UP Aerospace Awarded NASA, DOD Contracts for Spaceport America Launches

NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist Launch Opportunities Program has awarded UP Aerospace a contract to integrate technology payloads and launch them into space on up to 8 flights using the company’s SpaceLoft rocket. The launch contract is part of the 2 year IDIQ contract awarded to the firm on August 9, 2011. The contract reserves 2 SpaceLoft launches with options to purchase 6 additional flights in 2012 and 2013. The first flight for NASA is in the planning phase and is expected to be launched from Spaceport America in the 1st quarter of 2012. UP Aerospace has teamed with Schafer Corporation to provide NASA with comprehensive launch and payload integration services.

The US Department of Defense Operationally Responsive Space Office has awarded UP Aerospace a full manifested sub-orbital launch contract to be flown from Spaceport America in New Mexico. UP Aerospace will launch their sixth SpaceLoft for the DoD to an altitude of 115 km. This will be the forth mission flown by UP Aerospace for the DoD and the first fully dedicated launch for the defense agency. The official launch date for this mission is under negotiations with the DoD but is anticipated to be in the first quarter of 2012.

NASA Selects 7 Companies for Suborbital Research Flights

SpaceShipTwo glides downward on its first test flight. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space. The selected companies are:

— Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas
— Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore.
— Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif.
— Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo.
— Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif.
— Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif.
— XCOR, Mojave, Calif.

As part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. These two-year contracts, worth a combined total of $10 million, will allow NASA to draw from a pool of commercial space companies to deliver payload integration and flight services. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs.


New Mexico Gubernatorial Candidates Give Mixed Signals on Spaceport America

Spaceport America's runway under construction

NMPolitics.net has asked New Mexico’s gubernatorial candidates about continued support for Spaceport America. The state-funded facility, now under construction in the desert near Las Cruces, was championed by outgoing Gov. Bill Richardson and will be a main launch site for suborbital space tourism flights for Virgin Galactic.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez says the state has already spent lots of money on Spaceport America and can no longer be its “major financer,” while Democratic opponent Diane Denish says she is a supporter of the spaceport but didn’t directly answer a question about the project’s funding.


Jerry Larson and UP Aerospace Carve Out Niche in Small Launch Market

UP Aerospace Spaceloft XL rocket lifts off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on May 2, 2009.

Sky not the limit for rocket maker
Highland Ranch Herald News

[Jerry] Larson, president and chief executive officer of UP Aerospace Inc., has become a pioneer in an industry — not to mention an entire universe — that is largely unexplored. Larson and a group of 15 colleagues from aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin launched their first successful rocket in 2004, and it only fed the desire to break more barriers.


U.S. Military Takes Step Toward Rapid Spacecraft Construction and Launch

UP Aerospace's SpaceLoft vehicle

One of the goals of the U.S. military is to be able to quickly build and launch payloads into space in order to respond to situations that might arise. The military took a step toward that goal with an experiment earlier this month in New Mexico.


The Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office participated in the successful launch of the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket from Spaceport America carrying a payload built in less than one week. The launch took place on May 4 at approximately 6:45 a.m. MDT.

“I applaud the launch and payload teams and am pleased that the ORS payload provided yet another demonstration of our enablers of rapid spacecraft build, integration, test and launch,” said Dr. Peter Wegner, Director, ORS Office. “This launch proved to be a very cost effective way to demonstrate key ORS enabling models of rapid development and build of a payload, integration and test of the payload, and identification and assurance of payload technical readiness. We continue to address the military’s need for responsive, affordable and flexible space systems by using off the shelf components to support a variety of future missions,” added Wegner.


Spaceport America Rocket Failed to Reach Space

UP Aerospace Spaceloft XL rocket lifts off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on May 2, 2009.
UP Aerospace Spaceloft XL rocket lifts off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on May 2, 2009.

Officials are investigating why a suborbital UP Aerospace rocket launched on Saturday from New Mexico failed to reach space.

The SpaceLoft XL rocket – packed with experiments and the ashes of 16 people – failed to reach its 70-mile target altitude. It’s not clear what altitude the vehicle reached. The payload did separate from the booster and landed by parachute.


Education Launch Successful at Spaceport America


Today’s successful launch of the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket for the SL-3 Education launch is another successful step in developing the world’s first commercial spaceport. Spaceport America and the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium created history with this first annual Education Launch that provided New Mexico students the opportunity to design and launch scientific experiments into space.


Excitement Builds for Saturday Launch at Spaceport America

An artist's conception of a Virgin Galactic flight above Spaceport America in New Mexico
An artist's conception of a Virgin Galactic flight above Spaceport America in New Mexico

Saturday launch will help make Spaceport ‘real,’ officials say
New Mexico Independent

More than 350 people have signed up to attend Saturday’s educational launch from Spaceport America. Officials say that’s evidence that, as the project progresses from a proposal to reality, excitement is building.


Titanic Explorer Among Those on Celestis Memorial Flight

Ralph White
Ralph White


Award-winning cinematographer Ralph White, who documented the wreck of the Titanic, will be among 16 people who will have their ashes launched into space on May 2.

UP Aerospace’s Spaceloft XL suborbital rocket will carry the remains to an altitude of 70 miles above New Mexico’s Spaceport America. The payload will land by parachute for recovery.


Education Launch Planned for Spaceport America


Spaceport America and the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium will conduct the first annual education launch from Spaceport America at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 2, 2009. This historic SL-3 mission will utilize a SpaceLoft XL launch vehicle provided by participating sponsor UP Aerospace and will include 11 multi-sensor experiments designed and created by students from New Mexico schools. The launch is open to the public by RSVP via coach transportation at $10 per person. No private vehicles are allowed to the launch site.


UP Aerospace Carving Out Niche in New Mexico Desert

Indie Space Ventures Blast Off
CNN Money

“There’s not much to see at the future home of Spaceport America, touted as ground zero for commercial rocket traffic. Deep in the New Mexico desert, you’ll find shrubs, scorpions – and Jerry Larson. His company, Up Aerospace, has signed on as the first tenant of the $220 million spaceport, where construction will begin in 2009….

“Larson’s former employer, Lockheed Martin, got the message and asked Up Aerospace to handle cut-price launches of its own experimental rocket at the spaceport site. More Lockheed launches are planned for 2009, along with another flight of Up Aerospace’s rocket. This time the payloads will also contain scientific experiments from several New Mexico universities.

“He expects Up Aerospace to grow alongside Spaceport America and to benefit from all the aeronautics talent pouring into New Mexico. In the future he hopes to build a larger, faster rocket capable of delivering small satellites into orbit.”