the existence of the alt.space approach to space development became
increasingly visible in the mainstream media. This article - America's
space programme: Pie in the sky - Economist.com - Jan.15.04
- was an early example.
book Lost in Space : The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New
Space Age (Amazon),
dealt with the shortcomings of NASA and the promise of the alt.space
movement. It received a lot of press attention and he even had
4 - Spirit and Opportunity rovers drew enormous public
interest throughout the year to their exploration of Mars.
for Space Exploration (VSE) - a major new space
initiative announced by President Bush. Reorients NASA from a
LEO/Shuttle/ISS focus to a long term DeepSpace/Moon/Mars
focus. No big increase in funding. Instead, money from the
Shuttle program, which will be phased out, and the ISS, after
its assembly is finished, will pay for the program.
While not emphasized in the President's speech, lower costs via
new approaches to hardware development from the smaller companies
will be necessary to achieve the VSE goals within its funding
31 - A public campaign opened to save
the Hubble Observatory.
Aerospace was awarded a contract by NASA but it was later
due to a protest from SpaceX.
- DARPA revealed plans to commission the SS1
for flight tests of various technologies. However, Burt Rutan
these and other scientific flights to concentrate on development
of the SS2. (Also, further flights of the SS1
were vetoed by Paul Allen so that the ship would go directly to
Challenges program is unveiled.
Patterned after the X PRIZE, the program would give awards to those
who first developed a particular technology of importance to space
exploration and development.
9 - X
PRIZE obtained a major backer when Champs Car World Series
became the "presenting sponsor" for the prize.
27 - X-43A project succeeded in achieving a few seconds
of positive thrust from its scramjet engine during the second flight
test for the program.
7 - Scaled
Composites received the first license for suborbital manned
rocket flights from FAA/AST.
8 - The SS1
executed a rocket powered flight for the second time.
23 - XCOR
obtained the second license for manned rocket flights.
22-24 - Read about other interesting news from the
Access'04 meeting in Phoenix.
3 - House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held
a hearing on the need for more data "to determine if the moon
has enough water and minerals to support significant, ongoing human
3 - Bigelow
Aerospace arranged for the launch of a spacecraft in late
2005 on a SpaceX
5 - The X PRIZE became the Ansari X PRIZE when the
Ansari family signed on as the "title sponsor".
13 - SS1 made its third rocket powered flight. Reached
212K ft (64.6km).
Ky Michaelson's Civilian
Space eXploration Team claimed the title as the first amateur
team to send a payload into space. The 21-foot
Go Fast rocket with a solid fuel motor reached 124km
(77miles) according to the team.
6 - The Aldridge Commission held hearings in the Spring
on new ideas and reforms for NASA that would allow it to achieve
16 - Armadillo
Aerospace carried out a beautiful vertical launch / vertical
powered landing with a 300lb prototype vehicle.
18 - FAA/AST
granted Mojave Airport the first inland spaceport license.
21 - SS1 piloted by Mike Melvill became first privately
financed, manned vehicle to reach space.
23 - Greg Olsen, expected to be the third space tourist
to reach the ISS, had his flight canceled due to health reasons.
17 - The Aldridge
Commission released its final report, which gave a high
priority to NASA collaboration with private space developers.
12 - The ZERO-G
company started to book rides on its parabola flying airplane.
20 - At least one poll showed strong public support for
- The da
Vinci Project got a major sponsorship for its X PRIZE rocket
- A test flight by Space
Transport failed soon after launch. This was not especially
interesting in itself (test flights of rocket vehicles in development
fail all the time), but the tremendous amount of press coverage
it received worldwide was very impressive. Showed how the SS1
flights had greatly raised the visibility of the X PRIZE and its
- Bigelow Aerospace
announced the America's Space Prize contest that will award $50M
to a non-governmental organization that develops a manned orbital
launcher by 2010.
were released about Bigelow's inflatable space habitats. First
launch of a prototype will occur in 2005. A habitat capable of
supporting a crew will be launched in 2008.
27 - Richard Branson announced an agreement with Mojave
Aerospace Ventures, a joint Burt Rutan/Paul Allen company, to
build five vehicles to provide a suborbital space tourism service
run by Virgin
Galactic beginning in 2008.
29 - The first X PRIZE flight by the SS1 was a
success, though the rolling near the top caused consternation
16 - NASA issued a request for information from companies
interested in supplying transport services.
17 - Three of the four companies that won DARPA Phase
II Falcon contracts for small launcher development were entrepreneurial
4 - The second X PRIZE flight by the SS1
was a complete success and Scaled Composites won the $10M prize.
6 - SpaceX carried out tests at Vandenberg with the
Falcon I on its mobile launcher platform.
19 - Proposals were posted for NASA's future space exploration
system from the companies that obtained study contracts. These included
smaller companies like t/Space.
7 - The X PRIZE was awarded to Scaled Composites at
a ceremony in St. Louis.
13 - Orbital
Recovery, started by Walt
Anderson and Dennis
Wingo, obtained full funding for development of its
space tug. (OR is collaborating with several large European aerospace
companies but it still follows the innovative style of a small
2 - AvWeek reported that the SS1 was having a positive
impact on the RASCAL
17 - NASA's Exploration
Systems office announced awards to 70 proposals that "support
the research and technology goals and objectives of the Vision
for Space Exploration".
23 - NASA got its full budget request and so obtained
funds to start the VSE
8 - The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act passed
the Senate at the very last possible moment. It set the regulatory
framework for suborbital space tourism operations in the US.
28 - Details began to be released about the SS2 now
under development. See also this item.
7 - Oracle and Space Adventures teamed up to offer a
trip to some lucky programmer