Battling Billionaires: Amid Jeff Bezos Triumph, Elon Musk Launches Twitter War


Jeff Bezos is basking in the success of Blue Origin’s New Shepard, which completed a successful flight yesterday with the rocket landing safely back on Earth. Bezos send his first ever Tweet (at least from that account) to celebrate the achievement.

Never one to miss an opportunity for publicity, rival Elon Musk at first congratulated Bezos on his success before finding about a half dozen ways to diminish it. A sampling of Musk’s Tweets follow.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard Vehicle Makes Suborbital Flight


VAN HORN, Texas, November 24, 2015 (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced that its New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas. To receive updates on Blue Origin’s continuing progress and early access to ticketing information, sign up

Continue reading ‘Blue Origin’s New Shepard Vehicle Makes Suborbital Flight’

Battle Brews Over ULA Engine Restrictions

John McCain

John McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is battling an effort to eliminate restrictions on ULA’s ability to purchase Russian RD-180 engines for the first stage of its Atlas V booster.

McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, supported a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, now awaiting the president’s signature, that gives ULA access to four more RD-180s for upcoming competitions, a number the company says is not nearly enough to keep it in the military launch business until it can field a new rocket around 2021. The House version of that bill would have granted ULA access to nine more engines, but the Senate position prevailed.

Now, however, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is considering adding language to a spending bill that would give the Air Force access to the RD-180 until an alternative becomes available, his office has said. The Defense Department, like the rest of the federal government, is currently funded under a continuing resolution that expires Dec. 11, and a new bill must be passed to avoid a government shutdown.

ULA recently declined to bid on a U.S. Air Force launch contract, in part because it was unable to spare its limited supply of first-stage engines. The decision resulted in a default to rival SpaceX.

Read the full story.

Video of Supermodel Karlie Kloss’ Photo Shoot at SpaceX


Supermodel Karlie Kloss did a photo shoot at SpaceX headquarters in California.

Smith, Babin Praise Successful Reusable Rocket Test in Texas

Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

Washington, D.C. (House Science PR) – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today praised a private space company’s successful test of a reusable rocket at a test facility in West Texas. The company, Blue Origin, was the first ever to successfully launch and vertically land a rocket, which enables reuse.

Chairman Lamar Smith: “We are living in historic and exciting times. Congratulations to Blue Origin on the successful launch and landing of the New Shepard rocket yesterday in West Texas. Reusable rockets could revolutionize the space industry and promise to make future space exploration more affordable.  This is one of many firsts for American space innovators and it is the reason why the SPACE Act that Congress recently passed is so important. Texas continues to play a leading role in America’s space story, just as we have for the last 50 years.”

Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin: “Blue Origin’s successful flight is a significant step in making space tourism a reality in Texas and the United States.  Congratulations to the entire team for their vision, ingenuity and tireless efforts in ensuring the United States is the home of commercial space.”

The test comes on the heels of passage of the SPACE Act, landmark bipartisan legislation that encourages private American space companies to continue investing in crucial research, development, and testing without the threat of new and overbearing government regulations. Chairman Smith partnered with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), lead sponsor of the bill, to see it through to final passage in the House and Senate. It now awaits the president’s signature.

Departed XCOR Founder Establishes Consulting Group


agile_aero_logoXCOR Founder Jeff Greason, who departed the company this week, has established an aerospace consulting operation called Agile Aero. The group has a website that was created on Nov. 17 for which Greason is listed as the registrant. The following description is on the website:

Agile Aero, Inc. is a group of aviation and aerospace professionals with expertise in many aspects of advanced aerospace vehicle design, construction, and operations; rocket propulsion; and the regulatory environment for these activities.

