Commercialization: June 2013 Archives

John Kelly: Private launchers fear new US rules, Florida Today

"Case in point: The U.S. State Department is proposing new rules that would add private manned spacecraft to a Department of Defense list of "munitions" technology that some in the industry fear would all but prevent any use of those vehicles on foreign soil.

... The rule is getting a cold reception from private space startups such as XCOR, a space tourism company that just this week said it plans to start suborbital test flights from Kennedy Space Center by 2015. "

Marc's note: July 8th is the last day for public comment on the proposed new rules. If the proposed rule change is enacted there's no doubt in my mind it will have a negative effect on the industry. As Kelly states; "While there are likely valid concerns about protecting technology from falling into the wrong hands, overdoing it could also hurt the space industry's long-term future."

NASA and Space Florida Begin Partnership Discussions, NASA

"NASA has selected Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency for the state of Florida, for negotiations toward a partnership agreement to maintain and operate the historic Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Robert Cabana, announced the selection during a news conference Friday at Kennedy's Visitor Complex in Florida.

"This agreement will continue to expand Kennedy's viability as a multi-user spaceport and strengthen the economic opportunities for Florida and the nation," Bolden said. "It also continues to demonstrate NASA's commitment and progress in building a strong commercial space industry so that American companies are providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations."

Marc's note: There's been a real push to commercialize parts of KSC since the retirement of the Shuttle which is as it should be. Are we seeing a genuine long-term change? Is KSC to be a dual government and private space facility that can co-exist?

The Space Frontier Foundation Announces 2013's NewSpace Business Plan Competition Prizes, SpaceRef Business

'With $135,000 in prizes, more industry support than ever before, and a new location and date, the Space Frontier Foundation today announced the details of the largest, richest and most exciting NewSpace Business Plan Competition to date.

- $100,000 Grand prize sponsored by NASA
- $25,000 2nd prize sponsored by ATK
- $5,000 3rd prize sponsored by NASA
- $5,000 Market Sector prize sponsored by ATK'

Marc's note: An excellent opportunity for a start-up to get some initial funding.

PayPal Galactic Initiative to Tackle Payments in Space, Paypal Forward

"The time has now come for us to start planning for the future; a future where we aren't just talking about global payments. Today, we are expanding our vision off Earth into space.

What we once deemed to be science fiction has become a reality. Space travel is opening up for "the rest of us" thanks to Virgin Galactic, Space X and a host of other space tourism programs including the Space Hotel that hopes to be in orbit by 2016. The enabling infrastructure pieces are starting to come together, and as we start planning to inhabit other planets, the practical realities of life still need to be addressed."

Marc's update: PayPal Launches PayPal Galactic but We're Not Sure Why [Watch], SpaceRef

"In what can only be described as a bizarre news conference today, PayPal President David Marcus introduced PayPal Galactic. What is PayPal Galactic? According to Marcus, it's a visionary program being spearheaded by PayPal to bring together the leaders in the space industry to work on the "big questions" related to the commercialization of space."

NASA Administrator Media Availability at Kennedy June 28, NASA

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will hold a media availability at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, June 28.

Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana and officials from the state of Florida will discuss NASA's future spaceflight programs and initiatives.

The event will not be broadcast on NASA Television or online."

Marc's note: The media finally get an opportunity to ask Bolden questions but only if you are there in person. How hard would it have been to broadcast this event on NASA TV? How about taking questions via Social Media though "AskNASA"? For those who can't be there they'll just have to keep tabs on Twitter to see if anyone tweets the Q&A or for articles to come out later.

3D Systems and Planetary Resources Announce Investment and Collaboration, SpaceRef Business

"3D Systems and Planetary Resources, Inc. today announced that 3D Systems has joined Planetary Resources' core group of investors and will be a collaborative partner in assisting Planetary Resources to develop and manufacture components of its ARKYD Series of spacecraft using its advanced 3D printing and digital manufacturing solutions."

