NMSA Issues RFP for CM to Manage SA

NMSA Announcement

LAS CRUCES, NM – The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to contract with a Construction Management firm to oversee and manage the construction of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

The construction management company selected will represent the NMSA in all aspects of construction contractor integration, quality control, value engineering, scheduling and budget management. The proposals are due to the NMSA by 4 p.m MDT October 15, 2008.


Commerce in Orbit and on the Moon

The Space Review has three articles about extraterrestrial commerce that are worth a look:

Garriott to Carry NASA Experiments, British School Children’s Ideas to ISS

There are a couple of updates on the journey of “Lord British” – fantasy game designer Richard Garriott – to the International Space Station, which is set for October 12. The space tourist will perform a suite of experiments in cooperation with NASA. He also will carry ideas for commercial space ventures proposed by 11 British school children.

First Second Generation Astronaut, Richard Garriott, to Perform Research while in Space in Cooperation with NASA
Space Adventures Press Release

Space Adventures, Ltd. announced today that their orbital spaceflight client, Richard Garriott, will participate in a suite of experiments in cooperation with NASA during his 10-day mission.

Mr. Garriott is scheduled to launch on October 12 on board a Soyuz TMA spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan en route to the International Space Station (ISS). He will be joining the Expedition 18 crew which includes NASA astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov.


Esther Dyson in Training as Backup for ISS Flight

Bambi Francisco of Vator News has an interview with Internet and commercial space investor Esther Dyson, who says she will soon start training as a backup for a Soyuz flight to the International Space Station.

“Was the Internet and high-tech sectors just getting boring? I asked.

“‘It’s not that the Internet is boring,’ she responded. ‘But to some extent the intellectual risk is gone.’


Fossett Clues Found in California Mountains?

Pilot’s license found in Calif. may be Fossett’s
Associated Press

“A hiker in a rugged part of eastern California found a pilot’s license and other items possibly belonging to Steve Fossett, the adventurer who vanished on a solo flight in a borrowed plane more than a year ago, authorities said Wednesday.

“The hiker, Preston Morrow, said he found a Federal Aviation Administration identity card, a pilot’s license, a third ID and $1,005 in cash tangled in a bush off a trail just west of the town of Mammoth Lakes on Monday. He said he turned the items in to local police Wednesday, after unsuccessful attempts to contact Fossett’s family.

“Mammoth Lakes police Investigator Crystal Schafer confirmed that the department had the items, including the ones bearing Fossett’s name.”

ISU, Isle of Man Team Up to Create Space Commerce Institute

First Institute for Space Commerce to be based in the Isle of Man
Isle of Man Today

“The Manx Government successfully won a bidding war to secure the world’s first International Institute for Space Commerce (IISC), to be based at the International Business School, Douglas…

“Creation of the IISC project has been a joint initiative between the International Space University (ISU) based in Strasbourg, France, and the Manx Government. The ISU wanted to become more global and wanted to establish a number of associated international institutes around the world.”

SpaceX Success: What it All Means….

Falcon 1’s first stage falls away during Sunday’s launch. Credit: SpaceX.

SpaceX ‘Falcon 1’ Marks New Era For Space Industry

Information Week

“A privately developed liquid fuel rocket has entered Earth orbit, becoming the first such rocket to do so and heralding the dawn of the private sector space industry.”

SpaceX success is huge milestone
Huntsville Times

Homer Hickam and Tim Pickens weight in….


ESA’s Jules Verne ATV Re-enters Over the Pacific

29 September 2008
Taken at approximately 15:36 CEST (13:36 UT) from the DC-8 aircraft.


Europe’s first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Jules Verne successfully completed its six-month ISS logistics mission today with its controlled destructive re-entry over a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific.


Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow….

Snow is the surprising forecast for Mars
Los Angeles Times

“The latest forecast on Mars calls for morning fog and swift-moving clouds — along with light snow.

