Commercialization: November 2011 Archives

MAC IV&V Follow-on contract

NASA Awards Software Services Contract

"NASA has selected TASC Inc., of Andover, Mass., to provide software services to the agency's Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, W.Va. The services and support include independent verification and validation; software assurance; research and development and technical quality monitoring."

Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference Abstract Deadline is Fast Approaching

"Session topics range from planetary science, atmospheric science, microgravity sciences (fundamental biology and physics), earth science, and astro/solar physics applications to talks on integration, launch and funding for scientific payloads."

United Launch Alliance Completes Crucial Milestone Toward Certifying Atlas V for Human Spaceflight

"ULA has successfully completed the second required major performance milestone of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Unfunded Space Act Agreement. The Design Equivalency Review (DER) completes a rigorous assessment of the flight-proven Atlas V launch vehicle's compliance with NASA human spaceflight requirements. Three of the four current NASA CCDev partners providing commercial crew integrated services have selected Atlas V as their launch vehicle."

Virginia Completes Study of Commercial Space Flight Facility

"Speaking about the report, Governor McDonnell said "As home to one of only four facilities licensed by the FAA to send rockets into orbit, the Wallops Flight Facility at MARS has the potential to become the leading commercial space flight facility in the United State, all while creating much needed jobs and economic development in all corners of the Commonwealth. With our tremendous educational institutions, manufacturing capabilities, workforce, and ranking as the number one state in the nation in which to do business, the recommendations contained in this report will help Virginia seize a growing portion of this critical sector. Opportunities abound for Virginia in today's commercial space flight industry."

Seize Virginia's spaceflight opportunity, Op ed, Daily Press

"While any company conducting human spaceflight from Wallops has much to gain, the benefits that human spaceflight would bring to the Commonwealth would be even greater. Human spaceflight from Virginia's Eastern Shore would create thousands of primary and secondary jobs. .. Anyone who visited Florida's Space Coast during the heyday of the Apollo or the Space Shuttle programs can attest to the unparalleled impact human spaceflight has on job creation. ... However, none of this will matter if elected officials in Richmond and Washington are asleep at the wheel. A strong, coordinated and bipartisan effort must be made to incentivize and pressure companies such as Boeing and SpaceX to conduct commercial crew operations from Wallops. We have been presented with an unprecedented and historic chance to make the Commonwealth the gateway for NASA's human spaceflight future, and in today's tough economy failing to make a concerted effort would be the worst kind of tragedy."

SpaceX Searches for New Commercial Launch Site

"Four U.S. states - Virginia, California, Alaska, and Florida - have active launch sites. Given the complexity of developing a rocket launch site, SpaceX will be pursuing several options concurrently in order to fully understand the pros and cons of each location."

NASA budget erratic, Florida Today

"The good news for Kennedy Space Center and Brevard is in the form of a major investment in a new super rocket and Orion crew spaceship, publicly run rather than privately developed, but destined to be prepared and launched from here. Funding for both projects is solidly in place and will help stabilize jobs at the spaceport now and create potentially thousands more in the coming half-decade. ..."

"... The boondoggle James Webb Space Telescope was kept alive -- and provided a multibillion-dollar taxpayer bailout -- as politicians gave up on empty threats to finally cancel the latest NASA project to blow its budget and schedule. The telescope, an important science mission worthy of completion, is devouring so much of the NASA budget that other good work is being delayed or canceled."

Florida: No Space Pork Here - Only In Virginia, earlier post

SpaceX Launch Site Updates

SpaceX Searches for New Commercial Launch Site

"Four U.S. states - Virginia, California, Alaska, and Florida - have active launch sites. Given the complexity of developing a rocket launch site, SpaceX will be pursuing several options concurrently in order to fully understand the pros and cons of each location."

