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HobbySpace.com Special Report

NewSpace in 2011
A log of the Ups and Downs in entrepreneurial spaceflight

Most recent change: Feb.4.12
Log up to date through:
Dec.31.11

..

This video animation shows how the Stratolaunch system
will put a payload into orbit. Announced on
December 13th, the
air launch rocket system designed by Burt Rutan will involve building the
largest aircraft in history to carry a multi-stage rocket built by
SpaceX. It will put 13,500 lbs into low earth orbit.
First rocket flight
is scheduled for 2016.

This page provides a compilation of links to articles, blog postings, videos, and other resources for significant events and developments during 2011 in the New Space area. Unless otherwise indicated, the links are to the Space Transport News blog.

Note: I exclude most of the posts related to the NASA budget and policy fights in Congress. This would overwhelm the log here and is not directly related to New Space except for areas such as the commercial crew transport services. See Space Transport News and the Space Policy category for posts about the NASA budget controversy and battles.

For the previous year, see the NewSpace Log for 2010.

Here is a review of developments in 2011 in private space transport.


The following Highlights section describes particular NewSpace events of interest during the 2010 and points to sets of links with additional information and resources about those events.

Highlights:

  • December * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Dec. 15: NASA decides to return to the use of Space Act Agreements for the Commercial Crew Program, as was used on the COTS and first two phases of the CCDev program, rather than the far more intrusive and costly FAR standard procurement system.
    • Dec. 13: Paul Allen announced a plan by his Stratolaunch Systems company to build an ambitious air launch rocket system that will involve building the largest aircraft in history to carry a multi-stage rocket. The rocket will be a variation of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and will put 13,500 lbs into LEO. The system was designed by Burt Rutan. The firist rocket flight is scheduled for 2016.
    • Dec. 9: NASA sets Feb 7, 2012 for the target date for the Falcon 9 launch of a Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous and dock with the ISS. This will combine the COTS 2/3 demonstration flights for SpaceX.
    • Dec. 8: Blue Origin announces they will do engine tests at NASA Stennis center.
    • Dec. 4: Armadillo Aerospace launches STIG-A tube rocket from Spaceport America. It reaches 42 km & is recovered with only minor damage.

  • November * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Nov.18: The FAA approved the environmental impact request by SpaceX for the tests of the Grasshopper low altitude suborbital vehicle, which is a prototype of their reusable first stage for the Falcon 9.
    • Nov.17: Blue Origin debuts revamped website and includes two videos of the successful short vertical flight of their PM2 vehicle in May 2011. (PM2 later failed in a high velocity flight in August 2011.)
    • Nov.15: The German insurance firm Allianz Global Assistance will offer insurance for both "space travelers and space line operators".

  • October * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Oct.27: The annual SEDS SpaceVision conference took place in Boulder, Colorado. Many talks on NewSpace related topics.
    • Oct. 20: The design for the abort/landing system for the SpaceX Dragon capsule passes its preliminary design review, which was a milestone in the SpaceX/NASA CCDev Phase 2 program. Also, the Dragon spacecraft for the COTS 2/3 flight goes to the Cape for integration with its Falcon 9 rocket.
    • Oct. 19: The two day International Symposium on Personal & Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS 2011) opened in Las Cruces, NM.
    • Oct. 19: It becomes known that an internal NASA study found that a deep space exploration architecture based on fuel depots and commercial launchers would save "tens of billions" of dollars over the SLS super heavy lifter approach.
    • Oct. 19: Abu Dhabi investment company Aabar Investments puts another $110M into VG:
    • Oct. 17: A dedication ceremony was held for the terminal/hangar facility at Spaceport America.
    • Oct. 17: The GAO released a report critical of the DoD's plan to make a large bulk purchase of 40 launches from ULA.
    • Oct. 14: The USAF, NRO and NASA agreed on a joint policy for how to award launch contracts for their unmanned payloads. New firms will be allowed to launch payloads with the least risk to the programs of the agencies while only launchers with the best records will launch the most important payloads.

