"Dear Space Advocates & Correspondents: This afternoon the House of Representatives had a 40 minute debate on legislation designed to advance the U.S. commercial human spaceflight industry. It was a good and spirited debate, with bipartisan supporters speaking in favor, and two partisan Democrats speaking against HR5382. Unfortunately, the opponents' arguments reflected the same misunderstanding of this issue that so many people have. Their presumption is that the federal government needs to set standards to protect the safety of the early adventurers who wish to buy a risky ride into space.
Commercialization: November 2004 Archives
19 November 2004: Boeing Chiefs Knew of Insider Data, Lockheed Says, Washington Post
"Citing unreleased documents, Lockheed Martin Corp. alleged in a court filing that former Air Force official Darleen A. Druyun shared with senior Boeing Co. officials proprietary Lockheed information during a 1990s rocket launch competition."
"Orbital Recovery Ltd. has completed its second round financing for the ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle (CX OLEV), marking a major program milestone that allows production of the first "space tug" to begin in early 2005, followed by the initial operational mission approximately 36 months later."
12 November 2004: Robot Helps NASA Refocus on Hubble, Washington Post
"The Hubble Robotic Vehicle will be built from scratch, giving the United States a robotic rendezvous and docking capability for the first time in the history of space travel."
"The prize will be awarded to a craft that can take a crew of at least five people to an altitude of 400 kilometres, and complete two orbits of Earth. This feat will have to be repeated within 60 days. The craft must be able to dock with Bigelow's space hotel (which he hopes to launch in 2008), and be capable of staying docked in orbit for six months."
"The XCOR Steam Engine Prize is being offered to anyone who delivers a "steam engine" that meets the requirements of the rules. Third place is USD $2,500.00 to the first person or organization that meets all the requirements listed in the rules."
9 November 2004: Futron Launcher Study Ranks ILS' Atlas & Proton as Best, ILS
Editor's note: No mention is made in this press release of who actually sponsored this study (Lockheed Martin).
Best Launch Service Survey and Analysis November 2004, Futron (PDF)
"When purchasing launch services, customers balance many factors against contract price, insurance, and other business considerations. These factors typically include vehicle reliability, schedule, performance flexibility, and customer service. This report discusses each of these non-price factors in a launch service decision, and ranks the large GEO-capable launch vehicles available on the market today in each of these factors.1
"Atlas V ranked highest overall, ranking first place in three out of the four factors."
1 The research underlying this report was sponsored by Lockheed Martin; however, the analysis and conclusions were developed by Futron.
10 November 2004: Update: NASA Watch and SpaceRef have come to an amicable resolution to this issue with Orbital - one wherein the threat of legal action has been avoided to the satisfaction of both parties.
9 November 2004: A DART Near Miss: Infighting at Orbital - and Deceiving NASA, SpaceRef
"On Monday NASA issued a curiously short press release stating "The launch of NASA's DART spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL scheduled for Tuesday is postponed. A review of projected loads data, or the G-forces the payload experiences upon ignition of the Pegasus second stage, is being re-evaluated to ensure mission success." NASA Watch has learned that Orbital Sciences knew about these problems for months and yet they kept that information from NASA."
9 November 2004: Did NASA space robot dodge disaster?, MSNBC
"[Orbital spokesman Barry] Benesky couldn't recall any past case where a launch was called off so close to the launch date on the basis of review of old data. "It is unusually late" this time, he conceded. But he insisted that in the end, launch managers did the right thing: "We told the customer, and together we decided to take some time to review it."
8 November 2004: Spacehab Files Tort Claim For Losses on Space Shuttle Mission
"Spacehab today announced that it has filed a formal claim against NASA under the Federal Tort Claims Act seeking restitution of its losses totaling in excess of $79.7 million resulting from the tragic destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003."
8 November 2004: Vote yes on Prop 2001, The Space Review (Jeff Foust/Futron)
"The tests take one of the cells from the egg. If instead using the cell for genetic tests, the cell could be used to start a new line of stem cells. The procedure would be no more destructive than existing testing. A case can be made that it is the moral equivalent of a bone marrow transplant or a kidney transplant."
Editor's note: As a biologist I just shuddder when I see people mangle basic concepts in biology. In this case, Sam Dinkin tries to explain stem cell biology and makes one error per sentence in so doing. He then tries to link his error-prone primer on stem cell research to legislation to promote launch research. Next time do a little research before you write, Sam.
7 November 2004: Next Space Race Under Way, 60 Minutes
"Rutan also won bragging rights over the space establishment, which he frequently criticizes for being inefficient and bureaucratic. "You know, I was wondering what they are feeling, 'they' being that other space agency," Rutan laughs. "And, uh... you know, quite frankly, I think the big guys, the Boeings, the Lockheeds, the nay-say people at Houston, I think they're looking at each other now, and saying, 'We're screwed!' Because, I'll tell you something, I have of a hell a lot bigger goal than they do!" He's already at work, designing the details."
6 November 2004: Spaceship team gets its $10 million prize, MSNBC
6 November 2004: Private Spaceship Designers Given $10M, AP
7 November 2004: Winners of X Prize get their reward, St.Louis Post Dispatch
"On Saturday, engineers were treated like rock stars. St. Louisans connected their past glory to a future legacy. And the winners in this generation's latest space race accepted a $10 million prize while promising a ticket to the heavens."