Remembrance Day, Challenger & NewSpace

The space shuttle Challenger explodes. (Credit: NASA)
The space shuttle Challenger explodes. (Credit: NASA)

“There was ice on the ship,” I said quietly to no one in particular.

I was standing in the hallway at work with some co-workers, watching the space shuttle Challenger explode over and over again on a television in one of the offices.


Space Florida Names Vice President of NewSpace Market Development

Allison Odyssey (Credit: Space Florida)
Allison Odyssey (Credit: Space Florida)

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla., February 25, 2014 (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida is pleased to name Allison Odyssey as Vice President of NewSpace Market Development. In this role, Odyssey is responsible for creating, directing, and managing Space Florida’s business partnerships with the NewSpace industry, while leveraging and strengthening a positive business climate for the commercial space markets to grow in Florida. Odyssey has been with Space Florida for seven years, most recently as Senior Program Director.

Today the NewSpace industry is composed of hundreds of small and large businesses and according to industry analysts, is expected to reach 1,000 companies worldwide by 2016. NewSpace is characterized by lean companies that are backed by private investment and use space applications to serve a growing base of commercial customers. By evaluating the business needs of these companies from a technical and financial standpoint, Odyssey is responsible for shaping customized solutions, and providing support and investment in the areas that will have the largest impact and best position them for growth and success.


New Video Series on Commercial Space Activities

Video Caption: We follow certain entrepreneurs, public officials, and private citizens that are actively shaping a new kind of space race, and in the process, redefining what it means to explore the cosmos. This pilot episode of the new monthly web series Private Space, features an interview with California State Sen. Steve Knight, the lead author of California’s Space Flight Liability and Immunity Act.

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ISPCS Closing Speaker: Michael Simpson of Secure World Foundation

Michael Simpson

ISPCS Closing Remarks
Michael Simpson
Executive Director, Secure World Foundation

In closing keynote, Michael Simpson says NewSpace industry has matured over last 8 years, more willing to work with gov’t and others. (Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust)

SIMPSON: Don’t restrict innovation to engineering. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )

Simpson: Don’t confine innovation to engineering. Great ideas are in business, policy, and other fields. (Suzi Gordon ‏@suzigordon)

Simpson: Any place worth getting to in space is going to come faster if we make use of synergies (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)


Garver’s Departure Leaves NewSpace Without its Highest Ranking Advocate

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver talks during a press conference with Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft in the background on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft is under development with support from NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program to provide crew transportation to and from low Earth orbit. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver talks during a press conference with Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft in the background on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft is under development with support from NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program to provide crew transportation to and from low Earth orbit. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Aviation Week takes a closer look at Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s impending Sept. 6 departure from NASA. Frank Morring, Jr. notes that Garver has been the major driver behind the agency’s controversial push for commercial space activities as well as the plan to capture an asteroid and have astronauts visit it. He also notes the following:

Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the agency’s No. 3 manager and top-ranking civil servant, is a likely possibility to fill Garver’s post on an acting basis until the White House can nominate another political appointee….

Garver’s departure will come on the heels of Elizabeth Robinson, the agency’s chief financial officer, who has been named under secretary of energy. Robinson and Garver were staunch allies in the often-heated management policy debates that pitted them against more traditional NASA managers, including Administrator Charles Bolden.

The announcement of Garver’s departure has already caused consternation among her supporters in the NewSpace community, who are losing their highest ranked advocate at the space agency at a critical time when Congress and the White House are at loggerheads over the space agency’s funding and direction.


NewSpace 2012: Approaching the Tipping Point on NewSpace NewTech

Approaching the Tipping Point

Panel Discussion

  • Charles Miller: President & Owner, NexGen Space LLC (Moderator)
  • Mark Bunger: Research Director, Lux Research Inc.
  • Desiree Dudley: Director of Development & Research, Foresight Institute
  • Todd Meyerrose: Founder and General Partner, Talos Ventures
  • James Reuther: Deputy Director, Technology Program,  NASA Office of Chief Technologist

A discussion of the technology paths critical to the success of NewSpace and how those priorities relate to NASA’s Technology Development Roadmaps.


Consulting Firm Hires Tumlinson for New Commercial Space Practice Group

Rick Tumlinson

AUSTIN, TX (Formation PR) — Austin-based communications consultancy Formation has announced the addition of a practice group dedicated to the commercial space industry. Formation helps launch and grow business and policy initiatives with a unique blend of strategic communications, design and entrepreneurial thinking.

“I have a great deal of personal interest in enabling growth in the commercial space industry,” says Shelby Stephens, Formation co-founder and strategy design director. “Combine our company’s strong strategic communications capabilities with a background in engineering and aerospace, and we’re in a good spot to help some commercial space companies get to the next level.”

