Commercialization: April 2008 Archives

Winning the Water Problem, Islamica Magazine

"Having discovered that millions of Bangladeshis could be poisoned through arsenic in their drinking water, a non-profit foundation launched a prize for the man who could prevent the crisis. The prize was won by a Bengali chemist who has not only cleaned up the water, but also gave all of his million-dollar prize money away."

iShoe: NASA Technology Aids Senior Citizens, College Mogul

"The iShoe won't help senior citizens walk on the moon, but its NASA technology will help rehabilitate the wearer's ability to balance. The insole was originally developed for NASA to enable astronauts to balance in outer space, where it has been tested extensively by astronauts aboard the space shuttle and Mir space station. For $10, the piece of NASA technology is a steal. Especially since it not only helps to reduce falls, but automatically notifies caregivers by phone if a fall were to occur."

NASA, universities begin talks on research park, Mountain View Voice

"Local universities, lead by UC Santa Cruz, have begun formally discussing the creation of a major new campus at Moffett Field intended to conduct research on space travel. UCSC, Santa Clara University, the Foothill-De Anza College District and Carnegie Melon University have all signed a letter of intent with NASA Ames, with all of them seeking a major presence in the NASA Research Park planned for Moffett."

Bulldozers On The Moon

Click on image to enlarge

Cat shoots for the moon - Company teams with NASA to build habitats, roads on lunar surface, Journal Star

"Caterpillar and NASA - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - are getting closer to having the right earthmoving - er, moonmoving - equipment available to put on the moon in less than a decade to build habitats, roads and other infrastructure that could sustain life on the lunar surface. "We're pretty far along. I would say our partnership with Caterpillar is right on schedule," said Lucien Junkin, NASA's chief engineer of the Chariot project the two have been working on since 2006."

Editor's note: This is all very cool, but I can't seem to find the agreement or solicitation whereby this "partnership" between NASA and Caterpillar was put in place. Of course, it is certainly quite logicial for NASA to work with companies who already engage in many of the activities that will be performed on the moon. I am wondering why NASA has not made more public mention of this agreement and the interesting work it facilitates.

Video, Caterpillar (link is sometimes not functioning)

Editor's update: I have now learned that this partnership is the result of one of the NASA Innovative Partnership Programs (IPP) FY 07 Seed Fund awards.

NASA Ames Partners with m2mi for Small Satellite Development

"Under the terms of a cooperative research and development agreement, only the third in NASA's history, NASA Ames and m2mi will work together to develop very small satellites, called nanosats, for the commercialization of space."

Self-healing computers for NASA spacecraft, ZD Net

"As you can guess, hardwired computer systems are much faster than general-purpose ones because they are designed to do a single task. But when they fail, they need to be totally reconfigured. This can be just a costly problem in a lab on Earth, but it can be vital in space. This is why a University of Arizona (UA) team is working with NASA to design self-healing computer systems for spacecraft."

$100m moon mission to be ultimate holiday adventure, Business 24/7

"A 10-minute suborbital flight into space seems so last season. Now, for a cool $100 million (Dh367m) you can go to the moon. Space Adventures is offering a two-week vacation to stay at the International Space Station (ISS) and in the future, even a six-day extension for a trip around the moon should you fancy."

Sierra County voters embrace spaceport tax, Las Cruces Sun-News

"Sierra County voters on Tuesday turned out in record numbers to give Spaceport America officials the funding and the taxation district the state needs to build the facility. With all precincts reporting, 65 percent of voters approved of the 1/4 of 1 percent gross receipts tax increase."

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract to SpaceX

"NASA has awarded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, a NASA Launch Services contract for the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles. The NASA Launch Services contracts are multiple awards to multiple launch service providers. Twice per year, there is an opportunity for existing and emerging domestic launch service providers to submit proposals if their vehicles meet the minimum contract requirements."

Just Send Rubles

Russia will not need space tourism when space program well financed -analysts, Interfax

"There are plans to manufacture four Soyuz spacecraft in 2009 to launch crews to the ISS," [Vitaly Lopota, the president of the Energia space rocket corporation] said. If the Russian space program was financed in full, Russia would not need to make money on space tourism, Krasnov said. "If we lack money, we will have to launch space tourists," he said."

