Commercialization: August 2016 Archives

SES-10 Launching to Orbit on SpaceX's Flight-Proven Falcon 9 Rocket

"SES and SpaceX announced today they have reached an agreement to launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster. The satellite, which will be in a geostationary orbit and expand SES's capabilities across Latin America, is scheduled for launch in Q4 2016. SES-10 will be the first-ever satellite to launch on a SpaceX flight-proven rocket booster."

Transparency lacking in spaceport search, editorial, Las Cruces Sun News

"There may be no more important hire in southern New Mexico this year than the next person who is selected to lead Spaceport America. Sadly, we have lost all faith that the process will be comprehensive or transparent. It was decided early on that, instead of hiring a search firm to lead the effort, the Spaceport Authority would rely on social media to get the word out. A subcommittee of four members of the Spaceport Authority board of directors was selected to review applications with former CEO Christine Anderson and send the best ones to Santa Fe for Gov. Susana Martinez. But before that subcommittee could hold its first meeting, the decision was made to call off the search and ship the applications to the governor's office. The Sun-News filed an open records request on Aug. 16 seeking copies of the applications being turned over to the governor's office. The response from the Spaceport Authority was that they would be unable to comply with the requirement that documents be produced within three business days, and would need until the end of the month instead. That's troubling, given that Spaceport Authority board Chairman Rick Holdridge has said that it is his intention to have a new CEO named well before then if possible."

SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples, NASA

"SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 26, southwest of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA immediately. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing."

NIAC Has An ITAR Problem

NASA advanced technology reports taken offline after export control issue, Space News

"NASA has taken offline technical reports associated with a cutting-edge technology program out of concerns of a possible export control breach, an agency official said Aug. 24. Speaking at annual symposium of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jason Derleth, the NIAC program executive at NASA Headquarters, said the final reports associated with various NIAC research projects have been removed from the agency's website after one of them appeared to contain information that ran afoul of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export control rules."

The inside story of how billionaires are racing to take you to outer space, Washington Post

"For years, many have been waiting for the commercial space industry to become a real market, one where companies actually make money and prosper. William Gerstenmaier, the head of NASA's human spaceflight division, said he thinks that the industry "is on the crest of another wave." "There's a lot of hype," he said at a Federal Aviation Administration space conference this year, citing other times when industry felt it was on the cusp of revolutionary change. "But will we be able to generate enough demand?" he said. "It can't just be solely government demand. It has to be augmented by the private sector. . . . Will that be enough to push us over or to reach that tipping point that actually enables this industry to become more self-sufficient than it was in the past?"

Dazed and Confused About Space Commerce At NASA, earlier post

"The substance that the companies behind SLS and Orion use to keep people employed is identical to what they would theoretically use to operate ISS and routine crew and cargo transport: money. The money either comes from NASA or it doesn't but the financial health of these companies is all running on the same fuel. And whatever money NASA does not have to spend on one thing, it supposedly can spend on another. But this is an ecosystem - one that seems to want to expand off-world - where government money, money earned from government recycled back into other areas, and money from outside the NASA/contractor honey pot all gets mixed together. If one thing can feed another and spur interest amongst investors while others derive profit for the risks they took with their own money, well, that's how actual commerce establishes itself."

NASA Wants to Bring Enterprise to the Space Station

"In its RFI, NASA stressed that that for the moment, it just wants to hear ideas. It doesn't have a budget to help spur any proposed projects, or plans to release them for public perusal. NASA received 11 submissions "from a broad range of respondents including individuals, small companies and large companies," Sam Scimemi, division director for the ISS program, said in an e-mail."

NASA hopes to hand the International Space Station to a commercial owner by mid 2020s, TechCrunch

"NASA's trying to develop economic development in low-earth orbit," [NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Bill] Hill said, speaking on a panel of NASA staff assembled to discuss the upcoming Mars mission. "Ultimately, our desire is to hand the space station over to either a commercial entity or some other commercial capability so that research can continue in low-earth orbit, so that research can continue in low-earth orbit. ... NASA didn't specify any potential buyer, but two commercial entities are about to add significant real estate to the ISS: a new docking adapter is being put in place to support crew shuttle missions from Boeing and SpaceX, both of which are set to start shuttling personnel to the station in 2017."

Keith's note: Every time someone from NASA talks about the future of ISS and the #JourneyToMars thing they contradict themselves and further muddy the issue.

1. CASIS is supposed to be doing this commercial stuff already with the U.S. portion of the ISS - NASA doesn't mention that very often.
2. The ISS is owned by more countries/agencies than just NASA. So how can NASA hand the ISS over to anyone?
3. "Buyer"? NASA is going to sell the ISS? (see #2)
4. Boeing and SpaceX own their visiting spacecraft - "real estate" that comes and goes.

