Recently in Commercialization Category

Elon Musk's SpaceX Is Raising Money At A Valuation Approaching $10B, TechCrunch

Space Exploration Technologies, the commercial space transportation startup founded by Elon Musk with ambitions to land people on Mars, is raising investment that values the company somewhere south of $10 billion, TechCrunch has learned.

... The latest capital infusion includes a large secondary investment, which appears to be somewhere in the region of $200 million. This confirms some of the details published in April this year by Quartz, which cited a source reporting that the company might be raising between $50 million and $200 million.

CCtCAP Commercial Crew Announcement Expected Soon, SpacePolicyOnline

"NASA declined today (August 18) to confirm rumors that it will announce the winner(s) of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCAP) contract by the end of the month, but anticipation is mounting. Whenever it happens, it will be a major step forward for the commercial crew program and achieving the oft-stated goal of restoring America's ability to launch American astronauts into space on American rockets from American soil. A NASA spokesman replied to an email query this morning by saying only that NASA still expects to make an announcement in the late-August, early-September time frame, as it has been saying for months. NASA officials are not allowed to discuss the selection process before announcing the award(s), even to say who submitted bids. Expectations are that at least the three companies being funded under the current phase of the program - Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCAP) - did so."

- Who Will Win the Next Round for the Commercial Crew Program?, Earlier Post
- SpaceX Hater Article Disappears From Forbes Website, Earlier Post

NASA Closes On Commercial Crew Selection, Aviation Week

"Almost five years after beginning its search for a U.S.-developed spacecraft to carry humans into orbit, NASA is poised to award at least one contract to its industry partners in the Commercial Crew Program."

When SpaceX Falters, Washington Looks The Other Way (From Forbes) Loren Thompson at Lexington Institute

"Space Exploration Technologies Corporation -- SpaceX -- has won broad support in Washington by offering a low-cost, innovative alternative to traditional launch providers for lofting satellites into orbit.  However, the company is struggling to meet commitments to its government customer, and eventually that may tarnish its image. ... I have written a commentary for Forbes here."

Keith's note: The Forbes article that Thompson refers to at Forbes is no longer online. Several websites have apparently reprinted the article such as this one. Why did Forbes pull this article offline?

The curious case of a deleted Forbes.com commentary on SpaceX, Space Politics

"SpaceX is no stranger to both strong support and harsh criticism of its activities, particularly in political circles. Last month, for example, three members of the House of Representatives asked NASA for details on an "epidemic of anomalies" they claimed the company's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have experienced. But the company's decision early this month to establish a commercial launch site near Brownsville, Texas, generated praise from various officials, including US Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)."

Emerging Space: The Next Industrial Revolution - AIAA Space 2014, SpaceRef Business [Video]

"At this years AIAA Space 2014 conference a panel of experts from industry and government discussed Emerging Space: The Next Industrial Revolution.

The availability of the International Space Station and the corresponding improved access to and from LEO has ushered in the start of a new entrepreneurial renaissance. In addition there are companies exploring revolutionary approaches to Earth observation, space manufacturing, and resource utilization of the lunar and asteroidal material. This panel will explore the broad sweep of possible applications as well as looking at how these companies could combine to form a new commercial space ecosystem."

SpaceX Releases Falcon 9 First Stage Reentry Footage from Chase Plane, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has released a video from the July 14th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying six ORBCOM satellites showing the first stage reentry from a chase plane."

New Bigelow Video Released

Bigelow Aerospace Releases BEAM Promotional Video, SpaceRef Business

"Bigelow Aerospace has released a promotional video on their Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). It runs six and a half minutes and includes new footage."

3 commercial companies compete in new space race, Houston Chronicle

"NASA should make its decision on the "commercial crew" competition in the next few weeks. At stake is not just a $4 billion contract, but prestige. The next spacecraft that flies U.S. astronauts will have an American flag, yes, but also a prominent corporate logo. That company will also join the elite club - whose only members include the United States, Russia and China - that has flown humans in space."

Marc's note: Insider vs outsider, who will win?

Also, while the article overall is worth reading, the characterization of Senator Bill Nelson as "a former astronaut" is misleading if you don't the know history. Nelson indeed did fly as a mission specialist on STS-61C, but he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time and like Senator Jake Garn who preceded him the year before, he flew on the Space Shuttle because of his role in the House of Representatives.

On-Orbit Servicing Update

The Near Term Future of On-Orbit Servicing is Robotic, SpaceRef Business

"Currently, over "$500 billion dollars in satellite assets are stationed in geosynchronous orbit (GEO)," according to Gordon Roesler, a program manager in the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA), and if those assets break down, "given the remote, heavily radiated atmosphere of GEO, a company only has one replacement option at this time - launching a replacement system."

Yes, Virginia, You Will Be Able to Download your iTunes on Mars, Eventually, SpaceRef

"Our world is becoming rapidly connected and as humanity ventures off planet they will take their appetites for LOLz, cat memes, silly YouTube videos, and iTunes with them making a need for space-based internet and other broadband services a reality according to panelists speaking on "The Future of Space-Based Communications" at the AIAA SPACE 2014 Forum in San Diego."

SpaceX Slapped With Wage Class Action Over Mass Layoff, Law 360

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is facing a putative class action in California court accusing it of not properly notifying its former employees of a mass layoff of up to roughly 400 workers in the state, and not paying them wages earned before termination. The proposed class action, filed Monday, alleged that SpaceX ordered the mass layoffs of between 200 and 400 workers on or about July 21 without giving advance notice to the them, in violation of California's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act."

Dismissed SpaceX Employees Sue over Lack of Warning, SpaceNews

"The lawsuit, filed Aug. 4 in the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, appears to hinge on whether SpaceX's dismissal of several hundred employees is viewed by the court as a "layoff." The lawsuit says that under California law, a "layoff" is defined as "a separation from a position for lack of funds or lack of work."

Our Nation Networks of Spaceports is Thriving - But More Needs to Be Done to Ensure Continued Growth, SpaceRef Business

"The nation's commercial spaceport network will be expanding from the "8 that are operating now, to 17 in the next few years," Brian Gulliver, a spaceport development team leader at Reynolds, Smith and Hills, told an audience attending the panel "An Expanding Network of Commercial Spaceports" this morning at the AIAA SPACE 2014 Forum in San Diego."

Did NASA Validate an "Impossible" Space Drive? In a Word, No., Discover

"Worst of all is this statement from the paper: "Thrust was observed on both test articles, even though one of the test articles was designed with the expectation that it would not produce thrust." In other words, the Cannae Drive worked when it was set up correctly--but it worked just as well when it was intentionally disabled set up incorrectly. Somehow the NASA researchers report this as a validation, rather than invalidation, of the device."
Don't Get Too Excited About NASA's New Miracle Engine, io9

"Carroll's final point - that the researchers measured thrust not only when the drive was configured to produce it, but also when set up to do nothing at all - may be the most important takeaway of all."

- EMdrive tested by NASA, Reddit

- JSC's Strange Thruster Violates The Laws of Physics, earlier post

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Spacecraft on Track for November 2016 Launch, SpaceRef Business

"Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft is "on track for its anticipated first launch in November 2016," Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC Space Systems, told a press conference on August 5, 2014, at the AIAA SPACE 2014 Forum in San Diego."

Related: Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser Program Expands, SpaceRef Business

"The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has announced an expansion of its Dream Chaser program, which now includes a mix of small businesses, legacy aerospace firms, university partners, and foreign space operation organizations, in "32 states, 50 Congressional districts, and 2 foreign nations."

SpaceX Signs Agreement with Texas for Brownsville Spaceport, SpaceRef Business

"Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that the state of Texas will provide incentives to SpaceX so that the company can build a commercial spaceport in Cameron County.

The incentives include $2.3 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF). As well the state will provide $13 million from the Spaceport Trust Fund to the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. to support the development of infrastructure necessary for establishing a spaceport."

Gov. Perry Announces State Incentives Bringing SpaceX Commercial Launch Facility, 300 Jobs to the Brownsville Area

Marc's note: Hours after signing the agreement with Texas SpaceX launched AsiaSat 8 (Watch).

Hartman: U.S. and Russian Crews to Fly Both Soyuz and U.S. Commercial Vehicles, Space Policy Online

"Hartman's point was that in an emergency, it might not make sense to have all the Russians leave on one spacecraft and the Americans and others on a separate spacecraft because a mixture of experience may be needed to conduct operations. "When you have these rescue vehicles on orbit and you have to leave the station...it doesn't make much sense for three Russians to leave and expect the four Americans onboard to operate the Russian segment [of the ISS] and vice versa, right?" Hartman said."

AIAA Town Hall: We Need Talent for the Vision, SpaceRef Business

"After a long day of plenaries and technical sessions there was one last event in the evening for participants at this years AIAA Propulsion and Energy Conference, the Town Hall with a theme of "Where's MY Apollo Vision for the Future?"

... The young professionals in attendance, mostly engineers, were treated to an expert panel of rocket engineers who came to share their experience and offer some practical career tips."

Related:

- AIAA Propulsion and Energy Conference: Relevance Drives the Speed of Technology Development and Transition

- AIAA Propulsion and Energy Conference: For Systems Engineers, It's all About the Architecture

Keith's 17 Jun note: Have a look at the speakers at the upcoming Space Frontier Foundation New Space Conference. This organization claims to be at the forefront of space exploration. If so then the future will be run by males currently in their 50s.

"New" Space? looks more like "old" space to me.

What about everyone else?

Keith's 24 July update: They have added a little more diversity to their speakers list in the past month but this is still a conference where mostly middle age white males (like me) are the ones talking about the future of space. How depressing.

NASA Seeks Proposals for Commercial Mars Data Relay Satellites, NASA

"NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the possibility of using commercial Mars-orbiting satellites to provide telecommunications capabilities for future robotic missions to the Red Planet.

"We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars."

SpaceX Releases ORBCOMM First Stage Return Video, SpaceRef Business

"Following last week's successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage reentered Earth's atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity."

SpaceWorks Releases Global Launch Vehicle Market Assessment Report for Nano and Microsatellites, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceWorks has released a mini-study "Global Launch Vehicle Market Assessment, A study of launch services for nano/microsatellites in 2013". The reports aims to capture the growing number of future nano/microsatellite missions requiring a launch."

Marc's note: I received an email from Spaceworks to clarify that is not their annual assessment but rather a mini-study they conducted.

NASA Releases Space Commerce Monograph

"NASA has released a new monograph "Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce" in the Monographs in Aerospace History series (no. 54)."

Former NASA Boss: Russia Has US Space Program in 'Hostage Situation', ABC

"We're in a hostage situation," former NASA administrator Michael Griffin told ABC News. "Russia can decide that no more U.S. astronauts will launch to the International Space Station and that's not a position that I want our nation to be in." But there is a new sort of space race happening now to help reestablish U.S. autonomy. Three private companies -- Boeing, Space-Ex and Sierra Nevada -- are currently competing for billions of dollars in NASA funding to build the next ride to space for American astronauts."

Keith's note: Funny thing: at least one of these commercial ventures will crews fly sooner than Mike Griffin's Ares/Orion would ever have flown under even the most optimistic of scenarios.

National Research Council Report Says It's Too Soon for 3-D Printing to Significantly Enhance Space Operations, SpaceRef Business

"A National Research Council report, 3D Printing in Space, says it's too soon for 3-D Printing to significantly enhance space operations. Released today, the report includes several recommendations including that NASA and the Air Force should jointly cooperate, possibly with other agencies and industry, "to to research, identify, develop, and gain consensus on standard qualification and certification methodologies for different applications."

"Many of the claims made in the popular press about this technology have been exaggerated." said Robert Latiff, chair of the committee that wrote the report, president of Latiff Associates, and a former Air Force Major General. "For in-space use, the technology may provide new capabilities, but it will serve as one more tool in the toolbox, not a magic solution to tough space operations and manufacturing problems. However, right now NASA and the Air Force have a tremendous resource in the form of the International Space Station," Latiff added. "Perfecting this technology in space will require human interaction, and the Space Station already provides the infrastructure and the skilled personnel who can enable that to happen."

Related: Too Soon for 3-D Printing to Significantly Enhance Space Operations, Report Says, National Research Council

Made In Space 3D Printer Gets Green Light from NASA for Launch, SpaceRef Business

Senators vow to reassert America's rocket power, The Hill

"The United States must now respond decisively and provide our own domestic capacity to launch our crew and cargo into space," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said. "We simply cannot rely on the vicissitudes of foreign suppliers in a foreign nation for our national security." The full costs of replacing the engine could be much higher than Congress is willing to commit to right now. It is, quite literally, rocket science to fit a new engine into existing rockets. Aside from building the engine itself, engineers will also need to make sure every other component works with the new machinery, kind of like switching out a car's hybrid engine with a V8. That could take five to eight years and cost up to $2 billion, predicted the Pentagon's acquisition and technology chief, Alan Estevez."

