The Space Show Schedule

This week on The Space Show with David Livingston….

Monday, Oct. 10: New Archived Program: This is a 40 plus minute interview with Josh Hopkins of Lockheed Martin from the recent AIAA Space 2011 Conference in Long Beach, CA. In this interview, we talk to Josh about human spaceflight to Mars, Phobos, and Deimos, Mars launch windows, solar max and the impact on radiation shielding going to Mars and much more. When you see this program archived and set for podcasting on the website and the blog, it is ready for play.

*** 2. Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, 7-8:30 PM PDT: Special Day & Special Time: Dr. Stephen Johnson returns regarding his new systems engineering book, “System Health Management: with Aerospace Applications,” plus how to deal with system failures, recent NASA experiences, and longer-term historical & techno-economic views.

SPECIAL DAY, SPECIAL TIME: 3. Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, 7-9 PM PDT: Dr. Haym Benaroya, Dr. John Jurist and I address Part 2 of creating a quality space program.

Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, 9:30-11 AM PDT: We welcome back Jane Reifert of Incredible Adventures for updates, space adventure travel market insights, and more.

Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, 12-1:30 PM PDT: We welcome Loretta Hall, author of “Out of This World” which is a great book about the New Mexico space industry. Don’t miss this discussion.

First Orion Crew Module Shipped From Michoud for Tests

The Lockheed Martin Orion team at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La., inspects the Orion crew module ground test structure prior to shipping. Photo credit: NASA


The Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) Orion team shipped out the first Orion crew module spacecraft structure today from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La. The spacecraft is headed to Lockheed Martin’s Denver, Colo. facilities where it will undergo a series of rigorous tests to confirm Orion’s ability to safely fly astronauts through all the harsh environments of deep space exploration missions.

Supply and Demand Issues Lead to Spike in U.S. Launch Costs

ULA's Atlas V

In my talk with David Livingston on The Space Show last night [listen here], he mentioned a Space News story from last month about a spike in U.S. launch costs that I had missed. I looked it up today and here’s the essence of it:

While 2011 is expected to be a banner year for NASA’s planetary science program with three missions scheduled for launch, future initiatives are threatened by budget uncertainties and a dramatic spike in the price of launch vehicles, according to an agency official.

“This is a really difficult financial environment,” Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science, said Dec. 15 at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union here.

Rides into orbit for NASA’s 2011 planetary missions, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the Juno mission to Jupiter and the Moon-bound Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), were purchased under the first NASA Launch Services (NLS) contract. That contract, which does not include specific quantities of rockets to be purchased or delivery dates, sets prices for launch vehicles and related services for NASA’s planetary, Earth observing, exploration and scientific satellites.


Lockheed Martin Wins $171 Million Contract for ISS Cargo Work

International Space Station


NASA has awarded a contract with a potential value of $171 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. of Gaithersburg, Md., for support of International Space Station cargo mission services.

The contract will support planning, coordination, preparation and packing of standardized containers for cargo missions to the station by international partner and commercial cargo vehicles. Lockheed Martin will process flight crew equipment including clothing and personal hygiene items, housekeeping items, audio and video equipment, laptop computers, batteries and crew survival equipment. The contract also includes provisions to support similar services for future vehicles to the station.


HLVs, EELVs and the Future of NASA

Three items have appeared over the past week concerning NASA’s future plans for human space exploration and what type of heavy-lift vehicle it needs to go beyond low Earth orbit. Rand Simberg examines at the arguments in favor of an Apollo approach in the above animation and finds them wanting. (Thanks to Clark Lindsey over at Hobby Space for finding the video.)

The Wall Street Journal’s Andy Pasztor looks at a proposal by Lockheed Martin to launch an Orion vehicle into a highly elliptical orbit aboard a Delta IV Heavy, an approach that ascendant Republicans will find wanting:

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s development of a new astronaut capsule for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, seemingly sidetracked by White House opposition barely a few months ago, now appears to be gaining traction with a proposed unmanned test flight as early as 2013.


Lockheed Martin Funding Hypersonic Research at Hampton University


Hampton University’s School of Engineering and Technology was awarded a research contract from Lockheed Martin for $93,000. Dr. Morris H. Morgan, III, professor in the Department of Engineering and principal investigator of the contract, and Vitali Khaikine, a researcher in the Department of Engineering, will work in the HU Aeropropulsion Center ( HU-APC ), at the HU Olin engineering building, researching designs to allow aircraft to fly at super and hypersonic speeds.


