The Federation Adds New Members

CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, DC (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation continues to grow its membership, announcing today the addition of new associate members — DigitalGlobe and NanoRacks.

DigitalGlobe is a leading global provider of high-resolution Earth-imagery products and services sourced from its own advanced satellite constellation and third-party providers.


GLXP Updates: Aldrin & Pickens Leave Moon Express, Lunar Lion Withdraws


By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Two high profile executives — President Andrew Aldrin and Propulsion Vice Pesident Tim Pickens — have left Bob Richard’s Moon Express, the commercial exploration company that has been one of the favorites to win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize for landing and operating a rover on the surface.

Meanwhile, the only student-led team in the race, Penn State Lunar Lion, has withdrawn from the prize after an independent review found it could not achieve that goal within the competition’s tight deadline of Dec. 31, 2017.


GLXP Update: Penn State Lunar Lion Receives New Engine

H202 engine (Credit: Penn State Lunar Lion)
H202 engine (Credit: Penn State Lunar Lion)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. (Penn State Lunar Lion PR) — This summer will be a very exciting time for the Lunar Lion Team as it recently received the first of its new H202 engines.  These engines represent a transition from a previous bipropellant LOX/Ethanol propulsion system to a monopropellant one using H2O2.  The previous design for a terrestrial rocket-powered prototype called for using a series of pencil thrusters capable of putting out 20lbs of force.  The new system will still require the prototype (now named Puma) to demonstrate a 500m hop, but do so using four of the new engines, capable of putting out 100lbs of force.

Designing a craft capable of hopping 500m will require many integral milestones to be met along the way, the first including the designing and construction of a craft that will be able to take off and land vertically in a controlled environment.  The team has already selected a location to test Puma and come up with a preliminary design and expects the controlled vertical test to occur by the end of August. The design (without the propellant tank in place) is pictured below.

Now that the team has received the first of its H2O2 engines, testing can commence.  Expect more updates and cool videos to follow!

Space Companies Update Plans for Doing Space Things

Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)
Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)

Michael Belfiore has a piece in the MIT Technology Review about a May 1 event at the Explorers Club in New York where 13 commercial space companies showed off their plans. Several key players had updated schedules which anyone paying the slightest bit of attention will know to take with 1.7 metric tons of salt:

  • Virgin Galactic’s head of Astronaut Relations Lauren De Niro Pipher predicted that Richard Branson and his children would fly to space aboard SpaceShipTwo in November or December. Note, this was prior to the announcement of a change in the ship’s engine, which officials insist won’t have a major impact on the schedule.
  • XCOR hopes to fly the Lynx Mark I before the end of the year. The ship is now being assembled in Mojave, Calif.
  • Blue Origin said it would begin test flights of its first full-scale spacecraft within a year.
  • Space Adventures says it has signed up two unidentified customers willing to spend $150 million to fly a modified Soyuz spacecraft around the moon. The flight is set to launch in 2017 or 2018.
  • Penn State Lunar Lion plans to send a coffee-table sized spacecraft to land on the moon in an effort to win the Google Lunar X Prize.
  • Planetary Resources discussed plans to launch its first Arkyd spacecraft from the International Space Station by the end of this year.
  • World View Enterprises said the company would launch a small test vehicle of its high-altitude manned capsule in about a month, which would be right about now.

This Week in Space Crowd Sourcing

Today Parabolic Arc begins a semi-regular feature looking at various space-related crowd sourcing fund-raising efforts out there.

Rocket Thermodynamix, LLC

Credit: Rocket Thermodynix
Credit: Rocket Thermodynamix

This side company founded by Luke Colby, technical lead of Scaled Composites’ Rocket Propulsion Group, is attempting to raise $25,000 to purchase a CNC lathe.  And what do you get for your contribution? A shot glass in the shape of a rocket engine combustion chamber. Learn more

Mars One

Mars colony (Credit: Mars One)
Mars colony (Credit: Mars One)

Mars One is attempting to raise $400,000 to help fund its plan to build a permanent colony on the Red Planet. With six days to go, they are up to $188,880. Learn more

Penn State Lunar Lion

Landing vehicle in Earth orbit. (Credit: Penn State Lunar Lion)
Landing vehicle in Earth orbit. (Credit: Penn State Lunar Lion)

The Google Lunar X Prize team has launched a campaign to raise $406,536 on RocketHub. With 36 days left, they have raised $6,170. Learn more

GXLP Update: Team Phoenicia Inks Deal for Space Traffic Control Services

team_phoenicia_logoMenlo Park, CA., Dec 9, 2013 (Team Phoenicia PR) – Team Phoenicia LLC, a space payload services provider, announced today an agreement with Space Exploration Engineering Corporation of Friday Harbor, WA to provide “space traffic control” for the multiple spacecraft to be launched on the 2015 Phoenicia-­‐1 launch.

The Phoenicia‐1 launch will be one of the most complex missions ever attempted. With multiple spacecraft simultaneously heading to the Moon, each of these spacecraft will require simultaneous tracking and maneuver planning, which requires shared ground tracking resources and cooperative collision avoidance. This requires a system similar to Air Traffic Control used for commercial aviation. Space Exploration Engineering (SEE) will provide “space traffic control” for the Phoenicia‐1 launch.


GLXP Update: Penn State Lunar Lion Partners With Team Phoenicia in Moon Bid

penn_state_lunar_lionBy A’ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State News

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Lunar Lion, a moon lander designed and built by the Penn State Lunar Lion team, the only university-led team in the Google Lunar competition, will be sent into space as part of a multiple spacecraft effort coordinated by a new player in the space industry, Team Phoenicia LLC, of Menlo Park, Calif.

The Lunar Lion team’s fully refundable launch reservation fee has been paid to Phoenicia.

“Phoenicia has brought together a complementary set of payloads, filling a need in the industry,” said Michael Paul, director of space systems initiatives at Penn State’s Applied Research Lab.


GXLP Update: Penn State Lunar Lions Head for the Moon

Kara Morgan, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering, examined a 3-D printed model of the Lunar Lion spacecraft. (Credit: Patrick Mansell)
Kara Morgan, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering, examined a 3-D printed model of the Lunar Lion spacecraft. (Credit: Patrick Mansell)

by Bill Zimmerman

Penn State News
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In 2015, Penn State’s Lunar Lion team plans to put an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. In 2013, the ambitious project is putting cutting edge NASA equipment in students’ hands.

Through a recent agreement between the University’s Applied Research Laboratory and NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, students will be able to test bipropellant rocket thrusters powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen – the type that will play a crucial role in putting Penn State’s spacecraft on the moon’s surface in the race for Google Lunar X PRIZE.

For a group of some of the most involved Lunar Lion students, the rocket testing and the overall moon mission is infusing their studies with the sort of hands-on experience that peers at other institutions and even some aerospace workers can only dream about. The quest is keeping them at University Park year-round.