Commercialization: October 2010 Archives

NASA Solicitation: Aircraft Maintenacne Operational Support and Microgravty Services Market Research Questionnaire

"Johnson Space Center's (JSC) Flight Crew Operation Directorate (FCOD) anticipates procuring services under an Aircraft Maintenance and Operational Support (AMOS) and/or Microgravity Services (MS) contract. As part of the Government's continuous information exchange with industry while formulating the acquisition strategy for the AMOS and/or MS services requirement, the Government requests your assistance as it seeks to arrive at the most suitable approach for acquiring AMOS and/or MS services. In order for NASA to make this determination, the Government requests information in order to gain knowledge from potential offerors."

NASA Solicitation: Aircraft Maintenacne Operational Support and Microgravty Services Market Research Questionnaire, earlier post

Auctioning Off NASA Patents

NASA Goddard to Auction off Patents for Automated Software Code Generation

"NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is auctioning an exclusive license to five patents for automated software development on November 11, 2010. The patents encompass a new method for automatically creating software code which is verifiably equivalent to user requirements specified in natural language, graphic formats, or other formats with a known semantic structure. "Other approaches have claimed this, but this is the first time that the relationship is fully proven mathematically."

NASA Seeks More Proposals On Commercial Crew Development

"Multiple awards are expected to be announced by March 2011 for terms of up to 14 months. Approximately $200 million total is expected to be available for awards under this announcement, but funding is dependent on the 2011 fiscal year appropriations from Congress. The deadline for submitting proposals is Dec. 13."

NASA Changes Widespread, Garver Says, Aviation Week

"Garver acknowledged the rancor and concern triggered by the Obama administration's decision to switch to a more commercial approach for flying crews to and from the station. "In order to be expected to loosen our grip on transporting our precious astronauts, our national treasures, to and from space, we need to assure ourselves -- and the nation -- that there are capable companies ready to carry that torch forward," she says. Part of the resistance to Obama's plan to procure launch services for astronauts rather than have NASA operate the transportation system itself stems from uncertainty about what the civil government space program would do next, Garver says. "We need to do a better job of planning and articulating what we will do."

Google Lunar X PRIZE Update, William Pomerantz for SpaceRef

"The past few weeks have been a flurry of activity for the Google Lunar X PRIZE. After helping our colleagues celebrate the awarding of the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, we hit the road to attend the 61st International Astronautical Congress in Prague, and then to host the 4th annual Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit on the Isle of Man. With all of the recent activity, and with the competition just having celebrated its third "birthday," now seems like a good time for an update."

Virgin Galactic eyes NASA commercial space work, Reuters

"Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of billionaire Richard Branson's London-based Virgin Group VA.L, plans to compete in the upcoming race to develop orbital space vehicles, Branson said on Friday. NASA plans to issue a solicitation as early as Monday for a follow-up to its $50 million Commercial Crew Development program, (for developing commercial crew spaceflight concepts), as part of a broader revamping of the U.S. space program under President Barack Obama. The program is funding work by five companies -- Sierra Nevada Corp, Boeing Co (BA.N), United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and Paragon Space Development -- as part of Obama's bid to bolster support for private space companies."

Spaceport Runway Dedication Includes Sir Richard Branson and NM Governor Richardson

"Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA, said, "With the recent signing of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 by President Obama, it is clear that our nation's future space efforts will be working even more closely than with the growing commercial space transportation industry," She added, "Innovative approaches that foster this new commercial industry will bring more competition and opportunities that will lower the costs of spaceflight and payload services for America's aerospace programs, and introduce new human space transportation systems."

NASA Deputy Administrator Available for Interviews at Spaceport

"NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will attend a dedication celebrating completion of the runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico at 11 a.m. MST on Friday, Oct. 22. She will be available before and after the event for media interviews. Garver will speak at the runway dedication event and also will be a keynote speaker on Thursday at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, N.M."

Space Station Partners Release International Docking Standard

"The International Space Station Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) has approved a docking system standard. The international standard will provide guidelines for a common interface to link future spacecraft ranging from crewed to autonomous vehicles and from low-Earth orbit to deep-space exploration missions."

Letter To Charles Bolden From Representatives Larsen, Boustany, and Kirk (PDF)

"As NASA develops the new Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) based on the work already done on the Orion crew capsule, the U.S. should begin discussions on a common docking ring between the CRV, Shenzhou and Soyuz. While serious security concerns exist, a joint rescue capability enabling the U.S, China and Russia to rescue each other's space crews should be common sense, and we urge NASA's attention to this matter."

Keith's note: Well, it looks like this issue is now more than resolved since anyone with Internet access can download this IDSS Interface Definition Document - China, India, Bigelow, SpaceX ...

Bigelow Aerospace Begins Testing Life Support Systems with Crew

"Bigelow Aerospace LLC, Las Vegas, NV, has begun the process of human rating its Environmental Control and Life Support System. The contained volume humans in the loop testing is in preparation for the 2015 launch of Sundancer - an expandable module approximately 27ft long, 22ft in diameter, with an internal volume of 180m3 and supports a crew of three. When completed, the process will have demonstrated the life support system's ability to safely support a crew of three persons for extended durations."