We provide consulting services in these areas, but our focus is on a larger goal. We have seen in our careers many advanced aerospace projects falter because of the long development cycle for custom aerospace vehicles. In recent years, there have been breakthroughs in rapid development and prototyping of rocket engines, of satellites, and of many subsystems for advanced vehicles. But the integrated vehicles are still developed with older, slower methods. Agile Aero intends to bring modern rapid prototyping to complete vehicles, for space launch, for hypersonic air vehicles, and for innovative aircraft.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Signs $200 Million Contract for CST-100 Starliner Propulsion

High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 23, 2015 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), has signed a contract with Boeing valued at nearly $200 million that supports a new era of spaceflight – one that will carry humans to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil once again. Under its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) subcontract to Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne is completing the design, development, qualification, certification and initial production of the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 “Starliner” service module propulsion system.

Continue reading ‘Aerojet Rocketdyne Signs $200 Million Contract for CST-100 Starliner Propulsion’

Aerojet Rocketdyne Gets $1.16 Billion Contract to Restart Shuttle Engine Production

The RS-25 engine fires up for a 500-second test Jan. 9 at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credit: NASA)

The RS-25 engine fires up for a 500-second test Jan. 9 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NASA PR) — NASA selected Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California, to restart production of the RS-25 engine for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world, and deliver a certified engine. SLS will use four RS-25 engines to carry the agency’s Orion spacecraft and launch explorers on deep space missions, including to an asteroid placed in lunar orbit and ultimately to Mars.

Continue reading ‘Aerojet Rocketdyne Gets $1.16 Billion Contract to Restart Shuttle Engine Production’

NASA Astronauts Conduct Evaluation on SpaceX Crew Dragon

Commercial Crew astronauts Doug Hurley, center, and Sunita "Suni" Williams sit inside a Crew Dragon mockup during an evaluation visit for the Crew Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX's Hawthorne, California, headquarters. (Credit: NASA)

Commercial Crew astronauts Doug Hurley, center, and Sunita “Suni” Williams sit inside a Crew Dragon mockup during an evaluation visit for the Crew Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters. (Credit: NASA)

Commercial crew astronauts Doug Hurley, Sunita “Suni” Williams and Bob Behnken had the opportunity to evaluate the displays in the Crew Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters.

Hurley, Williams and Behnken are three of four astronauts who were selected to be the first to train to fly to space aboard commercial spacecraft as part of the NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA will decide at a later date which astronauts will fly aboard which spacecraft – SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Boeing CST-100 Starliner. See more photos in Commercial Crew’s Flickr album here.

This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, Nov. 22, 2015: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST; 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome DR. DAVID CRISP from JPL to discuss the new findings from the NASA OCO-2 satellite regarding Earth’s carbon cycle.

2. Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome SARAH SCOLES to the show. Ms. Scoles is an accomplished science writer. Visit her website at

3. Friday, Nov. 27, 2015; 9:30 -11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30-1 PM CST) No show due to Thanksgiving holiday.

4. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): OPEN LINES. All space and stem calls welcome. First time callers welcome. Phone calls have priority over emails.

Two Founders Depart XCOR, Greason Remains on Board

Jeff Greason

Jeff Greason

MOJAVE, CA, November 23 (XCOR PR) —  XCOR Aerospace announced earlier today that two of its original founders, Chief Technology Officer Jeff Greason and Chief Engineer Dan DeLong, are stepping back from their current positions. With the first Lynx closer to completion, both want to turn their attention to pursue other interests. The two stood at the cradle of the Lynx reusable launch vehicle and have been working painstakingly on the revolutionary spacecraft for the last years. Greason will maintain his position on the company’s Board of Directors.

XCOR CEO Jay Gibson: ‘Both Jeff and Dan are true pioneers in our business. It’s their vision and their perseverance that helped us getting to where we stand now. We owe both men a lot of gratitude for all the time, energy and groundbreaking ideas they have been contributing to our company and the industry and of course we look forward to possibly working together in the future. Lynx is now in the good hands of XCOR’s highly capable and talented Technical, Engineering and program teams. 2016 Will be an exciting year in which we’re about to reach some truly significant milestones. Lynx will be the world’s first Instantly Reusable Launch Vehicle (I-RLV) and over 350 clients are as eager as we are to undertake the first trip into space. Next to that we will keep investing in our own facilities in both Mojave and Midland, where LYNX’s orbital successor will be one of the strategic focus points.’

