Commercialization: December 2007 Archives

Russia sees end of road for space tourism, AFP

"Space tourists may have to seek alternative transport after 2009 due to a lack of room on the Russian capsule serving the International Space Station, Russia's space agency chief said Thursday. "It has to do with international agreements that stipulate that from 2009 the (ISS) crew must be made up of six people if Japanese and European scientific modules are launched," said Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov."

Rocketplane still on track for launch, The Journal Record

"Founded in 2001, the project touted the ability to eventually send civilian travelers into space on suborbital flights for those willing to pay a price nearing several hundred thousand dollars for a trip. Rocketplane opened its Oklahoma City office in 2004. The company is led by CEO George French. Subsequent tax credits by the Oklahoma Tax Commission is 2004 amounted to $18 million in transferable credits. In addition NASA committed to more than $200 million with several strings attached. So far, Rocketplane has not lived up to its requirements set forth by NASA. In addition, the company sold its state tax credits in an effort to fund its suborbital spacecraft. Financial problems have also led to cutbacks and layoffs at the company."

Editor's note: If I read this article the way it is written I get the impression that NASA is providing $200 million to support a space tourism project. That's news to me. Or does this represent confusion on someone's part between Rockeplane's suborital space tourism project and Rocketplane Kistler's COTS activities?

Reader note: "You seem to get answers... So... With all of the recent interest in COTS and NASA's attempt at commercialization, why is it that at JSC, they don't even have a website linked to the main JSC organization chart??

http://www6.jsc.nasa.gov/orglist/scripts/structure/orglist/index2.cfm

QA - Commercial Crew & Cargo Program Office [No website]

Furthermore, here's the list of personnel in QA at JSC.[below] In my opinion, that's not a whole lot of folks dedicated to the pursuit of commercialization."

More COTS News

Space Florida to assist PlanetSpace with NASA bid, Orlando Business Journal

"Space Florida has agreed to assist PlanetSpace in its efforts to develop an orbital launch facility at Cape Canaveral. The facility, which could provide up to 346 new jobs, is part of PlanetSpace's attempt to develop commercial orbital transportation services as part of a request for proposals issued by NASA. The project would include manufacturing, training and research and development facilities expected to generate an economic impact of $313 million annually to the state."

Altair Items Now For Sale

Editor's note: Altair logo- themed T-shirts, coffee mugs, sweatshirts, polo shirts - and wall clocks -

- now on sale.

SpaceX Moves Ahead With COTS

SpaceX Successfully Completes NASA Systems Requirements Review for Dragon Spacecraft Demonstration to Berth at International Space Station (with video animation)

"Under COTS, SpaceX will conduct three Falcon 9 / Dragon flights, demonstrating the ability to approach, berth, and ultimately deliver cargo to the $100 billion International Space Station (ISS), and return cargo to Earth. On this third demonstration, the Dragon spacecraft will approach the ISS and hold its position nearby. Then, according to the SpaceX plan, a robotic arm on the station will capture Dragon and guide it to a berthing port on the Harmony module."

Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany Consolidated Appropriations Amendment Division B--Commerce, Justice, Science

"The amended bill provides $160,000,000 for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which is intended to demonstrate private sector technologies that could potentially resupply the International Space Station in the future. However, the Appropriations Committees note that one of the two COTS contracts is currently in dispute, and are concerned by NASA's recent decision to re-compete the disputed contract before all challenges have been resolved. In doing so, NASA could potentially create a liability to fund three proposals instead of two as originally envisioned, increasing the costs of this program to the taxpayers. Therefore, NASA is directed not to select a new contractor until all challenges are decided. Further, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is directed to perform a full review of COTS program expenditures and management."

Boeing: Most Ares I Avionics Work To Be Done In N Alabama, AP

"The Boeing Company (BA) said northern Alabama will be the home base for much of its work on a guidance system for the Ares I rocket, the new spacecraft being built to take Americans back to the moon and beyond. On Wednesday, NASA awarded a $799 million contract for the avionics work to Boeing, which is expected to bring scores of jobs to Huntsville, home of the Marshall Space Flight Center."

Dr. William 'Red' Whittaker and Raytheon Company Collaborate to Pursue Google Lunar X Prize, Astrobotic Technology

"Astrobotic is planning for Raytheon to begin work on a contract basis with the scope of Raytheon's work to be expanded upon completion of certain financing goals by Astrobotic. It is anticipated that 15 or more professional engineers from Raytheon will be devoted to the Astrobotic lunar program. Dr. Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics, Director of the Field Robotics Center, and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University."

Editor's note: Word has it that the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is looking to partner with Carnegie-Mellon and Raytheon in a Google Lunar X-Prize bid. Word to proceed with planning awaits the approval of the University's upper management in the next few weeks. A final decision to proceed with the project would be made in late March 2008.

Investing In Space Biz

Money In Space, Aviation Week

"The third installment this year of the Space Investment Summit was held Dec. 5-6 in San Jose, in the heart of the Silicon Valley. It mixed some big names - Boeing, EADS Astrium, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Space Systems/Loral and United Space Alliance - with venture capitalists."

A Secret No Longer

Atlas V Poised for NRO Secret Mission, Aviation Week

"A secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) spacecraft is poised for launch Dec. 10-11 from Cape Canaveral on board a U.S. Air Force Atlas V rocket. Details emerging about the mission indicate that the Atlas V will launch a Boeing Satellite Data System (SDS) type relay satellite."

Mojave Air and Space Port in danger of losing designation, Antelope Valley Press

"The nation's first inland spaceport could lose that designation by the end of the year. The Federal Aviation Administration informed officials at the Mojave Air and Space Port of its intention to suspend or revoke the space launch site operator's license Dec. 31. "I have no reason to be optimistic we're going to keep our spaceport license," said General Manager Stu Witt, reporting on the issue to the East Kern Airport District board of directors Tuesday. The district governs the Mojave Air and Space Port. At issue are questions by the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation regarding the facility's plans for safely storing and handling the energetic chemicals used by rocket companies."

History Making Mission For Google Lunar X PRIZE Competition Unveiled by Odyssey Moon

"San Jose, CA, December 6th, 2007 - The first team to complete registration for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE unveiled its plans today at the Space Investment Summit in San Jose, California. Representatives of Odyssey Moon announced their plans to make history with the first private robotic mission to the surface of the Moon and their intent to win the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. Odyssey Moon's inaugural mission will involve a unique small robotic lander designed to deliver scientific, exploration and commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon."

NASA Set to Announce Final Major Ares I Contract

"NASA will host a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m. EST to announce the selection of a contractor for the upper stage instrument unit avionics for the Ares I rocket. The avionics unit is the central system that provides guidance, navigation and control for the launch vehicle during ascent as it carries the Orion spacecraft to low Earth orbit."

SpaceX Moves Ahead

SpaceX chief eyes public offering in 2 years, Reuters

"[Musk] said SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket had been selected by an unspecified U.S. government client over Lockheed's Atlas 5 for a launch, but declined to give details. Two test firings of the Falcon 1 rocket, designed for light satellite lifts, have failed to reach orbit, but the second attempt validated the riskiest and most difficult parts of its new design, the company has said."

Start Your Rocket Engines

NASA and NASCAR: Together at Last, Wired

"Eleven years after The Onion published their epic satirical story "NASA, NASCAR Merge," NASA and NASCAR officials have announced that the December 6th, 2007 Shuttle flight will carry the green starter flags for the 50th anniversary running of the Daytona 500. (NASA will also be turning 50 in 2008.)"


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from December 2007.

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