Some stuff from Bigelow Aerospace who's Genesis II will launch early 2007.
Ace Up Our Sleeve
It's the workplace pastime for those taking a discreet break from work: Playing computer solitaire. In the best Bigelow Aerospace tradition of making spaceflight fun, a solitaire game with a Bigelow Aerospace twist has been launched today at www.bigelowaerospace.com.
Bigelow Aerospace Solitaire functions similar to the Klondike game that is one of the most frequently used files on a Windows computer. The BA game has a space theme with images throughout from the Bigelow Aerospace files. Players also have at their disposal different card backsides.
A running leaderboard is also included of the fastest 20 times worldwide.
Play Bigelow Aerospace Solitaire now at this link:
Winning a World View
Another ongoing and popular game at www.bigelowaerospace.com is “Where in the World?”
In this two-part game, Web site visitors try to solve an online slide puzzle to see one of the latest pictures beamed down from Genesis I.
The challenge doesn’t end there. The user then needs to figure out just where on Earth Genesis I was flying over when the picture was taken based upon land features and other landmarks seen in the photo. The first visitor to submit the correct answer is recognized on the Web site.
The latest Where in the World? winner — Robert Gutowski — has been announced at http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/galaxy_games/flash/BigelowsSlidePuzzle.php.
prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Some stuff from Bigelow Aerospace who's Genesis II will launch early 2007.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 4:52 PM
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Benson Space has signed an agreement with SpaceDev to develop Phase I of the Dream Chaser space ship. Benson said: "It's official -- we've begun our countdown to what I expect will be BSC's first suborbital flights by the end of 2008."
Sounds good to me.
The Astronaut Farmer was obviously written by the private space group I mentioned last week who thinks NASA is the great evil of the world.
Michael Belfiore's new book Rocketeers is coming this summer.
UGS will be building the software for the K-1 for RocketPlane Kistler.
Curran R. Kemp thinks only private colonies will work. He thinks that is why we haven't settled Antarctica.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:02 AM
Deputy Director of NASA, Shana Dale, has an editorial out about vision and innovation. On the anniversary of the Wright Brother's flight (December 17th), she says:
NASA is leveraging the power of innovation to enable a viable commercial enterprise in space. This approach is a radical departure from tradition for NASA, which previously has relied on major aerospace contractors and its own engineering talent and resources to acquire their own space capabilities. The demands today, however, are for more efficient, more affordable access to space, something the Wright brothers of today are keen to deliver.
With the Vision for Space Exploration, which includes human and robotic missions to the moon and Mars, NASA will need to free its resources to focus on long-range highly complex engineering challenges. Routine yet necessary missions to bring humans and supplies to the Moon, to service the International Space Station, and for other purposes will need to become more of a streamlined, turnkey operation. Building this essential infrastructure for space exploration, however, will require a dedicated and strong commercial sector.
Hard to argue with that.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 7:57 AM
Monday, December 18, 2006
The FAA has released the official requirements for private space passengers and crew.
An interview with T/Space and how they are continuing forward after loosing the COTS money.
Beyond Earth Enterprises had their 8th successful "consumer based" launch
Ideas on Lunar commercial markets
Richard Branson's space travel agents are out and ready to take your order.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:08 AM
NASA and Google have signed an agreement to work "on a variety of challenging technical problems" related to information management, distributed computing, and human-computer interaction. I guess the Google servers have reached sentience and are ready to leave Earth :)
An idea to keep ISS going.
Saddam Hussein was apparently saddened by the Challenger tragedy.
Space Ties with India and what that could mean.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:58 AM
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Congress can't get their act together. They only had a year to get the 2007 budget approved. But they have acted to continue funding everything at the 2006 level until Feb 15, when they can pull it together.
This screws the Exploration side of NASA, but aeronautics is happy. If I set up my budget this way, I would be bankrupt and in prison.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:14 AM
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Bigelow has posted two articles on their website about the coming launch of the Genesis II.
- Life in a Box - development of a biobox for a select grop fo arthroponauts.
- Thinking Outside the Bingo Box: B-I-N-G-O! Aerospace Style - development of a mechanical game system that will allow the public to "play a game of space bingo on the Internet".
(hat tip to RLV and Space Transport News).
An interview with Elon Musk on his interests in space and electric cars.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:09 AM
Space Alumni.com thinks we need to talk up Mars more:
To attract the future generation of explorers, NASA needs to establish
itself as the agency of the future, not the agency of the past. A return to the
Moon is merely the stepping stone necessary to set foot on Mars and beyond, but
advertisements would have the audience think the return to the Moon is the main
goal of the VSE.
I would argue that the goal of the VSE is to get humanity into space permanently. If we get fixated on one destination, we sell ourselves short.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:04 AM
In the USA Today, Mike Griffin rebuts the idea that we can't afford to explore space:
Our great-great-grandparents accepted the challenge of their frontier. Will today's generation do less? And if so, why? To save 15 cents per day? To save six-tenths of 1% of the federal budget? Because that is the cost to the average citizen of our nation's space program. Whether we wish to explore space or not, to say that we cannot afford space exploration is ridiculous.
Today's investments in space exploration are, like the Louisiana Purchase, a down payment on our future. We are focusing NASA's investments on key technologies that will enable our nation to bring the solar system into our economic sphere and for scientific discovery. The geography of our solar system dictates that our first, halting steps will be to the moon — three days journey away from Earth. A lunar outpost might follow soon afterward, allowing us to exploit the resources and vantage point of the moon.
Of course the robot guys come out in the comments.
Given ample evidence for Moore's Law of exponential computing power, it's not
unreasonable to conclude that humans will be eclipsed by A.I. in a few more
years. Why not let intellectually superior robots explore the cosmos and
report back what they find, the way same way the people currently bring back a
bone from the butcher to give to their dogs?