Russia looks at all options to invest its oil billions abroad, Times Online

"Russia could soon follow the Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds and invest billions of dollars in direct overseas investments if, as expected, its national welfare fund is given more freedom to invest."

Editor's note: Interesting how the govenrment-owned Energia is now using a quasi-state controlled news outlet to lobby for increased government funding for Russia's space program. One upon a time Russia's space program was so broke the only way to could continue was with outside financial help - from the U.S. and selling seats on Soyuz flights. Now, I guess, those Russian petro-Rubles are easier to find. Too bad. In retrospect, the commercial space traveler program has given the ISS a more cosmopolitan face since its inception and has injected some actual commercialism into the otherwise (multi) government-controlled ISS.

Skunkworks Lite

Spaceport launch tests future spacecraft,

"Lockheed Martin Corporation is now using the spaceport to advance some of its less-publicized technology. This prototype of Lockheed Martin's new spacecraft is only one-fifth the size the future vehicle would be."

Swimsuits on Steroids

Critics Claim NASA Swimsuit is Technological Doping, TSN

"NASA had a hand in designing the LZR, and Speedo claims it makes swimmers go two per cent faster. "They say that the suit is rocket science, but the stats are not rocket science," Schubert said. "The proof is in the performance."

The Couch Slouch: Speedo's $550 swimsuit a stroke of genius, Seattle Post Intelligencer

"So there is a new swimsuit, designed with help from NASA and its wind tunnels, made of low-drag, lightweight, polyurethane fabric that repels water. This otherworldly apparel is causing quite a splash -- my goodness, did I just write that? -- in the underworld of swimming. The swimsuit, made by Speedo, is called the LZR Racer. The cost of this swimsuit is $550, or twice the amount of my annual clothing budget."

Speedo: Innovation in the Aqua Lab, Business Week

"To reduce hydrodynamic drag, Aqualab began testing some 60 fabrics, with the help of a NASA wind tunnel, before coming up with a model made of extremely fine yarn that is densely woven together."

Putin orders construction of new space launchpad, vows to give boost to space industries, AP

"Perminov said Friday that Russia may stop selling seats on its spacecraft to "tourists" starting in 2010 because of the planned expansion of the international space station's crew. He said the station's permanent crew is expected to grow from the current three to six or even nine in 2010. That will mean that Russia will have fewer extra seats available for tourists on its Soyuz spacecraft, which are used to ferry crews to the station and back to Earth."

ATK Plans Commercial Ares I, Aviation Week

"ATK, which is building the first stage of NASA's Ares I crew launch vehicle by recycling the solid-fuel booster it builds for the space shuttle, wants to make the same capability available to other users for missions without crews. Ron Dittemore, president of ATK Launch Systems, said the human-rating that led NASA to build the Ares I first stage around the shuttle booster should also be attractive to other customers with "high-value" payloads, including the Defense Dept. and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)."

Reader note: Great news taxpayers! First NASA pours money into a problematic launch vehicle and then ATK gets to use the beneficiary of that public investment as a product to sell - for profit. What a concept!

Ares I Vibration Problem Fixable, Aviation Week

"Horowitz, now an independent aerospace consultant whose clients include ATK, the Ares I first-stage contractor, and a "greybeard" advisor to NASA through the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, served on the tiger team that reviewed the thrust oscillation issue after it arose last fall. Garry M. Lyles, the senior NASA engineer who headed that review panel, is scheduled to brief Congress on his findings the week of March 31."

ESMD's Revolving Door
ESMD's Revolving Door - Update

Ottawa rejects space firm's sale to U.S., Globe and Mail

"Federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice confirmed Thursday morning that he has taken the unprecedented step of rejecting the planned $1.3-billion sale of Canada's leading space company to U.S. interests, concluding that the deal would not be in the best interests of the country. Mr. Prentice's office issued a brief statement acknowledging that, as The Globe and Mail reported, he wrote to Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) on April 8, to advise them that, "based on the information received at this time, he is not satisfied that the proposed sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to ATK is likely to be of net benefit to Canada."