Availability of the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for Issuing an Experimental Permit to SpaceX for Operation of the Grasshopper Vehicle at the McGregor Test Site, Texas

"Although an experimental permit would authorize an unlimited number of launches, the FAA, in conjunction with SpaceX, developed a conservative set of assumptions regarding the possible number of launches that could be conducted under any one experimental permit for the Grasshopper RLV at the McGregor test site. The FAA has assumed that SpaceX would conduct up to 70 annual suborbital launches of the Grasshopper RLV under an experimental permit at the McGregor test site. This estimation is a conservative number and considers potential multiple launches per day and potential launch failures."

Key Controls NASA Employs to Guide Use and Management of Funded Space Act Agreements Are Generally Sufficient, but Some Could Be Strengthened and Clarified, GAO

"Finally, though federal standards for internal control highlight the importance of training to maintaining competence, NASA does not require or offer formal training for individuals responsible for managing funded Space Act agreements. For its Commercial Crew program, NASA did develop and document a process to guide program officials through procedures associated with its agreements. Although the documented process is a positive step for the Commercial Crew program, given the unique nature of funded Space Act agreements and the judgment that can be executed by agreement managers, training could help ensure that future agreements are executed appropriately."

Consider Supporting Shackleton Energy Company's Fuel Depot Business, NASAHackSpace

"The process of establishing the world's first operational lunar base and propellant depot business in space is underway as SEC launches its initial fundraising campaign. This comes in the footsteps of recent amazing new discoveries of huge deposits of propellant-feedstock ice on the Moon by NASA and other international space programs. Joining forces with RocketHub, one of the largest crowdfunding platforms, SEC seeks to raise the initial seed capital necessary to complete its top level planning in order to then secure the first major round of investment capital necessary to complete preliminary designs of all system elements."

SpaceX's Secret Sauce

1 visionary + 3 launchers + 1,500 employees = ? Is SpaceX changing the rocket equation?, Andrew Chaikin, Air & Space magazine

"After nearly a decade of struggling to reach this point, Musk isn't about to reveal the finer details of how he and his privately held company have created the Falcon and Dragon. They don't even file patents, Musk says, because "we try not to provide a recipe by which China can copy us and we find our inventions coming right back at us." But he talks freely about SpaceX's approach to rocket design, which stems from one core principle: Simplicity enables both reliability and low cost. Think of cars, Musk says. "Is a Ferrari more reliable than a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic?"

Getting Our Priorities Straight: Setting the SLS Vs Propellant Depot Argument In a Greater Context, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"In October 2011 of a report leaked out of NASA showing that a Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) architecture based upon the use of propellant depots vs the implementation of the heavy lift Space Launch System was being studied by NASA. Since that time much heat has been generated on both sides of this debate. However, the debate that is happening does not address the fundamental issue that has led us to the sorry state of affairs. The fundamental issue of concern is that NASA and the BEO exploration program are utterly irrelevant national needs in today's trying times. Money is certainly not the problem. Insight can be gleaned by looking at an area where government funding in the last few years has dramatically outpaced spending on space."

Virginia Vs Florida in Space

Launching Virginia's space industry, Roanoke Times

"With the Orion space capsule and the Space Launch System the latest federal space launch system already set for the Kennedy Space Center, Space Florida selfishly continues to seek to nix human spaceflight from Virginia. Florida seeks to soak up all domestic federal space dollars. Virginians need to know of the newfound position in space technology capability within our commonwealth. As NASA Watch blogger and Northern Virginia resident Keith Cowing pointed out, fewer than one in 100 in the state have realization of the commercial space launch pad assets on Wallops Island. This state of knowledge must change."

NASA Administrator Names Peck Agency's Chief Technologist

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Cornell University Professor Mason Peck to be the agency's chief technologist, effective in January. Peck will serve as the agency's principal advisor and advocate on matters concerning technology policy and programs. As the chief advocate, Peck will help communicate how NASA technologies benefit space missions and the day-to-day lives of Americans. The office coordinates, tracks and integrates technology investments across the agency and works to infuse innovative discoveries into future missions. The office also documents, demonstrates and communicates the societal impact of NASA's technology investments."