Are you crazy? We are no closer to true intelligence in AI than we were when Charles Babbage designed the Difference Engine. Besides why would we let our creation do something we want to do. Dogs did not create humans. Bad analogy. Besides, if the dog had the power, I am sure he would prefer to go to the butcher shop. By the way, Moore's law is really more of a rule of thumb and is just few years from a brick wall. You can only make wires and transistors so small before quantum mechanics starts mucking with your hardware.
Eventually, yes, we'll need to colonize. Let's figure out how we'll be able to
do that, put the research funds into that, then send people up.
Yeah, good idea. We will figure out how to live on the Moon on the Earth. Then once we know exactly what to do, we will do it. Good call. I know that works in city planning...
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:52 AM
Monday, December 11, 2006
After reading a story about Mike Griffin and the Moon Base plan, I came across this interesting comment:
And [the VSE] gives the space agency a mission without an end date when the budget axes start coming out, he said.
Hmm. I think that is where we have a problem. President Bush didn't give NASA a new mission to perform along with all the other "missions" they have been doing since Apollo ended. He gave them a new charter. A new direction, if you will, that should change how everything else is viewed.
The Vision for Space Exploration does not say "Go to the Moon while you are at it," but rather "Go to the Moon, Mars, and put humanity in the solar system. Drop everything that doesn't help this goal." At least that is the speech I heard.
Treating this as a single mission that can be cut and moved and dropped if necessary is an injustice to our future. It isn't about which date we get there and what check boxes were fill out, it is about getting America off this rock. It isn't a 30 year plan, or a 60 year plan, but a new direction for our society.
And it isn't just about NASA. I think President Bush was calling our country to a new direction. Burt Rutan, and Elon Musk, and you and I need to look forward at what we can achieve. Where can we be in 20 years, 60 years, and 100 years from now. Think about it.
My $0.02 Worth what you paid for it.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 2:54 PM
For a summary of the subscription only articles, check out RLV and Space Transport News.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 11:30 AM
Jeff Foust thinks NASA needs to better explain why we are going back to the Moon.
Jeff Brooks devises an international plan to allow people to buy land on Mars. Anything with the word international in it is doomed.
NASA is talking a lot about getting "generations" into space. Specifically the "coastal regions of low Earth orbit." Sounds awesome, I won't hold my breath, though. At least they are seriously talking now.
Mike Griffin talks again about what a mistake the shuttle was. He then goes on to the future moon base.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 11:17 AM
NASA has released three new RFI (courtesy of Commercial Space Watch):
- ISS Cargo Transportation: Obtain information on ISS commercial resupply opportunities in the interim period prior to completion of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Phase I demonstrations and initiation of COTS Phase II.
- Constellation Program Design for Operations: system designs and integrated processes that enhance, simplify, and streamline the operations of the Program.
- Constellation Technical Support: the resources and capabilities to conduct engineering integration and engineering tasks in support of the Constellation Program.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 11:12 AM
Friday, December 08, 2006
(From RLV and Space Transport News):
Flight Global has an interview with Gene Cernan Commander of Apollo 17 about the new Moon plan. He thinks that NASA needs to include the Apollo astronauts on some of the design decisions on the new mission. I would agree with him.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 1:02 PM
Zero-G is doing so well they are buying a 727F so they can run full time. Previously they used two B727-200 cargo jets on the weekends. Way to go Zero-G.
Chair Force Engineer discusses if Virginia can sustain a space launch facility.
The X-Prize cup may be expanding to more than one location.
Alan Boyle has more on Orbital Outfitters mentioned yesterday.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:25 AM
Russia wants to contribute technology to the NASA's 2024 Moon Base plan. Probably because they don’t' have any money. Hmm, Russia seems to covering all their bases, since they have agreements with the ESA and China. Whoever gets to space, Russia wants to be there.
Shuttle Launch has been postponed until Saturday.
What the Washington Post thinks of NASA's Plan to build a Moon Base. They got this about the plan right for sure,
one that has ardent supporters and vocal detractors. But to a degree generally unappreciated by the public
- Brian Szabelski is cautiously in favor of NASA's plan.
- I can't tell if Ton Teepen is for it or not?
- In Rochester they like the international spin on the Moon Base.
- And in Virginia they are praising the visionaries at NASA.
- Arizona will wait for the price tag.
- And Macon, GA hopes for a hopeful return to 1960's optimism in the space program.
Everyone continues to worry about where new scientists and engineers are coming from.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:57 AM
Thursday, December 07, 2006
A New website from the Coalition for Space Exploration. Here is the press release. You can register and you get calls to action (when Congress is going to cut NASA's funding for example.) Time will tell where this goes. Of course it never hurts to sign up for one more space advocatcy group, you never know which one will get you there.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:48 PM
Orbital Outfitters has signed a contract with XOR to make emergency space suits for next-gen space ships. Their CEO is Rick Tumlinson of Space Frontier Foundation fame. Good luck to them!
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 12:36 PM
Darnell Clayton left a comment on my earlier post of the Wall Street Journals $50 billion Moon base prize idea. Basically he said: "I think it would be better via NASA, that way if something goes wrong, then we have somebody to blame " and " the private sector may have the passion but lack the financial resources for multiple attempts at the prize"
This got me thinking about the NASA cheerleaders vs. the Private Space guys (the IRC as Mark Whittington likes to call them). Is it possible we could view the foundations of their arguments and come to some useful middle ground.
As far as NASA supporters go, I think Darnell's views are a solid foundation to work from. The basic core beliefs are:
- NASA has more money
- NASA has put men into space
- NASA is accountable to citizens
- Private industry doesn't have the capital to support massive space activities
Lets examine each point objectively (pretending we don't really care).
