Commercialization: October 2006 Archives

Investing in the VSE

NASA Invests in Its Future With Venture Capital Firm, Washington Post

"Red Planet marks the first time that the federal government has started a venture capital fund for civilian purposes, but it is hardly a stretch. That is because a former president of the CIA-sponsored venture fund is Michael D. Griffin -- now the administrator of NASA."

Private Spaceflight Industry Drawing Private, NASA Capital,

"NASA is already talking to Virgin and the others about using their vehicles for both microgravity experiments and astronaut training. And the agency's interest in buying flights on the new vehicles extends beyond microgravity applications to using them for experiments in Earth's upper atmosphere as an analog for the thin atmosphere of Mars."

Editor's note: Not too long ago NASA was adamant that it did not want to see any presentations at technical conferences by Lockheed Martin about human-rating any of their Atlas launch vehicles. The reason was simple: this would conflict with NASA's plans. Now that they have won the CEV contract, and their announcement of a joint human-rating study with Bigelow Aerospace, Lockheed Martin seems to be much less shy about touting their capabiliies. See this page for details.

I wonder how many human-rated Atlas launchers NASA could buy for the same amount of money (still TBD) it will spend on developing the CLV - especially given all of the problems that the "Stick" has encountered. For that matter, how many Atlas- (or Delta-) derived HLVs could NASA buy for the money they will be spending on the CaLV? Meanwhile, industry sourcs note that ULA may soon be looking at human-rating options as well.

- CBO Report: Alternatives for Future U.S. Space-Launch Capabilities
- VSE Launchers: Why Recreate Something You Can Already Buy?, earlier post

Space Adventures' Orbital Client, Charles Simonyi, Prepares for March 2007 Spaceflight

"As a software pioneer and aviator, Dr. Simonyi brings his passion for flight and engineering to the international cooperative effort in space."

Editor's note: Check out his official website

GAO Report on Space Tourism

FAA Needs Continued Planning and Monitoring to Oversee the Safety of the Emerging Space Tourism Industry, GAO

"In response to emerging issues in the commercial space launch industry, such as the potential development of space tourism, FAA has developed safety regulations and training for agency employees. The industry has raised concerns about the costs of complying with regulations and about the flexibility of the regulations to accommodate launch differences."

ULA monopoly concerns misplaced, Cramer says, Decatur Daily

"Cramer, D-Huntsville, was in Decatur on Thursday to congratulate Boeing Co. employees for getting initial Federal Trade Commission approval for the ULA, a proposed joint venture that would consolidate Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing satellite launch production in the Decatur plant."

FTC OKs Boeing, Lockheed creation of United Launch Alliance, MarketWatch

"The FTC's order acknowledges that United Launch Alliance effectively will have a monopoly."

NASA Notice of proposed rulemaking: Cross-Waiver of Liability

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is proposing to amend part 1266 of Title 14 to update and ensure consistency in the use of cross-waiver of liability provisions in NASA agreements."

FAA Notice: Commercial Space Transportation - Waiver of License Requirement for Blue Origin's Pre-flight Preparatory Activities Conducted at a U.S. Launch site

"The FAA waived a requirement for Blue Origin, LLC (Blue Origin), to obtain a launch license for certain launch processing activities at West Texas Launch Site. Blue Origin is authorized to conduct suborbital rocket launches under Experimental Permit No. EP 06- 001, which was issued by the FAA on September 15, 2006."

X Prize Cup Update

A Final Commercial Frontier, Washington Post

"If the Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems program works, NASA will have a low-cost way to service the space station, freeing up money for exploration of the moon and Mars. Companies will get a lot of help developing the space vehicles of the future, which promise to lower the cost and increase the reliability of space travel. The help will consist of not just dollars but also the kind of expertise and access to facilities that only NASA can offer."

Agreement between NASA and The X Prize Foundation for the Lunar Analog Challenge

"The purpose of this Agreement is to establish collaboration between the Parties to conduct the Lunar Lander Analog Vehicle Challenge ("Challenge"), a technology demonstration competition resulting in monetary awards to the winning participants."

Editor's update: According to NASA sources, X Prize Cup has refused to allow NASA to webcast any of the event's activities. As a result of this refusal, NASA has now decided to not air any X Prize activity on NASA TV. X Prize officials called NASA on Wednesday of this week to inform them that they had signed a commerical partner for the webcast and that NASA was in no way allowed to put any of this material on its website.

You would think that these sort of issues would have been settled some time ago - not a day or so before the competition. This all goes back to the Space Act Agreement that was signed between NASA and the X Prize Foundation wherein NASA gave up complete media control to the X Prize Foundation. Apparently all parties within and outside of NASA were not on the same page as to what this really meant.

As it stands, the X Prize Cup now loses a substantial free global distribution of video coverage of the event - unless they can come to some agreement with NASA (not likely) - or buy satellite services - overnight. Meanwhile, television networks in Germany are angry since they had hoped to use the NASA TV feed to broadcast the event.

