Commercialization: February 2016 Archives

Air Force Awards Final Rocket Propulsion System Prototype OTAs, Space and Missile Systems Center

"Today the Space and Missile Systems Center awarded the final Other Transaction Agreements for shared public-private investments in Rocket Propulsion System prototypes. One award is to Aerojet Rocketdyne for development of the AR1 rocket propulsion system. The initial government investment is $115.3 million. The other award is to United Launch Alliance for development of the Vulcan/BE-4 rocket propulsion system and the ACES rocket propulsion system. The initial government investment is $46.6 million with $45.8 million for the Vulcan/BE-4 effort and $0.8 million for the ACES effort."

Aerojet Rocketdyne, ULA Announce Public-Private Partnership with USAF to Develop RD-180 Replacement Engine

"The U.S. Air Force selected Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc., and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to share in a public-private partnership to develop jointly the AR1 engine an American-made rocket propulsion system."

Aerojet Rocketdyne Names Dynetics as Key AR1 Engine Team Member

"Following the U.S. Air Force selection of AR1 for a Rocket Propulsion System award, Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), named Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama, as a key team member for the AR1 engine development."

United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin Partner with Air Force to Develop New, All-American Rocket Engine

"United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin LLC, a privately-funded aerospace company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, entered into a public-private partnership with the U.S. Air Force to develop a new rocket propulsion system to power Vulcan -- ULA's next-generation launch system."

Start-Up Space Report Shows More Venture Capital Invested In 2015 Than In Prior 15 Years Combined, Tauri Gorup

"The year 2015 was a record-setting year for start-up space ventures with investment and debt financing of $2.7 billion (excluding debt financing, $2.3 billion). Nearly twice as much venture capital ($1.8 billion) was invested in space in 2015 than in the prior 15 years, combined. More than 50 venture capital firms invested in space deals in 2015, the most in any year during the 15-year study period (2000-2015)."

SpaceShipTwo Unveiled

Virgin Galactic Unveils SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic

"Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments PJS, today unveiled its newly completed SpaceShipTwo. The rollout ceremony was attended by Sir Richard Branson and his family, Virgin Galactic's Future Astronauts, and partners. Based on the smaller X-PRIZE winning SpaceShipOne designed by Burt Rutan, SpaceShipTwo is designed to take a crew of two pilots and up to six passengers to space. Virgin Galactic's space flight experience features an air launch followed by a rocket-powered ascent at three and a half times the speed of sound, the silence of space, several minutes of out-of-seat weightlessness and views of our home planet."

NASA budget proposal widens divide between White House and Congress, Ars Technica

"Although NASA is proceeding with development of the SLS, a number of outside panels have questioned whether NASA can afford to build, fly and, sustain the expensive program, especially with projections of low flight rates of one launch or fewer per year. The biggest concern is that the rocket is so expensive to fly it precludes a meaningful exploration program within NASA's existing budget."

Keith's note: With the cuts to both SLS and Orion in the Administration's FY 2017 budget you can expect the same food fight with Congress to pick up where it left off last time. And as was the case before, Congress will go after Commercial Crew and Cargo, Technology, and Earth Science to put SLS and Orion back at the level Congress wants. Of course, election time will soon skew everything and the chances that there will be a formal budget will drop. The net result is that NASA will not know for certain what its budget will be and this uncertainty will cause launch dates to slip to the right. With these slips the overall cost of the SLS and Orion programs will increase - and commercial crew will take longer to happen than might otherwise be the case.

Naturally, the next Administration will stall for time and eventually appoint a blue ribbon panel to write a report and the cycle will start all over again. Their conclusion will be that NASA has no plan (and that it needs to hurry up and develop one) and, by the way, NASA cannot do all of the things it has been tasked to do under a budget that does not grow. Considering that all of these arguments are set to occur under a NASA budget that is likely going to stay flat, nothing will change since no one will give up pushing for the things that they want NASA to do. The inevitable result will be that NASA will end up with a launch system that will have nothing to launch on the imaginary #JourneyToNowhere.

Keith's note: @NASA tweeted this to more than 14,600,000 followers:

Keith's note: NASAWATCH replied:

Keith's note: A request for NASA:

With regard to "1,600 new technologies a year" OK: "a year" means annually i.e. within a 365 day period. Implicit in this claim is the suggestion that this is (or has been) done every year. That public claim having been made, can you provide a list that includes each and every one of these "new technologies" - technologies that were created/announced/revealed within any single 365 day period in NASA's existence? Please provide that year, the name of each of the technologies, and how each item is a separate "technology" from any other "technology". Oh yes, please define what you mean by "technology". If you cannot provide such a list then, one might task, how can you make such a claim? Has this happend in more than one year?

With regard to "Thousands of products, services, and processes", the plural "thousands" clearly implies multiples of 1,000 i.e. more than 2,000. Can you list each of the "products, services, and processes" that you have collected so as to be able to make this claim? Again, if you cannot provide such a list then, one might task, how can you make such a claim?

Yes there will be FOIAs and additional requests for you to ignore. If your claims are true, then that's very cool and worth further promulgation. If they are not then this is a substantial disservice to taxpayers.

Source Selection Statement for the ISS Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) Contract, NASA (PDF)

Scores:
SpaceX: 992/1000
Orbital ATK: 880/1000
Sierra Nevada: 879/1000

Keith's 2 Feb update: Eric Stallmer and his staff at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation have risen to the challenge (on very short notice) and have set up their own livestream of this conference - you can view it here: . Too bad the FAA has not figured out a way to tell everyone that this event is now being streamed.

Keith's 1 Feb 2:53 pm note: The annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference is being held in Washington, DC on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Unlike the past several meetings none of the sessions will be webcast. So, unless you are in the room, you won't be able to listen in. As best I can understand the situation from the FAA they do not know how to do a webcast themselves and/or can only do a webcast that costs vast sums of money. Its too bad the FAA did not invite NASA TV to come over and do a webcast. NASA TV covers virtually everything that NASA does - and the whole space commerce thing is something that NASA is hot on these days. Indeed, if you look at the agenda multiple panels at this event are filled with NASA people. Oddly, no one from CASIS is speaking - and they are all about space commerce.

When things are deliberately closed off like this, its hard to take a lot of what FAA and NASA say about space commerce seriously - especially when they approach the promulgation of their activities so half-heartedly. NASA wants everyone to know that they are doing commercial crew and cargo and that they want the private sector to take over routine chores in LEO so that NASA can focus its efforts elsewhere. Indeed, their whole cis-lunar exploration plan requires that this happen. But when it comes to the meetings wherein the nuts and bolts of commercializing LEO are discussed - its suddenly too hard to do a simple webcast. Yes, its FAA's meeting - but the agency most affected is NASA. You'd think that something as simple as a webcast would be easy to do. I did them from Everest Base Camp for crying out loud.


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from February 2016.

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