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HobbySpace.com Special Report

NewSpace in 2012
A log of the Ups and Downs in entrepreneurial spaceflight

Most recent change: July.21.12
Log up to date through:
June.30.12

..
Planetary Resources on April 24th announced its plan to mine asteroids.


This page provides a compilation of links to articles, blog postings, videos, and other resources for significant events and developments during 2012 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.

Logs for previous years:


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:

  • July * Flights/Flight Tests

  • June * Flights/Flight Tests
    • In June: SpaceX wraps up COTS23 mission. Videos were released of a test firinig of the SuperDraco at full thrust and of a full duration firing of the new Merlin 1D engine
    • In June: Scaled/Virgin Galactic resumed testing of the SpaceShipTwo, carrying out two glide flights. There were also three testing firings announce of the RocketMotorTwo.
    • June 28: The B612 Foundation announces a plan to develop, launch and operate with private funding an infrared space telescope operating in an orbit near that of Venus. The goal is to do a high resolution counting of near earth objects.
    • June 16: X-37B (OTV-2) lands successfully at Vandenberg.
    • June 7: XCOR and Space Expeditions Curacao (SXC) announced that SXC will become the official space tourism agent for XCOR Lynx flights. Previously, RocketshipTours was the agent but its owner passed away last year.
    • June 6: Sierra Nevada announces that the Dream Chaser had passed its preliminary design review.


  • May * Flights/Flight Tests
    • May 31: Blue Origin announced that their orbital crew module had passed its system requirements review.
    • May 30: The FAA grants Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites an experimental permit to do rocket test flights with SpaceShipTwo.
    • May 30: Moon Express acquires the Google Lunar X PRIZE team Next Giant Leap.
    • May.30: The USAF announced that the X-37B spaceplane, in orbit for more than a year, would return sometime in June for a landing at Vanderberg AFB in California.
    • May 29: Full scale prototype of the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser crew vehicle was lifted by helicopter on a successful captive carry test in Colorado.
    • May 29: Intelsat announces that it has reserved a launch on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy vehicle. No date is set. This is the first payload publicly announced for the FH.
    • May 22-31: SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launches the Dragon C2+. It deploys its solar panels for the first time and over the next two days flies to the ISS while carrying out a long series of tests. On the morning of May 25th, Dragon is captured by the ISS crewmembers using their robotic arm and berthed to the station. On May 26th the hatch was opened and during the next few days the several hundred kilograms of supplies were unloaded and then loaded with experimental materials, unneeded equipment, and garbage. On May 31st the Dragon was detached from the station and several hours later it de-orbited and successfully splashed down off the coast of California. This mission fulfills all the SpaceX COTS program requirements and they can now begin regular cargo deliveries to the station.
    • May 10: Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX announced a partnership to jointly market trips to Bigelow's commercial space stations. They will visit Japan after the Dragon mission to the ISS.
    • May 7: Spaceflight Services announces development of the SHERPA in-space tug for placing secondary payloads into orbits other than that of the primary payload.
    • May 2: Boeing carries out a drop test of a prototype CST-100 capsule

  • April * Flights/Flight Tests
    • April 30: SpaceX successfully carried out a two second hot fire test of the Falcon 9/Dragon on the pad.
    • April 24: NASA and SpaceX decide to delay the Falcon 9/Dragon mission to the ISS by one week to finish software and hardware-in-the-loop testing.
    • April 24: The company Planetary Resources, backed by Charles Simonyi, James Cameron, and other moguls, unveils its plan for asteroid mining. They will work incrementally, starting with LEO space telescopes to search for NEOs of interest and then send probes to investigate promising objects. The third stage will attempt extraction techniques.
    • April 21: this month the Florida governor signed legislation backing a spaceport at Cecil Field in Jacksonville. In Colorado the governor signed a bill backing a commecial spaceport at Front Range Airport near Denver.
    • April 16: NASA and SpaceX hold a flight readiness review and determine that the Falcon 9/Dragon mission to the ISS can launch on April 30, assuming some final software tests are completed satisfactorily.
    • April 6: FAA document is posted about an environmental impact statement for a possible spaceport for SpaceX near Brownsville, Texas.
    • April.2: Rand Simberg and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a study on how private property claims in space could be recognized by the US and still remain within the bounds of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

  • March * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Mar 9: NASA, Canadian Space Agency and MDA carried out 3 days of testing with the Robotic Refueling Mission outside the ISS. With the Dextre external remote controled robot, they tested techniques for refueling a spacecraft that was not designed for in-space refueling.
    • Mar. 1: SpaceX carried out a successful wet dress rehearsal for the Falcon 9/Dragon that will carryout the COTS 2/3 launch to the ISS later in the spring. Vehicle fueled as for the launch and all procedures up to just before engine firing were carried out.

