Hudson steps down as CEO of Rotary
on Monday that Hudson would continue an affiliation with the
company as a consultant while Helena Hardman, the current CFO,
will take over as interim head. The company is indefinitely
postponing development of the orbital Roton
and will work on an alternative business plan in the coming
Ed. - As reported
in my review of the Space Access'00 meeting
below , Hudson was extremely downbeat in his assessment of
the development of private RLVs in the next 5-10 years. The
failure of Iridium has made fund raising go from very difficult
to virtually impossible. I think he was especially discouraged
by the fact that the successful flight tests of the ATV had
not been sufficient to convince investors of the viabililty
of the Roton.
So this announcement
is not very surprising. In fact, he said during the meeting
that after working in several startups that never made it to
profitability, he wanted now to pursue ventures that would actually
make money from the start.
Hardman Steps in to Replace Gary Hudson as CEO - Rotary Press
Release - June.26.00 * Rotary
CEO Gary Hudson Quits Amid Rocket Delays - Space.com - June.26.00
reviews the recent NASA symposium on the NASA programs to develop
advanced transportation systems - Advanced
Projects Map Future of Spaceflight - Space.com - June.21.00
from Australia indicate there are still delays in opening the
Kistler launch facility at Woomera but the project is still
alive - ABC
News(Australia) - 15/06/00 : Delays fail to dampen confidence
in Woomera space port * ABC
News (Australia)- 15/06/00 : Govt reaffirms commitment to SA
companies win NASA RLV study contracts.
According to the June 12 Space News, NASA distributed $15 million
to nine firms who will examine various reusable vehicle designs
and support technology. This is the first step in NASA's grand
Space Launch Initiative, which would go something like this:
: design studies funded with $15 million. (Plus on-going
X-34, X-43, etc.
2001-2002 : three or four vehicle designs
and various RLV support technology
by a $235 million "risk reduction" program.
: two designs chosen for intense development work and prototyping.
2005 : one vehicle design is chosen
that will lead to flight vehicles by 2010
and replacement of the shuttles.
About $1 billion
in total is being requested for RLV work in the next three years.
funded in the current round include the usual suspects - Boeing,
Boeing-Rocketdyne, Lockheed-Martin, Orbital Sciences - plus
two of the startup RLV companies - Kelly
Space and Space Access
- and two consulting agencies - Futron
Corp and Andrews
Space & Technology .
X-34 project may build a test article to carry out additional
engine ground tests - [--Error--]NASA
Could Add Propulsion Test Article To X-34 Program - AviationNow
- June.19.00 .
writer Larry Niven has written a review of Space Access'00 at
Niven: Rocket Men - Space.com - June.16.00 ...No
test flight date in sight for troubled X-33 - Space Online -
brief...Space.com reports on strains between NASA
and LockMart over the X-33 delays. Who will pay the extra costs
is the major issue. It has definitely been decided to switch
to aluminum H2 tanks but no word yet on how much delay this
could mean for the first flight. The
X 33 rocketplane project, a single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft,
has stalled due to design problems. - Space.com - June.12.00
As NASA's John London hinted at Space
Access'00, the X-34 test flights will be pushed back to overhaul
the vehicle to add greater redundancy and robustness. AviationNow
confirms ([--Error--]Mars Lessons Prompt
X-34 Program Restructure - June.9.00 ) that the first
unpowered flights will probably occur in Jan or Feb of 2001.
avionics system, in particular, will be modified to avoid some
single point failure modes. (The
Mars Polar Lander failure inspired agency wide reviews of major
projects and many will be delayed. )
static tests will be carried out this year as well as some additional
tow tests. One tow test occurred in May but was aborted
when the towrope streched too far and triggered the brakes.
(Hyper-X) flights also delayed. The May 29, 2000
Aviation Week reports that the first Mach 7 flight of the hypersonic
unmanned craft will slip from the summer to September. Software
integration and fuel system qualification problems are given
as the causes of the delays.
powered vehicle will be carried by a B-52 to 20,000ft (~6.5km)
over the Pacific. After dropping from the plane, the Orbital
Sciences Pegasus booster will accelerate the vehicle to Mach
7 and release it at 100,000ft (~33km). It will then fly on its
own power for about 7secs and then be lost into the ocean.
telemetry, however, should give a full view of the vehicle's
performance. Hypersonic scramjet engines are extremely difficult
to test and much will be learned even from this short firing.
(A similar short test of a Russian scramjet engine boosted by
a rocket has been reported)
from the booster is a critical issue to insure a clean separation
without aerodynamic disturbance of the vehicle. The article
says that the release mechanism has now been finalized after
extensive wind testing and simulations studies.