  • September * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Sept. 29: SpaceShipTwo went into a spin soon after release from the WhiteKnightTwo carrier. Going into the feather configuration brought it out of the spin and they landed safely.
    • Sept.29: Bigelow Aerospace laid off about 40% of its workforce due to expected delays in development of commercial orbital space transport systems. They will concentrate on the joint project with Boeing on the CST-100 crew capsule projectand return later to the BA-330 habitat development.
    • Sept.29: In a speech to the National Press Club in D.C., Elon Musk announced that SpaceX has begun development of a fully and rapidly reusable version of the Falcon 9/Dragon system. In addition to the Dragon, both the first and second stages will return to the launch site via powered landings. The Grasshopper project will test the first stage vertical takeoff and landing systems.
    • Sept.24: An environmental impact statement submitted by SpaceX to the FAA reveal a new proejct involving a modified first Falcon 9 first stage that will test vertical takeof and landing techniques at the Texas facility. The company has not elaborated on its purpose. It's believed by many that this vehicle is a test for a flyback first stage for the Falcon 9.
    • Sept.19: The Spaceship Company (TSC) officially opened its new factory in Mojave. TSC is the joint Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites company that will build WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo vehicles for use by Virgin Galactic and potentially to sell to other companies.
    • Sept.19: NASA posts draft Request for Proposals (RFP) documents for the next phase in the commercial crew program. Instead of CCDev-3 it will be called "Commercial Crew Integrated Design Contract:
    • Sept.16: NASA announces that for the next phase in the commercial crew transportation program, they will use a modified but standard government contracting process (FAR) rather than the Space Act Agreements used for the commercal cargo program. This could mean far more intrusive oversight into the design and building of the vehicles and higher paperwork overhead.
    • Sept.15: XCOR and Space Expedition Curaçao (SXC) finalize their wet lease agreement. Flights to start with Lynx in 2014. "Eight-figure" payment made to XCOR.
    • Sept.13: ATK and NASA announced the signing of an unfunded Space Act Agreement for the study of the Liberty vehicle for the commercial crew launch program. Liberty consists of ATK's 5-segment first stage booster and Ariane 5 upper stage.
    • Sept. 2: News of the test flight failure of the Blue Origin prototype suborbital vehicle PM-2 on August 24th came out in the Wall Street Journal.

  • August * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Aug.26: The FAA award infrastructure grants to commercial spaceports at Wallops Island, Mojave, and New Mexico.
    • Aug.25: Virgin Galactic/Scaled announced that the first full duration firing test of the Rocket Motor Two for the SpaceShipTwo had been carried out.
    • Aug.24: Blue Origin flew their PM-2 vehicle but after reaching Mach 1.2 and 45,000 feet an instability occurred that led to thrust termination by the safety system. The vehicle apparently was destroyed on landing.
    • Aug. 12: None of the entries in the 2012 Strong Tether Challenge wins the $2M purse.
    • Aug. 9: NASA announces selection of seven firms for commercial suborbital space access services contracts.
    • Aug. 8: NASA announces 30 proposals accepted for the reopening of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts program
    • Aug. 5: NASA announces contract for study of orbital cryogenic fuel depot.
    • Aug. 4: Boeing announces that they have selected the Atlas V to carry their CST-100 crew capsule to orbit.

  • July * Flights/Flight Tests
    • July 28-30: NewSpace 2011 conference took place at NASA Ames in Mountain View, California. See conference resources page here.
    • July 21: NASA gives SpaceX preliminary approval to combine its COTS 2 and 3 flights into one mission, which will launch on Nov. 30th and arrive at the station on Dec. 7th.
    • July 20: At a NASA forum, agency officials announce a plan to operate the Commercial Crew program in a more traditional procurement contracting (FAR) mode rather than with Space Act Agreementa as ws used for the COTS commercial cargo delivery program. This will mean much more red-tape, interference by NASA in the vehicle development programs and much higher costs.
    • July 15: NASA and ULA announce an unfunded agreement in which the two organizations will work to human-rate the Atlas V launcher for use with the commercial crew program.
    • July 14: Bigelow Aerospace will drop development of the Sundancer manned orbital module and will expedite development of the larger BA-330 modules.
    • July 13: A ground-breaking ceremony is held at Vandenberg AFB for the launch facility for the SpaceX Falcon Heavy.
    • July 11: The Planetary Science Institute (PSI) and XCOR Aerospace announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that lays the groundwork for flying the human-operated Atsa Suborbital Observatory aboard XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft.
    • July 7: SNC and NASA sign an agreement that will allow SNC to use Kennedy Space Center facilities for preparation of their Dream Chaser for flight.

