Commercialization: June 2009 Archives

Court filings detail Sea Launch's bankruptcy, Spaceflight Now

"Sea Launch reported assets between $100 million and $500 million and estimated debt of almost $2 billion. The company will explore the potential sale of one or more of its business units during the bankruptcy proceedings, officials said. The company has long been on shaky financial ground and has "struggled to recognize the success envisioned" when it was formed in 1995, according to the filing."

NASA Gets Heat For Ditching Metric System on New Shuttle Replacement, Popular Science

"The commercial spaceflight sector, who had hoped to use the Orion and Ares systems for a variety of missions, is not too happy. "We in the private sector are doing everything possible to create a global market with as much commonality and interoperability as possible. But NASA still can't make the jump to metric." Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace told New Scientist."

NASA Inspector General's Assessment of NASA's Use of the Metric System, G-00-021 (2001)

"As the United States continues its slow transition to the metric system, NASA must decide whether it wants to be a leader or a follower in the transition process. Both roles come with a cost. If NASA chooses to push forward with the Agency's use of the metric system, near-term costs may increase and short-term risk (both to schedule and mission success) may rise to some degree. However, if the Agency follows the aerospace industry's slow transition to SI, the protracted period during which NASA uses mixed metric and English systems may further increase costs and risks for NASA programs."

NASA Finds The Metric System Too Hard To Implement for Constellation, Earlier Post

"NASA claims that it wants to have meaningful international participation in the implementation of VSE/ESAS yet it walks away from the system of weights and measures used by the majority of the people on this planet. Moreover, this decision clearly seems to fly in the face of established NASA - and Federal - policy."

NASA criticised for sticking to imperial units, New Scientist

"NASA recently calculated that converting the relevant drawings, software and documentation to the "International System" of units (SI) would cost a total of $370 million almost half the cost of a 2009 shuttle launch, which costs a total of $759 million. "We found the cost of converting to SI would exceed what we can afford," says Hautaluoma."

Keith's note: That's a goofy answer. Why couldn't ESMD have simply directed that things be done in metric in the first place - in compliance with NASA's own regulations (note the OIG report from 2001 years before Constellation was even started). That way there'd be no "conversion" cost.

Oh yea, interesting how Grey just told us what a shuttle launch "costs".

Saving Jobs at KSC

Space Florida and United Launch Alliance Partner to Secure Launch Complex 41

"What: A news briefing discussing the $100 million conduit financing package and partnership between Space Florida and United Launch Alliance which demonstrates Florida's ability to rapidly address the needs of the industry.

Who: Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and Frank DiBello, Interim President, Space Florida."

Keith's note: I am told that at this event Florida Lt. Governor Kottkamp will announce a $100 Million transaction that will be described as saving 700 or so Florida-based jobs.

Sea Launch Files Chapter 11 to Address Financial Challenges

"Sea Launch Company L.L.C. and Sea Launch Limited Partnership and subsidiaries ("Sea Launch" or "Company"), a leading provider of launch services to the commercial satellite industry, has filed voluntary petitions to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington. The members of Sea Launch have unanimously determined that Chapter 11 reorganization is in the best interests of the Company, its customers, shareholders, employees and other related parties."

NASA: Commercial Partners Are Making Progress, but Face Aggressive Schedules to Demonstrate Critical Space Station Cargo Transport Capabilities. GAO-09-618

"During the course of our review, we found NASA's management of the COTS project has generally adhered to critical project management tools and activities and the vast majority of project expenditures were for milestone payments to COTS partners. NASA has established fixed-price, performance-based milestones in its agreements with commercial partners and partners are only paid once the milestone has been successfully completed. NASA has also taken several steps since the beginning of the COTS project to ensure that risks were identified, assessed, and documented, and that mitigation plans were in place to reduce these risks. NASA has communicated regularly with its partners through quarterly and milestone reviews and provided them with technical expertise to assist in their development efforts and to facilitate integration with the space station. As of the end of fiscal year 2008, NASA has spent $290.1 million, with 95 percent of project funding spent on milestone payments to COTS partners."

A Brief History Review for Sen. Richard Shelby, Commercial Space Gateway

"Sen. Richard Shelby (R. - Ala.) is unhappy because NASA Administrator Christopher Scolese intends to use $150 million of the $400 million NASA received as part of the stimulus package to support the development of commercial space transportation for delivering cargo and personnel to the space station. His rationale reveals an astounding lack of historical perspective. During a May 21st hearing of the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee hearing, the Senator stated, "I believe that manned spaceflight is something that is still in the realm of government, because despite their best efforts, some truly private enterprises have not been able to deliver on plans of launching vehicles." I guess he missed the successful launch of Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) Falcon 1 rocket on Sept. 28, 2008."

Keith's note: It is quite obvious by now that Sen. Shelby is doing his level best to protect MSFC (and jobs in Alabama) from any possible commercial competition for the role of the seemingly doomed Ares 1 rocket and its phantom (and unfunded) sibling the Ares 5. He will clearly stoop to whatever level is required. Stay tuned - he is not done yet.

Dear Space Media Professionals:

I've been following the House Appropriations Commerce Justice Science bill's actions on COTS basically all week. I've even posted a couple times to various blogs in response to correct/incorrect guesses, based on my understanding of what is happening.

In the interests of trying to clarify the questions/concerns, if not calm everyone down, here are some facts and then some hypotheses:

Fiscal Year 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act Terminations & Reductions, House Appropriations Committee

"NASA, commercial crew and cargo: program phase out 2009 enacted: 113,900 2010 Request: 0"

Keith's note: According to some sources this is not a "cut" to COTS - if you read the top of this chart it says "Terminations & Reductions" and the "0" in 2010 therefore means "zero cuts to the 2010 request."

Stay tuned.

Shelby holding up NASA stimulus funding, Space Politics

"Space News reports in its print edition this week that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is holding up the release of "most if not all" of the $1 billion allocated to NASA in the stimulus bill approved earlier this year. The problem is that NASA is planning to spend $150 million of the $400 million appropriated to exploration for ISS commercial resupply activity, including early work to support commercial crew missions to the station."

Industry and Government Leaders to Explore Future of Commercial Space Transportation of Crew and Cargo

"Industry and government leaders will meet on June 18 to explore the promising future of commercial space transportation -- of humans as well as cargo -- in meeting government and private sector needs in low Earth orbit. The special half-day event, "Innovations in Orbit: An Exploration of Commercial Crew and Cargo Transportation," will feature panelists and speakers from NASA, the FAA, and the private sector, discussing a broad array of innovative commercial space transportation concepts. Organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the discussion is free and open to the public, and takes place on Thursday, June 18, at 1:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Capitol Room A, Lobby Level, 400 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001."

Space and Back Coloring Book

"What is Technology Transfer? Many times the tools NASA creates can also help us do things better here on Earth. When NASA sees a way to put a tool that they use in space to use for something in our world, they "transfer" that technology to a company that can use it. This is called "Technology Transfer." Each of NASA's ten Field Centers has people whose job it is to find new uses for the tools their scientists have developed. This coloring book was put together by the people at the Technology Transfer Program office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. With the help of Space Pup, Goddard's technology transfer mascot, we'll show you how we use some of those space technologies here on Earth!"

Report on the Space Economy Symposium Finds Space an Essential Part of Global Economic Infrastructure

"The Space Economy Symposium, an initiative of George Mason University in collaboration with Phillips & Company and the Space Enterprise Council, was held March 13, 2009, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC. The goals of this half-day Symposium were to make space a central part of the national economic policy discussions and to ensure that space is recognized as an essential component of national competitiveness in a global economy. Through presentations, panel discussions, and participant interaction, the Symposium promoted new perspectives and insights about the present and future impacts of space on the economy, the roles of government, industry and entrepreneurs in developing the Space Economy, and trends in commercial space that are driving economic growth."

