Commercialization: August 2010 Archives

SpaceX Asks For Oct. 23 Dragon Launch Slot, Aviation Week

"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has requested Oct. 23 on the 45th Space Wing's calendar for launch of its second Falcon 9 rocket, which will aim to place a Dragon cargo capsule into orbit.

The flight is the first of up to three launches planned under SpaceX's $278-million Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract with NASA, which is intended to help pay for the rocket and capsule's design, development and flight testing."

Learning From The Past

Summoning the Future By Remembering the Past, Dennis Wingo

"Almost exactly 100 years and nine weeks before the famous speech by President Kennedy at Rice University calling for what would be known as the Apollo program, the U.S. Congress, in the middle of a war for the life of the nation, passed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. The "national" railroad as it was called was chartered by the government had as its core purpose to bind the nation together in commerce and open up the frontier to economic development. The government picked the route, set standards for its construction, and paid milestone payments to each of the two railroads (Union Pacific in the east and Central Pacific in the west). The government provided further incentives in the form of huge land grants on either side of the tracks that could be resold by the railroads at a profit. Another note is that the railroad paid back the government at a six percent interest over 30 years, resulting in a direct profit to the treasury."

NASTAR Center and Special Aerospace Services Commence Research Study on Emergency Detection and Human Response of Atlas V Profile

"The NASTAR(R) Center, the premier commercial space training and research center in the world, has completed the initial phase of a research effort focused on commercial human spaceflight and systems development related to emergency detection and response using an Atlas V flight profile, under a contract with Special Aerospace Service (SAS) on August 16, 2010. SAS used the capabilities of NASTAR Center's unique Space Training Simulator (STS-400) to accurately simulate the ascent G accelerations of an Atlas V rocket in Atlas 402 configuration. Nominal scenarios were performed with three subjects in order to understand crew reaction times. Subjects are medically monitored and tested at NASTAR Center. One subject, Jeff Ashby, is a former NASA Space Shuttle commander."

Frank Sietzen, Jr.: Consider how many space initiatives the United States didn't pursue in the past half century. A fully reusable launch vehicle. A 20-person expendable space station. New heavy lift boosters. A permanent lunar colony. The Orbital Space Plane. NERVA and Prometheus. An outpost on Mars. In fact, there have been more false starts and failed approaches than those that worked. By setting budget limits, the hand of the Congress can be seen in all of these programs, but the "failure to launch" can be squarely placed on the Defense Department, the Air Force, and of course NASA.

Measuring The NASA Stimulus, National Journal

"... But placing a monetary value on those benefits proved more difficult, even for one of NASA's greatest achievements. The "fact remains that we got to the moon in a decade, but are, as yet, unable to fully measure the present and future economic impact of the science and technology accumulated on the way to the moon (or the aggregate effect of technological progress in general)," noted the authors of a 1971 Midwest Research Institute study. No one's ever really resolved the uncertainty. And as a result, researchers over the years have come up with a wide array of returns on investment for NASA spending. Estimated ratios of revenue generated compared to spending have been as high as 14-to-1."

NASA past performance ratings higher for cost plus contracts than fixed price, FIerceGovernment

"The more a company has a contractually risky relationship with NASA, the more likely it is that the agency will rate that contractor well during past performance evaluations, according to new research from INPUT, a Reston, Va.-based intelligence and analysis firm. INPUT obtained information on NASA past performance evaluations through Freedom of Information Act requests, releasing a proprietary August 16 report supplied by the firm to FierceGovernmentIT."

The Moon: Creating Capability in Space and Getting Value for our Money, Paul Spudis

"Of all the possible destinations in space, the Moon offers the proximity, accessibility, and materials necessary to learn how to use what we find in space to create new capabilities. Harvesting the resources of the Moon will allow us to make what we need in space, rather than carrying it with us from the Earth's surface. The model currently used to pursue our national interests in space - design-launch-use-discard - restrains opportunity, affordability and capability. We can break the limits imposed on all of these factors by learning how to use the resources of space."

