Morning NSRC 2013 Highlights

NSRC2013logoNEWSome morning highlights of the first day of the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2013 here in Broomfield, Colo.:

  • Addressing the group via video, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said NASA is not excluding the possibility that the Flight Opportunities program would fund human researchers on suborbital fights. Previously, NASA had said it would purchase flights for payloads but not for researchers to fly.
  • Garver provided no details on precisely what safety standards the space agency would require prior to paying for researchers to fly.
  • NASA has spent $29.5 million on the Flight Opportunities program over the past three years, and it has requested an additional $15 million for FY2014. In 2010, Garver addressed the first NSRC and said NASA would seek $15 million per year over 5 years, but the agency has not received all the funding it requested.
  • The deputy administrator also announced plans for a joint solicitation for science and tech payloads to be issued by NASA’s Science and Space Tech directorates. The solicitation is expected to be pushed in late summer or early fall.
  • XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson said that while satellites have been removed from the U.S. Munitions List in draft regulations, crew spacecraft have been added to it. Calling the decision a major step backward, Nelson urged urged audience members to oppose this move during the on-going public comments period.
  • Virgin Galactic Vice President for Special Projects Will Pomerantz said the company has taken reservations for nearly 600 people worldwide for flights aboard the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicles.
  • Pomerantz added that NanoRacks has delivered the first payload racks for flying experiments aboard the space plane.

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Satellite Industry Association Hails Speedy Publication of Draft Export Reform Rules

boeing_spacecraftWashington, D.C., May 23, 2013 (SAI PR) — The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) applauded the publication today of draft rules to reform the export controls for satellites and related items. The Departments of State and Commerce published draft regulations that would result in the transfer of commercial communications satellites and associated parts, components, and ground equipment from the more restrictive U.S. Munitions List to the Commerce Control List. The publication of these draft rules represents the first step by the Administration toward fully implementing the provisions to reform satellite export controls contained in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act that was passed by Congress in December 2012 and signed by President Obama in January 2013.


Space Tourism Flights from Abu Dhabi Possible Within Three Years

SpaceShipTwo in powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
SpaceShipTwo in powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic’s Steve Landeene is over at the Global Space and Satellite Forum in Abu Dhabi this week, where he talked about the company’s plans for a spaceport there. The highlights:

  • Space tourists could begin flying into space from Abu Dhabi beginning in the 2015-2016 time frame.
  • A decision is still pending on whether to fly from an existing airport or to build a spaceport from scratch.
  • “The most likely way forward is phased approach, starting with an existing infrastructure and then migration as you become more established.”
  • No regulatory framework yet exists in the United Arab Emirates to support spaceflight.
  • ITAR and MTCR are hurdles to exporting SpaceShipTwo, WhiteKnightTwo and LauncherOne overseas.
  • There is a possibility that SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo could be manufactured in the UAE.
  • Virgin Galactic is working with Khalifa University on developing an educational program that would fly experiments into space.

Aabar Investments, a company owned by the Abu Dhabi government, has put up most of the money for the development of SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo. Aabar has invested $490 million in Virgin Galactic and owns 37.8 percent of the company. The investment includes $390 million for an equity share in Virgin Galactic and $100 million to fund LauncherOne.

Read the full story.

Obama Administration Moves Forward with Export Control Reform

Credit: Matt Wade
Credit: Matt Wade

Fact Sheet: Implementation of Export Control Reform
The White House
March 8, 2013

Today, the Administration announced two key steps to further the goals of President Obama’s Export Control Reform Initiative, which is a common sense approach to overhauling the nation’s export control system.  President Obama signed an Executive Order today to update delegated presidential authorities over the administration of certain export and import controls under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, and yesterday the Administration notified Congress of the first in a series of changes to the U.S. Munitions List.

Space 2013: A Very Busy Year Lies Ahead in Mojave

old_mojave_tower_snowI had only two wishes for Christmas. Can you guess what they were?

A trip to Hawaii? Well, yes. But, that really wasn’t—

Winning a $100 million lottery jackpot? That would have been great, to0. But…any other guesses?

The Eagles winning the Super Bowl? No, I gave up on that waaay before Christmas. I mean, what the hell happened?!

OK. Since you’re way off, I’ll just tell you: My two wishes for Christmas were to see SpaceShipTwo in powered flight and the Lynx making its first runway hop from the Mojave Air and Space Port by the end of the 2012.

Neither of these wishes came true. Which means 2013 –best known thus far as the year not wiped out by the Mayan apocalypse — just got a whole lot better.


China: U.S. Satellite Export Reform Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Chinese Long March rocket.

The decision to relax controls on the export of U.S. satellites isn’t going over well in China, which remains on a list of nations to which these spacecraft cannot be exported, re-exported or transferred. Those restrictions ban China’s launch industry from placing U.S.-built satellites into orbit.

In remarks posted on the Ministry of Commerce website, Spokesman Shen Danyang “pointed out that the US once expressed that its reform of export control system would benefit China and promised to promote export of high-tech products to China for civil use. However, the US always exclude China from the benefited parties in its export control reform, and adopted measures to continue to restrict China-US cooperation on civil satellite field. China is deeply disappointed and dissatisfied with this result.

