Commercialization: April 2017 Archives

With Secret Airship, Sergey Brin Also Wants to Fly, Bloomberg

"Larry Page has his flying cars. Sergey Brin shall have an airship. Brin, the Google co-founder, has secretly been building a massive airship inside of Hangar 2 at the NASA Ames Research Center, according to four people with knowledge of the project. It's unclear whether the craft, which looks like a zeppelin, is a hobby or something Brin hopes to turn into a business. "Sorry, I don't have anything to say about this topic right now," Brin wrote in an email."

Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space (Live at 10:00 a.m. EDT)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled "Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space" at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. This hearing will examine the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act signed into law in November 2015, potential regulatory barriers to address in future legislation, and ways to expand commercial opportunities for American firms in space.

Witnesses:

- Mr. Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace
- Mr. Rob Meyerson, President, Blue Origin
- Mr. George Whitesides, CEO, Galactic Ventures
- Mr. Andrew Rush, CEO, Made in Space

Marc's note: Phil Larson, formerly with SpaceX, now Assistant Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado, Boulder wrote the following opinion yesterday afternoon in The Hill related to today's hearing; There's a new frontier in space exploration, but will Trump be on board?

"There's a jump ball underway in space, and it'll be on full display Wednesday at a Senate hearing chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Will the administration and Congress be pro-innovation or pro the old way of doing business? And will the team in the White House really look for opportunities to run government more like a business? There's no better bellwether for answering these questions than the space debate going on right now. "

NASA Invites Entrepreneurs to Another Industry Day

NASA has opened registration for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Industry Day.

NASA SBIR/STTR Industry Day
Date: June 25-27th, 2017
Location: NASA Ames Research Center
Building 152
Moffett Field, CA 94035

How Jeff Bezos is using Amazon's success to fuel Blue Origin's space effort, a billion dollars at a time, GeekWire

"Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos has long said that he's using his personal fortune to fund his Blue Origin space venture, and today he hinted at just how many billions of dollars he intends to spend. "My business model right now for Blue Origin is, I sell about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock, and I use it to invest in Blue Origin," he told reporters here at the 33rd Space Symposium. "So the business model for Blue Origin is very robust." Bezos threw out the figure half-jokingly, after noting that he typically doesn't reveal how much he's spending. But he made clear that his in-house space effort, headquartered in Kent, Wash., takes a noticeable chunk out of his estimated $78 billion fortune. He said the development cost for Blue Origin's New Glenn orbital launch system, which should be taking off from a Florida launch facility by 2020 or so, is likely to be on the order of $2.5 billion."

Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, Bob Zimmerman

"A close look at these recommendations will reveal one common thread. Each is focused on shifting power and regulatory authority away from the federal government and increasing the freedom of American companies to act as they see fit to meet the demands of the market. The key word that defines this common thread is freedom, a fundamental principle that has been aspired to since the nation's founding. Political leaders from both parties have made the concept a central core tenet of American policy. Democrat John Kennedy stated that his commitment to go to the Moon was a "stand for freedom" in the Cold War. Republican Ronald Reagan proposed "Freedom" as the name for the new space station, and viewed it as a platform for promoting private enterprise in space. Freedom is actually a very simple idea. Give people and companies the freedom to act, in a competitive environment that encourages intelligent and wise action, and they will respond intelligently and wisely. The United States' history proves that freedom can work. It is time to prove it again, in space."

Wishful thinking collides with policy, economic realities in 'Capitalism in Space', op Ed Scott Pace, Space News

"Unfortunately, the report is rife with factual errors and misleading comparisons that make it all but useless, while occasionally making points we can agree with. It begins with erroneous assumptions on how NASA cargo and crew capabilities are being programmatically implemented. It projects outcomes based on the only operating NASA example of a public-private partnership, ISS cargo transportation. The core problem is that based on this minimal experience the author poses a false binary choice between "government" or "private sector" approaches to space transportation, a choice in which he argues that the government should abandon traditional acquisition practices in favor of relying on "free enterprise."

Keith's note: Scott you know as well as everyone else that there is indeed a clear difference between government space and private sector space. You also know that the moment that the government starts to stick its fingers into the way that a company does things that effort quickly becomes a de facto government space effort - no matter what sort of verbiage you may want to paint all over it to suggest otherwise. There is indeed a choice facing all of us as to how we do things in space. Some people are willing to consider that choice and embrace new ways of doing things. Others are determined to avoid doing so, preferring instead to dwell on outmoded models that no longer work.

The Next Economic Revolution Just (re)Launched: Congratulate SpaceX, Thank NASA, OpEd, Greg Autry, Forbes

"Our global competitors in Russia, China and even Europe remain wedded to an antiquated socialist vision of space development. Their space "programs" are run by state-owned enterprises and quasi-governmental national champions. While they flirt with very small commercial endeavors and rebrand their government bureaucracies as "companies", the political leaders of these nations are very unlikely to truly let go of a strategic national industry with military implications. The current trend already suggest that it is time to put a fork in China's Great Wall Industry Corp, Russia's TsSKB Progress and Europe's Arianespace. In 2011, the U.S. had surrendered the entire mid-sized commercial space launch business to subsidized global competition. Just four years later, SpaceX had recaptured half of that market. SpaceX's success has motivated ULA to aggressively pursue commercial launches as well. Reuse and new competitors will restore 80% or more of this business to America over the next few years."

Defects Found in Almost Every Russian Proton Rocket Engine, Moscow Times

"An investigation into quality control issues in the Russian space industry has discovered that nearly every engine currently stockpiled for use in Proton rockets is defective, the RIA Novosti news agency reported March 30, citing Igor Arbuzov, head of state rocket engine manufacturer Energomash. ... But over the past decade, Proton's reliability and that of the Russian space industry as a whole has been thrown into sharp question amid a series of spectacular launch failures. The problem goes beyond engines, pointing to a general quality control crisis across multiple factories and rocket designs."


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