Game Changing Technology Development Program

"The GCDP focuses on developing radically new approaches to NASA's future space missions and the nation's significant aerospace needs. Where other technology development activities seek the steady and deliberate evolution of system and mission capabilities, the successful products of the GCDP should provide revolutionary advances in capabilities to enable missions that cannot otherwise be accomplished or that significantly improve mission performance compared with conventional approaches. The objective of the GCDP is to mature such technologies starting from a TRL of 2/3 to a TRL of 4."

Space Technology Research Grants Program

"As part of the Office of the Chief Technologist's Early Stage Innovation Division, this Program will foster the development of innovative low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) technologies for advanced space systems and space technology. The goal of this low TRL technology endeavor will be to accelerate the development of push technologies (technology development not directed at a specific mission) to support the future space science and exploration needs of NASA, other government agencies, and the commercial space sector."

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program

"In Fiscal Year 2011, NASA plans to begin the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The Office of the Chief Technologist is fostering the development of innovative, low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) concepts to accelerate the development of transformational capabilities and "push" technologies. NIAC will fund early studies of visionary concepts that could dramatically improve aerospace missions 10 or more years in the future."

Danish inventors produce first amateur rocket designed to send humans into space (and one of them is going to test it out himself), Daily Mail

"It might not look much. In fact, it looks practically suicidal. But two Danish inventors hope to launch the world's first amateur-built rocket for human space travel. The homemade rocket is the brainchild of Danish firm Copenhagen Suborbitals, headed by Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen."

Copenhagen Suborbitals

"Welcome to Copenhagen Suborbitals Our mission is very simple. We are working towards launching a human being into space. This is a non-profit suborbital space endeavor lead by Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, based entirely on sponsors and volunteers."

Can We Turn Over America's Space Program to a "Space Cadet"?, Pete Fenn, The Hill

"But SpaceX may be even scarier -- a venture that risks a major program. The New York Times describes a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings who are launching rockets while soaking up $1.6 billion from NASA. My work in this area makes me think that this is a risky gamble with someone like Musk, who promises the sky, the moon and the stars."

Keith's note: The commenters on this blog posting pretty much sum it up. Curiously, Musk's Falcon 9 and Dragon's parachute systems worked perfectly the first time. As for Ares 1-X and Orion ... well, not so good. Where's the outrage over that, Mr. Fenn?

SpaceX Conducts Dragon Parachute Test (Photos and Video)

"SpaceX recently completed its first Dragon high altitude drop test and it was 100% successful! The purpose of the test was to validate the Dragon's parachute deployment systems and recovery operations prior to the first flight of an operational Dragon later this year. The drop occurred on August 12, 2010 about nine miles off the coast from the scenic town of Morro Bay, CA-- 45 miles north of Vandenberg Air Force Base."

- Pad Abort 1 Test Successful, earlier post
- Update: What Really Crashed In The Desert (Orion), earlier post
- Orion Crash Photos and Videos Online - Finally, earlier post
- Orion Parachute Test Crash Update, earlier post

FAA Creates Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation

"U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected New Mexico State University (NMSU), Las Cruces, NM, to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation which includes Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. The center is a partnership of academia, industry, and government, developed for the purpose of creating a world-class consortium that will address current and future challenges for commercial space transportation."

NASA Supports New FAA Commerical Space Transportation Center

"NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will support the new Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation (COE), a university-led consortium sponsored and announced Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The new center will perform research and development to help build a safe and strong U.S. commercial space industry."

Aerospace and Defense Companies Hiring, But Face Challenges Retaining Young Pros, Says AVIATION WEEK Workforce Study

"AVIATION WEEK has released results from its 2010 Workforce and Young Professionals/Student Study, a mainstay for aerospace and defense (A&D) planning and trend analysis since 1997, which show that A&D companies plan to hire 15,500 professionals this year. However, retaining younger employees continues to be a challenge -- the voluntary attrition rate (employees choosing to leave) for young professionals rose to 21%, and 41% admit to looking for new jobs. The study also reviewed industry retirement rates and ranked the top universities for A&D alumni hires, with California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, at number one."

Space Coast Task Force Delivers Economic Strategies Report

"The President's Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, co-chaired by NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, today released its report to President Barack Obama with recommendations to enhance economic development strategies along Florida's Space Coast. The task force was charged with developing a plan for how best to invest $40 million in transition assistance from the federal government in the Space Coast region as the space shuttle program winds down."