Assured Access to Space - Prepared testimony and video, Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Launch Enterprise: Acquisition Best Practices Can Benefit Future Efforts, GAO

Keith's note: We went from having only tiny rockets to the Saturn V (and its massive engines) in 8 years. Here we are in the 21st century and it is going to take us the same amount of time to reverse engineer a 50 year old Russian engine design? Am I missing something?

House members press NASA for information on "epidemic of anomalies" with SpaceX missions, Space Politics

"Three members of Congress from Alabama and Colorado have asked NASA to provide information on what they receive to be an "epidemic of anomalies" on missions performed by SpaceX."

Coffman Presses NASA for Transparency on SpaceX

"Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), along with Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO), sent a letter to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) expressing strong concerns over anomalies that have occurred on taxpayer-funded space launch vehicles, and the lack of public disclosure or transparency of these anomalies. The letter expresses concern over an epidemic of anomalies that have occurred during SpaceX launches or launch attempts, and communicates frustrations with NASA's refusal to provide insight into those mishaps. "

U.K. Government Paves Way for Spaceport [With Video], SpaceRef Business

"The UK's bid to become Europe's leading space nation took a giant leap forward today as government revealed the 8 locations now under consideration to base Britain's first spaceport.

Speaking at Farnborough Air Show's 'Space Day', Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill and Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Dr David Parker unveiled the findings of a recent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report highlighting 8 possible airfields that could host a spaceport and the economic opportunities it could open up for the UK."

DARPA's New Spaceplane

Work Commences on Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) Designs [With Video], DARPA

"In an era of declining budgets and adversaries' evolving capabilities, quick, affordable and routine access to space is increasingly critical for both national and economic security. Current satellite launch systems, however, require scheduling years in advance for a handful of available slots. Launches often cost hundreds of millions of dollars each, in large part to the massive amounts of dedicated infrastructure and personnel required.

- The Boeing Company (working with Blue Origin, LLC)
- Masten Space Systems (working with XCOR Aerospace)
- Northrop Grumman Corporation (working with Virgin Galactic)"

- Boeing to Design XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane For DARPA

"Boeing plans to design a reusable launch vehicle for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in support of the U.S. government's efforts to reduce satellite launch costs. DARPA's XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane is conceived as a reusable, unmanned booster with costs, operation and reliability similar to modern aircraft."

SpaceX Private Spaceport in Texas Another Step Closer After FAA Decision, SpaceRef Business

"In providing a favorable environmental ruling for SpaceX's proposed private spaceport in Cameron County, Texas last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision brings SpaceX one step closer realizing its goal. SpaceX has been pretty coy as to where it would build its private spaceport with Texas being the frontrunner but with other locations always in the mix including Florida, Puerto Rico and other Texas counties."

Office of Commercial Space Transportation Notice of Approval on a Record of Decision for SpaceX Texas Launch Site, Cameron County, TX

"The ROD provides the FAA's final environmental determination and approval to support the issuance of launch licenses and/or experimental permits that would allow Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles and a variety of reusable suborbital launch vehicles from a launch site on privately owned property in Cameron County, Texas, as proposed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) published in May 2014."

NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station aboard Orbital Sciences Resupply Mission

"A multitude of NASA research investigations, crew provisions, hardware and science experiments from across the country is headed to the International Space Station aboard Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus spacecraft. The cargo craft launched aboard Orbital's Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 12:52 p.m. EDT Sunday. "

Antares Launched (video)

Orbital Antares Launch Postponed to July 13, Orbital

"Orbital announced this morning that the launch of the Antares rocket for the Orb-2 Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station for NASA has been rescheduled for Sunday, July 13 at 12:52 p.m. EDT.

Over the past several days, Orbital's launch team has made great progress in preparing the rocket for the Orb-2 mission, which will be the fourth flight of Antares in the past 15 months.

However, severe weather in the Wallops area has repeatedly interrupted the team's normal operational schedule leading up to the launch. As a result, these activities have taken longer than expected."

ULA Successfully Completes Critical Design Review for Boeing Commercial Crew Accommodations at Launch Pad

"The CDR, supported by Boeing, NASA, and the Air Force, approved the design for the Crew Access Tower, Crew Access Arm as well as the White Room that will allow the flight crews the ability to safely ingress and egress Boeing's CST-100 crew module for launch. In addition, the team reviewed the conceptual design of the emergency egress system which is similar in design to the space shuttle basket escape system."

Air Force asks court to dismiss SpaceX lawsuit, Defense Systems

"The Air Force is asking the court to dismiss any challenges to the contract that allowed for the purchasing of the cores, arguing that SpaceX failed to object or respond to a public request for proposal issued in March 2012 for that purchase. Because SpaceX was not an actual or prospective bidder on the contract, the company should not be allowed to challenge the contract, the Air Force contends."

Government argues for dismissal of SpaceX rocket contract complaint, CBS

"SpaceX's complaint is amorphous," the motion claims. "Rather than challenge a single procurement action, SpaceX broadly protests any sole-source purchase of single-core evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELV) and associated launch services. This challenge appears to implicate the United States Air Force's entire EELV program -- including past and future purchases under various contracts."

NASA and Boeing Sign Space Launch System Contract, Boeing

"Boeing has finalized a contract with NASA to develop the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built and destined to propel America's return to human exploration of deep space.

The $2.8 billion contract validates Boeing's earlier selection as the prime contractor on the SLS core stage, including the avionics, under an undefinitized contract authorization. In addition, Boeing has been tasked to study the SLS Exploration Upper Stage, which will further expand mission range and payload capabilities."

NASA's Commercial Crew Partners Focus on Testing, Analysis to Advance Designs

"NASA's aerospace industry partners are taking their designs and operational plans for the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) through a series of comprehensive tests, evaluations and review boards this summer as they move through important milestones - all with an eye on launching people into orbit from American soil by 2017.

To meet milestones established in Space Act Agreements with NASA, the companies are completing specific assessments such as materials stress tests, engine firings and analysis, and system tests. The companies' engineers use data gathered from these tests to refine the design, then NASA's team uses the data to ensure the tests satisfy milestone objectives that provide confidence a spacecraft system or program is progressing toward its goals."

Related: Commercial Crew Partners Get Extension, SpaceNews

Astrobotic's Autonomous Landing System Tested in Masten's Xombie Flight, SpaceRef Business

"Astrobotic Technology's newly developed autonomous landing system was put to the test recently when it controlled Masten Space Systems' XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a flight test at the Mojave Air and Space Port."

Related: NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Flight Opportunities Program.

Keith's note: SpaceX has field an amendment to their initial complaint about ULA. The amended complaint includes new information from a 20 June letter from Sen. John McCain to Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall. McCain's letter questions the lack of transparency around the cost of the Russian RD-180 engines that ULA currently uses for EELV launches.

- Text of SpaceX complaint amendment
- Text of McCain's letter

Elon Musk Is Opening A New Front In His Lawsuit Against The Air Force, Business Insider

"So neither the market nor the U.S. government gave RD Amross any reason to alter its business model. "ULA didn't get a gun to their head to make this deal," Keith Cowing, a former NASA astrobiologist and blogger at NASA Watch told Business Insider of ULA's use of a Russian-American joint venture as a rocket engine broker. "They do it willingly and openly, and the United States government sanctioned it. They're the sole supplier, they get to set the price, and we walk into this." But they're not really the sole supplier anymore. Whether McCain's accusations are true or not, SpaceX's entrance into competition for government launches would make RD Amross -- and business models based on an uninterrupted pipeline from foreign engine-builders to buyers in the U.S. government -- seem utterly outmoded."

World View Breaks World Record with Successful Test Flight [With Video], World View

"Representing a milestone accomplishment, World View, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, has successfully completed a scaled test flight of its high-altitude balloon spaceflight system breaking the world record for highest parafoil flight in the process."

Roscosmos Disavows Plan to Send Space Tourists to Moon, Moscow Times

"Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, will not be involved in a plan to send two space tourists on a flight around the Moon and was not consulted about the project, the federal space agency said. The mission, hatched by U.S.-based space tourism firm Space Adventures and a major Russian spacecraft manufacturer, Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, would see two space tourists travel to the Moon aboard a modified Russian Soyuz spacecraft by 2017. However, Roscosmos was kept out of the loop on the plan. The organizers "could have consulted with us before making such loud announcements," said Denis Lyskov, Roscosmos's deputy chief in charge of piloted flights, Izvestia reported Monday."

A private expedition to the Moon, Space Adventures

"Using flight proven Russian spacecraft we will fly two private citizens and one professional cosmonaut on a free return trajectory around the far side of the moon. They will come within 100km of the Moon's surface. If you chose to join this mission you will see the illuminated far-side of the Moon, and then witness the amazing sight of the Earth rising above the surface of the Moon. We expect our first mission to launch by 2017."

ULA RD-180 Update

Russia Bans U.S. From International Space Station: America Strikes Back, Motley Fool

"On Monday, ULA confirmed that it has signed contracts with "multiple" American rocket companies to begin working up "next-generation liquid oxygen/hydrocarbon first stage propulsion concepts" that could replace the RD-180 (the RD-180 uses liquid oxygen and kerosene as its fuel sources). Working at a breakneck pace, ULA said it expects to select a new design before the end of this year. Then, pushing the envelope on the usual five- to eight-year timeline usually needed to develop such engines, ULA said it will have a new rocket ready to fly by 2019. (In the meantime, ULA will try to string Russia's Energomash along, negotiating to keep the RD-180s coming until they're no longer needed.)"

ULA signs multiple contracts to pursue RD-180 engine replacement, Denver Post

"While the RD-180 has been a remarkable success, we believe now is the right time for American investment in a domestic engine," ULA's CEO Michael Gass said in a statement. "At the same time, given that ULA is the only certified launch provider of our nation's most important satellites, it is critical that America preserve current capabilities and options while simultaneously pursuing this new engine." ULA's announcement comes a week after the U.S. House Appropriations Committee asked for $220 million in the 2015 defense budget to go toward developing an alternative to the RD-180."

Sen. McCain Raises Concerns About Lack of Transparency on USAF RD-180 Procurement

"I am, in particular, interested in learning more about a company called RD Amross, the company from which United Launch Alliance (ULA) actually buys the RD-180 for use in EELV missions. It appears that RD Amross is a joint venture between P&W Power Generation Inc. and International Space Engines, Inc., a Delaware-registered subsidiary of the engine's Russian manufacturer NPO Energomash."

SpaceX launch delayed again, this time because of weather, Reuters

"For Saturday's launch attempt, the California-based company, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, canceled its webcast and provided no commentary about the launch countdown, a public service offered even for classified Department of Defense satellite launches. "For the first time since the end of the Cold War, a space launch from Cape Canaveral will not be broadcast to the press and the public," Spaceflightnow.com, which provides live launch coverage, wrote on its website."

Keith's note: This lack of visibility is rather unusual for SpaceX - a company that has gone out of its way to use social media and traditional media - with great success - to get word about its products and services to the widest audience possible. Indeed, just a week or so ago there was a large reception for the Dragon V2 in Washington DC and the news media was all over it. Flash forward. SpaceX explained this absence of a webcast yesterday as being due to the fact that these launches were becoming routine and that the webcasts are no longer needed. This was a little odd given that they had a webcast for the Friday launch attempt 24 hours earlier.

Yes, they are a private company and this is a commercial activity, so they have every right to do this. But that does not mean its the smart thing to do. As for SpaceX falcon launches being "routine" - since when is a rocket launch where the first stage uses landing legs to return to Earth "routine"?

That said, the reaction on the Twitterverse yesterday - albeit from space enthusiasts and space media - was swift and loud. The hashtag "#FalconNein" quickly appeared. One would hope that SpaceX is paying attention and realizes that they are doing something cool - as are other space companies - and that the more visible all of this launch stuff is, the more excitement is generated - and the greater the public appreciation for the reality of space utilization becomes.

People like to watch SpaceX launches - and other launches - because they are cool. Cool sells. And if and when something goes wrong people root for the company to fix the problem so they can see cool things again.

- SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable Flies with Fins (video), earlier post
- ULA Media Blitz, earlier post

Keith's update: Sunday afternon SpaceX sent an email out to some space news media (but not all space news media): "Today's ORBCOMM launch attempt has been scrubbed to address a potential concern identified during pre-flight checks. The vehicle and payload are in good condition, and engineering teams will take the extra time to ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to flight. The rocket will remain vertical on the launch pad with the next available launch opportunity targeting Tuesday, June 24th."

Are You Ready For Liftoff?, Forbes

"Once the ISEE-3 campaign was launched and promoted by Sky Corp and Space Ref Interactive, 2,238 supporters weighed in, raising $160, 000, $35,000 more than the project's goal. The project went from the improbable to the practical, and this is the transition on the forefront of every entrepreneurs mind. How can you do the same? ... Is this the path for you and your company? It could well be if you can meet the market with the thrust of the ISEE-3 campaign. If you can, your charity, reward or equity funding has a good chance of achieving liftoff."

