May 22 2013 06:05:29 AM |
The 6th IAAAS Space Safety Conference 2013 is underway in Montreal, Canada. The Programme Overview, which has the theme “safety is not an option”, shows a wide array of topics under discussion including commercial human spaceflight safety, launch safety, space debris, space traffic control, and reentry safety.
Here are a couple of reports from the meeting:
(IAASS => International Association for Advancement in Space Safety.)
May 21 2013 11:38:44 PM |
NASA's Commercial Crew Program posts this update about the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser:
SNC's Dream Chaser is Unwrapped for Testing
Tue, 21 May 2013 05:45:28 PM EST
Several Sierra Nevada Corporation employees recently unwrapped the Dream Chaser flight test vehicle following its five-state journey from Colorado to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California. The prototype space access vehicle will undergo ground and approach-and-landing flight tests in the coming months at Dryden as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) development work. SNC is one of three companies working with CCP during the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.
Here's a photo of SNC employee Will Armijo unwrapping the nose of the vehicle:
May 21 2013 10:11:31 PM |
The Space Tech Expo is underway in Long Beach, California. There is a busy agenda. Richard David, CEO of NewSpace Global, is there and will lead a panel discussion tomorrow. He sends this snapshot of the XCOR Lynx mockup:
Jeff Foust and others are posting from the event:
A selection of Jeff's posts for today's sessions:
Commercial cargo/crew session:
"[Michael Lopez-Alegria ]: need to spend comm'l crew $ in the most efficient way you can; do that by exercising optional CCiCap milestones."
Mark Sirangelo of SNC "says it was more dramatic trucking Dream Chaser from Colo. to NASA Dryden (in May snow) than building it."
"Sirangelo: if not picked in the next round, we would assess whether to continue on Dream Chaser with our own resources."
Garrett Reisman, SpaceX: "Texas and Florida two most likely location for new SpaceX launch site"
"Reisman: concerned if comm'l crew goes back to traditional contracting, lose key strengths of program; our biggest concern."
"Reisman: all SpaceX CCiCap milestones to date completed on schedule and successfully. Pad abort test on track for December."
"Reisman: we believe we can do first Dragon flight test with crew on board in mid-2015; part of optioncal CCiCap milestons."
"John Mulholland, Boeing: still holding on 2016 first crewed flight of CST-100."
"Mulholland: continue to have discussions with firms like SpaceX to ensure CST-100 is compatible with other launchers."
"Mulholland: all 8 of 19 Boeing CCiCap milestones completed to date have been done on schedule."
"Mulholland: most of the large technical issues we have gotten past; now it's all about execution."
"Les Kovacs, ULA: Atlas 5 so reliable only need to add "handful" of sensors to engine compartment for human-rated version."
Space Tourism session:
"Will , Virgin Galactic: on a path to be hopefully in outer space by the end of the year; comm'l flts not long after"
"Pomerantz: "580 something" customers signed up with Virgin to date."
"Andrew Nelson, XCOR: key to any fully reusable launch system is a reusable engine that can be used multiple times a day."
"Nelson: Lynx Mk I flight tests slated to begin late this year; tests will last 9-12 months."
"Nelson: XCOR and partners have sold 275 flights to date."
"Eric Anderson notes that space tourism firm Space Adventures is now over 15 years old: it was founded late in 1997."
"Nelson: successes of SpaceX and Virgin raising profile of industry, attracting investment. But, can you get your $ out?"
"Nelson: expect SpaceX to IPO in next 2 years, Virgin Galactic will probably follow. We hope to be #3 behind them."
"Pomerantz: cross-promotion of Virgin Galactic w/other Virgin companies will increase "exponentially" as SS2 begins flights."
"Nelson on XCOR's marketing: we're competing with the world's greatest marketeer, so we have to make it a little different."
"Pomerantz: when the day comes when there's fatal accident in our industry, it's important that we are all on message."
"Anderson: when that day (a fatal accident) comes, it will be a tough one for industry, but we will get through it."
"Nelson: where we're headed in the long term is fully-reusable orbital launch systems."
"Anderson: see Space Adventures as the Abercrombie & Kent (high-end travel) of space."