NASA's Plan For Commercializing Low Earth Orbit Is Still A Mystery, earlier post
NASA: We're on a #JourneyToMars - But Don't Ask Us How, earlier post
Dazed and Confused About Space Commerce At NASA, earlier post
A Closer Look At The CASIS "Space Is In It" Endorsement, earlier post

NASA FISO Presentation: NASA's Space Launch System: Powering the Journey to Mars

"Now available is the August 3, 2016 NASA Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon material. The speakers were Chris Sanders (AeroJet Rocketdyne), Mike Fuller (Orbital ATK), and Bob DaLee (Boeing), who discussed "NASA's Space Launch System: Powering the Journey to Mars."

Note: The audio file and presentation are available online and to download.

Marc's note: The future is SLS folks, that's it. Just have a look at slide 9 for the comparison to existing rockets such as SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy (soon to fly) and ULA's Atlas V and Delta-IV. Oh, and the comparison is to the possible future SLS Block 1B and 2B, neither of which are funded or will be built anytime soon.

Keith's note: And of course what the BoeingLockheedMartinAerojetRocketdyneOrbitalATK guys never, ever mention is cost - what it cost to develop SLS, what each flight costs, what it would take to fund these larger versions of SLS. Yet they compare their rocket with things like Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy that you can buy - now. How many Falcon Heavy's can you buy for the the cost of one of these SLS vehicles? How many could you buy with what it cost to develop the SLS overall? That question is impossible to answer - since no one knows what SLS actually costs.

GAO Best Practices for Evaluating the Readiness of Technology for Use in Acquisition Programs and Projects, GAO

"NASA space missions are more ambitious and require the development and integration of more advanced and complex scientific instruments and vehicles than ever before. Hardware systems embedded with software challenge traditional ways of viewing and evaluating critical technology. 13 The issues include a lack of distinction among software types (newly developed, reused, and commercial-off-the-shelf), insufficient experience and knowledge when moving from the laboratory to a "relevant" environment, poor oversight during development, and inconsistent definitions of what represents new software technology. In addition, in some cases, it is no longer possible to evaluate the maturity of certain hardware technologies without their embedded software."

"NASA introduced TRLs in the 1970s and DOD introduced TRAs in the 1990s; they have been adopted by other agencies and industry, and internationally as effective tools for facilitating understanding and increasing knowledge about the maturity of critical technologies and their readiness for integration into larger acquisition systems. Some experts, however, have argued that existing assessment tools are not well suited to addressing various areas - including software systems and systems' integration. For example, historically, the TRL scale has not always been understood in terms of what needs to be demonstrated when it comes to software at each of the nine maturity levels, since software development did not start until the later phases of the acquisition life-cycle, such as after critical design review. New assessment tools or variations on existing tools have been developed for these areas and others."

SpaceX Launches Japanese Satellite JCSAT-16 and Returns Falcon 9 First Stage [With video]

NASA Selects Six Companies to Develop Prototypes, Concepts for Deep Space Habitats

"NASA has selected six U.S. companies to help advance the Journey to Mars by developing ground prototypes and concepts for deep space habitats."

"The selected companies are:

- Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas
- Boeing of Pasadena, Texas
- Lockheed Martin of Denver
- Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia
- Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems of Louisville, Colorado
- NanoRacks of Webster, Texas
"

Marc's note: It's interesting to note that in this follow-on contract from the 2015 NextSTEP selections, Sierra Nevada and NanoRacks are included. NanoRacks in particular is an intriguing participant as they attempt to expand their available products.

- NextSTEP Partners Develop Deep Space Habitat Ground Prototypes

The Peaks of Eternal Light: a Near-term Property Issue on the Moon, arXiv.org e-Print archive

"The recently revealed highly inhomogeneous distribution of lunar resources changes the context of these issues. We illustrate this altered situation by considering the Peaks of Eternal Light. They occupy about one square kilometer of the lunar surface. We consider a thought experiment in which a Solar telescope is placed on one of the Peaks of Eternal Light at the lunar South pole for scientific research. Its operation would require nondisturbance, and hence that the Peak remain unvisited by others, effectively establishing a claim of protective exclusion and de facto appropriation."

U.S. Government Approves Plan For Moon Express to Become First Private Company To Venture Beyond Earth's Orbit, Moon Express

"The U.S. Government has made a historic ruling to allow the first private enterprise, Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx), permission to travel beyond Earth's orbit and land on the Moon in 2017. This breakthrough U.S. policy decision provides authorization to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon's surface, beginning a new era of ongoing commercial lunar exploration and discovery, unlocking the immense potential of the Moon's valuable resources."

