Monthly Archive for April, 2010

Armadillo Aerospace Space Tourism Flights to Undercut Virgin Galactic By Half


Space Tourism Firm to Offer Suborbital Joy Rides at Lower Costs

An American space tourism company that arranges multimillion-dollar treks to the International Space Station for the ultra-wealthy has struck a new deal to offer suborbital spaceflights for nearly half the going cost. The price is still steep though: $102,000 for the works.

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Russia Consolidates Cosmonaut Corps, Names Two New Trainees


Expedition 20 - the first six-strong International Space Station crew - assembled in the Zvezda module for the welcoming ceremony immediately after hatch opening following the arrival of ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk with the Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft on 29 May 2009. Credit: ESA

Officials decided this week to consolidate Russia’s cosmonaut corps under the nation’s space agency, Roscosmos. Russia currently has three teams of cosmonauts under the control of the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre, RSC Energia, and the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

During a meeting chaired by Roskosmos Head Anatoly Perminov on Wednesday, the Cosmonaut Selection Interagency Board also named two cosmonaut candidates of RSC Energia: Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Andrey Babkin. They will undergo training at the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre. The board also made several decisions about future ISS crew assignments.

Russia Wants Commercial Space Investment, Designer Proposes Reviving MAKS


RIA Novosti reports that Russia is looking to follow NASA’s lead in attracting private investment into human spaceflight as a proposal to revive a long-mothballed shuttle project is floated.

“Manned space systems have become rather expensive and private investment should be attracted more actively, like it is in the U.S.,” Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov said.

It’s not clear whether he was referring to the six-person Soyuz replacement that Roskosmos is building or other projects that have been floating around the Russian space sector for years. One of these programs is the air-launched MAKS orbital mini-shuttle that Molnia R&D General Designer Vladimir Skorodelov has proposed reviving:

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Video: Scientific Balloon Launch Goes Awry


A balloon launch of a NASA-funded scientific payload went awry in the Australian Outback, turning over a car and nearly killing a couple.

U.S. Government Embraces Prize Contests to Meet Challenges


Government contests offer different way to find solutions for problems
The Washington Post

The U.S. government is giving away prizes. In seeking solutions to problems, it has discovered the magic of contests, or challenges — also known as open grant-making or open innovation. Or crowd-sourcing.

Whatever you call this new way of doing business, it represents a dramatic departure from the norm for the bureaucratic, command-and-control federal government. To be sure, the agencies won’t abandon the traditional method of doling out grants to predictable bidders. But in the new era of innovation-by-contest, the government will sometimes identify a specific problem or goal, announce a competition, set some rules and let the game begin.

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SpaceX, Orbital Sciences in Good Position to Benefit From NASA Commercial Shift


Artist's conception of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus freighter approaching the International Space Station.

Commercial Companies Ready to Blaze New Trails in Space

[SpaceX] has already successfully won a NASA contract for $1.6 billion to transport cargo to the space station aboard its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. Another firm, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences, is building its own Taurus 2 rockets and unmanned Cygnus spaceships in a $1.9 billion contract to haul supplies for NASA as well.

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Arizona Could Benefit From New NASA Plan, But Giffords Still Skeptical


Asteroid Ida

The Tucson Chronicle has an interesting article about how NASA’s new human spaceflight program could bring substantial federal funding to Southern Arizona. This prospect poses an interesting dilemma for Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a critic of the program who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology’s subcommittee on space and aeronautics.

A human mission to an asteroid “certainly requires homework to be done” in picking safe and useful objects to visit, said Mark Sykes, director and CEO of the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute. “A lot of that work can be done in Arizona,” he said…

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Aerojet, FTT Form Partnership to Compete for NASA’s New Engine



Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, and Florida Turbine Technologies (FTT) announced today that the companies have entered into a strategic partnership to compete for research, development and production on NASA’s new hydrocarbon engine and advanced upper stage engine. This expands the very successful teamwork that Aerojet and FTT have underway on the U.S. Air Force Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) and Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) programs.

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Video: Peter Diamandis Talks Risk


X PRIZE Foundation founder Peter Diamandis talks risk with Reason.TV.

Google Lunar X Prize Deadline Likely to Be Extended One Year


1-Year Deadline Extension Proposed for Google Lunar X Prize
Space News
April 12, 2010

Teams competing for $30 million in awards as part of the Google Lunar X Prize are likely to have one additional year to reach the lunar surface and win the $20 million grand prize under a set of proposed rules issued to competitors. The proposed extension is being welcomed by many of the teams involved in the competition who face the daunting task of raising money for their efforts in a difficult financial environment.

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