: More
RTM Stuff: In-Space Business Models - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.5.05
Sponberg: Centennial Challenges/Innovative Programs - Selenian Boondocks
- Aug.5.05 ...
... Keith Cowing says on Aug.
15th NASA will start to release the results of its 60-day exploration
architecture studies: Griffin
Exploration Rollout Plan - NASA Watch - Aug.6.05. ...
Air & Space Magazine displays a set of RSS feeds at AIR&SPACE
Web News. It includes a Race
to Space feed from Space
5:05 pm: News briefs... The
X PRIZE Cup
(note the updated website) is gearing up for the 2006 Inaugural
X PRIZE CUP and Personal Spaceflight Expo during October 4-9:
fans can buy tickets next week - Las Cruces Sun-News - Aug.5.05.
Here's the schedule.
... Bill Boland of the Space-Fronter
Foundation and Forever
Bound says he is signed up to fly with Virgin Galactic: Corning
native eyes place in space: Boland signs up to fly in space tourism
project. - Star-Gazette [NY] - Aug.5.05
... Here is a collection of
pictures of the White Knight/SpaceShipOne at Oshkosh
2005. I'm told that the L5
t-shirt is signed by such notables as Scott Crossfield, Gilbert
Wendel, Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill, and others. ...
... Here's another image
of a rocket producing a Prandtl-Glauert
10:25 am: Falcon
heavy ... During a visit to an Air Force base, Elon Musk
mentioned a possible long term upgrade version of the Falcon rocket
series called the Falcon IX, according to the blogger "MJ":
Booster - Chair Force Booster - July.27.05 .
"It's essentially a Falcon V with four more engines on the
first stage, plus a larger 5 meter payload. ... If Falcon V is
Musk's replacement for the Delta II, Falcon IX is the competitor
to Delta IV and Atlas V. The Falcon IX can also be clustered into
a "heavy" variant, akin to the Delta IV Heavy."
This link came via Jon Goff: Falcon
IX? - Selenian Boondocks - Aug.5.05. ...
... During his luncheon talk
at the NSS
ISDC'05 conference, Elon mentioned that they had a long
term heavy version in mind but didn't give any details. I don't
remember his exact words but he said something to the effect that
until the Falcon I flies there will be understandable skepticism
towards such ambitious plans. ...
... At the end of his posting,
MJ wonders about the Falcon I first stage recovery operations. This
SpaceX update includes an item about the company hired to do
the recovery. Note also that Elon has always stated that reusability,
which would include the engine if possible, will be a bonus. The
current launch price does not assume reuse of any components.
12:55 am: News briefs ...
John Carmack reports on the latest developments at Armadillo:
regulator, Throatless engines, Hold down test - Armadillo Aerospace
- Aug.4.05 ...
... Jason Andrews of Andrews
Space, Inc. will be on a special version of the SpaceShow
today at 9:30-11:00 am (Pacific Time ). The Sunday show (12:00-1:30
pm PT) will include Ben Shelef, one of the founders of Spaceward
Foundation, which is a co-sponsor of the space elevator climber
contest with NASA's Centennial
... If you watch the "Discovery
Launches!" video in the Discovery video
archive, near the end you can see a wispy white ring around
the orbiter. This is apparently a
Prandtl-Glauert Condensation Cloud. More about the sighting
at Space Shuttle
Discovery generates a Prandtl-Glauert cloud - Linkfilter - July.27.05
Boing: Shuttle makes spooky-cool Prandtl-Glauert condensation cloud
- BoingBoing - July.27.05 ...
... Allen Ury of Fantastic
Plastic sure did a nice job building his Lockheed-Martin
Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) from a kit
available at PartTime
3:55 pm: News briefs ...
SpaceX says on its update
page that the Falcon I will launch on Sept. 30th.
"Target launch date for Falcon I maiden flight is September
30 from our island launch complex in the Kwajalein Atoll. The
customer for this mission is DARPA and the payload will be FalconSat-2,
part of the Air Force Academy’s satellite program that will measure
space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect space-based
communications, including GPS and other civil and military communications.
Our second mission carrying TacSat-1 for the Naval Research Laboratory
will follow the last Titan IV launch from VAFB."
Space reports of another drop test: Next-Generation
Space Vehicle Tested in Pacific Ocean Drop - t/Space - Aug.4.05.This
test deals with the water return capability of the capsule. There
and video available.
From the Rapid
Prototyping page it says:
"In August, 2005 t/Space carried out a second phase of flight
testing by dropping a full-size test article of the CXV. Lofted
by helicopter, the CXV Drop Test Article accurately tested the
parachute stability and water-entry physics of the actual CXV.
"It was constructed in Mojave, CA, with a water tank for
ballast. The tank was positioned so that it created the same offset
center of gravity that an actual CXV will have; and offset center
of gravity results in the CXV capsule generating some lift during
entry, which limits the rate of deceleration and thus the "g"
forces that will be felt by the crew. Occupants of the CXV are
predicted to experience somewhat more g's than the shuttle (about
four and a half g's), but less than both the Mercury and Gemini
The press release also says t/Space will pursue a NASA contract
for ISS crew delivery:
"NASA plans a competition this fall to select a new vehicle
to carry crew to the Space Station. t/Space will offer its four-person
CXV. NASA also is moving forward with a separate effort to create
a new Crew Exploration Vehicle for Moon and Mars Exploration."
(Both news items via HS reader D.