Editor’s Note: A third founder, Aleta Jackson, has also left XCOR. She’s not speaking about it on the record at the moment.

Virgin Galactic Introduction to Testing Video


Video Caption: Testing every component of the spaceship to ensure we fully understand strength and durability is a major ongoing work stream consisting of many thousands of small and large scale tests. In our latest film, Vice President of Safety & Test, Todd Ericson, explores this work and its place in the meticulous preparation and complex array of tasks that must be completed before our new spaceship takes to the air for the first time.

Correction: Though he’s awesome and deserving, Chris Turk would like us to point out that he’s never pursued a PhD.

ESA Director General Names New Senior Management Team

Johann-Dietrich Wörner (Credit: DLR, CC-BY)

Johann-Dietrich Wörner (Credit: DLR, CC-BY)

PARIS, 21 November 2015 (ESA PR) — At an extraordinary meeting of the ESA Council held in Paris in restricted session on 21 November 2015, Council approved the Director General’s proposal for the future senior management team of ESA set out below. It is planned that the new senior management team will take up duty in early 2016.

Space Applications

  • as Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (D/TIA), Ms Magali Vaissiere
  • as Director of Galileo Programme and Navigation-Related Activities (D/NAV), Mr Paul Verhoef

Science and Exploration

  • as Director of Science (D/SCI), Mr Alvaro Giménez Cañete
  • as Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration Programmes (D/HRE), Mr David Parker

Space Technology and Operations

– as Director of Technical and Quality Management (D/TEC), Mr Franco Ongaro

– as Director of Operations (D/OPS), Mr Rolf Densing


  • as Director of Internal Services: Human Resources, Facility Management, Finance and Controlling, Information Technology (D/HIF), Mr Jean Max Puech
  • as Director of Industry, Procurement and Legal Services (D/IPL), Mr Eric Morel de Westgaver

Diamandis Raising $200 Million for Venture Capital Fund


Peter Diamandis

X PRIZE Founder Peter Diamandis is attempting to raise $200 million for a new venture capital fund that will target exponential technology companies, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Diamandis is co-founder of the Singularity University, which focuses on exponential technology development.

The filing for Bold Capital Partners, L.P., lists three other executives involved in the limited partnership. They include:

  • Teymour Boutros-Ghali, co-founder and managing partner of Monitor Ventures. A nephew of former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, he was founder and CEO of AllBusiness (acquired by NBC), Zowie Intertainment (sold to LEGO), and Thrive Online (acquired by AOL).
  • Neal Bhadkamkar, co-founder and managing partner of Monitor Ventures. Bhadkamkar previously served as VP of Manufacturing and Engineering at Zowie Intertainment and headed up the commercialization process at Interval Research, which is Paul Allen’s research and commercialization company.
  • Emilio Diez Barroso, a Mexican-American businessman who is chairman and CEO of NALA Investments, which has holdings in communications, energy, transportation, consumer products, real estate, technology and media.

Synthetic Muscle Experiment Conducted on Space Station

Photo by Astronaut Scott Kelly of a sample of the synthetic muscle experiment floating in the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Photo by Astronaut Scott Kelly of a sample
of the synthetic muscle experiment floating
in the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

PRINCETON, N.J. (DOE PR)  — A synthetic muscle experiment on board the International Space Station (ISS) that was developed with the help of Princeton Plasma Physicists Laboratory scientists is now tentatively scheduled to return to earth in March of 2016 on a new SpaceX-10 rocket. It would be returning eight months later than originally planned after an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket headed for the ISS exploded a few minutes after liftoff in late June.

The rocket, carrying the Dragon capsule with 4,000 pounds of foods and supplies, was on its seventh resupply flight to the ISS. It was the third loss of a rocket bound for the ISS in the past year. In April, a Russian resupply ship exploded and in October an Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo craft exploded shortly after liftoff.

Continue reading ‘Synthetic Muscle Experiment Conducted on Space Station’