Does NASA have more money and conversely does Private industry have enough money? I would agree that NASA has a concentration of money with about $15 billion a year budget. However, Boeing spent over $1 billion in the early 1960s to develop the 747 (over $6 billion in 2005 dollars). That was one company for a single jet. The GDP for R&D in this country is for 2005 was $320 billion. In 2005 $22 billion was invested in venture capital. There is a total GDP for 2005 was a little over $12 trillion dollars. I think it is safe to say that if industry was to jump into the pool of the space industry, they have the money. The private space industry currently gets a fraction of this money, but the American economy for all it's size, is very flexible when potential profits are good enough.
It is hard to argue with point two, since only NASA, Russia, and China have point men into orbit (Scaled Composites of course has put men into space, but not orbit). Of course it doesn’t immediately follow based on logic, that they are the only entity that could put men into orbit.
In a complex democracy it is difficult to really have any government agency accountable to the people. NASA is accountable to Congress and the President, but as space exploration is a low priority item nationally, representatives are mainly known for using NASA to fund pork projects for their own districts.
Now to continue with Private Space, here are the basic axioms as I see them:
- The government is inefficient & private industry can do things much faster and cheaper
- Everybody wants to go to space if they could just get the chance
- NASA is only out for their own interests and generally screws private companies whenever possible
Point one is generally true, I would say. However, there are specific cases were the government is a much better administrator. The military is a good example. For all it's inefficiencies, it would be hard to find someone who wants to privatize the military. There is to many possible conflicts of interests to allow our national security to be run for profit. Scientific research is another place where I would argue government funding for the good of all is safer than complete privatization. Does this mean that NASA is one of these types of industries? During the cold war I would say yes. Currently, I doubt it.
I would it is true that when it suits their goals, private industry is very efficient and inexpensive in developing new products. However, when it isn't they can block progress better than any bureaucracy (non-gas running cars, for instance). Industry needs a profit goal to jump on an idea. As you may have noticed, most of the private space companies developing new ideas are run and funded by idealists. They have a vision above profit motive, but for it to really move en mass, the profit has to be clearly defined.
Point 2 is difficult for me to remove myself from, as I have dreamed of space travel since I was little. However, I know people who wouldn't go up even if it was free. The truth is, while a majority of people express interest in going to space, very few are willing to do anything about it.
Point 3 is tough. I think is has been true in the past, that NASA has been a roadblock to private space development, lately, they seem to have come around (e.g. centennial prizes). The fact that NASA won't hand over the shop to private space doesn't mean they hate it. Large entities move slowly. I think it is in the best interest of private space supporters and industry to work with NASA and to support space development wherever it can occur.
To sum up, NASA is not the devil. Private Space is not the Savors. NASA is not the savor, Private space is not geeks who have read too many comic books. I think as we move forward to a privatized space industry, NASA must be a part. However, NASA cannot continue as it has in the past if it is to open new frontiers. It must give up smaller kingdoms to expand humanities place in the universe.
Just my $o.02. Comments welcome.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 11:42 AM
The Wall Street Journal has a slightly different plan than NASA to settle the Moon:
[w]hy not take half of that and offer it as a bounty to the first private(thanks to RLV and Space Transport News)
company to build the station and man it. A prize in the neighborhood of $50
billion is bound to attract plenty of interest --
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:28 AM
While NASA doesn't seem to think the EELV's are good enough to take men to space, ULA CEO Michael Gass said while touring the Decatur, AL ULA plant:
Gass said Decatur-made rockets could one day have a role in manned space
missions. He noted that John Glenn entered orbit in a spacecraft perched atop an
Atlas rocket in 1962.
His statement, while oblique, was not idle. According to published reports,
Lockheed is in talks with Bigelow Aerospace to evaluate the business and
technical aspects of using the Atlas 5 for launching manned space vehicles. The
initial focus is on launching spacecraft to service orbital space complexes like
the International Space Station.
"Manned space flight is a possibility" for ULA products, Gass said.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:19 AM
Scientists say they have photographic evidence that suggests liquid water may
have been on the planet as little as five years ago.
That is a major find. Here is more (with thanks to spacetoday.net):
- SPACE.com article
- Washington Post article
- San Francisco Chronicle article
- AP article
- NASA press release
Also here is a preview of the next Mars Rover/Lander the Pheonix.
The Shuttle is only waiting on the weather to clear, now.
Reactions to the Moon Base plan released by NASA:
If you yourself are interested in living on the Moon, check out the Moon Society.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:07 AM
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
- Jon Goff continues to describe possible alternatives to the Ares launcher families. Mark Whittington thinks he doesn't go in-dept enough to make sure there are no show stoppers.
- Transcripts of the Lunar Architecture briefing.
- NASA Watch goes on PBS talking about the Lunar Architecture
- The Mars Water annoucement should happen today at 1:00pm EST (12:00pm CST). It will be on NASA TV.
- The Shuttle Launch may not happen this week.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:52 AM
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
- China's Sinosat 2 is toast.
- Debate over whether the Ares I first stage should be recoverable or not.
- The Washington Post has an article on the VSE and NASA implememtation of it.
- Glenn is working on tuna cans to boost the Ares I.
- Jeff Foust has a plan to skip the Moon altogether and go to Earth-Mars L2 point.
- Discussion of the Ares plan and alternatives.
- Taylor Dinerman talks about arms control in space.
- Budget worries about NASA's plan to go to the Moon.
- New Mexico likes the idea of mining the Moon for Helium-3.
- NASA is going to the Moon permantly in 2024. MSNBC has more.
- A write up of space developments in 2006.
- NASA is about to relase a major annoucement about water on the surface of Mars.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:43 AM
Friday, December 01, 2006
- Boeing and LockMart has completed their EELV merger into the ULA. Is that how the first terminator started?
