Commercialization: March 2007 Archives

RocketPlane Kistler and NASA Sign Space Act Agreement To Assemble the COTS K-1 Space Transportation System in New Orleans

"Rocketplane Kistler, Inc. (RpK) announced today that a Space Act Agreement (SAA) has been established with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to use NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, LA for the assembly of the K-1 Space Transportation System."

The Big Picture

NASA Multi-Program Integrated Milestones Revised 27 March 2007

This document contains an integrated snapshot of Space Shuttle, Soyuz, Progress, ATV, HTV, COTS (RpK and SpaceX), Ares 1, and Orion flights between 2007 and 2015.

This document also shows key milestones for the development of Orion and Ares 1 systems as ISS completion and staffing.

Boeing Announces Industry Team for Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle Upper Stage Production

"Boeing will lead a team of suppliers in pursuit of a contract for production of the upper stage for the Ares I crew launch vehicle, NASA's first new human-rated launch vehicle since the space shuttle. Ares I, which will transport the Orion crew exploration vehicle to low Earth orbit, is an essential element of the nation's space exploration program that will return astronauts to the moon no later than 2020. Boeing suppliers include ..."

Zero Gravity Corporation and Sharper Image to Sell Weightless Flights to the Public

"Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights, announced today that the Sharper Image Corporation (NASDAQ: SHRP) will exclusively market and sell seats on ZERO-G's public flights. Reservations for seats on the ZERO-G Experience will be made available through Sharper Image's 187 specialty-retail stores, their monthly catalog and www.sharperimage.com beginning May 15."

If New Mexico Builds It, Will Space Travelers Come?, Washington Post

"Come April 3, the voters of this sun-baked area near the Mexican border will have an unusual question to answer: Are they happy enough as home to some hardy cotton and chile farmers, a branch of the state university and a growing population of retirees from up north? Or do they want quite literally to blast into a very different future?"

Rcket Revelations, Cosmiclog, MSNBC

"Rumblings from online and offline grapevines are filling in the gaps in three sagas of space ventures: The usually secretive Blue Origin conductedwhat's said to be asuccessful test of its vertical-launch rocket system. ... The usually wide-open SpaceX is providing further details about its own almost successful orbital test launch. ... And Rocketplane Kistler has provided some additional hints about Bigelow Aerospace's not-yet-public plan for setting up an orbital tourist destination by 2012."

Editor's note: Clark Lindsey is blogging live

SpaceX Post-flight Comments Regarding Second Falcon 1 Launch

"The second test launch of Falcon 1 took place today at 6:10 pm California time. The launch was not perfect, but certainly pretty good. Given thatthe primary objectives weredemonstrating responsive launch and gathering test data in advance of our first operational satellite launch later this year, the outcome was great. Operationally responsive (ie fast) launch has become an increasingly important national security objective, so demonstrating rapid loading of propellents and launch in less than an hour, as well as a rapid recycle following the first engine ignition are major accomplishments."

Launch Video (SpaceX)

Space Florida and Zero Gravity Corp. Partner to Launch Microgravity Education and Research Center

"Space Florida, the new state agency charged with promoting Florida's space industry, and Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G(R)), announces the creation of the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center, designed to facilitate Florida teacher and student space education and aerospace microgravity research expertise. The center will be the first-of-its kind by any state in providing the breadth and depth of academic and research capability to perform microgravity research and education programs."

Flying high on scientific fun, New Zealand Herald

"So enthralled was Steve Chrystall with the "Northrop Grumman Weightless Flights of Discovery programme" that he is now urging New Zealand students to apply to go to the United States space camp - the programme's base - this winter. Mr Chrystall said two students could be selected for sponsorship of the camp through the Royal Society of New Zealand, a national academy of science."

Dragon Details Posted

SpaceX Posts New Details of Dragon Spacecraft

"The Dragon spacecraft is a pressurized capsule used for Earth to LEO transport of pressurized cargo, unpressurized cargo, and/or crew members. Initiated internally by SpaceX in 2005, Dragon will be utilized to fulfill our NASA COTS contract for demonstration of cargo re-supply of the ISS. The Dragon capsule is comprised of 3 main elements: the Nosecone, which protects the vessel and the docking adaptor during ascent; the Pressurized Section, which houses the crew and/or pressurized cargo; and the Service Section, which contains avionics, the RCS system, parachutes, and other support infrastructure."

