Commercialization: August 2006 Archives

Lockheed Wins Contract to Build NASA's New Spaceship, Washington Post

"But it was blamed for the 1999 disappearance of the Mars Climate Orbiter, which vanished into space or burned up in the Mars atmosphere after Lockheed engineers incorrectly programmed it using English rather than metric units. When the Genesis space capsule crashed in 2004, NASA said it was because of errors in designs prepared by the company. Lockheed's earlier effort to build a shuttle replacement -- the X-33 "space plane" -- was canceled in 2001 after it ran into technological and cost problems."

Lockheed Martin Wins NASA Contract, AP

"The last time NASA awarded a manned spaceship contract to Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., was in 1996 for a spaceplane that was supposed to replace the space shuttle. NASA spent $912 million and the ship, called X-33, never got built because of technical problems. Lockheed Martin Vice President John Karas said his company will succeed with Orion compared to its failure with X-33, because "we're not shooting as far... I'd say it (Orion) is within reach."

Editor's note: somehow this comment by Mr. Karas just doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

Lockheed Martin wins CEV contract, Orlando Sentinel

"Sources on Capitol Hill tell the Orlando Sentinel that Lockheed Martin has won the contract to build the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle that will eventually carry astronauts to the moon and on to Mars.

More details will be posted here after a 4 p.m. press conference."

NASA Selects Lockheed Martin To Be Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle Prime Contractor

"DDT&E work is estimated to occur from Sept. 8, 2006, through Sept. 7, 2013. The estimated value is $3.9 billion.

Sustaining engineering work will be assigned through task orders. The work is expected to occur from Sept. 8, 2009, through Sept. 7, 2019, with an estimated value of $750 million, if all options are exercised."

CEV Announcement

NASA Announces Contractor for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

"NASA Exploration Systems' managers will host a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 31, to announce the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America's next human spacecraft.."

Editor's 30 Aug 10:48 pm EDT note: According to an eyewitness, they are painting the grass green at the Northrop Grumman buildings in El Segundo. Apparently, this only happens on the eve of winning a very big contract so that a better TV backdrop is available. The last time this happened was when Northrop Grumman won the NPOESS contract.

Editor's note: Well, we're only hours away from NASA's announcement of the CEV winner(s). Rumours, of course, are swirling about who might win. I've heard nothing (yet) which is remotely reliable about who might win. None the less, here is a compilation of what I have been hearing as to how the selection might be handled:

  1. Either Northrop Grumman/Boeing or Lockheed Martin will be picked for everything.
  2. Both companies will get a piece of the action either by:
    • Dividing things into a prime/subcontractor arrangement spread across the CEV command and service modules.
    • Select one contractor to develop the command module and the other to develop the service module.

The Mars Landing Space Technology Helps to Locate and Remove Deadly Landmines Covering the Earth

"This technology was the key component that contributed to the 2nd successful Mars landing with the Beagle II and will be used by TaeCorp in its Aerial Landmine System."

Editor's note: "2nd successful Mars landing with the Beagle II"? I am not sure how this could be true since Beagle II crashed - the first time. As such, I am not so certain that I'd trust this technology to clear landmines.

Editor's note: Rick Tumlinson, co-Founder of the Space Frontier Foundation, appears today on CNBC television at 1:40PM Eastern/10:40AM Pacific. He'll be discussing public vs. private sector space transportation.

Editor's note: Many have observed that NASA is trying to recreate the capabilities already present - or easily obtainable - from private sector launch vehicles so as to implement the VSE. Specifically, capabilities exist in EELVs (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) for which taxpayers have already spent billions of dollars to develop. COTS is a step in the right direction, but some feel that NASA could do much, much more in utilizing existing private sector launch capabilities.

NASA Solicitation: Survey of Program Office Size, Structure, and Practices

"This procurement is to develop a questionnaire and survey between 30 and 50 diverse corporations for information on program office size, structure, organization, and practices, and to develop a series of algorithms that might be useful in sizing future program offices. ... There are no alternative sources that have established and sustained a knowledge-sharing network with such diverse corporate entities to support the development of benchmarks of program management practices, structures, and size across multiple industries."

