Commercialization: January 2006 Archives

Boeing agrees to contract with rocket workers, Reuters

"Boeing Co. said on Monday it agreed to a tentative contract with about 1,500 striking machinists at its rocket unit plants, who are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers."

FAA AA for Commercial Space Transportation Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Conduct Public Scoping Meetings

"This Notice provides information to Federal, State, and localagencies, affected Native American tribes, and other interested persons regarding the FAA's intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the New Mexico Economic Development Department's (NMEDD's) proposal to develop and operate a commercial launch site near Upham, New Mexico."

The Sword, the Ploughshare and the Pocketbook, Space Frontier Foundation

"... Not so for space. Unlike air travel, where the overlapping needs of the two cultures have continued to support each other from the very beginning, human spaceflight has been in the hands of a third player - NASA - since its inception. And NASA's needs unfortunately have little in common with the needs of military, commercial or other civil agencies.In fact, embryonic programs started or under way in the military were canceled or moved into NASA, in the interests of consolidation perhaps, and of course, turf. And why not have it all under one roof? After all, it was all about putting people in space, wasn't it?

No, it wasn't, and it isn't."

Robert R. Asprey Has Died

Robert R. Asprey (death notice), Huntsville Times

Reader note: "Bob was an angel investor in many space start up companies such as Space America, Pioneer Rocketplane, and SkyCorp Incorporated. Bob had a dream that one day we would go out and mine some asteroids! He was a great engineer and was one of the original inventors of the Keyboard/Video/Mouse switch."

Confusing Messages From NASA

They Came From Outer Space!, NASA HQ

"You'll find many space-developed or improved products literally at arm's reach -- like in your kitchen, for instance."

Washington Metropolitan Area Media Invited to Lean More About Local Nanotechnology Challenges and Possibilities, NASA GSFC

"In the years ahead, nanotechnology advancements for NASA will lead to plastics that are many times stronger and significantly lighter. Astronaut monitoring systems at the nano level may be used to detect cancer or for at-home health monitoring. Even fuel cells in the emerging hydrogen economy likely will use nanotechnology."

Editor's note: I am a little confused. This sort of "spin-off", non-human exploration research on ISS (and on the ground) is being halted across the agency. Contractors at other NASA centers (ARC, GRC, MSFC, LaRC) who worked in areas such as this have been laid off and civil servants have put on other tasks. The rationale being either there is not enough money and/or NASA is now focused only on sending humans to the moon as part of the VSE. As such, what does any of this GSFC nanotechnology work have to do with the VSE? And if there is a connection, why does GSFC get to do this stuff while it is being erased everywhere else? In addition, if NASA is not going to fund this sort of stuff any more, why does it continue to hype spinoffs on its main home page? Shouldn't there be a public notice that funding for this sort of work is being discontinued? A little consistency, please.

Remarks by NASA Administrator Griffin at the National Society of Professional Engineers Professional Development Conference

"As a central organizing principle of our work, and despite the fact that 80% of our total funding goes to industry and will continue to do so, I firmly believe that it must be NASA and its engineering staff, and not our contractors, who will assume the primary responsibility for making this program work. We are undertaking a multi-generational program of sustained exploration, and we must ask where our intellectual capital should reside. Should it be outside the government in the hands of a prime contractor whose interests may change over the years?"

COTS Solicitation Released

NASA Seeks Proposals for Crew and Cargo Transportation to Orbit

"NASA is challenging U.S. industry to establish capabilities and services that can open new space markets and support the crew and cargo transportation needs of the International Space Station. For the first time, NASA is seeking non-government vehicles and commercial services to provide crew and cargo transportation for human space flight."

Bush wants $55 million to spend on space programs, Gannett News Service

"To complement recommendations from his commission on space, Gov. Jeb Bush is asking the Legislature to approve a $55 million space agenda. The largest share -- $35 million -- is money Bush promised contractors privately in December as part of what Florida could do to land NASA's intended shuttle replacement, the Crew Exploration Vehicle."

Editor's note: Too little, too late.

Venture Capitalist Update

NASA JSC Solicitation Amendment: Venture Capitalist Consulting Services

"Respondents should quote a price based on the total time required for the period of performance.For example, an average of 24 hours a week, including time traveling, for 34 weeks. We are buying a number of hours, not a number of people."

NASA Wants a Venture Capitalist, earlier post

Brewster Shaw named as Boeing NASA Systems leader

"Brewster Shaw has been selected as vice president and general manager of the Boeing NASA Systems business unit. Shaw replaces Mike Mott who passed away in November 2005. Shaw was Chief Operating Officer of United Space Alliance (USA) just prior to this assignment and had primary responsibility for the operations and overall management of USA, the prime contractor for the Space Shuttle Program. Shaw was named to this position in 2003."

Editor's note: This is just plain silly. NASA just signed a multi-year logistics and crew transport agreement for the ISS with Russia. Europe and Japan have ISS cargo carriers under development - some of which use Russian technology. Yet NASA manages to come up with some ITAR fetish with regard to cargo transport access to the very same INTERNATIONAL Space Station - using the very same interfaces that their INTERNATIONAL partners use? Mike Griffin needs to go back to the drawing board on this one. There is zero imagination - and seemingly minimal committment to true commercialization at work here.

Editor's update: Someone@nasa.gov sent some explanatory comments about this project library (see below)

Boeing-Lockheed Venture Advances, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

"The Pentagon has given preliminary approval to a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. for military-rocket launches, endorsing a rare monopoly that could set a precedent for defense contractors facing slower military spending, said industry and government officials. After seven months of deliberations and some false starts, the companies have convinced the Pentagon of the venture's projected cost savings, these officials said."

NASA Special Announcement For Commercial Orbital Transportation Services

"Due to the significant number of questions and comments received on the draft announcement and the pending resolution of key legal items in the draft Space Act Agreement, the final announcement soliciting COTS proposals is expected to be released on or about January 18. The revised due date for proposals will be provided in the final announcement."

Human Space Flight Requirements for Crew and Space Flight Participants; Proposed Rule

"SUMMARY: The FAA proposes requirements for human space flight of crew and space flight participants as required by the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004. If adopted, this rulemaking would establish requirements for crew qualifications, training, and notification. It would also establish training and informed consent requirements for space flight participants. The rulemaking would also modify existing financial responsibility requirements to account for the FAA's new authority for space flight participants and crew, and to issue experimental permits."

Editor's update: Go here and type in 23449 and you can see what people think about these proposed regulations.

XM and Audiovox Introduce XM Passport, the Miniature Tuner , XM Satellite Radio

"The XM Passport measures only 1.3 inches wide, 1.65 inches long, 0.44 inches thick, yet this miniature cartridge contains the entire XM radio tuner needed to deliver XM Satellite Radio to a wide array of XM Ready products. The XM Passport is approximately 40 times smaller than the original trunk mount XM radio tuners introduced just four years ago."

Editor's note: With all this talk of late about giant heavy lift boosters, upper stages, etc. - all design solutions dictated by government employees to industry, I certainly hope that some part of NASA remains 'open source' with regard to other ways to solve problems and receptive to the startling pace of innovations that emerge from the competitive private sector environment. Right now NASA seems to be doing all of the talking - and not much listening. Not a good sign. Imagine what this little satellite radio tuner would look like if NASA designed it.


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from January 2006.

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