  • February * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Feb.27 - XCOR announces that it had successfully closed a $5M round in equity fund raising.
    • Feb.27 -29 - The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC 2012) took place in California. Over 400 attendees - twice the number at the first meeting in 2010.
    • Feb.17 - Masten Space Systems Xaero vertical takeoff and landing vehicle does a free flight to 61 m and then comes back down for a powered landing.
    • Feb.16-17 - The FAA held its annual Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington, D.C. The sessions covered a wide array of topics such as NASA's commercial crew & cargo program, spaceports, private space transport company progress, etc.
    • Feb.7 - NASA held a forum on the Commercial Crew Program and laid out the agency's plan for the next phase of the funding and team selection.
    • Feb.2 - Draper Lab team flew Masten Space's Xombie vehicle on a up-over-down lunar lander challenge type of flight using their own autonomous GN&C system.

  • January * Flights/Flight Tests
    • Jan.28: Armadillo flies the STIG-A tube rocket to an estimated altitude of 82 km. Ballute deployment failed but "the vehicle was successfully recovered within the predicted operating area and the nose cone and ballute were separately recovered intact on the Spaceport property".
    • Jan.13: MDA and Intelsat announced they had terminated the agreement in which Intelsat would pay MDA up to $280M for refueling/servicing of its satellites in GEO orbit.

  • December * Flights/Flight Tests

  • November * Flights/Flight Tests

  • October * Flights/Flight Tests

  • September * Flights/Flight Tests

  • August * Flights/Flight Tests


July

Highlights:

  • July.11: Virgin Galactic announces plans to develop the LaunchOne booster to launch small satellites. The booster will be air launched from the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.
  • July.9: XCOR announces plans to put its HQ and test facilities in Midland, Texas.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

 

June

..
SpaceX's Merlin 1D engine fires for full duration - Jun.25.12

Highlights:

  • In June: SpaceX wraps up COTS23 mission. Videos were released of a test firinig of the SuperDraco at full thrust and of a full duration firing of the new Merlin 1D engine
  • In June: Scaled/Virgin Galactic resumed testing of the SpaceShipTwo, carrying out two glide flights. There were also three testing firings announce of the RocketMotorTwo.
  • June 28: The B612 Foundation announces a plan to develop, launch and operate with private funding an infrared space telescope operating in an orbit near that of Venus. The goal is to do a high resolution counting of near earth objects.
  • June 16: X-37B (OTV-2) lands successfully at Vandenberg.
  • June 7: XCOR and Space Expeditions Curacao (SXC) announced that SXC will become the official space tourism agent for XCOR Lynx flights. Previously, RocketshipTours was the agent but its owner passed away last year.
  • June 6: Sierra Nevada announces that the Dream Chaser had passed its preliminary design review.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

 

May

..
The SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral on May 22nd with
the Dragon spacecraft. On May 25th, the Dragon was berthed to the ISS
after extensive testing and demonstrations of its capabilities.

Highlights:

  • May 31: Blue Origin announced that their orbital crew module had passed its system requirements review.
  • May 30: The FAA grants Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites an experimental permit to do rocket test flights with SpaceShipTwo.
  • May 30: Moon Express acquires the Google Lunar X PRIZE team Next Giant Leap.
  • May.30: The USAF announced that the X-37B spaceplane, in orbit for more than a year, would return sometime in June for a landing at Vanderberg AFB in California.
  • May 29: Full scale prototype of the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser crew vehicle was lifted by helicopter on a successful captive carry test in Colorado.
  • May 29: Intelsat announces that it has reserved a launch on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy vehicle. No date is set. This is the first payload publicly announced for the FH.
  • May 22-31: SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launches the Dragon C2+. It deploys its solar panels for the first time and over the next two days flies to the ISS while carrying out a long series of tests. On the morning of May 25th, Dragon is captured by the ISS crewmembers using their robotic arm and berthed to the station. On May 26th the hatch was opened and during the next few days the several hundred kilograms of supplies were unloaded and then loaded with experimental materials, unneeded equipment, and garbage. On May 31st the Dragon was detached from the station and several hours later it de-orbited and successfully splashed down off the coast of California. This mission fulfills all the SpaceX COTS program requirements and they can now begin regular cargo deliveries to the station.
  • May 10: Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX announced a partnership to jointly market trips to Bigelow's commercial space stations. They will visit Japan after the Dragon mission to the ISS.
  • May 7: Spaceflight Services announces development of the SHERPA in-space tug for placing secondary payloads into orbits other than that of the primary payload.
  • May 2: Boeing carries out a drop test of a prototype CST-100 capsule

