Commercialization: May 2010 Archives

XCOR and Masten Announce Strategic Relationship for NASA Landers Business, SpaceRef

"XCOR Aerospace and Masten Space Systems, two of the leaders in the New Space sector, have announced a strategic business and technology relationship to pursue jointly the anticipated NASA sponsored unmanned lander projects. These automated lander programs are expected to serve as robotic test beds on Earth, on the lunar surface, Mars, near Earth objects and other interplanetary locales, helping NASA push the boundaries of technology and opening the solar system for future human exploration."

Marc's note: Once again the Delta IV launch was scrubbed at the last second due to a technical issue. No new launch date has been set and with Atlantis set to land on Wednesday the Delta IV launch will have to be later in the week.

Marc's Update: The ULA launch of the Delta IV carrying the GPS IIF-01 satellite has been tentatively rescheduled for May 27 according to 45th Space Wing Public Affairs. The launch window for Thursday is 11-11:19 p.m. EDT.

ULA And USAF Scrubbed -- Rescheduled Again!, SatNews

"The next launch attempt has been set for Monday, May 24, with a launch window of 11:13-11:31 p.m. EDT. The weather forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather during the launch window."

Delta 4 Poised to Launch with Next Generation GPS Satellite, Ken Kremer

"The launch of a Delta 4 rocket carrying the first in a new series of next generation GPS satellites has been rescheduled for Sunday night (May 23) at 11:17 PM EDT from Cape Canaveral, Florida after the countdown was halted barely 4 minutes prior to liftoff, shortly before midnight on Friday (May 21). The last minute countdown scrub was called after loss of "the telemetry signal between the GPS and the satellite ground support equipment," according to a statement issued by the Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA)."

NASA Solicitation: Commercial Crew Transportation Request For Information

"NASA is currently in the conceptual phase of developing requirements for a Commercial Crew Transportation (CCT) capability that would be able to transport NASA astronauts and spaceflight participants safely to and from LEO and the ISS. The purpose of this RFI is to collect information from industry to help NASA plan the overall strategy for the development and demonstration of a CCT capability and to receive comments on NASA human-rating technical requirements that have been drafted as part of this initiative."

Draft Broad Agency Announcement Heavy Lift and Propulsion Trade Study

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Marshall Space Flight Center is releasing a "DRAFT" Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) No. NNM10ZDA001J, entitled "Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Trade Study" on May 19, 2010. Comments to the "DRAFT" BAA are due on May 26, 2010, by 7:30 p.m. (central time). The "FINAL" BAA (NNM10ZDA001K), entitled, "Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Trade Study," will be available on or about June 2, 2010. Proposals to the "FINAL" BAA will be due on or about July 2, 2010."

Reader note: I have a habit of scouring through NASA procurement notices looking for interesting things - as well as comedic relief. love this one: "NASA SUDENT AMBASSADORS VIRTUAL COMMUNITY" issued on 11 May 2010 with an "original response date" of 14 May 2010. But the text says "Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing, by FAX or E-Mail, to the identified point of contact not later than 11:00 a.m. (EST.) on April 12, 2010."

I guess the only way you can meet this date is if you have a time machine handy.

The solicitation then goes on to say "Such capabilities/qualifications will be evaluated solely for the purpose of determining whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed effort on a full and open competition basis, based upon responses to this notice, is solely within the discretion of the government." Yet all the solicitation provides is a single little paragraph describing the project. It is rather unlikely that anyone would understand how to perform this task without detailed information much less use this sole paragraph as the basis for justifying their qualifications.

It certainy smells like NASA got caught in the process of using paperwork to justify a procurement decision that they already made and that they have zero interest in actually soliciting or considering input. Oops.

Allocade to Participate in NASA Spinoff Day on the Hill

"Allocade, Inc., the developer of innovative healthcare software technology solutions, today announced that it would participate in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Spinoff Day on the Hill. ... Members of Congress and the NASA administrator, Charlie Bolden, will speak about the importance of bringing NASA technologies out into the public sector. In addition, NASA's new chief technologist, Dr. Bobby Braun and NASA's director of the Innovative Partnerships Program, Doug Comstock, will highlight the selected participating companies."

