Space Frontier Helps Sponsor SEDS Student Business Plan Competition

SEDS-LogoNyack, NY (SFF PR) — The Space Frontier Foundation is proud to announce its sponsorship of the SpaceVision 2013 conference and their Student Business Plan Competition (BPC).

SpaceVision is run by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), making the sponsorship a direct investment in the future of NewSpace. The Foundation strongly encourages anyone interested in NewSpace to attend the conference, and see what the next generation of great NewSpace innovators and businessmen are up to.


New GXLP Study Shows Significant Lunar Economic Opportunities

A new London Economics market study commissioned by the X Prize Foundation indicates that commercial opportunities at the moon will be worth billions of dollars in the decades ahead.

“With an overall estimated market value in the 10 years directly following the competition of US$1.9 billion, and $6.4 billion over the 25 year longer term, it is clear that the Google Lunar XPRIZE presents a very significant incentive for teams to organize themselves to pursue and capture the various commercial opportunities that they can access,” the study states.


Mars One Plans Lander on Red Planet in 2016

MarsOne_logoMars One Founder Bas Lansdorp says his organization is looking for experiments to fly on an unmanned lander that it will launch to the Red Planet in 2016.

Mars One will send “a small craft that will demonstrate the technologies we need for our human colony” and is inviting partners to join the mission…

The first step is to test whether conditions for sustaining humans can be created, by sending experimental systems on a lander.


CASIS Selects 8 Experiments from MassChallenge Startup Accelerator

casis_new_logoKENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., October 31, 2013 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization promoting and managing research and technology development onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, announced last night in Boston, MA that it has selected eight startup companies to conduct research onboard the ISS through the MassChallenge Startup Accelerator. In total, CASIS will award $450,000 to assist these companies in using the ISS to advance their business applications and products.


NASA to Test and Evaluate ECAPS Green Propulsion Technology

ssc_logoSOLNA, Sweden (ECAPS PR) — The Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have signed a bilateral cooperative agreement for NASA to test and evaluate the 5-Newton and 22-Newton High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) thrusters developed by ECAPS, an SSC Group company. A unique satellite propulsion technology, HPGP is based on an environmentally-friendly propellant that is a much safer alternative to the highly toxic and carcinogenic substance hydrazine, which is presently the most common liquid monopropellant used on satellites.


Russia Makes Progress on New Rockets, Human Spacecraft

Inside a mockup of a proposed Russian deep space spacecraft. (Credit: Energia)
Inside a mockup of a proposed Russian deep space spacecraft. (Credit: Energia)

Despite all the energies focused on a shakeup at the top of the Russian space industry and the impending consolidation of many companies, Roscosmos has been quietly progress on a series of initiatives designed to upgrade the space agency’s capabilities and facilities.

Anatoly Zak at reports that Roscosmos released two tenders on Oct. 23, one involving a new human spacecraft and the other for a launch complex at the nation’s newest spaceport. Officials are also moving forward on the development of a new super heavy launch vehicle.


Sequestration Threatens Key NASA Programs, Schedules

Capitol Building
Congressional and NASA officials are warning of deep cuts to the NASA budget mandated by sequestration could delay and imperil key programs and missions, USA Today reports.

“Sequestration will slit the throat of NASA,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., one of Congress’ biggest champions for NASA. “It’ll cut the heart out of the manned space program.”


Spaceport News From New Mexico, Texas and Britain

Artist's conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.
Artist’s conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.

A quick roundup of spaceport news around the globe:

Las Cruces, NM: With commercial Virgin Galactic flights from Spaceport America delayed until at least August 2014, New Mexico taxpayers will have to spend an extra $6.9 million to pay for the paving of a southern road to the remote site. That amount has been diverted from the road budget to cover operations.

Albuquerque, NM: Viewing increased spaceport competition from other states, the editors of the Albuquerque Journal fear their state could lose its advantages.

“In down-to-earth terms, New Mexico has impressive natural and man-made leads in this next space race, the editors write. “So it is vital not to squander them. Because not only do New Mexico taxpayers have hundreds of millions at stake in Spaceport America’s success, but plenty of other states want to enter that orbit.”

Brownsville, Texas: Cameron County commissioners met in closed session to discuss economic incentives designed to develop a commercial spaceport for SpaceX. The California company is leaning toward the Texas site, but it is awaiting the results of a review by the Federal Aviation Administration.

London, England: An English think tank believes that the nation should establish spaceports to serve the suborbital market and develop the capabilities to do microgravity research aboard these ships.

Speaking at the International Space Commerce Summit in London today, Dan Lewis, Energy Policy Adviser at the Institute of Directors, said…the UK should seize the opportunity brought about by companies such as Virgin Galactic, XCOR or Blue Origin.

“We should capitalise on the deep local research culture,” Lewis said. “The progress in sub-orbital vehicle technology is moving faster than previously foreseen and can change the current dynamics of the space industry. We need to start thinking seriously about these opportunities,” he said, suggesting that in addition to the existing telecommunications and satellite research centres, UK universities should consider establishing dedicated sub-orbital technology research centres.

UN Develops Plan for Dangerous Asteroids as Astronaut Group Urges More Action

The United Nations is developing a plan to keep hazardous asteroids from hitting Earth. Meanwhile, the Association of Space Explorers has urged that the UN and national governments take more actions to address this threat.

