Commercialization: October 2009 Archives

This video shows Unreasonable Rocket's first launch attempt for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge level one prize. The rocket known as Blue Ball made a valiant effort but ran out of fuel at the end and came done with a sharp thud to the ground and appears to have damaged one of its legs. The team, a father and son combo, Paul Breed and Paul Breed, decided not to attempt a second flight today meaning they will not qualify for the level one prize. They will attempt to qualify for the second level prize tomorrow with their Silver Bell rocket.

Masten Space Systems Qualifies for $1 Million Prize

"Masten's qualification flight came at the final Lunar Lander Challenge flight window on Friday morning. During previous windows on Wednesday and Thursday the vehicle experienced communications and plumbing issues. After a small fire on Thursday afternoon the team spent most of the night engineering a solution to a small leak. The solution worked and the team successfully flew the required profile on Friday morning."

LLC Judging Protest Statement by John Carmack, Founder, Armadillo Aerospace, Competitor, Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

"The rules have given the judges the discretion to do just about anything up to and including awarding prize money for best effort if they felt it necessary, so there may not be any grounds to challenge this, but I do feel that we have been robbed. I was going to argue that if Masten was allowed to take a window on an unscheduled day with no notice, the judges should come back to Texas on Sunday and let us take our unused second window to try for a better accuracy, but our FAA waiver for the LLC vehicle was only valid for the weekend of our scheduled attempt."

Masten Goes For The Gold

Masten Space Systems Attempts Launch of Lunar Lander Rocket to Qualify for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Top Prize

"On Oct. 28 & 29, Masten Space Systems, led by former Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS) president David Masten, will be the second of three teams attempting to complete the requirements for the Level 2 portion of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NGLLC), funded by NASA, and created and presented by the X PRIZE Foundation."

Governors Riley, Barbour and Jindal Announce Launch of The Aerospace Alliance, The Aerospace Alliance

"Governor Bob Riley (R-AL), Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS), and Governor Bobby Jindal (R- LA) today announced the launch of The Aerospace Alliance, a 501(c)(6) private/public organization that will establish the Gulf Coast and surrounding region as a world class aerospace, space and aviation corridor. The announcement was made before hundreds of supporters at an event in Bay Minette, Alabama."

Florida Lawmakers Tout Northwest Florida as Aerospace, Aviation Center, The Aerospace Alliance

"U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and George LeMieux said today the Northwest Florida region is destined to become a world-class home for new aviation and aerospace jobs."

C3PO at NASA

Recovery.gov: NASA Solicitation: Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office Support

"JSC intends to issue modification 166, funding Task Order 2.1.8. The purpose of this task order is to develop a set of human system integration requirements for application to commercial spacecraft in support of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program (C3PO). The human system integration requirements developed under this task order shall be based on a review of existing Human Rating requirements, Spaceflight Human Systems Standards, Constellation Program requirements, Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office operational concepts and requirements, and the Johnson Space Center Space Life Sciences Directorate Human Interface Design Handbook."

JSC's Innovation Competition

NASA Kicks Off Open Innovation Competition To Benefit Spaceflight

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston kicked off an experimental programming competition today in conjunction with TopCoder, Inc. and researchers from Harvard Business School and London Business School. The competition, conducted for the centers Space Life Sciences Directorate (SLSD), is aimed at developing algorithms that optimize medical kits for long-duration human space exploration."

JSC Seeks Innovation Support, earlier post
What Is Open Innovation at JSC? Update, earlier post

Kosmas and Posey Introduce Legislation to Encourage Commercial Spaceflight Industry

"Today, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) and Congressman Bill Posey (FL-15) introduced legislation to help minimize the impact of the impending human spaceflight gap on Central Florida's economy by encouraging the development of the commercial spaceflight industry. The bipartisan bill would establish a competitive Commercial Space Transportation R&D "Centers of Excellence" (COE) program within NASA."

Keith's note: This latest announcement seems to be all about Florida's economy, not any other part of the U.S., NASA, or commercial spaceflight (but I guess they can all play too). Why does NASA need to be brought into the mix and make things more complex when the private sector seems to be doing just fine on its own? The most effective way to use tax dollars, if that is what the authors of this bill want to do, would be to buy tickets on these new commercial rockets.

SpaceX Successfully Completes First Stage 9-Engine Rocket Firing

"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully conducted two static firings of the first stage, nine engine cluster for its Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The firings took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site, a 300-acre structural and propulsion testing facility just outside of Waco, Texas. With completion of these tests, the first stage has now passed both structural and propulsion acceptance testing and will ship to Cape Canaveral in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9."

Another Stealth NASA Spinoff

Medical City Dallas Hospital and Allocade, Inc. Improve Patient Experience With New Artificial Intelligence System, Allocade

Health IT & NASA Technology, Federal News Radio

"A hospital in Dallas is using NASA technology to improve its patient flow. The technology - called the On-Cue system - uses artificial intelligence to automate patient flow and improve efficiency. Once the system is running, doctors and nurses will be able to see each patient's daily schedule, which will update in real-time. Doctors hope it will help them deal with unpredictable changes and miscommunication."