X Prize Comments by Mike Griffin

" ... "partnership" with NASA is not a synonym for "helping NASA spend its money". Just as with our international partnerships, I expect commercial and venture capital partners to have "skin in the game", contributing resources toward a common goal that is greater than that which could be easily afforded by NASA alone, while figuring out how to make a profit from it!"

Editor's update: The X Prize folks should take this advice under serious consideration given the way they botched TV and webcast issues with NASA.

Imaginova's Becomes Exclusive Online Syndicator of Wirefly X PRIZE Cup Content

"The Wirefly X PRIZE Cup announced today that Imaginova Corp.'s award-winning is the official exclusive syndicator of Wirefly X PRIZE Cup content over the Internet. The 3-year deal will bring Wirefly X PRIZE Cup news year-round to partners including, Yahoo!, and other leading news sites. ... There will be no other place online where the public can find live video streaming, video features, images, and exclusive stories about the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup."

Editor's note: How can the X Prize organization prevent - or make exclusive - news coverage of things such as the NASA-sponsored Lunar Lander Challenge Competition, the 2006 Beam Power Challenge, and the 2006 Tether Challenge - events sponsored with millions in tax dollars?

NASA KSC Solicitation: Institutional Base Support Restructure

"NASA KSC and the United States Air Force 45 Space Wing (45 SW) plan to conduct an industry day for the recently identified Institutional Base Support Restructure on November 15, 2006. ... Preliminarily we anticipate as many as 18 contracts for the following functions: NASA Protective Services, Air Force Security, Air Force Fire and Emergency Preparedness, NASA Infrastructure O&M, Air Force Infrastructure O&M, Medical/Environmental, IT & Communications, Custodial, Logistics, Propellants and Life Support, Mail, Technical Training, Airfield Services, Laboratories, Grounds, Refuse Disposal, Vehicle Ops, and Facility Modifications."

Frontiers of Flight Museum to Welcome Local Space Explorer Back to Earth, Prodea

"Anousheh wrote a blog at that invited readers to share her experience. The blog captured international attention, garnering more than 25 million hits and featuring about 500,000 comments from readers around the world."

Editor's note: If you go to the website, and look at all the postings that have been made, and add up the number of comments posted, you'll get a few thousand comments - at most. Certainly not 500,000. And if you go to the lower right hand corner of the webpage under "Space Blog Stats", as of the time of this posting, there have been 1,403,640 hits. That is no where close to 25,000,000.

NASA HQ Solicitation: Inside NASA Management and Operations

"This notice is provided as information only. NASA intends to award this effort on a sole-source basis to its FFRDC/JPL contractor. ... Statement of Work: The contractor shall provide support services for the management, design, development, and operations of the InsideNASA and NASA portal. These support services will include content creation, content management, infrastructure operations, user support, system engineering, security and integration with other NASA IT components."

Northrop Grumman to Sponsor Lunar Lander Challenge

"The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will be staged for the first time on Oct. 20-21 at the Las Cruces International Airport, Las Cruces, N.M. as part of the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup space exposition."

CBO Report: Alternatives for Future U.S. Space-Launch Capabilities, Congressional Budget Office

"In considering manned lunar missions, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) explored alternatives that would use existing launch vehicles; those that would require minor modifications to the designs of existing launchers (termed "close derivatives"); as well as those that would call for major modifications to existing vehicle designs to develop essentially new and much more capable launchers."

Rutan's Predictions

Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards 2006

"What's ahead in space travel?

[Burt] Rutan: I believe in its first 12 years, the ship I'm building in the shop can fly 100,000 people. And when you fly that many people to space, you'll have somebody figure out things to do that we don't even know about."

Neiman Marcus gift book offers space flight, BMW, Reuters

"Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus may have the perfect gift idea for the loved one who wants to get away from it all: a space trip that includes a spectacular view of Earth and a chance to experience weightlessness."

Resistance Is Futile

Rocket Monopoly Approved - Boeing-Lockheed Alliance Likely to Increase Costs, Washington Post

"Monopolies almost always lead to higher prices, lower quality and inferior services," Michael R. Moiseyev, assistant director of the FTC's bureau of competition, said in a July letter that was made public yesterday. "Here, the competition that would be lost is significant, and the economic benefits that may materialize are unlikely to trump the transaction's harm to competition."

FTC Gives Clearance To United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin

United Launch Alliance Joint Rocket Venture Cleared by Federal Trade Commission, Boeing

FTC OKs Boeing, Lockheed creation of United Launch Alliance, MarketWatch

"The FTC's order acknowledges that United Launch Alliance effectively will have a monopoly. The U.S. government is the only major customer for medium- and heavy-lift rocket launches, and Boeing and Lockheed are the only companies that currently provide such services. "The commission's proposed consent order does not attempt to remedy the loss of direct competition between Boeing and Lockheed Martin," the FTC said, citing the Pentagon's support for the deal on national security grounds. The agency said the commission's vote was unanimous."



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

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