  • June * Flights/Flight Tests
    • June 4: Compenhagen Suborbitals launches their Heat 1-X hybrid rocket with Tycho Brahe module, which was recovered. The altitude was modest but this was their first successfu flight.
    • June 11: During a free flight of Armadillo's SuperMod vehicle "Dalek", an abort occured due a mechanical failure in the fuel plumbing. The parafoil deploys successfully but the heavy fuel load results in a hard landing.
    • June 13: SpaceX and Thaicom announce that a Falcon 9 will launch a Thaicom satellite (to be built by Orbital Sciences) to geostationary orbit in 2013.
    • June 14-15: WhiteKightTwo and SpaceShipTwo carry out drop glide tests two days in a row for the first time.


  • May * Flights/Flight Tests
    • May 27: The FAA approves ZERO-G parabolic flight services for qualification and training of the crews of suborbital launch operators.
    • May 23: The Orrery group invests in the NewSpace style startup company Altius Space Machines.
    • May 20: UP Aerospace successfully launches a SpaceLoft XL suborbital rocket from Spaceport America with educational and commercial payloads aboard.
    • May 19: Space Florida awards a $400,000 contract with Masten Space Systems to carry out launches with their Vertical-takeoff, Vertical landing rocket at the Cape Canaveral
    • May 13: NASA releases a report that gives an assessment of potential non-government markets for the rocket vehicles supported by NASA's commercial cargo and crew programs. In an appendix the report says that the total development cost ($390M) for the SpaceX Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets was ten times less than what the cost model predicted for a Falcon 9 developed in NASA with the standard program approach. The reports also said NASA had verified the SpaceX cost numbers.
    • May. 5: Space Adventures announces that it has sold one ticket for its two person trip around the Moon in a Russian Soyuz spaceship. In negotiations for the second ticket.
    • May. 5: Bigelow Aerospace announces that tests have begun of the environmental life support system intended for their orbital habitats. Test subjects will stay in an enclosed module, starting with short periods and then gradually increasing to longer and longer periods.

  • April
    • Apr.28: As the 10 year anniversary of Dennis Tito's flight to the ISS approached (April 28, 2001), the first genuine space tourist flight, there were many articles and reflections on the flight and on the prospects for space tourism in general.
    • Apr.19: NASA announces that four proposals had won grants in the Commercial Crew Development, Phase 2 competition: Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX.
    • Apr.7-9: The annual Space Access Society conference was held in Phoenix, Arizona. See the Space Access ' 11 resources page for links to blog posts, presentation reports, photos, etc. from here and elsewhere about the conference.
    • Apr.5 : SpaceX unveils Falcon Heavy design and development plan.

  • March
    • Mar.21: XCOR/ULA announce the successful demonstration of an aluminum alloy rocket nozzle and the start of a new collaboration on development of a new LOX/LH2 engine.
    • Mar.14: TripAlertz announced that it would offer group purchasing discounts on tickets for rides on XCOR's Lynx Mk. I vehicle. In addition, they have a promotional sweepstakes in which the winner gets a Lynx ticket.
    • Mar.14: MDA announced that Intelsat signed a contract to become the anchor customer for MDA's satellite refueling and servicing spacecraft.
    • Mar.14: The large European satellite operator SES announced a contract with SpaceX to launch a medium sized communications satellite in 2013.
    • Mar.9: SpaceX announces a major expansion to its test site facility in Texas.
    • Mar.5: The Garvey Spacecraft/Cal State University, Long Beach rocket collaboration launched the reusable LOX/Ethanol powered Prospector 18A rocket on a low-altitude test flight from the FAR site in Mojave, California.
    • Feb.28-Mar.2 - A successful Next-Generation Suborbital Research Conference took place in Orlando, Florida with 355 attendees.

