Tag: space tourism

Stu Witt to Remain Head of Mojave Spaceport for Extra 6 Months

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Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt is postponing his retirement by six months.

Witt had planned to step down no later than July 1, 2015. However, last week the Mojave Spaceport Board of Directors approved a six month extension until January 2016.

The extension is apparently related to the board’s meandering effort to replace Witt, who announced his intention to step down last year. Board President JoAnn Painter told the Antelope Valley Press the board is still working on a “template for managing the succession” that would be put into place six months before Witt departs.

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This Week on The Space Show

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spaceshowlogo
This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, July 21, 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. ERICK SEEDHOUSE on his new Space Tourism book.

2. Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 7 PM PDT (10 PM EDT, 9 PM CDT): We welcome DR. MARK SHELHAMER of NASA regarding his FISO talk from earlier this year regarding critical issues for Human Space Flight. His FISO talk was April 1, 2014.

3. Friday, June 27, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12;30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT): No show as am at NewSpace Conference.

4. Sunday, July 27, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PST, (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). OPEN LINES. First time callers welcome. All space and STEM topics welcome.

A Closer Look at the UK’s Commercial Space Review

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Earth_from_space_graphic
Following the release of the document, “UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations: Summary and Conclusions,” almost all media attention focused on one element of the report: the 8 candidate sites for the nation’s first spaceport.

This laser focus is easy to understand. The fierce, tooth-and-nail competition to land some big government project will be fun to watch. And spaceports are super cool. Well, they are when space planes are actually flying to space. When like a decade goes by with people promising imminent spaceflights without a single one taking place, spaceports become a lot less cool.  (I’m looking at you…everybody in Mojave!)

But, I digress. I went through the 80-page document and the 321-page technical report its based on so you don’t have to. Why would I do this? Because you guys are the best! You’re very welcome.

Key excerpts follow with commentary as appropriate. Read away!

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UAE to Create Space Agency, Send Spacecraft to Mars in 2021

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UAE_Coat_of_ArmsThe United Arab Emirates plans to establish a space agency and to launch for the first Arab spacecraft to Mars by 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration,” said President Sheikh Khalifa, according to state news agency WAM.

“We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity.

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UK Identifies 8 Potential Spaceport Locations, Eyes Commercial Flights in 2018

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UK spaceport drawing (Credit: UKSA)

UK spaceport drawing (Credit: UKSA)

FARNSBOROUGH, England — The UK’s bid to become Europe’s leading space nation took a giant leap forward today (15 July) as government revealed the 8 locations now under consideration to base Britain’s first spaceport.

Speaking at Farnborough Air Show’s ‘Space Day’, Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill and Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Dr. David Parker unveiled the findings of a recent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report highlighting 8 possible airfields that could host a spaceport and the economic opportunities it could open up for the UK.

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Virgin Galactic Launch License on Hold While Legislative Fix is Sought

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SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s application for a launch license for SpaceShipTwo has been on hold since January while legislators in Washington attempt to fix a quirk in the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations governing licenses and experimental permits, the company said.

The specific issue involves a provision in the law that makes an experimental permit invalid once a launch license is issued for a vehicle, according to Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic’s vice president for special projects. Flight testing of SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship is continuing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

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Endangered Chicken Impacting Midland Spaceport License Application

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Lesser prairie chicken

Lesser prairie chicken

An update on Midland International Airport’s application for a spaceport license, which is necessary for XCOR to move its R&D facility to the West Texas facility:

It appears the mating rituals of the lesser prairie chicken are imposing on Midland International Airport’s pursuit of a spaceport license.

After the chicken was federally listed in March, the airport submitted an addendum to its environmental assessment explaining why the spaceport wouldn’t be a threat to the now “threatened” species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, worried about sonic booms negatively impacting the small chicken’s early-morning spring mating habits, has yet to approve the addendum.

But Midland Director of Airports Marv Esterly — who offered to send biologists to Andrews County to study how the first five launches would impact the chickens — fully expects the service to sign off and the Federal Aviation Administration to deliver a finding of “no significant impact.”

“They are really sensitive to what’s out there,” Esterly said during Tuesday’s Spaceport Development Corp. meeting. “We feel the sonic boom is so small — so much less than a thunder clap — that it won’t have an effect.”

The FAA is set to make a decision by Sept. 15.

Read the full story.

Virgin Galactic Selects Official Hotel in Las Cruces

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SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

LAS CRUCES, NM, July 7, 2014 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, announced today that it has awarded hospitality contracts to two local New Mexico businesses as part of its commitment to invest in the local community.

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces and World Class Gourmet were carefully selected by Virgin Galactic to be its first official hotel and catering partners, serving the needs of its Future Astronauts who will travel to space from Spaceport America. The New Mexico community and its businesses will be integral to the on-the-ground experience and Virgin Galactic is now starting to select and work with local partners to ensure an authentic, high quality experience.

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Spaceport America Seeks Loan for Visitors Center as Road Project Progresses

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The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has approved borrowing $6.5 million to build a Spaceport America visitors center in Truth or Consequences. Meanwhile, Dona Ana County officials are preparing to bid out a contract to pave a southern road that leads to the remote spaceport.

However, the projects won’t measure up to the original plans for them due to funding limitations. The budget squeeze is a result of years of delay in the start of commercial operations by Spaceport America’s anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic.

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Video: Jeff Greason Speaks Space & Frontiers at ideacity

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A video of XCOR CEO Jeff Greason’s talk at the ideacity conference in Toronto last week.