ULA Media Blitz

ULA Ramps up Media Blitz, SpaceRef Business

"In recent weeks United Launch Alliance (ULA) has begun ramping up its media coverage to combat what it considers misrepresentation of facts by SpaceX. At stake is billions in future launch business.

Their website was revamped, new videos were released highlighting mission successes, and posters have been posted to their Facebook page with direct messages aimed squarely at SpaceX though without mentioning them."

Keith's note: ULA had a media briefing for media this week in the Washington area - except ... they did not invite all space media. Hmm ... that's not a strategic move made out of confidence ...

NASA Security: Assessing the Agency's Efforts to Protect Sensitive Information, NASA OIG

"Before highlighting two of the audits and describing the Langley investigation and another special review involving foreign nationals and export issues at the Ames Research Center (Ames) in Mountain View, California, I will highlight several themes from our oversight work that echo findings made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in their recent examinations of export control practices and management of foreign national access at NASA."

NASA Management Action and Improved Oversight Needed to Reduce the Risk of Unauthorized Access to Its Technologies

"NASA headquarters export control officials and CEAs lack a comprehensive inventory of the types and location of export-controlled technologies and NASA headquarters officials have not addressed deficiencies raised in oversight tools, limiting their ability to take a risk-based approach to compliance. Export compliance guidance from the regulatory agencies of State and Commerce states the importance of identifying controlled items and continuously assessing risks."


Subcommittees Examine NASA's Struggle to Protect Sensitive Information
 
"These reports confirm our worst fears: that the incidents at Langley and Ames are not isolated incidences. Among conclusions from these reports we find: most centers continue to release Scientific and Technical Information that has not been reviewed for export control purposes. NASA lacks both clear export control policies and the oversight necessary to enforce them. The NASA network has indeed been compromised, and these vulnerabilities could have significant impacts on national security. And finally, a troubling trend we've seen across agencies in this Administration: the failure or the unwillingness to hold accountable those responsible for these errors."

Video: SpaceX Falcon F9R 1000m Flight, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has released this video of Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) during a 1000m test flight at their rocket development facility in McGregor, TX and was their first test that included a set of steerable fins that provide control of the rocket during the fly back portion of return."

NASA Partners With Edison Nation to Promote MindShift Technology, LaRC

"NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is working with Edison Nation, an open innovation online service, to help distribute its discoveries and patents. By law, federal agencies are required to have a technology transfer program to promote commercial activity, economic growth and innovation in business and commerce. Edison Nation will target companies that can immediately license and use NASA technology, beginning with Langley's MindShift."

Keith's note: So ... is this yet another center-specific procurement - one that duplicates what NASA HQ and other centers are doing - or is this a program that is supposed to serve all NASA centers? If this is NASA-wide then why isn't HQ announcing it - and why aren't all of the other NASA centers distributing this news? Langley doesn't even mention it on their Technology Gateway page - nor is there any mention at http://technology.nasa.gov/ -- both of which included in this press release. Edison Nation can't be bothered to mention it either. And of course, no mention is made at the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Speaking of disjointed NASA technology transfer activities, why is it that NASA Tech Briefs seems to be utterly uninterested in relaying what NASA is doing? They don't even link to NASA! Why should they be allowed to use the NASA logo?

- Why Does NASA Ignore NASA Tech Briefs?, earlier post, 2011
- Dysfunctional Technology Efforts at Langley (Update), earlier post, 2012

Boeing Preparing Layoff Notices in Case of Commercial Crew Loss, SpaceNews

"Hoping for the best, but preparing for defeat, Boeing will send out about 215 potential layoff notices to employees currently working on its NASA CST-100 Commercial Crew program. The 60-day notices, required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), are due to be distributed on June 20 to about 170 employees in Houston and 45 in Florida in case Boeing is not selected for an upcoming Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract, Boeing spokesman Adam Morgan told SpaceNews."

Keith's note: So much for any thought that Boeing was ever interested in investing any significant company funds for their CST-100.

CASIS is Still Inept

Keith's note: The Second ISS Research and Development Conference is underway in Chicago run by the good folks at the AAS with official co-sponsorship by CASIS and NASA. NASA/CASIS funding and meeting requirements drive the show. Indeed, NASA and CASIS use this activity as an official annual showcase to put forward the value of the ISS as a research platform. Given that human spaceflight budgets are getting tighter - and will get even tighter as SLS budget pressures continue to mount - you'd think that NASA - and the non-profit who is supposed to advocate ISS research, CASIS, would be using every tool at their disposal to make this event available to all stakeholders. That includes taxpayers, by the way (they pay for this).

Alas, all we are going to get is Twitter coverage via #issrdc. That's it. No NASA papers and presentations posted online at NASA.gov - and no webcast or streaming audio on NASA TV or elsewhere. Apparently CASIS is incapable of implementing a live webcast of this event. This is a remarkably simple thing to do - all you need is an internet connection and a laptop or cellphone. That's all. Webcasting is free otherwise. Indeed, I have done live webcasts on a laptop from Everest Base Camp, a research base near the north pole, and the middle of the Arizona desert with commercial off the shelf capabilities. Yet CASIS can't figure out how to do a simple webcast from a large hotel? REALLY? As the kids say EPIC FAIL. How NASA expects a wider dissemination - and appreciation of the research capabilities of the ISS is hard to fathom when their official partner for ISS research and utilization CASIS is this chronically inept.

NASA is not exactly helping promote these things either. Go to the NASA ISS National Laboratory website. There is no mention whatsoever of this meeting there.

Keith's update: I stand corrected. This conference is mentioned - but you have to scroll all the way down - further than any website visitor looking fo current information is inclined to scroll. Whomever maintains this website is clueless as to how to maintain web content. You put important timely information where people will see it - easily. This is like putting today's headlines on the last page of a newspaper. Unless this conference is not important, that is. Or (more likely) NASA ISS National Laboratory and CASIS are just cluless and inept when it comes to communicating with the public.

Fading Solid Fuel Engine Biz Threatens Navy's Trident Missile, Breaking Defense

"Failure to launch" isn't a metaphorical concern when you work on nuclear weapons. That's why the director of the Navy's euphemistically named Strategic Systems Program (SSP) is a worried man. What has Vice Adm. Terry Benedict worried is something neither he, nor the Navy nor the entire Defense Department directly control. It's the viability of what Benedict called "an already fragile industry" that produces the solid-fuel rocket boosters for the Navy's Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The worst part is that the solid fuel rocket engine business is an industry that will live or die not on the military's own decisions, but on NASA's.

Airbus Group and Safran To Join Forces in Launcher Activities

Both companies express their determination to continue to play a leading role in the space launcher business as well as to safeguard Europe's autonomous and reliable access to space. This year, ESA and its Member Nations are expected to take far-reaching decisions on current and next generation launchers. "It's all about enhancing the competitiveness of our space launcher business going forward.

NASA is changing the way it does business, new GC says, Washington Post

"NASA is changing the way it is doing business, spending less on traditional contracts and partnering more with the private sector and local governments to further the growth of the commercial space industry. That transition promises to be a prime preoccupation for the agency's new top lawyer, Sumara Thompson-King. Thompson-King became NASA's general counsel on June 1, replacing Michael Wholley, who held the post since 2004. She is the first woman and the first African American to lead the agency's legal department, which has about 175 attorneys."

Made In Space 3D Printer Gets Green Light from NASA for Launch, SpaceRef

"After passing the last NASA test, Made In Space will see its 3D printer launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in August by SpaceX as part of NASA's 4th Commercial Resupply mission (CRS-4).

Originally the 3D printer was scheduled to fly on the SpaceX CRS-5 mission but because the company met all its milestones early the launch was moved up to CRS-4."

Boeing And Lockheed Strike Back Against Elon Musk, Business Insider

The head of Lockheed Martin's space division approached the issue in these stark terms during an interview with the Financial Times today, saying, "The government has a certification process that I think everybody ought to adhere to." But certification isn't quite this straightforward. The Air Force has only ever certified one company to launch its military and spy satellites: ULA. As Keith Cowing, a former NASA astrobiologist and blogger for NASA Watch explained to Business Insider, this very limited experience stacks the certification process against potential newcomers. "ULA has been launching rockets the traditional way since forever and that's the basis on which the Air Force and NASA builds their accreditation," Cowing said. "If someone comes along with a new or possibly better way of launching rockets you have an immediate conflict because the old way of doing things is how the new way is going to be evaluated."

Orbital's Second Cygnus ISS Resupply Flight Postponed - NET July 1

"The new launch schedule reflects the timing of the investigation into the cause of an AJ26 engine failure that occurred in late May at NASA's Stennis Space Center during customary acceptance testing. All other elements of the Orb-2 mission are prepared to move forward, including the Cygnus spacecraft, which is fueled and, except for late-load cargo, is packed with its manifest of ISS cargo."

NASA budget bill could include a poison pill for SpaceX, other commercial companies, Houston Chronicle

"With NASA under the thumb of the Russian space program, Congress continues to play political games with the space agency. On Thursday the U.S. Senate's Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. This means they agreed upon a spending plan to fund NASA, among other agencies. But buried within the bill could be something of a poison pill for a company like SpaceX. Allow me to explain."

Senate's NASA budget bill may hamper commercial spacecraft makers, Ars Technica

"When asked about the requirement, Shelby argued that it was necessary for transparency. But the whole idea behind adopting a fee-for-service approach to orbit is that it doesn't matter so much what the contractors are paying for their parts--if they offer the cheapest safe ride to orbit, that should be all that matters. Requiring contract pricing-type accounting, as proposed here, could be viewed as an action that unfairly grants advantage to Boeing."

NASA Release Final Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Report

"The report documents the work of NASA's Commercial Crew & Cargo Program Office (C3PO) between 2005 and 2013 to partner with private industry to take over more routine operations in low-Earth orbit. This move toward more cooperative engagement with industry partners allowed NASA to focus more on scientific research, technology development and exploration goals."

Proposed NASA plans don't include Space Florida in Volusia, Daytona News Journal

"NASA has unveiled an updated 20-year master plan for its Kennedy Space Center, hoping to expand its facilities and attract new commercial spaceflight, but its plans don't appear to include any mention of Space Florida's proposal to develop a commercial spaceport on NASA-owned land in the southern end of Volusia County. And that is drawing reaction, both from supporters and opponents of Space Florida's plans at Shiloh."

NASA Request for Information: Lease and Development of Kennedy Space Center Land Assets

"This Request for Information (RFI) is intended to solicit responses from the broader spaceport community to enable KSC to continue its transformation into a multi-user spaceport. This transformation is based upon the effective utilization of land assets that have been identified in the 2013-2032 KSC Master Plan."

Atlantic Council Captains of Industry with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX

"The discussion will focus on the future of American space launch, an issue of critical and timely importance. Last month, Russia threatened to cut-off U.S. supply of the RD-180 engine, revealing just how problematic U.S. reliance on these Russian engines really is. SpaceX offers a wholly-American rocket with an outstanding record of reliability and mission success."

Marc's note: This event will be webcast starting at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Marc's Update: Video: Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX Discusses the Launch Industry , SpaceRef Business.

Will Google Build a Satellite Constellation?, SpaceRef Business

"For months now there have been rumours that Google would be building a constellation of "hundreds" of satellites. To this day we've yet to hear from Google which should tell you something."

Images: SpaceX Reveals Dragon Version 2, SpaceRef

"This evening in short presentation which was delayed SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed the next-generation Dragon crewed spacecraft at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. These are the initial images. More to come."

UPDATE: Here is the reveal if you missed it and flight animation.

- Video: SpaceX Reveals Dragon Version 2
- Video Animation: Flight of the SpaceX Dragon Version 2

Orbital Antares Launch Postponed, Orbital

"Orbital has rescheduled the launch of its Antares rocket for the Orb-2 mission to a date of no earlier than (NET) June 17, 2014.

Orb-2 is the second of eight cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station under Orbital's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. The new launch schedule has been established to allow the engineering teams from the main stage propulsion supplier Aerojet Rocketdyne and Orbital to investigate the causes of an AJ26 engine failure that occurred last week at NASA's Stennis Space Center during customary acceptance testing."

SpaceX to Unveil Dragon V2 for Manned Spaceflight Thursday, SpaceRef Business

"True to his word, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will unveil Dragon V2 this Thursday, May 29th at SpaceX HQ to invited guests. SpaceX is calling the Dragon V2 "a next generation spacecraft designed to carry astronauts into space." It was April 29th that Musk tweeted that the "cover drops on May 29. Actual flight design hardware of crew Dragon, not a mockup."

Related Update: SpaceX Completes Qualification Testing of SuperDraco Thruster [With video]

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announced today that it has completed qualification testing for the SuperDraco thruster, an engine that will power the Dragon spacecraft's launch escape system and enable the vehicle to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy."

