Excalibur Almaz Shoots for the Moon and Beyond

Excalibur Almaz's space tourism vehicle concept. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

Excalibur Almaz is looking beyond sending its Soviet-era space vehicles and stations into Earth orbit and is actively working on human missions to the moon, asteroids and lagrange points.

Excalibur Almaz CEO Art Dula outlined the company’s plans on Sunday during the International Space Development Conference in Washington. Based upon Twitter posts by attendees, here are the highlights:

  • The company has four reusable capsules (with four seats) and two space station pressure vessels that it is upgrading with modern technology
  • Planned services include crew and cargo transportation from Earth to LEO, lunar orbits and lagrange point 2 (L2)
  • EA is working with: MDA and Ad Astra (VASIMR engine) on asteroid rendezvous scenarios; ULA (launchers); Astrium (ATV-based propulsion system); NASA (Space Act Agreement on commercial crew); and Futron (marketing studies)
  • Company appears to be no longer interested in providing commercial crew services to ISS (more…)

NASA’s Latest Commercial Crew Update

NASA PR — Steady progress continues for industry partners in maturing their commercial crew transportation systems. Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) completed milestones over the past two months while SpaceX, Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Excalibur Almaz Incorporated prepared for future milestones to get them closer to fielding operational crew transportation systems. The recently completed milestones bring the total number of completed milestones to 38 of the 62 planned for Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) activities.


Commercial Space Partners Complete 8 More Milestones

NASA PR — NASA’s industry partners continue to make good progress in maturing designs and development of their commercial crew transportation systems under CCDev2. During the past two months, eight milestones were completed by Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Alliant Techsystems, Inc., and Excalibur Almaz, Inc. This brings the total number of completed milestones under CCDev2 to 34 of the 62 planned. Each of these milestone accomplishments brings the United States one step closer to ending the gap in America’s human access to space.


NASA PIT Crews Assist Commercial Spacecraft Developers

by Rebecca Regan
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Just as every race car driver has a pit crew to keep them on track on the way to a victory quickly and safely, the seven aerospace companies that have teamed up with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program have their own PIT Crews, called Partner Integration Teams, to help guide them in their race to space.

They’re not packing an arsenal of air compressors, fuel, or even spare tires, though. Instead, NASA PIT Crews are equipped with the intimate knowledge of what is takes to design, develop, manufacture, process and launch space transportation systems. Lately, those teams have been making significant progress under Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2).


NASA: CCDev 2 Partners Progressing Smoothly on Milestones

Dream Chaser cockpit simulator. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

NASA PR — NASA’s industry partners continue to demonstrate design and development progress for their commercial crew transportation systems. During the past two months, five more SAA milestones and one formal interim step for a future milestone were accomplished on the road to eventual commercial space transportation services. In total over the past eight months, NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Round 2 partners have completed 26 of the 62 milestones. (Five planned milestones were added since our last Return on Investment Report due to the new partnership with Excalibur Almaz, Inc.)


Excalibur Almaz Signs Unfunded SAA With NASA on CCDev

Artist's conception of the private Excalibur Almaz space station in orbit. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)
Excalibur Almaz has signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement with NASA to obtain the space agency’s assistance with its bid to provide commercial crew services to the International Space Station. News of the Oct. 17 agreement was included in a footnote in the charter of a House Science Committee hearing taking place this morning.


Why NASA Selected the CCDev 2 Winners

Illustration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
I’ve done a deep dive into NASA’s selection process for its CCDev 2 awards. NASA chose eight finalists for due diligence and made four awards totaling $269.3 million, all largely focused on human vehicles. Today, I’ll be examining the six finalists that applied for funding to build commercial crew spacecraft. The information below comes from the Selection Statement signed by Philip McAlister, acting director of Commercial Spaceflight Development, which provides an in-depth description of the evaluation and award processes.

CCDev 2 Applications Selected for Due Diligence and Awards



CCDev 2 Technical Approach Rating

CCDev2 Business Information Rating

CCDev 1 Awards

CCDev 2 Awards

Total CCDev Awards
The Boeing Company

CST-100 Crew Vehicle

$18 million

$92.3 million

$110.3 million


Human-rated Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft


$75 million

$75 million

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Dream Chaser Spacecraft

$20 million

$80 million

$100 million

Blue Origin

Orbital Crew Vehicle

$3.7 million

$22 million

$25.7 million

Orbital Sciences Corporation

Prometheus Spacecraft




Excalibur Almaz

Orbital Crew Vehicle





$311 million


Ratings Key
Very High Level of Confidence
High Level of Confidence
Moderate Level of Confidence
Low Level of Confidence
Very Low Level of Confidence


Excalibur Almaz: Have Space Stations, Need a Plan

Artist's conception of the private Excalibur Almaz space station in orbit. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

Manx Radio has a brief interview with Leroy Chaio of Excalibur Almaz in which he describes the Isle of Man-based company’s plans for two space stations that it recently brought over from Russia:

“It’s hard to say at this point, because currently our business plan does not include using the space stations. But, basically to purchase these assets so that if in the future it does make sense to refurbish and launch the space stations, then we have these assets that can be used. So, at the moment, we don’t have a firm time table of how long these assets will be stored here and what the plan will be with them in the future.”

Sounds like they don’t have any clients or funding at the moment. It will be interesting to see how this space station project — and others — progress as NASA gets going on its commercial space transport program. The prospect for viable commercial space station and LEO transport markets would help several of the companies with fund raising and marketing.

Excalibur Almaz Exports Two Space Stations to Isle of Man

An Almaz space station module being transported on the Isle of Man. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)


Excalibur Almaz Limited (EA), the international commercial space exploration company, is exporting two partially completed Almaz space stations from Russia to the IOM today. The stations and Excalibur Almaz’ reusable return vehicles were developed by EA’s Russian associate, JSC MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia.


Kazakhstan Investing in Sea Launch?

RIA Novosti has a very interesting article about the Kazakhstan government’s apparent intention to invest about $100 million in bankrupt Sea Launch.

The article quotes Talgat Musabayev, head of the Kazak space agency Kazkosmos, as saying the government wants to acquire shares in the rocket company, which is a joint venture of  Boeing (US), RSC Energia (Russia), Kvaerner (Norway), and Yuzhnoye Design Bureau (Ukraine).


Excalibur Almaz, PlanetSpace Bailing Out Bankrupt Sea Launch


A bit more information on the Sea Launch bankruptcy reorganization – which includes Excalibur Alaz (which is planning to launch a space station) and U.S.-based PlanetSpace:

Excalibur Almaz and PlanetSpace are working to provide exit financing through Space Launch Services, LLC (“SLS LLC”), as well as equity investment in a reorganized Sea Launch, for the purpose of sustaining reliable commercial access to space. SLS LLC is led by Bohdan (Bo) Bejmuk, an aerospace consultant with in-depth knowledge of space systems and launch vehicles. In parallel with its focus on the reorganization process, Sea Launch successfully completed the launch of the Intelsat 15 satellite on November 30, on a Zenit-3SLB vehicle from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan. This is Sea Launch’s fourth and final launch campaign of 2009.


Excalibur Almaz Part of Investment Group Bailing Out Sea Launch


Sea Launch Investor Group Includes Familiar Names
Space News

The unidentified investor group providing initial financing to Sea Launch Co., the commercial launch provider that is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, includes an Isle of Man-based company created in 2005 to build a space tourism business using existing Russian hardware, according to industry officials.


“Planet Earth Team” Hits the Isle of Man


Isle of Man Today has an interesting story about how one astronaut and two cosmonauts have laid down Cold Era rivalries to work for Excalibur Almaz – a commercial company that is using old Soviet hardware to launch space tourists into orbit.

The space veterans include NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao, a veteran of three Shuttle missions and one Soyuz mission; Colonel Valery Tokarev, a Russian Air Force test pilot and cosmonaut; and Colonel Vladimir Titov, the first man to spend a full year in space.