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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Rand Simberg Reviews Rocketeers

Rand Simberg has a review of Rocketeers by Michael Belfiore in The New Atlantis.

NASA's 2008 Budget

Jeff Foust has a review of NASA's 2008 budget.

No More Room for Space Tourists

In 2009, if all goes as planned with the Japan and Europe's science modules, a full 6 member crew will fill the ISS and leave no room for future space tourists.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year, from Space Pragmatism.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

New Exoplanet CoRoT-Exo-2 b Found

CoRoT-Exo-2 b was found on December 20, 2008. It is mass is 3.53 Jupiters. It is likely a very hot Jupiter since its orbital period is only 1.743 days.

Friday, December 21, 2007

UP Aerospace reaches 2500ft

UP Aerospace sent a test launch of its cargo launch system from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The test reached it target height of 2500ft.

Lockheed Martin to Build NASA GRAIL Spacecraft

Lockheed Martin is going to build and operate the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission to create a high resolution gravity map of the Moon.

Congress Puts a Hold on COTS Money

Congresses' omnibus bill tells NASA not to award the COTS money set for Rocketplane/Kistler to anyone else yet. Apparently Rp/K is suing NASA because they couldn't met the milestones set for them and somehow this is NASA's fault. Congress thinks NASA should hold off on awarding the $175 million until the whining, um I mean the lawsuit, is over.

SpaceDev Completes Prototype Lunar Lander

Using the hybrid rocket engine technology used for SpaceShipOne, SpaceDev has completed development and a test flight on a prototype Lunar Lander. A video of the flight is here. The prototype was funded by the International Lunar Observatory Association who hope to land a spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon.

Planet GD 66 b Discovered

The newest planet, discovered just 6 days ago, is GD 66 b. It is a large, Jupiter like planet, at 2.11 Jupiter masses. It sits at an average of 2.356 AU (astronomical units) from its white dwarf star, GD 66.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

SpaceX Successfully Completes NASA Systems Requirements Review for Dragon Spacecraft Demonstration

HAWTHORNE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has completed the Systems Requirements Review (SRR) for what will be the third Falcon 9 / Dragon demonstration under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA representatives attended the event, held on the first day of regular business operations at SpaceX’s new headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Under COTS, SpaceX will conduct three Falcon 9 / Dragon flights, demonstrating the ability to approach, berth, and ultimately deliver cargo to the $100 billion International Space Station (ISS), and return cargo to Earth. On this third demonstration, the Dragon spacecraft will approach the ISS and hold its position nearby. Then, according to the SpaceX plan, a robotic arm on the station will capture Dragon and guide it to a berthing port on the Harmony module.

“When the hatch opens, a new era in space transportation will begin,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. “By providing commercial delivery services to orbit, SpaceX will transform the way the government and private entities access space. The Falcon 9 / Dragon system will ensure that there is no gap in US space transportation capabilities following retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010.”

During the meeting, all comments and questions raised by NASA’s experts were addressed by the SpaceX design team. “Because we connect to the ISS on this mission, NASA applied significant additional scrutiny to ensure the safety of the station and its crew,” said Max Vozoff, SpaceX Mission Manager. By receiving NASA approval for this review, SpaceX continues its record of successfully meeting all COTS milestones on schedule.

Although these demonstrations are for cargo re-supply, SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft to transport up to seven astronauts to Earth orbit and back.

About SpaceX

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of both manned and unmanned space transportation. With its Falcon launch vehicles, SpaceX offers light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any inclination and altitude, from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit to planetary missions.

Europe ATV Ready for Launch

Europe's first human rated launch vehicle, dubbed the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), is ready for launch in February 22. The ship's name is Jules Verne and will launch from Kourou, French Guiana.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Scientific American Announces SciAm 50 Awards

Scientific American has announced the winners of this years’ SciAm 50.
The SciAm 50 is the magazine’s annual award celebrating the work of visionaries from the worlds of research, science, technology, industry and politics.

The XPrize was the winner of Policy Leader of the Year award.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Red Chip Announces SpaceDev Managing Director Television Interview Available Online

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 13, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- RedChip Companies Inc. today announced that Scott Tibbitts, Managing Director of SpaceDev, Inc. (OTCBB:SPDV), a developer of space technology systems and products facilitating space exploration, was interviewed on RedChip TV, a business oriented television interview program. The interview highlighted the company's expertise as a developer of new technologies in small satellites, deployable structures, hybrid propulsion systems and advanced space vehicles. The full interview is available at:

The interview was conducted Nov. 3, 2007, in conjunction with the company's presentation at RedChip's Small-Cap Investor Conference in Orlando, Fla. SpaceDev's entire presentation to the analysts and brokers and individual investors at the conference -- including PowerPoint slides -- can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

About SpaceDev, Inc.
SpaceDev, Inc. is a space technology/aerospace company that creates and sells affordable and innovative space products and mission solutions that enable space exploration. The company's products range from spacecraft actuators that power the Mars rovers, to hybrid rocket technologies that powered the first commercial astronaut to space, and from microsatellites controlled by the Internet to Dream Chaser(tm), a winged and piloted orbital commercial spacecraft. For more information, visit and

About RedChip Companies, Inc.
RedChip Companies is an international small-cap research and financial public relations firm with offices in Beijing and Orlando and affiliates in New York and San Diego. RedChip delivers measurable results for its clients through its extensive international market expertise as well as its comprehensive platform of products: RedChip Research(tm), Traditional Investor Relations, Digital Investor Relations, Institutional and Retail Conferences held throughout the United States, and RedChip Radio(tm). To learn more about RedChip's products and services please visit:
"Discovering Tomorrow's Blue Chips Today"(tm)

Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change. SpaceDev is a client of the RedChip Companies, Inc. and has contracted the RedChip Companies to increase investor awareness of SPDV to the small-cap equity community. These services may include investor conferences and digital print distribution of SPVD investor related materials. In the purview of Section 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 and in the interest of full disclosure, we call the reader's attention to the fact that RedChip Companies, Inc. is an investor relations firm hired by the Company. SPDV paid RedChip Visibility $30,000 for the RedChip Visibility Research Program.


RedChip Companies
Jon Cunningham
(800) RED-CHIP (733-2447) ext. 107

SpaceDev Investor Relations
Investor Contact:
Richard Slansky
Jessica Gerstenkorn
Media Contact:
Mark Sirangelo
(858) 375-2026

Goodyear to Build Moon Tires

Goodyear is ready to work on NASA tire needs for the next Moon missions, as they did for Apollo.

NASA Pushed STS-122 Back Again

NASA has postponed STS-122 back until at least January 10, 2008. The Shuttle Atlantis is set to launch the ESA ISS component, Columbus.

Andrews Space Reveals Cargo Vehicle Design Work

SEATTLE, Dec. 12, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Andrews Space today disclosed details of its Andrews Cargo Module, a cargo logistics system capable of addressing NASA's International Space Station (ISS) cargo logistics requirements, as well as the needs of emerging customers like Bigelow Aerospace and the Department of Defense.

The Andrews Cargo Module is a reusable spacecraft capable of delivering 3.7 metric tons of cargo to and from the ISS. It is comprised of a common Service Module, a Pressurized (PCM) or Unpressurized Cargo Module (UCM), and a Recovery Module. This modular approach allows the system to cost-effectively address a wide range of mission requirements and customers.

The Cargo Module incorporates design features and system elements from previous efforts into a low-risk cargo module design. Andrews previously worked on crew and cargo logistics systems under contract to NASA as part of the Alternate Access to Station (AAS) and Concept Exploration and Refinement efforts. In 2005, Andrews developed a full-scale mockup of its design for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) to verify internal packaging for both crew and cargo transport. This mockup was transferred to NASA Johnson Space Center and has been used by NASA to conduct Orion design studies.

