Commercialization: April 2013 Archives

Suits in space? A North Las Vegas company is working with NASA to recruit executives for space missions, Vegas Inc.

"Just months after reaching a deal with NASA to build an inflatable space room, local entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is working with agency officials to find ways for business executives to take part in human space missions. His company, Bigelow Aerospace, signed a deal with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration last month to explore how the private sector can contribute to missions beyond the area known as "Low Earth Orbit," about 1,200 miles above sea level. That could include missions to the moon, which is about 240,000 miles away, and Mars, which is at least 33.9 million miles from Earth."

Keith's note: So why won't NASA openly admit that it has signed this Space Act Agreement? Where is the press release? I asked for a copy of ths SAA weeks ago and NASA never sent it to me - despite the fact that these agreements are supposed to be made public and are usually provided by NASA PAO upon request. Alas, I obtained it through other means. Baffling PR tactics at work.

- Full Text of the NASA/Bigelow Space Act Agreement, earlier post
- Is NASA Going to Buy a Moon Base From Bob Bigelow?, earlier post

Charles Bolden: Launching American Astronauts from U.S. Soil

"Three years ago, the Administration put forward a public-private partnership plan, the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), to ensure that American companies would be launching our astronauts from U.S. soil by 2015. It's a plan that supports the U.S. human spaceflight program, boosts our economy, and helps create good-paying American jobs. If NASA had received the President's requested funding for this plan, we would not have been forced to recently sign a new contract with Roscosmos for Soyuz transportation flights. Because the funding for the President's plan has been significantly reduced, we now won't be able to support American launches until 2017."

NASA Extends Crew Flight Contract With Russian Space Agency

Virgin Galactic Breaks Speed of Sound in First Rocket-powered Flight of SpaceShipTwo (with video)

"Today, Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's aabar Investments PJC, completed the first rocket-powered flight of its space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). The test, conducted by teams from Scaled Composites (Scaled) and Virgin Galactic, officially marks Virgin Galactic's entrance into the final phase of vehicle testing prior to commercial service from Spaceport America in New Mexico."

Video: Grasshopper 250m Test Flight

"SpaceX's Grasshopper flies 820 feet, tripling its March 7th leap. Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle that SpaceX has designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up in the atmosphere during reentry, SpaceX's rockets are being designed to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing."

Text of the NASA/Bigelow Space Act Agreement

"The purpose of this Agreement is to facilitate and explore, in a manner that meets both national and commercial goals and objectives, joint public/private arrangements that would continue to build the ability for humans to live and work in space through the expansion of exploration capabilities beyond low Earth orbit. By conducting this joint effort, the Parties build on their experience and their mutual recognition of the value of a human presence and exploration development in low Earth orbit, ranging outward from Bigelow Aerospace's existing contract with NASA to conduct a technology demonstration of expandable structures on the International Space Station ("ISS") to significant private sector involvement and operations in beyond low Earth orbit including cislunar space and beyond."

Antares Launch Success

NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Test Launches Antares Rocket

"Corporation Sunday launched its Antares rocket at 05:00 p.m. EDT from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The test flight was the first launch from the pad at Wallops and was the first flight of Antares, which delivered the equivalent mass of a spacecraft, a so-called mass simulated payload, into Earth's orbit."

White House Statement on the Launch of Antares

"Today's successful test flight of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket from the spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, demonstrates an additional private space-launch capability for the United States and lays the groundwork for the first Antares cargo mission to the International Space Station later this year."

Three winners selected in "Why Space Matters to the Future" national video contest

"The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) and the NASA Visitor Center Consortium are pleased to announce the winners of the "Why Space Matters to the Future" video contest: Addie Augsburger, Clyzzel Samson, and Elizabeth Paddock. The winning entries were selected for both their creative demonstrations of the importance of space exploration and their unique visions for the future if the boundaries of space continue to expand."

Antares Launch Update

Orbital Schedules New Antares Rocket Launch Window

"Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that the next launch attempt for the new Antares rocket will be no earlier than Saturday, April 20, at 5 p.m. The mission management team met this afternoon to evaluate weather forecasts and optimum crew work schedules to provide two back-to-back opportunities for a launch attempt."

Orbital's Antares Rocket Launch Postponed

Graphics: How To See The Antares Launch From The Washington DC and Virginia Area

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

"The performance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) portfolio of major projects has improved in the areas of cost and schedule growth since GAO's first assessment in 2009. Average development cost growth and schedule delay for the current portfolio have decreased to about a third of their 2009 levels. These figures exclude the cost and schedule growth of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA's most expensive science project, in part because of its disproportionate effect on the portfolio average. Including the JWST in the calculation would increase the 2013 portfolio's average development cost growth from 3.9 percent to 46.4 percent and would double the average launch delay, from 4 to 8 months and obscure the progress the rest of the portfolio has made toward maintaining cost and schedule baselines."