  • February
    • Feb.28: Virgin Galactic announces that Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has deposits on 2 seats and options on 6 more seats for suborbital research projects.
    • Feb.24: XCOR announces that Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has purchased 6 rides on the Lynx Mk I for suborbital research projects.
    • Feb.18: SpaceX says it will put Falcon 1 development on low priority and focus on Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy.
    • Feb.16: The Virginia legislature passes a bill that would transfer to the Virginia spaceport authority the tax revenue obtained from commercial spaceflight activities such as when Space Adventures sells tickets for flights to the ISS.
    • Feb.10: The SpaceX Dragon capsule launched and returned from orbit last December is put on display in Washington D.C. during the FAA conference.
    • Feb.9: FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference attracts over 400 attendees.
    • Feb.8: ATK announces a partnership with Astrium to create a rocket from a solid rocket booster first stage and a Ariane 5 second stage to compete in NASA's commercial crew launch services program.
    • Feb.6: Astrobotic Technologies, a competitor in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, reserves a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher to send its spacecraft to the Moon.
    • Feb.5: NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver makes high profile visits to Bigelow Aerospace to discuss their space station plans and to SNC to see Dream Chaser.
    • Feb.3: United Space Alliance (USA) announces they are seeking funding to study feasibility of a commercial space shuttle service for NASA.
    • Feb.2: Bigelow Aerospace and Space Florida sign Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation.
    • Feb.2: The revamp of management of the New Mexico spaceport by the new governor continued during the month.

  • January
    • Jan. 31: Bigelow Aerospace and UAE Abu Dhabi announce the signing of a MOU to use BA orbital stations.
    • Jan. 23: The first Armadillo Aerospace update in several months describes their Tube Rocket for testing high altitude components and techniques.
    • Jan. 17: SpaceX gave an update on its proposal to NASA's Commercial Crew Development - Phase 2 program. They released an animation of their proposed crew escape system that needs to be developed for a crew capable Dragon capsule. The system remains with the capsule throughout the flight and allows for pinpoint powered landings on a hard pad rather than a splashdown at sea.
    • Jan. 14: NASA and Bigelow Aerospace hold a workshop to discuss possible BA modules for the ISS. More details released later about the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which would provide additional storage space for the ISS.
    • Jan.13: SpaceShipTwo makes another glide flight.
    • Jan. 12: Space Adventures announced a deal with the Rederal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) in which they will expand production of Soyuz vehicles to allow for one seat for commercial paying passengers beginning in 2013.
    • Jan. 11: Masten Space begins static firing tests of "Brutus" that will be their first high altitude vehicle.
    • Jan. 6: Excalibur Almaz brings two Russian Almaz space station modules to their Isle of Man facilities.
    • Jan. 5: The new governor of New Mexico asked for the resignation of Rick Homans from his job as director of Spaceport America. Gov. Susana Martinez also requested an audit of the project. However, she also emphasized that she supports the project.

December

..
On Sunday Dec. 4th:, Armadillo Aerospace launched their STIG-A tube rocket
from Spaceport America in New Mexico to an altitude of 42 km. It returns by parachutes
and is recovered with only minor damage.

