Kazakhstan Investing in Sea Launch?

RIA Novosti has a very interesting article about the Kazakhstan government’s apparent intention to invest about $100 million in bankrupt Sea Launch.

The article quotes Talgat Musabayev, head of the Kazak space agency Kazkosmos, as saying the government wants to acquire shares in the rocket company, which is a joint venture of  Boeing (US), RSC Energia (Russia), Kvaerner (Norway), and Yuzhnoye Design Bureau (Ukraine).


Excalibur Almaz, PlanetSpace Bailing Out Bankrupt Sea Launch


A bit more information on the Sea Launch bankruptcy reorganization – which includes Excalibur Alaz (which is planning to launch a space station) and U.S.-based PlanetSpace:

Excalibur Almaz and PlanetSpace are working to provide exit financing through Space Launch Services, LLC (“SLS LLC”), as well as equity investment in a reorganized Sea Launch, for the purpose of sustaining reliable commercial access to space. SLS LLC is led by Bohdan (Bo) Bejmuk, an aerospace consultant with in-depth knowledge of space systems and launch vehicles. In parallel with its focus on the reorganization process, Sea Launch successfully completed the launch of the Intelsat 15 satellite on November 30, on a Zenit-3SLB vehicle from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan. This is Sea Launch’s fourth and final launch campaign of 2009.


PlanetSpace Files Second Protest Over NASA COTS Award


Space News reports:

Chicago-based PlanetSpace has filed a second protest of NASA’s December 2008 decision to award $3.1 billion in contracts to Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp. and Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for delivering cargo to the international space station.

PlanetSpace filed a protest with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims July 23 asking for NASA to reconsider the awards or reopen the competition. PlanetSpace’s first protest against the NASA award was filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Jan. 14. The GAO denied the protest April 22.

PlanetSpace, a start-up company whose subcontractors include Boeing Co. of Chicago, Denver-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Minneapolis-based Alliant Techsystems, earned a higher score and offered a lower price than Orbital Sciences.

Read the full story.

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Endorse More Funding for Wallops Island

Artist's conception of OSC's Taurus II rocket at Wallops Island.
Artist's conception of OSC's Taurus II rocket at Wallops Island.

Jack Kennedy has a couple of posts about the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on his Spaceports blog:

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds endorsed increased operational funding to enhance the staff size of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport today speaking at the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council Energy Technology Summit as interest in the fledgling commercial space operations increases among the Virginia public.


Government Denies PlanetSpace’s Appeal of NASA COTS Awards


Clark Lindsey over at Hobby Space points out that the federal government has denied PlanetSpace’s appeal of NASA’s decision to award COTS contracts to Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX.  COTS funds commercial payload delivery to the International Space Station.

The notice on the Government Accountability Office’s website gives no reason for the denial. And it is not clear whether PlanetSpace has any recourse at this point. The company has made no statement on its website.


PlanetSpace to Test Subscale Versions of Hypersonic Silver Dart

Clarke Lindsey over at Hobby Space points to progress that PlanetSpace is making on flying sub-scale prototypes of its Silver Dart vehicle. The Silver what vehicle, you ask? A brief description from the website:

The Silver Dart is an autonomous and flexible hypersonic glider designed to operate as an orbital vehicle. It extends the capabilities of the booster to provide access to LEO. It is designed to double as an unmanned or manned spacecraft and can provide for a long duration platform in orbit.


PlanetSpace Files Protest with GAO Over NASA COTS Award

PlanetSpace has filed a protest against NASA’s decision last month to award COTS contracts to Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX. COTS funds commercial payload delivery to the International Space Station.

PlanetSpace Press Release

PlanetSpace has filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) a protest to the selection decision of NASA under the ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) competition, RFP NNJ08ZBG001R.


NASA’s COTS Contract Could Face a Challenge

NASA May Face Protest Over Recent Commercial-Cargo Contract
Wall Street Journal

The losing bidder hasn’t made a final decision, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is slated to brief competitors as early as next on the reasons behind its decision. But PlanetSpace officials, according to these people, already are consulting with lawyers and believe they may have legal grounds to challenge the agency’s selection.

A NASA source selection panel ranked Orbital’s overall proposal and its projected costs less favorably than bids submitted by the PlanetSpace team and a third bidder, Space Exploration Technologies Inc, according to one person familiar with the details.


Three Teams Competing for $3 Billion ISS Supply Contract

Competition Heats Up for Space Station Cargo Contract

“Three U.S. firms are preparing to submit final bids for a pair of NASA International Space Station cargo services contract worth up to $3.1 billion through 2015.

“Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., and Orbital Sciences Corp., of Dulles, Va., have been honing their rival offers with the aid of $500 million in demonstration money NASA awarded under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Also in the hunt for the two contracts NASA intends to award Dec. 23 is Chicago-based PlanetSpace, a commercial space startup that has built a team around the biggest names in the aerospace business.”

PlanetSpace Adds Boeing to COTS Team

Press Release

PlanetSpace announced today it has added the Space Exploration division of The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) to its existing teammates, Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) and Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), on the proposed solution to NASA for the Commercial Resupply Services to the International Space Station.

The PlanetSpace ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) team includes the following major members:

  • PlanetSpace is the overall prime contractor and manages the CRS contract.
  • ATK provides the Athena III launch vehicle and ground processing.
  • Lockheed Martin and Boeing will develop, produce and operate modular Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTV) that serve as the cargo carriers to the International Space Station.


PlanetSpace Would Launch COTS Rockets from Cape Canaveral

Pad 36 holds hope for jobs
Florida Today

“Hours after being dedicated as a commercial launch site, Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station got its first potential customer.

“PlanetSpace, a consortium of ATK, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, announced Wednesday a proposal to launch a 158-foot solid-fuel rocket by 2011 from the pad at Cape Canaveral, which the Air Force has agreed to lease to Space Florida. The rocket could carry about 2 metric tons of cargo to the International Space Station.

“NASA aims to announce on Dec. 23 whether PlanetSpace, or a competitor, has been chosen to provide the service.”

More on Cape Breton

The opposition Liberal Party is calling upon the Nova Scotia government to actively support PlanetSpace’s plan to build a commercial spaceport on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

“The government should be saying, ‘What is it that we can do? Is there a role for the province to play to making it a reality? Is it feasible?’ Those kinds of questions need to be asked so that some economic activity will be happening,” said opposition leader Stephen McNeil said.

Meanwhile, a couple of Canadian newspapers also have weighed in on prospects of a spaceport at Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. The Cape Breton Post says that prospects for the spaceport receded after PlanetSpace failed to win a $170 million award from NASA’s COTS program.

The Halifax Chronicle Herald reports that PlanetSpace officials are hoping to get a piece of a $2.3 billion NASA procurement contract expected to be awarded later this year. However, the company believes prospects are good even if they don’t receive the funding.

Canadian Spaceport Plans Continue Despite Loss in COTS Competition

Despite coming out on the losing end of NASA’s COTS competition, PlanetSpace is going ahead with plans to create a commercial spaceport on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

The Chicago-based company has a two-pronged strategy: launching cargo and crews to the International Space Station from Florida and sending tourists on suborbital and point-to-point flights from Canada using its Silver Dart vehicle.

On Tuesday, the company learned that it lost out on a $171 million in NASA COTS funding to Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation. The COTS program is designed to encourage commercial development of crew and cargo vehicles for ISS.

“We will continue with the Silver Dart for point-to-point travel and space tourism,” PlanetSpace chairman Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria said.

For more details, see the stories here and here.