Keith's note: At a time (once again) when NASA ought to be focusing on what it does for taxpayers, the private sector, Congress etc. you would think that there would be a little more effort put into promoting an event such as this. Yum. All that juicy NASA spinoff goodness just waiting to be shared.

Alas, there is no mention of it on the NASA calendar at the NASA.gov media page. No mention at the NASA IPP webpage either - or at NASA Tech Briefs - or on Twitter at NASA_Spinoff. Nor is there any mention at the House Science and Technology Committee's web page (Rayburn 2325 is one of the hearing rooms they regularly use).

Only 2 working days left to get the word out. And when no one from the media or elsewhere shows up at non-promoted events such as this, NASA scratches its collective head and wonders why. Oh well.

Keith's update: I have learned (from someone@NASA) who saw this posting on NASA Watch that there is a flyer online for this event as a PDF here. The flyer lists Brett Silcox at Code L as the contact. Yet when I check the Code L web page - there is no link.

Zombie Ops in GEO

SES World Skies Readies Orbital Maneuver to Avoid Interference from Troubled Intelsat Satellite

"SES World Skies today announced plans for an intricate set of orbital maneuvers later this month aimed at steering its AMC-11 satellite and its customers clear of interference from Intelsat's troubled Galaxy 15 spacecraft, referred to in recent media coverage as the "Zombie" satellite. As the stray satellite nears AMC-11's orbital location at 131 degrees west, SES WORLD SKIES plans to have AMC-11 match the eastward drift of Galaxy 15 in order to maintain a minimum separation between the two satellites. This synchronized drift is designed to protect AMC-11 services from interference caused by Galaxy 15."

Virgin Galactic appoints its first Chief Executive

"Virgin Galactic, the US based and regulated Space Tourism Company, is delighted to announce the appointment of George T. Whitesides as its first Chief Executive Officer. Virgin Galactic, the US based and regulated Space Tourism Company, is delighted to announce the appointment of George T. Whitesides as its first Chief Executive Officer. In this role, Whitesides will guide the business through its transition from a development project to a commercially operational business."

Going commercial frees NASA for deeper space, Alan Stern, Orlando Sentinel

"The administration's wise commercialization approach echoes an immensely successful path taken by NASA in the past. Consider: At the dawn of the Space Age, all satellites were built and launched by governments. But early on, communications satellites were encouraged to go commercial. The result: a $100 billion-plus spinoff industry that employs thousands of workers to build the satellites, their ground stations, launchers and associated command and control infrastructure. It also launches more satellites annually than any other form of spaceflight. The money saved frees NASA to do other things with its resources."

Letter From The Aerospace Corporation to Rep. Giffords Regarding The Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee

"The Aerospace Corporation is pleased to submit responses to questions from the Committee on Science and Technology regarding our support to the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee (the Committee.) Your letter requested responses related to our analyses performed in support of the Committee, and we have answered in that context. In several areas of questioning, the Committee did not task Aerospace. In some areas, Aerospace has previously performed related studies or analyses for NASA. We are always available to discuss these studies with the committee if desired."

NASA Ames Stimulates Economy with Jobs, Innovation

"NASA's Ames Research Center generated 5,300 jobs and $877 million in total annual economic activity in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area in 2009, according to a new economic benefits study. The study found that nationally, NASA Ames supports more than 8,400 jobs and generates $1.3 billion in annual economic activity. Coordinated by the NASA Research Park Office and prepared by Emeryville-based Bay Area Economics (BAE) in association with Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Management's San Francisco office, the study also reported that NASA Ames produced 5,900 jobs and contributed $932 million to California's economy in 2009. The study also forecast that NASA Ames' total economic impacts will grow significantly as its NASA Research Park (NRP) is completed."