"We are excited to work very closely with Planetary Resources' engineering team to use advanced 3D printing and manufacturing technologies to increase functionality while decreasing the cost of their ARKYD spacecraft," said Avi Reichental, Chief Executive Officer, 3D Systems. "In success, we will create the smartphone of spacecraft and transform what has been an old-style, labor-intensive process, into something very scalable and affordable that will democratize access to space, the data collected from space and off-Earth resources for scientists and the public. We are delighted to join the Planetary Resources team."

Marc's note: This is a good news for Planetary Resources. They get an undisclosed investment and collaboration with an industry leader.

Planet Labs Reveals First Images from Space, SpaceRef Business

"Planet Labs, a space and analytics company, announced plans to launch the world's largest fleet of Earth imaging satellites to image the changing planet and provide open access to that information. Today, they revealed the first images from their first two satellites.

"Planet Labs will create an entirely new data set, with both humanitarian and commercial value," said Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. "We've become used to having imagery of the entire Earth. What we haven't yet understood is how transformative it will be when that imagery is regularly and frequently updated." Everyone from ecologists to citizen journalists will be able to track frequent changes to any place on the planet -- a frequency and coverage greater than ever seen before."

ULA Troubles Continue

Orbital Sues ULA, Seeks RD-180 Engines, $515 Million in Damages, SpaceNews

"Orbital Sciences Corp., which wants to buy Russian-made RD-180 engines for its medium-lift Antares rocket, is suing rocket maker United Launch Alliance (ULA) for blocking any such sale, according to court papers dated June 20.

Orbital of Dulles, Va., claims Denver-based ULA has not only illegally prevented open-market sale of the RD-180, but also has monopolized the launch-services market for certain satellites in violation of U.S. antitrust laws, according to a complaint filed June 20 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria."

Related: FTC Investigating United Launch Alliance

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, violated federal antitrust laws by "monopolizing" or restraining competition through an exclusivity agreement with the maker of the engines used in its rockets, according to a FTC document obtained by Reuters."


Marc's note: Although scheduled for launch this December, the Russian Nauka (FGB-2) module, also known as the Multi-Purpose Module (MLM), will most likely fly in early 2014. It will replace the PIRS module which will be de-orbited.

With the addition of the Nauka (meaning science) module, yet another piece of the global orbiting laboratory will be in place. But what happens beyond 2020. While some ISS member nations have expressed an interest in using the station beyond 2020, other's are reluctant to consider it, yet.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to expand the membership of the ISS community to include other nations and commercial customers. By that time SpaceX, Boeing or Sierra Nevada will have commercial crew vehicles already flying to the ISS on government contracts. How about letting them send private astronauts working for commercial interests to use this one of a kind laboratory? In this way the ISS can be transitioned from a government sponsored entity to a public private endeavour potentially defraying some costs otherwise paid by the public. After all, the space station is there, it cost a lot, why not keep using it?


UP Aerospace's SpaceLoft 7 Rocket Launches Flight Opportunities Program Payloads [Watch], NASA

"A reusable suborbital rocket launched by UP Aerospace soared aloft from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying multiple technology payloads for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate's Flight Opportunities Program. The SpaceLoft 7 suborbital flight June 21 provided about four minutes of micro gravity for testing of seven technology experiments in a space-relevant environment."

Stratolaunch Systems New Design Concept [Watch], SpaceRef Business

"Stratolaunch Systems unveils a new design concept for its space transportation system. With a wingspan of 385 feet, greater than the length of a football field and powered by six 747 engines, a mission range of 1,000 nautical miles and with a gross weight of 1.3 million pounds, the Stratolaunch can deliver 13,500 pounds to low earth orbit and into any orbit, any time."

ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone, Planetary Resources

Marc's note: After appearing to stall late last week, the Planetary Resources Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 million for the E/PO ARKYD telescope has achieved its initial goal and was pushed over the top overnight.