May 21 2013 09:46:57 PM |
Stewart Money discusses the implications of the Bigelow-NASA deal (see earlier posting) to study public/private exploration initiatives: Exploring NASA’s Agreement with Bigelow - Innerspace.net
So, although the Moon has been summarily dismissed as an objective for official space policy, it is still the focus of a steadily maturing private exploration architecture which stands the conclusions of the Augustine Committee on its head, and says a return to the Moon, unaffordable under the budget limitations of Project Constellation, is achievable within the scope of private organizations. Whether it occurs or not is an entirely different matter, but with a heavy debt of gratitude to SpaceX and the impending Falcon Heavy, the door is about to be opened. Sooner or later, someone will step through it, and then someone else.
Consequently, what is starting out as a series of brief, unfunded studies between NASA and Bigelow could very well establish a framework for future participation between public and private space efforts which occurs within the scope of the existing NASA exploration policy, which some would say borders on selenophobic. That could all change rather quickly if commercial interests demonstate that they are capable of reaching and operating on the Moon.
May 21 2013 06:01:20 AM |
California state Rep. Kevin McCarthy [R-Bakersfield] and State Sen. Steve Knight [R-Palmdale] write in support of a bill to limit liability exposure for commercial spaceflight: systems companies: Guard aerospace innovators' freedom to create in California - Viewpoints/The Sacramento Bee
Last year, the California Legislature passed the Space Flight Liability and Immunity Act, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law, assisting space tourism firms by providing limited indemnification. The California Senate is now considering Senate Bill 415 to extend the liability limitation to manufacturers and suppliers, which is critical to ensure that California stays competitive with states such as New Mexico and Texas.
(Link via Parabolic Arc.)
May 21 2013 05:42:52 AM |
An unnamed unmanned rocket vehicle, probably Masten's, is expected to fly in Mojave on Tuesday: Unmanned Rocket Flight in Mojave Airspace Set for Tuesday - Parabolic Arc
Dale Amon writes about two NewSpace projects:
Here's an interview with Virgin Galactic test pilot Dave Mackay who talks about flying the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo vehicles: Now Testing - Virtuoso Traveler
May 20 2013 10:20:30 PM |
NASA is holding a public event to discuss the unfunded space act agreement with Bigelow Aerospace:
WASHINGTON -- NASA and Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas are holding a media availability at 1:30 p.m. EDT, Thursday, May 23, to discuss the agency's Space Act Agreement with the company for its insight on collaborating with commercial industry on exploration beyond Earth orbit. Journalists can participate in-person or by teleconference.
The media availability participants are:
-- William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, human exploration and operations, NASA
-- Robert Bigelow, founder and president, Bigelow Aerospace
Journalist who want to attend in-person at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW in Washington, or dial-in to ask questions should contact Rachel Kraft at email@example.com or 202-358-1100 by 11 a.m. May 23.
Under the agreement, Bigelow will work with a variety of commercial space companies to assess and develop options for innovative and dynamic private and public investments to create infrastructure to support domestic and international governmental exploration activities alongside revenue generating private sector enterprises. Bigelow will deliver its analysis by the end of this year.
The agreement includes a two-phased approach that will help NASA assess potential opportunities for collaboration. During the first phase, Bigelow will leverage its existing relationships with other private companies and its expertise from continuing operations in space to form common objectives between the private sector and NASA. In the second phase, Bigelow will create a series of options for public-private collaboration that lower costs and takes advantage of rapid implementation.
For more information on Bigelow Aerospace, visit: http://www.bigelowaerospace.com
For more information on NASA's exploration goals, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration
May 20 2013 07:44:22 PM |
The film company Cinipixo will use the XCOR Lynx suborbital spaceplane to shoot some of the footage for their science fiction movie Newcomers:
The film is about "a former NASA Astronaut who saves the Earth from an alien invasion with help from the commercial space industry". Sounds plausible to me.
Read more about Cinipix to Film Section of New Sci-Fi Film NEWCOMERS in Space - BWWMoviesWorld by movies.broadwayworld.com
Cinipix CEO Todd Slater said, "We knew we could approach this film in a new, non-traditional way and explore options that didn't exist just a few years ago. Partnering with a privately owned commercial space company for an interstellar sci-fi film is now very logical and doable so we wanted to move fast and create something special. We certainly know it will add a fantastic and thrilling realism to our scenes."
They hope to start production early in 2014.
May 20 2013 04:41:14 PM |
Last Friday NASA announced that it was putting out a formal request for proposals for commercial use of Launch Pad 39A at KSC: NASA Seeks Proposals for Commercial Operations at Kennedy's Launch Pad 39A
Speculations as to who might be interested includes SpaceX, which might want to use it for their super-heavy Falcon XX:
May 20 2013 04:19:12 PM |
NewSpace is highlighted in this German newspaper article, which cites Richard David, NewSpace Global's CEO: Bemannte Raumfahrt - Umsonst ins All - Wissen - Süddeutsche.de (Google Translate).