"One of the lessons learned from AAS is that the launch vehicle cost drives the life cycle cost of the system," said Jason Andrews, President of Andrews Space. "While our cargo module can be launched on an EELV, we've developed a low-cost launch system to make the system affordable and enable new markets."

The Cargo Module will be launched by Andrews' Hercules family of launch vehicles. Hercules is a medium- to intermediate-lift system, built around a LOX/RP core stage, capable of launching payloads between 5,000 and 25,000 lb to LEO. The Hercules launch vehicle provides commercial and U.S. Government customers with a responsive, cost-effective replacement for the Delta II, and will reduce the life cycle cost of cargo logistics services when compared to using EELVs.

In November, Andrews submitted a proposal to NASA as part of the COTS recompete. Partners in the COTS proposal include MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Reynolds Smith and Hills (RS&H), Draper Laboratory, Odyssey Space Research, Aerojet, Irvin Aerospace, and ILC Dover.

During the past year, a team of engineers has been engaged in developing the system design and maturing subsystems. In October, Andrews acquired an avionics and guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) company that will provide the fault-tolerant avionics and power subsystems. Andrews has several other funded research and development efforts that are demonstrating critical cargo module subsystems and technologies.

To further verify system performance, the Andrews team constructed a full-scale mockup of the PCM to assess cargo packaging and crew interfaces. Specific focus areas included early and late cargo access, ground operations, crew lighting, and on-orbit operations. These efforts have validated the system requirements, configuration, and performance in support of a System Requirements Review in early 2008.

Andrews' strong and diverse revenue base incorporates customers in business areas including systems development and integration, subsystem and component development, technology development, and engineering services. Customers and programs include SE&I support of NASA's Ares I and Orion programs, Department of Defense technology and vehicle development programs, and commercial hardware development, including hardware currently flying on Bigelow's Genesis II spacecraft.

About the Company

Andrews Space, Inc. (Andrews) is a privately-held business founded in 1999 to be a catalyst in the commercialization and development of space. The company is an affordable integrator of aerospace systems and developer of advanced space technologies. Andrews' customers include NASA and the Department of Defense, as well as aerospace prime contractors. Andrews is currently engaged in several launch vehicle and spacecraft development efforts in both the prime and subcontractor role. To learn more, please visit

Due to the competition on the NASA COTS program, no further announcements or details will be discussed until after the award of COTS.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bigelow Aerospace Updates Web Site

Bigelow Aerospace has updated their website with a new layout and some new information.

An example is the general specs of the Genesis II. Check it out.

ATK And XCOR Successfully Complete Test Series for NASA's 7,500 lbf Thrust LOX/Methane Workhorse Engine

MOJAVE, Calif., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- XCOR Aerospace and Alliant Techsystems completed tests on a methane-burning rocket engine for NASA. This engine could help return America to the Moon and allow astronauts to tap extra-terrestrial sources of fuel. The engine work was funded by NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program at Langley, as part of the Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development Project based at Glenn Research Center.

(Source: XCOR)

The 7,500 lbf thrust liquid oxygen (LOX)/liquid methane (LCH4) Workhorse Engine is being used to develop and refine methane rocket technology for possible use on lunar expeditions. Methane offers higher performance relative to other storable propellants, is less expensive to handle because of its lower toxicity, and is easier to store long-term than liquid hydrogen.

An additional factor that makes this propellant combination unique is the possibility that Oxygen and Methane can be obtained or manufactured from In-Situ Resources on the moon and other planets.

"XCOR is pleased to be working with ATK in the development of this new propulsion capability for NASA. Tests to date have shown very reliable and repeatable ignition characteristics and extremely stable operation," said Jeff Greason, CEO for XCOR. The ATK/XCOR team went from program inception to the first test firing in only six months. The tests delivered critical data for NASA to assess the practicality of this new propellant combination that is intended to provide a viable option for future in-space propulsion. The regeneratively cooled design of this engine makes maximum use of the energy in the propellants and offers the highest performance potential. This test series provided data on engine ignition, startup, shutdown, nominal operation, off-nominal operation, and dynamic combustion stability.

To date, tests on the LOX/Methane rocket ignition have been performed at close to sea level static conditions at XCOR's test facility located in Mojave, CA. Because the methane engine is projected for use in space, ATK will be conducting an additional test program at its vacuum test facility in Ronkonkoma, NY. These tests will allow evaluation of various igniter concepts and demonstrate repeatable ignition characteristics in a vacuum which simulates space conditions.

XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation located in Mojave, California. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket engines, rocket propulsion systems, and rocket powered vehicles. News and information can be found at its website:

ATK is an advanced weapon and space systems company with annual revenues in excess of $4.1 billion that employs approximately 17,000 people in 21 states. News and information can be found on the Internet at

Boeing Wins Ares Guidance System Contract

NASA has given Boeing the $799.5 million contract to develop the guidance, navigation and control system of the Ares rocket. The work will be done in the Houston-based space exploration division of Boeing. Ares is set to take men aboard the Orion moon capsule back to the Moon in the next decade.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chinese President on Space Exploration

Chinese President Hu Jintao said in a speech today, "China's space exploration should be used to help build the nation's social, economic and technological strength." He went on to talk about how "peaceful" their exploration plan is (cough, cough). Finally he heaped praise on the scientist behind Chang'e 1, currently orbiting the Moon.

NASA Says On Track for Moon in 2020

NASA Officials say the are "on track" for a 2020 return to the Moon and the building of a base.

Spirit to Rest for Winter

The Mars Rover, Spirit, is moving towards a wintering spot to rest and build up batter reserves. It must get there by Christmas or risk dying forever.

U.S. Army Selects Andrews Space to Enhance Urban Battlespace Capabilities

Seattle, WA – December 11, 2007 – Andrews Space, Inc. is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a Phase I contract by the U.S. Army through the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR). Phase I of the contract is valued at $70K over six (6) months, with an optional Phase II at $50K over four (4) months. The Army selected Andrews’ proposed approach in a competitive procurement out of hundreds of other SBAs.

Urban warfare poses unique challenges for the Future Combat System (FCS) and other Army systems that require high-fidelity terrain information. The shape of the terrain is an important component, and dense networks of elevation data are needed to represent the complex shape of an urban landscape. Applications like line-of-sight or drive-through in an urban area also need high-resolution terrain data.

Currently, transmission of terrain data is done via hand-carried external hard drives. Under the terms of the contract, Andrews will develop a new approach that helps the military reduce the burden required to manage data.

Andrews will use two approaches to reduce the size of elevation data files to be stored and transmitted. The first approach is to develop a better compression algorithm that works well on discontinuous data, which will provide high fidelity urban elevation data with a minimum file size. The second approach is to develop an innovative way to transmit the data that will dramatically reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted to, and stored by, a soldier or vehicle in the field.

“Andrews’ solution to this problem will provide our armed forces with a significant advantage in the urban warfare environment”, said Jason Andrews, President of Andrews Space. “By speeding up the availability of this terrain data, our troops will be able to respond much more quickly to combat threats and other battlefield challenges.”

Commercial applications of this technology include computer scene generation, mapping software such as Google Earth/Maps, Microsoft Live Search/Terra-Server, and MapQuest. It will allow them to more efficiently store 3D buildings for larger portions of major cities and then transmit and reconstruct the information for users. This will also allow enhanced capabilities for GPS and car navigation, and GPS capable cell phones.

About SBIR
The SBIR program is a highly competitive, three-phase award system. It provides qualified small businesses - including women-owned and disadvantaged firms - with opportunities to propose unique ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the federal government.