11:55 am: News briefs ... Various
Discovery items today include a NY Times article about a report
citing shortcomings in Lockheed-Martin's management of the ET foam
Report Found Faults in Use of Shuttle Foam - NY Times - Aug.4.05
... NASA still looking at whether
a section of the thermal protection blanket puffed out near the
Shuttle window will need to be clipped: Spacewalk
to fix damaged blanket a 'remote' possibility - Spaceflight Now
- Aug.3.05 * Discovery's
Damaged Blanket Prompts Wind Tunnel Tests - SPACE.com - Aug.3.05
test at Ames for Discovery NASA conducts wind-tunnel experiment
to decide if shuttle is safe for return flight - SF Chronicle -
... The inspection
boom used to examine the shuttle exterior seems to be working
Sensor Boom Provides Confidence in Thermal Protection System - Aviation
Week - July.31.05
1:35 pm: News briefs ... Looks
like the tile filler repair went well: Shuttle
repair spacewalk ends in success - New Scientist - Aug.3.05
easily extracts two gap fillers: High-flying heat shield repair
takes 10 minutes - Florida Today - Aug.3.05 ...
... Another article on NASA's
plans for shuttle-derived launchers: The
Future of NASA's Human Spaceflight: Shuttle-Derived Technology Takes
the Lead - SPACE.com - Aug.3.05 ...
Pickens gives a talk about the SpaceShipOne and its propulsion
system that he helped to design: SpaceShipOne
engineer to speak - Decatur Daily (AL) - Aug.3.05 (via spacetoday.net).
... An reporters view of the
Return to the Moon
Frontier: Las Vegas Space Conference attendees explore lunar manifest
destiny - Las Vegas City Life - Aug.05 (via spacetoday.net).
1:45 am: News briefs ... If
it's not one thermal protection thing, it's another: NASA
assesses threat posed by cockpit window blanket - Spaceflight Now
- Aug.2.05 ...
... Stephen Robinson will display
some human powers of adaptability in space today: Astronauts
confident about spacewalk fix-it mission - Spaceflight Now - Aug.2.05
plans gap filler repair after successful gyro work - spacetoday.net
... More Keith Cowing on the
6:05 pm: News briefs ... Rand
Simberg examines this NY
Times article on NASA's SDV plans and finds some serious flaws
in the assumptions made: False
Choice - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.2.05 ...
... Some nice photos of the
WK2/SS1 visit to Oshkosh: SpaceshipOne
Pics From this Morning - Instapundit.com - Aug.1.05 ...
... Check out the auction
of Star Wars souvenirs that flew on the SS1...
... Inspired by this article
polymer passes its first test in space -- Times Union (Albany, NY)
- Aug.2.05 (via spacetoday.net)
- I tracked down the site for Starfire
Systems, which sells some interesting ceramic materials for
1:45 am: News briefs ... NY
Times reports on the shuttle-derived CEV: Redesign
Is Seen for Next Craft, NASA Aides Say - NY Times - Aug.2.05...
... And there's a Mars sim-naut
columnist on the editorial page: Mars
or Bust by John Tierney - Aug.2.05. (See also Over
the Moon By John Tierney - New York Times - July.30.05.)
12:55 am: News briefs ... NASA
decides to go trim the filler: NASA
Sets Spacewalk to Repair Discovery's Heat Shield - Space.com - Aug.1.05
gives go-ahead to spacewalk repair work - Spaceflight Now - Aug.1.05
... Russians can take well-deserved
pride in their Soyuz spacecraft: Discovery's
Difficulties Make Russians Proud of Soyuz Workhorse - AP/Space.com
- Aug.1.05. ...
... More about the Rutan/Branson/SS1
visit to Oshkosh: Notes
on Rutan presentations at EAA Oshkosh - Space Race News! - Aug.1.05.
3:00 pm: RTTM Summary ... I
have finally posted a review
of the Return
to the Moon conference. It includes my comments plus links to
articles and postings by other people, especially those of Jonathan
Just today Jon posted an item about his tour of Bigelow
Aerospace during a break from the conference: Bigelow
Aerospace Tour - Jon Goff.
3:05 am: News briefs ... Frank
Sietzen and Keith Cowing provide an extensive review of NASA's studies
of possible CEV launch systems: NASA's
New CEV Launcher to Maximize Use of Space Shuttle Components - SpaceRef
-July.31.05 - Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith L. Cowing
... Taylor Dinerman reports
on the Pentagon's views towards NASA's launcher plans: A
tentative ceasefire in the trans-Potomac launcher wars - The Space
... The astronauts may trim
the extruding tile gap filler during one of their previously scheduled
Studies Potential Fix for Discovery's Heat Shield - SPACE.com -
July.31.05 * Shuttle
mission extended to give bonus day at station - Spaceflight Now
- July.31.05 ...
... The possibility of foam
debris from the PAL was reported to the CAIB: Foam
and the limits of foresight- by Dwayne A. Day and Christopher Kirchhoff
- The Space Review: ...
... Griffin faces not only
tough engineering and safety issues but must deal with complex political
forces when making decisions about the Shuttle program: NASA's
Leader, a Man of Logic, Faces Decisions Enmeshed in Another Realm:
Politics - New York Times - Aug.1.05
... The SS1 made a big impact
on this year's Oshkosh gathering: The
past meets the future in Oshkosh - by Eric R. Hedman - The Space
... On the last day at Oshkosh,
Burt got to hear the theme music to to the DVD "Mojave Magic:
A Turtle's Eye View of SpaceShipOne" (Amazon: US
music to ears of SpaceShipOne team - AV Press - July.31.05.
... Sam Dinkin finishes up
his interview with the TGV
Rockets team: Interview:
two guys at the vanguard (part 4) - The Space Review.
to July 2005