ISPCS Day One Review & a Mojave Engine Test

Credit: Robin Snelson
Credit: Robin Snelson

Greetings from Mojave.  I had hoped to be greeting you from Las Cruces from the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS — pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Is-pic-us). But, my plans to leave one desert town to travel across vast stretches of desert to a larger desert town didn’t work out this year. (I don’t know why; it sounded like so much fun.)

Despite the arrival of fall and some much needed rain and cool temps on Sunday and Monday, summer appears to be making a comeback this week. It’s supposed to peak at 91 degrees F on Friday. I think that’s like 55 degrees in metric, but I think that might be a bit high. It will undoubtedly feel that way.

Anyway, I’ve been keeping an eye on the Twitter stream out of New Mexico for those who are not there or weren’t glued to their computers to find out what happened there. It looks like something happened, such as:

  • Sierra Nevada Corporation is preparing Dream Chaser shuttles for a glide flight at NASA Armstrong in early 2016 and a later orbital test. The drop test, which is three years behind schedule, is one of two remaining milestones under the company’s commercial crew contract with NASA. [SNC Press Release  — SNC Commercial Crew Milestones]
  • With major repairs complete at Wallops; Orbital ATK’s Antares should launch again around Mayish 2016. (Here’s to hoping they don’t wreck it again.)
  • Atlas V rockets will send Orbital ATK Cygnus freighters to ISS in December and March.
  • Spaceport Colorado (aka, Front Range Airport outside Denver) expects to submit its spaceport application to the FAA soon. (I think the FAA might consider a moratorium on new spaceports given the dearth of vehicles to fly from them. It would free up a lot of FAA staff time for more urgent matters.)
  • DARPA’s ALASA and XS-1 programs are both moving….um….forward. There didn’t seem to be a lot of details.

Meanwhile, back here in Paradise, Virgin Galactic conducted a horizontal LauncherOne engine test (probably NewtonThree) that lasted more than 2 minutes and threw up lots of dust and dirt into a big cloud over the test area. That took place just before 5 p.m. PDT.