Aerojet Completes Acceptance Tests on Second Orion Engine

Test firing of Orion's main engine. (Credit: Aerojet)


Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE:GYNews) company, in conjunction with Lockheed Martin and NASA, successfully completed acceptance testing on the second R-4D development engine. The R-4D is the Aerojet engine that will be used on NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle for the service module auxiliary propulsion. Eight R-4D engines, arranged in four pods of two each, will provide thrust for critical Orion maneuvers.


ISPCS Session: Crew Transportation Systems

Illustration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

ISPCS Session:
Crew Transportation Systems: The Game Changer in Human Spaceflight

Brett Alexander – President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Mark Sirangelo – Corporate Vice President and Chairman, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Chairman, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Keith Reiley – Program Manager, Commercial Crew Development, The Boeing Company
Ken Bowersox – Vice President of Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance, SpaceX
Kenneth Reightler – Vice President, NASA Program Integration, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
Robert Bigelow – Owner and Founder, Bigelow Aerospace


NASA’s Orion Program Needs Firm Funding

NASA Orion

Lockheed, Lawmakers Urge NASA To Fund Orion Development at 2010 Level
Space News

Lockheed Martin officials along with Colorado lawmakers are warning that NASA’s spending plan for the Orion crew capsule over the next year is insufficient to retain the program’s current development work force and would make it difficult to conduct a flight test of a vehicle prototype the company envisions for late 2013.

Space Workers Laid Off as NASA Picks New Direction, Winds Down Shuttle Program

Space shuttle Atlantis lands on runway 33 at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility concluding the STS-129 mission. Photo credit: NASA Jack Pfaller

Layoffs began last week at key NASA centers and contractors as a result of multiple factors. Some related to the wind down of the space shuttle program. Others resulted from Congressional action that will transition the space agency away from the Constellation program. A smaller number involved NASA budget reductions to one center.


Boeing, Lockheed Martin on NASA Budget: Kaching!

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

Boeing Statement

On Sept. 29, the U.S. Congress passed S. 3729, a bill to authorize NASA programs for fiscal years 2011 through 2013. The bill soon will be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature, signaling a new direction for human space exploration. Boeing today released the following statement:

“Passage of the NASA Authorization Bill by the 111th Congress is a monumental feat and one that will continue to sustain the United States’ commitment to human spaceflight and exploration. We applaud Congress for achieving a bipartisan, bicameral resolution and for its commitment to maintaining U.S. leadership in space.


As Fate Hangs in the Balance, Lockheed Martin Continues Work on Orion

A production assembly crew lowers a full-scale Orion mockup onto the crew module holding structure during an assembly pathfinding maneuver at the Operations & Checkout Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credit: NASA


Preparations for Orion’s first mission in 2013 are well under way as a Lockheed Martin-led crew begins lean assembly pathfinding operations for the spacecraft. The crew is conducting simulated manufacturing and assembly operations with a full-scale Orion mockup to verify the tools, processes and spacecraft integration procedures work as expected.


Boeing’s Commercial Space Plans Spurred Senate Funding Compromise

SpaceX's Falcon 9 on the pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX)
SpaceX's Falcon 9 on the pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX)

The Washington Post has an excellent summary of NASA’s budget standoff that includes some interesting insights into the process. It mentioned how opponents of the President’s commercial space plan focused so much attention on Elon Musk and SpaceX, pointing to a lack of experience as a reason for continuing with NASA’s Constellation program.

Given the attacks on Musk and his company, the Senate compromise funding commercial space efforts passed only after Boeing gave congressional staffers a detailed presentation about its own space plans, participants in the negotiations said. The company announced an agreement last week to develop commercial space taxis for the space station.


Colorado Governor Congratulates Lockheed Martin, ULA on NASA Launch Agreement

United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.


Gov. Bill Ritter today congratulated two Colorado aerospace companies for winning NASA contracts. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver and United Launch Alliance of Littleton were two of four companies awarded contracts by NASA to be used for various NASA satellite launch projects.

“Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance are two great companies at the forefront of one of Colorado’s largest and most innovative economic sectors,” Gov. Ritter said. “The fact that two out of the four contracts awarded were to Colorado companies, highlights the strength of the aerospace industry here in Colorado. This will add jobs to an industry that is already strong in this state and position the aerospace industry to continue to be a huge part of Colorado’s future.”

The contract has the ability to service 70 launch missions for NASA with a combined value of up to $15 billion for the four companies receiving awards. The other two companies awarded contracts were Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, VA., and Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, CA.