Volunteers Line Up For Tito's Mars Flyaround, Aviation Week

"Doug Cooke, a recently retired top NASA manager who spearheaded exploration-systems development for the agency, has joined the private group's board advisors, MacCallum said. ... MacCallum said work has already started on ground facilities to test the life support hardware, which will be largely crew tended for simplicity, but will be designed effectively to give two-fault-tolerant redundancy comparable to NASA safety standards. Eventually some components and subsystems probably will be tested on the International Space Station."

Keith's note: Not that this is a bad idea (its actually a smart one since ISS is a great testbed), but who is going to pay to fly these systems to the ISS? Flying racks of hardware to the ISS is not exactly cheap.

Keith's update: Out of curiosity, I have checked online sites for the State of California and IRS for non-profits - or regular companies named "Inspiration Mars Foundation" or variations thereof. Nothing results from these searchs. One might conclude that the organization does not yet exist despite what is on their website.

Keith's update: Update: Inspiration Mars was incorporated in Delaware on 25 Jan 2013 as a Non-profit corporation - File #5279943 - but still no evidence of its 501(c)(3) status (probably in application phase).

Earlier posts

SpaceShipTwo Advances Towards Powered Flight

"History continues to be made in the skies above the Mojave Desert. Hot on the heels of last week's nitrous venting and feather test, SpaceShipTwo achieved another successful first today with a spectacular "Cold Flow" flight. The test objectives were successfully met, advancing another important step towards powered flight."

George Knapp: To infinity -- and beyond!, Las Vegas City Life

"Business deals don't get much bigger than this one. Have you ever read a contract that gives a governmental green light to a program to "place a base on the surface of the moon?" Ever see an agreement signed by the U.S. government that declares a specific goal "to extend and sustain human activities across the solar system?" Me, either. Yet that is essence of an adventurous deal already reached between NASA and Las Vegas space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow. An official announcement is still a few days away and will likely happen during a news conference at NASA headquarters."

Keith's note: Something is in the works. Stay tuned. This will be a rather odd turn of events given that just a week ago Charlie Bolden said "NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission ... NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things." Then again, Charlie Bolden first said NASA was going to go to an asteroid. Then he wanted to go to L2. Then he said that you did not have to go all the way to an asteroid to visit one. Then he said he'd bring the asteroid back to Earth (L2). Things change quickly in Charlie Bolden's strategy, it would seem.

>NASA OIG: NASA's Management of Energy Savings Contracts

"We found that Johnson mismanaged its $42.7 million energy contract. Specifically, Johnson officials did not require Honeywell to submit annual savings verification reports and accepted a flawed report for the first year, did not consider the effect of renovations to or demolition of facilities on the guaranteed savings rate, and added work to the contract without ensuring that energy savings would cover the additional costs. Based on our interviews and document review, it was apparent that Johnson contracting officials did not effectively administer the energy contract. Moreover, neither Johnson nor NASA had developed sufficient guidance or an effective training program regarding administration of energy contracts. As a result, Johnson may have overpaid Honeywell because it could not verify that the conservation measures installed under the contract resulted in the guaranteed $2 million in annual energy savings."

Orbital Rolls Out Antares Rocket to Launch Pad at Wallops Island For Upcoming Test Flight

"Early this morning, Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) rolled out the first fully integrated Antares(TM) rocket from its assembly building at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in eastern Virginia in preparation for its inaugural flight that is scheduled for April 17 at approximately 5:00 p.m. (EDT)."

Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free-Return Mission in 2018, Inspiration Mars, Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon colloquium

Keith's note: One chart in this presentation lists using SLS as an option. What are these people smoking? They cannot afford to buy one of these launches at $1 billion or more, NASA certainly is not going to give them one for free, and its not certain that SLS will even be ready to launch in time to meet their tight schedule - much less with the reliability NASA is going to require before allowing humans fly to Mars on a trajectory that offers no bail out options.

Inspiration Mars considers NASA's Space Launch System, ULA rockets for 2018 Mars trip, Huntsville Times

"At their [Tito and another executive of his Inspiration Mars non-profit organization] request NASA briefed them on the capabilities of SLS and Orion," Marshall spokeswoman Kim Henry said Wednesday. Asked if SLS could support a Mars mission, Henry said that it could. It was not immediately clear, however, how SLS could meet Tito's deadline for a launch of Jan. 15, 2018. That timing is critical to take advantage of a Mars-Earth alignment that won't occur again before 2031, Tito's organization says."

Inspiration Mars Is Being Pushed by NASA To Consider SLS, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from April 2013.

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