Commercialization: December 2009 Archives

White House science office reports United States rocket propulsion work lagging

"According to the report released this week: "Despite the importance of space to government and commercial activities the U.S. space launch industry has seen a decline in launch services over the past decade . . . From 2004-2008 the U.S. shared of commercial launches was about 17 percent, compared with 42 percent for Russia, 21 percent for Europe and 18 percent for the multi-national company SeaLaunch."

OSTP Releases Assessment of U.S. Space Launch Vehicle Engine Production Capacity

"At present, the U.S. space launch propulsion industrial base provides a diverse range of technological capabilities and more than adequate production capacity to meet most currently identified U.S. Government and commercial requirements for space launch vehicles.' Furthermore, there are no articulated, established space launch requirements that are beyond the current development expertise of the U.S. space launch propulsion industrial base. Nonetheless, this U.S. industrial sector is under significant stress, due largely to low demand."

New Course for Space Exploration Promotes Private Firms, WS Journal

"The Obama administration appears set to chart a new course for U.S. space exploration by promoting the use of private companies to ferry astronauts into orbit, according to people familiar with the matter. The controversial plan would mark a trailblazing departure for the nation's space program by allowing a group of closely held start-up companies, for the first time, to compete for a central role in an arena previously dominated by much larger, publicly traded contractors with long track records working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

Conflict of interest? Congresswoman staunchly backs Constellation -- and is wed to astronaut , Orlando Sentinel

"We know it's personal to her," said Dean Acosta, a spokesman for the Boeing Co. and for the Coalition for Space Exploration, which represents all the big Constellation contractors. "She knows the importance of [Constellation] because of conversations with her husband. She has been one of the key drivers and one of the key voices ... [and] one of the biggest vocal supporters of Constellation and Ares." ...

"If she were out there asking tough questions about Constellation at the same time she was out there roasting alternatives, people would have a lot less problems with her," said one senior White House official not authorized to speak for the administration. But it was her treatment of Augustine, a highly respected aerospace leader, that most angered White House officials, and even upset the former Lockheed Martin CEO himself."

Ed Lu on Launch Vehicles

Faster, NASA, Faster, Op Ed, Ed Lu, NY Times

"To maintain a vibrant, innovative program, NASA needs to step up the rate of rocket launchings. It should set a requirement that any new launching system fly once a week, then put out contracts for private companies to design and build rockets that can operate this frequently. By launching early and launching often, NASA could get back in the business of exploring space."

Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation Public Meeting, FAA

"New COE for Commercial Space Transportation Public Meeting - February 9, 2010 The FAA Administrator has concurred with the request to establish a new Center of Excellence (COE) for Commercial Space Transportation (CST) in 2010. On February 9 a public meeting will be held in Washington DC to discuss the FAA COE Program and CST technical requirements. A COE Draft Solicitation will be available for public review prior to the meeting."

Dynetics Announces Purchase of Orion Propulsion

"David King, executive vice president of Dynetics, added, "Tim Pickens is one of the most creative, energetic and 'lean thinking' propulsion experts in the United States. He is well known in the local and national space communities. We are excited to bring Tim on board - along with Mark Fisher, who has 20 years of experience in NASA, DoD (Department of Defense) and commercial propulsion and management - as well as the rest of the OPI team."

NASA Solicitation: Open Source Software to Support Projects at MSFC

"Arcata Associates Inc. plans to issue a Sole Source Request for Quote (RFQ) for Open Source Software to be used at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)."

The solicitation focuses on A-RTP protocol Stack XP. You can get it for free here and here. What the solicitation is really after is support and training - not the software.

Space battle for the White House under way, Orlando Sentinel

"Ares I supporters have opposed the panel's findings, saying that Constellation and Ares I are better and safer than any commercial rocket. Until now, however, companies like Boeing have done most of their lobbying behind closed doors despite being urged by some lawmakers to take their cause public. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D- Arizona, the head of the House subcommittee with NASA oversight and the wife of NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, says she urged aerospace leaders to get their employees to write the President over the summer, but said only six letters were written. Boeing has the contract to build the upper stage of the Ares I rocket which it is developing with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama."

AIAA President Warns Congress That Cuts to Human Spaceflight Programs Will Harm Aerospace Workforce, U.S. Economy, and National Security. AIAA

"AIAA President Dave Thompson today testified before the House Committee on Science and Technology on "Decisions on the Future Direction and Funding for NASA: What Will They Mean for the U.S. Aerospace Workforce and Industrial Base?" Thompson and his fellow panelists were asked to address the effects of NASA's future direction and funding on the country's aerospace industry and the nation as a whole."

Aerospace Workforce Imperiled by Funding Cuts, AIA

"U.S. preeminence in aerospace is threatened by aging demographics and uncertainty over the future of the U.S. space program and adequate funding to support it, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said Thursday in testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology."

