Mystery CCDev 2 Bidder Requests Review of Proposal

A stealth company whose CCDev 2 proposal was rejected by NASA for failing to comply with proposal instructions is asking the space agency to conduct a full evaluation of its plan.  In a press release, alphaSpaces writes:

We have requested a full consideration of our proposal that it never received since we had submitted our proposal properly and in good faith. We have communicated with CCDev2 a number of reasons associated with our proposal submission (including the format) and our desire to work with CCDev2 to facilitate the processes.

Since CCDev2 has not yet initiated consideration of our CCDev2 proposal, we are taking the steps to bring it to your kind consideration for the sake of our nation’s honor and justice.

alphaSpaces describes itself as “a Silicon Valley company in stealth mode having leading blue chip company background heritage. It has presence in Cloud computing, Mobile computing and Aerospace.” The company’s website is still under construction.

The press release is reproduced in full below.


Tea Party in Space Action Alert


Time Required: 20 Minutes or less

Actions Required: One phone call and one email

When: Monday July 11th and Tuesday July 12th

What: Contact your Representative’s DC office and ask them to tell the House Appropriations Committee leadership to stop supporting the Space Launch System Earmark and Bailout and ask to compete the contracts for the Space Launch System. Then email the results of your phone conversation to:


Proposed House Budget Cuts Commercial Crew, R&D Funds

As the space shuttle Atlantis prepares for the program’s final flight amid much wailing about America abandoning its leadership role in space, the House Committee on Appropriations has released a spending plan for NASA that shows how much our elected leaders are will to pay to maintain that position. The answer: less than they’re spending now.

The spending plan cuts NASA spending back to 2008 levels with $16.8 billion, a reduction of $1.9 billion from the President’s request and $1.6 billion from the previous year’s budget. The budget increases funds for the Space Launch System and Multipurpose Crew Vehicle while making deep cuts in the President’s requests for commercial crew, space technology, exploration research and development, and science.

Sierra Nevada Adds Former NASA Chief Astronaut to Dream Chaser Team

The newest member of the Dream Chaser management team is astronaut Steven Lindsey who will be joining the SNC Dream Chaser team in July as Director of Flight Operations. Steve is the former Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office, which he ran for four years and is a veteran of four Space Shuttle missions, most recently commanding Space Shuttle mission STS-133.

Former astronaut Jim Voss, a veteran astronaut who flew on five Space Shuttle missions and the Russian Soyuz, and served as a crew member on the International Space Station during Expedition 2. Jim is the SNC Vice President of Space Exploration Systems and is the program executive for the Dream Chaser Program.

SNC has also hired other NASA vets. Read the full press release below. (more…)

Bolden to Critics: What Planet are You Living On?

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Speaking a week before the final space shuttle mission is set to launch, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden gave a ringing defense of the Obama Administration’s space policy during remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. today.

“So when I hear people say – or listen to media reports – that the final Shuttle flight marks the end of U.S. human spaceflight, I have to say . . . these folks must be living on another planet. We are not ending human space flight, we are recommitting ourselves to it and taking the necessary – and difficult – steps today to ensure America’s pre-eminence in human space exploration for years to come,” Bolden said in prepared remarks.


What it Takes to Build a 21st Century Spacecraft — NASA Style

NASA’s Challenges Certifying and Acquiring Commercial Transportation Services, NASA Office of the Inspector General, June 30, 2011

Ever wondered what it takes to build a spacecraft these days? NASA’s Certification Requirements for low Earth orbit missions include references to 93 (count ’em 93) documents that commercial crew providers must use to produce their vehicles. The documents are divided into three types:

  • Type 1 – mandatory, must be implemented as written;
  • Type 2 – alternatives allowed with NASA approval; and
  • Type 3 – suggested best practices.


NASA IG Looks at Commercial Crew Challenges

The NASA Inspector General’s Office issued a report today titled, “NASA’s Challenges Certifying and Acquiring Commercial Crew Transportation Services,” looking at what obstacles lie ahead as NASA pursues its CCDev program. The challenges include:

  • modifying NASA’s existing safety and human-rating requirements for commercially developed systems
  • selecting an acquisition strategy for commercial crew transportation services
  • establishing the appropriate insight/oversight model for commercial partner vehicle development.
  • relying on an emerging industry and uncertain market conditions to achieve cost savings
  • managing the relationship among commercial partners, the FAA, and NASA.

I’ve reproduced the audit’s results and management action sections below. You can download the full report here.