Skybox Imaging Close to Being Sold to Google, SpaceRef Business

"According to Techcrunch Google is close to buying Skybox Imaging for over $1 billion. Skybox has plans for a constellation of 24 satellites of which the first, SkySat-1, went operational November 2013. Skybox released its first HD video last December."

Excalibur Almaz Capsule Sold in Auction, SpaceRef Business

"Commercial spaceflight services company Excalibur Almaz recently auctioned one of its assets, a Soviet era space capsule, the Vozvraschaemyi Apparat (VA), at the Brussels auction house Kunsthaus Lempertz KG for €1.26 million euros (US$1.72M)."

Amid Attacks, ULA Outlines Some EELV Pricing, Aviation Week

"ULA is battling to keep its Atlas V alive amid multiple attacks. Due to tensions over the Crimean annexation, Russia has said it will halt deliveries of the RD-180 first-stage engine for Atlas V to the U.S.; this would leave ULA with a current stockpile of 16 already in the U.S. Political pressure from the SpaceX lawsuit is also prompting some to question whether the Atlas V can be replaced by the Falcon 9v1.1. Gass said neither Russian manufacturer NPO Energomash or ULA have been formally notified of a halt in deliveries; five RD-180s have been ordered for delivery in 2014. Gass said the move announced by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was a hypothetical what-if, but not yet enacted."

Keith's note: "a hypothetical what-if, but not yet enacted"? Yea, that is how Putin does things before he sends in the troops. The majority owner of NPO Energomash is the Russian government. Rogozin works for Putin. Sounds like a plan.

Air Force spending $60 million to certify Musk's SpaceX, Stars and Stripes

"The Air Force is spending about $60 million and using as many as 100 people to certify billionaire Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. for launching military and spy satellites, according to the service's top uniformed acquisition official. "We've got folks busting their butt to get SpaceX certified despite what everything in the media seems to say," Lt. Gen. Charles Davis said in an interview."

Keith's note: Gen. Shelton seems to be utterly oblivious to the fact that large aerospace contractors incessantly file protests, complaints, and lawsuits about DoD decisions. Its a normal part of doing business with the government. As for the $60 million for these 100 people, that's $600,000 per person. Wow. That sure sounds efficient.

As for the cost of certifying SpaceX clearly the USAF has no concern about what things cost - either internally or via procurements. None whatsoever. And they will do what they want - when they want. Again cost is not a factor to them. NASA doesn't seem to care either. And no one seems to be at all interested in coordinating things like this - the net result being duplication of costly efforts - again, at additional expense. Then, when its budget time, these agencies never seem to have enough money to pay for this circus.

As NASA seeks next mission, Russia holds the trump card, Houston Chronicle

"During a private exchange of e-mails in August 2012, less than a month before he died, Neil Armstrong and a handful of other Apollo vets were grumbling about NASA's lack of a clear goals. They invoked a Yogiism describe the space agency, "If you don't know where you are going, you might not get there."

"Earlier this month NASA proudly tweeted photos of veteran astronauts Stan Love and Steve Bowen in the pool, testing tools and spacesuits that would be needed for the asteroid expedition the White House wants NASA to do. But the photos are far more revealing for what they didn't show. They didn't show the large section of the pool that's cordoned off, which NASA has leased to oil-services companies to help keep the lights on at this historic facility. In a pool once used exclusively by astronauts, oil rig workers now practice survival techniques in the event their helicopter has to ditch in the ocean. The photos also didn't show the remains of party that had been held the night before. The company Tracerco used the famous pool as a backdrop for a crawfish boil to fete attendees of the Offshore Technology Conference and show off its subsea scanning technology."

Keith's note: Dual use of NASA facilities is good. Thinking outside the box when doing so is even better. So long as barriers - many of which are artificial (and spring from NASA internal culture) - remain between how/what NASA does and how/what the real word outside NASA does NASA will miss out on opportunities to be seen as being more relevant - and part of the larger community whose taxes pay for their stuff. Yea, an oil service company had a crawfish boil in the NBL they were renting for diving training. Imagine the stories all of the attendees will be telling for years as to how cool that was. If NASA can let cheesy movies like "Armageddon" film in the NBL, have chili cookoffs and graze cattle on JSC property, then why not open up to the real world more often?

"I'm going over to NASA to [fill in the blank]" ought to be a far more common phrase than it currently is. Right now you probably hear "what do they do in there?" from people driving by on the freeway. NASA needs to adapt to the times that it finds itself in - not reminisce about times that have long since passed - never to return. Were people at NASA in the 1960's yearning for the way things use to be in 1910? Why should be be wanting to do the same in 2014? We are living in the future that the people at NASA in the 1960s hoped to create. Let's do something with that future by looking forward - not back.

As for things NASA already has - especially existing facilities, capabilities - and spacecraft - lets make NASA rethink how it can use these things in new ways - and perhaps learn to let go of somethings a little more readily. In so doing, NASA may find unexpected synergies and new opportunities where it least expected them to be.

Payload Avonics Systems and Avionics Elements for Lunar Surface Resource Prospecting Mission, NASA KSC

"NASA Kennedy Space Center is hereby issuing a Request for Information (RFI) for the purpose of seeking sources and soliciting information from private industry on Payload Avionics Systems and Avionics Elements to be used in a short duration lunar surface resource prospecting mission. This document is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to verify reasonableness and feasibility of the requirement, as well as promote competition."

NASA Invites Media to Robotics Mining Competition at KSC Visitor Complex

"Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the country will demonstrate their excavator robots May 19-23 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida."

Rep. Mo Brooks joins leaders asking NASA for answers to Russian rocket engine ban, Huntsville Times

"In a statement released today, Brooks repeated his often-stated charge that America would not be without human spaceflight capability if the Obama administration had not cancelled the Constellation rocket program shortly after taking office in 2010. That decision, plus an earlier decision by the George W. Bush administration to retire the space shuttle and replace it with Constellation, has left America buying rides to the station from Russia while three companies race to provide American-owned access to space."

Keith's note: More imaginary facts from Mo Brooks. Even if Constellation was still in place NASA's commercial crew provider would fly crews sooner and vastly more cheaply than NASA ever could.

Feud between SpaceX and ULA over space contract grows more intense, Washington Post

"This week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said he would prohibit the export of Russian-made engines used in many U.S. rocket launches. That could eventually cause a disruption in how the Pentagon sends military satellites into orbit. And it plays into the hands of Musk, who is arguing that the nation's security interests in space shouldn't be dependent on the Russians."

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Questions Stability of U.S.-Russia Space Partnership

"As we move forward, it is important that we fully understand our nation's independent capabilities with regard to ISS operations," the letter states. "While this new development is not related to access to the ISS for our astronauts in the next few years, it certainly pertains to the strength of our partnership with Russia. If Mr. Rogozin's statement proves to be accurate, we will have to take a step back and evaluate the costs and benefits of maintaining ISS beyond 2020 without our Russian partners."

Letter

Russia to Halt Export of RD-180 Engines for MilSat Launches and Questions ISS Future, SpaceRef Business

"The escalating war of words between Russia and U.S. just hit home hard for the Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA) with the news today that Russia would no longer supply RD-180 engines for export to the U.S. if used by the Pentagon."

Moscow to ban US from using Russian rocket engines for military launches, Russia Today

"Moscow is banning Washington from using Russian-made rocket engines, which the US has used to deliver its military satellites into orbit, said Russia's Deputy PM, Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and defense industries. According to Rogozin, Russia is also halting the operation of all American GPS stations on its territory from June 1. Russia currently hosts 11 ground-based GPS stations, the Deputy PM said."

United Launch Alliance Statement on Russian Statements

"ULA and our NPO Energomash supplier in Russia are not aware of any restrictions. However, if recent news reports are accurate, it affirms that SpaceX's irresponsible actions have created unnecessary distractions, threatened U.S. military satellite operations, and undermined our future relationship with the International Space Station."

NASA Statement on News Reports Regarding Russian Space Statements

"Space cooperation has been a hallmark of US-Russia relations, including during the height of the Cold War, and most notably, in the past 13 consecutive years of continuous human presence on board the International Space Station. Ongoing operations on the ISS continue on a normal basis with a planned return of crew tonight (at 9:58 p.m. EDT) and expected launch of a new crew in two weeks. We have not received any official notification from the Government of Russia on any changes in our space cooperation at this point."

Keith's note: The Technical Capabilities Assessment Team has decided to shut down the reduced flight program at JSC and transfer what is left of it to AFRC. JSC Center Director Ochoa has been directed to shut things down by mid-summer and mothball their C-9. Henceforth NASA will depend on one source: ZeroG. No real reason is given - and AFRC admits that it does not have the staff to run the program. A common ongoing complaint among users of ZeroG's jet is the poor quality of the microgravity levels during its parabolas. Typical NASA decision making process.

- Zero G and Other Microgravity Simulations Summary Report, NASA/TM-2013-217373
- Feasibility of Use of NASA JSC C9 Aircraft If It Were To Be Furnished As Government Furnished Equipment, earlier post
- Extension of NASA Microgravity Services Contract ( Zero Gravity Corporation)
- NASA OIG is Not Pleased With ZeroG, earlier post
- ZeroG Responds to OIG Report, earlier post

Just Asking: Charles Bolden, NASA administrator

Space exploration is becoming more of a private enterprise. Is that a good thing?

"I don't think space exploration is becoming more of a private enterprise. That's where we want it to go, but today there hasn't been a private enterprise go to Mars or go to the moon. Private enterprise talks while NASA acts. And that's not meant to sound like an arrogant statement, but we're trying to help people realize dreams, and we're trying to help private enterprise and entrepreneurs realize their dreams of doing the stuff that up until now only nations have done. The problem that private enterprise finds is that it's hard."

Keith's note: Huh? What happened to everything Bolden has said prior to this about the value of the private sector? Do we now ignore all of the pro-private sector speeches and reports from NASA? "Private enterprise talks while NASA acts"? Really? Does NASA have a way to send cargo to the ISS without use of a commercial vendor? Who is closer to sending crews into space? Certainly not NASA. Seems to me that the private sector is way out ahead of NASA - at a cost that is a fraction of what it would have cost NASA to do the exact same thing.

Keith's update: On the heels of these anti-private sector remarks NASA has released a video wherein Charlie Bolden sings the praises of the private sector. Go figure. NASA wants it both ways, it would seem.

Court Lifts NPO Energomash Injunction, SpaceX Back at Square One, SpaceRef Business

"Commenting to SpaceRef on the ruling a SpaceX spokesperson said: The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has taken steps toward understanding whether United Launch Alliance's current sole-source contract violates U.S. sanctions by sending taxpayer money to Russia for the RD-180 engine. That question, combined with the others specifically raised in the SpaceX Complaint, relating to the risks posed by dependence on Russian-made engines and the need to open competition for the Air Force space launch program - are timely and appropriate."

Court lifts injunction barring payments for Russian engine

"A federal judge Thursday lifted an injunction barring United Launch Alliance from buying Russian engines for the company's Atlas 5 rocket, concluding such transactions do not violate U.S. sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia's actions in Ukraine. A temporary injunction was granted April 30, two days after a complaint by ULA rival Space Explorations Technologies -- SpaceX -- that challenged the legitimacy of a sole-source "block buy" Air Force contract that was awarded to United Launch Alliance last December for 27 Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets."

Preliminary Injunction Lifted - ULA Purchase of RD-180 Engines Complies with Sanctions

"Sadly, SpaceX's frivolous lawsuit caused unnecessary distraction of the executive and judicial branch and increased tensions with Russia during a sensitive national security crisis. "SpaceX's actions are self-serving, irresponsible and have threatened the U.S.'s involvement with the International Space Station and other companies and projects working with Russian State entities."

- Russian Engine Drama Continues, earlier post
- SpaceX Gets Injunction Against Russian Rocket Engines, earlier post

U.S. Government Files for Dissolution of Injunction Against Payments to Russia, SpacePolicyOnline

"The United States Government filed a request with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims late yesterday asking the court to dissolve its injunction against the government or United Launch Alliance (ULA) from making payments to Russia because it might violate sanctions imposed by President Obama against Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin. The court enjoined the Air Force and ULA from making payments to the Russian entity NPO Energomash for RD-180 engines, used for ULA's Atlas V rocket, on April 30."

- SpaceX Gets Injunction Against Russian Rocket Engines, earlier post
- Congressional Concerns Over Use of Russian Engines, earlier post
- Earlier posts

Falcon 9 Reusable Completes Test Flight to 1000 Meters [Watch], SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has release a second video of a Falcon 9 Reusable test flight, this time reaching 1000 meters before softly landing in the same spot.

... Early flights of F9R will take off with legs fixed in the down position. However, we will soon be transitioning to liftoff with legs stowed against the side of the rocket and then extending them just before landing."

Preliminary Injunction Issued Prohibits Further Purchases From NPO Energomash, SpaceRef Business

"A preliminary injunction was issued late yesterday in the matter of SpaceX vs The United States with one respect to the complaint. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has prohibited the Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA) from "making any purchases from or payment of money to NPO Energomash" effectively blocking any further purchases of RD-180 engines used by ULA on the Atlas V."