We've added this to our collection of NSG in the News.
May 20 2013 03:24:52 PM |
Skybox Imaging, which is developing a constellation of low cost imaging satellites, has had some interesting recent News of interest. In April they announced a partnership with MapBox "to design new interfaces for visualizing rapid satellite imagery collection":
And last week I mentioned that Skybox announced "it has entered into a multi-year, strategic partnership with JJapan Space Imaging (JSI), a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, to provide high-resolution imagery and full motion commercial video to the Japanese market" : Skybox Imaging Announces Strategic Partnership with Japan Space Imaging - WSJ.com
May 20 2013 03:14:03 PM |
Latest issue of New York Magazine has a long cover article about the opening of a new era of commercial spaceflight: Welcome to the Real Space Age: The Era of Private Space Travel Is Just Beginning -- New York Magazine (via spacetoday.net):
If the twentieth-century space race was about the might of the American government, the emerging 21st-century space age is about something perhaps even more powerful—the might of money. The necessary technology has converged in the hands of a particularly boyish group of billionaires whose Right Stuff is less hard-boiled test-pilot, more high-tech entrepreneuring wunderkind—and whose individual financial means eclipse those of most nations. A massive industry is coalescing around them. Towns and states and even some countries are fighting one another for a piece of it. In New Mexico, workers are putting the finishing touches on the first of at least ten spaceports currently under construction around the world. More than 800 people have paid as much as $200,000 apiece to reserve seats on commercial flights into space, some of which are expected to launch, at long last, within a year. Space-travel agents are being trained; space suits are being designed for sex appeal as much as for utility; the founder of the Budget hotel chain is developing pods for short- and long-term stays in Earth’s orbit and beyond. Over beers one night, a former high-ranking NASA official, now employed by Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin transportation conglomerate, put it plainly: “We happen to be alive at the moment when humanity starts leaving the planet.”
May 20 2013 07:32:44 AM |
Here's a NASA promotional style video about simulations of the SNC Dream Chaser.
Jack Fischer was one of four NASA astronauts to fly approach and landing simulations of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser spacecraft at the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The three-day simulations evaluated the spacecraft's subsonic handling in support of NASA Commercial Crew Program efforts.
May 20 2013 06:36:03 AM |
I was told by a friend in Mojave over the weekend that an explosion occured on Friday at the SpaceShipTwo motor test stand near the spaceport. The nozzle was blown off for quite a distance. This appeared to be bad news but I see that Scaled has already posted entries in their RM2 test log for two tests on Friday and the description of the first test seems to explain what happened.
For "Fire: 28" they intentionally introduced flaws into a non-flight engine and fired it "to improve knowledge of different design components". The test drove the "experimental grain to destruction".
The other test was at Sierra Nevada's test facility in Poway, CA and appears to have gone well.
Date: 17 May 13
Twenty-ninth full scale hot-fire. Test of flight-design RM2. Continued evaluation of all systems and components:
- Extended burn duration in flight configuration
- Fuel formulation and geometry
SNC successfully fired the flight motor for SpaceShipTwo at its test facility in Poway, testing an extended burn and further advancing the program towards full spaceflight later this year. This test built upon excellent results achieved in SpaceShipTwo's first supersonic, rocket-powered flight with motor of the same design. All objectives completed
Date: 17 May 13
Perform hot-fire of off-nominal, non-flight configuration motor at Scaled's test facility.
- Safety systems evaluation
- Test stand evaluation
- Data Acquisition system evaluation
- Rocket Motor Controller performance
- Pressurization System Controller performance
- Rocket system performance
- Valve / Injector / Igniter evaluation
- Fuel formulation evaluation
- CTN structural evaluation
Firing at Mojave test site by Scaled Composites of a non-flight experimental rocket motor in which flaws had been intentionally introduced to improve knowledge of different design components. Tested experimental grain to destruction. This unique test, which was necessary to perform during the test program, successfully collected data for several key safety systems.
May 17 2013 02:26:07 PM |
The Mission, National Defense Industry Association, GEORGIA Chapter will hold a meeting to discuss a Georgia spaceport:
NDIA Georgia Chapter
TUESDAY, May 28, 2013
11:30am - 1:30pm
GEORGIA SPACE PORT BRIEFING
Georgia Overview and Update
Buffet Lunch to enjoy during briefing
Location: Centergy Building (75 Fifth Street, NW)
in the Georgia Resource Center, Atlanta
Georgia’s Camden County is on the list for commercial space ports.
