Commercialization: July 2006 Archives

Reserving Space

Pioneering space tourism company depends on clients to create buzz, AP

"More than 60,000 people have registered to fly with Virgin Galactic since 2004, but only about 200 have paid full or partial deposits totaling about $16.4 million, according to the company. That money is refundable if flights, which would have six passengers and two crew, never take off. Its competitor, Virginia-based Space Adventures, which brokered three tourist flights to the international space station, has more than 200 reservations, but only $3 million in escrow. Oklahoma-based Rocketplane Kistler declined to disclose sales figures."

Editor's note: According to Memorial Spaceflights "A public memorial service honoring James Doohan, L. Gordon Cooper and all of the participants of the Legacy Flight will be held on October 20th at a location near the launch site. Everyone is invited to share in this important, historic space mission and compose a message of tribute which will be included on board the spacecraft. Please click on the links at left to submit your message of tribute!"

Unaffordable and Unsustainable: NASA's Failing Earth-to-orbit Transportation Strategy - A Policy White Paper of the Space Frontier Foundation

"In developing this strategy, NASA has apparently ignored key elements of the White House's Space Exploration Policy and several critical recommendations of the President's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy ("President's Commission"). Instead of planning its exploration transportation in a way that maximizes economic (and national security) benefit, NASA is working with its incumbent contractors to develop a series of government-designed and owned space exploration transportation systems to service ISS as well as explore the Moon."

Comments? Send them to Your comments thus far:

Editor's update: The solid rocket motor and microlander propulsion system notices have been cancelled. No reason has been given.

NASA to Partner With AirLaunch LLC on Small Satellite Development, NASA ARC

"NASA Ames will become a West Coast 'space portal' for affordable small satellites and other scientific and commercial payloads," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA Ames. "A small commercial launch vehicle may be a very attractive approach for providing affordable, responsive launch capabilities for bio-tech, lunar and other small spacecraft payloads of interest to NASA and commercial users."

  • NASA ARC Solicitation: Space-Qualified Solid Rocket Motor
  • NASA ARC Solicitation: Micro-Lander Propulsion System
  • NASA Cosponsors Space 2006 Conference in Silicon Valley
  • Bigelow Spacecraft Carries NASA 'GeneBox' for Tests in Orbit
  • A Look Inside Genesis I

    Images from Inside Bigelow Aerospace's Genesis I Released

    "These are interior photos from a portion of the Genesis I spacecraft currently in orbit. The images are a small sample of what we hope to produce in the "Fly Your Stuff" program. The blurred images are actual photos and items in flight. As these are all preliminary samples, they DO NOT accurately reflect the quality of image we hope to produce."

    Editor's note: Apparently no one in the U.S. or Russia has approved the Space Adventures plan to sell EVAs from the ISS. According to this Roscosmos press release "information for The Media" (in Russian): "There have only been some discussions about the possibility for a non-professional to perform an EVA. There is a set of requirements in order to implement this task. One of the future space flight participants would like to do an EVA. But at current time he has not obtained the appropriate approvals from the experts."

  • NASA Is Unaware of Space Adventures' Commercial ISS Spacewalks, earlier post
  • Attendees at LV conferences see no boundaries for commerce, exploration, Review Journal

    "The Flamingo Las Vegas has become the unlikely epicenter of space-based commerce by hosting the third Lunar Commerce Executive Roundtable. The three-day event brought together 75 or so aerospace leaders, bankers and academics in a cooperative effort to develop new commercial applications and activities in space."

    Space Adventures Announces Spacewalk Option for Orbital Spaceflight Clients

    "Space Adventures, Ltd., the world's leading space experiences company, announced today that orbital spaceflight clients can now participate in a spacewalk during their stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Also known as an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), those clients interested in the spacewalk option have the availability to spend up to 1.5 hours outside of the space station."

    Virginia Firm Offers Spacewalks for $35M, AP

    "NASA, which has grudgingly accepted Russian-initiated space tourism, would not comment on the proposal."

    Editor's 10:50 am EDT note: I submitted a few questions on this topic (below) to NASA HQ PAO this morning. Someone from NASA HQ PAO promptly replied: "We have not been informed by any of our partners about an intention to sell spacewalks. So I really couldn't speculate on the rest of your questions. But on your fourth question, I would point out that, as you know, the space station partnership has procedures in place to review things like crew assignments, EVAs, and any other proposals."

    Fuel leak blamed for rocket failure, AP"The Falcon 1 rocket, built by Space Explorations Technologies, launched March 24 from the Pacific island of Kwajalein Atoll. But the fire caused the rocket to fail 34 seconds after liftoff, investigators found."

    NASA JSC Solicitation: Bridge to Future Competitions for Program Management Support Functions to the Constellation Program

    "The SPOC will be awarded as a sole source procurement under a Justification For Other Than Full and Open Competition (JOFOC) approved on September 13, 2004 to United Space Alliance (USA); and it is anticipated SPOC would contain a similar ordering provision for Constellation work. The period of performance for this effort under the SPOC will end September 30, 2010."

    Bigelow Spacecraft Carries NASA 'GeneBox' for Tests in Orbit, NASA ARC

    "During this mission, we are verifying this new, small spacecraft's systems and our procedures," said John Hines, the GeneBox project manager at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, where scientists and engineers designed and built GeneBox. "GeneBox is an example of a low-cost spacecraft model that we hope will provide a short turn-around time for scientists, is responsive to their needs and that we feel will contribute to the Vision for Space Exploration."

    Editor's note: I find it interesting to note that at the same time that NASA is abandoning much of the cutting edge space biology research that was planned for the ISS, that the private sector seems to be developing an interest in this research - aboard a private space station.

    More Genesis 1 Photos

    New Images from Bigelow Aerospace's Genesis I

    "Image 1: Genesis I with the Earth in the background. The module's orbit is coming from the dark side of the Earth into daylight. The arm on the right is a side view of a forward solar array.

    Image 2: The outer surface of the Genesis I's inflatable skin, including thermal insulation and debris protection."

    First Images From Space Of Genesis 1 Vehicle, Bigelow Aerospace

    "We have extracted from early quick look data a low resolution thumbnail image of the Genesis I vehicle which verifies the success of vehicle inflation and solar array deployment.

    At this point in time, the vehicle is happy and healthy."

    Bigelow Launches Prototype Space Habitat, earlier post

    Space tourist 'Dice-K' prepares to blast off, New Scientist

    "Previous reports have suggested that Enomoto plans to wear a red costume during his flight to emulate Char Aznable, a fighter pilot in the Japanese anime series Gundam."

    Editor's note: While on-orbit it would seem that Dice-K is going look like a cross between the cartoon character Calvin (i.e. Spaceman Spiff) and the 80's version of Michael Jackson. I wonder if he will transform into a giant robot during the mission and reboost the ISS. That would be so cool.

    Official website

    Congratulations Bigelow Aerospace!, Space Frontier Foundation

    "Small steps and giant leaps. That is what the opening of a frontier is all about," said the Foundation's Rick Tumlinson. "This small step towards the creation of an orbital station is actually part of a giant leap forward in the opening of space."

    Genesis I Mission Update 12 July 2006, Bigelow Aerospace

    "Aerospace mission control has begun to acquire information from the Genesis I spacecraft. The ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket has flawlessly delivered the Genesis I into the target orbit of 550km altitude at 64 degrees inclination. Bigelow Aerospace has received confirmation from the Genesis I spacecraft that it has successfully expanded. We have also confirmed that all of the solar arrays have been deployed."

    Inflatable space dreams, MSNBC
    Fly Your Stuff In Outer Space With Bigelow earlier post
    Bigelow's Gamble, Aviation Week

    Reader comment: While Bigelow deserves the credit, our government deserves the blame.

    NOAA: Next Steps to Strengthen Its Acquisition Function, GAO

    "NOAA is missing key elements that promote successful outcomes for complex developmental systems because it must adhere to Commerce's acquisition policies that do not support a knowledge-based approach. Without such an approach, the multibillion-dollar satellite investment that NOAA is in the early stages of acquiring is at a higher risk of not meeting program requirements."

    MDA Workers On Strike

    Engineers who develop Canada's space robotics are on strike

    "On June 21, for the first time in its 28 year history, the SPATEA (SPAR Professional and Allied Technical Employee's Association) has gone on strike."



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