Monthly Archive for July, 2012

Commercial Crew Announcement this Week?


EDITOR’S NOTE: Charles now tells me that NASA is likely to inform the companies of their decision on Thursday morning. There is usually a lag between that action and a public press conference.

UPDATE: NASA will publicly announce the winners on Friday morning.

Charles Lurio of The Lurio Report has emailed me saying that he has heard from a very reliable source that NASA will announce the next round of commercial crew funding on Thursday or Friday. This is no independent verification of this report.

Continue reading ‘Commercial Crew Announcement this Week?’

FAA Plans Public Telecons on Commercial Space Regulations


 FAA Commercial Space Transportation
Advisory Committee Teleconferences


Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
1 p.m. EDT

Length: Approximately 1 hour


The purpose of these three teleconferences is to assist the FAA early in its development of regulations to protect occupants of commercial suborbital and orbital spacecraft. Although the FAA has not yet targeted a date for proposing regulations to protect the health and safety of crew and space flight participants, the FAA believes that the development of sound and appropriate regulations for human space flight can only be achieved with a deliberate, multi-year effort. Moreover, the FAA believes that early industry input into this regulatory effort before any formal proposal by the FAA is critical.

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China Test Fires Engine for New Long March 5 Rocket


China’s new rocket engine has passed its 200-second test. The test took place in an open field 50 kilometres from Xi’an, capital of Shaan’xi province, in northwest China.

The engine was assembled three years ago and has already undergone two tests which lasted 600 seconds each. Sunday morning’s test was to determine if it remains in peak condition. The engine can carry a load of 25 tons. That’s 16 more than the engine in the Long March 2 F, which carried the Shenzhou-9 mission last month. The new engine is fuelled with kerosene and liquid oxygen. That enables a saving of almost 10 million yuan in propellant load.

China is the second country in the world to master the technology, after Russia. The engine will be used in the new Long March 5 rocket in 2014.

Come Celebrate the Curiosity Landing in Pasadena


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Pasadena, CA, July 19, 2012 (BlackStarr PR) – On August 4th, The Planetary Society, with CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy and BlackStarr will host a public evening event in celebration of the historic landing of the Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Our Martian Party kicks off after the first day of The Planetary Society’s Planetfest and spans two floors for an out-of-this world experience! As you mingle with your friends and make new ones along the way, keep your eyes peeled back for space industry persons of interest from Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and NASA. During the course of the evening, catch sightings and conversations from the most interesting Space Entrepreneurs, Sci-fi Authors, Screen Stars, and Personalities.

Continue reading ‘Come Celebrate the Curiosity Landing in Pasadena’

ESA Studies Future of Europe’s Launch Services


Soyuz launch complex in Kourou. (Credit: ESA – S. Corvaja, 2011)

PARIS (ESA PR) – Today, Europe enjoys autonomous access to space, while holding a leading position in the world launch services market. ESA has begun work on a new strategy to ensure that both can be maintained sustainably in future.

ESA has begun investigating the feasibility of a new approach for European access to space, aimed at making Europe’s launch services fully self-sufficient over the long haul.

The idea behind this New European Launch Service – NELS – is to deliver competitive launch services to both governmental and private European customers while keeping pace with the rapidly changing worldwide launch market.

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Ad Astra Achieves Two Advances on VASIMR Engine


A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Houston, Texas (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company reports two important advances with its VX-200 high power VASIMR® engine prototype:

1) a significant increase in its high power performance over previous test data obtained in late 2010, and
2) demonstration of the VASIMR®-unique feature called “Constant Power Throttling” (CPT).

These results will be presented on Monday July 30, 2012 at the 48th American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Joint Propulsion Conference in Atlanta, Ga. USA, in the paper entitled: “VASIMR® VX-200 Improved Throttling Range.”

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Planetfest 2012 to Celebrate Curiosity Landing


The Planetary Society is holding its Planetfest Event this Saturday and Sunday in Pasadena to celebrate the landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover. The details:

August 4, 2012, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
August 5, 2012, 2:00 pm – 11:30 pm or later

Pasadena Convention Center
300 E. Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101


The program will feature leaders in space exploration, including:  Charles Elachi, Director of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Bill Nye (the Science Guy®); planetary vulcanologist Rosaly Lopes; Jim Bell, PanCam lead on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers and member of the Curiosity team; Planetary Society blogger Emily Lakdawalla; Mars rover driver Scott Maxwell; NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green; former “Mars Czar” Scott Hubbard; Star Trek™ actor Robert Picardo; historian Shelley Bonus; author and space historian Andrew Chaikin; space artists; and private space entrepreneurs.

In addition to this full schedule, both days will have the following ongoing events and displays:

  • Touch a piece of Mars: A fragment of a real martian meteorite discovered in Sultanate of Oman.
  • See a full-size mockup of the XCOR Lynx sub-orbital vehicle
  • A space-themed art show with over 50 works of art including 4 original pieces just for Planetfest.
  • Hands-on science activities for kids of all ages (build your own Martian sundial, dirty comets workstation, First Robotics demonstrations)
  • A full-size model of the Curiosity rover that will land on Mars
  • Demonstrations and hands-on workstations for NASA Eyes on the Solar System and Google Mars
  • XBoxes with the Mars Rover Landing Game
  • The Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) used in the current Mars rover mission and other future tech from Honeybee Robotics
  • A room full of presentations and displays about the future of space from our sponsors.

Get more information.

Altius Space Machines Wins DARPA ZombieSat Contract


Phoenix satellite concept. (Credit: DARPA)

Louisville, CO, July 30th, 2012 (Altius PR) – Altius Space Machines of Louisville, CO is delighted to announce that we have signed a contract with DARPA to provide engineering services as part of the DARPA Phoenix Program. Associated with Altius Space Machines in this contract is ROCCOR LLC. of Louisville, CO., Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation of Pasadena, CA, and The University of Colorado at Boulder, CO.

Continue reading ‘Altius Space Machines Wins DARPA ZombieSat Contract’

Tim Pickens Drops By The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, July 30, 2011 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome SUSAN HOLDEN MARTIN, Executive Director of The Mars Society. Ms. Martin will update us regarding the upcoming convention and more.

2. Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome RICHARD DAVID, CEO of New Space Global, LLC to tell us about his company, NewSpace company evaluations, and more. Check them out at

3. Thursday, August 2, 2012, 9:30-11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT, 11:30AM-1PM CDT): We welcome back TIM PICKENS. Tim has engaged in new space opportunities and has much to tell and update us with regarding space and related matters.

4. Friday, August 3 2012, 9:30-11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT, 11:30AM-1PM CDT): We welcome CRISTINA CHAPLAIN of the GAO to discuss DOD Space, NASA, and Missile Defense.

5. Sunday, August 5, 2012.,12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT):We welcome DR. JAMES SCHIER of NASA for a discussion about NASA’s Human Space Flight (HSF) Architecture Team, the future deep space exploration architecture, the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program and plans for the future evolution of NASA’s three space communications networks as well as commercial space development. Dr. Schier is also a docent at the National Air & Space Museum.



Hi all.

I am making my way from Santa Clara to back to Mojave this afternoon. It’s a trip that will take about five hours and cover roughly 300 miles, but the distance traveled cannot be measured solely in time and distance. Instead, it is a voyage between two very different cultures.

Silicon Valley is a green, leafy place with shiny office buildings where talented engineers sit in cubicles writing software that makes billions of dollars. That software has helped to make user-friendly computers ubiquitous and connected the world via the Internet.

Silicon Valley has long since transitioned from the days where engineers labored in garages to produce the first personal computers. Most of the hardware production has all be shipped away to be done by low-wage workers in distant locales.

Continue reading ‘Transitions’