ULA statement from Kevin G. MacCary, United Launch Alliance General Counsel, in response to Preliminary Injunction Related to National Security

"ULA is deeply concerned with this ruling and we will work closely with the Department of Justice to resolve the injunction expeditiously. In the meantime, ULA will continue to demonstrate our commitment to our National Security on the launch pad by assuring the safe delivery of the missions we are honored to support." 

Elon Musk's SpaceX granted injunction in rocket launch suit against Lockheed-Boeing, Washington Post

"A U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge issued an injunction late Wednesday prohibiting a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing from proceeding with plans to buy Russian-made rocket engines. Judge Susan G. Braden's ruling came after SpaceX, a California-based rocket company, sued the federal government Monday, protesting the Air Force's award of a lucrative space contract, saying it should have been competitively bid."

Injunction Order text

- Congressional Concerns Over Use of Russian Engines, earlier post
- Building All-American Rocket Engines, earlier post

NASA Award: Demolish Shuttle Mate Demate Device

"Contracting Office Address - NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center, Code A, P.O. Box 273, Edwards, CA 93523-0273

Description - In accordance with this contract, the contractor shall furnish all materials, labor, equipment and facilities, except as specified herein to be furnished by the Government, and shall do all that which is necessary or incedental to the satisfactory and timely performance of the project entitled, "Demolish Shuttle Mate-Demate Device (NB119)," for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration at the Armstrong Flight Research Center (NASA/AFRC), Edwards, California 93523."

Keith's note: It would seem that the folks at Armstrong still can't figure out what their name is - or how to properly spell the name of the agency that has run their center for decades i.e. it's "Aeronautics" NASA's Procurement website hasn't figured the Armstrong/Dryden thing out either.

Text of SpaceX Complaint vs The United States, SpaceRef Business

"The following is the introduction of the complaint filed by SpaceX with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims with respect to the recent EELV contract awarded to United Launch Alliance (ULA). The full complaint is also available for download.

Introduction:

1. The Air Force has entered into an unlawful contract for rocket launches with the United Launch Alliance ("ULA"), a joint venture between the government's two biggest and most influential contractors, Boeing and Lockheed Martin ("Lockheed"). This complex and exclusive deal (the "ULA Contract'), which was concluded outside of public scrutiny, funnels hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Russia's military-industrial base, including monies that may flow to individuals on the U.S. sanctions list. Further, it defers meaningful free competition for years to come, costing taxpayers billions of dollars more. Beyond violating core tenets of government procurement law, the ULA Contract is dangerous, fiscally irresponsible, and offensive to American values of open competition and fairness."

The Merger of Equals - Orbital and ATK Aerospace and Defense Groups, SpaceRef Business

"It is being billed as a merger of equals to create a new company called Orbital ATK. At first glance it appears to be a reaction to the current state of the market with consolidation and future growth needing a larger more competitive entity."

Orbital & ATK's Aerospace and Defense Groups to Combine in $5 Billion Merger-of-Equals to Create "Orbital ATK"

"Orbital Sciences Corporation (ORB) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) , which will combine Orbital and ATK's Aerospace and Defense (A&D) Groups to create a $4.5 billion (combined calendar year 2013 annual revenue), 13,000-person space, defense and aviation systems developer and manufacturer. The new company, to be called Orbital ATK, Inc., will serve U.S. and international customers with leading positions in the markets for space launch vehicles and propulsion systems, tactical missiles and defense electronics, satellites and space systems, armament systems and ammunition, and commercial and military aircraft structures and related components. As part of the transaction, ATK will spin off its Sporting Group, which focuses on commercial sporting equipment, to its shareholders."

UPDATE: Orbital and ATK Presentation and SEC Form 8-K Filing on Merger, SpaceRef Business

United Launce Alliance (ULA) Statement in Response to SpaceX Lawsuit, ULA

"Defense Department officials have recently stated that cancelling the contract and terminating the block buy - which involves hundreds of suppliers and is enormously complex - would cost billions. Additionally, it could put critical mission schedules at risk that would have impact on operational capabilities and the satellite program costs. ULA is focused on delivering on all of its mission assurance and cost reduction commitments that support its customers." 

SpaceX Announces Court Action to Open Air Force Space Launch Missions to Competition, SpaceX

"SpaceX announced today that they are filing a legal challenge to the U.S. Air Force's latest Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The long-term contract, which guarantees the purchase of 36 rocket cores from ULA to be used in national security launches, was granted to ULA on a sole-source basis without any competition from other launch providers. SpaceX is seeking the right to compete for some of these same launches."

- McCain Questions USAF EELV Procurement, earlier post
- SpaceX to Protest and Sue Over EELV Contract, earlier post

NASA Spinoff 2013 Shows How Much Space is in Our Lives, NASA

"Water filtration bottles, comfortable car seats and remote medical monitoring devices all have one thing in common -- they all have benefited from NASA technology.

These products are featured in Spinoff 2013, an online publication now available that highlights commercial products created using NASA-developed technology. Also featured in the 2013 edition is an air purification system that can sustain miners in the event of a disaster, a solar-powered vaccine refrigerators saving lives in remote areas throughout the world, and a powerful heat shield used on the first commercial spacecraft to successfully achieve orbit and return to Earth."

Sen. McCain Seeks Information on AIr Force's EELV Program

"U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today sent two letters regarding the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program - a vital $70 billion national security space-launch program that, without competition, has been plagued by exponential cost growth and schedule delays. The first letter is to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James requesting additional information about her recent testimony regarding the EELV program before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 10, 2014, and conveying concern about the apparently incomplete and incorrect nature of some of that testimony. The second letter is to the Department of Defense Inspector General Jon T. Rymer requesting that his office investigate recent developments regarding the EELV program."

SpaceX to Sue Over EELV Sole-Sourced Contract, SpaceRef Business

"In a news conference held at the National Press Club in Washington SpaceX CEO Elon Musk started off by outlining the recent success of the soft landing of the Falcon 9 first stage off the coast of Florida. He then dropped a bombshell aimed straight at the heart of Washington with news that he was going to protest and sue over the recent sole sourced Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract won by United Launch Alliance (ULA)."

Marc's note: I've included the full audio from the news conference. The first half of the news conference relates to the soft landing of the Falcon 9 first stage. Then Elon Musk begins to discuss the legal action started by SpaceX.

Keith's update: From SpaceX; "Elon Musk will make an important SpaceX announcement today, Friday, April 25th at 1:00PM ET at The National Press Club - 529 14th Street, NW - Washington, DC." We'll live tweet at @NASAWatch - Marcia will no doubt be busy at @SpcPlcyOnline too.

SpaceX Set to Test Raptor Engine Components at NASA Stennis, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has been working on the Raptor methane-fueled rocket engine since 2009. The new engine, a reusable engine is destined to be used in future versions of the Falcon Heavy and in the long term for the notional SpaceX Mars Colonial Transporter.

Testing is set to begin within the coming days after the E-2 test stand activation is completed a spokesperson for SpaceX confirmed to SpaceRef."

Houston's Space Problem: Johnson Space Center Has Lost Its Identity and Purpose, Houston Press

"However, former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, now also a UH professor, argued that SpaceX and commercial flight are being touted as a solution but that the money being diverted from NASA to fund these endeavors will cost space exploration in the long run. "Industry is not poised to do the kind of research and development we need to do for space exploration," she said."

Keith's note: This is typical of the pervasive ignorance that surrounds NASA - and it comes from decades of drinking the Koolaid. Bonnie Dunbar clearly has no idea what other commerical launches SpaceX has (or its long manifest backlog), how much private capital has been invested in SpaceX, or even the nature of what SpaceX does for NASA. It doesn't do the research that she's so worried about. It hauls groceries. Someday it will fly Texans. What these people do up there - with that cargo - is NASA's call. They are buying a ride. Given the $500 million to $1 billion cost per launch of a shuttle, this is a bargain no matter how you look at it.

Clash of the Titans

Musk and Gass Go Toe-to-Toe in Q&A, SpaceNews

"Musk and Gass appeared March 5 before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee to answer lawmakers' questions and, in an unusual twist, were given the opportunity to submit written questions to one another and provide answers back to the panel. Neither side landed a knockout blow, but the exchange was illuminating nonetheless."

Keith's note: You know that there is indeed a "there" there vis-a-vis the viability of space commerce when companies start trash talking their competitor's products.

NASA Selects Commercial Crew Program Manager

"NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation's space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies."

Keith's note: Of course this all came about because of Ed Mango's problems (see previous stories)

The Time for a New, All-American Advanced Liquid Rocket Engine Is Now, Mark Albrecht and Don Kerr, Roll Call

"We do not suggest that space cooperation with Russia is bad or that it should be totally curtailed or discouraged, but simply that there are elements of U.S. infrastructure that cannot be outsourced indefinitely. We must revitalize America's space infrastructure, and the right place to start is with an advanced-hydrocarbon-fueled booster engine -- an engine critical to U.S. leadership in rocket propulsion for access to space."

Keith's note: The authors dismissial of SpaceX progress and their 100% indigenous American engines is odd. The engines exist and are operational NOW. They also seem to be unaware of the much much larger, American-made engines that SpaceX (and undoubtedly Blue Origin) are developing. That said, the authors do make a good point about having non-Russian engines that other American launch vehicles could use. Alas, the authors decline to say who should pay for these new engines.

Another Dragon Visits ISS

Dragon Berthed at the International Space Station

"ISS Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, with the assistance of NASA's Rick Mastracchio, successfully berthed the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the space station at 9:06 a.m. EDT."

Can This 1970s Spacecraft Explore Again?, io9

"Imagine the heartbroken wailing and the cries of denial. Insert the demands to find out just how much it would cost to rebuild the antennas in time, and the blank stares when told even $1 was outside of NASA's limited budget. Soon, the inevitable idea emerged: crowdfund our way back into communication with the little spacecraft. The idea isn't as crazy as it sounds. "

Everyone But NASA Wants To Wake Up This Long-Dormant Spacecraft, Motherboard

"Where organizations lose their interest--which is to say, funding--the crowd is there to step in. It's true if there isn't money for a Veronica Mars movie, and it's true if the Mars Rover is taking up all of the space agency's cash and attention. An old, even distinguished, NASA spacecraft is coasting toward Earth, but NASA can't afford to bring it back online. That's why a couple of guys want to take on the "geeky endeavor" of bumping it back in to place--with as many 80 year olds as they can find and a satellite dish in Kentucky."

ISEE-3 - An Old Friend Comes to Visit Earth, (with videos) NASA

"Today, some citizen scientists are investigating whether it would be feasible to communicate with ISEE-3 for the first time in almost two decades in order to send commands to return it to L1. A daunting prospect after all this time with NASA's old friend."

ISEE-3 Reboot Project

NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects, GAO

"NASA projects have continued to make progress in maturing technologies prior to the preliminary design review. This year, 63 percent of projects met this standard, up from only 29 percent of projects in 2010. For example, in preparation for its upcoming confirmation review, one project has matured all 10 of its critical technologies, which GAO's past work has shown is important to decrease the likelihood of cost and schedule growth. NASA's heightened awareness of reducing technology risk is further evidenced by new guidance aimed at ensuring continued focus on technical maturity. As NASA continues to undertake more complex projects it will be important to maintain heightened attention to best practices to lessen the risk of technology development and continue positive cost and schedule performance."

Pad 39A Goes Commercial

NASA Signs Agreement with SpaceX for Use of Historic Launch Pad

"NASA Kennedy Space Center's historic Launch Complex 39A, the site from which numerous Apollo and space shuttle missions began, is beginning a new mission as a commercial launch site. NASA signed a property agreement with Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., on Monday for use and occupancy of the seaside complex along Florida's central east coast. It will serve as a platform for SpaceX to support their commercial launch activities."

Dragon Cargo Craft Launch Scrubbed; Station Crew Preps for Spacewalk

"Monday's launch attempt of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, loaded with nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station's Expedition 39 crew, was scrubbed due to a helium leak on the Falcon 9 first stage. The next launch opportunity would be Friday, April 18 at 3:25 p.m. EDT if the issue can be resolved."

NASA TV to Air SpaceX-3 Status Update at Noon EDT April 13

"NASA Television will air a news conference at noon EDT on Sunday, April 13 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The briefing will provide an update on the status of the SpaceX-3 cargo mission launch to the International Space Station, currently scheduled for 4:58 p.m. Monday, April 14, and on the failure on Friday of a backup computer component that provides redundancy for commanding the Mobile Transporter rail car on the truss of the station."

Keith's note: NASA has resolved issues on ISS such that it can safely accommodate Dragon and has cleared SpaceX for their launch tomorrow.