Now with 10 days left they will try and reach their stretch goal of $2 million which they'll "invest the additional funds to enhance the ARKYD space telescope technology to enable it to search for alien planets!"

House Appropriators Want Deep Cut to FAA Commercial Space Launch Office, Space Policy Online

"The House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) will meet tomorrow to markup the draft FY2014 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill. As drafted, the bill would reduce AST from its requested level of $16.01 million to $14.16 million."

"Mike Gold, Director of D.C. Operations & Business Growth for Bigelow Aerospace, said "These cuts are ill-advised to say the least. At a time when we're depending so heavily on commercial space transportation to do this to the FAA-AST will have serious consequences, causing delays throughout the industry and even potentially putting lives in danger. It's certainly my hope that all of the AST's funding can be restored."

Live on SpaceRef Business - NASA's Asteroid Initiative Industry & Partner Day

Event: NASA's Asteroid Initiative Industry & Partner Day
Time: 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. EDT

This morning "NASA will host an event in which experts will provide details about NASA's asteroid initiative, including the observation campaign, the orbital tracking, robotic components, the human elements, and enhanced focus on planetary defense. We will describe our upcoming planning timeline and clearly identify opportunities and processes for providing input into our planning. During this public forum, NASA will also release a Request for Information (RFI) to seek new ideas for mission elements and describe the process for submitting your ideas to NASA so that NASA teams may consider your innovative solutions and/or participation."

Marc's note: We'll be broadcasting this event on SpaceRef Business starting at 9:30 with video feed courtesy NASA. Some in Congress would like to see the Asteroid initiative shelved. This is your chance to see what NASA has planned and how industry will be involved. As well, tomorrow is the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 hearing of the Subcommittee on Space. This should be an interesting few days.

- NASA Asteroid Inititiave Request for Information

- Video: NASA Asteroid Redirect Initiative

Presentations:

- Deputy Administrator Lori Garver (6 MB PDF)
- Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot (800 KB PDF)
- Associate Administrator for Space Technology Michael Gazarik (2.5 MB PDF)
- Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier (2.5 MB PDF)
- Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld (2.5 MB PDF)
- Jason Kessler, Office of the Chief Technologist (1.9 MB PDF)

Twitter Post, Elon Musk

"No near term plans to IPO @SpaceX. Only possible in very long term when Mars Colonial Transporter is flying regularly."

Marc's note: This is an interesting Tweet from Elon and a bit of an about face. Going public has been mentioned on and off for several years. Going public could bring in some serious cash to allow the company to expand, but why do it when you're already profitable and you would have to deal with all the downsides of being public.

On the other hand, one reason why SpaceX was considering going public was the 500 rule. When a company has 500 or more investors you're required to start releasing quarterly financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Most companies go public before that happens. Elon has stated that all employees get stock options. In may they reported they had over 1800 employees. So how many have exercised their stock options? And will SpaceX start reporting, but not go public?

Mars'c update: A reader pointed out that the 500 rule was changed in the JOBS act of last year to 2000 persons.

Satellite Industry Report Shows Satellite industry Growth of 7% in 2012 [Download report], SpaceRef Business

"The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today released its 2013 State of the Satellite Industry Report, showing a 7% growth in world satellite industry revenues in 2012, up from 5% growth in 2011. Globally, 2012 revenues for the satellite industry totaled $189.5 billion, up from $177.3 billion the previous year.

All four industry sectors grew, led by satellite services, the traditional driver for the industry. Both satellite manufacturing and launch services saw significant revenue increases, and satellite ground equipment revenues also continued to expand."

Commercial Partners Working to Launch U.S. Astronauts from Space Coast, NASA

"The three commercial space companies working with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) may have very different spacecraft and rocket designs, but they all agreed on the need for the United States to have its own domestic capability to launch astronauts.

