A Look at the History of Suborbital Spaceflight

Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

With Richard Branson once again predicting that Virgin Galactic will fly SpaeShipTwo into space before the end of the year, it seems like a good time to take a look at the history of suborbital spaceflight.

The number of manned suborbital flights varies depending upon the definition you use. The internationally recognized boundary is 100 km (62.1 miles), which is also known as the Karman line. The U.S. Air Force awarded astronaut wings to any pilot who exceeded 80.5 km (50 miles).

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Mojave Journal: The Ansari X Prize’s Awkward Family Reunion

Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.
Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.

One Year Ago, the Ansari X Prize Turned 10
It Was an Uncomfortable Birthday

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The planes kept coming and coming. One after another, they swooped out of a blue desert sky and touched down on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. By mid-morning there were at least a dozen private jets stretched along the flight line running east from the Voyager restaurant toward the control tower. And even more were on their way.

And to what did Mojave owe this ostentatious display of wealth by the 1 percenters? They had come to the sun-splashed spaceport last Oct. 4 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ansari X Prize. A decade earlier, Burt Rutan and his Paul Allen-funded team had won $10 million for sending the first privately-built manned vehicle into space twice within a two-week period.

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This Week on The Space Show

spaceshowlogo
This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, July 28, 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back JAY BARBREE, NBC News space reporter and author of the new book, “Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight.”

2. Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 7 PM PDT (10 PM EDT, 9 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. PAT PATTERSON to discuss the upcoming SmallSat Conference at Utah State in Logan, Utah.

3. Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 11AM-12 PM PDT (2-3PM EDT, 1-2 PM CDT): We welcome back Robert Meurer, Director, Corporate Business Development at ATK, Space Division, Beltsville, MD.

4. Friday, August 1, 2014:, NO LIVE SHOW TODAY, JURY DUTY. I will upload two NewSpace Conference interviews. When you see the program on the website and the blog, it is ready for play.

5. Sunday, August 3, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PST, (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). NO SHOW TODAY. I am heading to San Diego for the AIAA Space 2014 Conference.

NASA Formally Dedicates Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. (NASA PR) — Two aerospace legends and their families were honored at a formal dedication ceremony May 13, marking the rededication of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, formerly the Dryden Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Legislation passed Congress in January to rename the center after the late Neil A. Armstrong, a former research test pilot at the center and the first man to step on the moon during the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Armstrong flew research aircraft, including the rocket-powered X-15s, during his seven-year tenure at the center from 1955 through 1962.

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Video of F-18 Flyover During NASA Armstrong Dedication Ceremony

An F-18 flies over the crowd during the formal dedication ceremony for the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. Formerly named after the late NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden, the center was renamed earlier this year after Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon.

Get Used to Saying NASA Armstrong

Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, left, and Neil A. Armstrong, right. (Credit; NASA)
Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, left, and Neil A. Armstrong, right. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Barack Obama has signed HR 667, the congressional resolution that redesignates NASA’s Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, into law. The resolution also names Dryden’s Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. Both Hugh Dryden and Neil Armstrong are aerospace pioneers whose contributions are historic to NASA and the nation as a whole. NASA is developing a timeline to implement the name change.

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NASA Dryden to be Renamed After Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base will be renamed after the late Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong under a measure that has unanimously passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The measure, which now goes to President Barack Obama for signature, would rename the Western Aeronautical Test Range at Edwards the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. Dryden served as NASA deputy administrator from 1958 to 1965.

“I’m honored that the Senate has passed my legislation, which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature that recognizes the rich history of Neil Armstrong and Hugh Dryden in Kern County and the Antelope Valley,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who sponsored the bill. “As we reflect on the achievements and legacy of these great Americans, it is exciting to see our region continue to lead the way in innovation in space exploration and aeronautical research and scientific discovery.”

McCarthy represents California’s 23rd Congressional District, which includes NASA Dryden and Edwards Air Force Base. Armstrong, who died in 2012, worked as a test pilot at the desert facility, where he conducted major testing on the X-15 rocket plane.

McCarthy had eight co-sponsors of the measure, including Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, a Republican who represents California’s 25th Congressional District that includes the southern part of the Antelope Valley where Edwards and NASA Dryden are located.

This Week on The Space Show

spaceshowlogo
This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, August 26, 2013, 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. JAMES HANSEN, author of “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong.” Dr. James Hansen is Professor of History and former Director of The Honors College at Auburn University in Alabama. An expert in aerospace history and the history of science and technology, Hansen has written numerous books and articles covering a wide variety of topics, including the early days of aviation, the history of aerospace engineering, NASA, the Moon landings, the Space Shuttle program, and China’s role in space. He has special expertise on the history of the American astronaut corps, having authored the life stories of Neil Armstrong and John Young and directed a doctoral dissertation (now a published book) on the first class of women astronauts in the U.S. space program.

2. Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): No show as am celebrating my son’s birthday in L.A.

3. Friday, August 30, 2013, 9:30-11 AM PDT (11:30- 1 PM CDT, 12:30PM-2:00 PM EDT): No show today. As many of you know, I have mentioned many times on the show that I plan on moving and relocating. I am now in the process of doing just that. My plan is to minimize as much as possible Space Show interruptions but there will be times when I will be unable to host a show in favor of the moving project. I will keep you posted and again, I will hold show and schedule interruptions to a minimum.

4. Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). We welcome back DR. SCOTT PACE to the program to discuss space policy and more. You might find his editorial of interest as we will be talking about it on air: “American Space Strategy: Choose to Steer, Not Drift,” at http://thediplomat.com/2013/03/28/american-space-strategy-choose-to-steer-not-drift/?all=true.

Congressmen Seek to Rename NASA Dryden After Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

November 29, 2012 – Washington D.C. (Press Release) – Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon and Congressman Kevin McCarthy today announced legislation to redesignate the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and the Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. Joining Congressman McCarthy in introducing this legislation are Congressman Buck McKeon, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman Ken Calvert, Congressman Lamar Smith, Congressman Steven Palazzo, and Congressman Adam Schiff.

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Neil Armstrong Memorial Service

WASHINGTON  (NASA PR) — NASA will provide special live programming of the public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong at 10 a.m. EDT, Thursday, Sept. 13. The memorial will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed online by the agency’s and National Cathedral’s websites.

NASA Television will air two high-definition feeds of memorial starting at 9:45 a.m. NASA TV’s Public Channel (channel 101) will carry the service, complete with on-screen identification fonts of the participants. The agency’s Media Channel (channel 103) will broadcast a clean feed. NASA TV’s Education channel will carry the complete service in standard definition.
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NASA to Honor Neil Armstrong at National Cathedral


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other dignitaries will attend a public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong on Thursday, Sept. 13. The memorial will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed online by the agency’s and National Cathedral’s websites.

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AIAA Establishes Neil Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund


Reston, Va., August 30, 2012 (AIAA PR) – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation (AIAA Foundation), at the request of the family of Neil A. Armstrong, who was the first person to set foot on the Moon, and an AIAA Honorary Fellow, has established the Neil Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund.

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Armstrong Service Will be Private, National Service Being Planned for Washington


Neil Armstrong’s family has released information about the memorial service on Friday morning in Cincinnati.

  • A private service will begin at 11 a.m. EDT
  • No media will be allowed inside
  • Still photos will be taken during the service by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls and posted later at neilarmstonginfo.com
  • Attendees will include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and former Apollo 8 lunar module pilot Bill Anders
  • Plans are underway to conduct a national service in Washington in the next two weeks.

AIAA Scholarship Fund Honors Neil Armstrong

The family of Neil Armstrong has added the AIAA’s Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund to the list of charitable funds to which donors can contribute in honor of the late Apollo 11 commander, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 82.

The full list is below.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund
AIAA Foundation
1801 Alexander Bell Drive
Suite 500
Reston, VA  20191
www.aiaa.org

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Neil Armstrong New Frontiers Initiative
PO Box 5202
Cincinnati, OH 45201-5202
www.cincinnatichildrens.org

Telluride Foundation
Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund
620 E. Colorado, Suite 106
PO Box 4222
Telluride, CO 81435
https://www.telluridefoundation.org/index.php?page=donate-here

Armstrong Honored on Digital Billboards


NEW YORK (Clear Channel Outdoor PR) — Starting today, Clear Channel Outdoor will honor one of our nation’s greatest heroes and a man who lived a humble, yet heroic life, with a memorial on every one of the company’s 963 digital billboards in 37 different metropolitan areas – including Columbus and Cleveland in Mr. Armstrong’s home state of Ohio.

Neil Armstrong passed away on Saturday at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. The memorial honors him using his most famous quote when he first stepped onto the moon; “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The memorial makes one small edit to honor Mr. Armstrong, “That’s one small step for a hero, one giant leap for mankind.”

“Neil Armstrong was a true American hero who inspired an entire generation to strive for great things and to be the best we can be,” said Rocky Sisson, Chief Revenue Officer for Clear Channel Outdoor. “We hope this small gesture to remember Neil Armstrong will help celebrate the remarkable life of this man and help inspire even more young people to reach for the stars.”