Commercialization: March 2011 Archives

Near Term Space Exploration with Commercial Launch Vehicles Plus Propellant Depot, Dr. Alan Wilhite and Dr. Douglas Stanley, Dale Arney and Chris Jones, GRAs Georgia Institute of Technology/ National Institute of Aerospace

"The Propellant Depot Hypotheses

* Large in-space mission elements (inert) can be lifted to LEO in increments on several medium-lift commercial launch vehicles (CLVs) rather than on one Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles (HLLVs)
* The heavy in-space transportation mission elements are beyond the payload capability of medium-lift CLVs; however, 80 to 90 percent of their mass is propellant that can be delivered in increments to a Propellant Depot and transferred to the in-space stages
* Saves DDT&E costs of HLLV
* Low-flight-rate HLLV dominated by high unique fixed costs. Use of CLVs eliminates these costs and spreads lower fixed costs over more flights and other customers.
* Use of large re-fueled cryo stages save DDT&E/ops costs for advanced propulsion stages (e.g., SEP)"

NASA Ames Wins Agency Awards for Inventions

"NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., has won two agency awards: the 2010 Government Invention of the Year Award and the 2010 Commercial Invention of the Year Award. Ames received the Government Invention Award for developing the Future ATM (Air Traffic Management) Concepts Evaluation Tool, or FACET, software that creates simulations for managing air traffic scenarios."

Keith's note: Cool technology news. NASA wins external awards. Yawn. No mention on the NASA Chief Technologist's webpage.


XCOR and ULA Demonstrate Revolutionary Rocket Engine Nozzle Technology - Sign Contract for Liquid Hydrogen Engine Development

"United Launch Alliance (ULA) and XCOR Aerospace announced today their successful hot-fire demonstrations of a lighter-weight, lower-cost approach to liquid-fueled rocket-engine vacuum nozzles. The new nozzle technology, which uses aluminum alloys and innovative manufacturing techniques, is projected to be less costly and save hundreds of pounds of mass compared to nozzles in use today in typical large upper-stage rocket engine systems."

NASA 360 is on Hulu.com

Keith's note: NASA 360 just launched on HULU. Only 4 shows up right now, but they will be uploading others soon. You can see the episodes here: http://www.hulu.com/nasa-360

Here are some stats for HULU:

~30 million users monthly
~1 billion ad streams monthly (comScore)

Yuri's Night 2011

$18,000 in Prizes Offered by Yuri's Night in "Call to Humanity" Space Exploration Ad Competition

"Yuri's Night is excited to commemorate the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight by launching two contests: the "Call to Humanity" Space Exploration Ad Competition, which calls on talented graphic designers, artists, and other creative individuals to create a powerful and inspiring print campaign that will move people to think about and support humanity's future in space, and the "International Space Sweepstakes," a free global drawing."

Statement of NASA Administrator Bolden: Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"At its core, NASA's mission remains fundamentally the same as it always has been and supports our new vision: "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind." This statement is from the new multi-year 2011 NASA Strategic Plan accompanying the FY 2012 budget request, which all of NASA's Mission Directorates, Mission Support Offices and Centers helped to develop, and encapsulates in broad terms the very reason for NASA's existence and everything that the American public expects from its space program."

- Budget and Program Description Enclosures

Chairman Rockefeller Remarks on Realizing NASA's Potential: Programmatic Challenges in the 21st Century

"The space station itself recently passed a milestone of its own. Last November marked 10 years of a continuous human presence on the space station. Much of that time has been devoted to construction, but the astronauts on board still found time to conduct more than 1,200 experiments that supported the research of more than 1,600 scientists worldwide."

Key Quotes from Today's Hearing on Realizing NASA's Potential: Programmatic Challenges in the 21st Century

"Unless we get a pretty dramatic budget cut, we plan to go execute that mission. We see that mission as extremely critical to us. What that mission provides for us is it gives some margin that if commercial providers are a little bit late and they don't fly in late 2011 and 2012 as they have been planning, then we've got some time through 2012 that we'll have enough supplies pre-positioned on the Space Station that we can continue to do quality research and we can continue to keep our crew size at six aboard the Station through that period until 2013. If we don't have that shuttle flight then it is absolutely mandatory that the commercial cargo providers come online this year and early into 2012. I don't think that's a prudent strategy. We need some margin." Mr. William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA in response for comment on whether the STS-135 will fly this year and the benefits of the mission

Hutchison Pushes NASA Leadership on Implementation of Law

"It is important to remember [the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2010] is a law, not just an advisory framework. Compliance is not something we should have to hope for, it is something that we expect and is required. At the same time, the president's budget request proposes a significant increase to the very same areas prioritized by the Administration's last request, which Congress rejected," said Sen. Hutchison."