Curiously, the banner shown behind the briefers today does not show a SpaceX Dragon (the vehicle actually being launched) but shows a NASA Orion instead. I am told that this was done in "error". OK, that happens. But why is there a NASA graphic of ISS and Orion together in the first place? Orion is not going to visit ISS. Or is it?

NASA Solicits New Collaborative Partnerships with Commercial Space Industry

"Building on the success of NASA's commercial spaceflight initiatives, agency officials announced Monday plans to solicit proposals from U.S. private enterprises for unfunded partnerships to collaboratively develop new commercial space capabilities. An Announcement for Proposals will be released on March 31 for the competitive selection of one or more SAAs. NASA plans a pre-proposal teleconference on April 3 to discuss the initiative and answer questions."

SpaceX Conducts Falcon 9R Static Fire Test [Watch], SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX successfully test fired the first stage of F9R--an advanced prototype for the world's first reusable rocket--in preparation for its first test flight in the coming weeks. Unlike airplanes, a rocket's thrust increases with altitude; F9R generates just over a million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space."

JAXA Selects Mitsubishi to Build New Flagship Launch Vehicle, SpaceRef Business

"JAXA has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to build a new flagship launch vehicle to replace the current H-IIA and H-IIB launch vehicles and intends to compete for international commercial contracts.

The new rocket is expected to come into service in 2020 and JAXA stated that they plan on cutting launch costs by half to try and compete directly with Arianespace, SpaceX and other commercial launch providers."

A Win-Win Sanction - It's past time for the nation that won the space race to get back in the business, National Review Online

"Russia may retaliate by cutting off our supply of RD-180 engines. Imported Russian RD-180s power the first stage of the American Atlas V rocket; the Atlas V launches our military satellites. If Putin does threaten our rocket shipments, we can dip into the two-year store that has been stockpiled for just such an occasion -- and two weeks ago, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk testified to Congress that his American-made Falcon rockets are ready to take over (for about $300 million less per flight than an Atlas launch costs taxpayers now)."

Orbital Drops Antitrust Lawsuit Against ULA, Space News

"Orbital is considering the RD-180 as a replacement for the AJ-26 engines that power the main stage of the company's Antares medium-lift rocket. Each Antares rocket uses two AJ-26 engines, which are actually Soviet-vintage NK-33 engines refurbished by Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, Calif. Orbital has secured only enough AJ-26 engines for the eight cargo-delivery missions to the international space station the company owes NASA through 2016 under a $1.89 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract signed in 2008."

Keith's note: Wouldn't it be prudent to start building Americanized versions of these engines - or develop home grown designs?

Space Florida Signs MOU With Swiss Space Systems

"Today, aerospace company Swiss Space Systems (S3) inaugurates its new U.S. subsidiary, S3 USA Operations (Florida) Inc., at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). S3 has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Space Florida for future utilization the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) and associated infrastructure for its flight operations, which are slated to begin in 2015 with zero gravity flights. S3 will also evaluate the SLF as a main site for satellite launches beginning in 2018."

Swiss Space Systems Opens U.S. Subsidiary and Plans to use KSC Shuttle Landing Facility, SpaceRef Business

Human Exploration Drives Space Launch System, Aviation Week

"It doesn't seem likely that NASA and it's congressional backers will trust human lives anytime soon to a 27-engine vehicle that bears an unfortunate resemblance to the ill-fated Soviet N-1 Moon rocket, which had 30".

Keith's note: Odd comment from Aviation Week given that NASA has been putting American astronauts on Soyuz launchers for a long time and they use 20 engines just to leave the pad. Oh yes, his rocket actually is a Soviet design.

NASA Names David W. Miller as Agency's New Chief Technologist

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday that David W. Miller, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., has been named the agency's new Chief Technologist. As chief technologist, he will be Bolden's principal advisor and advocate on matters concerning agency-wide technology policy and programs."

The Path Forward In American Space - 2014 Edition, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"I AM UNEASY. I resent the passive attitudes many scientists have toward the challenge of science, especially their passivity concerning the greatest scientific, technological, and industrial opportunity of all time--- the development of space--- a challenge so limitless and exciting as ultimately to surpass all previous human accomplishments.... I am angry that so many scientists do not voice the scientific benefits of the expedition to the moon, concerned that industrial directors in charge of tomorrow are tranquil to the future, disturbed that our non-scientific Congress is unrealistic in its reasons for space appropriations, and disgusted with scientific journals that have abdicated their responsibilities of leadership and fail, even, to present a point of view. Hundreds of important scientific and cold-cash reasons abound for going to the moon..."

These words could have been written by myself or a number of other space advocates over the last few years (it could also be written about Mars). However, these were written as the preface to a book "The Case for Going to the Moon", written in 1965 by Neil Ruzic, the editor and publisher of the 1960's era journal Industrial Research. The forward to the "Case for Going to the Moon" was written by Arthur C. Clarke. ...

Space Florida Space February 3 FY 2014 Tourism Report DEO Deliverables, Space Florida

"Space Florida's objective for the space tourism marketing appropriation is to define and develop the scope of space tourism throughout the state of Florida. Breaking the plan into three phases will allow us to address the different needs and goals of the aerospace industry. Each stage of this plan includes specific tactics with messaging relevant to the targeted demographic, as well as built in opportunities to measure reach, effectiveness and the return on investment of each individual tactic."

Keith's note: Looks like they want to do "train wraps" in Chicago, kiosks in New York City's financial district, Denver Airport ... They are ambitious - and they do have a viable precedent for attracting business to Florida: Ron Jon Surf Shop billboards up and down the east coast.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Private Companies Won't Take The Lead In Space Exploration, TechCrunch

"Tyson described space travel as "a long-term investment": "It's an investment that private enterprise cannot lead." He recalled the excitement around SpaceX's delivery of cargo the International Space Station, which sparked discussion about whether private companies would replace government as the main engine behind space travel. Tyson's response? "They brought cargo to the space station! NASA's been doing that for 30 years!" The problem, he said, is that it's hard to predict the risk and return on investment on "doing anything big and expensive first." He noted that the first Europeans to come to America were not the Dutch East India Company, but Christopher Columbus and his crew, whose expedition was paid for by Spain. After the initial exploration, there will be opportunities for private companies. "The first trillionaire in the world is going to be the person who first mines the asteroid belt," Tyson said."

Keith's note: Its rather odd that Tyson dumps on what SpaceX has accomplished i.e. that NASA did it 30 years ago (he doesn't explain that i.e the hugely expensive shuttle) but then he says that the person who first mines the asteroid will become a trillionaire. Assuming that the person gains these monetary riches by mining, you'd have to assume that they are a capitalist and that they did this commercially. So, Tyson dumps on commercial operations on space station as being ho hum and then says that the same mindset/world view i.e. commerce will be behind asteroid mining which he seems to equate with exploration.

Ukraine crisis could end U.S. space reliance on Russia, Politico

"In previous budgets, Congress hasn't fully funded commercial crew requests as a way of finding savings, to the chagrin of its advocates. "The president has been requesting approximately $800 million every year since his FY12 budget submission to fund the development of American vehicles to provide access to the ISS, only to have Congress, led primarily by the GOP but not exclusively, dramatically undercut that funding," said Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, the state's spaceport authority and aerospace development organization. But Russia's incursion into Crimean region of Ukraine has put the spotlight on the U.S. and Russia's codependence in space, and could provide the political capital necessary for the program to get full funding this time around."

GAO: National Defense: Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Competitive Procurement

"If DOD requires all offers to contain both fixed-price and cost-reimbursement features for launch services and capability, respectively, similar to the way it currently contracts with ULA, there could be benefits to DOD and ULA, but potential burdens to new entrants. Alternatively, if DOD implements a fixed-price commercial approach to launch proposals, DOD could lose insight into contractor cost or pricing. DOD could also require a combination of elements from each of these approaches, or develop new contract requirements for this competition."

GAO: Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle: Introducing Competition into National Security Space Launch Acquisitions

"In December 2013, DOD signed a contract modification with ULA, committing the government to buy 35 launch vehicle booster cores over a 5-year period, and the associated capability to launch them. The new contract represents significant effort on the part of DOD to negotiate better launch prices through its improved knowledge of contractor costs, and DOD officials expect the new contract to realize significant savings, primarily through stable unit pricing for all launch vehicles. DOD is also leading a broader competition for up to 14 additional launches, expected to begin in fiscal year 2015."

Testimony of Elon Musk, Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs

"Recently, some have claimed that the Air Force's block buy of 36 booster cores from the incumbent will save the taxpayer "$4.4 billion over the next several years." Any "savings" resulting from a block buy of 36 rocket cores from the incumbent provider are derived directly from a 50 percent year-over-year budget projection increase in FY2012, which was purposefully based on worst-case assumptions for a single- Launch buy, and acknowledged at the time by the incumbent as being inflated.5 If SpaceX had contracted for these missions, using the same baseline, we would have saved the taxpayer a total of $11.6 billion."

Testimony of Michael C. Gass, Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs

"ULA was formed to enable assured access to space with two separate launch systems, with recognition the that market demand was insufficient to sustain two competitors. We went from two competing teams with redundant and underutilized infrastructure to one team that has delivered the expected savings of this consolidation."

Testimony of Scott Pace, Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs

Webcast

NASA FY 2015 Budget - Commercial Crew is Investing in America, SpaceRef Business

"Early in his opening statement during the NASA teleconference on NASA's FY 2015 budget request, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden made it clear that reliance on the Russians for access to the International Space Station is choice Congress must choose to end.

Bolden said "budgets are about making choices, and let me clear about one thing, the choice here is between fully funding the request to bring space launches back to the U.S. or continuing millions in subsidies to the Russians, it's that simple. The Obama administration chooses investing in America. We believe Congress will choose this course as well."

On a day where tensions in Ukraine's Crimea only slighted abated, hammering on Congress about the choices they've made with respect to funding Commercial Crew budgeting in past years seemed appropriate. But was anybody listening?"

Inspiration Mars Sets Sights on Venus/Mars Flyby in 2021, Dennis Tito, opinion, SpaceNews

"Today, the IMF remains fully committed to its vision to help provide America with a viable, challenging and inspirational mission to Mars as a way to help accelerate our nation's plans for space exploration. However, given the extensive use of NASA assets that are already funded and under development, the strategy to pursue the mission opportunity in 2021 would clearly be the purview of the Congress, the Obama administration and NASA."

Keith's note: Tito's op ed is, at a minimum, disingenuous. Actually it is outright deceptive. This is bait and switch, plain and simple. As if no one would notice. Tito seems to want everyone to think that his original wholly-private funded Falcon-9 based plan for 2017 is somehow just a different flavor of his new 2021 SLS/Orion-based, NASA-funded plan. Ho hum. All that needs to be done is change the computer graphics, write some op eds, update the calendar app on your smartphones, and off we go to Mars. He says that it's all "Inspirational" so who cares, right?

Mr. Tito is asking NASA, Congress, and the White House to find billions of dollars on top of a budget that is going to be flat for the next few years, and launch the very first SLS/Orion mission on a trip to Mars with zero chance of return should anything go wrong. ANYTHING. Even the gutsy Apollo 8 had precursor shakeout flights of its launch vehicle and main spacecraft systems. No advisory committee has called for this mission.

And unless these extra billions are found the ISS will need to be abandoned by the U.S. There is simply no money to do both under the budget that everyone in Washington seems to want NASA to have. By going from the laudable notion of a privately-funded mission to one paid for by tax dollars Inspiration Mars is now simply an advertisement for more SLS funding. No "inspiration" there.

Tito just wants us all to do it as part of his legacy and he wants the rest of us to foot the bill. Has he disclosed how much of his own millions he will commit?

NASA Provides Updated Commercial Spaceflight Report, SpaceRef Business

"NASA has released its 14th 60 day Commercial Spaceflight Report. The bi-monthly report outlines the progress of NASA's commercial crew and cargo development programs. Highlights include Boeing completing 15 of 20 Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones, SpaceX completing 12 of 17 and Sierra Nevada 8 of 14."

"Of the five milestones left for Boeing, two will be completed in the first quarter of this year; M10: Spacecraft Primary Structures Critical Design Review and M17: Pilot-in-the-Loop Demonstration. Boeing's contract value is $480 million of which $404.5 has been paid with $75.5 remaining."

NASA Proposed Rule: Profit and Fee Under Federal Financial Assistance Awards

"NASA is revising the NASA Grant & Cooperative Agreement Handbook to clarify that NASA does not pay profit or fee on Federal Financial Assistance awards, i.e. grants and cooperative agreements, to non-profit organizations. This proposed rule would make changes to NASA regulations to reflect that revision."

"... There appears to have been some confusion with regard to the term `management fee'. Management fees that are allowable, allocable, reasonable and necessary costs in accordance with an entity's established accounting practices and Government cost principles will be paid by NASA. This rule is clarifying that NASA will not pay profit or fee where profit or fee is defined as the amounts above allowable costs. The language in this rule has been revised to clarify this point."

New NASA Policy Directive Signed: Challenges, Prize Competitions and Crowdsourcing Activities

"To encourage the use of challenge activities (challenges), including prize competitions and crowdsourcing activities, to further the Agency's mission at all levels of the NASA organization. The Federal Government has been encouraged to use prizes and challenges as tools to solve problems and drive innovation for specific needs. Challenges use afocused problem-statement approach to obtain solutions and/or stimulate innovation from a broad, sometimes undefined, public rather than a specific named group or individual. Prize competitions and crowdsourcing are two specific techniques for implementing challenges."

Keith's update: Waypoint2space is still selling their "train like an astronaut" courses - even though they admitted to NASAWatch that they are not training people to become astronauts. That does not stop them from prominently asking asking "Have you ever wanted to be an ASTRONAUT" on their main webpage.

This webpage claims "At Waypoint 2 Space, we are proud to be leading the evolution of Commercial Spaceflight Training through our collaboration with NASA centers. Operating from the global hub of space technology - Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - we are helping to shape the future of the Commercial Space Industry."

What "collaboration?" Has any agreement been signed between Waypoint2Space and NASA? NASA says no. Waypoint2space still claims to be "operating" from JSC (technically correct since they have a small office in a tech transfer building onsite) but they make no mention of the fact that their training will actually happen offsite in a rented building. Very misleading. They have removed all of the commercial space company logos that were previously shown on their website. They have also changed their main page so that you cannot easily see other links - but if you go to this page the old menu is still on top.

- Can You Train Like An Astronaut at JSC for $45,000? Not Without NASA's Permission, earlier post
- Waypoint2space: Closer Look at Website Claims About Operations at NASA JSC, earlier post
- Waypoint2space Clarifies A Few Things About Astronaut Training at NASA JSC, earlier post

Who Owns The Moon?

Lunar property rights, Economist

"According to the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, signed by every space-faring country, no nation can claim sovereignty over Earth's lunar satellite. 102 countries have entered into to the 1967 accord; China joined in 1983. But space law scholars debate whether the Treaty actually implicitly prohibits, or allows, private ownership on celestial bodies. Some commercial companies, such as Bigelow Aerospace, are hoping to use the ambiguity of the treaty's language to their advantage. Founded in 1999 and based in Las Vegas, the firm aims to manufacture inflatable space habitats. It already has an agreement with NASA to expand the International Space Station in 2015 using its flexible modules, and also to devise a plan for a privately developed, NASA financed, lunar base architecture."

Manned missions from Wallops?, DelmarvaNow

"Substantial development of the launch facilities on Wallops Island would be required to accommodate human space flight, [Mike Gold Bigelow Aerospace] said. But he called manned flights from Wallops "not only the next logical step but...a step we must take if we want to continue to grow our capabilities." The Virginia spaceport does not provide a particularly attractive trajectory for satellite launches, Gold said, adding, "That's why you see a company like SpaceX located in Texas rather than Wallops." "What we are good for is human spaceflight--the Eastern Shore has a great trajectory, great capabilities to support human spaceflight."

NASA OIG: Final Report - IG-14-014 - NASA's Award Closeout Process, NASA OIG

"As of October 2013, NASA had more than 15,000 award instruments that had expired but were not yet closed. NASA contracts with a private company to assist with the closeout process. The OIG found that although NASA has slowed the growth of its backlog of instruments awaiting closeout, the Agency needs to make further improvements to its closeout process."

Keith's note: Silicon Valley sources report that NASA will announce that Google-backed developer Planetary Ventures has been selected to lease Moffett Field and Hangar One. Details to follow.

Keith's update: GSA, NASA Competitively Select Planetary Ventures LLC for Rehabilitation of Hangar One, Use of Moffett Federal Airfield

Notice of Intent - Leasing Opportunity - Hangar One and Moffett Federal Airfield, earlier post

Delight Over ISS Extension, Debate Over Regulations Highlight 2014 FAA Commercial Space Conference, SpacePolicyOnline.com

"The FAA's annual Commercial Space Transportation conference covered a lot of ground this week (February 5-6, 2014), but two topics were highlights:  the Obama Administration's recent decision to extend operations of the International Space Station (ISS) by four more years and debate about the extent of government regulation of commercial human spaceflight."

Marc's update: Audio of the conference sessions are now available on SpaceRef Business.

Watch Live - Agenda

Keith's update: Guess what: this conference will be webcast live after all! In all of my interactions with FAA Commercial Space Transportation Office - as late as Tuesday morning - no one in that office knew about a webcast of this meeting. There is no mention whatsoever made of a webcast on the registration website or at their FAA website. Yet according to the helpful folks at FAA Headquarters Media Relations, this is the link for the two day event: http://weblinkaudiovideo.com/faa-live-webcast.php. The FAA Commercial Space Transportation Office staff need to talk to their own PAO office a little more often - they might learn something.

Necessary Updates to the Commercial Space Launch Act: Hearing Charter

"The industry has grown over the years since the passage of the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-575) thirty years ago, and this law has been amended several times since then. The Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA) provides authority to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to license launches and indemnify launch providers from third-party claims should an accident occur. The law also provides a framework for the FAA's regulatory authority. This hearing will examine the various changes in the industry and what, if any, accompanying changes to the Commercial Space Launch Act may be needed going forward."

- Prepared Statement by George Nield
- Prepared Statement by Henry Hertzfeld
- Statement of Rep. Steven Palazzo
- Statement of Chairman Lamar Smith
- Commercial Space Launches: FAA's Risk Assessment Process Is Not Yet Updated, Alicia Puente Cackley, GAO

Review of NASA's Agency Consolidated End-User Services Contract, NASA OIG

"NASA's lack of adequate preparation prior to deploying the ACES contract together with HP's failure to meet important contract objectives has resulted in the contract falling short of Agency expectations. We attribute these shortcomings to several factors, including a lack of technical and cultural readiness by NASA for an Agency-wide IT delivery model, unclear contract requirements, and the failure of HP to deliver on some of its promises. In general, these issues fall into two categories: (1) issues related to the Agency's overall IT governance and (2) management and problems specific to the ACES contract."

Keith's note: I finally had a chance to talk with Kevin Heath from Waypoint2space about their astronaut training services in response to earlier postings on NASAWatch. Heath confirmed that they do not have a signed Space Act Agreement with NASA in place and that it is currently stuck in NASA Legal limbo (that certainly can happen). Waypoint2space says that they do have a signed agreement with Jacobs Engineering but that only deals with their interactions with Jacobs - not NASA. Heath also confirmed that NASA JSC Mission Operations Directorate (MOD) has declined to work with them but that the JSC Engineering Directorate was interested. As stated earlier, I find it somewhat perplexing to see how NASA can support a cmpany offering astronaut training when the very part of NASA (MOD) that does such things declines to participate.

Keith's note: The other day I wrote about the announcement made by Waypoint2space about the astronaut training services they are currently selling - services that claim use of NASA JSC facilities. I did get a few responses from the company (with legal disclosure caveats attached) before they stopped responding. I have asked NASA PAO to respond but they have yet to do so. Below are some observations regarding what is still posted on the Waypoint2space website. I'd be more than happy to post any responses from Waypoint2space - so long as they do not attach legal restrictions on the dissemination of those responses.

Keith's note: According to Waypoint2space.com "To go into space, step out of the vehicle, and float above the earth while reaching for the stars - but wondered if you have what it takes? For the first time in history, you can train like an astronaut using the most advanced facilities and equipment in the world. Operating from NASA's Johnson Space Center, we offer the definitive training experience with our fully comprehensive and immersive space training programs. These one-of-a-kind programs prepare you for spaceflight while you experience first hand what every astronaut has during their preparation for space. Additionally, SFP's are trained in accordance to our FAA Safety Approval ensuring a consistent level of spaceflight competency."

Sounds cool. But a closer look raises some important questions.

NASA Has Another TDRS

NASA Launches TDRS-L a Third Generation Communications Satellite (with video)

"NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite L (TDRS-L), the 12th spacecraft in the agency's TDRS Project, is safely in orbit after launching at 9:33 p.m. EST Thursday aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida."

- Boeing TDRS-L Relay Satellite Sends 1st Signals from Space
- ULA Successfully Launches Tracking and Data Relay Satellite

SNC Announces First Orbital Flight of Dream Chaser

"Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces that it has confirmed that the first orbital flight of its Dream Chaser(R) Space System will occur on November 1, 2016. Dream Chaser will be brought to orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that is being built in Decatur, Alabama and will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida."

Keith's note: So ... who is paying for this launch? There's no mention of that in the press release. No mention anywhere else either. These things are not cheap ....

Virgin Galactic Conducts Successful Test Firings of LauncherOne Liquid Rocket Engine

"As part of a rapid development program, Virgin Galactic has now hot-fired both a 3,500 lbf thrust rocket engine and a 47,500 lbf thrust rocket engine, called the "NewtonOne" and "NewtonTwo" respectively. Further, the NewtonOne engine has successfully completed a full-mission duty cycle on the test stand, firing for the five-minute duration expected of the upper stage engine on a typical flight to orbit."

NASA Conducts Orion Parachute Test

"Engineers testing the parachute system for NASA's Orion spacecraft increased the complexity of their tests Thursday, Jan. 16, adding the jettison of hardware designed to keep the capsule safe during flight. The test was the first to give engineers in-air data on the performance of the system that jettisons Orion's forward bay cover. The cover is a shell that fits over Orion's crew module to protect the spacecraft during launch, orbital flight and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. When Orion returns from space, the cover must come off before the spacecraft's parachutes can deploy. It must be jettisoned high above the ground in order for the parachutes to unfurl."

SpaceX Tests Dragon Parachute System

"Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) gathered in Morro Bay, Calif., in late December to demonstrate how the company's Dragon spacecraft's parachute system would function in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent. The test was part of an optional milestone under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative and approved by the agency in August."

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Annual Report for 2013

"In an effort to devise a program that fits within available funding, the CCP is requesting proposals to develop a new system to transport humans into space by means of a fixed-price contract and source selection crite- ria that cause some within the space flight community to worry that price has become more important than safety. Competition between two or more CCP contractors potentially fosters improved attention to safety. However, the ability to sustain a competitive environment may fall victim to further funding shortfalls."

NASA to GAO on protest over $2B SAIC contract: You got it wrong, Washington Business Journal

"NASA has responded to the Government Accountability Office's decision to sustain a protest over a nearly $2 billion contract award to Science Applications International Corp. And it's saying the GAO got it wrong. That response came by way of a motion to reconsider, which was filed with the GAO Jan. 6, 10 days after the watchdog agency decided to sustain a protest over NASA's $1.76 billion contract for medical, biomedical and health services supporting NASA human spaceflight programs."

Did NASA screw up a $2B contract award to SAIC?, Washington Business Journal

"Science Applications International Corp. is not the same company it was last summer -- something it tried to warn NASA about while bidding for a nearly $2 billion deal. So whose fault is it that the agency opted to ignore the obvious?"

Decision Matter of: Wyle Laboratories, Inc., GAO

"Protest is sustained where the awardee's proposal, and the agency's evaluation thereof, failed to reasonably reflect the manner in which the contract will be performed, the level of costs likely associated with performance, and the corporate entity that will perform the contract."

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Applauds Passage of Bill Providing Funding for Commercial Programs and Renewal of Government Risk-Sharing

"The bill funds NASA's Commercial Crew Program at $696 million, a significant increase from FY13. "With this bill's strong Commercial Crew funding, Congress has acknowledged the importance of quickly developing a U.S. system to carry American astronauts and reduce our dependence on aging Russian infrastructure," said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. "We applaud Congress for recognizing the importance of a robust U.S. space program and, in particular, an organic capability to provide human access to Low-Earth Orbit."

Keith's note: "strong Commercial Crew funding"? What CSF seems to not comprehend is the fact that the $696M in this budget is $125 million less than the $821M White House asked for in FY 2014. When you take into consideration that of this $696M, $171M is not being given to NASA anytime soon (unless they produce the ISS report that Congress requires), then NASA will only have $525M in FY 2014. $525M is $296M less than the White House asked for i.e. a one-third cut in what was requested.

In FY 2014 budget hearings last year Charlie Bolden was clear that if he did not get the $821M that the White House asked for in FY 2014 then having a commercial crew capability in 2017 was not going to happen. In addition, the NASA OIG noted in a report that previous cuts in commercial crew budgets have already forced a slip from 2015 to 2017. One would assume that future budget shortfalls would have a similar consequence.

No matter how you slice this, NASA is not getting the $821M that was the basis for the line in the sand drawn by Charlie Bolden last year with regard to the FY 2014 budget. Neither $696M or $525M is even close. If Bolden was accurate when he made these public statements, then as soon as the President signs this budget bill into law, NASA needs to be sending notification to Congress, per Bolden's statement, that 2017 is off the table. If not, then you have to question whether NASA can back up any of its statements with regard to what it needs for large projects - SLS, JWST, etc.