The space practice group at Formation includes commercial space evangelist Rick Tumlinson as a strategic advisor. “Rick brings us decades of space advocacy experience and a deep knowledge of the industry,” Stephens adds. “And, he’s something of a renegade – certainly outside the box – and that seems to fit well with our culture.”


Space Team Romney: Pace, Griffin, Cernan and Anderson

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin

In a move destined to anger NewSpace advocates, Mitt Romney has released a letter of support signed by eight space leaders, including prominent commercial space critics Mike Griffin, Scott Pace and Gene Cernan. Pace, in fact, is chairman of the Romney Space Policy Advisory Group.

“We have watched with dismay as President Obama dismantled the structure that was guiding both the government and commercial space sectors, while providing no purpose or vision or mission,” the signers wrote. “This failure of leadership has thrust the space program into disarray and triggered a dangerous erosion of our technical workforce and capabilities. In short, we have a space program unworthy of a great nation.”


Gingrich to Channel JFK This Week in Florida

Newt Gingrich. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich intends to give a major address on space policy while campaigning in the Sunshine State this week.

“I’ll be at the Space Coast in Florida this week giving a speech, a visionary speech, on the United States going back into space in the John F. Kennedy tradition rather than the current bureaucracy,” he said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program Sunday morning.

The former Speaker of the House has been critical of NASA’s bureaucracy and favored commercial activities in space. His 1984 book, Window of Opportunity, included a chapter about space.

Gingrich is coming off a surprise win on Saturday over Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary. Romney had earlier criticized Gingrich’s support for human settlements on the moon.


Florida Today: Hey, This Commercial Space Stuff is For Real!

A Boeing CST-100 crew module docks at a Bigelow Aerospace space station. (Credit: Boeing)

Space, Inc. moving closer to launch
Florida Today Special Report

Florida Today traveled coast to coast, toured secretive facilities, saw first-hand highly proprietary work under way and interviewed dozens of key players trying to stimulate this new industry at altitudes hundreds of miles above Earth.

Our four-month analysis found that U.S. private industry is more than capable of developing spacecraft to fly U.S. astronauts to and from low Earth orbit.

What’s more, U.S. aerospace companies already are developing, testing and launching prototypes.

Their plans are not just PowerPoint presentations and engineering drawings. Commercial companies are cutting metal, assembling engines, testing steering thrusters, and in some cases, spacecraft already are orbiting the Earth.

Read the special report.

Video: NewSpace for a New Era

The Space Frontier Foundation released this video of people promoting the Obama Administration’s space plan. It’s pretty good overall, except it’s dominated mostly by talking heads so it reminds me of a PBS documentary.

Spending the first quarter of the video (two minutes plus) on a Nostradamus/Mayan style humanity is doomed if we don’t do this narrative may not have been the best choice. It’s depressing, for one. And it’s probably far too esoteric for most voters and decision makers, who view doomsday as being laid off or not being re-elected in November. This is a far better argument for a more immediate and existential threat, like an giant asteroid heading our way — or Godzilla reaching the Pacific Coast.

Garver: Commercial Space Will Help U.S. Regain Market Share

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver spoke on Aug. 20 at the 4th Annual U.S. Space and Rocket Center Hall of Fame Ceremony & Dinner in Huntsville. Garver touched upon the increasingly international nature of space exploration and the Obama Administration’s controversial efforts to rely upon commercial vendors for human flights into Earth orbit.

We are (we hope) on the cusp of achieving big things. A few companies (established and emerging) already have systems for transportation, many whose heritage is right here in Alabama. We will oversee these rockets to ensure that the highest possible safety standards are met. The U.S. has lost a large share of the commercial market. There is a growing market for launch services internationally, and by other U.S. government agencies and the private sector, both traditional markets and new ones. There is huge untapped potential for expanded markets, businesses, and jobs connected to launching cargo and eventually crew to orbit.


New Space has Talked the Talk; Can it Launch the Launch?

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

Former NASA astronaut and Augustine Committee member Leroy Chiao says that President Obama’s plan for NASA gives the “New Space” community a chance to execute on everything it’s been promising for the last few years:

Many of my colleagues and peers have written articles and pieces, deriding the idea of commercial LEO access. Indeed, the track record of the self-described “New Space” companies has thus far, been marked generally with failure and arrogance. Not all, but many of these folks, before they run their companies into the ground, seem to spend the bulk of their time attending self-serving, self-aggrandizing conferences where openly slinging mud at NASA is sport. This is hardly constructive, and it brings discredit to others who have serious aspirations for the future of commercial spaceflight.


Parabolic Arc Visits Spacevidcast

Last night, I appeared on Spacevidcast with Benjamin and Cariann Higginbotham. I had a great time talking about New Space with them. I want to thank them for having me on their show.