MDA Signs Intelsat as Anchor Tenant for On-Orbit Servicing (With video), SpaceRef Canada

"MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) today announced it has entered into an agreement with Intelsat S.A. as its anchor tenant for its Space Infrastructure Servicing (SIS) vehicle which could be in service by 2015. This is a major step forward for the Richmond, BC headquartered company as it helps create a new commercial space segment. The Space Infrastructure Servicing vehicle is an on-orbit servicing spacecraft that will initially carry up to 2,000 kilograms of fuel and a suite of robotic tools to service satellites of which Intelsat will be the first customer. The servicing of these satellites is expected to extend the life of each satellite from one to five years depending on the customers needs."

NASA OIG: Review of NASA's Controls over Public Sales of Space Shuttle Property

"We found that NASA had not fully integrated its export control and property disposition processes to reduce the risk that public sales of Space Shuttle property could result in the prohibited release of export-controlled items and technology. This occurred because the Agency did not fully recognize how the domestic sale of Space Shuttle property could result in an export. Moreover, NASA's policies do not include the internal controls necessary to fully protect export-controlled property from unauthorized release."

NASA's Chief Technology Officer for IT Chris Kemp Is Leaving The Agency

"Deciding to leave NASA has not been easy, and is something I've been struggling with for the past few months. About a month ago, I mentioned to one of my mentors that "it's a very difficult time to be an entrepreneur at NASA." She responded "is it ever a good time to be an entrepreneur at NASA?" Reflecting on this, I realized that most of my accomplishments at NASA were not at Headquarters, but out in the field where I could roll up my sleeves and work on projects and get stuff done. Whereas I thought I had the best of both worlds being a Headquarters employee stationed in Silicon Valley, I actually had the worst of both worlds... no influence when I can't be in all of those meetings at NASA HQ, with no mandate to manage projects at Ames. As budgets kept getting cut and continuing resolutions from Congress continued to make funding unavailable, I saw my vision for the future slowly slip further from my grasp. So, today, I am announcing that I am leaving the place I dreamed of working as a kid to find a garage in Palo Alto to do what I love."

NASA Extends Crew Flight Contract With Russian Space Agency

"NASA has signed a $753 million modification to the current International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation, rescue and related services from 2014 through June 2016. The firm-fixed price modification covers comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and crew rescue of long-duration missions for 12 individual space station crew members."

Keith's note: $753 million/12 astronauts = $62.75 million/astronaut.

No NASA Discount For Soyuz Seats, 2010, earlier post

"NASA has signed a deal worth 306 million dollars (224 million euros) with Roskomos for six rides to the ISS in 2012 and 2013, or a charge of 51 million dollars per US astronaut."

NASA Extends Contract with Russian Federal Space Agency, 2008, earlier post

"NASA has signed a $141 million modification to the current International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation services planned through the spring of 2012."

- NASA JSC Solicitation: Procurement of Crew Transportation and Rescue Services From Roscosmos
- Soyuz Procurement That Falls Short of NASA's Own Commercial Crew Requirements
- NASA Extends Contract with Russian Federal Space Agency (2012-2013), earlier post

Work Begins on Exploration Park at NASA KSC, Space Florida

"Site work has begun on Exploration Park, the high-tech research and office park being developed by The Pizzuti Companies in partnership with Space Florida. Tom Harmer, senior vice president for The Pizzuti Companies, said the initial work includes clearing the site, transporting fill dirt and initial site grading. Work on this phase of the project is expected to take approximately eight weeks to complete, Harmer said."

Northrop Grumman Foundation Announces 2011 Weightless Flights of Discovery Program at National Science Teachers' Association Conference

"The Northrop Grumman Foundation announced today that the Foundation is accepting teacher applications for the 2011 Weightless Flights of Discovery program, a unique professional development initiative that places teachers on microgravity flights to test Newton's Laws of Motion and energize students during their formative middle school years. The announcement was made during the National Science Teachers Association's (NSTA) National Conference on Science Education, held in San Francisco this week."