Highlights:

  • Dec. 15: NASA decides to return to the use of Space Act Agreements for the Commercial Crew Program, as was used on the COTS and first two phases of the CCDev program, rather than the far more intrusive and costly FAR standard procurement system.
  • Dec. 13: Paul Allen announced a plan by his Stratolaunch Systems company to build an ambitious air launch rocket system that will involve building the largest aircraft in history to carry a multi-stage rocket. The rocket will be a variation of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and will put 13,500 lbs into LEO. The system was designed by Burt Rutan. The firist rocket flight is scheduled for 2016.
  • Dec. 9: NASA sets Feb 7, 2012 for the target date for the Falcon 9 launch of a Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous and dock with the ISS. This will combine the COTS 2/3 demonstration flights for SpaceX.
  • Dec. 8: Blue Origin announces they will do engine tests at NASA Stennis center.
  • Dec. 4: Armadillo Aerospace launches STIG-A tube rocket from Spaceport America. It reaches 42 km & is recovered with only minor damage.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

November

..
Secretive Blue Origin debuted a revamped website and included
two video views of a short "hop" flight by their PM-2 vehicle in May 2011.
The vehicle was later destroyed during a test flight in August in which they
attempt to go supersonic and to high altitudes.

Highlights:

  • Nov.18: The FAA approved the environmental impact request by SpaceX for the tests of the Grasshopper low altitude suborbital vehicle, which is a prototype of their reusable first stage for the Falcon 9.
  • Nov.17: Blue Origin debuts revamped website and includes two videos of the successful short vertical flight of their PM2 vehicle in May 2011. (PM2 later failed in a high velocity flight in August 2011.)
  • Nov.15: The German insurance firm Allianz Global Assistance will offer insurance for both "space travelers and space line operators".

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

October

..
Richard Branson joins with the Project Bandaloop dance troupe
to dedicate the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space termina/hangar
facility at Spaceport America, New Mexico.

Highlights:

  • Oct.27: The annual SEDS SpaceVision conference took place in Boulder, Colorado. Many talks on NewSpace related topics.
  • Oct. 20: The design for the abort/landing system for the SpaceX Dragon capsule passes its preliminary design review, which was a milestone in the SpaceX/NASA CCDev Phase 2 program. Also, the Dragon spacecraft for the COTS 2/3 flight goes to the Cape for integration with its Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Oct. 19: The two day International Symposium on Personal & Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS 2011) opened in Las Cruces, NM.
  • Oct. 19: It becomes known that an internal NASA study found that a deep space exploration architecture based on fuel depots and commercial launchers would save "tens of billions" of dollars over the SLS super heavy lifter approach.
  • Oct. 19: Abu Dhabi investment company Aabar Investments puts another $110M into VG:
  • Oct. 17: A dedication ceremony was held for the terminal/hangar facility at Spaceport America.
  • Oct. 17: The GAO released a report critical of the DoD's plan to make a large bulk purchase of 40 launches from ULA.
  • Oct. 14: The USAF, NRO and NASA agreed on a joint policy for how to award launch contracts for their unmanned payloads. New firms will be allowed to launch payloads with the least risk to the programs of the agencies while only launchers with the best records will launch the most important payloads.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

September

..
On September 29th, Elon Musk announced that SpaceX would begin
development of a fully and rapidly reusable version of the Falcon 9/Dragon
launch system. This animation shows the general way that this would work.

Highlights:

  • Sept. 29: SpaceShipTwo went into a spin soon after release from the WhiteKnightTwo carrier. Going into the feather configuration brought it out of the spin and they landed safely.
  • Sept.29: Bigelow Aerospace laid off about 40% of its workforce due to expected delays in development of commercial orbital space transport systems. They will concentrate on the joint project with Boeing on the CST-100 crew capsule projectand return later to the BA-330 habitat development.
  • Sept.29: In a speech to the National Press Club in D.C., Elon Musk announced that SpaceX has begun development of a fully and rapidly reusable version of the Falcon 9/Dragon system. In addition to the Dragon, both the first and second stages will return to the launch site via powered landings. The Grasshopper project will test the first stage vertical takeoff and landing systems.
  • Sept.24: An environmental impact statement submitted by SpaceX to the FAA reveal a new proejct involving a modified first Falcon 9 first stage that will test vertical takeof and landing techniques at the Texas facility. The company has not elaborated on its purpose. It's believed by many that this vehicle is a test for a flyback first stage for the Falcon 9. rF9debut
  • Sept.19: The Spaceship Company (TSC) officially opened its new factory in Mojave. TSC is the joint Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites company that will build WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo vehicles for use by Virgin Galactic and potentially to sell to other companies.
  • Sept.19: NASA posts draft Request for Proposals (RFP) documents for the next phase in the commercial crew program. Instead of CCDev-3 it will be called "Commercial Crew Integrated Design Contract:
  • Sept.16: NASA announces that for the next phase in the commercial crew transportation program, they will use a modified but standard government contracting process (FAR) rather than the Space Act Agreements used for the commercal cargo program. This could mean far more intrusive oversight into the design and building of the vehicles and higher paperwork overhead.
  • Sept.15: XCOR and Space Expedition Curaçao (SXC) finalize their wet lease agreement. Flights to start with Lynx in 2014. "Eight-figure" payment made to XCOR.
  • Sept.13: ATK and NASA announced the signing of an unfunded Space Act Agreement for the study of the Liberty vehicle for the commercial crew launch program. Liberty consists of ATK's 5-segment first stage booster and Ariane 5 upper stage.
  • Sept. 2: News of the test flight failure of the Blue Origin prototype suborbital vehicle PM-2 on August 24th came out in the Wall Street Journal.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

August

..
SpaceUp Houston held this Commercial Spaceflight panel on Aug.18th.
Video courtesy Schipul - The Web Marketing Co. on Vimeo

Highlights:

  • Aug.26: The FAA award infrastructure grants to commercial spaceports at Wallops Island, Mojave, and New Mexico.
  • Aug.25: Virgin Galactic/Scaled announced that the first full duration firing test of the Rocket Motor Two for the SpaceShipTwo had been carried out.
  • Aug.24: Blue Origin flew their PM-2 vehicle but after reaching Mach 1.2 and 45,000 feet an instability occurred that led to thrust termination by the safety system. It apparently was destroyed on landing.
  • Aug. 12: None of the entries in the 2012 Strong Tether Challenge wins the $2M purse.
  • Aug. 9: NASA announces selection of seven firms for commercial suborbital space access services contracts.
  • Aug. 8: NASA announces 30 proposals accepted for the reopening of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts program
  • Aug. 5: NASA announces contract for study of orbital cryogenic fuel depot.
  • Aug. 4: Boeing announces that they have selected the Atlas V to carry their CST-100 crew capsule to orbit.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

July

..
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation released this video to show the bright future
for US manned spaceflight after the Shuttle program ends

Highlights:

  • July 28-30: NewSpace 2011 conference took place at NASA Ames in Mountain View, California. See conference resources page here.
  • July 21: NASA gives SpaceX preliminary approval to combine its COTS 2 and 3 flights into one mission, which will launch on Nov. 30th and arrive at the station on Dec. 7th.
  • July 20: At a NASA forum, agency officials announce a plan to operate the Commercial Crew program in a more traditional procurement contracting (FAR) mode rather than with Space Act Agreementa as ws used for the COTS commercial cargo delivery program. This will mean much more red-tape, interference by NASA in the vehicle development programs and much higher costs.
  • July 15: NASA and ULA announce an unfunded agreement in which the two organizations will work to human-rate the Atlas V launcher for use with the commercial crew program.
  • July 14: Bigelow Aerospace will drop development of the Sundancer manned orbital module and will expedite development of the larger BA-330 modules.
  • July 13: A ground-breaking ceremony is held at Vandenberg AFB for the launch facility for the SpaceX Falcon Heavy.
  • July 11: The Planetary Science Institute (PSI) and XCOR Aerospace announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that lays the groundwork for flying the human-operated Atsa Suborbital Observatory aboard XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft.
  • July 7: SNC and NASA sign an agreement that will allow SNC to use Kennedy Space Center facilities for preparation of their Dream Chaser for flight.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

June

..
On June 11th, Armadillo Aerospace made an untethered flight test of the
SuperMod vehicle (nicknamed "Dalek") with a new high power engine and other upgrades.
A crack in a pipe within the fuel tank had been seen before the flight and an on-pad repair
was attempted. However, early in the flight the pipe broke off completely and led to a series
of faults that finally resulted in a engine thrust going haywire. Then engine was cutoof and a
parafoil was successfully deployed. However, the weight of the nearly full propellant tanks
resulted in a ard landing with some damage to the vehicle.
See the AA flight test report here.