- Richard Branson is investigating whether Stephen Hawking is medically fit enough for a trip into space. If anyone deserves it, he does.
- Mark Whittington talks about how to use the Orion architecture to send a manned team to an asteroid.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:35 AM
Thursday, November 30, 2006
- NASA has released an image of the Mars Rover's landing site.
- STS 116 is set for December 7, a night launch. More here.
- China's Moon probe is set for launch next year.
- Roll control problems with the Ares upper stage.
- More on the X-37.
- Some discussion on non-space fairing countries using Bigelow's hotel fore their astronaut core.
- Steven Hawking is still saying we need to get off the Earth. Hey who am I to argue.
- A shy Chinese business man has bought a seat on Virgin Galactic.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:24 AM
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
- Scientists are working on Liquid Mirror telescopes and other possible lunar observatories.
- In the next week, Blue Origin will have another test launch. Good Luck!
- New Horizon's has it's first image of Pluto.
- NASA will release their lunar architecture next week.
- Shuttle Launch STS 116 should be next week.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:23 AM
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
- Varied space associations are calling on funding for the Centennial Challenges for 2007.
- Space Colonists will need to be handy.
- Some research going on the space station
- China is jumping on the space tourism bandwagon.
- NASA is trying out different robot designs.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:58 AM
Monday, November 20, 2006
- The Air Force is working on an orbital test bed ship called the X-37B. It will be used to send equipment into orbit to test its reaction to space.
- The Russians are about to smack a golf ball off the ISS.
- The Space Review is out:
- Will Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), destroy the coming space tourism industry now that he is likely the chairman of the Transportation Committee? He will try, I imagine.
- Lies of the Cold War
- The history of the Space Shuttle and national intelligence.
- Satellite policy that was left out of the National Space Policy.
- Review of The Rock from Mars.
- NASA response to the rumors that the Ares I would lift enough mass.
Hanley said in an interview he normally does not respond so directly to what he characterized as misinformation that appears in “the pseudo media—blogs and so forth.Don't you just love NASA. Apparently it is in the same thrust category as the Saturn V 3rd stage. However, if I am not mistaken the Orion is heavier than the Apollo module, is it not?
“If you held [Lockheed Martin's] feet to the fire and asked them what is their no-kidding projected mass, it would be something on the order of 15-20 percent lower than 48,500 pounds (21,825 kilograms),” he said. “They have plenty of margin.”I would like to get ahold of his crystal ball if that turns out to be true.
- China may be building space weapons.
- Jon Goff talks about dry launch.
- A view on the first time to the Wirefly X-Prize Cup.
- Armadillo may switch to Methane.
- Alternatives to the Ares I & V.
- A European game show may send a winner to the ISS for 9 days.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:26 AM
Friday, November 17, 2006
- NASA has finished a review of all the Orion spacecraft and there respective launchers, the Ares I & V.
- Let me just say for fans of Serenity, this is too cool. (The Notes of a Fridge are awesome).
- Information on the test firing of the Shuttle SRB by ATK.
- Masten-Space Systems progress, thus far.
- Star Chasers test firing is being put off.
- More on the Blue Origin. The Van Horn Advocate has the story (big shock).
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:57 AM
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
- This has nothing to do with space, but it is funny and good advice. Marine Corps rules for Gun Fighting.
- NASA is releasing the national strategy for Lunar Exploration next month. They are planning on "sorties" of between 3 & 6 days with 14 days as the maximum.
- ESA is launching the COROT satellite to search for extra-solar planets
- Information on DARPA's Falcon program (not to be confused with SpaceX's Falcon I rocket)
- StarChaser is test firing their rocket.
- More on Blue Origin's rocket firing earlier this week.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 7:17 AM
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Prelims are almost over, my life is calming down. Sorry about the lapse this fall, but you get what you pay for ;-)
- The Ares I may be underpowered.
- Space Review is out. Space Weapons, National Space Policy, A Liberal magazine's view on space exploration, SDI, and A Book Review on Astrobiology and Society.
- Michael Belfiore will be on the Space Show tommorrow night (11/14/2006).
- Russia is having a fit over our latest space policy.
- Global Surveyor has lost contact after 10 years.
- Virgin Galactic is detailing some of the aspects of a suborbital vacation.
- Another announcement from Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin is coming...
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:53 AM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
- More reasons I quite the planetary society and will never rejoin. Louis Friedman is a nut.
- The decision on repairing Hubble is coming soon.
- Progress is on its way to the ISS.
- Brad Edwards take on the Space Elevator challenge.
- Johm Carmack's report of the X-Prize Cup
- Blue Origin got an FAA waiver for a short flight.
- Mark Whittington has a column in the Washington Post on commercial space.
- My representative Bud Cramer, thinks the monopoly concerns on the ULA are misplaced. I think he is an old b**tard that should be replaced. I just wish someone would run against him.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:31 AM
Monday, October 23, 2006
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:56 AM
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
- Alan Boyle discusses NASA's lunar lander competition
- Northrop Grumman is helping NASA to sponsor the Lunar Lander Challenge.
- Wirefly is the new sponsor of the Wirefly X-Prize Cup. Here is PR video on Google.
- Globalstar is launching 2nd generation communications satellites.
- ATK is building a "responsive" vehicle for the military.
- More comments on the new Space Policy.
- More comments on the ULA merger between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
- A study on alternatives to the Ares I/V launchers. Clark Lindsey comments.
- Here is an (unofficial) launch schedule for the Shuttle through 2010. Hubble is April 17, 2008. And they plan 5 launches next year. Yeah, I see that happening.
- Everything in our solar system could be made of the same stuff.
- Mars Global Surveyor is tracking dust devils. (Just in time for Halloween).
