Excalibur Almaz Hardware Headed Somewhere But Not Space

Excalibur_Almaz_capsule
Excalibur Almaz capsule

A couple of updates on Excalibur Almaz, whose Soviet-era space station and capsule were seen being shipped from one location to another on the Isle of Man. Excalibur Almaz Founder and CEO Art Dula told The Independent there wasn’t much to see there:

The company is “still in business and still on the Isle of Man,” he insisted. Refusing to divulge where the equipment is being taken, saying it is “a confidential business matter”. Mr Dula said: “There is a capsule on the Isle of Man, there is a space station on the Isle of Man and they are staying there. I was in communication yesterday with the transport museum in Jurby because we try to keep our equipment so that the public can see it. We think these are good educational exhibits… but they are not just museum exhibits, they are actual spacecraft.”

While “there aren’t any facilities on the Isle of Man for working on this equipment,” the company had gone there because “we got a very nice deal on rent from the Isle of Man government”.

But the lease ran out, which is why the equipment has been moved from the hangar at Jurby Airfield, he explained. There are no launch facilities on the Isle of Man either, which means that the company had never intended to launch missions from there anyway, Mr Dula said.

A report by IOMToday contradicted this report, reporting without attribution the space station and capsule are headed off the island:

This week its Soviet era space station and capsule were transported by JCK from storage at Balthane to the Sea Terminal, from where they are being shipped to Southampton and then onwards to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia….

The company said it was now working with the International Space University in Strasbourg to transform a space capsule into a reusable orbital laboratory used to research microgravity.

End of the Line for Excalibur Almaz?

Excalibur_Almaz_capsule
It looks like the end of the road for Excalibur Almaz, the Isle of Man-based space company that has produced more lawsuits than space flights during its existence.

One of the company’s two space stations and its remaining return capsule has been seen heading for the Isle of Man’s port on the back of a truck. The company’s phone number has been disconnected. And the company hasn’t put out a press release since July 2012.

The departure of a Russian space station from the Isle of Man signifies the “end of Manx space tourism,” according to a government minister.

Space exploration and tourism company Excalibur Almaz imported two capsules in 2011 and planned to use them for space holidays costing £100m.

The company was unavailable to comment on where the 11m (36ft) long space station, built in the 1980s, is going….

Manx Economic Development Minister Laurence Skelly said: “I am saddened to see the end of the potential space tourism project – however it is not the end of the Isle of Man’s space industry which is alive and well.”

Excalibur Almaz hoped to use two leftover Soviet-era Almaz space stations and a pair of return capsules to launch its own space program. The company had a difficult time finding anyone to fund the program. Last year, the company auctioned off one of the return capsules.

Along the way, Excalibur Almaz has been sued twice [here and here] by investors for alleged fraud. The company and its founders, Art Dula and J Buckner Hightower, have denied the claims.

Futron on the Isle of Man’s Space Competitiveness: Awesome!

Bethesda MD, November 5, 2012 (Futron PR) – Futron is pleased to release a benchmarking assessment that evaluates the space competitiveness of the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man’s space sector enjoys a competitive advantage against its peers which derives from the unique business model that the Manx government has adopted in developing the space sector on the Island.  The study, an update of an analysis originally done in 2010, finds that the Isle has strengthened and grown its space sector.

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ManSat’s Chris Stott Wins Business Person of the Year Award

Isleofman.com reports:

The Isle of Man’s ever-increasing presence as a major player in the space sector was recognised with one of the top awards at the Isle of Man Newspapers Awards for Excellence going to Chris Stott of ManSat whose wife Nicole is an astronaut.

The award as ‘Business Person of the Year’ was handed over to Chris at the Villa Marina on Thursday night at the glittering awards ceremony hosted by comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner to a sell-out audience of 1,200.

Chris Stott launched ManSat, pioneering the space sector in the Isle of Man, bringing huge amounts of revenue to the Island at a time of difficult economic circumstances.

About ManSat

ManSat represents a revolutionary partnership of aerospace, banking, financial services, strategic consulting, and international legal interests that have come together to offer unique business services to the world’s commercial space marketplace.

Building upon the Isle of Man’s preeminent position as a supplier of world-class banking and financial services, ManSat provides tailored business services to meet the needs of the international space industry, specifically focused on providing access to geostationary orbits and associated radio frequencies.

By contract, ManSat Limited is assisting the Isle of Man Government in the preparation of its orbital filings to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for all Earth orbits and associated radio frequencies with special focus on geostationary orbit.

As such, ManSat is able to offer unique access to geostationary orbit.

Established in May of 1998, ManSat Limited is a Manx registered and Manx owned private company limited by shares, headquartered in Onchan on the Isle of Man with offices and representation in both Houston and London.

Video: Isle of Man Explains Why it’s So Awesome

An interesting fact in this video: the Isle of Man’s ranking as the fifth most likely company to return to the moon is based on Odyssey Moon’s presence there. Bob Richards, the Google Lunar X Prize competitor’s founder and CEO, recently resigned saying that he had to focus on funded projects.

Conrad Foundation, ManSat to Expand Spirit of Innovation Awards Globally

Pete Conrad

CONRAD FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE

Officials with The Conrad Foundation today announced ManSat Limited, a global commercial space corporation headquartered on the Isle of Man , has joined with the Conrad Foundation to expand the 2010-2011 Spirit of Innovation Awards program on the international stage.

ManSat will sponsor a national competition on the Isle of Man from which one finalist team will participate in the annual awards competition, which gives high school students the opportunity to design, develop and commercialize innovative products that help solve challenges of the 21st century. Working in closely with Island’s Department of Education and Children, ManSat employees will mentor the student teams from the Island five high schools as they prepare their award entries. The winning team will travel to the Innovation Summit, where the finalists will be showcased and winners will be announced. The Summit will take place at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. in April 2011.

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Tiny Isle of Man Emerges as Space Power

Island Britain: sleepy Isle of Man moves into the space age
The Times

In a nondescript building on a housing estate in Onchan a company called CVI made the laser optics with which Nasa’s Phoenix Lander spotted snow on Mars last year. Another Manx company, Odyssey Moon, is competing to win the $30million (£18.4million) Google Lunar X prize by putting a robotic landing craft on the Moon. A third, Excalibur Almaz, is developing space tourism.

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Former Soviet Military Platform Being Converted for Space Tourism

exacaliburalmazinorbit

Manx Company buys Soviet Spacecraft
Isle of Man Today

Three Almaz stations were launched into space under the pretence that they were civilian research craft.

The Almaz programme only came to light when the Soviet regime collapsed and there have been reports that the orbiters were armed with cannons normally used on Mig jet fighters so that US satellites could be destroyed if they were used to attack Soviet cosmonauts in space.
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NewSpace 09: Isle of Man

Bob Richards of Odyssey Moon gave a short presentation about the Isle of Man, which is seeking to become the “Switzerland of Space” by providing a business-friendly environment. Richards stood in for space entrepreneur Chris Stott, who was to have represented the island’s space effort.

Richards’ company is located in the small nation in the Irish Sea. He said that Odyssey Moon has had a “great experience” there. The International Space University – which Richards co-founded – set up its International Institute of Space Commerce on the island. Richards said that a number of tech companies have taken advantage of the nation’s pro-business policies.

The island’s official site is Spaceisle.com.

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.”