Editor's note: Oh C'mon. There are "no alternative sources" anywhere? This sounds like someone responding to an action item. NASA seems to spend more time on these studies about how other organizations do things than they do on the actual rocket science work they are supposed to do in the first place. Most of these studies end up being shelved or ignored. Scott Horowitz's use of the NESC - supposedly an independent safety center - to rehabilitate spacecraft designs - clearly ignores the original intent of the NESC.

Daisuke Enomoto Grounded

Japan space tourist cedes rocket seat to US woman, Reuters

"Ansari will be the world's third space tourist. U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Tito pioneered space tourism, flying to the ISS in April 2001. He was followed by South African Mark Shuttleworth in April 2002."

Editor's note: Gee, what about Greg Olsen?

NASA RFI: Crew Launch Vehicle Upper Stage Notice of Intent: Ares I Upper Stage Production and Ares I Instrument Unit Solicitations

NASA RFI: Ares I Upper Stage RFI Update August 2006

"The planning for the development and production of the Ares I (previously Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV)) Upper Stage continues and the following information is provided to assist Industry in planning for upcoming acquisitions."

Editor's note: Meanwhile, ESMD AA Scott Horowitz has been using the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) at LaRC as an ad hoc Skunk Works to try and rehabilitate CLV and CEV designs that his "Smart Buyer" and engineering teams at JSC and MSFC have already found to have serious flaws. Most concerns focus on the "Stick". Stay tuned, doubts not withstanding, CEV contractor selection is still on track for 7 September 2006.

COTS Winners Announced

NASA Selects Crew and Cargo Transportation to Orbit Partners

"NASA selected SpaceX, El Segundo, Calif. and Rocketplane-Kistler, Oklahoma City, to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services that could open new markets and pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station.

NASA and the two companies signed Space Act Agreements that establish milestones and objective criteria to assess their progress throughout Phase 1 of the competition. Once a capability is demonstrated, NASA plans to purchase crew and cargo delivery services competitively in Phase 2."

Delgado Named NASA's Small Business Assistant Administrator

"NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale announced Tuesday Glenn A. Delgado has been appointed the assistant administrator for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization."

Rockets 101

NASA ESMD Commercial Space Vehicles Lessons Learned Workshop

"NASA is preparing to release information from the last 50 years that will enable and aid the private sector in building future space vehicles. You are invited to a special gathering to share with NASA what you consider to be the highest value information we can provide to you. Representatives from large and small firms are invited. We anticipate 100 companies will be represented at this conference, and would like to count you among them."

COTS Announcement

NASA Announces Crew and Cargo Transportation Partners

"NASA Exploration Systems' managers will host a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 18, to announce the organizations selected to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services. The services could pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station."

Editor's note: Have a look at U.S. Patent 6,962,310:

Inventors: Bigelow; Robert T. (Las Vegas, NV): An inflatable satellite bus is claimed for use with a mission payload. The inflatable satellite bus is comprised of a core adapted to receive a mission payload. There is an expandable shell attached to the core and substantially enclosing the core. The core has an attitude control device and a power system attached to the core and operated by a controller.

NASA JSC Solicitation: Constellation Space Suit System (CSSS)

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)/Johnson Space Center (JSC) may issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the design, development, certification, production, and sustaining engineering of a space suit system to meet the needs of the Constellation Program. Industry is invited to submit a response to this inquiry to assist NASA in the planning for the Constellation Space Suit System (CSSS) acquisition development. The contemplated CSSS procurement is not a follow-on effort to any existing contract. The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. See Note 26."

Bad News for Dnepr

"A manufacturing defect could have caused a Dnepr launch vehicle carrying 18 satellites, to crash into an unpopulated area in Kazakhstan on July 27."

We'll Try And Do Better

Boeing vows better ethics at U.S. Senate hearing, Reuters

"Boeing Co. Chief Executive James McNerney told lawmakers on Tuesday he was determined to build "one of the most robust ethics and compliance programs in corporate America" after paying $615 million to settle two high-profile criminal investigations."

NASA HQ Solicitation: Leadership Development and Executive Coaching

"NASA/HQ has a requirement for accountability and improving performance to mission success. Through collaborating efforts NASA has developed a leadership development, fellowship, and executive coaching program. The present model contains highly confidential data and analysis."


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

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