Commercialization: July 2013 Archives

The Silicon Valley of space could be Silicon Valley, The Space Review

"For nearly a decade, many have called the Mojave Air and Space Port the Silicon Valley of the entrepreneurial space, or NewSpace, industry, and understandably so. The spaceport is home to Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic's The Spaceship Company, XCOR Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Stratolaunch Systems, and others, filling the spaceport's hangars and buildings to capacity. More recently, the Seattle area as tried to brand itself as a Silicon Valley for NewSpace, with a diverse set of companies ranging from Blue Origin to Planetary Resources.

...During that time, few considered Silicon Valley as an entrepreneurial space hub...

...What's different this time around is that the space companies taking root in the region are looking less like the large, established aerospace companies--sometimes dubbed, at least somewhat pejoratively, as "OldSpace"--but more like the other entrepreneurial companies in the region..."

Marc's note: With a half-a-dozen and growing small "NewSpace" companies setting up in the Valley and surrounding area, a change is underway. While traditional companies still dominate, and will for some time, these small new companies and others in other regions are worthing noting. The economics are changing. Are we seeing the groundwork for a sustained, broader and larger industry emerging? If so, then the next phase in the space age may be upon us.

New Uses For Launch Pad 39A: Threatening The Status Quo

"While news stories focus (inaccurately) on a contrived rivalry between space billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, entrenched interests in Florida are seeking to keep new players away from using launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center. These efforts could well backfire and cause these potential employers to pick locations other than Florida to conduct their growing commercial space activities.

Predictably, It is the possible commercial use of pad 39A that has caused a lot of concern for the powers that be in the Cape Canaveral are specifically United Launch Alliance (ULA). ULA launches Boeing's Delta II/IV family and Lockheed Martin's Atlas V under a de facto monopoly on EELV-class missions sanctioned by the U.S. government. Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin pose a threat to this status quo - especially when they bring their decidedly new ways of doing things and lower costs to the half century old rocket launching world of the Space Coast."

- Letter from Rep. Wolf and Rep. Aderholt Regarding NASA's Leasing of Pad 39A
- Memo From Rep. Aderholt Staffer Mark Dawson: "NASA Launch Pad 39A; what's the big deal?"

Dramatic Changes to Google Lunar X Prize Cash Prizes Under Consideration, SpaceRef Business

"The plans laid out in this draft document embody a radical departure from the current approach to awarding prizes i.e. one winner, one big prize with several smaller runner-up prizes. Now, multiple teams will be able to get even smaller cash prizes for efforts already completed or near completion - but far short of actually sending a mission to land on the Moon.

If approved, this approach would help inject some much needed cash into the coffers of several competitors. No word yet on whether this plan will be formally adopted or when it will be adopted but a quick turn around time for comments suggests that there is an interest in getting these new rules in place soon."

Keith's note: This document has been widely circulated among several hundred people inside and outside of the Google Lunar X Prize community for several weeks. No markings were placed on this document to note that it is either confidential or proprietary. Indeed, the cover memo encouraged its wider distribution for review and comment.

Marc's note: Changes to the Google Lunar X Prize have been rumored for some time. It should be noted that the competition deadline of end of 2015 has not changed. The changes should they go forward will energize a competition which seemingly had stalled. While some teams have had some success in raising funds, none to my knowledge, had raised enough to actually launch and successfully land on the money.

Boeing Unveils Interior of CST-100 Manned Spacecraft [Watch], Boeing

"NASA astronauts Serena Aunon and Randy Bresnik conducted flight suit evaluations inside a fully outfitted test version of The Boeing Company's CST-100 spacecraft July 22, the first time the world got a glimpse of the crew capsule's interior."

NASA Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract CCTCAP Draft RFP, NASA

"The CCtCap contract is the second phase of a two-phased procurement strategy to develop a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability to achieve safe, reliable and cost effective access to and from the International Space Station (ISS) with a goal of no later than 2017.

The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. This procurement is a full and open competition. The NAICS Code and Size Standard are 336414 and 1000 employees, respectively."

NASA Announces Effort to Form New Collaborative Partnerships with Private Space Industry, NASA

"NASA officials Wednesday released a synopsis requesting information from U.S. private enterprises interested in pursuing unfunded partnerships. The aim is to advance the development of commercial space products and services.