About Andrews Space
Andrews Space, Inc. (Andrews) is a privately-held business founded in 1999 to be a catalyst in the commercialization and development of space. The company is an affordable integrator of aerospace systems and a developer of advanced space technologies. Andrews' customers include NASA and the Department of Defense, as well as commercial aerospace prime contractors. Andrews is currently engaged in several launch vehicle and spacecraft development efforts in both the prime and subcontractor role. To learn more, please visit

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

China Publishes Four new Moon Photos

China has published four new moon photos taken by their Chang'e-1 lunar probe currently in orbit around the Moon.

New Zealander to Draw Space

Mr. Scott, an artist of New Zealand, has complete his training to fly on SpaceShip2 with Virgin Galactic. He will draw what he sees in orbit. Mr. Scott will be the first professional artist in space. We look forward to his work.

Sir Richard Branson has also completed his space training.

NASA Delays STS-122 Until January

NASA has delayed Atlantis, STS-122, until at least January while it works on a fuel sensor malfunction. The earliest launch would be January 2, 2008.

New NASA Mission to Reveal Moon's Internal Structure and Evolution

Press Release:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 -- At a Monday meeting of the American Geophysical Union, NASA's Associate Administrator for Science Alan Stern announced the selection of a new mission that will peer deep inside the moon to reveal its anatomy and history.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission is a part of NASA's Discovery Program. It will cost $375 million and is scheduled to launch in 2011. GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

"GRAIL's revolutionary capabilities stood out in this Discovery mission competition owing to its unsurpassed combination of high scientific value and low technical and programmatic risk," Stern said. "GRAIL also offers to bring innovative Earth studies techniques to the moon as a precursor to their possible later use at Mars and other planets."

Scientists will use the gravity field information from the two satellites to X-ray the moon from crust to core to reveal the moon's subsurface structures and, indirectly, its thermal history.

The study technique GRAIL will use was pioneered by the joint U.S.-German Earth observing Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, mission launched in 2002. The GRACE satellites measure gravity changes related to the movement of mass within the Earth, such as the melting of ice at the poles and changes in ocean circulation. As with GRACE, both GRAIL spacecraft will be launched on a single launch vehicle.

GRAIL's principal investigator is Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Zuber's team of expert scientists and engineers includes former NASA astronaut Sally Ride, who will lead the mission's public outreach efforts. A camera aboard each spacecraft will allow students and the public to interact with observations from the satellites. Each GRAIL spacecraft will carry the cameras to documents their views from lunar orbits.

GRAIL will support NASA's exploration goals as the agency returns humans to the moon by 2020. In 2008, the agency will launch the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, to circle the moon for at least a year and take measurements to identify future robotic and human landing sites. The orbiter also will look for potential lunar resources and document aspects of the lunar radiation environment. After a 30-year hiatus, LRO represents NASA's first step toward returning humans to the moon. The orbiter will be accompanied by another spacecraft, called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite mission, which will impact the lunar south pole to search for evidence of polar water frost.

"As NASA moves forward with exploration endeavors, our lunar science missions will be the light buoy leading the path for future human activities," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Division, Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Created in 1992, NASA's Discovery Program sponsors a series of scientist-led, cost-capped solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. The GRAIL proposal was selected from 24 submissions in response to a 2006 Announcement of Opportunity for the program. Proposals were evaluated for scientific merit, science implementation merit, and technical, management and cost feasibility.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., will manage the GRAIL mission. The spacecraft will be built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.

For more information about NASA's Discovery Program, visit:


Evidence for Past Life on Mars

The overachieving rovers have done it again. Spirit, while working on a plateau called Home Plate, has discovered a patch of almost pure silica (i.e. glass). The current thinking is that the patch came from hot springs coming up from underground or a fumarole where acidic steam comes. On Earth, these hot springs are always covered in microbial life.

Not conclusive but all the evidence seem to point toward life.

Our Solar System is Dented

Our solar system has a dent in it. Science base this conclusion on Voyager 2 reaching the termination shock a billion miles closer than Voyager 1. Apparently the dent is caused by a large magnetic field created by a super-nova 10 to 20 million years ago in the Scorpius-Centaurus Association region of the Milky Way.

The termination shock caused Voyager 2 to slow to 350,000 miles/hour and it will reach interstellar space in 7 to 10 more years. The transmitters will continue to work until 2020, thanks to its radioactive fuel.

Monday, December 10, 2007

SpaceX Update

Elon has a new update for SpaceX.


  • Fully Integrated Falcon 9 first stage firing (only 1 Merlin engine)
  • Merlin C is done and ready for final testing
  • Pad at the Cape begun
  • NASA COTS CDR Approval of the Dragon capsule
  • There are lot of details of the Dragon capsule including a simulation of the Dragon hooking up to ISS.

X-Prize Foundation News

From the X-Prize Foundation:

The X PRIZE Foundation welcomes Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and his wife Anne Wojcicki Brin to the Vision Circle. We would also like to acknowledge Board members Elon Musk of Space Exploration Technologies, Jeffrey Shames of the MIT Sloan School of Management, Ray Sydney of Big George Ventures, and Erik Lindbergh, President of Lindbergh Woodworks and Director of the Lindbergh Foundation for their generous support of the X PRIZE Foundation.

Two new members have joined the X PRIZE Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Arianna Huffington and Will Wright. Huffington is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post, a leading news and blog source on the Internet as well as the author of 11 books. Wright is a globally recognized visionary in interactive entertainment and EA’s chief designer behind the block-buster game franchises “SimCity™,” “The Sims™” and the soon-to-be-released universe simulator “Spore™.”

Odyssey Moon Announced as First Official Competitor in the Google Lunar X PRIZE

The first official team has completed registration for the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Odyssey Moon, from the Isle of Man, announced its contention for the prize on December 6th at the Space Investment Summit in San Jose, CA. The brainchild of Robert Richards, one of the founders of the International Space University, Odyssey Moon views the Google Lunar X PRIZE as a short term goal. Long term, they will work toward lowering the cost of going to the Moon by an order of magnitude and eventually to the peaceful development of the Moon. In all, the Google Lunar X PRIZE has received 350 requests for information from more than 40 countries, 11 of which have started or completed Letters of Intent.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Carnival of Space #32 is Up

Carnival of Space #32 is up at the Robot Guy's blog.

STS-122 Postponed

STS-122 which was schedule to launch today, was scrubbed due to a fuel sensor malfunction. It will be at least 24 hours before the launch.

Astrobotic and Ratheon Team on the Google Lunar X-Prize

Astrobotic Technology, Inc. has selected Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN - News) as its supplier for development of a next-generation of high-precision, propellant-efficient lunar landing technologies.

On Sept. 13, 2007, Dr. William L. "Red" Whittaker, Astrobotic's Chief Technology Officer and Lunar Mission Commander declared his intention to pursue the recently announced Google Lunar X Prize. Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is the commercial organization through which Dr. Whittaker plans to carry out the lunar mission as well as engage in potential commercial orbital transfer services and potential cis-lunar services that may be best enabled by leading-edge robotics.

"We have great confidence in Raytheon's ability to co-develop a spacecraft that can land on a dime," said Whittaker.

Raytheon has undertaken initial design and planning activities on the project. Possible roles for Raytheon include engineering management, lander design, and high bandwidth telecommunications. A common goal is for Raytheon to develop key technologies for advanced thrust controlled descent, ascent and movement, including automated topographic scene matching.

"We are delighted to work with Dr. Whittaker on this extraordinary lunar project," said Mike Booen, Raytheon vice president of Advanced Missile Defense & Directed Energy. "Development of a lunar lander is a natural extension for the company's space-proven technologies."

Astrobotic is planning for Raytheon to begin work on a contract basis with the scope of Raytheon's work to be expanded upon completion of certain financing goals by Astrobotic. It is anticipated that 15 or more professional engineers from Raytheon will be devoted to the Astrobotic lunar program.