Highlights:

  • June 4: Compenhagen Suborbitals launches their Heat 1-X hybrid rocket with Tycho Brahe module, which was recovered. The altitude was modest but this was their first successfu flight.
  • June 11: During a free flight of Armadillo's SuperMod vehicle "Dalek", an abort occured due a mechanical failure in the fuel plumbing. The parafoil deploys successfully but the heavy fuel load results in a hard landing.
  • June 13: SpaceX and Thaicom announce that a Falcon 9 will launch a Thaicom satellite (to be built by Orbital Sciences) to geostationary orbit in 2013.
  • June 14-15: WhiteKightTwo and SpaceShipTwo carry out drop glide tests two days in a row for the first time.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

May

..
Jeff Greason of XCOR gives a keynote address at the ISDC 2011 event in Huntsville, Alabama.

Highlights:

  • May 27: The FAA approves ZERO-G parabolic flight services for qualification and training of the crews of suborbital launch operators.
  • May 23: The Orrery group invests in the NewSpace style startup company Altius Space Machines.
  • May 20: UP Aerospace successfully launches a SpaceLoft XL suborbital rocket from Spaceport America with educational and commercial payloads aboard.
  • May 19: Space Florida awards a $400,000 contract with Masten Space Systems to carry out launches with their Vertical-takeoff, Vertical landing rocket at the Cape Canaveral
  • May 13: NASA releases a report that gives an assessment of potential non-government markets for the rocket vehicles supported by NASA's commercial cargo and crew programs. In an appendix the report says that the total development cost ($390M) for the SpaceX Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets was ten times less than what the cost model predicted for a Falcon 9 developed in NASA with the standard program approach. The reports also said NASA had verified the SpaceX cost numbers.
  • May. 5: Space Adventures announces that it has sold one ticket for its two person trip around the Moon in a Russian Soyuz spaceship. In negotiations for the second ticket.
  • May. 5: Bigelow Aerospace announces that tests have begun of the environmental life support system intended for their orbital habitats. Test subjects will stay in an enclosed module, starting with short periods and then gradually increasing to longer and longer periods.
  • May. 4: The feather reentry configuration of the SpaceShipTwo was tested in glide flight for the first time.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:


April

..
A SpaceX video about the Falcon Heavy (FH) launch vehicle, the design of
which was unveiled in a news conference by Elon Musk on April 5th:.

Highlights:

  • Apr.28: As the 10 year anniversary of Dennis Tito's flight to the ISS approached (April 28, 2001), the first genuine space tourist flight, there were many articles and reflections on the flight and on the prospects for space tourism in general.
  • Apr.19: NASA announces that four proposals had won grants in the Commercial Crew Development, Phase 2 competition: Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX.
  • Apr.7-9: The annual Space Access Society conference was held in Phoenix, Arizona. See the Space Access ' 11 resources page for links to blog posts, presentation reports, photos, etc. from here and elsewhere about the conference.
  • Apr.5 : SpaceX unveils Falcon Heavy design and development plan.

Links:


March

..
MDA and Intelsat signed a contract for refueling of its GEO communication satellite
with MDA's Space Infrastructur Servicing (SIS) vehicle, which would be the first operational
orbital fuel depot as well as a space tug and inspection/repair system.