UrtheCast Elevates High-Tech Farming With Superior Precision Agriculture, UrtheCast

"With Earth's population growing at an exponential rate, the future of agriculture - in particular precision agriculture - will continue to grow in importance as the world works to support its population. Satellite monitoring, a key component of precision ag, aids in the analysis of everything from crop type and crop health to yield prediction. And as the global agricultural stakes are raised as the population balloons, so too does the need for increased access to extremely high quality imagery, on a reliable and frequent basis."

NanoRacks External Platform is Outside of International Space Station, NanoRacks

"NanoRacks' commercial gateway to space is officially open for business. The NanoRacks External Platform (NREP) has been placed outside of the International Space Station (ISS) on the JEM Exposed Facility. The self-funded NREP is the first-ever commercial gateway-and-return to the extreme environment of space. Following the CubeSat form factor, payloads can now experience the microgravity, radiation and other harsh elements native to the space environment, observe earth, test sensors, materials, and electronics, all while having the opportunity to return the payload back to Earth."

The First Commercial Interplanetary Mining Mission, Deep Space Industries

"Deep Space Industries announced today its plans to fly the world's first commercial interplanetary mining mission. Prospector-1™ will fly to and rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid, and investigate the object to determine its value as a source of space resources. This mission is an important step in the company's plans to harvest and supply in-space resources to support the growing space economy."

SpaceVR Signs Launch Contract with NanoRacks to Deploy The World's First Virtual Reality Camera Satellite into Space, SpaceVR

"SpaceVR, a platform for creating cinematic, live, virtual space tourism, announced today that it has signed a launch agreement with NanoRacks LLC to send Overview 1, the world's first virtual reality camera satellite, into space. Overview 1 will be delivered to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX CRS-12 Mission. The satellite will then be deployed into Low Earth Orbit from the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD)."

Lockheed Martin Finalizes Contract for NASA Lunar Imaging CubeSat, Lockheed Martin

"For being our familiar anchor in the night sky, the moon still holds mysteries for scientists. To illuminate the unknown, Lockheed Martin ) has signed a contract with NASA to deploy SkyFire, a 6U CubeSat planned to launch to the moon in 2018 with Orion's Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1)."

U.S. Government Approves Plan For Moon Express to Become First Private Company To Venture Beyond Earth's Orbit, Moon Express

"The U.S. Government has made a historic ruling to allow the first private enterprise, Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx), permission to travel beyond Earth's orbit and land on the Moon in 2017. This breakthrough U.S. policy decision provides authorization to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon's surface, beginning a new era of ongoing commercial lunar exploration and discovery, unlocking the immense potential of the Moon's valuable resources. Moon Express received the green light for pursuing its 2017 lunar mission following in depth consultations with the FAA, the White House, the State Department, NASA and other federal agencies."

Fact Sheet - Moon Express Payload Review Determination, FAA

"Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty requires, in relevant part, that "The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty." The FAA consulted with the Department of State as to the relevant portions of the Treaty and considered comments from the Department as part of the payload determination."

FAA-AST Awards Virgin Galactic Operator License For SpaceShipTwo

"The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA-AST) has awarded Virgin Galactic an operator license for SpaceShipTwo. The license award, which will ultimately permit commercial operations of the vehicle, was the culmination of several years of in-depth interaction with the FAA. The license review process consists of an in-depth review of the vehicles system design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis, culminating in FAA-AST approval."

Virgin Galactic receives FAA license for SpaceShipTwo tests, SpaceNews

"The license prohibits Virgin Galactic from flying what are officially classified as "spaceflight participants" on SpaceShipTwo until the company can "successfully verify the integrated performance" of SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo. "Verification must include flight testing, and the results must be provided to the FAA prior to conducting a mission with a space flight participant on board," the license states.

Virgin Galactic opted to receive the launch license, with those restrictions, over an alternative known as an experimental permit. Such permits allow for testing of suborbital reusable launch vehicles under a more streamlined regulatory environment, but prohibit the company holding the permit from using the vehicle for any commercial application. Blue Origin, for example, has an experimental permit for test flights of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle."

NASA FISO Presentation: Near Real-Time State Models - a Foundational Technology for Space Automation and Robotics, SpaceRef

"Now available is the June 22, 2016 NASA Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon material. The speaker was Gary Barnhard of Xtraordinary Innovative Space Partnerships, Inc. (XISP-Inc) who discussed Near Real-Time State Models - a Foundational Technology for Space Automation and Robotics."

Includes: Presentation and audio recording of the telecon.


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