Snowman courtesy of Bigfoto.com

“The surprising weather report was part of the latest scientific findings from NASA’s Phoenix lander, which has been taking measurements at the Martian north pole since May 25.

“At a press briefing Monday at NASA headquarters in Washington and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, scientists said the discovery of snow on Mars was made by an instrument that shined a laser into clouds about two miles above the ground, revealing the presence of ice crystals.”

NASA Mars Lander Sees Falling Snow, Soil Data Suggest Liquid Past
29 September 2008

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds. Spacecraft soil experiments also have provided evidence of past interaction between minerals and liquid water, processes that occur on Earth.



Congratulations are due to Elon Musk and his team at SpaceX. On Sunday, they successfully launched the Falcon 1 rocket from the Marshall Islands. The rocket took off at 16:16 PDT; the second stage reached an orbital velocity of 52,00 meters per second at 8 minutes and 21 seconds after launch.

The rocket carried a “payload mass simulator of approximately 165 kg (364 lbs), designed and built by SpaceX specifically for this mission. Consisting of a hexagonal aluminum alloy chamber 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall, the payload attaches to the standard Falcon 1 payload mounting structure. It does not separate, but remains attached to the second stage as it orbits the Earth,” according to SpaceX.

China Completes Shenzhou 7 Mission; Taikonaut Conducts First Spacewalk

The Shenzhou 7 spacecraft touched down in Northern China on Sunday afternoon, successfully returning taikonauts Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming, and Jing Haipeng to Earth after a 68-hour flight that thrilled the Chinese nation.

The flight’s main highlight was a 20-minute spacewalk in which Zhai climbed outside of the spaceship clutching a Chinese flag. The nation’s first spacewalk was broadcast live throughout China.

This was the third successful manned flight of the Shenzhou, which is similar to the Russian Soyuz transport. China plans to eventually construct a space station in Earth orbit.

WhiteKnightTwo Flights Set to Begin Later This Year

Rob Coppinger reports that the first test flight of Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier ship may be slipped until closer to the end of the year.

“There have been various taxi trials outside the hangar already, but undertaken at night. The first flight trials will take place when we are ready and will definitely be this year and possibly within the next few weeks,” Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn told Coppinger.

Meanwhile, Bill Deaver has taken a spin into space aboard SpaceShipTwo – a good eighteen before any paying passengers will. Sort of.


Burt Rutan, Peter Smith Play a Round of Golf

Spacemen: Two men behind the future of American space exploration and commerce compete to launch little white balls into the unknown
Washington Post Magazine

“Early this year, I learned that Peter Smith, the principal investigator and driving force behind NASA’s astoundingly successful Phoenix Mission to explore Mars via remote-controlled robots, was also a golf enthusiast. I did a quick calculation: [Burt] Rutan, space flight pioneer + Smith, nation’s leading Mars authority + golf, male-bonding session = irresistible story.”

Explore – or Die

Space exploration key to mankind’s survival: NASA chief

“Mankind’s very survival depends on the future exploration of space, said NASA chief Michael Griffin in an interview with AFP marking the 50th anniversary of the US space agency.

“This journey, said the veteran physicist and aerospace engineer, is full of unknowns and has only just begun.

‘Does the survival of human kind depend upon it? I think so,’ he said.”

No Bucks, No Tom Wolfe Analogies

During the last two weeks, a series of dizzying, stomach-churning events have sent shock waves around the world.

The American financial system has come thisclose to a complete meltdown, threatening to take the planet’s economy down with it. A venerable investment firm has collapsed, another was forced into a shotgun merger, and U.S. government now owns 80 percent of the world’s largest insurance company. President George W. Bush – about to bequeath a half-trillion dollar annual budget deficit on his successor – has proposed spending an additional $700 billion to buy out bad real estate investments. And that might be conservative. The national debt will be raised to a staggering $11.3 trillion.

You might think this would cause people to rethink some of our national priorities – such as building expensive housing for a handful of astronauts on the Moon, for example. But, you’ll be happy to know that NASA Administrator Mike Griffin is having none of it.