Keith's note: This is one of the more interesting procurement notices I have seen in a while i.e. no actual product or service is actually specified.

"NASA/HQ has a requirement for [ENTER BRIEF, CONCISE DESCRIPTION OF THE REQUIRED PRODUCT(S) TO BE ACQUIRED INCLUDING QUANTITIES AND UNITS OF MEASURE AND REFERENCE ANY UPLOADED DOCUMENTS THAT CONTAIN MORE DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS AND/OR A SOW TO THIS SYNOPSIS - i.e The specifications and drawings are linked above or may be accessed at http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/eps/bizops.cgi?gr=C&pin= .]"

Keith's update: They fixed it.

NASA Opportunity Notice to Participate in its Centennial Challenges Program as an Allied Organization

"Through this Opportunity Notice NASA seeks to select an Allied Organization for the Nano-Satellite Launcher prize competition to be conducted under the Centennial Challenges Program of NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. NASA provides the monetary prize purse (which can be supplemented by outside organizations) but no funding for the conduct of the competition itself."

NASA IPP Solicitation: Opportunity Notice for Potential Centennial Challenges Sponsors

"Through this Opportunity Notice (NOTICE), NASA seeks to identify potential Sponsoring Organizations who may be interested in partnering with Allied Organizations to support prize competitions conducted under Centennial Challenges program (http://www.nasa.gov/challenges ) of NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C."

Astronaut brings his problem-solving skills down to earth, Ultimate Clear Lake

"A five-time astronaut, [Scott] Parazynski said he's especially eager to tackle projects in the fields of minimally invasive surgery and nanomedicine, with its potential to use targeted drugs to destroy tumors and plaques in arteries. Some inspiration, he admits, comes from Star Trek. "I'm hoping to leverage my background to create the next generation of minimally invasive surgery and diagnostic tools," Parazynski said. "As a physician growing up and watching Star Trek, we all wanted a medical tricorder. So one of the things I'd love to do is think big and push the envelope on what is possible." For those who don't grok Spock, a "tricorder "is a fictional device that can scan a person and immediately diagnose a disease or injury."

Image: Scott Parazynski in May 2009 using a Jaz spectroradiometer from Ocean Optics at Everest Base Camp to measure solar irradiance [See "Using a Tricorder on Mount Everest"]

Evaluating NASA Technology Road Maps - Public Workshop Series

"A National Research Council steering committee and six panels that are advising NASA on innovative technologies for future missions is holding a series of public workshops to review 14 draft NASA technology "road maps" and solicit input from the public, the aerospace community, and policymakers. The study will provide recommendations to NASA to help chart a course for technologies and concepts that could benefit future earth and space science missions and also contribute to critical national and commercial needs in space technology."

Commercial Human Spaceflight Safer, Much Needed, Owen Garriott and Alan Stern, Space News

"We also think that commercial crew LEO transport has the potential (and, many believe, high probability) of providing crew transport at a far lower cost. And not only should these alternatives be cheaper than a full NASA development program, they also should come on line more quickly, relieving our country of its soon-to-be complete dependence on Russia for access to LEO and the international space station. As a result of these factors, there is now a growing consensus that our path into the future should lie in promoting a commercial human space launch program in LEO, and that such systems will be substantially safer and less expensive than the shuttle system they will replace."

NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman Leaves Agency

"Reisman, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering, joined NASA in 1998. Before flying in space, he served in multiple technical roles including work supporting robotics and the advanced vehicles branch of the Astronaut Office."

Astronaut Garrett Reisman Joins SpaceX

"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is proud to announce that NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman is joining the company as a senior engineer working on astronaut safety and mission assurance. Dr. Reisman will join former NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox's team in preparing SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts."

NASA's Glory Satellite Fails To Reach Orbit

"NASA's Glory mission launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Friday at 5:09:45 a.m. EST failed to reach orbit. Telemetry indicated the fairing, the protective shell atop the Taurus XL rocket, did not separate as expected about three minutes after launch."

Education Satellites Hitch Ride on Glory Mission

"P-PODs are aluminum containers measuring about 5 inches square by about 16 inches long. One P-POD will carry three CubeSats as an auxiliary payload aboard a Taurus XL on NASA's Glory mission."

