Commercialization: December 2014 Archives

Virgin Galactic at ISPCS

Looking Back at Virgin Galactic at ISPCS 2014, SpaceRef Business

"Two weeks before the tragedy that saw Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crash on a test flight, the company was out in full force at the annual International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS)."

Bigelow in 2015

2015 Could be a Milestone Year for Bigelow Aerospace [Video], SpaceRef Business

"Taking another step forward, Bigelow Aerospace will see its Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) launched and attached to the International Space Station in July of 2015."

NASA Commercial LEO Workshop (with presentations)

"On December 10-11, 2014, NASA held a workshop on the commercialization of low Earth orbit. The goal of the workshop was to start a dialog about creating a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO over the next decade, enabled by human spaceflight."

Another Stealth NASA ISS Event, Earlier post

"This NASA-sponsored ISS research event will not be webcast or recorded. No media advisory was sent out in advance. The event starts tomorrow. I find it especially odd that NASA has gone out of its way to not make this event more visible - and accessible - via simple webcasting (the event is being held directly across the street from NASA HQ) such that the potentially vast audience of possible users, media, decision makers, and students can better understand ISS potential capabilities."

NASA Selects Commercial Space Partners for Collaborative Partnerships, NASA

"NASA announced Tuesday the selection of four U.S. companies to collaborate with NASA through unfunded partnerships to develop new space capabilities available to the government and other customers. The partnerships build on the success of NASA's commercial spaceflight initiatives to leverage NASA experience and expertise into new capabilities."


- ATK Space Systems, in Beltsville, Maryland, is developing space logistics, hosted payload and other space transportation capabilities.

- Final Frontier Design, in Brooklyn, New York, is developing intra-vehicular activity space suits.

- Space Exploration Technologies, in Hawthorne, California, is developing space transportation capabilities that could be used to support missions into deep space.

- United Launch Alliance, in Centennial, Colorado, is developing new launch vehicle capabilities to reduce cost and enhance performance.

- ATK and NASA Announce Commercial Space Capabilities Partnership

X Marks the Spot: Falcon 9 Attempts Ocean Platform Landing

"During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt the precision landing of a Falcon 9 first stage for the first time, on a custom-built ocean platform known as the autonomous spaceport drone ship. While SpaceX has already demonstrated two successful soft water landings, executing a precision landing on an unanchored ocean platform is significantly more challenging."

NASA, SpaceX Delay Launch of Fifth SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

"NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX's fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6. The new launch date will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further issues that arose from a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year."

Marc's Update: SpaceX Completes Static Fire Test Ahead of ISS CRS-5 Launch

"On Friday SpaceX completed a successful static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket in advance of the CRS-5 mission for NASA. The test was conducted at SpaceX's Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and ran for the full planned duration."

RD-180 Bad; RD-181 Good

Antares Upgrade Will Use RD-181s In Direct Buy From Energomash, Aviation Week

"Congressional concern about Russian aggression in the Crimean peninsula led to a ban in the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on using RD-180s purchased after Russia occupied the Ukrainian territory on Feb. 1. Grabe said that legislation will not affect the deal to buy RD-181s from Energomash. "We've coordinated with all relevant congressional committee staffs to keep them informed of our decision," Grabe said."

Astrobotic Wins Google Lunar X Prize Milestones and Competition Deadline Extended to End of 2016, SpaceRef Business

"Today the Google Lunar X Prize announced that the deadline for the competition deadline had been extended again, this time to the end of 2016. Also announced today were two milestone prizes being won by Astrobotic."

Virgin Galactic Appoints Richard DalBello as Vice President of Business Development and Government Affairs

"In this role, Richard will be responsible for managing business development focusing on LauncherOne, the company's dedicated orbital launch vehicle for small satellites. Richard will be also responsible for managing the company's interactions with the US government."

SpaceX Spreads Out

SpaceX expansion could add 300 jobs locally, Waco Tribune

"In a report prepared by the city of Waco's economic development staff, SpaceX is proposing to invest $46.3 million in the site during the next five years. That will consist of about $32.4 million in real property improvements and $13.9 million in personal property improvements. SpaceX will add 300 new jobs by Dec. 31, 2018, with employees receiving benefits and an average hourly wage of $28.85, or about $60,000 a year. To receive incentive money, the company must fill 240 positions with people living in McLennan County, and 120 must reside in Waco."

Spaceport launches online shop to help pay bills, KRQE

"The launch of commercial flights to space from Spaceport America was supposed to help the economy here take off. However, after years and years of delays, the Spaceport is trying other things to make money, like starting a new online store."

New Mexico lawmakers concerned about Spaceport America's future, Mashable

"New Mexico, which has invested $218.5 million into the future of space tourism, is concerned about the viability of Spaceport America. Lawmakers grilled New Mexico Spaceport Authority executive director Christine Anderson [in November] about how it plans to deliver on the promise of the Spaceport, especially now since commercial flights by Virgin Galactic are postponed indefinitely following a deadly crash last month that killed one pilot."

Spaceport officials working to come up with revenue, KRQE

"Paul Gessing, president of the conservative research group the Rio Grande Foundation, has been highly-critical of the nearly quarter billion dollar Spaceport. He told News 13 that no one knows when space tourism will become viable, but that he thinks the Spaceport likely won't be viable for a while. "It was like building an airport before the Wright brothers had their first flight," Gessing said. "I don't think there's any way to make the Spaceport successful unless we see regular, frequent space trips."