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:


April

..
On April 30th SpaceX carried out a 2 second hot fire test on the pad
at Cape Canaveral in prepration for the first Dragon mission to the ISS>

Highlights:

  • April 30: SpaceX successfully carried out a two second hot fire test of the Falcon 9/Dragon on the pad.
  • April 24: NASA and SpaceX decide to delay the Falcon 9/Dragon mission to the ISS by one week to finish software and hardware-in-the-loop testing.
  • April 24: The company Planetary Resources, backed by Charles Simonyi, James Cameron, and other moguls, unveils its plan for asteroid mining. They will work incrementally, starting with LEO space telescopes to search for NEOs of interest and then send probes to investigte promising objects. The third stage will attempt extraction technques.
  • April 21: this month the Florida governor signed legislation backing a spaceport at Cecil Field in Jacksonville. In Colorado the governor signed a bill backing a commecial spaceport at Front Range Airport near Denver.
  • April 16: NASA and SpaceX hold a flight readiness review and determine that the Falcon 9/Dragon mission to the ISS can launch on April 30, assuming some final software tests are completed satisfactorily.
  • April 6: FAA document is posted about an environmental impact statement for a possible spaceport for SpaceX near Brownsville, Texas.
  • April.2: Rand Simberg and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a study on how private property claims in space could be recognized by the US and still remain within the bounds of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

 


March

Highlights:

  • Mar 9: NASA, Canadian Space Agency and MDA carried out 3 days of testing with the Robotic Refueling Mission module outside the ISS. With the Dextre external remote controled robot, they tested techniques for refueling a spacecraft that was not designed for in-space refueling.
  • Mar. 1: SpaceX carried out a successful wet dress rehearsal for the Falcon 9/Dragon that will carryout the COTS 2/3 launch to the ISS later in the spring. Vehicle fueled as for the launch and all procedures up to just before engine firing were carried out.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:


February

..
Masten Space Systems flies Xaero to 61 m and then
comes back down for a powered landing on February 17th.

Highlights:

  • Feb.27 - XCOR announces that it had successfully closed a $5M round in equity fund raising.
  • Feb.27 -29 - The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC 2012) took place in California. Over 400 attendees - twice the number at the first meeting in 2010.
  • Feb.17 - Masten Space Systems Xaero vertical takeoff and landing vehicle does a free flight to 61 m and then comes back down for a powered landing.
  • Feb.16-17 - The FAA held its annual Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington, D.C. The sessions covered a wide array of topics such as NASA's commercial crew & cargo program, spaceports, private space transport company progress, etc.
  • Feb.7 - NASA held a forum on the Commercial Crew Program and laid out the agency's plan for the next phase of the funding and team selection.
  • Feb.2 - Draper Lab team flew Masten Space's Xombie vehicle on a up-over-down lunar lander challenge type of flight using their own autonomous GN&C system.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:


January

..
Armadillo Aerospace flies their STIG-A tube rocket to an estimated altitude of 95 km.

Highlights:

  • Jan.28: Armadillo flies the STIG-A tube rocket to an estimated altitude of 95 km. Ballute deployment failed but "the vehicle was successfully recovered within the predicted operating area and the nose cone and ballute were separately recovered intact on the Spaceport property".
  • Jan.13: MDA and Intelsat announced they had terminated the agreement in which Intelsat would pay MDA up to $280M for refueling/servicing of its satellites in GEO orbit.

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

 


December

 

Highlights:

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

November

 

Highlights:

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

October

 

Highlights:

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

September

 

Highlights:

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

August

 

Highlights:

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

July

Highlights:

Flights & Flight Test Activity:

Links:

  • Commercial Space Stations:


  • Commercial Spaceflight:


  • Commercial Spaceflight Training/Services/Parabolic Flights:

  • In-space infrastructure:


  • In-Space Apps/In-Situ Resources/Mining

  • Military Space:

 

 

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