Monthly Archive for January, 2011

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Adds 7 Members



The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that seven companies providing support services to the commercial spaceflight industry have joined the Federation as Associate Members: ARES Corporation, Cimarron Software Services, Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation, Innovative Health Applications, MDA Corporation, RS&H, and SEAKR Engineering. With the addition of these new Associate Members – in locations ranging from Kennedy Space Center, Florida and Denver, Colorado to Houston, Texas and Pasadena, California – the Commercial Spaceflight Federation now includes over 40 leading aerospace companies contributing to the growth of commercial human spaceflight.

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Russia Plans Ambitious Year in Space


Soyuz rocket

Speaking to media editors-in-chief today, Roscosmos Head Antaoly Perminov laid out plans for a very busy year in space that includes four dozen launches, Russia’s first interplanetary probe in 15 years, a greater role in the International Space Station, and the development of new rockets and infrastructure.

During an appearance at the Club of the Leading Russian Media Editors-in-Chief in Itar-Tass, Perminov discussed the country’s space plans, which include:

  • 48 launches, an increase from 31 last year
  • October launch for Phobos-Grunt, an ambitious mission to return samples from the Martian moon Phobos
  • assumption of the sole role in transporting crews to and from the International Space Station once the American space shuttle retires
  • construction of roads, railways and worker housing for Russia’s new Vostochny spaceport in the Amur Region
  • completion of the GLONASS navigational satellite constellation
  • debut of the Soyuz launcher in French Guiana
  • development work on the Angara and Rus-M launchers
  • launch of the Resource-P remote sensing spacecraft, which will have  0.4-0.6 meter resolution
  • operation of the Electro-L satellite launched earlier this year
  • design work on the Arctica space system.

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Branson Urged Governor Martinez to Keep Rick Homans as NMSA Chief


Sir Richard Branson and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

In an interview with the Las Cruces Sun-News, Gov. Susana Martinez said she dismissed New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Rick Homans despite a plea from Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson:

Martinez acknowledged that Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson called her to request that former spaceport Executive Director Rick Homans be retained, but said she needed to make a change, in part because her team has not been able to conduct a thorough review of spaceport operations. She removed both Homans and the spaceport board, and has yet to name replacements.

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This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston….

1. Monday, January 31, 2011 , 2-3:30 PM PST: We welcome Meidad Pariente, ME of Israel to discuss GEO satellite collision issues.

2. Tuesday, January 31, 2011, 7-8:30 PM PST: We welcome back Berin Szoka regarding internet freedom issues and his new book, “The Next Digital Decade: Essays on the Future of the Internet.”

3. Friday, Feb. 4, 2011 , 9:30-11 AM PST: We welcome back Michael Belfiore to discuss his new body of work, articles, and more.

4. Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, 12-1:30 PM PST: We welcome Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese regarding space policy, military space, and much more. Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese has been a Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College since August 2002.

SpaceX Opens Office in Northern Virginia


The static test of a Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 4, 2010. (Credit: SpaceX)


Today SpaceX announced it is opening a new office in Chantilly, VA to serve customers looking for reliable, affordable launch solutions.  The community is home to some of the world’s leading Internet and high-tech companies.

SpaceX is a leader in launch services with a family of rockets and spacecraft that increase the reliability and performance of space transportation, with a goal of ultimately reducing costs by a factor of ten.

“We are excited to open offices in Chantilly,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO.  “It will provide us with valuable access to important customers and an exceptional talent pool as we continue to grow.”

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NASA CCDev Update: Three Down, Two to Go


The government has published status updates on NASA’s five Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) 1 grants which were awarded last February. Sierra Nevada Corporation, Blue Origin and Paragon Space Development Corporation have completed their work as planned by the end of the calendar year. The Bigelow/Boeing team and United Launch Alliance have been given extensions through March and April, respectively. NASA awarded a total of $50 million for the first round; it will award about $200 million in additional grants in March.

Individual status reports follow after the break.
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Bigelow Signs MOU to Create Human Spaceflight Program for Dubai, UAE


Bigelow Aerospace's planned Sundancer space station


The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and Bigelow Aerospace LLC, an organisation dedicated to providing affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to drive joint efforts to usher in a new era in human spaceflight based on innovative technologies, affordability, commercial sustainability, and strong international partnerships.

As per the MoU, EIAST and Bigelow Aerospace will explore joint efforts to establish a next-generation commercial human spaceflight programme for Dubai and the UAE, leveraging recent advances in human spaceflight. They will work to create a world-class microgravity research and development programme with a potential focus on advanced biotechnology applications, and a variety of other commercial space-related activities.

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Mars500 Diary: Approaching the Red Planet


Whole Mars500 crew in portrait, September 2010: (clockwise from top left) Sukhrob Kamolov, Romain Charles, Diego Urbina, Yue Wang, Alexandr Smoleevskiy and Alexey Sitev. Credit: ESA

In this 11th Mars500 Mission Diary, Diego Urbina writes about the preparations for the ‘arrival’ at Mars on 1 February and about his feelings now that the action is hotting up.

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Blue Origin Files for Patent on Reuseable Booster Recovery System


Blue Origin has filed for a patent for recovering a reusable booster system from the sea. Company founder Jeff Bezos is listed as a co-inventor with Gary Lai and Sean R. Findlay. The abstract is below; the full application is here.


Launch vehicle systems and methods for landing and recovering a booster stage and/or other portions thereof on a platform at sea or on another body of water are disclosed. In one embodiment, a reusable space launch vehicle is launched from a coastal launch site in a trajectory over water. After booster engine cutoff and upper stage separation, the booster stage reenters the earth’s atmosphere in a tail-first orientation. The booster engines are then restarted and the booster stage performs a vertical powered landing on the deck of a pre-positioned sea-going platform. In one embodiment, bidirectional aerodynamic control surfaces control the trajectory of the booster stage as it glides through the earth’s atmosphere toward the sea-going platform. The sea-going platform can broadcast its real-time position to the booster stage so that the booster stage can compensate for errors in the position of the sea-going platform due to current drift and/or other factors. After landing, the sea-going platform can be towed by, e.g., a tug, or it can use its own propulsion system, to transport the booster stage back to the coastal launch site or other site for reconditioning and reuse. In another embodiment, the booster stage can be transferred to another vessel for transport. In still further embodiments, the booster can be refurbished while in transit from a sea-based or other landing site.

Jeff Manber: Hire Capt. Kirk as Space Adventures’ Spokesman


Jeff Manber isn’t very impressed with Space Adventures’ plan to send humans around the moon. He’s skeptical about whether the company has actually sold a $150 million ticket, thinks their promo video has crappy production values, and says they should hire James Tiberius Priceline (William Shatner) as a spokesman. He also questions the wisdom of spending $150 million to be a guinea pig on Russia’s first ever lunar human flight. (A good question, actually.)

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Taurus II Engine Tests Coming Along Nicely


Aerojet's AJ26 engine successfully tested for Taurus II space launch vehicle. (PRNewsFoto/Aerojet)


You see a lot of smiles around the E-1 Test Stand at John C. Stennis Space Center these days. Engineers involved in testing Aerojet’s AJ26 rocket engine for Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus II space launch vehicle have good reason to smile.

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BrahMos to Produce ISRO Cryo Stage, Eyes Mach 7 Missile Within 6 Years


BrahMos Aerospace to make cryogenic engines for Indian rockets

Missile makers BrahMos Aerospace will manufacture the cryogenic engine once the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) perfects the technology, said a senior official Sunday.

The company is also hoping to induct its supersonic cruise missile into the Indian Air Force and develop hypersonic missile in six years’ time, chief executive and managing director A.Sivathanu Pillai told reporters here.

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Cosmica Spacelines Promotes Lynx Microgravity Potential in Europe


COSMICA PR — 11 November 2011, Darmstadt, Germany: VEGA Space hosted the SubSpace 2011 conference in Darmstadt, Germany with leaders of the European space industry addressing current trends and plans for the future of microgravity research on reusable suborbital vehicles. The purpose of the conference was to break the paradigm of current microgravity research with limited flight rates and high costs. Reusable suborbital launch vehicles overcome both of these concerns, thereby facilitating innovation.

Cosmica Spacelines’ Founder, President and COO Garrett Smith led off the SubSpace 2011 forum hosted by VEGA Space presenting XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx reusable space launch vehicle and answering questions for the suborbital research round table. He discussed the opportunities and potential for research through payload integration services provided by Cosmica and through fractional ownership of the Lynx as a microgravity laboratory facility. Garrett addressed the attendees with an introduction of Cosmica, followed by details on the unprecedented opportunity to make repeat space access an everyday reality and how researchers can benefit in partnership with Cosmica.

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Video: NASA Marks 25th Anniversary of Challenger Disaster


NASA honors the heroes it lost in the Challenger disaster 25 years ago today.

NASA Holds Suborbital Launch Vehicle Industry Day at Dryden


Michelle Murray of the FAA's Commercial Space Transportation office addresses representatives of aerospace firms during a Flight Opportunities Program Industry Day at NASA Dryden Jan. 25. (NASA photo / Tom Tschida)


Representatives of more than 20 aerospace firms both large and small met with officials of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center Jan. 25 during an Industry Day meeting for potential providers of sub-orbital reusable launch vehicle and payload integration services.

Discussions focused on NASA’s interest in acquiring commercial flight and payload integration services for NASA-provided technology payloads on sub-orbital reusable space launch vehicles, as reflected in a recent NASA Request For Information submitted to potential commercial providers.

During the morning sessions, Steve Meier, director of the Cross-Cutting Demonstrations Division of NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist, stressed the partnership approach that NASA is seeking with commercial launch vehicle firms, while Michelle Murray of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation outlined the FAA’s licensing and commercial launch approval process.

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