- A Panel on robots vs humans in space came up with (gasp!) shocking conclusion that we need both. Duh!
- I think Mr. Herbert must have a boring existence if the only pictures that excite him are Wal-marts and McDonald's.
The first color pictures sent back from the red planet tell me that Mars today is full of rocky craters and at least Saraha-like orange-hued sand dunes. No signs of a Wal-Mart or any golden arches, though. NASA scientists are reported to be overjoyed by the photos, from a robot they launched almost three years ago.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:47 AM
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
New Space News
- Bigelow is selling advertising on the Genesis II, due to launch early next year.
- John Goff has some thoughts on space tugs and cryo fuels in space.
- NASA is planning the first flight test of the Ares I in 2009.
- NASA is developing two versions of the J-2X engine.
- It looks like NASA is doing studies of what would make them more exciting to the public. About time if you ask me. Of course they could save the trouble and actually do some stuff. Clark has some thoughts as well.
- I got to agree with Mike Griffin on the ISS, much as I would like to chunk it into the Sun.
International Space News
- Russia is working on a space tug, Parom.
- Hubble has (indirectly) shown that planets do in fact form from discs (well maybe...)
- Black hole jets appear to be made of protons and electrons. The jets observed by Swift contain about the mass of Jupiter if it were pulverized and blasted out into intergalactic space. (cool, huh?)
- "Space Scientists" never seize to amaze me. Now they are complaining about our new space policy being unilateral. Its our space policy, we can't plan the rest of the world.
Monday, October 09, 2006
- Hobby Space sums up an article in Aviation Week describing each of the COTS winners plans for the future.
- A "Big announcement" is coming out sometime today about the X Prize Cup coming up in a few weeks. Stay tuned!
- NASA is now allowed to do night launches. That gives them a larger window to get the rest of the ISS built and fix Hubble.
- An article on spaceflight out of Mojave.
- The Space Review is up:
- Space sports and space power
- Dealing with risk
- Homesteading the solar system: location, location, location
- Mars: open for business?
- Fact checking is a problem in Utah. J Baxter seems to think the problem with space launches is propulsion technology. Even if the fuel was free, the cost wouldn't go down much. Check this out from Hobby Space. Also, Virgin Galactic is charging $200,000 not $500,000.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 5:37 AM
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:11 AM
Thursday, October 05, 2006
The single greatest show on television (since Firefly went off the air) is returning for Season 3 Friday night. Get your popcorn & mountain dew ready.
If you haven't ever seen it, The Story so Far.
If you haven't seen the 9 webisodes between Season 2 and Season 3, take a look.
BTW: I am a colonial. Try your luck with the Quiz.
And Boomer/Sharon is a hottie.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 10:58 AM
- NASA has modified the contractt with ATK Thiokol for the Ares I first stage. The extension goes through Dec 31, 2006 and adds $35 million making the total value of the contract $63 million.
- Even the Washington Post thinks the ULA is a bad idea. The FTC is now intervening the formation of the ULA. They are requiring ULA to do the following:
(1) ULA must cooperate on equivalent terms with all providers of government space vehicles;
(2) Boeing and Lockheed's space vehicle businesses must provide equal consideration and support to all launch services providers when seeking any U.S. government delivery in orbit contract; and
(3) Boeing, Lockheed, and ULA must safeguard competitively sensitive information obtained from other space vehicle and launch services providers.
- Michael Belfiore has the cover of his book on private space business leaders out.
- A new class of planets orbit their sun in hours rather than years.
- The shuttle has a ding. Better not tell Dad ;)
- Scientists are looking for other habitable universes (subscription)
- Burt Rutan is one of Popular Mechanic's breakthrough leaders.
- The Register thinks space tourism will help NASA with the public.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:57 AM
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:28 AM
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
- The Lunar Surface Module will be called Artemis. I wish NASA would put out as much new hardware as it does new names.
- A new survey on space tourism from Spaceport Associates and Incredible Adventures shows. Apparently, $25,000 for suborbital and $500,000 for orbital is the sweet spot as 2/3 of respondents would go at that price.
- Apparently the FTC has cleared the Boeing Lockheed Martin joint venture, ULA. Help us Jesus. Jeff Foust discusses.
- A launch ring. Very Heinleinian.
- The Ares I recovery systems seem to be working.
- An overview of the three Centennial Challenges taking place at or around the X-Prize Cup this year.
- SpaceDev won a contract to work on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:46 PM
Monday, October 02, 2006
[Editor - Sorry I have been out of action. I have a lot more stuff on me than I used to and it has taken some time to get schedule set so I could get everything done. Should be find now -djs]
- NASA is checking out possible commercial uses for the shuttle landing landing strip at Kennedy an performing an environmental assessment of such activities.
- Jim Benson, of SpaceDev fame, has stepped down as the chairman and CTO to found a new human spaceflight company, Benson Space Company (BSC). BSC plans to buy the Dream Chaser(TM) ship from SpaceDev and be on of its largest customers. More from Space.com.
- Rocketplane Kistler is setting up an alliance with Andrews Space to support COTS.
- In the space review: A look at the interior of SpaceShipTwo, History if Science Fiction, The importance of suborbital in getting a RLV, and a review of Einstein's Jury.
- More photos of SpaceShipTwo's interior. Michael Belfiore has more still.
- Apparently, Neil Armstrong did say "One small step for a man..."
- UP Aerospace's first rocket was found in the New Mexico desert. The failed launch went up 40,000 feet and went off course last Monday.
- NASA's planned launch schedule may be too much. (You think?)
- A short run-down of what is happening in new space the rest of the year along with two articles on the coming new space industry 1 & 2.