NASA Chief:Commercial Crew Safe from Sequester, for Now, Space News

"If we aren't able to get up to the $800 million level [FY 2014], then I will have to come back and officially notify the Congress that we cannot make 2017 for availability of commercial crew," Bolden said at that hearing."

NASA IG Warns on Commercial Crew as NASA Celebrates End of COTS, SpacePolicyOnline

"The OIG did not make any recommendations on the issue of unstable funding, but noted that for FY2011-2013, NASA received only 38 percent of its requested funding for the program, resulting in a delay from FY2015 to FY2017 of the first expected commercial crew flight. "The combination of a future flat-funded profile and lower-than-expected levels of funding over the past 3 years may delay the first crewed flight beyond 2017 and closer to 2020, the current expected end of the operational life of the ISS." The report includes the following table showing NASA's successive 5-year budget projections for the commercial crew program beginning in FY2009."

- Charlie Bolden Has His Head In The Sand Again, earlier post
- Confusion on "Pretty Darn Good" Statement from OSTP, earlier post
- Commercial Crew Transportation Capability RFP Released, earlier post
- NASA OIG Report on Commercial Crew Program, earlier post

NASA's Strategic Sourcing Program: NASA's Strategic Sourcing Efforts Are Disjointed and Incomplete, OIG

" While NASA established a Strategic Sourcing Program as required by a 2005 Office of Management and Budget memorandum, it has never conducted a comprehensive, Agency-wide spend analysis to identify commodities that could benefit from a more strategic procurement approach. Further, although NASA performed limited spend analyses on individual commodities, it has not established requirements regarding how such analyses should be developed, analyzed, and used. While NASA officials said they have realized savings under specific strategic sourcing initiatives, NASA does not track its Agency-wide strategic sourcing efforts and therefore was unable to determine the extent of any efficiencies or cost savings."

First CASIS-Sponsored Payloads Berthed to the International Space Station

"Below is an overview of the major payloads now on board the ISS sponsored by CASIS: ... Story Time From Space - Patricia Tribe, T2 Sciences & Math Education Consultants and Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, Author - This project aims to bring space station science to communities through the simple beauty of reading a book to a child. Crewmembers on the International Space Station host Story Time From Space by producing videotaped readings from a children's book, which are later broadcast on Earth. The astronauts also complete simple demonstrations that accompany the science, technology, engineering and math concepts in the books. The videos are edited and posted to an online library, with related educational materials, for use by educators and parents". 

Keith's note: I am the first one to say that using the ISS for educational purposes is important. While some of the other things listed are interesting, lumping this this bedtime story thing into the "major payload" category makes me wonder whether CASIS is truly up to the fullest utilization of the ISS for the maximum benefit of the U.S. taxpayer.

Max Luke and Jenna Mukuno: Boldly Going Where No Greens Have Gone Before, Wall Street Journal

"When you include the energy of the entire Virgin Galactic operation, which includes support aircraft, it is seven times more than the flight from Singapore to London. As such, a single trip on Virgin Galactic will require twice as much energy as the average American consumes each year. (These numbers were confirmed by a representative for Virgin Galactic.)"

Virgin's Spaceship Already Meets Fuel-Economy Goal, , George Whitesides, Wall Street Journal

"The article rightly implies that a return economy trip from London to Singapore, in any modern airliner, will generate a C02 footprint per passenger of at least two tons. The FAA estimates that Virgin Galactic's fully reusable SpaceShipTwo passenger spacecraft will take you to space and back leaving a carbon footprint of just 0.28 tons--in fact, less than the carbon output of an economy return seat from Los Angeles to New York. To be fair to the authors, Virgin Galactic, for safety reasons, launches its spacecraft from a specially designed carrier aircraft. This aircraft is the largest all-carbon-composite aviation vehicle ever built and is the lightest and most fuel-efficient aircraft of its size. Therefore, in a typical space mission fuel usage for the carrier aircraft will only equate to a carbon footprint per astronaut passenger of about 1.5 tons, giving a total for aircraft and spaceship of around 1.8 tons (less than a return economy class ticket from London to Singapore)."

SpaceShipTwo Goes Supersonic for Third Time, earlier post

SpaceX may pick Texas over controversial Merritt Island launch site, Orlando Sentinel

"Though Florida officials admit that the state is an underdog in the fight, they contend that Spaceport Shiloh, named for an abandoned citrus town in the Cape Canaveral area, is worth fighting for -- and not just for SpaceX. "We are going ahead with Shiloh with or without SpaceX," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, a booster group for the aerospace industry. As an alternate, Space Florida has looked at the Washington-based company Blue Origin, which has expressed an interest in launching its vehicles from Florida. "We remain keenly interested in Shiloh, as well as potential commercial launch sites in Florida and other locations," said Robert Meyerson, president of Blue Origin, in a statement."

Why Does Space Florida Need Its Own Spaceport?, earlier post

Kennedy: Launch presages economic benefits for state, Times DIspath

"Virginia's $150 million Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) asset awaits Richmond decision-making on whether it is to be a part of the future of human spaceflight. A leap to include commercial spaceflight passenger service to the commercial cargo launch manifest from the Eastern Shore requires public-private partnership investment and long-term planning."

Proposed SpaceX site near Brownsville sits on 87 acres near Boca Chica, The Monitor

"The proposed site of a facility for Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp., where the world's first commercial rocket-launching complex would be located, consists of 87 acres in four tracts along state Highway 4 at Boca Chica Boulevard. The California-based space exploration firm has leased slightly more than half the land, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, and additionally owns about a quarter of the tracts on the site, as shown in public deed records providing information about property ownership in the area."

Cygnus Berthed at ISS

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus Spacecraft Docks With Space Station

"The spacecraft was then grappled and berthed with the station by the Expedition 38 astronaut crew earlier this morning. After Cygnus was launched into orbit by Orbital's Antares(TM) rocket on Thursday, January 9 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, it completed a series of thruster firings and other maneuvers bringing the spacecraft in close proximity to the ISS."

Virgin Galactic Reaches New Heights in Third Supersonic Test Flight

"Today, Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's aabar Investments PJS, successfully completed the third rocket-powered supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). In command on the flight deck of SS2 for the first time under rocket power was Virgin Galactic's Chief Pilot Dave Mackay."

Keith's note: NASA gave the Space Frontier Foundation $100,000 with the specific intention that it be distributed to winners in their "NewSpace Business Plan Competition". SFF was not "giving away $100K to NewSpace startups" This was never their money in the first place. In addition to NASA money, the SFF also administered smaller prizes donated by several aerospace companies. But they seem to want people to think that it was their money that was being given out and do not mention NASA and other sponsors while they brag about the money they "give away".

There were problems with this recent business plan competition and it will be interesting to see how NASA picks the organization to conduct a similar function next time. Given that SFF had no competition when it was chosen by NASA in the past several years, one would hope that NASA puts this out for competition such that organizations with a track record in the business world have a chance to submit proposals to run future competitions offering NASA funds as prizes.

Cygnus Is in Orbit

Cargo Launched to Space Station Aboard Orbital-1 Mission

"The launch aboard Orbital's Antares rocket took place from NASA's Wallop's Flight Facility in Virginia Thursday, at 1:07 p.m. EST."

Orbital Launches Antares Rocket Carrying Cygnus On ISS Cargo Resupply Mission

"Under a $1.9 billion CRS contract with NASA, Orbital will use Antares and Cygnus to deliver up to 44,000 pounds (20,000 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS over eight missions through late 2016. For these missions, NASA will manifest a variety of essential items based on ISS program needs, including food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts and equipment, and scientific experiments."

Orb-1 Launch Rescheduled

Orbital to Proceed With Antares Launch Tomorrow

"Following a comprehensive review of data related to the radiation environment in space, further reviews and modeling of the rocket's avionics systems, and the forecast for favorable terrestrial weather conditions at the Wallops Island launch facility, the Antares launch team has decided to proceed forward with a launch attempt of the Orbital-1 CRS mission to the International Space Station tomorrow, January 9."

Orb-1 Launch for Jan 8 Has Been Scrubbed

"Early this morning, Orbital Sciences Corp. decided to scrub today's launch attempt of the Antares rocket and the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on the company's first resupply mission to the International Space Station due to an unusually high level of space radiation that exceeded constraints imposed on Antares."

SNC and ESA Sign MOU on Dream Chaser

"ESA and American company Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), have signed an understanding to identify areas of collaboration with European industry for developing hardware and mission concepts for the Dream Chaser orbital transportation system"

Sierra Nevada Corporation Announces International Expansion of the Dream Chaser Space System

"As the only lifting-body, low-g reentry spacecraft with the capability to land on commercial runways, anywhere in the world, Dream Chaser is uniquely adaptable to meet a variety of mission requirements, making it the only multi-mission space utility vehicle in the world."

NASA May Order More Soyuz Rides to Station Despite Commercial Crew Advancements, Space News

"Companies working on commercial crew transportation services to and from the international space station reported milestones in their efforts even as a NASA official warned that the agency likely will have to order more Russian Soyuz crew capsules to keep the orbital outpost fully occupied. Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight at NASA headquarters, told an advisory panel Dec. 9 that the agency may have to order another batch of Soyuz crew capsules from Russia unless Congress funds NASA's Commercial Crew Program at the $800 million-plus level sought by the White House."

Space exploration in 2014: Waiting on the House to act, Daily Kos

"Suppose every time a civilian or pure research plane lifted off there was an obscure law, originally passed with good intentions, that had to be regularly reauthed by Congress or no more flights. And let's just say that Congress became hyper-polarized, a do nothing body, where even the simplest, once uncontroversial act morphed into a potential hot potato in a mid term election year. Air traffic would grind to a halt. Well, that's a fair analogy for a bureaucratic hurdle currently faced by NASA, along with contractors and customers, all waiting on a critical reauthorization before a score of rockets can be duly licensed and cleared for launch in 2014. Follow me below, deep into the cosmic weeds, and we'll review just how easy this should be to fix."

- Extending Commercial Launch Provider Indemnification, earlier post

Antares launch update: No Earlier Than January 8

"Orbital, in consultation with NASA, has decided to reschedule the Antares CRS Orb-1 Space Station Resupply Mission launch for no earlier than Wednesday, January 8, 2014.  The new target date was set due to the extreme cold temperatures that are forecasted for early next week, coupled with likely precipitation events predicted for Sunday night and Monday morning.  While we are preserving the option to launch on January 8, it is more likely that the launch will take place on Thursday, January 9 because of a much improved forecast for later in the week."

FAA Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement: Shiloh Launch Complex

"Based on comments received during the scoping period, the FAA may analyze additional alternatives. However, at this time, the alternatives under consideration include the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, the FAA would not issue a Launch Site Operator License to Space Florida."

Federal review set for Fla. plan to build site for rocket launches, Washington Post

"Space Florida expects a new center for launches could be largely free of much of the federal red tape and the competing national priorities that can bog down private launches from the nearby Kennedy Space Center or from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch complexes. It's also close enough to the old Kennedy space shuttle landing strip, which Space Florida also is seeking to acquire, that the agency thinks companies could use them together. It's the only place, we believe, that Florida could offer the capability for a purely commercial launch site," said Dale Ketcham, Space Florida's director of strategic alliances. But the spot is within one of the most revered natural places in Florida, a 140,000-acre sanctuary of marshes, beaches, lagoons and abundant wildlife."

Keith's note: Why is more government land needed when so much of KSC and CCAFS's vast real estate already remains unused - and is begging for commercial users? Oh, and at the same time, why go out of your way to pick a national wildlife refuge to destroy? Creating a third spaceport next to KSC and CCAFS will result in duplication of capabilities at a time when consolidation and dual use are what people are striving for. While NASA is moving toward more commercial use of its facilities (LC-39A for example) it is odd that Space Florida wants to go in the opposite direction.

I do not understand how this is going to make things easier since this new spaceport would still need to cooperate with range issues on launches from KSC and CCAFS next door and would be subject to the same weather and face issues with use of a runway deep inside a government facility. They are just going to end up making things more complicated in the Space Coast area rather than less complicated. And just watch as Space Florida sticks their hand out looking for Federal (NASA) money to create this duplicate capability - directly and/or indirectly.

If anything the commercial launch sector ought to be looking for places that do not have space launch neighbors, comparatively blank slates in terms of operational complexity, and better weather - like SpaceX has been seeking to do in Texas. Why should Florida have a near-monopoly on launching things into space?

NASA Postpones Orbital Launch and Sets Spacewalks to Repair ISS

"NASA managers are postponing the upcoming Orbital Sciences commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station to proceed with a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty pump module on the space station. NASA Television will air a news briefing at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 18 to preview the spacewalks. Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft, atop its Antares rocket, now will launch no earlier than January. The postponement of the Antares launch will allow ample time for the station crew to focus on repairing a faulty pump module that stopped working properly on Dec. 11."


Loading

 



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Commercialization category.

Columbia is the previous category.

Congress is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.