US may outsource lightweight satellite launches to India, India Strategic

"Lockheed Martin's India Chief Executive Roger Rose told India Strategic that as the US was moving towards longer distance and more sophisticated probes, it made commercial sense to outsource launching of some satellites. There was a dearth of low-cost launching facilities in the world but ISRO and Antrix had a commendable track record in this regard. Lockheed Martin was also interested in cooperating with ISRO on India's manned space flights. The corporation had substantial technological inputs on many or most of the US space missions, and some of these could be shared with India. He said that senior executives from Lockheed Martin had visited Bangalore in August and held discussions with ISRO and Antrix. Some of the US satellites assigned to Lockheed Martin could be outsourced to India and they could "ride piggyback on Indian rockets."

US may outsource lightweight satellite launches to India, Economic Times

"The United States could outsource lightweight satellite launches to India. Lockheed Martin, the biggest US defence, aerospace and military technology corporation, broached the subject recently with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its export arm, Antrix."

Keith's note: While Charlie Bolden is in China looking for ways that America and China can cooperate in space - including human spaceflight - corporate America is looking to partner with China's arch-rival India on the very same things. Ouch - Bad timing.

VSS Enterprise Completes First Manned Glide Flight

"10th October 2010, Mojave, CA. Virgin Galactic, the US company developing the world's first commercial manned space flight system and tourism business, is delighted to announce the successful completion today of the first piloted free flight of SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise. The spaceship was released from its mothership at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 metres). During its first flight the spaceship was piloted by Pete Siebold, assisted by Mike Alsbury as co-pilot. The two main goals of the flight were to carry out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership and for the pilots to free fly and glide back and land at Mojave Air and Space Port in California."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Congratulates SpaceShipTwo Team for Milestone First Glide Flight

Suborbital research hitches a ride on commercial space cruisers, Physics Today

"The promise of frequent, relatively inexpensive flights to suborbital space has attracted a growing number of researchers who are poised to send, or even accompany, experiments on multi-use commercial spaceships. The fledgling commercial space sector is now testing manned and unmanned rockets that could cruise for three or more minutes in a steady-state, low-vibration microgravity environment at altitudes around 100 km. Commercial space vehicles can take an experiment to space and bring it back at far less cost than conventional unmanned, single-use NASA rockets or a trip to the International Space Station, if one can even be arranged."

NASA must build rocket, not Congress, editorial, Sun Sentinel

"Congress did, fortunately, leave NASA a loophole. The bill says the space agency must use existing elements of other programs "to the extent practicable." That leaves NASA some room to make its own decisions. It should, however, use that wiggle room cautiously, ever mindful that Congress may look for other ways to meddle in NASA's work. When you have 535 meddlers, expect meddling."

NASA technology chief: We'll decide what rocket we want to build, Orlando Sentinel

"But the legislation leaves a large loophole for NASA engineers. While it encourages NASA to use existing parts, it is says only "to the extent practicable." In other words, if NASA decides it is not practical to use solid rocket motors, it doesn't have to."

Shelby Statement on House Passage of NASA Authorization

"However, the bill is not a perfect strategy. I remain concerned with the limiting direction set forth on the heavy lift rocket's design. NASA must not deliver a rocket that is simply a shuttle without wings. This would not represent a step forward for innovation or for the future of our space program."

No Market For Commercial Space Flight?, WAAY.TV

"I don't believe there's a market for it on a large scale for commercialization," said [Dave] King. King says commercial companies could be used for tourism and to possibly take some cargo to low earth orbit but he doesn't believe there will be enough people willing to pay companies for low earth orbit exploration, like education at the space station. "My personal opinion is that commercial companies should be taking cargo to low earth orbit but if it's a human NASA should probably be involved," said King."

Keith's note: Well Dave, you had your shot at building big government rockets with no concern for what things cost in the real world, so I can understand why you'd think this way.

SpaceX Update: COTS Demonstration Flight 1 (with photos)

"On September 15th we completed a successful wet dress rehearsal (WDR) which involved rolling the rocket out to the pad, loading it with propellants, performing a complete launch countdown sequence to just before ignition, and then unloading the propellants and returning the vehicle to a safe state. This latest wet dress rehearsal included new steps and sequences necessary to accommodate the operational Dragon spacecraft. Prior to the successful WDR, we completed our first integration of a Falcon 9 and an operational Dragon spacecraft. We integrate Falcon 9 and Dragon horizontally in the hangar. This makes payload processing easier, and also eliminates the large expense of building and maintaining a vertical mobile service tower."

Price too high on space module for hire, Daily Yomiuri

"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has received few requests from private corporations wanting to lease space in the research module Kibo on the International Space Station, with the high cost thought to be a major reason for the lack of interest. Under a pricing system introduced by JAXA in June last year, corporations can pay 5.5 million yen per hour to have astronauts from Japan, the United States or other nations carry out scientific experiments or other activities in Kibo. JAXA expected to receive commissions for 10 to 30 hours per year, but orders have fallen well short of that, the agency said. Since JAXA began leasing space in Kibo in September 2008, just four commercial operations have been conducted in the module."

Japan Seeks To Reorient Space Spending, Space News

"The Japanese government wants to promote more private-sector space development by reorienting its spending away from its research focus and toward commercially oriented programs and crafting a new law to permit commercial launch services, Japanese government and industry officials said Sept. 28."

NASA Solicitation: Commercial Crew Development Round 2

"As a continuation of NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) initiatives begun in 2009 to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities, NASA intends to extend efforts to foster activity leading to the development of commercial crew transportation systems. Through this activity, NASA may be able to spur economic growth as capabilities for new space markets are created and reduce the gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability."



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