Group Letter From Former Astronauts To Congress Regarding NASA's Commercial Crew Program

"We understand there are many programs competing for limited NASA funding; however, Commercial Crew funding must be kept as one of the top priorities if America is to retain its position as the world's number one spacefaring nation, ahead of other spaceflight powers like Russia and China. Simply put, Commercial Crew represents the most rapid way for America to get back its human space transportation capability following retirement of the Space Shuttle, and for America to end the "gap" in human spaceflight. The US will be back with its own capability soonest through Commercial Crew. Without Commercial Crew, America will be on the sidelines for years and years. And as long as America lacks a domestic means to access and maintain our $100 billion International Space Station, then we are running a risk that any setback to the Russian space program or a deterioration of US-Russian relations could force us to temporarily or perhaps permanently evacuate the American crew from the ISS."

Group Letter To Congress and the Obama Administration Regarding NASA's Commercial Crew Program

"We, the undersigned space leaders, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. Among us are former NASA astronauts, executives, and advisors, CEOs and directors of firms large and small, space scientists, space journalists, and others. We write today to urge you to expedite plans to use commercial companies to carry crew to the Space Station. This effort is critical to the health of the Nation's human spaceflight efforts. More specifically, we are alarmed by possible congressional budget cuts to the $850M FY2012 budget request for NASA's Commercial Crew program--the fastest paced and surest effort to restore US human access to orbit. We are also alarmed by changes to NASA's planned contracting and oversight methods that threaten to complicate and slow progress toward developing US capabilities to put American astronauts in orbit via the Commercial Crew program."

NASA Space Technology Research Fellowships - Fall 2012 Fellowship Grant

"Point of Contact

Name: Claudia M Meyer
Title: NASA Space Technology Research Grants Program Exec
Phone: 000-000-0000
Fax: 000-000-0000
Email: hq-nstrf-call@mail.nasa.gov"

Keith's 4 Nov. note: Where is area code 000? You can "contact" Claudia Meyer at GRC (no mention of GRC in the NASA HQ procurement notice) at 216.977.7511 or at claudia.m.meyer@nasa.gov (via people.nasa.gov).

Keith's 8 Nov update: No one (including Claudia Meyer the "NASA Space Technology Research Grants Program Exec") seems to care that the principal contact for this official government solicitation refuses to post a valid telephone number such that taxpayers, students, etc. can contact her. "Open and transparent"? Not so much, I think.

NASA Still Studying Space-Based Fuel Depots, Aviation Week

"Michael Gazarik, NASA's space technology program director, says that CPST and the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket currently under development are complementary technologies. "To explore deep space we need a heavy-lift vehicle -- SLS -- and we need this technology. We need to be able to demonstrate how to handle cryogenic fluids in space." The CPST project is being led by NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, which was set up by the Obama administration to develop technologies that will be needed regardless of the final exploration architectures the U.S. space community hammers out. The depot-demonstration mission will serve any of them, Gazarik says."

- Update on NASA's Hidden Fuel Depot Studies
- NASA Studies Show Cheaper Alternatives to SLS, earlier post
- Fuel Depots and Congress, earlier post
- In-Space Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer Demonstration Mission Concept Studies, 2011, NASA GRC, earlier post
- Using Commercial Launchers and Fuel Depots Instead of HLVs, earlier post
- The HLV Cost Information NASA Decided Not To Give To Congress, earlier post

Alexander Saltman Selected As Executive Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

"The Federation has selected Dr. Alexander Saltman as the organization's Executive Director. Saltman is a physicist who has most recently served as the Legislative Director for Congressman Adam Schiff of California. ... Separately, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation is currently conducting an executive search for a new President to replace Rear Admiral Craig Steidle, who stepped down earlier this fall for medical reasons."


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