Report: CCDev Competition Down to at Least 7 Companies

A Boeing CST-100 crew module docks at a Bigelow Aerospace space station. (Credit: Boeing)

Space News is reporting that the competition for $200 million in NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) funding is down to at least seven companies:

  • ATK
  • Blue Origin
  • Boeing
  • Orbital Sciences Corporation
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)
  • United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Citing industry sources, the publication says that representatives from the companies were invited to Johnson Space Center in Houston earlier this month to discuss their proposals. NASA plans to award funds next month contingent on Congressional action on its budget.


Boeing Looks to Sell CST-100 Capsule Overseas

Boeing's CST-100 crew transport. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing probes international market for human spacecraft
Spaceflight Now

Boeing is weighing international sales of its CST-100 commercial crew spacecraft if NASA selects the firm to continue development of the capsule, a company official said Wednesday…

“There’s an interesting opportunity that we’re just starting to flesh out,” [John] Elbon said Wednesday. “The spacecraft that we’re designing is rocket-agnostic. It would be possible to sell this like a commercial airplane to countries who perhaps have a launch vehicle who would like to launch it in their own country.”


ATK: We’ll Build Liberty With or Without NASA Funding

It looks like ATK and Astrium would move ahead with building its Liberty rocket even if it doesn’t get a portion of the $200 million NASA is set to distribute next month as part of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program:

Regardless of whether the government agrees to help fund Alliant Techsystems’ rocket that would take astronauts to the International Space Station, the Utah company intends to move forward with its project because it believes there will be no shortage of commercial customers….


ULA Nears Final Milestone on Launch Abort System

ULA's Atlas V

Denver, Colo. (Feb. 8, 2011) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) completed the most significant portion of the final milestone for its Commercial Crew Development Emergency Detection System (EDS) project last month, demonstrating the EDS test bed in ULA’s Denver Launch Support Center using the high fidelity Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL).

During testing last year, several abort simulation runs were successfully generated that illustrate the EDS abort detection capability for a wide range of anomalous launch vehicle conditions, both slow and quick to evolve into a catastrophic event. As soon as EDS detected the anomalous condition, the launch vehicle issued a command to the spacecraft to separate and initiate the abort escape sequence. As part of the demonstration, launch vehicle and spacecraft were animated using a high fidelity simulation tool to provide a visualization of the abort sequence once it had been initiated. Various combinations of the launch vehicle and winged and capsule type spacecraft were used during the simulated abort sequence.


Tonight on Monster Chiller Horror Theatre: Arestein Returns!

Ares 1-X

NASA’s Ares I rocket was always an odd looking bird. While many rockets are large at the bottom and get progressively thinner as they near the top, this booster bucked that trend: a thin first stage with an enormous upper one. In that, I guess, it appeared somewhat more human — but not in a good way. More like Frankenstein human. Or Arestein, if you will.

The rocket’s development was a horror story, with massive cost overruns and years-long delays as engineers struggled to adapt legacy space shuttle hardware to a brand new mission. After billions were consumed, the Obama Administration canceled the program last year.

But, if you thought Ares I was gone for good, think again. It’s back for the sequel — and it’s badder than ever….


ATK/Astrium Propose Ares 1-Ariane 5 Hybrid Booster for CCDev 2


A new commercial rocket proposal based on the Ares 1 first stage and the Ariane 5 core. It’s like Frankenstein meets….rocket Frankenstein! Looks like it will definitely fly. But, is it affordable?


ATK and Astrium (an EADS Company) are working together in response to NASA’s Commercial Crew Development-2 (CCDev-2) procurement.  The team is offering NASA launch services with the Libertyâ„¢ rocket.  This new launch vehicle combines two of the world’s most reliable propulsion systems, with a collective heritage of nearly 150 successful flights.


Garver Views Commercial Space Hardware at Bigelow, Sierra Nevada Facilities

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is given a tour of the Bigelow Aerospace facilities by the company's President Robert Bigelow on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, in Las Vegas. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited Bigelow Aerospace and Sierra Nevada Corporation this week to see commercial human spaceflight hardware that to two companies are developing. The following report is based on NASA press releases.

Inflatable Space Stations

In Las Vegas, Garver toured the facilities of Bigelow Aerospace, a company that has been developing expandable space habitats. NASA is evaluating Bigelow’s concept for an expandable module for the International Space Station. If approved, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, could be launched to the station using a commercial cargo flight and robotically attached to the orbiting laboratory.