Stone Aerospace Announces Formation of a Company to Establish a Commercial Refueling Station in Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

"On March 10, 2007, at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference in Monterey, California, Dr. Bill Stone presented a briefing entitled "Pushing the Limits of Exploration on Earth and in Space" to over 900 attendees. In the briefing, Stone announced his intent to be the first explorer to lead an industrial team to the moon to explore for water and other fuels, and, if found in sufficient quantity, process the fuels on the moon, then transfer them to a low Earth orbit (LEO) refueling station. The commercial enterprise will provide a variety of fuels and life support compounds, such as water, liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen, gaseous oxygen and hydrogen, and potentially nitrogen and methane at market prices to space farers on a first come, first serve basis."

Google Guys Make Giving Glamorous, SJ Mercury News

"The whole idea of the X PRIZE is rewarding innovation and science, which is something we don't do enough of in society,'' said George Harik, one of Google's earliest employees. Harik, who is now an angel investor, was one of two winners to bid $160,000 for eight minutes of weightlessness. Anne Wojcicki, a bio-tech entrepreneur who is Sergey Brin's longtime companion, was the other winner."

Las Vegas Welcomes Its Most Unique Attraction Yet: Weightless Flights By Zero Gravity Corporation

"Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G(R)), the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights, will launch regular flights from Las Vegas for the general public beginning April 21. ZERO-G delivers the only commercial opportunity on Earth for individuals to experience true "weightlessness" without going to space."

The Teflon myth and other `inventions' from NASA, Newhouse News

"Mention Teflon, Velcro, Tang or personal computers, and the conversation often will turn to how NASA inventions during the Apollo years contributed to a better life on Earth. But the right stuff of invention wasn't always mothered by NASA. In many cases, credit goes to American industry. ... Today it's hard to beat the myths back, and there still is no real incentive for NASA to set the record straight, said Keith Cowing, who operates the Web site NASA Watch. "NASA has no need to correct people who are speaking good about it when there are so many that want to speak ill about it," he said."

The Space Cowboys, Time

"The hyperentrepreneurial Branson, 56, has an unlimited appetite for outlandish promotional stunts, but launching the space-tourism industry with him on board the first Virgin Galactic flight would be tough to top. He is so confident, he plans to take his two kids, his 91-year-old dad and his 88-year-old mother with him. A Virgin Galactic prototype is taking shape on a hangar floor in California's Mojave Desert. New Mexico is negotiating leases with Virgin for its proposed spaceport, where space tourists could do some preflight vacationing. Designer Philippe Starck has been retained to add chic to Virgin Galactic plane interiors, hotels and spaceports. And despite the ticket price, sales are already closed for the first group of 100 passengers, called the Founders. "I'm absolutely sure that millions of people want to go into space," says Branson, "and it's up to us to make it affordable for those people."

NASA: Enhanced Use Leasing Program Needs Additional Controls. GAO-07-306R, March 1.

"While each demonstration center has mechanisms to ensure that EUL agreements provide benefit, beyond rent, to NASA and fair market consideration is received for all property, we found that the agency does not have adequate controls in place to ensure accountability and transparency and to protect the government. For example, the agency has not established measures of effectiveness or criteria for determining whether EUL represents the best economic value to the government. In terms of financial accountability, we found weaknesses that hamper accountability and transparency."

Professor Stephen Hawking to Experience Weightlessness Aboard Zero-Gravity Flight Out of Kennedy Space Center on April 26, 2007

"Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), announced today that Prof. Stephen Hawking, the world renowned physicist and expert on gravity, will fly weightless on The ZERO-G Experience on April 26, 2007. The flight will take off from the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida."

Stephen Hawking to go weightless in April, MSNBC
Stephen Hawking Plans Prelude to the Ride of His Life, NY Times
Weightless Over Cleveland - Part 1: Floating Teachers, SpaceRef
Weightless Over Cleveland - Part 2: Learning to Fly, SpaceRef


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