Dr. Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics, Director of the Field Robotics Center, and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a world-famous scientist and engineer, renowned for managing the research, development, operation, and scientific discoveries associated with several dozen exploratory robots. Most recently, Dr. Whittaker led CMU's "Tartan Racing Team" to victory in the November 2007 Urban Challenge sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Raytheon has a legacy of experience in space missions that dates back to the Apollo era, when Raytheon provided solutions for the Saturn launch vehicle, lunar modules, and space suits. Raytheon has deployed more than 100 unique control systems for military and commercial satellites as well as 75 GPS systems for the Department of Defense, civil, commercial and national markets ranging in scope from navigation, transportation, surveying and rescue operations.

Raytheon Company, with 2006 sales of $20.3 billion, is a technology leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 85 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people worldwide.

Astrobotic Technology, Inc. ( is a privately held seed-stage company formed by Carnegie Mellon University professor William "Red" Whittaker and his colleagues in November 2007.

Media Contact:
Mitchell London
President and CEO
(425) 462-7428

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "expect," "estimate," "project," "budget," "forecast," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "may," "will," "could," "should," "believes," "predicts," "potential," "continue," and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements.

Astrobotic and Raytheon undertake no obligation and do not intend to update these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after this press release. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Law in the Columbus Module

The European Union has decided that crimes aboard their module Columbus will be in the jurisdiction of the criminal's country. Columbus is set to launch to the ISS tomorrow.

Just to play devils advocate, what if we don't know who the criminal is? A sort of Nancy Drew mystery? Which country will conduct the investigation?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

SpaceX to go Public in 2 Years

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the company hopes to go public with an IPO in late 2009.

STS-122 Set to Launch Thursday, Dec 6

STS-122 is set to launch the Columbus Lab to the ISS this Thursday.

NASA Web Site Update

NASA has updated their website to be more "personal."

China Probe to Mars in 2009

China is set to launch a probe to Mars in October 2009.

Russian Convicted of Spying for China

The head of TsNIIMASH-Export in Russia was convicted of leaking rocket information to China. He will serve 11 1/2 years in prison.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Space Settlement 2009 Art Contest

The National Space Society is sponsoring an art contest in which artists are to create visions of a spacefaring future - a future of space settlement, be they on the Moon, on Mars, on asteroids, or orbiting independently in space. Twelve winning entries will be chosen to illustrate the NSS 2009 Space Settlement Calendar. Judges include space artists Don Davis and David Robinson. Artists may submit multiple works and submissions will be accepted until December 31, 2007.

The Grand Prize winner will have their artwork featured on the calendar cover and as one of the monthly images; $200 cash; three graphics packages from DAZ Software (Carrara 6, Hexagon 2.1, and Bryce 6.1, retail values totaling $500); signed copies of 50 Years in Space (2006) by David Hardy and Sir Patrick Moore as well as Space Art: How to Draw and Paint Planets, Moons, and Landscapes of Alien Worlds (2007) by Michael Carroll; Starry Night Pro Plus 6.0 - the world's most realistic astronomy software ($250 value); the two-volume book Astronautics or a choice of any one-volume space book from Apogee Books; complimentary admission to the 2008 International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC. The Grand Prize winner also receives one-year complimentary memberships in the International Association of Astronomical Artists and the National Space Society, including a subscription to Ad Astra magazine, and 5 complimentary copies of the calendar.

There will be four First Prize winners in the categories of Best Lunar Settlement, Best Mars Settlement, Best Asteroid Settlement, and Best Orbiting Settlement. In addition to being published in the calendar, each of the four First Prizes winners will receive $100 cash; a Carrara 6 graphics software from DAZ Software (retail value $250); the artist's choice of any one-volume space book from Apogee Books; one-year complimentary memberships in the International Association of Astronomical Artists and the National Space Society, including a subscription to Ad Astra magazine; and 2 complimentary copies of the calendar. In addition, one random First Prize Winner will receive a copy of the Starry Night Complete Space & Astronomy Pack desktop planetarium software ($50 value).

The remaining seven winning entries will each appear in the calendar and the artists will each receive a copy of the Project Constellation Pocket Space Guide from Apogee Books; a Bryce 6.1 software package from DAZ Software (retail value $100); a 1 year complimentary membership in the National Space Society, which includes a subscription to Ad Astra magazine; and a complimentary copy of the calendar.

For all the contest details go to

Carnival of Space #31

Carnival of Space #31 i at:

Also, the Best of the Moon 2007 is at:

Friday, November 23, 2007

PlanetSpace, Lockheed Martin and ATK Team Up to Bid on NASA COTS

PlanetSpace is teaming with ATK and Lockheed Martin in order to win a share of NASA's COTS money. RocketPlane/Kistler missed to many milestones and NASA is currently deciding who to give their money to.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

From the folks at Space Pragmatism

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NASA Creates Inexpensive FASTSAT

NASA Has created an inexpensive ($4 million) satellite , called FASTSAT, to test if small, cheap satellites can be done. While I applaud their effort, I have to disagree with one thing. In speaking about SpaceX and their Falcon line of rockets, Marshall Space Flight Center's Edward "Sandy" Montgomery said:

"You wouldn't put an expensive payload on an inexpensive rocket – it's a risk issue. You'd use an inexpensive bus to fly an inexpensive instrument on an inexpensive rocket," says Montgomery.

Cheap doesn't equal risk. Now if he had said untested or new rocket, then I can't argue with him. But my little Suzuki was inexpensive, but I don't think it is riskier than driving a Ferrari.

Florida Needs SpaceX

When the shuttle is retired in 2010, Florida is putting its hopes in SpaceX, the front-runner in the race to offer delivery services to NASA when the shuttle is retired. SpaceX is part of NASA's COTS program and is building a launch facility in Cape Canaveral and hopes to launch from there next year. Without the shuttle, Florida is hopping to get rocket support jobs and supply chain industry in their state.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SpaceHAB ready for COTS PDR

SpaceHAB has gone ahead with its unfunded Advanced Research and Conventional Technology Utilization Spacecraft (ARCTUS) for COTS. They just finished a spacecraft concept review on November 8 and will be ready for the preliminary design review (PDR) in early 08.

Average American's View in NASA's Budget

The average American thinks NASA gets 1/4 of the federal budget. That is roughly $600 Billion annually. In reality NASA gets 0.58% of the federal budget, or ~$17 billion.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Everyone is Looking for Astronauts

Astronaut openings.

Space Adventures is looking for people to train alongside their space tourist, Richard Garriott, for $3,000,000. You get to do all the same stuff. You just don't get to fly.

NASA is also accepting applications for the 2009 class of astronauts.

Of course, Virgin Galactic is always looking for more private astronauts, if you can only afford $200,000.

SpaceX Completes Merlin 1C Engine


New, More Powerful Engine to Launch Both Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 Rockets
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announced today that it has completed development of its Merlin 1C next generation liquid fueled rocket booster engine. It is among the highest performing gas generator cycle kerosene engines ever built, exceeding the Boeing Delta II main engine, the Lockheed Atlas II main engine, and on par with the Saturn V F-1 engine.

The Merlin 1C is an improved version of the Merlin 1A ablatively cooled engine, which lofted the Falcon 1 on its first flight in March 2006 and second flight in March 2007. The regeneratively cooled Merlin 1C uses rocket propellant grade kerosene (RP-1), a refined form of jet fuel, to first cool the combustion chamber and nozzle before being combined with the liquid oxygen to create thrust. This cooling allows for higher performance without significantly increasing engine mass.
“We performed the final test in the development series, a 170 second long mission duty firing,” said Tom Mueller, Vice President of Propulsion for SpaceX, from their Texas Test Facility in McGregor, Texas. “This series of runs has verified the final design features. Total run time on this engine exceeded 3,000 seconds across 125 hot fire tests.”

“The SpaceX Texas test facility was critical to the rapid and efficient development of Merlin,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. “In August alone, we ran twenty-one major Merlin test firings, nearly one per working day, a rate we could not equal anywhere else. The success of Merlin is really due to the joint function of a great propulsion and test team.”

Merlin 1C in its Falcon 9 first stage configuration has a thrust at sea level of 95,000 lbs, a vacuum thrust of over 108,000 pounds, vacuum specific impulse of 304 seconds and sea level thrust to weight ratio of 92. In generating this thrust, Merlin consumes 350 lbs/second of propellant and the chamber and nozzle, cooled by 100 lbs/sec of kerosene, are capable of absorbing 10 MW of heat energy. A planned turbopump upgrade in 2009 will improve the thrust by over 20% and the thrust to weight ratio by approximately 25%.

The Merlin 1C will power SpaceX’s next Falcon 1 mission, scheduled to lift off in early 2008 from the SpaceX launch complex in the Central Pacific atoll of Kwajalein. SpaceX’s far larger Falcon 9 rocket, now in development, will employ nine Merlin engines on its first stage, and one on the second stage. The Falcon 9 will have over a million pounds of thrust – four times the maximum thrust of a Boeing 747.

The Merlin engine is the first new American booster engine in ten years and only the second in over a quarter century. The prior two American engines were the RS-68 developed in the late nineties by Pratt & Whitney’s RocketDyne division, used in the Boeing Delta IV launch vehicle, and the Space Shuttle Main Engine developed in the late seventies, also by RocketDyne.
SpaceX is preparing to produce more rocket engines than the rest of US production combined. In 2008, SpaceX targets the manufacture of approximately 50 booster engines, a number that exceeds the output of any country except Russia.

About SpaceX

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of both manned and unmanned space transportation ultimately by a factor of ten. With its Falcon line of launch vehicles, powered by Merlin engines, SpaceX is able to offer light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any inclination and altitude, from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit to planetary missions.
As winner of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition, SpaceX will conduct three flights of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft for NASA. This will culminate in Dragon berthing with the International Space Station and returning safely to Earth. When the Shuttle retires in 2010, Falcon 9 / Dragon will have the opportunity to replace the Shuttle in servicing the Space Station.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

SpaceDev Gets Two New Board Members and One new VP

SpaceDev has announced that Mr. G. Scott Hubbard, former NASA Ames Research Center Director and Mr. Hans J. Steininger Chief Executive Officer of MT Aerospace AG, have joined the SpaceDev Board of Directors.

They have also announced that former Auburn Associate Dean of Engineering, James S. Voss, will be the new VP of Engineering.

NASA has Started Launch Pad Construction

NASA has began construction on a launch pad to test the Orion's escape system.

China's ASAT Weapon Pushes Space Entrepreneurs

According to the NY Times, the Chinese ASAT weapons test in January has had an effect on private space, since the military needs faster cheaper launchers to combat the threat of space weapons.

Would You Spend $200,000 on a Space Flight

The SettlePI blog asks readers if they had an extra $200,000 would they by a flight on a spaceship. Of course, loyal readers, you know my answer.

D.J. McLeod says, as much as she would love to, she would rather spend $200,000 on a Community Resource Exchange where they can talk about homelessness and give homeless people government services. Well whatever works for you.

Will would rather pay off his house and max his retirement. In my opinion, it wouldn't be a spare $200,000 unless you had already done both.

Anonymous wants the price to drop (as do the rest of us).

Onyotaka Lukwe is milking goats to space apparently...

Just a cross section of what Seattle thinks of private space flight.

Feel free to comment on their comments (or answer the question for yourself).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Virgin Galactic's Sales Pitch

Andrea James has the pitch Bothell travel agent Angie Lepley has been using as one of 45 agents licensed to sale seats on SpaceShip2.

It sounds like fun to me.

Space Vision 2007

Dave Brooks seems to have had his mind changed (somewhat) about private space by Elon Musk and his Falcon Rockets.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Andrews Space Sponsors Laser Motive in 2007 Space Elevator Competition

Press Release: Seattle, WA - November 7, 2007 – Andrews Space, Inc. is pleased to announce its sponsorship of Seattle-based LaserMotive in the Elevator 2010 Power Beaming competition. The competition took place from October 19 – 21, near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Andrews contributed the use of their Rapid Prototyping Laboratory (ARPL) for LaserMotive to conduct laser testing and other system assembly requirements. Located near Seattle's Boeing field, the ARPL provides fabrication and assembly facility space. It houses Andrews' avionics integration and cryogenic test facilities, fabrication machine shop, and hardware integration and test facilities.

The NASA-sponsored 2007 Space Elevator Games had 30 teams competing in various categories, including the Climber Power Beaming competition. Teams entering the Power Beaming Challenge had to power a vehicle straight up a ribbon using only energy beamed to the vehicle from a ground-based laser, at a minimum of 2.5 m/sec. The 2007 prize purse, provided by NASA, was $500,000. No teams won the 2007 competition.

LaserMotive was recognized as having an innovative and potentially powerful technology. The LaserMotive system uses a high-power laser array to shine ultra-intense infrared light onto high-efficiency solar cells, converting the light into electric power, which then drives a motor. The system automatically tracks the vehicle as it climbs, compensating for motion due to wind, twisting of the ribbon, and other changes.

Andrews Chief Technology Officer Dana Andrews said, "LaserMotive had a promising start in this years' competition, and we expect them to come back strong next year in the 2008 competition. We believe their concept is the right approach to powering a planetary scale elevator."

About LaserMotive

LaserMotive is a Seattle-based team that competed in the 2007 NASA-sponsored Power Beaming competition. They are comprised of world-class laser power beaming experts, experienced machinists, systems engineers, and experts from industry partners. Visit their Web site at for more information.

About Andrews Space

Andrews Space, Inc. was founded in 1999 to be a catalyst in the commercialization and development of space. The company is an affordable integrator of aerospace systems and developer of advanced space technologies. To learn more, please visit:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Carnival of Space #28 is Up

Emily Lakwdawalla is hosting this Week's Carnival of Space at

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chinese Probe Enters Moons Orbit

China's probe, Chang'e 1, has entered lunar orbit.

"All of the subsystems of the Chang'e 1 are in normal operation so far," said Pei Zhaoyu, spokesman for the China National Space Administration.

It is expected to send photos back later this month.

SpaceX Breaks Ground in Florida

SpaceX has broken ground on their launch facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Space Walk Shows Need for COTS

According to John Borland, at, the risky spacewalk to fix a broken solar panel shows the need for NASA to fund private launch companies through COTS, with the shuttle being retired in 2010.

With the shuttle being retired in a few years, it clearly can't serve that
purpose. But perhaps the new commercial spaceflight companies will be able to
fill that role, at least as well as the Soyuz missions launched by Russia. NASA
should make this a priority when it is funding and helping to guide development
of companies like SpaceX.

ISS Brings up Space Law Again

With the new European module Columbus launching on the Columbia shuttle in December, space law has been brought to the forefront again. The issues are: who's law will be enforced on Columbus and what if two astronauts got in a fight?

This was all a problem with the Russian modules, but I guess they didn't get it worked out sufficiently then.

SpaceDev Completes First Milestone under NASA Space Act Agreement for Development of Commercial Access to Space (Press Release)

SpaceDev Dream ChaserTM Space Plane Development Would Provide Cargo and Crew Transport

POWAY, CA – November 5, 2007 – SpaceDev, Inc. (OTCBB: SPDV) recently completed its first milestone under the Space Act Agreement that it signed with NASA in June 2007. This significant first milestone is to define the outer mold line (OML) of the SpaceDev Dream ChaserTM space vehicle. The SpaceDev team generated a surface model that will be used for future analysis, subscale flight test modeling, and full scale tooling of the Dream ChaserTM flight vehicle. The Dream Chaser™ OML surface model was derived from digitized scans of the original NASA Langley wind-tunnel tested models, which are currently on loan to SpaceDev.

