Australians to Lead International Consortium on Mach 8 Scramjet

Feb. 27, 2010

The University of Queensland will lead a $14 million international consortium to help develop scramjet-based access-to-space systems, flying an autonomous scramjet vehicle at eight times the speed of sound – Mach 8, or 8600 km/h.

In parallel, scramjet concepts will be tested at even greater speeds, up to Mach 14, in UQ’s world class hypersonic ground-test facilities.


Critics Turn Lori Gaver into NASA’s Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, First Treasury Secretary of the United States

I’ve been rereading Joseph J. Ellis’ book, “Founding Brothers”. The Pulitzer Prize winning tome looks back at the early days of the American Republic in the 1790s. I was struck by some of the parallels between that crucial period and the current struggle over the future of NASA.


Bankrupt Sea Launch Gets More Financing – Heinlein Prize Trust Involved

Mystery Group Invests More in Bankrupt Sea Launch
Space News

Commercial launch-services provider Sea Launch Co., which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since June, on Feb. 25 received $3 million in cash from the same group of investors that provided an initial tranche of financing to keep the company in operation, according to documents filed with the Delaware Bankruptcy Court.

Further payments totaling $9 million will be distributed in three monthly increments starting in March on condition that Long Beach, Calif.-based Sea Launch begins to secure commercial launch contracts, according to court documents…


SpaceX Reports Successful Simulated Countdown on Falcon 9

SpaceX's Falcon 9 on the pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX)
SpaceX's Falcon 9 on the pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX)

Falcon countdown dress rehearsal a ‘great success’
Spaceflight Now

Taking advantage of a picturesque day in the Sunshine State, the privately-developed Falcon 9 rocket came to life Friday afternoon as engineers loaded 75,000 gallons of propellant aboard the vehicle during a simulated countdown.

Friday’s countdown wet dress rehearsal was “the smoothest test we have conducted to date,” said Tim Buzza, the Falcon 9 launch director.


ISRO Sees Large Budget Increase as Agency Ramps Up for Human Spaceflight

Mockup of India's human spacecraft (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO budget at Rs 5000 cr; manned mission gets Rs 150 cr
Press Trust of India

India’s human space flight programme got a major boost as the General Budget on Friday proposed a significant allocation to it and also sought increase in funds for setting up an indigenous global positioning system.

The Budget, presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha, has allocated Rs 150 crore for the human spaceflight programme under which the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to develop a space vehicle to put a two-member crew in space and get them back safely.

The government has already approved pre-project research and development activities in this regard.

The plan allocation for ISRO has been pegged at Rs 5,000 crore [~$1 billion] as against the revised budgetary estimates of Rs 3,172 crore last year.

Read the full story.

Atlanta Philanthropist/Dare Devil Sets Sight on Virgin Galactic Space Tourism Flight

Atlanta Philanthropist Reaches For Stars As Citizen-Astronaut

Since his sold “Barton Protective Services” six years ago, Charles Barton Rice has spent his time and fortune on philanthropy. “My mother…my father…they were always giving” he said. “And that’s where I get it.”

His big project is to transform his hometown, Blakely, Georgia into a twenty first century tech center. That’s for the long term. For the short term he has set his sights a bit higher.


Shutting Down Constellation Program to be a Long, Costly Affair

Ares I-X rolls out to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

NASA’s tough mission: Dismantling Constellation
Orlando Sentinel

Obama’s 2011 budget proposal provides $2.5 billion to pay contractors whatever NASA owes them so the agency can stop work on Constellation’s Ares rockets, Orion capsule and Altair lunar lander. But administration officials acknowledge that this number is, at best, an educated guess…

Many inside and outside of the space agency, however, think the number is too low.


Air Force to Fly Hypersonic X-51 Waverider Vehicle in March

X-51 Waverider

U.S. Air Force Set To Begin X-51 Hypersonic Flight Tests
Space News

The maiden flight of the X-51 Waverider aircraft — the first U.S. hypersonic vehicle to fly in six years — is scheduled to take place later in March. Boeing Defense, Space & Security Systems of St. Louis has been developing the aircraft since 2003 on behalf of the Air Force Research Laboratory and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


Video: This Week in Space

On this edition of “This Week in Space” – the NASA Administrator hits some Congressional turbulence over NASA’s new budget, shuttles Endeavour and Discovery are on the move, new pics of ice geysers on one of Saturn’s moons, Orbital Sciences says its safety first for its new commercial spaceship, astro-immigrants are spotted in the Milky Way, and our own Miles O’Brien testifies to the Senate on NASA’s future.

Mars500 Program Down to 11 Candidates

Russia shortlists 11 for 520-day simulation of Mars mission
RIA Novosti

Russia’s Institute of Medical and Biological Problems announced on Thursday the names of 11 volunteers on the shortlist to take part in a 520-day simulation of an expedition to Mars, a spokesman said.


New Non-Profit to Focus on Mars Exploration

Feb. 25, 2010

We are pleased to announce the formation of Explore Mars, Inc. ( Explore Mars is a project oriented group that was created to promote science and technology innovation and education with a use for Mars Exploration. Through a series of technology innovation awards, scientific symposiums and workshops, Mars analog work, technology demonstrations, and other programs, we provide a platform for scientists and “citizen scientists” to engage in meaningful space exploration research and development in the private sector.


Job Losses Expected to Rise in Florida With Shuttle Shutdown, Obama Plan

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

23,000 now expected to lose jobs after shuttle retirement
Florida Today

Revised projections now show that about 23,000 workers at and around Kennedy Space Center will lose their jobs because of the shuttles’ retirement and the new proposal to cancel the development of new rockets and spacecraft…