More below

Low Earth Orbit Commercialization Workshop

"The goal of this workshop is to start a dialog about creating a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO over the next decade, enabled by human spaceflight. Historically, NASA has been both the primary supplier and consumer of human spaceflight capabilities and services in LEO. However, NASA has begun to change this historical model by purchasing cargo transportation services commercially and is facilitating the development of commercial crew transportation and rescue capabilities."

Workshop agenda (PDF)

Keith's note: This NASA-sponsored ISS research event will not be webcast or recorded. No media advisory was sent out in advance. The event starts tomorrow. I find it especially odd that NASA has gone out of its way to not make this event more visible - and accessible - via simple webcasting (the event is being held directly across the street from NASA HQ) such that the potentially vast audience of possible users, media, decision makers, and students can better understand ISS potential capabilities.

Then again, NASA's ISS National Laboratory Office and CASIS are still unable and/or unwilling to make the NASA-funded Spaceline Current Awareness List, a weekly digest of real research being done on ISS available online (latest edition) SpaceRef has the only known online archive - back to the 1990s - one that is updated weekly.

There is no mention of this event on the events page on the CASIS website - or anywhere else on their site. Nor is there any mention on the NASA International Space Station National Laboratory webpage. This borders on inept disregard with regard to NASA's responsibility to make the widest possible dissemination of ISS and its research capabilities.

This becomes truly bizzarre when you consider that the non-public invitation sent to a select few to attend says "NASA intends to formulate a new strategy - including new initiatives and projects - designed to encourage the emergence of this commercial marketplace to the maximum extent possible." NASA's tactic: go out of their way to tell no one about the events associated with this "new strategy". Baffling.

Orbital Announces Additional Details Concerning CRS Program and Antares Launcher Go-Forward Plans

"Orbital has contracted with United Launch Alliance for an Atlas V launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the fourth quarter of 2015, with an option for a second Atlas V launch in 2016 if needed. The Atlas rocket's greater lift capacity will allow Cygnus to carry nearly 35% more cargo to the ISS than previously planned for CRS missions in 2015."

ACME Advanced Materials, Inc Announces First Commercial Production of 4" SiC Wafers in Microgravity

"ACME Advanced Materials, Inc. today announced the successful commercialization of its process to produce large quantities of low loss, electrically defect free (EDF) Silicon Carbide (SiC) wafers in a microgravity environment."

Made in space, Albuquerque Journal

"We take crappy wafers, the lowest grade we can buy, and use a microgravity environment to turn them into what the industry would call prime 'A'-grade wafers," said ACME President and CEO Rich Glover. "We call them 'S'-grade, or 'space-grade' wafers. They're better wafers than you can get on the market today, and at a better price." Since last spring, the company has been sending batches of low-grade wafers for conversion to high-grade on contract flights in Texas, although details of the suborbital launches remain confidential. "We signed a three-year agreement with a flight partner," Glover said. "We've flown monthly since April."

Keith's note: This company (without a website - at least one that I can find) declines to say how they obtain microgravity conditions by "flying monthly". It is either parabolic flight, suborbital rockets, or orbital spaceflight. Or have they discovered a new way to "fly" and get "microgravity"? I asked. They won't say. Its is certainly their IP and its up to them whether they want to share it. But they have suddenly tweeted a lot about why they are not talking.

More tweets below.

ATK and Orbital Receive U.S. DOJ Clearance for Proposed Merger

"Alliant Techsystems Inc. ("ATK") (NYSE: ATK) and Orbital Sciences Corporation ("Orbital") (NYSE: ORB) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") has unconditionally cleared the proposed merger of ATK's Aerospace and Defense Groups with Orbital. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") informed ATK and Orbital today, December 4, 2014, that the FTC and DOJ terminated the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period effective December 4, 2014. As previously announced, ATK and Orbital have entered into a transaction agreement, whereby ATK's Aerospace and Defense Groups will merge with Orbital immediately following the spin-off of ATK's Sporting Group business to ATK stockholders as a newly formed company called Vista Outdoor Inc."

Space Technology Unlocks Ancient Rituals through Innovation, Space Foundation

"Technology originally used in space can now help you meditate with ease. TIMEZ5 Global Inc. is the newest partner in the Space Foundation Space Certification program. After five years of intensive research and development, TIMEZ5 labs made startling discoveries in the connection between rituals, spirituality and physiology. They unlocked physiological practices that improve the physical and spiritual wellbeing through meditation. Through the development of ergonomics, biomechanics and physiology, coupled with space technology, the company's flagship product was born. The world's first physiological prayer mat uses sophisticated space and layering technology. All it takes is the counter-force of your body and it activates. The magic happens in the middle layers where it responds to body weight, posture and position. It keeps the user stable through its micro grip, and clean with its antimicrobial surface."

Keith's note: People have been praying to God for millennia without a space-certified prayer rug. How much did Space Foundation charge to "certify" this rug? I'll bet the cost for certification was the equivalent of a college education for someone.

NASA Request for Information: Commercial Microgravity Flight Services

"This notice issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC), Edwards, CA is a Request for Information (RFI) for Microgravity Flight Services or MFS. The intent of this notice is to obtain information on commercial capabilities to provide brief periods of near zero, partial gravity, and hyper-gravity conditions, collectively referred to here as microgravity, and associated capabilities for payload integration, safety, and airworthiness for various Government research, technology development, and training missions."

ESA Ministerial Conference to Focus on Ariane 6, ISS, Exploration and the Evolution of ESA , SpaceRef Business

"The next ESA Ministerial Conference will take place this Tuesday in Luxembourg. At the top of the agenda is Europe's future access to space with a modular Ariane 6 intended to be meet the changing demands of the satellite industry as well as being more price competitive."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from December 2014.

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