Monthly Archive for December, 2008

Forgot Someone on the Old Christmas List? Buy Them a Walk in Space for $45 Million


The headline says it all. We now know how much it will cost to become the first private citizen to walk in space. Virginia-based Space Adventures is now advertising spacewalks at ISS for $45-$55 million. Meanwhile, if you just want to go up there for a little vacation, the price tag has soared to $35-$45 million.

The question is: Which filthy rich tech titan will be the first to go where hundreds have gone before? Will it be Google billionaut Sergey Brin? Or two-time Microsoft billionaut Charlies Simonyi? The world awaits breathlessly.

Virgin Galactic Signs 20-Year Lease Agreement with Spaceport America



Governor Bill Richardson today announced that Virgin Galactic has signed a 20 year lease agreement with the State of New Mexico. Virgin Galactic’s world headquarters will be established in New Mexico and its operations will be located at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

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Some Thoughts on the Eve of a New Year….


Well, it’s the holidays again – specifically, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day – which means it’s time for NASA’s annual dump of bad news in the hope that nobody is paying much attention.

Last year, the space agency treated us to the New Year’s Eve release of an aviation report that had some very scary things to say about the safety of America’s air transportation system. That NASA fought the release of this information for 18 months on the basis that it would hurt commercial aviation and then dumped it at a hastily called news conference at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Eve….it’s all a big co-incidence, to hear NASA tell it.

Ah, bullshit

  Continue reading ‘Some Thoughts on the Eve of a New Year….’

Space Elevators, Nuclear Pulse and Warp Drive


The latest Cosmos magazine takes a look at some advanced ways of getting off the Earth and making our way through the Universe. One story looks at the prospects that nano-technology will make space elevators possible. The second article looks at eight advance propulsion techniques ranging from solar sails to warp drive.

China and India Blasted Off in 2008


News review 2008: Asia’s space race takes off
New Scientist

“While NASA struggled to maintain space capabilities it had acquired decades ago, newcomers China and India were progressing by leaps and bounds.

“September saw China’s first space walk when taikonaut Zhai Zhigang (in the centre of the picture, right) briefly ventured outside the Shenzhou-7 craft…

“India too raised its profile in space in 2008 with the launch of the Chandrayaan-1 moon probe, its first spacecraft to venture beyond Earth orbit. In November it joined two craft already orbiting the moon – not American, Russian or European, but Chinese and Japanese.”

Virgin Galactic Scottish Spaceport Plan Gets Political Support


Lossiemouth spaceport plan backed by SNP
The Scotsman

“The SNP wants Scotland to be home to the UK’s first commercial spaceport.

Virgin Galactic has already identified RAF Lossiemouth in Moray as a potential launch site, and Angus Robertson, the local MP and the SNP’s Westminster leader, is backing the idea. He wants to meet Lord Drayson, the UK’s science and innovation minister, to push the case for Lossiemouth, and he says he is working to bring together the local community, government and enterprise agencies behind the proposals.

Lovell: Bail Out NASA, Not Those Wall Street Weasels



The Coalition for Space Exploration, the leading collaboration of space industry businesses and advocacy groups, announced today the release of a statement by James Lovell, who served as part of the crew of Apollo 8 – the first human voyage to a celestial body in December 1968. Apollo 8’s successful mission to orbit the Moon paved the way for Apollo 11 to realize U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon before the close of the 1960s.

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Effort Underway to Save Mike Griffin’s Job


Former NASA AA Scott “Doc” Horowitz has started an online petition urging the incoming Obama Administration to keep Mike Griffin on as NASA Administrator. Horowitz, who is primarily linked with designing the Ares rocket that would be his and Griffin’s main legacy to the space agency, believes that NASA’s current leader is “one of the most technically and managerially competent administrators in NASA’s history.”

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Is Station Plasma Causing Soyuz Re-entry Problems?


Soyuz Re-entry Failure Theory To Be Tested
Aviation Week

“Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Yuri Lonchakov will install a Langmuir probe near the Soyuz docked at the station’s Pirs docking compartment so Russian engineers can gauge the temperature and density of the surrounding plasma as well as its electric potential.

“Kirk Shireman, NASA’s deputy ISS program manager, said the probe was a last-minute addition to the cargo in Progress M-66/31P, which docked Nov. 30. Russian engineers believe the plasma environment around the station contributed to the failures of explosive bolts on two successive Soyuz re-entries, and they wanted to characterize the plasma environment as close to the Soyuz as possible.”

Did Bush Nix U.S.-China Co-op? AvWeek Says Yes, NASA Says Not Really


Bush Administration Nixed NASA’s U.S.-China Cooperation Idea
Aviation Week

“NASA tried and failed to obtain Bush administration approval of an overture to China for a cooperative U.S.-China space mission, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin tells Aviation Week & Space Technology. The White House believes that a higher level of cooperation is too great a reward to China for its human rights and arms-trafficking violations of international law.”

NASA’s Response to AvWeek Article

Unfortunately, Aviation Week’s recent article of Dec. 21, 2008, entitled “Bush Administration Nixed NASA’s U.S.-China Cooperation Idea,” is inaccurate and misleading.

Continue reading ‘Did Bush Nix U.S.-China Co-op? AvWeek Says Yes, NASA Says Not Really’