How to Contact Your Elected Officials, Boeing via Capitol Connect

"Contact your elected officials and let them know that NASA and its space exploration programs are on the right trajectory. As the President and Congress weigh the options for our nation's future space exploration policy, it's important our elected officials know that you support the Constellation and Ares rocket programs."

Virgin Galactic unveils SpaceShipTwo, the world's first manned commercial spaceship

"SpaceShipTwo will be unveiled after darkness has fallen over the Mojave Desert to the sound of a space-themed anthem from Britain's biggest DJs, Above & Beyond. Fittingly titled "Buzz" the track will sample Buzz Aldrin's original moon landing dialogue. Following the naming by Governors Richardson and Schwarzenegger, the DJs will also perform an exclusive set at the celebration cocktail party which will follow and feature the first ever IceBar in the desert hosted by Absolut and the world famous Swedish IceHotel. All the guests will be protected from the desert cold by designer space jackets supplied by PUMA. Finally, to close off the celebrations, all the guests will have the opportunity to view the stunning night skies using specialist telescopes supplied by Ron Dantowitz of the Clay Observatory whose unique tracking cameras followed SS1 into space during the epic flights of 2004."

Keith's note: Apparently the festivities were cut short and moved indoors when high winds threatened to rip down the party tents and cold temperatures made the IceBar less than enticing...

... Video after the break

NASA Solicitation: Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program - CRUSR - Request for Information

"In this Request for Information (RFI), the NASA Ames CRuSR Office is requesting technical and programmatic input to improve the government's understanding of flight opportunities to aid potential science investigators in scoping and designing possible future suborbital investigations. Responses to this RFI are welcome from all interested parties, especially potential providers of suborbital spaceflight services. Suborbital spaceflight service providers should consider accommodation of flight experiments that address any of the following research disciplines: ..."

"SAPPORO Space Barley" Beer Is Launched Onto The Market For The First Time In The World In Limited Quantities For Charity

"The "space barley" used to make this beer is the fourth generation descendant of the Haruna Nijo malting barley that was developed by Sapporo Breweries and kept in space for five months during 2006 as part of our collaborative research with the Russian Academy of Sciences and Okayama University with the purpose of achieving self-sufficiency in food in the space environment. Since Sapporo Breweries was founded, we have continued to create excellent varieties for raw materials, and we are the only company in the world that operates breeding/research organizations for both barley and hops. This, the world's first sale of this "space beer," is the result of our extended nurturing/development of the required technologies."

SpaceX Hosts Preliminary Training for NASA ISS Astronauts in Preparation for Dragon Spacecraft Rendezvous and Station Berthing

"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently conducted its first Dragon spacecraft operations training for a group of NASA astronauts and personnel at its corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. The October training focused on how the crew will interface with the Dragon spacecraft while it is approaching and berthed to the International Space Station (ISS). Three of the participating astronauts--Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock--will be on board the ISS when Dragon makes its first visit under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program."

SpaceX trains its first batch of NASA astronauts, Orlando Sentinel

"Interesting to note that one of the other astronauts in attendance, Marsha Ivins, helped designed NASA's Ares I rocket and was a key architect of the agency's Constellation Program to return astronauts to the moon in 2020. She is well-known opponent to the idea of scrapping Ares I and relying on companies like SpaceX to take crew back and forth to the space station."

NASA Awards Alabama Information Technology Services Contract

"NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has awarded a contract to Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville to provide information technology services at the center. The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract begins Feb. 1, 2010, with a two-year base period. The contract may be followed by a two-year option and a one-year option, exercised at NASA's discretion. The total value of the contract, if all options are exercised, is approximately $335 million."

Dynetics Hires Steve Cook as Director of Space Technologies

"Steve Cook, who has served as manager of Ares projects for NASA Marshall SpaceFlight Center since 2005, has been hired as our new Director of Space Technologies. He will begin his duties at Dynetics on 14 September 2009."

King Retires as Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

"David King, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is retiring from the agency to accept a position as executive vice president of Dynetics in Huntsville, effective immediately."

Prepared Statements

George C. Nield
Gerald Dillingham
J.P. Stevens
Jeff Greason
James A. Testwuide

Hearing Subject matter Summary

Commercial Space Transportation: Development of the Commercial Space Launch Industry Presents Safety Oversight Challenges for FAA and Raises Issues Affecting Federal Roles, GAO

"In overseeing the commercial space launch industry, including the safety of space tourism, FAA faces several challenges. These include maintaining a sufficient number of staff with the necessary expertise to oversee the safety of launches and spaceport operations; determining whether FAA's current safety regulations are appropriate for all types of commercial space vehicles, operations, and launch sites; developing information to help FAA decide when to regulate crew and passenger safety after 2012; and continuing to avoid conflicts between FAA's regulatory and promotional roles."


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