Highlights:

  • Mar.21: XCOR/ULA announce the successful demonstration of an aluminum alloy rocket nozzle and the start of a new collaboration on development of a new LOX/LH2 engine.
  • Mar.14: TripAlertz announced that it would offer group purchasing discounts on tickets for rides on XCOR's Lynx Mk. I vehicle. In addition, they have a promotional sweepstakes in which the winner gets a Lynx ticket.
  • Mar.14: MDA announced that Intelsat signed a contract to become the anchor customer for MDA's satellite refueling and servicing spacecraft.
  • Mar.14: The large European satellite operator SES announced a contract with SpaceX to launch a medium sized communications satellite in 2013.
  • Mar.9: SpaceX announces a major expansion to its test site facility in Texas.
  • Mar.5: The Garvey Spacecraft/Cal State University, Long Beach rocket collaboration launched the reusable LOX/Ethanol powered Prospector 18A rocket on a low-altitude test flight from the FAR site in Mojave, California.
  • Feb.28-Mar.2 - A successful Next-Generation Suborbital Research Conference took place in Orlando, Florida with 355 attendees.

Links:


February

A video describing the Mojave Air & Space Port.

Highlights:

  • Feb.28: Virgin Galactic announces that Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has deposits on 2 seats and options on 6 more seats for suborbital research projects.
  • Feb.24: XCOR announces that Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has purchased 6 rides on the Lynx Mk I for suborbital research projects.
  • Feb.18: SpaceX says it will put Falcon 1 development on low priority and focus on Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy.
  • Feb.16: The Virginia legislature passes a bill that would transfer to the Virginia spaceport authority the tax revenue obtained from commercial spaceflight activities such as when Space Adventures sells tickets for flights to the ISS.
  • Feb.10: The SpaceX Dragon capsule launched and returned from orbit last December is put on display in Washington D.C. during the FAA conference.
  • Feb.9: FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference attracts over 400 attendees.
  • Feb.8: ATK announces a partnership with Astrium to create a rocket from a solid rocket booster first stage and a Ariane 5 second stage to compete in NASA's commercial crew launch services program.
  • Feb.6: Astrobotic Technologies, a competitor in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, reserves a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher to send its spacecraft to the Moon.
  • Feb.5: NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver makes high profile visits to Bigelow Aerospace to discuss their space station plans and to SNC to see Dream Chaser.
  • Feb.3: United Space Alliance (USA) announces they are seeking funding to study feasibility of a commercial space shuttle service for NASA.
  • Feb.2: Bigelow Aerospace and Space Florida sign Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation.
  • Feb.2: The revamp of management of the New Mexico spaceport by the new governor continued during the month.

Links:


January


Masten Space static test of its Brutus vehicle on Jan. 14, 2011.

Highlights:

  • Jan. 31: Bigelow Aerospace and UAE Abu Dhabi announce the signing of a MOU to use BA orbital stations.
  • Jan. 23: The first Armadillo Aerospace update in several months describes their Tube Rocket for testing high altitude components and techniques.
  • Jan. 17: SpaceX gave an update on its proposal to NASA's Commercial Crew Development - Phase 2 program. They released an animation of their proposed crew escape system that needs to be developed for a crew capable Dragon capsule. The system remains with the capsule throughout the flight and allows for pinpoint powered landings on a hard pad rather than a splashdown at sea.
  • Jan. 14: NASA and Bigelow Aerospace hold a workshop to discuss possible BA modules for the ISS. More details released later about the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which would provide additional storage space for the ISS.
  • Jan.13: SpaceShipTwo makes another glide flight.
  • Jan. 12: Space Adventures announced a deal with the Rederal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) in which they will expand production of Soyuz vehicles to allow for one seat for commercial paying passengers beginning in 2013.
  • Jan. 11: Masten Space begins static firing tests of "Brutus" that will be their first high altitude vehicle.
  • Jan. 6: Excalibur Almaz brings two Russian Almaz space station modules to their Isle of Man facilities.
  • Jan. 5: The new governor of New Mexico asked for the resignation of Rick Homans from his job as director of Spaceport America. Gov. Susana Martinez also requested an audit of the project. However, she also emphasized that she supports the project.

Links:

 

Nasa Toys and Gifts

Photo To Space
Nasa Toys and Gifts
The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
New Space Watch

 

 

NewSpace Conference Reviews
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