Dallas hospital to deploy NASA technology to improve patient flow, HealthCare IT News

"The genesis of the On-Cue technology comes from Allocade's founder and chief technology officer, Don Rosenthal, who led the Artificial Intelligence Applications Group at the NASA Ames Research Center. The On-Cue engine is the result of Rosenthal's work to use the limited resources of the Hubble Space Telescope."

Keith's note: I went to NASA's Spinoff database to see if I could find any information. None was found. There is no mention of this online at NASA ARC or anywhere else. It is curious how NASA thumps its chest over old spinoffs but when new ones make the news NASA hasn't a clue that it has even happened.

Bolden Speaks to Investors

Remarks by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden To The National Association of Investment Companies

"You may not know it, but NASA also has the authority to fund prizes. Over this weekend, NASA just held a competition in California with $750,000 in prizes for anyone in America who could move the most "regolith" --- or moon dirt --- with a robot. Twenty-three teams competed. The winning team is "Paul's Robotics", led by a young man by the name Paul Ventimiglia. Paul not only beat out 22 other competitor teams, he beat teams of professional aerospace engineers, and teams of world-class robotics experts. Paul is a college student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He heard about the competition from a high school teacher. Now that is inspiring."

NASA Chief Praises Commercial Spaceflight, Suborbital Science, and Innovation Prizes in Latest Speech, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

House Approves S&T Bill to Extend Commercial Space Transportation Liability Regime and Two Resolutions

"Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3819, a bill to extend the commercial space transportation liability regime, by a voice vote. H.R. 3819, sponsored by Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), was first established by Congress as part of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments of 1988 and has been extended four times since its original enactment. The current liability risk-sharing regime extension expires at the end of the year; H.R. 3819 would extend it for three more years."

EADS North America names Sean O'Keefe as Chief Executive Officer

"EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services, has named Sean O'Keefe as Chief Executive Officer to lead the operations of EADS North America. His appointment is effective November 1, 2009 and he will become a member of the EADS NV Executive Committee beginning January 1, 2010."

Keith's note: Yesterday, Sean O'Keefe's formal portrait (larger view) was unveiled at NASA Headquarters. Present at the event were O'Keefe, his daughter Lindsey, and wife Laura (photo by Bill Ingalls).

ESA and JAXA Present ISS Utilization Plans to NRC Committee, SpacePolicyOnline.com

"The Decadal Survey's task is to identify and prioritize fundamental and applied research to be conducted in microgravity and partial gravity. Determining what facilities are available for that research is an important component of the study. The steering committee heard from Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, and Erika Wagner, MIT, on new and emerging launch companies that are marketing suborbital flights for scientific research and education. The companies include Virgin Galactic, Blue Origins, Armadillo Aerospace, XCOR, and Masten Space Systems."

Commercial Spaceflight: All Systems Go, Wall Street Journal (by Buzz Aldrin, Ken Bowersox, Jake Garn, Robert Gibson, Hank Hartsfield, John Herrington, Byron Lichtenberg, John Lounge, Rick Searfoss, Norman Thagard, Kathryn Thornton, Jim Voss and Charles Walker)

"... we firmly support the findings of the Augustine Committee, a presidential blue ribbon panel that has endorsed commercial human spaceflight. Sally Ride, one of America's most well-known astronauts and a member of the committee, put it best when she said, "We would like to be able to get NASA out of the business of getting people to low Earth orbit. We wholeheartedly agree. NASA should put its unique resources into pushing back the final frontier and not in repaving the earth-to-orbit road it cleared a half century ago."

An Open Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden From Robert Bigelow, earlier post

An Open Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Robert Bigelow, Space News

"Both large, experienced companies like Boeing, and new entrepreneurial firms like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX, believe in the value of commercial crew. The Atlas 5 has already proven itself more than capable of delivering high-value cargo, and, if a commercial crew program is initiated, the Atlas will readily prove itself capable of delivering crew to LEO. Herein lies the answer to your human spaceflight dilemma. A commercial crew program can easily return Americans to space in a mere four years for the amount of funding recommended by the Augustine Committee."

Keith's note: When I originally posted a link to this article last night I was able to access and read it even though I do not subscribe to Space News. Now Space News/Space.com has decided to shut off free access and only make it available to paid subscribers. As such, I have posted the letter here, courtesy of Bob Bigelow: "An Open Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden From Robert Bigelow"

NASA Announces Commercial RLV Technology Roadmap Project

"NASA is partnering with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a technology roadmap for the commercial reusable launch vehicle, or RLV, industry. "NASA is committed to stimulating the emerging commercial reusable launch vehicle industry," said Lori Garver, deputy administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "There is a natural evolutionary path from today's emerging commercial suborbital RLV industry to growing and developing the capability to provide low-cost, frequent and reliable access to low Earth orbit. One part of our plan is to partner with other federal agencies to develop a consensus roadmap of the commercial RLV industry's long-range technology needs."