NASA Creates Glory Satellite Mishap Investigation Board

"NASA's previous launch attempt of an Earth science spacecraft, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory onboard a Taurus XL on Feb. 24, 2009, also failed to reach orbit when the fairing did not separate. NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Mishap Investigation Board reviewed launch data and the fairing separation system design, and developed a corrective action plan. The plan was implemented by Taurus XL manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corporation. In October 2010, NASA's Flight Planning Board confirmed the successful closure of the corrective actions."

NASA Releases Orbiting Carbon Observatory Accident Summary, 17 July 2009

"NASA's OCO satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide launched aboard a Taurus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Feb. 24 at 4:55 a.m. EST, but it failed to reach orbit. The Mishap Investigation Board ... verified that the Taurus launch vehicle fairing failed to separate upon command."

GAO Report: NASA: Assessment of Selected Large-Scale Projects

"GAO assessed 21 NASA projects with a combined life-cycle cost that exceeds $68 billion. Of those 21 projects, 16 had entered the implementation phase where cost and schedule baselines were established. Development costs for the 16 projects had an average growth of $94 million--or 14.6 percent--and schedules grew by an average of 8 months. The total increase in development costs for these projects was $1.5 billion. GAO found that 5 of the 16 projects were responsible for the overwhelming majority of this increase. The issue of cost growth is more significant than the 14.6 percent average would indicate because it does not capture the cost growth that occurred before several projects reported baselines in response to a statutory requirement in 2005."

2011 Next-Gen Suborbital Researchers Conference a Hit, 2012 Follow-up Conference Planned

Image: PR Newswire press release regarding SwRI/XCOR suborbital flight announcement as seen in Times Square in New York City. Larger image.

"The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) held in Orlando, Florida, this week set records for the number of presentations, sponsors and attendees. The annual conference brings the research and education communities together with suborbital vehicle providers and government funding agencies to explore the exciting new era of suborbital spaceflight. CSF is a proud co-sponsor of the event, which was attended by about 350 people."

NASA OIG: Audit of NASA's Facilities Maintenance

"Many of NASA's facilities are in degraded condition and its maintenance backlog continues to grow each year. NASA's deferred maintenance estimate for all its facilities increased from $1.90 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2005 to $2.55 billion in FY 2010. Continued deferral of facility maintenance could result in unsafe working conditions and higher annual maintenance costs. From FY 2005 through FY 2009, deferred maintenance as a percentage of current replacement value increased, indicating that NASA's facilities were deteriorating. Although the overall deferred maintenance estimate in FY 2010 increased by approximately $6 million, deferred maintenance as a percentage of current replacement value decreased, indicating a slight improvement in the condition of NASA's facilities. This occurred due to NASA's efforts to replace or refurbish aged facilities."

NIAC Is Back

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Solicitation

"NASA's Office of Chief Technologist has announced the "NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)" Phase I Solicitation is now open. The NIAC Program seeks to inspire and nurture revolutionary concepts that could transform future aerospace endeavors. NIAC will fund early studies of visionary, long term concepts - aerospace architectures, systems, or missions (not focused technologies). The goal of NIAC is to give visionary ideas a chance. NASA recognizes that concepts to transform the future may come from innovators across the nation, so this exciting program is open to everyone. If you have a revolutionary concept that NASA should consider, you are encouraged to submit a NIAC proposal."

Our views: An emerging market, editorial, Florida Today

"Suborbital flights that would carry passengers, experiments and satellites from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, launching a new job-creation industry here. The potential was the focus of attention Monday at a University of Central Florida conference that brought together industry leaders to discuss ways to advance the initiative. It's a smart move and one that Space Florida, the state's space-development agency, is correctly pressing as part of its strategy to diversify the space industry with the shuttle's retirement imminent."

Letter from Space Leaders to Congress Urging Support of NASA's Use of Commercial Crew Services to the ISS

"Dear Members of Congress: We, the undersigned space leaders--over 50 of us, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. We are writing to urge you to fully fund NASA's plan to use commercial companies to carry crew to the Space Station because it is critical to the health of the Nation's human spaceflight efforts.

Among us are former NASA executives and advisors, former astronauts, CEOs and directors of firms large and small, space scientists, space journalists, and others. We include 14 former NASA astronauts, 5 former NASA senior executives, 13 educators and nonprofit leaders, and 24 space industry leaders from a wide variety of firms and institutions, both large and small.

We are a diverse group, but we are only a tiny fraction of the Nation's citizens who support U.S. leadership in human space flight and the development of competitive commercial human spaceflight."


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