Marshall Institute: Innovation in Aerospace

"During much of the 20th century, the aerospace industry drove innovation in the U.S. economy. Thus, it earned the moniker, "the space age." By the end of the century, however, developments in information technology, biological sciences, and biotechnology seemed to eclipse aerospace as a major driver of innovation in the United States. Indeed, the "information revolution" replaced the "space age" as an off-hand reference to the century. ... The Marshall Institute is holding a workshop to explore the means of promoting greater creativity and innovation in the aerospace industry. In particular, the workshop will examine the challenges, lessons, and applicability of the information technology industry's practices for the aerospace community and the experience that innovative firms have had in working with government agencies."

Red tape in orbit, Economist

"A small company has won an important legal challenge to America's space-technology export-control regime ... In December 2007, a company called Bigelow Aerospace, filed the first legal challenge to America's rules for exporting space technology. It disputed the government's claim that foreign passengers travelling on a spaceship or space station were involved in a transfer of technology. The outcome suggests that there may be a chink in the armour of the export-control regime."

Under the existing rules, any non-American passengers on its space stations would have to comply with onerous export-control rules. These take months to satisfy and could plausibly even require government monitors to be present whenever the foreigner was near American space technology. Even training on the ground in a mock-up module is deemed a transfer of technology and therefore subject to controls."

Keith's note: Ken Davidian is Twittering notes and updates from the Space Business Forum currently underway in New York City at @cswiki.

"The Canadian and Russian space agencies will host a simulcast press conference from Montreal, in Canada and Moscow, in Russia to announce that Guy Lalibert - Founder of Cirque du Soleil and the ONE DROP Foundation - has begun training for a groundbreaking voyage to the International Space Station (ISS): a Poetic Social Mission in Space on behalf of the ONE DROP Foundation and its dream of "Water for all, all for water."

Keith's note: You can watch the press event live here

Space Adventures Announces Founder of Cirque du Soleil as 1st Canadian Private Space Explorer

Keith's update: Unsubstantiated Space Adventures hype via Twitter: ec_anderson "Guy Laliberte would be first Artist in Space, will be developing an artistic, poetic, project that will entertain and delight all!". I beg to differ. Alan Bean, an artist in his own right, flew in space 40 years ago. And of course, there are other artists who have flown in space. Richard Garriott (another Space Adventures customer) created works of art while aboard ISS. Ed Lu played the piano, etc.

Keith's 2 June 5:48 am note: Multiple sources report that the mystery Canadian entrepreneur who will fly aboard Soyuz TMA-16 crew this September is Guy Lalibert, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cirque du Soleil.

Guy Lalibert, WIkipedia
#562 Guy Laliberte, Forbes: Net Worth: $1.4 Billion

3 June Updates:

Cirque du soleil confirms founder Guy Laliberte space-bound in September, CP

"The Cirque du soleil has confirmed that founder Guy Laliberte will become Canada's first space tourist when he blasts off on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in September. The 49-year-old Laliberte, who is already in Moscow for Thursday's official announcement, will also become the third Canadian to visit the International Space Station this year."

Cirque du soleil founder going into space: report, CTV

"A website that covers NASA is reporting that Guy Laliberte, the founder of the Cirque du soleil, will visit the International Space Station this September. "NASA Watch," which has no official links with the American space agency, says it has learned from multiple sources that Laliberte will fly into orbit aboard a Soyuz spacecraft."

From stilt-walker to spacewalker, Toronto Star

"Multiple sources report that the mystery Canadian entrepreneur who will fly aboard Soyuz TMA-16 crew this September is Guy Laliberte," wrote space journalist Keith Cowing on his closely followed blog, NASA Watch.

Press Conference: Space Adventures Announces Spaceflight Intention of Canadian Entrepreneur

"Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, invites members of the media to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Montreal and to the Press Hall of The Expocentre (International Exhibitions and Conventions Center) in Moscow as they announce the identity of a Canadian entrepreneur who is slated to launch with Soyuz TMA-16 crew this September. The announcement will take place on Thurs., June 4th 2009 at 9:30 a.m. EDT."

Keith's note: Hmm, I wonder who this might be? OK - I'll guess: Bob Richards - he's certainly a "Canadian entrepreneur". Anyone care to speculate?

(P.S. Bob is flattered, but sadly says "it's not me".)



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

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