Space Show Schedule For This Week

This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

Monday, May 31, 2010, 2-3:30 PM PDT: We welcome Diane Murphy to talk about the Rocket Racing League.

CLASSROOM: Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 7- 8:30 PM PDT: The Space Show Classroom Lesson 9 features Dr. Henry Hertzfeld about civil, government, private, and foreign launch systems, rockets, and more. Co-hosted with Dr. Jim Logan and Dr. John Jurist.

Friday, June 4,, 2010, 9:30-11:30 AM PDT: We welcome Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe SCHROGL, Director. European Space Policy Institute (ESPI).

CLASSROOM: Sunday, June 6, 12-1:30 PM PDT. The Space Show Classroom Lesson 10 features Dr. Eligar Sadeh on U.S. Space Policy. This Classroom program is co-hosted with Dr. Jim Logan and Dr. John Jurist.

Space Agencies, Infrastructure and All That Other Stuff

Europe's Vega launcher, set to lift-off from Kourou in 2011.

By next year, Europe will be able to launch not one but three rockets — Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega — from its spaceport in French Guiana. It will also bear the increased costs of building, maintaining and operating such a capability, Space News reports:

Confronting a budget crisis that likely will take years to resolve, European governments have begun debating how to manage the increased operating costs associated with three separate launch vehicles and launch installations at Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana.


ESA Becoming More Independent in Propulsion Technologies to Avoid U.S. ITAR Restrictions

Space News has more evidence of the damage that restrictive export laws are having on U.S. high technology companies:

The European Space Agency (ESA) is promoting the creation of European expertise in certain propulsion technologies to avoid technology-transfer roadblocks associated with U.S. components even if the U.S. hardware is substantially less expensive, ESA officials said.


Video: This Week in Space With Miles O’Brien

Season 1 Ep. 19 — Atlantis home – perhaps permanently, Neil Armstrong speaks out, Final preps for Falcon 9 – and Elon Musk weighs in on Armstrong’s position, Delta IV and Ariane 5 aloft, black holes merge with a bang, and news from Mars’ North Pole.

FAA’s Launch Rate Projections, Commercial Space and the Future of NASA

Excerpts from: FAA 2010 Commercial Space Transportation Forecasts

Orbital Facilities Assembly and Service Launch Demand Summary

Demand for launch OFAS payloads will begin during the forecast period with an average annual launch rate of four launches. Delays in development of OFAS launch services could push uptake further into the future. Alternatively, around 2014, developed of a commercial crew transfer vehicle could lead to an increasing launch rate. Figure 21 provides a representation of OFAS launch history and forecast demand.


Bigelow Commercial Space Stations Could Require 150 Launches Through 2020

The FAA’s newly released 2010 Commercial Space Transportation Forecasts report indicates that Bigelow Aerospace’s two planned Sundancer space stations would generate substantial demand for commercial launch services over the next 10 years.

These new stations could create significant additional demand for commercial launches: in excess of 150 launches through 2020 according to company projections.

With the initial launch of station modules in 2014, that would amount to an average of more than 20 launches annually over a seven year period. The number of launches would ramp up during the later years as both the Sundancer 1 and 2 stations became operational.


ISRO Developing Air-Breathing Scramjet Engine

Indian Rockets To Soon Use Atmospheric Oxygen As Fuel

In an attempt to make its rockets lighter and carry heavier satellites, the Indian space agency is planning to flight test by the end of this year its own air-breathing engine that will use atmospheric oxygen as fuel.

Air-breathing engines use atmospheric oxygen and burn it with the stored on-board fuel to generate the onward thrust.

Conventional rockets carry both oxygen and chemical fuel on board.

“We will be doing a series of ground tests of the air breathing engine soon. We are planning an actual launch of a sounding rocket – ATV D02 – powered by such an engine by the end of this year,” an official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Read the full story.

Kiwis Working on Hypersonic Materials With NASA, U.S. Air Force

NZ engineers work on space plane
The Press

Canterbury University’s role in international space exploration has been boosted by three academics helping to develop the next generation of space vehicles.