Bolden talks frankly: Ares I might be dead but so are EELVs, Hyperbola

"What was surprising was the degree to which Bolden had clearly already decided that Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles were not going to be a part of that future. Despite this journalist's prodding about the interest showninEELVs during the Augustine review Bolden was very clear, they were not man rated and multiple launch scenarios with LEO rendezvous and docking was just a no-no; so this was one formertwo-star US Marine Corp general this blogger decided it was not worth arguing with"

Keith's note: From what I hear from in and around the 9th floor, Charlie Bolden's actual opinion (and that of those around him) is somewhat different than is portrayed in Hyperbola. While there is not much interest at NASA in the evolution of EELVs towards providing a heavy launch vehicle capability, there is certainly continued interest in the use of EELVs as part of a commerical crew launch capability. As such EELVs most certainly have not been ruled out or seen as being "dead" as an option. Stay tuned. The Augustine report lands at the White House next week and then a lot of things will start to break loose.

SpaceX hopes to launch first manned commercial rocket, Orlando Sentinel

"Asked what bugs them most about NASA outsourcing the job of flying crew to the International Space Station, some astronauts roll their eyes and say: "Dragon." That's the name of the capsule being built by SpaceX, the aerospace startup founded by Internet tycoon Elon Musk, a capsule designed to be fully automated. But with no controls to "fly" their ride, astronauts fear they'll be "Spam in a can" -- little more than human cargo. And if they don't pilot a ship, they worry, how can they keep the fleet of T-38 jets that are the symbol of the astronaut corps?"

Nelson Calls for Unspent Stimulus Money to Boost NASA

"The Augustine Commission notes that the time may finally be upon us when commercial space companies can begin to carry some of the burden of our access to space. Many of these companies are already developing capabilities to enable the commercial resupply of the International Space Station. This ability, according to Augustine, is critical to ensuring our ability to operate the Station beyond 2016 and to maximize the return on what has become a substantial investment. But these commercial endeavors serve another equally important function: they create whole new industries, and with that, new jobs for Americans."

Sen. Shelby's Speech on the Commerce, Justice, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill

"While I commend the Augustine Commission for their hard work, I find many of the aspects proposed in their summary report to be unsatisfactory and disappointing. Mr. President, I am baffled by NASA's path forward on the Constellation program. This program is built on a foundation of proven technologies, using existing capabilities and infrastructure. The Ares I team will soon launch the first test flight and the groundwork for the Ares V heavy lift vehicle is well underway. And yet, instead of simply providing Constellation with funds to move forward, it is delaying the current mission while seeking to have a do-over on plans that have been authorized by both a Republican and Democratic Congress."

Civilian Agencies' Development and Implementation of Insourcing Guidelines. GAO-10-58R, October 6, GAO.

"None of the nine civilian agencies we visited met the statutory requirement to develop and implement insourcing guidelines and procedures by July 9, 2009. To date, one agency--the Department of State--has issued what department officials characterized as "preliminary" guidelines in late July 2009 and plans to revise its guidelines as insourcing efforts evolve. Officials with the remaining eight agencies informed us that they have efforts underway to develop insourcing guidelines. However, these eight agencies are at various stages of developing their guidelines."

"NASA: Drafting interim guidelines. Expected issuance at the end of October 2009."

A Real Spinoff

Custom Eyeballs Can Tailor Your Eyesight to Your Career, io9

"Need to see a thousand meters in the dark? Want one eye that's perfect for reading and another for long distances? Some eye surgeons are already at work reshaping corneas not only to fix patients' vision, but fit their careers. ... What do we have to thank for this custom technology? The space program. Wavefront technology, which was developed by NASA to improve the focus of the Hubble Space Telescope, has translated neatly to the human eye. The technology allows physicians to map the cornea and iris, enabling surgeons to make small, specific tweaks to the eye that result in custom eyesight made to order."

Wavefront Sensing, NASA IPP

On-Orbit Space Party

Poetic Social Mission Global Webcast and Broadcast

"Actors Matthew McConaughey and Salma Hayek, singers Joss Stone and Elisapie Isaac, musical group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Nicolai Tsiskaridze and poet Touria Ikbal join former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, U2, and others in the effort to tackle the global water crisis. A 120-minute global event featuring musical performances by major international artists and the reading of a poetic tale by well-known celebrities, the Poetic Social Mission seeks to raise awareness through artistic illustration of the humanitarian struggles and solutions associated with water."

X-Prize Plus Five

The Day Commercial Spaceflight Took Off: October 4 Marks Fifth Anniversary of $10 Million Ansari X PRIZE

"On October 4, 2009, the X PRIZE Foundation will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the largest prize in history, the $10 Million Ansari X PRIZE - won by the Mojave Aerospace Ventures team for the historic flights of SpaceShipOne. Led by famed aerospace designer Burt Rutan and backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Mojave Aerospace Ventures was the first private team to build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the earth's surface twice within two weeks. The team made world history when it achieved this feat on the anniversary of the historic launch of Sputnik in 1957 - the first man made object that entered earth's orbit and opened the space age."


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