“Mr. Shen said that China hopes the US can practically fulfill its promise, change the discriminatory conducts against China, and pay attention to and address China’s concerns and materially relax export control against China in its export control reform. It will be conducive to expanding China-US bilateral trade and promoting trade balance between the two countries, which accords with the common interests of the two sides.”

Praise for Satellite Export Reform

Capitol Building
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), and the Space Foundation are all praising an amendment in the defense bill that removes satellites and related technologies from the U.S. Munitions List, a key move to allow American satellite manufacturers to compete on the world market.
“This is a remarkable success, achieved by a coalition that included industry, researchers and the foreign policy community. By rationalizing export controls, Congress has simultaneously improved our national security and created an environment that will keep high-tech jobs here in America,” stated Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

Satellite Export Reform Included in Defense Bill as CSF Chairman Vows to Continue Fight in 2013

Capitol Building
By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Satellite export reform is included in the final version of the $633 million defense bill agreed to in conference by House and Senate leaders on Tuesday. Speaking the same day in Mojave, Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) Chairman Stu Witt said  the federation would help lead the effort for additional measures next year.


Industry Groups Applaud House Bill Supporting Satellite Export Reform

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Aerospace Industries Association and the Satellite Industry Association are all praising the passage this week of a House bill that will loosen the nation’s restrictive laws on satellite exports.

Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation lauds the passage of H.R. 4310 today, the National Defense Authorization Act, with Rep. Adam Smith’s amendment providing authority to the President to remove some satellites and related components and technology from the U.S. Munitions List, but calls for further progress regarding spaceflight participant training and the appropriate regulatory position for manned space vehicles.


NSS Backs Export Control Reform

WASHINGTON (NSS PR) — The National Space Society (NSS) calls on Congress to ease export control regulations on spacecraft and related items, as urged by the Departments of Defense and State in their recent, joint “Section 1248” report, “Risk Assessment of the United States Space Export Control Policy”, available here.

This report concluded that spacecraft and their components, designated as dual-use items, can safely be removed from the U.S. Munitions List (USML), which is controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) by the Department of State.


Industry Groups Praise Report Calling for Export Control Reform

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

In a move praised by industry groups, a report issued by the Departments of State and Defense has recommended removing hundreds of thousands of items that are now part of the U.S. Munitions List, a designation that makes them difficult or impossible to export. Included among the items to be removed from the list are commercial communications satellites and their components, and some remote sensing satellites not considered militarily sensitive.

“Today’s release of the Defense Department assessment of the implications of normalizing export controls on satellites and related components gives decision makers in Congress crucial information on how reform can strengthen both our national security and space industrial base,” said Aerospace Industries President and CEO Marion C. Blakey in a statement.


AIA: Satellite Export Rules Have Cost $20.8 Billion, Quarter Million Jobs

Taken from "Competing for Space: Satellite Export Policy and U.S. National Security," published by Aerospace Industries Association, January 2012

The United States’ restrictive export laws have devastated the nation’s satellite manufacturing industry, resulting in a loss of $20.8 billion in revenues and nearly 28,000 jobs annually over a 10-year period, according to a new report published by the Aerospace Industries Association. The U.S. share of world satellite manufacturing revenue has dropped from 63 percent to about 30 percent.


New AIA Report Shows Critical Need for Satellite Export Reform

ARLINGTON, VA — AIA PR — The U.S. space industry is losing its competitive edge and risks falling short of future national security requirements unless government reforms our export control system and promotes the international competitiveness of U.S. industry, according to a new report released by AIA.

“A strong and globally competitive space industrial and supplier base is a major national security asset,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “Reforming America’s export control system and promoting space exports will better serve our national security and bolster our economy and technological leadership.”


AIA Hails Milestone in Export Control Reform

AIA PR — November 07, 2011 — Draft revisions to Category VIII (military aircraft and associated parts and components) of the U.S. Munitions List released by the Obama administration today constitute a major milestone in the ongoing effort to control more appropriately exports to our allies of sensitive technology.

“AIA has advocated for years for export control reforms that could better serve U.S. national security, foreign policy and economic interests,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “Throughout this reform process, the Obama administration has been focused on national security above all else and it has yielded good results.”


Export Control Reform Panel Discussion in DC on Thursday

Here are some additional details on the FAA COMSTAC Working Groups meetings being held later this week. The event is free and open to the public.

EVENT:  Export Control Reform Panel Discussion- Brian Nilsson, National Security Council Professional Staff Member, will provide a briefing on the Administration’s current export control reform plans and strategy.  Also participating in the panel will be Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) an important voice on Capitol Hill on the topic of export control reform, and Remy Nathan, Vice President for International Affairs at the Aerospace Industries Association, who will provide the business perspective.

The panel discussion will begin promptly at 8:30 am on Thursday, Oct. 13th, at the National Housing Center, located at 1201 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC (near the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. and 15th Street).

This panel discussion should provide attendees with invaluable insight into the latest in the ongoing export control reform effort and the likely Congressional reaction to the Obama Administration’s most recent plans.  The event is free and open to the public.  For more information please contact Mike Gold at or by phone at (240) 235-6016.  The panel discussion will not be streamed or webcast.