Catch a ride on a X-34?
Simberg had done a study of space tourism - Near-Term
Prospects For Space Tourism - that includes a look at preliminary
ventures such as parabolic
aircraft flights and sub-orbital
trips . In the latter he looks at the X-34, which is "..the
only near-term fully-funded vehicle that, in principal, could
offer a suborbital trip."
the possiblity of modifying an X-34 to replace one of the LOX
tanks with a passenger module. This is mostly an interesting
thought experiment since he states that a privately funded vehicle
intended for suborbital tourism would "..have cost structures
at least an order of magnitude less than the X-34, and would
satisfy that market in a far superior manner...".
briefs... CNN gives a brief report on the X-prize.
No news, though, about progress in obtaining the full $10million
funding. So far they have raised about $5million, mostly from
the credit card promotion. CNN.com
- Space - Space adventurers keep eyes on X-Prize - June 9, 2000 ...
June 5, 2000
SpaceandTech provides a nice RLV
database with sets of pages on many of the RLV vehicles
NASA on rocket-air breather engine combos (RBCC - rocket based
combined cycle). Prototype engine accumulates an hour of running
during May - [--Link Dead--]Air-breathing
Rocket Engine Technology Achieves Testing Milestone - MSFC PR
- June.1.00 .
cuts NASA budget for
advanced transportation program. $322 million of NASA's
$14 billion budget request was removed by the House Appropriations
subcommittee. This was money intended for NASA's long term program
to develop a shuttle replacement. However, it is early in the
legislative process and the money may be put back later. Marshall
Director Art Stephenson ‘disappointed’ by budget action on NASA
Space Launch Initiative-MSFC PR-May.24 * Budget
would cut new Marshall space effort -
Supporters want new launch vehicle program money to be restored
- Huntsville Times -May.24.00 .
engine runs 290sec test before
a shutdown due to a leaking seal. NASA X-33 history
site reports that the problem during the May 12th test involved
a critical seal "designed to prevent hot exhaust gas from
circulating into the engine cavity. Inspections after the test
revealed no other damage to the engine or related hardware".
engine, however, had run three tests for a total of 775secs
and the "conditions under which the seal eroded (low power
operation at sea level) would not be present during flight,
so the incident was not considered to be a showstopper."
X-33 tests flight would require an engine firing of a maximum
of about 220secs.
[May 18 Supplement:
NASA PR says that the test was intended to last 325secs. This
test was also meant to be the last of 14 tests with this particular
engine. They are reviewing whether additional tests with it
are needed before proceeding with tests of the other engines.
engine sets new duration record in abbreviated test - MSFC Status
Report - May.16.00 ] * [X-33
Aerospike Engine Completes Longest Test - SpaceViews - May.20.00 ]
official X-33 LH2 tank damage report will be released
next Tuesday, May 23 according to officials at the NASA history
site. There will also be a media teleconference in the afternoon
to discuss the report and the recovery plans for the program.
Perhaps they will announce whether they have decided definitely
to go with an aluminum tank replacement.
will ship X-40A to Edwards this month for drop tests
to start in August according to Aviation Week - May 14. The
X-40A has essentially become
a support program for the X-37 .
The latter will be carried in a shuttle bay to orbit and then
released for re-entry and glide landing. The X-40A, about 80%
the size of the X-37, will investigate the glide and landing
phases of the X-37 with unpowered flights.
which did a drop
test in 1998 , will be carried to 5000m by a Chinook helicopter
and released with a speed of about 90kt. Six more tests are
scheduled by the end of the year.
programs are similar to the X-38
vehicle program in that they all involve small lifting body
vehicles that are taken to orbit by the shuttle but the goals
are somewhat different. The X-38 project aims to develop a manned
vehicle that could server as the crew rescue vehicle (CRV) for
the Space Station.
vehicles, on the other hand, are intended to develop general
technology for reusable orbital vehicles, manned or unmanned,
that could carry out various tasks in orbit and the return to
earth. These tasks could range from satellite maintenance to
space station servicing. The Air Force is sharing funding for
the X-40 as it sees various such applications for a "space
Takes Delivery of Boeing-Built X-40A Major milestone reached
in X-37 space plane project - MSFC PR - May.22.00 ]
briefs... Jeff Foust reviews the Space Access meeting
Article: Surviving the Launch Market Downturn - May.15.2000.
briefs... Pioneer and Kelly, as well as JP
Aerospace , receive small grants from the state of California's
Highway To Space Program - [--Link
Dead--]Seven California Companies Share $1 Million in Grants
to Promote Commercial Space Activities - Press release - May.11.00