Commercial space launch companies have stated Georgia preference.
11:30 Lunch & Networking
Noon NDIA Business
Bruce Cotteman, Chapter President
12:15 Economic, Security and Science Benefits of Our Future in Space
Dr. Robert Braun, Georgia Tech, previsouly of NASA
Served as the NASA Chief Technologist, is currently a David and Andrew Lewis Professor of Space Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he leads research focused on the design of advanced flight systems and technologies for planetary exploration.
The Space Economy for Georgia
Bob Scaringe, AVG Communciations
Consultant in the Space industry who worked with the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts while based in Atlanta.
Space industry, education, and business development speakers will discuss Georgia’s current status, and why Georgia has been described by International commercial Space companies as “the best location on the US east coast for Launch” and the proposed Camden County Spaceport site as “a goldmine for GA.” Georgia’s geographic location. The former Thiokol rocket test area is ideal for launches to the east over water and is convenient for shipping to other Spaceports in FL or VA.
May 17 2013 02:17:48 PM |
An announcement from Space Florida:
Space Florida Secures Bionetics as a New Tenant at the Space Life Sciences Laboratory
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (MAY 17, 2013) – Space Florida, the state’s aerospace development organization and spaceport authority, today announced that The Bionetics Corporation, a diversified engineering and applied sciences company, is the newest tenant of the Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL) at the Kennedy Space Center.
Bionetics, headquartered in Yorktown, Va., enhances spaceflight systems through the development of unique LED lighting and enables microgravity-based life sciences research. The newest SLSL location is the sixth of its Florida sites.
Space Florida coordinated the two-year lease agreement with Bionetics to occupy lab and administrative space at the SLSL, which will create eight new jobs. At the SLSL location, Bionetics will design, test and manufacture Solid State Lighting Assemblies (SSLAs), the first LED-driven lighting systems designed and built to meet the rigorous requirements of the International Space Station (ISS). These SSLAs provide a controllable light spectrum designed to assist flight crews with circadian alignment, resulting in improved crew health and long-duration spaceflight adaptation.
“Bionetics is one more tenant leveraging the unique capabilities of the SLSL to benefit the ISS program,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “We are thrilled that Bionetics will be able to benefit from the facility.”
“The SLSL not only provides space that is ideal for the development and test of these unique lighting fixtures, but it also provides us with the opportunity to collaborate more closely with others involved in the development of similar technologies for spaceflight,” said Bill Wells, Bionetics SSLA Project Manager.
Other high-tech companies that are currently utilizing the SLSL include Innovative Health Applications, LLC (IHA), Molecular Power Systems, and Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
May 17 2013 03:03:15 AM |
WhiteKnightTwo flights and tests of the SpaceShipTwo motor have been underway this month: Engine Testing Continues in Mojave - Parabolic Arc.
A collection of videos about Astrobotic, Moon Express, Penn State Lunar Lion and other Google Lunar X PRIZE participants: Lunar Roundup: Billionaires - Google Lunar XPRIZE
May 17 2013 02:29:22 AM |
Here's a NASA video showing the arrival of the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser at Dryden test facility at Edwards AFB. Caption:
Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) Space Systems' Dream Chaser test flight craft, also known as an engineering test article, arrived at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., May 15 to begin tests of its flight and runway landing systems.
With its wings and tail structure removed and shrouded in plastic wrap, the test article was transported from the company's facility in Louisville, Colo., atop a flatbed truck and trailer. The five-state journey took about five days to complete.
Here's a brief message and image released by NASA KSC:
NASA Astronauts Fly Dream Chaser Simulations This Week
Thu, 16 May 2013 05:15:56 PM EST
Several astronauts are at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., this week to fly simulations of a Dream Chaser approach and landing to help evaluate the spacecraft's subsonic handling in support of the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) efforts.
HAMPTON, Va. -- Bruce Jackson, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley
Flight Research Center, briefs astronauts Rex Walheim and Gregory Johnson
as they evaluate Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser landing simulation,
in support of NASA Commercial Crew Program efforts, Wednesday, May 15.
The simulation makes use of the Synthetic Vision SV and Enhanced Vision EV
systems in the center's Cockpit Motion Facility. Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman