Monthly Archive for October, 2012

Mojave Spaceport CEO Witt Corrects Bill Richardson Story


Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt has set the record straight about the hiring of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

It had been widely reported that the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) Board of Directors would be meeting on Wednesday to consider an agreement to hire Richardson to help strengthen California’s informed consent law, which covers commercial spaceflights.

Witt told the EKAD board that these reports are incorrect. The Mojave spaceport did hire Richardson earlier this year as a consultant to help get the original legislation approved. That work is now over, and there are no current plans to hire Richardson, who was paid $10,000 for his services.

The EKAD board did meet in special session on Wednesday to approve an expenditure for improvement work on two of the airport’s main roads. Witt said there’s a need to get the work done now because Mojave is currently experiencing a spell of warm weather that will make the repairs more effective.

The EKAD board will meet for a regularly scheduled session next Tuesday.

Latest Lurio Report Published

The Lurio Report
Dragon Reaches ISS Despite Falcon Engine Shutdown, Altius, ‘Blue’ and XCOR News, Farewells
Quick Updates
Altius Gains Contracts and SAA
Stig B Flies, Is Recovered Properly…But
Progress at Blue Origin, XCOR Aerospace and The Suborbital Advantage
Blue Origin – Successful Thrust Chamber Firing, Pad Escape Tests and More
XCOR Aerospace – Engine Fired From Within Lynx, Vehicle-Mounted Solar Observatory
Baumgartner’s Jump
To Two Pioneers, “Ave atque vale”
Neil Armstrong
Ray Bradbury
Personal Update
Dear Acquaintances,
- CRS Mission Succeeds But Engine Shut-Down Has Consequences -
Delivering to ISS Despite A Major Launch Incident
“Engine Out” Uncertainty, Investigation and The Updated Falcon
Orbcomm Satellite Achieves Main Goals Despite Curtailed Life
Conclusions – An ‘Accidental’ Positive?

SpaceX Mission Assurance Official Leaves for Raytheon


Scott Henderson

Florida Today reports that Scott Henderson, SpaceX’s director of Mission Assurance and Integration, has left the company to take on a vice president role at Raytheon’s Integrated Information Systems Division.

“It is my understanding that he got an offer he couldn’t refuse,” said SpaceX spokeswoman Katherine Nelson. “While we certainly will miss his contributions to SpaceX, we absolutely wish him all the best.”

In addition to his mission assurance role, Henderson headed SpaceX’s external relations in Florida. In that role he was the company’s primary liaison between NASA, the Air Force and elected officials from the state.

Continue reading ‘SpaceX Mission Assurance Official Leaves for Raytheon’

Awesome SXC Video of Jet Training for Spaceflight


This Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) video shows Harry van Hulten flying a L-39 Albatros aircraft in a simulation of spaceflight. SXC handles training and ticket sales for XCOR’s Lynx suborbital space plane.

New Mexico Governor to Renew Push for Expanded Informed Consent Law


WhiteKnightTwo beside the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space in New Mexico. (Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America)

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will make a renewed push to have an informed consent law extended to spacecraft manufacturers and supplier in order to make Spaceport America more competitive. An effort earlier this year failed due to the oppositi0n of trail lawyers.

The renewed push, set for next year’s legislative session, comes as news broke that the Mojave Air and Space Port in California is hiring former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is being hired as a consultant to get similar legislation pushed in the Golden State. The Albuquerque Journal reports:

Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, said, “Richardson is certainly free to consult or help with the spaceport activities of another state, but in New Mexico, this just highlights how important it is for us to ensure that we continue to lead in this industry by passing legislation in the upcoming session that prevents lawsuit abuse.”

Continue reading ‘New Mexico Governor to Renew Push for Expanded Informed Consent Law’

SpaceX to Stay in Hawthorne for 10 More Years


The city of Hawthorne, Calif., has ponied up to convince SpaceX to keep its headquarters there for another decade:

SpaceX agreed to stay in its 1-million-square-foot headquarters building through 2022 as long as the city reduces certain taxes on the business as promised.

The deal includes a $260,000 cap on annual business license fees, which are calculated based on gross receipts – meaning that the more revenue SpaceX makes, the more fees it would have to pay. This agreement will allow SpaceX to maintain a flat tax rate as it gets larger.

Additionally, if SpaceX chooses to expand its facilities in the city, fees for planning and building will be dramatically reduced by 75 percent of what is normally charged. City officials, aware that officials in Florida and Texas were trying to woo the emerging rocket company, enthusiastically backed the deal in a unanimous City Council vote last week….

The company has about 2,000 employees and is in the process of hiring hundreds more. Hawthorne officials expect to receive a total of about $600,000 annually in fees from the business once its current expansion is complete. The city currently receives about $475,000 a year from gross receipts, property taxes, commercial utility taxes and employee sales taxes.

Read the full story.

B612, Ball Aerospace Sign Agreement for Sentinel Imaging Sensors


BOULDER, Colo. (Ball PR) — Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the non-profit B612 Foundation have signed a contract for Ball to create prototype infrared imaging sensors for the Sentinel Mission, a deep space mission to protect Earth by providing early warning of threatening asteroids. Ball’s detector design characterization initiates the first phase of developing Sentinel’s 20-inch diameter, space-based infrared telescope.

Continue reading ‘B612, Ball Aerospace Sign Agreement for Sentinel Imaging Sensors’

Interorbital Test Fires Rocket in Mojave


Interorbital Systems engine firing in Mojave. (Credit: IOS)

MOJAVE, Oct. 28, 2012 (IOS PR) —On a calm clear high-desert October evening, Interorbital Systems’ NEPTUNE rocket series’ main engine roared to life in its first hot-firing test.

The engine, the IOS GPRE 7.5KNTA (General Purpose Rocket Engine; 7,500lb-thrust; Nitric Acid; Turpentine; Ablative cooling), blasted a 22-foot (6.71-meter) plume of fire across Interorbital’s Mojave Spaceport test area, scorching the sand an additional 50 feet (15.24 meters) beyond the plume end.

Continue reading ‘Interorbital Test Fires Rocket in Mojave’

Europe Hears SpaceX’s Footsteps as it Debates Ariane 5’s Future


Ariane 5 lifts off from Kourou.Space officials in Europe are deeply divided over the future of the Ariane 5 rocket as they face competition from other national programs and companies such as SpaceX. Speaking at a recent roundtable, Arianespace Chief Executive Jean-Yves Le Gall identified  the two main threats to Europe’s launch vehicle business:

The first, he said, is the nonmarket economies of Russia, China and India, all of which either have or are developing rockets to compete with Arianespace’s fleet of vehicles.

The second threat, he said, comes from “a couple of guys in a garage in Silicon Valley who start with a blank sheet of paper and come up with a brilliant idea.”

Unfortunately for Le Gall, there is no consensus among European space officials about how to meet these threats as an ESA ministerial meeting looms at the end of November.

Continue reading ‘Europe Hears SpaceX’s Footsteps as it Debates Ariane 5’s Future’

Molecular Geneticist Join SARG


Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomes Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul from the University of Florida to the Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG). Dr. Paul has an extensive background in molecular genetics with a specific interest in the applications of space-based research to study adaptive responses in an environment that is outside of the subject’s terrestrial norm. She is currently a Research Associate Professor in the University of Florida’s Genetics Institute.

Continue reading ‘Molecular Geneticist Join SARG’

Bill Richardson: Mojave Space Consultant


UPDATE: The Bakersfield Californian reports that this is old news. Richardson was paid $10,000 earlier this year for acting as a consultant in helping to get the informed consent law passed. “It’s done. It’s over,” says Mojave spaceport CEO Stu Witt.

The Mojave Air and Space Port has signed up a heavy hitter in an effort to strengthen California’s spaceflight informed consent law:

Former Gov. Bill Richardson will be going to work for a California spaceport to help push lawmakers there for an expanded “informed consent” law protecting manufacturers and suppliers of private spacecraft from most civil lawsuits.

Continue reading ‘Bill Richardson: Mojave Space Consultant’

SpaceShipTwo Powered Flights Set for 2013


Workers install SpaceShipTwo’s nitrous oxide tank. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

In a story on Saturday, Allison Gatlin of the Antelope Valley Press quotes Scaled Composites Executive Vice President Kevin Mickey as saying that powered flights of SpaceShipTwo will begin next year. Virgin Galactic officials have said they hoped to begin powered flights by the end of this year.

The powered flights will be preceded by un-powered glide tests of SpaceShipTwo that will begin later this year. These will be the first flights of the eight-person space plane after it has been fully fitted with its hybrid propulsion system.

Next year should be a busy one at the Mojave Air and Space Port where SpaceShipTwo is being tested. XCOR is set to make the first powered flights of its two-person Lynx space plane during the first quarter of 2013.

Pictures of the X-34s at Mojave


During the Mojave Air and Space Port’s recent Plane Crazy Saturday, visitors got a close look at the two X-34 vehicles that have been stored next to Orbital Sciences Corporation’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft. The L-1011 carried one of them on three captive carry flights, but neither vehicle ever flew in free flight.

The rocket engine technology demonstrators were put into storage in 2001 after the X-34 program was canceled for technical and budgetary reasons. They were pulled out of storage at nearby Edwards Air Force Base in November 2010 for evaluation “as potential flight platforms for reusable space launch vehicle technology demonstrations,” according to a NASA press release.

Ed Dunlap, manager of L-1011 operations for Orbital, said during a Plane Crazy Saturday presentation that the two X-34s would be taken away from the spaceport in about three weeks.  No use has been found for the vehicles.

NASA Centers Work on Satellite Servicing Technologies


This artist’s concept shows a servicing spacecraft, left, approaching satellite needing assistance. NASA is developing technology needed to bring a high-technology “gas pump, robotic mechanic and tow truck” to satellites in orbit. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

By Bob Granath
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

With satellites playing increasingly important roles in everyday life, NASA is developing the technology to build Earth-orbiting, roving “service stations” capable of extending the life of these spacecraft. Engineers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are assisting the space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in developing the concept for bringing a high-technology gas pump, robotic mechanic and tow truck to satellites in space.

Continue reading ‘NASA Centers Work on Satellite Servicing Technologies’

This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with David Livingston…

1. Monday, October 29, 2012, 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. MADHU THANGALEVU and PERRY EDMUNDSON to discuss Perry’s commercial space cruise ship concept as developed for Dr. Thangalevu’s USC graduate class. .

2. Tuesday, October 30 , 2012, 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome back PAUL BREED of Unreasonable Rockets.

3. Friday, November 2, 2012, 9:30-11 AM PDT (11:30- 1 PM CDT, 12:30PM-2:00 PM EDT): We welcome back JOSH HOPKINS of Lockheed regarding new projects and information.

4. NOTE; DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIMES HAS ENDED. WE ARE BACK TO STANDARD TIME. Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2–3:30 PM CST). We welcome DR. VADIM RYGALOV of UND Space Studies & Space Studies graduate student ANNIE WARGETS regarding her research on the effects of food and nutrition on human performance levels in extreme isolated and confined environments & applied to human space flight.