"As we have seen with NASA's previous agreements with the private sector, U.S. companies could significantly benefit from the agency's extensive experience and knowledge in spaceflight development and operations," said Phil McAlister, NASA's director for Commercial Spaceflight Development. "For new entrepreneurial efforts in space, NASA's archive of lessons learned, technical expertise and spaceflight data is an invaluable national resource and engine for new economic growth."

UK Space Agency to Develop World's First Air-Breathing Rocket Engine [Watch], UKSA

"Through the UK Space Agency, the Government is set to invest £60 million ($90.5) in the development of the SABRE - a British-designed rocket engine which could revolutionize the fields of propulsion and launcher technology, and significantly reduce the costs of accessing space.

SABRE has the potential to create 21,000 high value engineering and manufacturing jobs; maximise the UK's access to a conservatively estimated £13.8 billion ($20.8) launcher market over the next thirty years; and provide economic benefits from spill-over technology markets.

Built by UK company Reaction Engines (REL), the unique engine is designed to extract the oxygen it needs for low atmosphere flight from the air itself, paving the way for a new generation of spaceplanes which would be lighter, reusable and able to take off and launch from conventional airport runways."

Space Florida Initiates Environmental Study Process for Proposed Commercial Spaceport, Space Florida

"A Federal Aviation Administration-led environmental study to address the potential impacts of constructing and operating a commercial launch complex in the general vicinity of the former citrus community known as Shiloh, Fla., will be performed by an independent consultant in accordance with FAA conditions and procedures, the State's aerospace development organization announced today."

Marc's note: While the Air Force will be having a discussion on the concept of handing over the management of the Cape's Eastern Range to the FAA, it is only talk at this time. As such Space Florida needs to go ahead with the Shiloh study in case nothing comes of the Air Force's very preliminary discussion.

Air Force considers privatizing Cape operations, Florida Today

"Under a preliminary concept to be discussed in a public forum Thursday and Friday in Colorado Springs, responsibilities now handled by the 45th Space Wing would be turned over to a spaceport operator approved by the Federal Aviation Administration."

The Fixer-Upper, Space KSC

"Posted on the Federal Business Opportunities web site FedBizOpps.gov is an invitation to attend a public forum in Colorado Springs "to discuss a potential future concept to convert the Eastern Range (in part or whole) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) from an Air Force managed range to an FAA-licensed commercial launch site (i.e., a spaceport)."

Marc's note: Now here's an interesting development. While this is still very preliminary, a discussion only, it does reflect the growing move towards the commercial sector and the fiscal reality of the times.

No Contest for Pad 39A? SpaceX Appears To Be Only Bidder, Space News

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) appears to be the only company that put in a proposal to NASA to take over one of the space shuttle's mothballed launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

NASA declined to comment on how many bids it received in response to a solicitation that closed on July 5, but a survey of U.S. launch companies by SpaceNews shows only SpaceX saying it put in a proposal to take over Launch Complex 39A."

UPDATE: Blue Origin Bids for Shuttle Launch Pad, Space News

"At least one other company is competing against Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to take over a decommissioned space shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) here.

Privately owned Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, also responded to a NASA solicitation for proposals for Launch Pad 39A, company president Rob Meyerson told SpaceNews July 16."

The Satellite Industry Association Files Comments Supporting Draft Rules to Reform Satellite Export Controls, Satellite Industry Association

"The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) filed comments on Monday on the Administration's proposals to reform the U.S. export controls for satellites and related items. The Departments of State and Commerce published draft regulations in May to significantly update the satellite export control system, following the passage of enabling legislation in January. SIA's comments conveyed support for the Administration's proposals, citing the importance of efficient, clear, and sensible export control rules in supporting innovation, investment and competitiveness for the nation's space sector. SIA also identified several areas where the rules could be adjusted to improve clarity or bring them into better alignment with commercial practices and technology."

- SIA Comments (PDF)

Ariane 6 Next Steps

Ariane 6, ESA

"In November 2012, European Ministers responsible for space, meeting in Naples, Italy, approved the start of preparatory activities for Europe's next-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle. The objective of Ariane 6 is to maintain guaranteed autonomous access to space for Europe, while minimising exploitation costs and suppressing any support to exploitation."