Mechanical engineering department associate professor Susan Krumdieck will be a lead investigator working on high-temperature materials for the next hypersonic vehicle, which will travel at up to 15 times the speed of sound and replace the space shuttle.


ESA Entrepreneurial Forum Connects Investors and Inventors


Investors looking for promising opportunities in space spin-offs used ESA’s Investment Forum in Stuttgart, Germany, this month to meet 28 young entrepreneurial companies looking for financing to start their businesses.

Organised by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) and managed by Europe Unlimited, this was the fourth Forum. Most of the companies were from the four ESA Business Incubation Centres in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.


Dave Masten: Our Company is Doing Great

Masten Space Systems' 'Xoie' lunar lander.

Masten Space Systems founder Dave Masten gave an update on his company’s progress at ISDC yesterday. Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) Tweeted the following:

  • Masten: we’re in really good financial shape, have a lot of cash in the bank. Our sales pipeline is full.
  • Dave Masten on #isdc entrepreneurial panel: excited about NASA’s new direction. We see a lot of opportunities for us.
  • Masten: working now on AeroXoie, their LLC Lvl 2 vehicle with reconfigured tanks and aeroshell.
  • Dave Masten on use of a trash can lid on Xoie: “we informed Rubbermaid that their product was now on the ITAR list.”

Greason: Congressional Debate on NASA’s Future Must Be Based on Facts

Delivering ISDC’s luncheon speech on Friday, XCOR CEO and Augustine Committee member Jeff Greason expressed his exasperation over the policy debate going on in Congress, his hope that Congress would kill an unaffordable Constellation program, and gave some prescriptions for how the United States should move ahead in exploring the cosmos.

A compilation of Tweets from Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) and the FAA’s Ken Davidian (@cswicki):

Augustine Committee & Congressional Debate

  • Greason, talking about Augustine Cmte: to my surprise some people paid attention to the report this time. (@jeff_foust)
  • Greason: utterly dismayed by space policy debate so far. Need discussion based on facts, but that is not happening in Congress. (@jeff_foust)
  • The discussion to date is “baby wants his rattle back.” The budget for Constellation was just made up. (@cswiki)


XCOR on a Roll

XCOR's Lynx suborbital vehicle

XCOR CEO Jeff Greason gave two talks on Friday at the ISDC . The first, which dealt with the company’s business prospects, seems to have been quite upbeat. The other, a luncheon talk about the current debate in Congress over NASA’s human spaceflight plan, was decidedly less so.

Here, the good news…


Orion: Moonship —> LEO —> Canceled —> ISS Lifeboat —> ???

NASA's Orion capsule

Here’s the latest twist in the saga of Orion, a spaceship that NASA first built to fly humans to the moon then canceled and later brought back as a space station lifeboat. Now, it looks like the program might have to fight to even do that:

NASA officials are quietly assessing whether to hold a new competition to build an emergency lifeboat for international space station crews, a move that would scuttle current plans to use the Lockheed Martin-designed Orion capsule for that purpose under an existing contract that would only have to be modified, NASA and congressional sources said.

“Continuing on the current contract is the option being assessed, but there is forward work to verify that it is contractually appropriate and the best approach for the emergency return module acquisition,” Orion program executive Thomas Rathjen said in a May 27 e-mail to Space News.

President Obama’s decision to resurrect Orion from cancellation as a lifeboat helped mollify some key critics. Any change would result in a lot of anger. It also would embolden Congressional critics who have complained about a lack of specifics in NASA’s budget proposal.

Elon Musk “Out of Cash”, Living Off Personal Loans to Support $200K/Month Expenses

SpacX Founder Elon Musk

Just as NASA is struggling to convince Congress that private companies like SpaceX can take over human spaceflight into low Earth orbit, there comes word that company CEO Elon Musk is borrowing money from friends to cover $200,000 in monthly household expenses.

“About four months ago, I ran out of cash,” he wrote in a court filing dated Feb. 23, reviewed by VentureBeat. That’s a problem not just for him but for Tesla, where he is the lead investor and chief product architect, as well as CEO. Musk’s willingness to funnel his own cash into Tesla has for years sustained the faith of fellow investors and reassured would-be car buyers in 2008 when the company’s finances were in perilous shape.