Commercialization: December 2013 Archives

FAA Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement: Shiloh Launch Complex

"Based on comments received during the scoping period, the FAA may analyze additional alternatives. However, at this time, the alternatives under consideration include the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, the FAA would not issue a Launch Site Operator License to Space Florida."

Federal review set for Fla. plan to build site for rocket launches, Washington Post

"Space Florida expects a new center for launches could be largely free of much of the federal red tape and the competing national priorities that can bog down private launches from the nearby Kennedy Space Center or from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch complexes. It's also close enough to the old Kennedy space shuttle landing strip, which Space Florida also is seeking to acquire, that the agency thinks companies could use them together. It's the only place, we believe, that Florida could offer the capability for a purely commercial launch site," said Dale Ketcham, Space Florida's director of strategic alliances. But the spot is within one of the most revered natural places in Florida, a 140,000-acre sanctuary of marshes, beaches, lagoons and abundant wildlife."

Keith's note: Why is more government land needed when so much of KSC and CCAFS's vast real estate already remains unused - and is begging for commercial users? Oh, and at the same time, why go out of your way to pick a national wildlife refuge to destroy? Creating a third spaceport next to KSC and CCAFS will result in duplication of capabilities at a time when consolidation and dual use are what people are striving for. While NASA is moving toward more commercial use of its facilities (LC-39A for example) it is odd that Space Florida wants to go in the opposite direction.

I do not understand how this is going to make things easier since this new spaceport would still need to cooperate with range issues on launches from KSC and CCAFS next door and would be subject to the same weather and face issues with use of a runway deep inside a government facility. They are just going to end up making things more complicated in the Space Coast area rather than less complicated. And just watch as Space Florida sticks their hand out looking for Federal (NASA) money to create this duplicate capability - directly and/or indirectly.

If anything the commercial launch sector ought to be looking for places that do not have space launch neighbors, comparatively blank slates in terms of operational complexity, and better weather - like SpaceX has been seeking to do in Texas. Why should Florida have a near-monopoly on launching things into space?

NASA Postpones Orbital Launch and Sets Spacewalks to Repair ISS

"NASA managers are postponing the upcoming Orbital Sciences commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station to proceed with a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty pump module on the space station. NASA Television will air a news briefing at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 18 to preview the spacewalks. Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft, atop its Antares rocket, now will launch no earlier than January. The postponement of the Antares launch will allow ample time for the station crew to focus on repairing a faulty pump module that stopped working properly on Dec. 11."

Cygnus Launch To ISS Delayed

NASA Delays Cygnus Launch Due to ISS Cooling Issue

"The launch has been delayed to no earlier than Thursday, Dec. 19 to enable engineers to continue their analysis of data involving a suspect Flow Control Valve in a pump module on the starboard truss of the station that malfunctioned on Wednesday. Orbital's Antares rocket and the Cygnus commercial cargo vehicle are now scheduled to launch from Pad 0A at the Wallops Flight Facility, Va. no earlier than Dec. 19 at 9:19 p.m. EST. NASA TV coverage of launch will begin at 8:45 p.m. EST."

GAO Decision on Blue Origin Protest Over LC -39A

"Blue Origin, LLC, of Kent, Washington, protests the actions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in connection with its issuance of announcement for proposals (AFP) No. AFP-KSC-LC39A, for the lease of Launch Complex 39A (LC 39A) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Blue Origin maintains that the agency intends to misapply the terms of the AFP in evaluating proposals and selecting a prospective lessee for the facility. We deny the protest."

NASA Selects SpaceX to Begin Negotiations for Use of Launch Complex 39A

"NASA made the selection decision Thursday after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest filed against the Agency by Blue Origin LLC on Sept. 13. In its protest, Blue Origin raised concerns about the competitive process NASA was using to try to secure a potential commercial partner or partners to lease and use LC-39A. Blue Origin had argued the language in the Announcement for Proposals (AFP) favored one proposed use of LC-39A over others. The GAO disagreed."

- Congress Voices Support for NASA LC 39-A Leasing, earlier post
- SpaceX Statement on Shared Use of LC-39A (Update), earlier post
- New Uses For Launch Pad 39A: Threatening The Status Quo, earlier post

Review of Allegations of Improper Leasing and Provision of Aircraft Fuel at Moffett Federal Airfield

"The OIG found that consistent with NASA policy Ames based the price of its lease with H211 on the fair market value of comparable hangar space and that, as required, the lease and companion Space Act Agreement supported NASA's mission. Specifically, since 2009 H211 has flown more than 200 flights to collect climate data at no cost to NASA - science missions Ames officials estimate would have cost the Agency between $1,800 and $6,500 per flight hour to operate depending on the type of aircraft used. Accordingly, we determined that NASA benefitted from both its lease and Space Act Agreement with H211. ... We found that from September 2007 until August 2013, H211 purchased fuel at Moffett from DLA-Energy either directly or through NASA for both its personal flights and NASA science flights at a rate intended only for government agencies and their contractors. ... Even though we concluded that the fuel arrangement did not result in an economic loss to NASA or DLA-Energy, H211 nevertheless received a monetary benefit to which it was not entitled. Accordingly, we recommend that NASA explore with the company possible options to remedy this situation."

SpaceX Launches SES-8

SpaceX Launches SES-8

"SpaceX launched the SES-8 satellite this evening on a Falcon 9.1 rocket. Launch occured as the window opened at 5:41 pm ET. Second stage reignition and burn was a success. The SES-8 spacecraft is now in a nominal GEO transfer orbit. So far it seems that the flight was completely nominal."

Blue Origin Debuts the American-made BE-3 Liquid Hydrogen Rocket Engine (with video)

"Blue Origin reached a key milestone in the development of the liquid-fueled BE-3 engine by successfully demonstrating deep throttle, full power, long-duration and reliable restart all in a single-test sequence. The BE-3 is the first completely new liquid hydrogen-fueled engine to be developed for production in the U.S. since the RS-68 more than a decade ago."

NASA Commercial Crew Partner Blue Origin Test-Fires New Rocket Engine (with video)

"NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) has been working with the company on several aspects of the engine's development. The program supported testing of the BE-3 under the agency's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative and continues to offer technical support. NASA and Blue Origin also are partnered in review and tests of the company's Space Vehicle design."

FAA Interpretation Concerning Involvement of NASA Astronauts During a Licensed Launch or Reentry

"This interpretation responds to a request from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) regarding whether the space transportation regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would restrict NASA astronauts from performing operational functions during a commercial space launch or reentry under license from the FAA."

2 The pertinent FAA regulations simply require that space flight participants: (1) be informed of risk; (2) execute a waiver of claims against the U.S. Government; (3) receive training on how to respond to emergency situations; and (4) not carry any weapons onboard. See 14 CFR Sec. Sec. 460.45-460.53.

House Approves Bipartisan Bill to Extend Liability Protection for Commercial Space Launches, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act (H.R. 3547)  by a vote of 376 to 5.  H.R. 3547 is a bipartisan bill that extends for one year a commercial space transportation risk-sharing and liability regime that was established by Congress in 1988 with passage of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments."

House Approves Bill to Extend Liability Protection for Commercial Space Launches, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats

"The bill extends provisions of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments, which cover third-party liability for licensed commercial space launches. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), and Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-Md.)."


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

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