'Today, there are nine humans on orbit,' said Ed Mango, CCP's program manager, at a National Space Club meeting June 11 in Cape Canaveral, Florida 'All of those folks got there on a vehicle that did not have a U.S. flag on it. We, and the people in this room, and the people at this table, need to fix that.'"

Final Report - IG-13-016 - NASA's Management of Commercial Orbital Transportation Services and ISS Commercial Resupply Contracts, NASA OIG

"The OIG review found that despite an almost 3-year delay in development, SpaceX completed its demonstration flights and two resupply missions to the ISS. Although each experienced some anomalies, none was serious enough to substantially impact the missions."

"Similar to SpaceX, Orbital has experienced delays in its development program and these delays in turn caused substantial delays to the planned flight schedule for the company's resupply missions to the Station. However, until recently NASA did not adjust its payment schedule to Orbital in light of these delays."

Cash-Strapped Space Tourists May Find Friend in PayPal, Wall Street Journal

"The payments company is set to announce a payment program for space tourists later this month, known as PayPal Galactic. PayPal has been working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Space Tourism Society and the SETI Institute, whose mission is to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, on the program, said a person familiar with the details."

"... Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are also building space craft in their spare time."

Marc's note: Hmm I wonder what, if any, advantage there will be for the "space tourist" in this rumoured program? And I didn't realize Musk was building SpaceX in his spare time.

Exclusive: Antitrust probe of Lockheed-Boeing rocket venture

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, violated federal antitrust laws by "monopolizing" or restraining competition through an exclusivity agreement with the maker of the engines used in its rockets, according to a FTC document obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

RD Amross, a joint venture of Russia's NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a unit of United Technologies Corp, provides RD-180 engines for ULA rockets.

Industry sources say ULA is preventing RD Amross from selling the engines to other rocket makers, including Orbital Sciences Corp, which is trying to break into the lucrative market for government rocket launches."

United Launch Alliance Completes Dual Engine Centaur Preliminary Design Review and Development Testing in Support of Commercial Crew Program, ULA

"United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and initial round of development testing for the Dual Engine Centaur in support of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Under Independent Research and Development (IRAD) funding, ULA is re-establishing the Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) configuration for performance and human space flight safety. Atlas V is capable of flying both a single and dual engine on the Centaur second stage, but most satellite missions require only a single engine due to the powerful capability of the Atlas V booster to loft the payload into orbit."

FTC Approves Concludes Investigation of GenCorp's Purchase of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, FTC

"Although the FTC concluded that the deal will give GenCorp a monopoly in the market for a type of advanced missile defense interceptor propulsion system, the Commission decided not to challenge the transaction, primarily because the Department of Defense wishes to see the transaction go forward for national security reasons."

Commercial space companies expect Brevard push, Space Florida

"Three companies competing to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station expect to increase their local activity in the second half of this year, executives said Tuesday.

The Boeing Co. soon will start moving into a former shuttle hangar at Kennedy Space Center, where it will assemble a test article of its CST-100 capsule.

SpaceX hopes to launch a pad abort test of its Dragon capsule in December from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, after potentially several more Cape rocket launches.

And Sierra Nevada Corp., developer of the Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, plans to staff a local office this year to prepare for future flight operations."

SMC Enters into Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with SpaceX, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center

"The Space and Missile Systems Center has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, as part of the company's effort to certify its Falcon 9 v1.1 Launch System for National Security Space (NSS) missions. This cooperative agreement facilitates data exchanges and protects proprietary and export-controlled data. The CRADA will be in effect until all certification activities are complete."

Planetary Resources Needs YOUR Help to Hunt for Alien Planets, Planetary Resources

"Alien planets are out there and Planetary Resources needs your help to find them! That's right, the same high-powered telescope technology being used by Planetary Resources to identify near-Earth asteroids can also be used to hunt for what scientists call extrasolar planets or "exoplanets" - which are very much alien worlds. For the first-time ever, this capability will be placed directly into the hands of students, researchers and citizen scientists."