- Some guy has traded in 2 million Virgin Atlantic miles to get a ride on SpaceShipTwo.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 6:39 AM
Friday, September 15, 2006
'Fly Your Stuff' featured in Popular Science Magazine
Bigelow Aerospace's 'Fly Your Stuff' Program is featured on page 48 of this month's Popular Science Magazine in a story by Michael Belfiore. The program ends November 1, 2006 or when the space is filled, whichever comes first. Genesis II is scheduled for launch in early 2007. More at http://www.bigelowaerospace
Genesis II will be the ONLY opportunity to participate in the 'Fly Your Stuff' Program.
The 'Fly You Stuff' Program allows you to send a photo or item to space. Once there, it will be photographed by the cameras inside Genesis II and that image will appear on our website, along with text that you provide. More at http://www.bigelowaerospace
If you made a 'Fly Your Stuff' reservation and have not yet completed the transaction, please do so by today, September 15, 2006. After today, all unredeemed reservations will be released to the public.
The Bigelow Aerospace website is constantly evolving and adding new features, we encourage visiting us at http://www.bigelowaerospace.com for new features and updates.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 12:10 PM
- A story on Anousheh Ansari's upcoming flight to the ISS and women in space. Don't forget her blog. Alan Boyle has more.
- ATK, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Form Team to Compete for Ares I Upper Stage.
- An article on the Orion Program recently given to Lockheed Martin.
- An interview with Danny Davis, manager of the Ares I upper stage.
- Micheal Belfiore has some comments on Orion. Wait Micheal, tell us what you really think.
- He also has two articles in Octobler's Popular Science. One on Bigelow Aerospace and one on the Lunar Landing Challange.
- Infomation on the upcomming Rocket Racing League.
- Xena, the newest dwarf planet, has offically been named Eris. I kind of liked Xena, myself.
- Weird new planet found.
- Bigelow Aerospace has added games to their web site.
- HobbySpace has a new page devoted to New Space.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 6:14 AM
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Posted September 8, 2006
As you may have read by now, SpaceX was one of two winners of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition. The SpaceX portion of the award is $278 million for three flight demonstrations of Falcon 9 carrying our Dragon spaceship, which are scheduled to occur in late 2008 and 2009. The final flight will culminate in the transfer of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and return of cargo safely to Earth.
To ensure a rapid transition from cargo to crew capability, the cargo Dragon and crew Dragon are almost identical, with the exception of the crew escape system, the life support system and onboard controls that allow the crew to take over control from the flight computer when needed. This simulation shows Dragon approaching and berthing with the ISS. The reason that the simulation, which was developed by Odyssey Space Research, one of our partners in the COTS competition, is not as pretty as it could be is that this is not an "artist's impression". The software uses true physics and true dimensions and has been used for actual rendezvous analysis of ISS visiting vehicles, such as the European ATV and Japanese HTV. It is interesting to see the solar arrays on the ISS move to keep facing the sun and watch the ISS light up as it moves out of the Earth's shadow.
Apart from a few minor bits & pieces, both Falcon 9 and Dragon are intended to be fully reusable. The F9 first stage, F9 second stage and Dragon are all designed to land via parachute in water, although we could always add airbags later for a land landing, if that turned out to be lower cost. If the recovery and reuse is successful, the F9/Dragon vehicle will be the world's first fully reusable system (the Shuttle system loses the large orange tank every flight, so is considered partially reusable). Making the economics of reusability work well, which is not a given even if all pieces are recovered, is fundamental to achieving a revolutionary reduction in spaceflight costs. If a Boeing 747 could only be used for a single flight, your ticket cost would be enormous and this is no less true for a rocket.
As you might imagine, SpaceX has an increased need for talented and driven people to join the team. If you are either personally interested or know someone who is a first rate candidate, please take a look at our jobs page.
The current schedule calls for a late November launch of Demo Flight 2 for DARPA. However, given that we have increased the number of system aborts by a factor of 30, there is a high likelihood of false alarms in the countdown process pushing our actual launch into December.
The third and fourth Falcon 1 vehicles are already in production at our Los Angeles plant for the Defense Dept (OFT/NRL) and Malaysian missions next year. The former, which follows Demo Flights 1 and 2 for DARPA, will constitute our first operational mission, where the flight is about the satellite rather than the rocket. The fact that our first flight was only a test or beta flight, containing a student satellite in lieu of an empty bay, seems to have been overlooked by much of the media. Given that the first Lockheed Athena, Boeing Delta III, Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL, Ariane 5, etc. all failed and those companies are the mainstay of western space launch, we are not at all discouraged. The reason SpaceX started out with a strategy of building the smallest useful orbital rocket was primarily to minimize the cost of mistakes. Far better to iron out problems at F1 scale than F9 scale.
Kwajalein Launch Site UpgradesThe payload processing facilities on Omelek have been significantly upgraded. The clean room for processing satellites is now much larger with better than 10K cleanliness levels and very tight humidity & temperature control. It is worth noting that the satellite is kept at a controlled temperature and humidity at all times and is never exposed to ambient conditions. Satellite processing works as follows:
1. Customer brings satellite to the clean room at the launch pad (facilitated by SpaceX)
2. Satellite is removed from its protective shipping container and encapsulated in the fairing
3. We attach the mobile AC system to the fairing
4. Fairing is taken out of the clean room and into the adjacent main hangar, where it is rotated horizontal and attached to the rocket
In addition, the office space on Omelek has been doubled with the addition of a dedicated set of offices for customers.
