Henry Vanderbilt on XCOR’s Bankruptcy

XCOR CEO Jeff Greason inspects the Lynx main engine after a hotfire test while Chief Test Engineer Doug Jones looks on. (Credit: XCOR)

Space is hard. Space startups immensely so.

XCOR’s decision to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Tuesday marks the end of a company that seemed to be in perpetual start-up mode since its founding 18 years ago. Lacking a billionaire backer with deep pockets and a thick Rolodex, the company attempted to develop revolutionary rocket engine technology and a suborbital space plane with funding that would be a rounding error for the giant aerospace primes.

So, how far did it get? What might bidders find valuable when XCOR’s assets are auctioned off? And what problems might have helped to cause the company’s fatal plunge into insolvency?

Henry Vanderbilt has a few ideas on these subjects. Henry is an XCOR shareholder who worked at the company back in the day. He went on to found the Space Access Society, whose conferences were a highlight of the year for the New Space community until recently.
(more…)

Space Access ’14 Conference Cancelled

space_access_logo
This is a downer. My favorite space conference canceled this year, per this note from Henry Vanderbilt:

Space Access ’14 Cancelled

I very much regret to announce that, due to circumstances arising that will require a great deal of my time in coming months, this April’s Space Access conference is cancelled. We’ll be contacting those who paid for advance SA’14 registrations at SA’13 about refunds this week. (If you haven’t heard from us by this weekend, email us at space.access@mindspring.com, with the subject line SA’14 Refund.)

— Henry Vanderbilt, Space Access ’14 Conference Manager

Space Access ’11 Schedule

The latest update from Henry Vanderbilt….

Space Access ’11 will once again be an intensive, informal event, focused closely on the business, technology, and politics of radically cheaper space transportation. We’ve been running these Space Access conferences since the early nineties, and the audience tends to contain a high proportion of people working in the field on the entrepreneurial startup company end of things. To a considerable extent, our conference has been an incubator of that entrepreneurial end of things. And if you still can’t make up your mind whether it’s worth your attending, see the latest updated SA’11 Conference Schedule below.

Space Access ’11 sessions will run Thursday afternoon April 7th through Saturday evening April 9th 2011. Conference registration is $100 in advance, $120 at the door ($30 student rate either way, day rates available at the door), and we’re only set up to accept credit cards at the door – you need to mail us a check or money order for advance registration. Include your name, the affiliation (if any) you want listed on your badge, and your email address, make the check out to “Space Access ’11”, and mail it to Space Access ’11, PO Box 16034, Phoenix AZ 85011. (Pre-registrations must arrive by Tuesday April 5th at the latest.)

The schedule is after the break.

(more…)

Space Access Society Gears Up for Annual Conference

A note from Space Access Society’s Henry Vanderbilt:

Space Access ’11, our next annual conference is coming up in two months. SA’11 will once again be a small, intensive, informal conference, focused closely on the business, technology, and politics of radically cheaper space transportation. We’ve been running these Space Access conferences since the early nineties, and the audience tends to contain a high proportion of people working in the field on the entrepreneurial startup company end of things.  (To a considerable extent, our conference has been an incubator of that entrepreneurial end of things.)

(more…)

Space Access Society Urges Action Against House Bill

Email from Henry Vanderbilt
Space Access Society

We have a chance to head off HR.5781 at the pass over the next 24 hours.  The House will be back in session starting next Tuesday 9/14, and is scheduled to remain in session through the first week of October.  Only legislation formally placed on the House Calendar will be considered, and the contents of the Calendar will be decided before the end of this week, by Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader.

(more…)

Vanderbilt: Time to Call Your Congressman to Support NewSpace

Boeing's proposed commercial capsule.
Artist's conception of Boeing's commercial crew module. (Credit: Boeing)

Space Access Society Update
by Henry Vanderbilt

The proposed new NASA space exploration policy looks as promising as anything we’ve seen come from those quarters for a long time. These reforms pass responsibility for basic space access to the US commercial sector, while refocusing NASA away from their ruinously inefficient in-house rocket development bureaucracy and back toward developing new technologies for future transportation and deep-space exploration. The new policy has potential to radically reduce the costs of basic orbital access, of routine space operations, and of deeper exploration too, vastly expanding our space development and future exploration possibilities.

(more…)

Vanderbilt: New Space Policy Promising

Henry Vanderbilt of the Space Access Society is encouraged by what he is hearing out of Washington these days:

The new White House NASA space exploration policy looks as promising as anything we’ve seen come from those quarters for a long time. Passing responsibility for basic space access to the US commercial sector while refocusing NASA on developing the technology for future deep-space exploration has potential to radically reduce the costs of both basic access and deep exploration, vastly expanding our future exploration and development possibilities.

(more…)