Canadian Government Rejects MDA Sale to ATK, For Now, Nano2Sol by Marc Boucher

"... And while there are jobs at stake, perhaps this case has shown the government that investing in space is important to Canada's interests and that they should try to revive an industry that has been neglected for some time."

House of Commons - Radarsat-2 Testimony, March 5, 2008, Nano2Sol by Marc Boucher

Radarsat-2 Commercial and Technical Documents, Nano2Sol by Marc Boucher

"With all the discussion about the sale of MDA's space division to ATK I thought it might be useful to provide some background documents that explain what Radarsat-2 is and it's impact. Of note, the Canadian Space Agency Departmental Performance Review for 2007 lists the total expected cost of Radarsat-2 to be $421.6 million."

SPACEHAB Announces Receipt of Nasdaq Staff Deficiency Letter

"SPACEHAB, Incorporated (NASDAQ:SPAB), a provider of commercial space services, today announced that the Company's common stock has closed for more than 30 consecutive days below the minimum $1.00 per share requirement for continued inclusion on the Nasdaq Capital Market under Marketplace Rule 4310(c)(4)."

Boeing Chief: U.S. Should Lead in Space Tech, Defense News

"James Albaugh, Boeing president and chief executive, warned that the United States risks losing a leadership role in space if Congress and military leaders don't reinvest in new space technologies over the next decade. "We can't afford the so-called rebuilding years of our space capability," he said during an April 8 speech at the National Space Symposium, here. "The next decade must be about reaffirming our leadership role in space."

Saving tech transfer at Glenn, Ediorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A relative handful of companies that benefited from collaborating with Glenn, or at least looking over the shoulders of its scientists and engineers, are bound to be disappointed. Most residents of Northeast Ohio won't feel a thing. That doesn't mean the Glenn Alliance for Technology Exchange was a bad idea. On the contrary, it was a great idea."

Loss of NASA jobs isn't just Brevard's problem; it's regional concern, Orlando Sentinel

"Likewise, the aerospace industry in Central Florida is much more than space exploration. It is about research and medical science; it is about quality of life; it is about a powerful and positive economic impact; it is about homeland security and space tourism. And, most important, it is about the future of the Central Florida region."

Space Watch Watch

The Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk, Watch Report

"There aren't a lot of people who need a watch that can survive the airless void of space, but Richard Garriott happens to be one of them. He's headed for the International Space Station and some extra-vehicular activity (spacewalking). Garriott could have just chosen to wear the vacuum-rated Omega Speedmaster, or maybe a Fortis Cosmonaut, but instead he turned to one of my favorite watchmakers: Seiko."

Gov. Richardson meets with feds to secure financial help for Spaceport, Las Cruces Sun News

"Gov. Bill Richardson and the director of New Mexico's spaceport made the rounds in Washington this week, trying to secure federal help in the state's push toward space commercialization. There were no immediate business or funding agreements but the effort could produce long-term payoffs after Richardson secured expressions of support from NASA's top boss and a key congressional leader. Richardson and Spaceport America executive director Steve Landeene met Wednesday in Washington, D.C., with NASA's Administrator Michael Griffin."

NASA: Up To 6,400 Job Losses at KSC When Shuttle Retires, Orlando Sentinel

"In the bleakest employment forecast for Kennedy Space Center yet, a NASA report due out on Tuesday estimates that as many as 6,400 contractors could lose their jobs at KSC by 2011 right after the space shuttle is retired. With no rockets to launch, the KSC workforce, whose primary mission is to prepare NASA spacecraft for liftoff, is expected to go from 8,000 contract jobs today to between 1,600 and 2,300 in 2011."

NASA To Hold News Briefing on the Space Shuttle to Constellation Workforce Transition Report

"NASA will hold a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, April 1, to discuss a report to Congress on the agency's workforce strategy while transitioning from the Space Shuttle Program to the Constellation Program.

The briefing participants are:
- Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Rick Gilbrech, associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters"



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