SpaceDev entered into the Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to facilitate its development of reliable, safe and affordable transportation of passengers and cargo to and from Earth orbit. As part of the agreement, NASA is providing support regarding commercial vehicle requirements for rendezvous and docking with the ISS as well as ongoing regularly scheduled technical exchange.

Friday, November 02, 2007

SpaceDev Gets Air Force Contract for New Thermal Radiator Technology

SpaceDev has won a $100,000 contract with the Air Force to develop a new radar system to help with thermal control on satellites.

Risky Spacewalk to Fix Solar Panels

NASA is planning a risky spacewalk to fix a damaged solar panel to restore the ISS to full power in anticipation of a European science module scheduled to launch in December.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Carnival of Space #27 is Up

Fraser Cain is hosting this Week's Carnivalof Space at

SpaceDev Gets DARPA Propulsion Contract

SpaceDev has won a propulsion contract from DARPA worth $3.75 million.

SpaceDev to Release Earnings Nov 13

SpaceDev is holding a conference call to release their earnings report for the 3rd quarter 2007 on November 13, 2007.

Florida Conference to Atrract Commercial Space

Florida is holding a conference to attract commercial space companies.

China's Long March 5 Rocket

According to the Guardian, China is building a much more powerful rocket:

China laid out plans yesterday to build a rocket with enough power to put a
space station into orbit, raising fresh questions about whether it aims to
compete or collaborate with the US in space. The Long March 5 rocket will have
almost three times as much thrust as the existing launch vehicle, putting it on
a par with developed countries in its ability to carry heavy satellites, state
media said. The announcement came as the Chang'e 1 lunar probe pushed further
into space than any previous Chinese spacecraft. China plans to put a robot on
the moon in 2012 and an astronaut by about 2020.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bigelow is Offering $760 Million for a Rocket

Bigelow Aerospace is offering a $760 million contract that can met their criteria for getting passengers to their inflatable orbital habitats.

Commentary on Private Space

Michael Belfiore has a commentary in the Financial Times about private spaceflight.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Discovery Lifts Off

It you didn't know Discovery lifted off for the ISS on Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Visit to Bigelow Aerospace

Vince Beiser visited Bigelow Aerospace's headquarters in Vegas and the has a write up in Wired.

The also have a photos and a the launch plan.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New COTS Competition for Rp/K's Funding

Since Rocketplane/Kistler hasn't met NASA's milestones, they have started the competition for their replacement. I would imagine SpaceDev and t/Space are the favorites.

Space Business Plan Competition

Space 2.0 is have a Space Business Plan Competition for university students. There is a $100,000 prize, so get business you little budding entrepreneurs.

SpaceX Completes CDR for COTS

SpaceX has completed the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Critical Design Review (CDR) for its first Falcon 9 / Dragon mission as required by NASA.

SpaceX is one of my favorite new space companies. They don't talk a lot, but they just keep rolling along with rockets and cargo and passing whatever milestones are thrown at them.

Just for your information, this CDR required "480 design documents to NASA for detailed review by its experts. At the review, twenty six speakers gave thirty two presentations on over two dozen different topics including aerodynamics, propulsion, communication, ground processing, flight operations, recovery and more."

Good job to Mr. Musk and his team.

Carnival of Space #25 is Up

Carnival of Space #25, which has a link to our article on space based solar power.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Space Review 10/15/2007

It's out:

Back to the future: The Outer Space Treaty turns 40

The problem with Freedom

Letter: the weaponization of space

Review: The Star Wars Enigma

Review: Endless Universe

How Private Space is Getting Past Tragedy

Here is an article on how private space (or new space) is getting past the tragedy the Scaled Composites has with their new SpaceShipTwo earlier this year.

History of Rocket Work in McGregor, Texas

Here is a history of some the rocket work done in McGregor, TX where SpaceX has been test firing engines since 2003.

NASA is Leaning toward Oct 23 Launch

After a safety group has looked at Discovery's wings, NASA is leaning towards a simple fix and continuing with the planned launch on October 23.

Carnival of Space #24 is Up

This week's Carnival of Space is up atSpace for Commerce, by Brian Dunbar:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Space Based Solar Power Study Paper

If you haven't yet read the NSSO paper on space based solar power, you should. It is really really interesting. I think it could open some eyes.

[update 10/15/2007] The link I has been broken. Here is the (currently) correct link. I fixed the orginal one as well, so it should work now.

NASA to get Wi-Fi

This is just funny.

$220 Billion in Space Spending in 2006

According to the Space Foundation, space spending topped $220 billion in 2006. This represents a %16 increase in space spending. While the greatest growth was in GPS related products, $30 million was spent on commercial space transportation. $20 million was for Anousheh Ansari's trip to the ISS and $10 million in Virgin Galactic deposits.

Self-sufficient Space Habitat

An Australian group has created a habitat design they claim is "90 to 95 percent self-sufficient." Luna Gaia, as it is called, uses microbes, called Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (or MELIiSSA), to recycle waste products, water, and carbon dioxide.

I wonder if Bigelow could use this?

Discovery may be Delayed due to Wing Problem

NASA is studying a problem with the thermal shielding on Discovery's wings that may delay the shuttle's launch. The original launch date was October 23.

Low Cost Missions to Near Earth Objects Workshop

NASA is hosting a workshop on missions to Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and how to keep the cost to a minimum.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lunar Photos

Japan's lunar orbiter, Kaguya, has returned its first pictures.

SpaceShipTwo on Hold

SpaceShipTwo is on hold until a California Occupational Safety and Health report is out. It is expected by 26 January. While Knight Two continues however.

Lunar Science Institue

NASA is forming a new Lunar Science Institute to be managed by Ames.

Space Solar Power Study

Here is the formal press release:

New Space Solar Power Organization Announced

The Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy
Will Pursue Recommendations of New NSSO-Led Study

Study Concludes Space Solar Power Could Deliver Clean, Renewable Energy for Planet,
But Requires a Coordinated National Program of Investment

Wednesday, October 10, 2007: The Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy (SSAFE), a new organization advocating investment in space-based solar power technologies to address the planet's future energy needs, was announced today at the National Press Club.

The coalition of thirteen leading research organizations and space advocacy groups focused their inaugural event on the announcement of a new study of space-based solar power led by the National Security Space Office (NSSO).

The study concludes that space-based solar power deserves substantial national investment as a path towards addressing America's future energy needs via a renewable energy source with no carbon emissions or hazardous waste. In the Space Solar Power concept, developed in the late nineteen-sixties by Dr. Peter Glaser, energy from sunlight is collected in space and transmitted wirelessly for use on Earth.

Mark Hopkins, Senior Vice President of the National Space Society, stated, "As the United States makes decisions now to answer the energy challenges of the next 50 years, space-based solar power must be a part of the answer. While the technical challenges are real, significant investment now can build Space Solar Power into the ultimate energy source: clean, green, renewable, and capable of providing the vast amounts of power that the world will need. Congress, federal agencies and the business community should begin that investment immediately."

The new Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy (SSAFE) will promote the findings of the NSSO-led study, and seek to communicate the benefits of the technology to business, government and the general public.

According to Air Force Colonel-Select M.V. 'Coyote' Smith, the leader of the study, "When we started this work I had my doubts about the technology. But as the facts poured in, it became obvious that my initial assessment was wrong. Not only is this possible, but space-based solar power is probably the greatest opportunity to develop a safe, clean source of energy that can readily be shared with all of humanity."

