Commercialization: January 2009 Archives

Date set for Sumbandila satellite launch, Buanews

"The date for the launch of the much-anticipated SumbandilaSat science satellite has been set for 25 March by the Department of Science and Technology. The Sumbandila, a low-orbit satellite which will collect data to be used to monitor and manage disasters such as floods, oil spills and fires within Southern Africa, will be launched into space from a sub-marine in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. In October 2005, the Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, announced that South Africa would be embarking on a 3-year, R26 million integrated capacity building and satellite development project. Mr Mangena said at the time that the 80kg low earth orbit satellite would rotate the earth at a 500km height and provide the country with affordable access to space technology and data. "

Editor's note: Looks like the Kazakhi navy has entered the launch service market.

Heinlein Trust and SpaceX Announce Competition to Promote Research Innovation in Zero Gravity

"The Heinlein Prize Trust announces the Microgravity Research Competition to reward innovation in the use of microgravity to advance biotech, nanotech, combustion, metallurgy, and other fields. Sponsored by the Trust and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the competition offers a $25,000 prize and transportation to and from Low Earth Orbit for the winning experiment aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft."

PlanetSpace Has Filed With the GAO a Protest to the Selection Decision of NASA Under the ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) Competition

"After a careful review of all the facts and in consideration of all of the source selection documentation provided to date, PlanetSpace has filed a protest to NASA's award of the ISS Commercial Resupply Services Contract. PlanetSpace offered a superior proposal. It received a higher Mission Suitability score, from NASA's Source Evaluation Board (SEB), and was lower in Cost than one of the two proposals selected by NASA. Thus, the PlanetSpace proposal represented better value to the Government. We believe that the GAO will find that flaws in the procurement justify award to PlanetSpace. We look forward to the GAO's review of this case."

NASA awards to space station cargo haulers on hold, Reuters

"The GAO declined immediate comment on the protest, other than to say that NASA would have 30 days to respond to the complaint and that it would issue a ruling by April 29. NASA, meanwhile, said only that it was required to suspend work on the contracts in response to the complaint."

SpaceX's Falcon 9 on Launch Pad at Cape Canaveral (with photos)

"SpaceX announced its Falcon 9 launch vehicle was successfully raised to vertical on Saturday, January 10, 2009, at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida -- two days ahead of schedule. This operation was a critical step in validating a variety of system interfaces and launch processes in preparation for the maiden flight of Falcon 9 later this year. SpaceX completed the Falcon 9 vehicle integration in a horizontal position on December 30, 2008. After integration, Falcon 9 was lifted and mated to a transporter erector system, designed and built by SpaceX, which carried the 17 foot diameter, 180 foot long rocket to the launch pad. On January 10, 2009 at 12:45 PM EST, SpaceX began the process of raising Falcon 9 and approximately 30 minutes later, Falcon 9 stood vertical at the Cape."

New Aerospace Technology, 'Aerogel,' the Highest Insulating Material in Existence, Now Available to the Building Industry

"Taking the newly discovered Aerogel insulation technology developed by NASA, which is the highest insulating material in existence, Thermablok(TM) developed an amazing product that may soon become a requirement in the building industry. Aerogel, also referred to as "frozen smoke," has been difficult to adapt to most uses because of its fragility. The patented Thermablok material however overcomes this by using a unique fiber to suspend a proprietary formula of Aerogel such that it can be bent or compressed while still retaining its amazing insulation properties."

COTS Wars?

NASA May Face Protest Over Recent Commercial-Cargo Contract, Wall Street Journal

"A NASA source selection panel ranked Orbital's overall proposal and its projected costs less favorably than bids submitted by the PlanetSpace team and a third bidder, Space Exploration Technologies Inc, according to one person familiar with the details.But William Gerstenmaier, the senior agency official who made the decision, opted to go against those rankings, according to people familiar with the details. Mr. Gerstenmaier, for example, disregarded the management strengths the selection board said stemmed from the participation of Boeing and Lockheed. Instead, NASA in theend cited PlanetSpace's "complete lack of experience as a prime contractor," according to documents provided to the bidders."

COTS Commercial Cargo Winners: Orbital and SpaceX

Obama Moves to Counter China in Space With Pentagon-NASA Link, Bloomberg

"President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the U.S.'s civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China. Obama's transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration because military rockets may be cheaper and ready sooner than the space agency's planned launch vehicle, which isn't slated to fly until 2015, according to people who've discussed the idea with the Obama team."

Editor's note: There are several things getting mixed up in this story. EELVs are not the Pentagon's rockets. They were developed (partially) with DoD money so as to assure that the DoD had viable commercial launch options. But they have always been sold on a commercial basis (currently by Boeing/Lockheed Martin- ULA) for use by both DOD and non-DoD customers alike. NASA's New Horizons and MRO were launched on one (Atlas) as have been a number of commercial communications satellites on both Atlas V and Delta IV EELVs.

The Obama Administration may well be thinking of pairing up NASA and DoD to compete with China, but that is a different issue than using EELVs which you can buy today from the ULA catalog.

Editor's update: Looks like the Washington Examiner and ZDet fell for the Bloomberg story too as they rewrote their story around its inaccuracies.


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from January 2009.

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