I should probably say something about pricing, since some people think that it is only a matter of time before we raise prices significantly. They are missing the point. The very purpose of SpaceX is to lower the cost and increase the reliability of spaceflight by a factor of ten or more (relative to current US pricing) and everyone at our company is hell bent on making that happen. Humanity needs to become a true spacefaring civilization, where spaceflight is affordable by normal citizens and extending life to another planet is realistic, and the fundamental barriers to making that happen are cost and reliability.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:57 AM
Saturday, September 02, 2006
9/1/2006 For immediate release
Contact: John Powell
Dr. Shawn Carlson
Society for Amateur Scientists
John Powell, President of JP Aerospace, was honored with the 2006
Benjamin Franklin Citizen Scientist Award
at the fourth annual National Citizen Science Conference in
Providence, Rhode Island. He won for his years of
effort and achievements in space science, including space education
through his PongSat program, where
thousands of students have been able to fly their experiments, called
PongSats, to the edge of space at no charge.
Dr. Shawn Carlson, Founder and Executive Director of the Society for
Amateur Scientists, presented the award
during the Franklin Awards Banquet on August 26, 2006.
"JP has been leading quite a revolution in space science for over 27
years and has an extraordinary record of
success," said Carlson. "His commitment to inspiring the next
generation through his PongSat program was
cited in particular by the selection committee."
The award was created to recognize and promote excellence in citizen
science, for important contributions to
science without an earned Ph.D. Previous winners include astronomer
David Levy, paleontologist Jack Horner,
and electronics author/writer Forrest M. Mims III. A panel of some of
America's most distinguished scientific talent
chooses the winner from a list of candidates.
Powell's acceptance speech and lecture discussed his research working
at the edge of space, flying student
experiments on the company's high altitude platforms, and a call to
action in regards to the current state of science
education. The company is also known for its high altitude airship research.
JP Aerospace, "America's OTHER Space Program," is volunteer-based
research organization dedicated to
achieving cheap access to space "by just doing it." The group has
flown 87 missions to date.
The mission of the Society for Amateur Scientists is to remove the
roadblocks that prevent ordinary people, of all
ages, from participating in extraordinary science. Run by a unique
consortium of professional and amateur scientists,
the 12-year old organization is the only non-profit research and
education organization dedicated to helping people
enrich their lives by following their passion to take part in
scientific adventures of all kinds.
PongSat is a registered trademark of JP Aerospace.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:39 AM
Friday, September 01, 2006
NASA selected Lockheed Martin to build the Orion vehicle to return to the Moon.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:26 AM
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:34 AM
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
- A new survey on space tourism is out.
- Tickets for the X Prize Cup are on sale. You can buy them here.
- NASA has performed a drop test on the Ares I.
- Russia is planning to build a new space station in 2015 to better see all of Russia.
- James Van Allen's last paper was on the possibility of an asteroid smacking the Earth.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:00 AM
Monday, August 28, 2006
- Anousheh Ansari, has been named to the Soyuz TMA-9 primary crew in September.
- NASA is going to announce the winner of the CEV contract on Thursday, August 31st.
- Mars has the highest clouds in the solar system.
- STS-115 has been postponed due to the hurricane. It is being rolled back into a shelter.
- Pluto has demoted to a dwarf-planet. It is a dark day in the solar system. I think the IAU's definition is pretty muddy. I may write about it later.
- A review of the two COTS winners.
- Bigelow Aerospace is going to have a high flight rate once it's station is in orbit. One launch every two weeks!
- Images of SpaceX's planned COTS architecture.
- An big article on Elon Musk and SpaceX.
- A little info on SpaceShipTwo.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 11:38 AM
Saturday, August 19, 2006
SpaceX has released a press statement on being one of the COTS finalists.
As part of this Agreement, SpaceX will execute three flights of its Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spaceship. These will be the first flights of the Dragon spaceship and the fourth, fifth and sixth flights of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:53 PM
Friday, August 18, 2006
And the winners are Rocketplane Kistler and SpaceX
Kislter's website is here (not sure how new it is).
[upate: Cots Watch has a running Q&A transcript.
Here is some snipets:
How is the money allocated? And does this mean you will purchase from both or just one? No one is gauranteed a purchase out of this since the actual purchase of flights will follow a standard RFP. $207 mllion for RPK and $278 million for SpaceX.
Is there some definite notional market? Yes. On the order of half a dozen flights per year total.
If one of these companies hits the ball out of the park, what does that do to the CEV project? It seems that could put the CEV out of business? CEV is designed for the lunar mission. Just because you can go to the space station doesn't mean you can go to the moon. So the CEV's primary mission is the moon.]
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 3:48 PM
- Remember the COTS announcement should be today at 3:00pm CST (4:00pm EST). Her is an interview with Mike Griffin about it. I like this statement:
"I think the space business has not progressed as rapidly as did aviation, in part, because we did not have that industrial entrepreneurship. Space from the first was viewed as more of a government-only activity. Frankly, I deplore that view," Griffin emphasized.
- A Scaled Composite pilot was injured while training for an airshow.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:45 AM
Thursday, August 17, 2006
- NASA approved an August 27 launch for Atlantis.
- Videos on the development of the Ares I and V.
- SpaceDEV continues to increase their revenue.
- The RAND report questions the merger of Boeing and Delta's launch systems to form the ULA.
- Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson is running for the Washington State Senate seat. He has a blog on space colonization.
- The MOON Resort and Real Estate development project will be exhibited at the X-Prize Cup in New Mexico this year.
- Voyager is now 100 AUs out.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:42 AM
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Dr. William Schneider joined NASA in 1962 and went on to work as an Aerospace Engineer working on flight components for Apollo. He moved through different divisions at JSC until he was made Senior Engineer for Space Systems and Assistant Director for Engineering. In 1997 he created the basic architecture for the Transit Habitat or TransHab for short. Since his retirement he has supported Bigelow Aerospace's use of the technology to build & launch Genesis I into orbit. This interview was conducted by Space Pragmatism in August after the success of Genesis I.