Marc's note: For the last few days the Planetary Resources Kickstarter campaign appears to have stalled.With 19 days to go they're $145K short of their goal. And with Kickstarter, it's all or nothing. You reach your goal, you get the funds, you don't, you get nothing. Now to encourage that next wave of donors Planetary Resources has sent out an email blast saying if we make it to $2 million we'll "enhance" ARKYD to hunt for Exoplanets.

With Kepler costing approximately around $600 million for its lifecyle, the ARKYD is quite a deal though they are clear to say they won't rival Kepler. They plan on adding "exoplanet transit detection capability by enhancing the telescope's stability systems and dedicating time to monitor candidate star systems." Among the many questions is how good a detector could ARKYD be. Also, how does hunting for Exoplanets fit into the companies mission statement? Sure it's E/PO, but is it just a gimmick to get over the initial E/PO funding goal?

Planetary Resources Hires Former White House Director of Space Policy, Planetary Resources

"Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, announced today the hiring of Peter Marquez to lead the company's global engagement. Marquez will engage with key U.S. government entities on matters of strategic domestic and global interest to assist Planetary Resources in achieving its long-term mission. The company's objective is to mine near-Earth asteroids using innovative and cost-effective robotic exploration technologies to access raw materials ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals."

SpaceX Falcon 9-Reusable 1st Stage Firing, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has released a video of the 1st long duration firing of their new Falcon 9-Reusable (F9-R) rocket, an advanced prototype for the world's first reusable rocket. The test took place at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, TX, lasting 112 seconds."


The Flight Opportunities Program Presentation (PDF), NASA

For those who did not attend and are interested NASA has provided in one PDF file their presentations from this years 2013 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference.

Updated: NASA Selects New Suborbital Payloads, Total Tops 100 Experiments, NASA

"NASA has selected 21 space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons, and a commercial parabolic aircraft.

This latest selection represents the sixth cycle of NASA's continuing call for payloads through an announcement of opportunity. More than 100 technologies with test flights now have been facilitated through NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate's Flight Opportunities Program."

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Arianespace Conclude MOU on Cooperation in Commercial Space Rocket Launches, Arianespace

"With the new MOU, MHI and Arianespace agreed to collectively probe the creation of innovative new launch services and standardization of satellite preparation tasks at launch sites as a follow-up to their cooperative achievements to date. The aims behind the latest initiative are further development of the commercial launch market and sustained enhancement of the two companies' related services."

SpaceX Octaweb, OnOrbit

"In the background - the harness that holds a ring of eight Merlin 1D engines in a ring of fire, with a 9th in the middle."

Brand and Product Marketing via Crowdfunding, SpaceRef Business

"Crowdfunding is becoming a familiar word for those who need to fund a project or product. In the case of a startup, it can replace the role of the angel investor to get the initial funding. However the scope of what is being funded, and why, is evolving as startups use this collective effort for brand recognition and marketing a specific project or product."

International space law and commercial space activities: the rules do apply, by Michael J. Listner for The Space Review

"Commercial space activities are beginning to proliferate and hold great promise for the expansion of both human and robotic activities in outer space. Companies like SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are providing commercial cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract to NASA, and others, such as Sierra Nevada Corporation, are planning commercial crewed flights to the ISS as well. Beyond services to the ISS, companies have formed to offer human lunar landings, missions to extract minerals and resources from asteroids, and even a planned human flyby of Mars set to launch in 2018."

Stratolaunch firms up its relationship with Orbital for air-launch system, NBC News

"Stratolaunch has solidified its partnership with Orbital Sciences Corp. to develop a new rocket capable of launching into orbit from what will be the world's widest airplane.

'We've been together now for nine months and working well as a team ... so we're really excited to see Orbital get started,' Gary Wentz, Stratolaunch's CEO and president, told NBC News."


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