Baseline configuration selected

The selected 'Multi P linear' concept is based on a lower 'composite' of four motors, each loaded with around 135 tonnes of solid propellant, providing also synergies with the Vega evolution perspectives. An "in-line" arrangement of three will serve as the first stage, while the fourth will be mounted above as the second stage.

The third stage will be an adapted version of the Ariane 5 ME upper stage, equipped with the Vinci engine and specific propellant tanks.

The 5.4 m-diameter payload fairing will be able to accommodate the same volume of satellites as Ariane 5.

... Ariane 6 will benefit from the advances by European industry in solid and cryogenic propulsion, structures, systems, avionics, ground segment and operations through the Ariane and Vega programmes."

Marc's note: I meant to post this a few days ago but with the budget news I held off. This rocket would still be on the drawing board if it weren't for SpaceX and their efforts with the Falcon Heavy. While there's no doubt that the heritage of the Ariane line will help development efforts, I have serious doubts that the Ariane 6 will be able to compete with the Falcon Heavy on price unless it's subsidized. SpaceX has a list price (2012) of $83 million to GTO for up to 6.4 tonnes and $128M for greater than 6.4 tonnes while reports suggest Arianespace is targeting €70 million ($91m) for 6.5 tonnes

Update on Russian Federal Proton Glonass Mission Failure, ILS

"Personnel: Our number one priority at ILS is safety, and we are pleased to report that all personnel associated with the Astra 2E campaign were a safe distance away at the ILS safety area, and are all safe. Additionally, we have been told that there were no injuries or casualties to Russian or Kazakh personnel.

Launch Pad facilities: The impact area was a far enough distance from LP24 and LP39 and we understand that neither launch pads were damaged.

Russian Launch Investigation: ...There are many rumors and much speculation on the internet and through other sources, and you may have your own thoughts and questions as well. The Russian State Commission will complete their work and release their findings in due time."

Previous: Russian Proton-M Launch Failure

Grasshopper 325m Test | Single Camera (Hexacopter) [Watch],SpaceX

"On June 14, SpaceX's Grasshopper flew 325 m (1066 feet)--higher than Manhattan's Chrysler Building--before smoothly landing back on the pad. For the first time in this test, Grasshopper made use of its full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to accomplish a precision landing."

Letter to Congress From Space Companies Regarding NASA Space Technology,

"On behalf of our nation's universities, small and large businesses in the aerospace industry, and those of us in the space-science research community, we write in support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Technology account for FY 2014. Space Technology creates critical capabilities required for NASA's future science and exploration missions, enables a vibrant and competitive U.S. space industry, and forges technology-based partnerships across government agencies. To remain the leader in space exploration, space science and space commerce, we are convinced that NASA must invest in new technologies and capabilities. As such, we urge the Congress to provide $740 million for the Space Technology account."

NASA Seeks Information on Commercial Robotic Lunar Lander Capabilities

"NASA Tuesday issued a Request for Information (RFI) that will help agency officials better understand current plans in the U.S. commercial space industry for a robotic lunar landing capability. The RFI will assist NASA in assessing U.S. industry's interest in partnerships to develop a robotic lander that could enable commercial and agency missions.

NASA does not envision an exchange of funds between the agency and any industry partners. Potential NASA contributions to a partnership could include the technical expertise of NASA staff on integrated teams, providing NASA center test facilities at no cost, or contributing hardware or software for commercial lander development and testing."

Related:
- NASA RFI on Potential Partnerships for Industry-Led Development of Robotic Lunar Landers
- Space Development: Going Everywhere and Nowhere

Marc's note: No doubt commercial entities will be intrigued to have access to NASA expertise etc. but at what cost? They have to think about their business plan, intellectual property (IP) etc. What does NASA get out of it? There's no exchange of funds and there's definitely an IP issue to consider. How will Congress react? Is this a possible model for private/public commercial exploration of the moon?

NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Two Human-Critical Reviews, SpaceRef Business

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., recently completed two milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.

These were the fifth and sixth milestones for SpaceX, a partner in NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The company is on track to complete all 14 of its CCiCap milestones by mid-2014.

... The beauty of having the pad abort test review was it allowed both NASA and SpaceX to start coalescing toward an understanding of what will be tested and how we'll measure success," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "We're really looking forward to seeing SpaceX's pad abort system take off from along Florida's Space Coast.""


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

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