SP: You came up with theTransHabB concept in 1997 while working as Senior Engineer at Johnson Space Center. Was it one of those light bulb moments, or were inflatables something you had been working on for a while. In other words, where did the idea come from? How much did Dr. Lowell's Livermore Labs inflatable paper influence your design?
Dr. Schneider: It was not one of those light bulb moments. Actually I had, for some time, felt that with the newer high strength fibers such as Kevlar etc,
one could design a lightweight structure for space habitat. It was not
until I was asked to design a lighter weight habitat for the space
crew's mission to Mars than the large aluminum structure that was
envisioned. I am not familiar with the paper by Dr. Lowell that you
reference so it did not influence the design.
SP: I have read that the original purpose of tTransHabHAB was for a Mars mission. Is that right? How did the idea of using it as a habitation module for the ISS come about?
Dr. Schneider: The original purpose of the TransHab design was for the Mars
Mission. The Habitat for the Mars Mission was required to be 600 cubic
meters. For an aluminum shell structure, the type that had been
conceived, to be that large while being launched (enduring high launch
acceleration loads plus high launch vibrations)required a thick wall,
and heavy wall stiffening, and because of the large surface area the
entire Habitat became prohibitively heavy. An inflatable, however, could
be launched in the collapsed configuration, strapped tightly around a
central core so that it could easily withstand the harsh launch
environment (in that configuration) and once in orbit, where the
acceleration and vibration loads are zero, it would be inflated to the
I pulled together a team of engineers and we performed the detail design
including deployable Micrometeorite and Orbital debris MM/OD protection.
The TransHab was designed and successfully tested to withstand four
atmospheres. No airplane cockpit or spacecraft crew module today could
be pressurized to that high level. The deployable MM/OD protection was
demonstrated to be better than a three inch of solid Aluminum.
The large volume afforded by the Mars TransHab Module, which
could be launched in the Shuttle, soon became a strong consideration for
the Space Station Module since it was approximately four to five times
as volumous an a single Aluminum Space Station Module.
SP: Congress cancellTransHabHAB in 2000. Was that expected or was the team shocked?
Dr. Schneider: It was not expected by the team and was a true shock. At that time I had already retired from NASA and was Teaching at Texas A & M.
SP: When did you leave NASA for Texas A&M?
Dr. Schneider: Aug 2000.
SP: How did Robert Bigelow meet you? Was he looking at inflatable spacecraft before you met or did you introduce the idea to him?
Dr. Schneider: Robert Bigelow read about the TransHab in the May 1999 issue of "Air & Space" Smithsonian (I believe) and saw that it was cancelled. He
contacted NASA and eventually me and asked if I would consult with him
(and his newly formed Bigelow Aerospace co.) in the development of this
SP: Was NASA happy to deal with Bigelow Aerospace or were there a lot of bureaucratic headaches? Were you involved in the technology transfer?
Dr. Schneider: NASA was very happy to deal with Robert Bigelow.
SP: How involved have you been with Bigelow Aerospace as they have taken tTransHabHAB idea and turned it into Genesis and soon the Nautilus?
Dr. Schneider: I have been very involved with every detail of the design and
structural analysis of the Genesis as well as the other larger sized
SP: Where were you during the launch of Genesis I last month? What did you think of your inflatable ideas finally finding their way into space?
Dr. Schneider: I was on vacation on a mountain top in Colorado. The Russians had
delayed the launch approximately six weeks so I went on vacation
figuring the launch would transpire two weeks after I returned. But they
launched it during my vacation.
I thought it was "Fantastic!" The Module, by design, withstood the
launch loads and vibrations (which are much higher on the Russian rocket
than on the Shuttle) got successfully into 300 mile Earth Orbit,
successfully inflated, successfully held the pressure without leaks,
successfully deployed the solar cells and many cameras, etc.
It is a "Dream Come True" for the designers and something I am most
happy for Robert Bigelow himself.
SP: Do you think Bigelow's schedule for a Genesis II and a commercial space station by 2015 is reasonable?
Dr. Schneider: Yes I do.
SP: Have you noticed a difference in the work environment at Bigelow Aerospace and NASA JSC?
Dr. Schneider: There were some differences.
Clearly, Bigelow Aerospace does not have the Washington
bureaucracy to deal with.
Robert Bigelow, himself, is a highly motivated individual with a
high level of "can do it spirit." He, as I have said before, is much
like Howard Hughes. He is into every aspect of the development. He is
very bright even in the detailed engineering (even though not his field
When I first started going to Las Vegas, since his team was new,
many were not as experienced as the strong team of engineers a NASA
(JSC) that I was used to, but shortly they became very mature and in a
short time became very technically knowledgeable and experienced. I am
truly proud to work with each of them at Bigelow Aerospace.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:14 AM
- Mark Whittingham has an article on Bigelow's Space Hotel.
- We may be getting three new planets in our solar system if and IAU panel of Astronomers has their way. They want to add Ceres, Charon, and "Xena" to the list. The proposal says any body that has enough gravity to be round and is not a moon or star is a planet. According to Mike Brown, who discovered Xena, it would give us 53 planets right now. Works for me. More from MSNBC.
- Part 3 of an interview with Elon Musk.
- Planet Space is building a space port in Nova Scotia?
- Interview with Mike Griffin.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 8:54 AM
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
- NASA is going to announce the COTS winners/finalists Friday, August 18 at 4pm EST. More from Alan Boyle.
- NASA is releasing their lessons learned on rocket development.
- Jeff Bell wants to scrap the stick.
- Info on SpaceX's Dragon capsule.
- News on Michael Belfiore's forthcoming book.
- Some information on the Lunar Landing Challenge coming up.
- Report on Masten's Engine development.
- COTS as in-orbit refueling.
- Environmental assessment for the X-Prize Cup.
Posted by Dan Schrimpsher at 9:34 AM