The founding members of SSAFE are the National Space Society, Space Frontier Foundation, Space Power Association, Aerospace Technology Working Group, Marshall Institute, Moon Society, ShareSpace Foundation, Space Studies Institute, Spaceward Foundation, AIAA Space Colonization Technical Committee, ProSpace, Space Enterprise Council, and Space Generation Foundation.



Still images of a space solar power system created for today's announcement are available at:

Video animations in NTSC and HD are available upon request. Email:

The NSSO-led study will be made available at:

New National Space Society white paper on Space Solar Power:

The website of the new Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy is:

SSAFE Founding Organizations and Contacts:

National Space Society
Mark Hopkins, Senior Vice President

Space Studies Institute
Lee Valentine, Executive Vice President

Space Enterprise Council
David Logsdon, Executive Director

Aerospace Technology Working Group
Ken Cox

Space Frontier Foundation
Margo Deckard, Space Solar Power Project Manager

Marshall Institute
Jeff Kueter, President

Moon Society
Peter Kokh, President

Frank Johnson, President

Space Generation Foundation
Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, President

Space Power Association
John Mankins, President

Spaceward Foundation
Ben Shelef, Co-founder

ShareSpace Foundation
Lisa Cannon

AIAA Space Colonization Technical Committee
Klaus Heiss, Chairman

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Interview with Burt Rutan

Dicover Magazine has an interview with creator of SpaceShipOne, Burt Rutan.

Here is a summary of his views on NASA:

No, no. NASA does hundreds of wonderful things. They send robots all over the solar system. They have scientists doing all kinds of stuff. Some of it is good work. The stuff that JPL [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California] does is fabulous work.

People think I’m a NASA critic. That’s not true. I’m just saying what they are doing on [the manned space program] is not looking for the breakthroughs that are needed. The breakthroughs are likely to come from folks who go out and try some new stuff.

But I have a tremendous amount of respect for what JPL does. NASA did some phenomenal research during the 1960s in response to [Yuri] Gagarin [the first cosmonaut], and very quickly we were driving cars and playing golf on the moon. That is something that made me very proud to be an American who sent taxpayer funds to that NASA.

Movie on Private Race to the Moon

Dreamworks is doing a movie on a private flight to the Moon.

(hat tip to Curmudgeons Corner)

New Space Review is Out

Our potential in space

Weaponization of space: who’s to blame?

Rebutting the regulatory myth

Galileo: is the symbol stumbling?

Review: Red Moon Rising

Profile on Space Adventures CEO

Eric Anderson's, CEO of the worlds first and currently only space tourism company, is profiled in USA Today's Executive Suite.

Rocketplane/Kistler President Resigns

William Byrd has resigned as Rp/K's President. They have seen some trouble lately with getting enough investment to stay in NASA's COTS program to provide orbital services.

[Update 8:32 PM CST] I can't ready. Randy Brinkley has resigned and William Byrd is the new president. Those of you who read English, already knew that :)

Space Age Products

CNN has a list of tools we use everyday that were help along by NASA.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Serenity 2?

Good God there may be a sequel to the best movie this Eon, Serenity. Keep your fingers crossed and keep buying the DVD (I may go buy another one just to keep up the fight :)

(thanks to Curmudgeons Corner)

NASTAR To Train Space Tourists

National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) will be training space tourist astronauts for Virgin Galactic in Philadelphia.

Pharmacy in Space

Thomas Pickens III, Chairman of SpaceHAB, wants to use the ISS for the drug industry.

NASA Gets More Money

Congress has given NASA $1 Billion extra dollars for 2008 to make up for money spent analysing the Columbia accident. This brings NASA's budget for 2008 to $18.5 billion.

New Astronauts

NASA is looking for 10-15 new astronauts to begin in 2009 and eventually go to the Moon. While I agree it is hard to go in knowing you won't fly for a long time (if ever), who among you would turn it down if NASA gave you a slot.

Separating Space & Science

Roger Pielke thinks space science should be moved to other agency's and NASA should focused on a vision of colonizing space. While I agree with him in principle, I don't think it solves the money problem for NASA, as the science money would go with the science. Certainly NASA would be more focused and that would gain some efficiency, I think the best plan is to have NASA support the efforts of private groups in colonizing space.

These types of efforts begin with small steps, such as space tourism and Bigelow's private space "hotels."

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Next Space Age

Alan Boyle views into the future of the Next Space Age.

X-Prize Cup

Leonard David has a preview of the X-Prize Cup October 27-28 which will feature such things as The SpaceX Dragon capsule on display. You don't want to miss this one at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Carnival of Space #23

This week's Carnival of Space is up:

I think this is the first time we've had an
entry about pigs. The entry is related to space, it
is about pigs on Mars.

Bigelow Aerospace Update

Leonard David at has an overview of where Bigelow Aerospace is headed. Remember that Bigelow launched the space module Genesis 1 & 2 to test out the inflatable structure they plan to build private orbiting stations in a few years.

QUID, the First Space Currency

The Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination, or QUID, has been developed by the Travelex to be the first currency in space.

The QUID has been designed to withstand the stresses of space travel and the extreme environment found in orbit around the Earth. It has also been created so that it can be purchased on earth in any one of the 176 currencies used around the globe.

Different colors and sizes are used to denote different values. They are valued from one to ten and by looking at todays rates one QUID would cost you $12.50, 6.25 Pounds, or 8.68 Euros.

Simberg Vs. Hickam

Rand Simberg and Homer Hickam have a running debate on the roll of NASA.

The 50th Anniversary of the Space Age

Today is the 50th anniversary of the space age when the world heard the beep beep of Sputnik.

Rocketplane/Kistler Hasn't Given Up

With the timeline to meet investment benchmarks approaching, Rp/K has not given up.

China May Beat us back to the Moon

Mike Griffin says that China may go to the Moon first.

Private Space Rundown

CNET has a current state of private space at Sputnik's 50th anniversary.

They also ask if we even need NASA anymore.

SpaceDev Receives Contract for Solar Thermal Propulsion

DARPA has given SpaceDev a $3.75 million contract to develop solar thermal propulsion and bus design for the High Delta-V satellite program.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Space TV

RLV and Space Transport News has links to the Celestial Mechanics channel at the video site has a big selection of NewSpace related videos.

Next Space Tourist

Richard Garriott, game designer and multimillionaire, is set to go to the ISS in October 2008. His father is former astronaut and Vice President of Space Programs at Teledyne Brown Engineering (where yours truly used to work) Owen Garriott.

Discovery Ready for October 23 Launch

Discovery is on the launch pad and ready for its October 23 launch to the ISS.

Michael Belfiore on Bloomberg

Bloomberg has an interview with Michael Belfiore on commercial space.

Space Review is Out

Check out today's Space Review:

Space myths

Miscalculations of Galileo: Europe’s answer to GPS is floundering

Beyond the Outer Space Treaty

Titan of the world

Review: A Ball, A Dog, and A Monkey

Friday, September 28, 2007

Four Views on Space

USA Today has four different views on space from Konrad Dannenberg, Mike, Griffin, Elon Musk, & Thomas Stafford.

Carnival of Space #22 is Up

This week's Carnival of Space is up:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mars Rover Gets First Victoria Crater View

Opportunity has made its first stop in the Victoria Crater on Mars.

Dawn is on its Way to the Asteroid Belt

NASA launched the Dawn probe to the Asteroid Belt today.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Carnival of Space #21 is Up

This week's Carnival of Space is up:

Many of the posts were about the recent announcement by Google for the Lunar contest.

Scientific American October Issue on The Future of Space Exploration

I The following are some of the stories that are now available online and they are as follows:

"Racing Past the Moon"
Today competition matters less than conquering space.

To the Moon and Beyond

By Charles Dingell, William A. Johns and Julie Kramer White

Humans are returning to the moon. This time the plan is to stay a while.

Five Essential Things to Do in Space

By George Musser

Planetary scientists have a quintet of goals for exploring the solar system.