NASA Seeks Data from Innovative Lunar Demonstrations

"NASA has issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to purchase specific data resulting from industry efforts to test and verify vehicle capabilities through demonstrations of small robotic landers. The purpose is to inform the development of future human and robotic lander vehicles.

The Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) BAA will result in multiple small firm-fixed price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts with a total value up to $30.1 million through 2012. Multiple awards are possible with a minimum government purchase of $10,000 for each selected contractor. A minimum order will be funded using FY10 dollars. Orders above the minimum would be competed among the successful offerors dependent on future budget availability. The deadline for submitting proposals is Sept. 8."

SpaceX Unveils Heavy-Lift Vehicle Plan, Aviation Week

"The U.S. government should lead development of a nuclear thermal propulsion system for a future Mars mission and leave new heavy-lift launchers to commercial entities, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) says. Unveiling conceptual plans for a family of Falcon X and XX future heavy-lift vehicles at last week's AIAA Joint Propulsion conference here, SpaceX McGregor rocket development facility director Tom Markusic said, "Mars is the ultimate goal of SpaceX."

Keith's note: These are two presentations from the meeting by Tom Markusic: "SpaceX Propulsion" and "SpaceX overview" (Broken links fixed)

Senate Approves Bill Championed by Senator Hutchison to Preserve America's Human Spaceflight Capabilities

"The Senate today approved bipartisan legislation championed by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, to safeguard America's human spaceflight capabilities while balancing commercial space investment with a robust mission for NASA. The bill is also supported by Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), David Vitter (R-La.) and George LeMieux (R-Fla.)."

Bill challenges NASA to evolve, mind budget, Bill Nelson and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Orlando Sentinel

"Still, our legislation would reduce the time we would have to depend on Russia for access to the space station by extending the shuttle for another year. It would thus keep in place much of the talent at the Kennedy and Johnson space centers. Our legislation would push NASA's development of a new heavy-lift rocket forward, with the goal to fly by 2016. And it would make a significantly higher investment in commercial space ventures, specifically by accelerating development of both commercial cargo and crew carriers. Our congressional initiative also would keep the space station and its immense research opportunities going through at least 2020."

More Detail Sought On Commercial Crew Plan, Aviation Week

"Members of the panel's commercial space subcommittee expressed dissatisfaction with some of the information they have received from NASA managers on the agency's approach to what is known as commercial crew. Panel members complained that the agency has not been clear on just how it would use commercial vehicles to deliver astronauts to the ISS, which the panel found would make it difficult for industry to set up the kind of public-private partnerships NASA seeks. The NAC subcommittee wants a better strategy for spending the $6 billion requested for commercial crew transportation over the next five years. "We strongly feel that you need to go do this, because what we're hearing from you is all over the map," said Bret Alexander, who as chairman of the commercial space panel will ask the full NAC to endorse his subcommittee's position at the JPL meeting."

Astrium signs development contract with Vietnam for an Earth observation satellite - VNREDSat-1

"Astrium has signed a contract worth 055.2 million with the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) for the development, manufacture and launch of an Earth observation optical satellite system. This follows on from last November's intergovernmental agreement on space co-operation between France and Vietnam, in which the French government affirmed its commitment to building a closer partnership with Vietnam in the domain of science and technology."

Report: Fairness and Contracting Integrity in NASA's Space Communications Networks Services Competition

"Committee staff received several allegations about contract misconduct by the management and acquisitions staff of the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). These all related to large support contracts managed out of the Center. Many of the allegations were tied to the current Space Communications Networks Services (SCNS) contract competition. After a thorough review of the materials provided to the Committee by NASA and others and many interviews by Committee staff of both current and former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employees, contractor employees involved in the SCNS competition from ITT, Honeywell and outside consulting firms, and discussions with contract law specialists at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Research Service, we believe that staff at GSFC have engaged in conduct that is inconsistent with either the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) or the agencys own rules. The result is that the SCNS competition has been skewed in such a fashion that, at a minimum, creates the appearance of the agency favoring one bidder over another."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from August 2010.

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