Keith's 5:50 pm EDT note: Weird. ARC PAO sent this out at 3:38 pm EDT and they haven't even bothered to get it on their website. You'd think they'd be crowing about this information.

Keith's 10 May 6:20 pm EDT update: It took more than 2 hours but ARC PAO finally got this important press release online. Alas, still no mention of it on the Ames Research Park website yet even though it is prominently mentioned in the release. No one out in the real world seems to have these PR and web server issues - just NASA.

Keith's 11 May 4:30 pm EDT update: There is a link to the report associated with this news on the Ames Research Park. Someday, perhaps ARC PAO will learn how to coordinate things like this a little better.

NASA Presentations on New Space Plans for FY2011, Planetary Defense

"Lori Garver, Ed Weiler, Bobby Braun, and Laurie Leshin (all from NASA) presented at a meeting in Washington, D.C. on 05 May 2010 aspects of the new NASA plan, specifically those elements involved with the new NASA budget. I have posted these docs to the Google Docs library (General) for this site."

Keith's note: The Google Docs server where these presentations were originally posted does not seem to be cooperating, so A.C. Charania has provided me with copies of the presentations - here they are: Robert Braun,
Laurie Leshin, and Ed Weiler

Bigelow Marketing Inflatable Space Stations, Aviation Week

"Bigelow envisions governments and corporations making up the bulk of his company's customers. Prices will range from $200 million-$400 million, depending on the number of "seats" that are purchased. He is pitching Bigelow Aerospace's space station as an "affordable alternative" to the International Space Station, which "is controlled by the Russians and the U.S., with another 14 or so countries along for the ride."

Unanimous Support by Florida Legislature Facilitates Competitive Space Industry in Florida

"Florida's space industry remained a forefront issue for legislators throughout the 2010 legislative session, which concluded on April 30. Faced with the impending Shuttle retirement (expected to result in 23,000 direct and indirect job losses, contributing to significant economic impact across the state), the legislature voted to unanimously support critical legislation designed to stimulate economic development and promote aerospace industry jobs."

NASA Heavy Lift Launch System and Propulsion Technology Request for Information

"On May 3, 2010, NASA will issue a Request for Information (RFI) seeking general information regarding potential launch or space transportation architectures (expendable, reusable, or a hybrid system) that could be utilized by multiple customers (e.g. NASA, commercial and other Government agencies). The RFI also will solicit information regarding propulsion system characteristics; technology challenges related to liquid chemical propulsion systems; as well as innovative methods to manage a heavy-lift development program to include effective and affordable business practices. The RFI will be open to the broad space community, including commercial, other Government agencies and academia. Information obtained from the RFI will be used for planning and acquisition-strategy development for current heavylift planning activities, as outlined in the Conference Report to FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-117)."

NASTAR Center Appoints Former NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator as Advisor for Space and Research

"Environmental Tectonics Corporation's The National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR(R)) Center announced today that it has retained Dr. Alan Stern as an advisor for space and research related business including the Suborbital Scientist Training Program, which provides researchers and educators with training to perform experiments aboard suborbital vehicles."

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Joins the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

"Mark Sirangelo, Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, commented, "On behalf of the member companies of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, we are proud to welcome Southwest Research Institute as an Executive Member. Dr. Stern has done a tremendous job in pushing forward the nascent field of commercial suborbital science. We look forward to continue working with SwRI to further CSF's goals of promoting the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursuing ever higher levels of safety, and sharing best practices and expertise throughout the industry."

Launch could be first test of rocket and Obama space plan, USA Today

"For company founder Elon Musk, it's showtime. "We're super excited to be launching from Cape Canaveral," Musk said. "It's like opening on Broadway." For others, the flight will be a measure of President Obama's plan to kill NASA's moon program, dubbed Project Constellation, and instead invest in developing commercial "space taxis" for astronauts traveling to and from low Earth orbit. The plan has encountered opposition in Congress. The odds of success on the first launch of any new rocket are about 50-50. "I hope people don't use us as a bellwether for commercial space," Musk said."


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