Also, this article includes an interesting multimedia presentation that summarizes the 5 goals for exploring the solar system. This can be found here:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More on the ESA SpaceX Falcon 9 Contract

Elon Musk says that while the European satellite contract SpaceX received is not on the launch manifest, it is the seventh [whoops] launch contract for the Falcon 9 (including three COTS). It will be their first geostationary launch.

Note: I was incorrect, it wasn't ESA per se, but Avanti Communications Group using ESA money.

New X-Prize Annoucement Today

After 1:00 CST we should know what all the hype is about. Spaceref has some interesting stuff:

[NASA] Deputy Administrator Dale will participate in an announcement regarding the X PRIZE Foundation at the X PRIZE stage at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 13. She will unveil the NASA 50th anniversary logo at 12:30 p.m. at the mini stage in the
Exploration Pavilion. Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin also will speak.

I think I know what it is, but I will wait for the announcement. It is really cool.

[update 11:27 am] You can watch the video teaser at The X-Prize web site.

[update 2:13 pm CST] Welcome to the Google Lunar X-Prize.

Here are the rules:

COMPETITION GUIDELINES: To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a team must successfully land a privately funded craft on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission goals of roaming about the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending a defined data package, called a “Mooncast”, back to Earth.

PRIZES: The total purse of the Google Lunar X PRIZE is $30 million (USD).

• GRAND PRIZE: A $20 million Grand Prize will be awarded to the team that can soft land a craft on the Moon that roams for at least 500 meters and transmits a Mooncast back to Earth. The Grand Prize is $20M until December 31st 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15M until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation

• SECOND PRIZE: A $5 million Second Prize will be offered as well, providing an extra incentive for teams to continue to compete, and increasing the possibility that multiple teams will succeed. Second place will be available until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation

• BONUSES: An additional $5 million in bonus prizes can be won by successfully completing additional mission tasks such as roving longer distances (> 5,000 meters), imaging man made artifacts (e.g. Apollo hardware), discovering water ice, and/or surviving through a frigid lunar night (approximately 14.5 Earth days). The competing lunar spacecraft will be equipped with high-definition video and still cameras, and will send images and data to Earth, which the public will be able to view on the Google Lunar X PRIZE website.

Links for More Info:

Carnival of Space #20 is Up

This week's Carnival of Space is up:

Thank you for your interest in the carnival.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NASA COTS to Recompete

NASA has decided to recompete the $175 million left on RocketPlane/Kistler's COTS agreement. NASA removed Rp/K recently for failing to meet funding milestones.

ESA Selects SpaceX

The European Space Agency has selected SpaceX's Falcon 9 to launch the HYLAS communications satellite technology demonstrator.

Japan to Launch Lunar Orbiter on Friday

Japan is set to launch an orbiter called SELENE to the Moon on Friday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Sea is Burning

A "Garage" Scientist, John Kanzius , has found a way to burn sea water (yes sea water) by shooting radio waves at it. A Penn State researcher, Dr. Rustum Roy, has recreated the experiment.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rocketplane/Kistler Looses COTS

NASA has terminated their COTS agreement with Rocketplane/Kistler for not meeting the funding milestones. Hopefully the money meant for them will go to SpaceDev or T/Space.

Aviation Week has the full story.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Military Space Study to Continue

Col. M.V. “Coyote” Smith, leader of the National Security Space Office study on feasibility of space-based solar power has been so impressed with the idea during the study, he has extended it passed its original September 15 end date. He is set to give an interim report of their findings on October 11.

Phoenix Passes In-Flight Test

The Phoenix Mars lander has passed its in-flight tests. It will reach the red planet on May 25, 2008.

Russian Space Tourist

Vladimir Gruzdev, a grocery store owner and politician has charted with Space Adventures to be the first Russian to visit the International Space Station (ISS) as a tourist.

Carnival of Space #19 is Up

Fraser Cain is hosting this week's Carnival
of Space at:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Space Lifestyle Magazine


GRAND FORKS, ND / Sept. 2 / -- Space Lifestyle Magazine, an digital edition publication on the people and happenings in space and the space sector launched today from their site, New Forks, LLC ( is a virtual media company based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Subscribers to the free online magazine will be notified of the launch of the magazine through an email blast.

Subscribers and anyone who goes to the site can view the magazine online with any standard Internet browser. By using a Published Web Format (PWF), from the magazine’s publisher Texterity, Inc., readers will have the fastest loading time and the sharpest text to read their digital edition. The premier issue of Space Lifestyle Magazine not only has pictures and text, much like a traditional magazine, but readers can also watch video.

To attract subscribers to Space Lifestyle Magazine, New Forks has held a contest, where the 10,000th, 20,000th, 30,000th and 60,000th subscriber will each win a prize. The 60,000th subscriber will win a parabolic flight ticket from the Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G)., the top-ranked Internet radio station, has provided all other prizes. All winners of the contest will be announced together at a future date.

“Everyone involved has worked really hard to put forth this first issue,” said New Forks, company President and Editor-in-Chief of Space Lifestyle Magazine, David Bullock, “Being a virtual company, and both in media and within the space sector and work, advice and help has come from all over.”

Virtual contributors to the magazine include writers Nancy Atkinson, Lois Elfman, Michael Ricciardi and Robert Yeiser. Michael Delia has created layout and art remotely.

New Forks, LLC ( is an independent, start-up media company based in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Contact: David Bullock, President of New Forks, LLC. Tel. 347-404-5431 E-mail:

Spaceport America Design

Spaceport America has released their design.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Elon Musk Named Innovator of the Year

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, has been named Innovator of the Year by R&D Magazine.

SpaceX Dragon Accepted by NASA

The Dragon capsule by SpaceX has satisfied NASA's safety panel for COTS cargo transport.

Micro-Documentary on Spaceports

Where is Your Nearest Spaceport?

Micro-Documentary by The Futures Channel Provides a Look at a New Generation of Launch Facilities

Burbank, CA -- Whether you’re talking about privately owned and operated rockets to ferry cargo to low earth orbit, or the prepaid customers in line for the opportunity to weightlessly gaze upon Earth from outer space, the “personal spaceflight revolution” will bring a new infrastructure element to our communities: Spaceports.

“Spaceports,” a micro-documentary released today by The Futures Channel, provides a down-to-earth look at this new generation of launch facilities. To date, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has licensed commercial spaceports in five states.

Going on location in New Mexico and Mojave, California, the short video features interviews with FAA Associate Administrator Patricia Grace Smith, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, Alex Tai, Vice President of Operations at Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and two-time Space Shuttle Pilot and one-time Space Shuttle Commander Rick Searfoss, among others.

“This film treats viewers to an inspiring preview of coming attractions of the launch facilities and spaceships that will enable the era of space tourism and public space travel. ‘Spaceports’ reveals how the private sector and bold entrepreneurs are bringing innovation and new ideas to an area that has traditionally been the domain of government-sponsored programs,” said Alan Ladwig, Manager of Space Systems for WBB Consulting. Widely regarded as a space outreach pioneer, Ladwig, as an associate administrator at NASA in the 1990’s, spearheaded the agency’s Teacher in Space Program.

Accompanying the video is a “Critical Thinking” section which poses questions that professionals have to consider in planning and building spaceports, and which invites viewers to take part in the discussion. Like other Futures Channel movies, “Spaceports” is designed to enhance interest in math and science by putting those subjects into a larger real-world context, in this case space exploration.

“With captivating video of space travel, simulations, and interviews with experts, students will learn about the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in the emerging personal spaceflight industry,” Ladwig added.

The Futures Channel was founded in 1999 with the goal of using new media technologies to create a channel between the scientists, engineers, explorers and visionaries who are shaping the future, and today’s learners who will one day succeed them.

Watch the movie:

Visit The Futures Channel: