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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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Details on the Human Rated Atlas V for Bigelow Aerospace

NASA Space has details on the human rated Atlas V to launch both Bigelow's inflatable space modules and people to and from them.

Last September, Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin began a study of using the Atlas V EELV as a possible tourism vehicle.

The plan is to put the space station in a 264nmi circular repeating ground track orbit at 41 degrees inclination that would provide daily launch opportunities.

For more general information on the Bigelow's Inflatable modules, see Feb. IEEE Spectrum

Beautiful Picture of Mars

Here is a beautiful picture of Mars with the milky way behind it from the ESA's Rosetta Probe.

China Wants to Sign a Space Weapons Treaty

After their space weapon test earlier this month, China said Tuesday that it wants to sign a treaty to prevent the weaponization of space.

"We hold that space as the common heritage of all mankind and should be used for peaceful purposes. We are willing to enhance international cooperation in this regard," she said.

Yeah I'll bet the wolf wanted the sheepdog to sign a treaty of no weapons in the field with the sheep too. I think I'll pass.

Weapons in space are going to happen.

STS-123; ISS Extended

NASA has named the STS-123 crew:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said U.S. Navy Capt. Dominic Gorie will command space shuttle Endeavour when it launches in December. U.S. Air Force Col. Gregory Johnson will serve as shuttle pilot. Astronauts assigned to the mission are Richard Linnehan, Air Force Maj. Robert Behnken, Navy Capt. Michael Foreman and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi.

NASA has decided to continue supplying the Space Station with either the currently paper Ares I or whomever takes on the COTS contract until 2020.

Griffin Cleared

The investigation of whether Mike Griffin, NASA's Chief, used his office to help former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is over. Although he didn't do anything illegal, Office of Special Counsel sent a warning letter to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, saying he should have used better judgment.

A Week of Fallen Heros

This past week, we honor those who died making space exploration a reality:

Launch Pad 34 on Jan. 27, 1967, Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil ``Gus'' Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were killed as a fire engulfed the capsule of Apollo 1. It was two years later that we landed two men on the Moon.

On Jan. 28, 1986, The Crew of STS-51L boarded the Space Shuttle Challenger. 73 seconds into the flight, the shuttle was destroyed along with Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SpaceDev Award; More SpaceX Launchs; SpaceShip2 Design Plans

SpaceDev Wins Prestigious Local Business Award
SpaceDev, Inc. announced that it won the Poway Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year Award for 2006.
The Military is looking at SpaceX for the rest of the TacSat launches. (If TacSat 1 goes well).
Lots of info on SpaceShip2 design and plans.

More on China's ASAT Test

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizonia doesn't buy China's peaceful intentions in space.

"Chinese military doctrine and numerous writings make it clear China does not believe space can or should be free of military capabilities," said Kyl.
John Bersia may have the only real long term answer to China:

That is where the Chinese people enter the discussion; I believe in them much more than I do in their government. They are the ones who will lead the third revolution. They will speak when their government reaches too far, spends too lavishly, and otherwise threatens China's position and growth. Once roused, they will take action.
Speaking of China in space, the Ministry of Science is currently discussing budget requirements for programs including more manned space missions and Lunar probes for 2007.

XPrize Releasing New Prizes

The X-Prize foundation, header by Tom Vander Ark of Bill & Melinda Gates fame, is releasing new prizes in more technology frontiers in March

Bigelow and Virgin Galactic are Wonders of the Modern World

CNN lists Bigelow Aerospace's Genesis I and Virgin Galactic's plans as wonders of the modern world.

The first commercial space flights are due to start in 2008 with Virgin Galactic offering a sub-orbital flight lasting around 2.5 hours at a cost of $200,000 -- Dennis Tito, the first space tourist paid $20m in 2001. A space hotel built by Bigelow Aerospace hopes to be orbiting the Earth by 2012.

Science is starting to Piss me Off

On reading an article on the budget crunch for NASA in 2007, I found this little snarky comment:

It wouldn't be the first time "sciences are gutted," said Handberg of UCF.

My entire life, NASA manned program has been crap. Science has run NASA. What with planetary probes, weather studies, "Project Earth", and related stuff.

Yeah yeah, I know the ISS and Shuttle get the majority of the budget, but lets face it that has been all about science not exploration. So whine to someone else, I have been waiting for this for 31 years.

NASA Speaks on Weight & Performance of the Ares I/Orion

Scott Horowitz, NASA's Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Talks about the reports of overweight/under performance of the Ares I & Orion programs.

This caught my eye

Horowitz also downplayed the notion put forth by some that you might use two "Ares IV" vehicles - one for crew, the other for the lunar lander, as an alternate way to get humans to the Moon. Among other things he said that such an approach would require dramatic changes to the LSAM (lander).

How can any change to a paper design be "dramatic"? I have said it before and I will say it again, NASA needs to be more agile and less rigid in its designs if any of this is to work long term.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bigelow Aerospace Wins the Space Foundation's Space Achievement Award

Congratulations to all the folks at Bigelow Aerospace on winning the Space Foundation's 2007 Space Achievement Award.

The Space Achievement Award annually recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated space achievement, breakthrough space technology, or program or product success deemed to represent a critical milestone in the evolution of space exploration and development.

Robert Bigelow will receive the award Monday, April 9 at the 23rd annual National Space Symposium, Colorado Springs. He will also be participating in a panel about "Why People Who Could Invest in Anything Are Investing in Space" on April 12.

The Space Foundations CEO, Elliot G. Pulham said. "Bigelow's successful endeavor is paving the way for a robust commercial space market."

That sounds like a fun weekend.

Ares 1/Orion Status

NASA has reported the status of their new space vehicle and rocket Ares I and Orion.

New Space Tibits

The FAA has asked the Space Frontier Foundation to help with ideas on risk and how to control it when passengers begin sub-orbital flights in 2009.
SpaceX is putting off their static fire until mid-February.

Endeavour is being Prepped for Launch

Endeavour is being readied for it's March 15 launch. Scott Kelly will command the crew. Flying as the first "educator astronaut" will be Barbara Morgan. She was back-up to Teacher-In-Space Christa McAuliffe, who died in the Challenger disaster.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bumping Asteroids

Eward Lu is still pushing his idea to bump an asteroid. Might work.

NASA News and Such

NASA is planning four spacewalks in February at the ISS.
Glenn is having a memorial for fallen astronauts.
NASA is having a ceremony to transition the historic Operations and Checkout Building high bay for use by the Constellation Program.
New Line may be making a series of tv shows about the building of the new generation of NASA rockets.

How China is Keeping Space Peaceful

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a Press Conference on Jan 23,

China has informed relevant parties, including the U.S., on the recent test in the outer space. I'd like to emphasize that China consistently advocates peaceful utilization of the outer space, and opposes to weaponization of arms race in the outer space. Neither has China has participated, nor will it participate in arms race of the outer space in any form.

I gotta say, China is building and testing weapons to attack outer space assets. They are not participating in a arms race in outer space because the don't want anyone else to do it. As soon as someone does, poof arms race. Not that I have a big problem with that in general, but China scares me, frankly.

Lets parse the comments and add what he really means:

China has informed relevant parties, including the U.S., on the recent test in the outer space [after everyone found out]. I'd like to emphasize that China consistently advocates peaceful utilization of the outer space [by other countries], and opposes to weaponization of arms race in the outer space [so no one but us should build spaced weapons]. Neither has China has participated, nor will it participate in arms race of the outer space in any form [since we are the only one's doing it].

India is Nuts

Srikanth Kondapalli, an associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, seems to think China's ASAT program is no big deal as they have had it for 10 years. And also since:

"Additionally, the US is planning to set up space-based troops by 2015 to have supreme command over space based assets"

What? I wish we had the capability station troops in space. Were are they getting this? I think the lack of meat is harming his brain.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

NASA Robots; Russian Moon Shot; China Shrugs

NASA is developing robots to "locate, excavate, extract, transport, process, store and perform waste disposal"
Russia and the ESA are working on going around the moon in 2016.
China finally admitted their ASAT test with a shrug of the shoulders and a big so what? Space Politics has more commentary.

COTS is a Win/Win

According to Spaceworks Engineering COTS is good for everyone. Clark Lindsey has more. Here is the full report.

"The popular opinion is that the COTS approach is cheaper for NASA and makes good business sense for the commercial companies, but no publicly available study prior to this one has investigated the sincerity of this claim," according to Dr. Dominic DePasquale, Systems Engineer at SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) and the lead author of this study, "SEI has now determined through advanced economic simulation that the benefits of NASA's COTS program and the future ISS support market are real."


I found this on an ad today. Too neat.

Arcturua Tracker UAV

Super Light Storage

This is cool if it can be scaled up:

Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image's worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.

New Address

Space Pragmatism has taken a step forward by dissing the blogspot thing and getting our own domain name. You can now get the latest and greatest space news at:

and will forward you there, if you are too lazy to update your links.

Thanks All,
Dan Schrimpsher

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bigelow Update

Bigelow Aerospace has posted some new photos of the Eart from it's ground-breaking private space module, Genesis I.

Also they have a new Where in the World? game starting up. Do you have the mad geography skills to win?

Remember the launch of the Genesis II is comming up in March or April.

New Space Tibits

Steven King wants to go to space and Reason magazine has an article on new space.
Sir Richard Branson's space plans.

Moon Opinions

Some people still don't believe we went to the Moon.
Some clear ideas about returning to the Moon.
The New York Times things we should use space to look back at ourselves.
Using Moon dust to make the Moon self-sustaining

China's ASAT Test

Here is Rand Simberg's opinion of the Chinese ASAT test earlier this month.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

More on China's ASAT

China said on Friday:

BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) - China said other nations have no reason to feel threatened by its space program, amid reports that it had shot down a satellite for the first time

Somehow, I don't feel a lot safer.

Space Dev's Starsys Inc. Get's a new MDA Contract

Silently, SpaceDev continues to make money any way they can. I think there is a future there. -djs

SpaceDev subsidiary receives contract

POWAY ---- SpaceDev says that its subsidiary, Starsys Inc., in partnership with the University of Colorado Laboratory for Space Physics, has been awarded a $750,000 contract from the Missile Defense Agency. Starsys will design and develop a nonsticking cover seal system for the Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle program.

The contract is scheduled to be completed in 2008.

New Prizes at Space Shot

Space Shot is offereing more prizes for their skill game. Take a look --djs.

Free Space Shot Gives the People a Free Shot at a Trip to Space

Ongoing tournament-style game has six grand prizes to choose from.

Austin, TX (PRWeb) January 15, 2007 -- Space Shot, Inc. announces today the grand opening of its free game site,, offering winners a trip to space. Players of all ages are eligible to win.

Contestants can compete for one of six prizes:
• A flight for two around the Moon on Lunar Express and $100 million.
• A flight for one around the Moon and $50 million.
• An orbital flight and $10 million.
• A flight to outer space and a $100,000 scholarship or $100,000 if graduated from college.
• A $300,000 scholarship or $300,000 if graduated from college.
• A flight in zero G and a $2,250 scholarship or $2,250 if graduated from college.

About the skill game:

As a child, Dr. Sam Dinkin, the founder of Free Space Shot, dreamed of spaceflight. As a top economics student at Caltech, he realized that the key to having more astronauts lay in making space exploration a viable business venture. Dr. Dinkin went on to create a game to convert advertising dollars into space flights. Schools that participate can receive a portion of the advertising proceeds.

"Spaceflight is awesome. But you have to make a lot of money to pay for it. You can take out a $100,000 in student loans for college, but not for spaceflight," said Dr. Dinkin. "I want people to take space flights while they are young enough to want to. So I put together a skill game for students.

"Kids will no longer be limited to flying around the country when they grow up. With this game, they'll be free to fly around the Moon!"

To win the Free Space Shot skill game, students research, then predict the weather for Central Park for the next day. The students' predictions are then paired with opponents'. Students may make as many predictions as they like each day. The next day at 5:00 PM Eastern Time, students can log in and see the results of their predictions. The student with the closer prediction is GO for the next milestone. Every milestone is played the same way. The students who win at all milestones win trips to space.

Free Space Shot conducted sneak previews of the educational game in both Mexico City and Austin, Texas. "I think Space Shot is cool because you can go to space, it gives you internet games to play and it can pay for your college," said one Mexico City student.

Winning students can take the spaceflights upon turning 18 and passing a physical exam. According to US law, spaceflight vendors must ensure that winners fully understand the risk of flight before agreeing to fly. Dr. Dinkin stresses that no personal information is collected from students. "If a person under 13 wants to play, a parent or a teacher provide their name so that we can award a flight if the player wins without the player providing any online personal information. Our site is a completely safe environment which offers kids the chance to achieve the dream of being an astronaut."

About Space Shot, Inc.
Space Shot, Inc. is a Texas corporation dedicated to democratizing space via

Space Review post:

Site release:

# # #

About Sam Dinkin:

Dr. Sam Dinkin is CEO of Space Shot, Inc., which has just opened offering a free educational skill game where students can win free trips to space including a flight around the Moon. He has founded the Eclipse Danger Foundation to deploy more automatic external defibrillators than the number of people who have flown in space. He is a frequent contributor at The Space Review, and sponsor of a space journalism prize three years running. Sam sits on the advisory boards of the Colony Fund, the Lifeboat Foundation and the Space Settlement Institute. Sam is published in Astropolitics and has had his recommendations for space property rights adopted by the Aldridge Commission. He is the author of a forthcoming children's space elevator book. Sam is also Senior Advisor to the Claro Group, Chief Economist of Solar startup U-linc energy, and Chief Economist at Optimal Auctions, Inc. He has designed and implemented auctions for over $120 billion in cost of goods sold including all of the electricity for the New Jersey rate payers since 2002. Prior to that he was an applied visionary at IBM Research. While there he filed over 100 patents including a patent on a cell phone that used both wifi and cellular at the same time. Sam's Ph.D. in economics from the University of Arizona was under thesis advisor Vernon Smith, 2002 Nobel Laureate in economics. His B.S. in economics is from Caltech. Sam can be contacted toll free at (888) 434-6546 or

Background: This week a new game is being launched to help all people, including kids and teachers, meet their goal of spaceflight. The game, which has been featured on and Space Review, offers participants a chance at a free trip to the Moon as well as other space flight prizes, can be found at The skill game asks individuals to predict tomorrow's weather in Central Park. The game has been tested in classrooms in both Mexico City and Texas to the delight of players. (Even though the game is designed to appeal to kids, there is no age restriction on playing.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

SpaceX Lanuch Delay

This from Elon:

January 19, 2007: DemoFlight 2 Launch Update

During our final check-outs prior to static fire, we uncovered an anomaly with the thrust vector control (TVC) pitch actuator on the second stage that will result in launch being pushed to February. Since this is not used during the static fire, we have decided to push forward with that test in order to acquire valuable data on engine ignition, pad acoustics, and the overall system response. The static fire is now planned to occur between Saturday and Tuesday (California time). This test will proceed very slowly and then only burns for about four seconds, so will not be webcast to avoid boring people silly. We will post a video afterwards.

Upon completion of the static fire, we will take the rocket back into the hangar to thoroughly investigate the TVC issue. With the range available to us only until January 23 (Kwaj needs to reconfigure for an incoming Minuteman mission), this means launch is now planned for mid-February. As I’ve mentioned previously, don’t hold your breath for this launch. Given the large number of robustness improvements and the fact that our vehicle/pad health verification system has increased from about 30 checks to almost 1000, shifts in the launch date are to be expected. Overall, the SpaceX team is quite happy with the smooth progress so far.


SpaceX Falcon I Launch Prep

The Falcon I is preparing to launch, according to Kimbal Musk's every useful blog.

Sunset on Omelek with the Upgraded Falcon 1
(courtesy of Kwajalein Atoll and Rockets)

Why Youngsters are not Impressed with NASA

A Dittmar Associates survey of 18-25 year olds found a depressing lack of interest in NASA's program. While ADD may explain some of it, that seems a pat answer.

Jeff Foust (the one man space press) thinks it may not be space but the message NASA is putting out. When asked about space tourism and other private ventures, the 18-25 year olds show much more interest.

So how can NASA capitalize on this? Well COTS is an obvious push. Just doing something exciting would help. Just my $0.02

Growing Concern over China's ASAT

Here a growing list of articles on China's test of ASAT technology on their own weather satellite:

Govt protests against China's space missile testABC Online - Australia

Chinese Test ASAT? - College Park,MD,USA.

Jeremy Warner's Outlook: DSG's John Clare is in as tough a space ...Independent - London,England,UK

Bold move escalates space war debateMSNBC - USA

Good news: China stuns US intel by testing anti-satellite missileHot Air - MD,USA

China Space Attack: UnstoppableHuffington Post - New York,NY,USA

China Tests Anti-Satellite Weapon, Unnerving USNew York Times - New York,NY,USA

US, China: Successful ASAT Test?Stratfor - USA11,

Race to the Moon오마이뉴스 - South Korea

India fourth-biggest M&A target in Asia-Pacific IT spaceZee News - Noida,India

China, Russia developing space weaponsWorld Peace Herald - Washington,DC,USA

China Tests anti-satellite weapon - US agenciesChina Daily - China

NASA News and Such

NASA is getting ready to launch five satellites to study magnetic storms and auroras. The launch should occur next month and is part of the THEMIS project. This will be the largest number of scientific satellites NASA has ever launched on a single rocket.
NASA might move up the Atlantis Launch to March 15 in order to relieve strains on the ISS. It is currently set for March 16.
The James Webb Space Telescopes prime contractor, Northrop Grumman, has reached a milestone with the passing of the mirror backplane.
NASA has award a grant to UC Santa Barbra professor Luann Becker and his team to help find life on Mars.
New Horizons, the Pluto bound probe, will make it closest approach to Jupiter on Feb 28, 2007. The flyby will allow NASA to test many of it's instruments before its 2015 encounter with Pluto. It will also allow scientists to get close of images of Jupiter.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Misc Space News for Today

Progress has launched to take supplies to the ISS.
Mike Griffin has an Oped piece: To the Moon and Beyond.

China's New Space Weapons

China apparently, for all their hand wringing has developed an anti-satellite weapon of their own. I, quite frankly, am shocked at their deception.


No, Not Really.

Update: Here is the Aviation Weekly article about China destroying an aging weather satellite with their new toy.

Blue Origin's Updated Web Site

Blue Origin has a new web site with actual pictures and stuff. As most of you know, Blue Origin has been very secretive until recently about the space craft they are working on.

The New Shepard prototype, the Goddard, is shown in various stages of test and taking off in this video. There are four or five more videos on their site.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another SpaceX Update

Update form Elon:

DemoFlight 2 Launch Update

The static fire has moved to Friday (California time) and launch to Monday, January 22. We have not encountered any new issues – the shift in timing is primarily to provide for additional risk reduction activities on site, as we continue to operate with a healthy paranoia.
As stated in the prior update, there is a high likelihood that the dates will continue to change, given the broad array of vehicle robustness upgrades. This will remain true all the way up to the final few seconds of the countdown, as our new health verification software executes hundreds of systems checks between engine ignition at T-3 sec and liftoff at T-0, when the hold down clamps release the rocket for flight. This is a critical phase for verification, given that the vehicle will have undergone substantial state changes throughout the first stage and avionics system.


SpaceX Launch; Mike Griffin's Speech;Idiotic Ideas about COTS

Space X has a launch window for January 21 and 22:

Going forward, a static fire is planned Thursday, January 18 (California time). We have a launch window on January 21 and 22 (California time) and are working with the range to secure a couple of additional days as contingency. Should we go beyond that, which is still a good possibility as we work with the upgraded vehicle, pad, and procedures, the next available launch window is mid February. There will be a live webcast and a media call in line for the launch. Details will be provided shortly.


Mike Griffin talks with the Space Transportation Association about why NASA can't just "get out of the way of space development." He did make this quite amusing comment:

So, let me acknowledge that, yes, government is not usually very efficient. I am sure that you are shocked – shocked – to hear this. And while I like to think that we really try to do our best, NASA is part of government

Jeffery Bell needs to fact check. I am trying hard not to resort to name calling.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bigelow Aerospace Genesis II Launch Delayed

Statement from Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert T. Bigelow

Las Vegas, NV 01/15/07 –

Unfortunately, we have recently received notification from our launch provider, ISC Kosmotras, that the launch of Genesis II will be delayed by at least 60 days. I know, we are disappointed too.

During a launch that occurred directly after the successful deployment of Genesis I, Kosmotras experienced its first failure in late July of last year. Since that time, Kosmotras engineers, as well as their Ukrainian partners at SDO Yuzhnoye, have conducted a thorough analysis of the Dnepr launch vehicle. The Kosmotras/Yuzhnoye team have successfully identified, evaluated and resolved the problem that caused the failure. Kosmotras has assured Bigelow Aerospace that the Dnepr will soon be prepared to safely and successfully return to flight.

Naturally, we are all disappointed because the spacecraft was and is ready to ship out to meet the original Jan. 30 launch date. Currently, our spacecraft is awaiting shipment to Russia with all your photos and personal items, etc. onboard. We now expect to ship the spacecraft for flight sometime in the early part of March for a launch on or about April 1.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Genesis II stands ready for its mission and we are putting this additional time to good use by testing and retesting its systems. If Kosmotras can deliver on its current schedule, we expect to ship Genesis II to Russia as we said above at some point in early March for a launch on or about April 1st.

If this situation changes or we receive new or different information from Kosmotras, we will post additional announcements on the Bigelow Aerospace Website at

We’re looking forward to doubling our footprint in space with the launch of Genesis II later this year, and, with all of you, taking another step forward in this bold adventure.

— Robert T. Bigelow

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dateline January 3, 2007

Hope everyone had a good holiday. On to 2007 and the stars -djs