New York, New York (ASE PR) — At an Oct. 25 public event at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), a professional society of astronauts and cosmonauts, issued a challenge to the global community to take the next vital steps to confront the threat from dangerous asteroids. The ASE Committee on Near-Earth Objects statement follows the United Nations General Assembly adoption of a suite of proposals to create an international decision-making mechanism for planetary asteroid defense.


New Mexico Taxpayers Foot Bill as Virgin Galactic Delays Lengthen

The Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America will house Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. It is also where future tourist astronauts will train for their journey to suborbital space. The beginning of the journey began at Mojave Air & Space Port. (Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America)
The Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America)

Commercial flights of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo from Spaceport America have slipped another six months to August 2014, resulting in $6.9 million in additional costs to taxpayers, New Mexico officials said on Tuesday.

To pay for spaceport operations during the delay, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority will raid $6.9 million from a $15 million budget designated for the paving of a southern road to the remote site, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Officials will ask the state legislature to replenish the road paving fund when the next legislative session begins early next year.

Taxpayers are on the hook for $5 to $6 million for each year that Virgin Galactic delays commercial flights from the southern New Mexico spaceport.

Popular Science Honors Peter Diamandis, Mars Curiosity Rover Team

Peter Diamandis

Congratulations are in order to X Prize Foundation Founder Peter Diamandis and the team behind the Mars Curiosity rover.

Popular Mechanics selected them for their 2013 Breakthrough Awards. Diamandis won the Leadership Award for his work in creating prizes and technology breakthroughs with the X Prize Foundation. The magazine includes a Q&A with Diamandis.

The Mars Curiosity team were among 9 other individuals and groups singled out in the innovators category. They landed the car-sized rover on the Red Planet.

The magazine also cited the team behind the U.S. Navy’s X-47B aircraft, a prototype for unmanned combat jets that landed on an aircraft carrier without a pilot in July. Popular Mechanics also singled out 10 innovative products for 2013, which included a desktop milling machine and a 3D scanner/printer.

You can read more here: 10 Innovators Who Changed the World in 2013 – Popular Mechanics

NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission to Test Advanced Thermal Insulation


BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 29, 2013 (BATC PR) — NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) has been selected to test an advanced form of thermal insulation, called integrated multi-layer insulation (IMLI) that could become standard on future satellites and cryogenic subsystems.

Validating this new insulation in space will help NASA build the technology required for long human spaceflight missions.  Under a subcontract from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Quest Thermal Group LLC will manufacture the new insulation that will fly aboard the 2015 GPIM mission.


Ed Mango Leaves Commercial Crew Program

Ed Mango
Ed Mango

NASA Watch is reporting that NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango has stepped down for personal reasons and is being replaced by his deputy, Kathyrn Lueders, on an acting basis.

This comment is no reflection on Lueders in any way, but it does concern me deeply that over the last three months, NASA has seen the departures of Deputy Administrator Lori Garver — the agency’s top promoter of commercial programs — and now the program manager commercial crew.

All this is coming at a time when the NASA budget — and its commercial crew program — are under severe pressure from the budget stalemate in Washington and continued sequestration. Congress is deeply dysfunctional, and it would rather fund a mega-booster and send money over to Russia for crew services than properly fund the program.

It’s all very depressing, and I’m hoping Mango’s departure is not a sign of deep problems with the program. If he has really left due to personal issues, I wish him all the luck with them. He’s really worked very hard on the commercial crew program and helped to get it where it is now.

UPDATE: Mango has been assigned to the deputy center director’s office at KSC.

To Lueders, I say the best of luck in overseeing commercial crew. Her biography is reproduced after the break for those who wish to know more about her.


Latest Rumor du Virgin: Rihanna to Fly on SpaceShipTwo


Pop superstar Rihanna is reported to be the latest celebritynaut to sign up for a spaceflight aboard Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo, according to a story published today.

The 25-year-old singer will reportedly plop down $750,000 for three tickets aboard Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space plane. She will be accompanied by her brother Rorrey, 23, and a bodyguard.

Meanwhile, the pop group New Direction will reportedly be the main attraction at a New Year’s Eve party that Branson is throwing at his Necker Island resort home. The party is to celebrate that Virgin Galactic hopes to begin SpaceShipTwo commercial service next year.

One of the band members, Harry Styles, is reported to be interested in flying aboard SpaceShipTwo. A recent press report indicated he had bit £150,000 to be on the first commercial flight with Branson and his family. However, that would be about $25,000 below the current asking $250,000 price for a normal ticket aboard the space plane.

Space Tango Accelerator Sets Deadline for Applications

Space_TangoLexington, KY (Space Tango PR) — Space Tango, the nation’s first business accelerator specifically for space enterprises and entrepreneurs, has set 5:00PM ET, Monday, December 16, 2013 as the deadline for applications for its spring 2014 program.

“New opportunities (including adjacent applications) lie in developing entrepreneurial ideas, companies and products that enable the further exploitation of space,” said Kris Kimel, founder of Space Tango. “These involve small high-value satellites and space platforms, the International Space Station (ISS) and opportunities in biotechnology, exomedicine, novel materials, energy, education, game design and development as well as areas and applications not yet imagined.”