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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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

NASA Say Shuttle is a Go for March 11

NASA has given the green light for Space Shuttle Endeavor to launch at 2:28 a.m. EST March 11 for a 16 day mission to the ISS to deliver a Japanese logistics module and a Canadian robot.

SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch

Due to a great deal of work with the Falcon 1, 9 and the Dragon capsule, SpaceX has delayed the first launch of their Falcon 9 until early next year.

SpaceDev Wins Asteroid Tracking Competition

SpaceDev and partner SpaceWorks Engineering designed a craft called Farsight that won an asteroid tracking competition. Farsight tracked the asteroid Apophis (a somewhat unnerving name to Stargate SG-1 fans - djs) that should come within 30,000 km of the Earth in 2029 and has a slight chance of hitting us in 2036. The competition was sponsored by The Planetary Society, NASA and ESA.

ESA Jules Vern Moves to its Launcher

The European Space Agency has moved its ATV, dubbed Jules Vern, to the launcher. It is set to launch on March 8 (next Saturday) from French Guiana.

Moon Trucks

Wired has some photos on a concept for a Moon Truck for astronauts once NASA establishes a base on the south pole.

NASA Warns of Job Cuts

NASA has warned 1000s of workers that in 2010 when the shuttle is retired, many of them could loose their jobs. Most of these loses would come in Florida and Louisiana.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Best Image of the Moon's South Pole

NASA, using radar imaging in California, has created the best images of the Moon's south pole ever. These images have up to 40 times more resolution than the images taken by Clementine in 1994. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter due to launch later this year, should have twice as much resolution as this image.

[update 2/29/08] New Scientist has some YouTube clips of a lunar lander based on these new images.

Space Tourism the Next Step in Human Evolution?

Brent Rose thinks Virgin Galactic will finally make space a "primary conduit to human evolution" by taking anyone willing to pay.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Report from the Exploration Conference

Rob Coppinger is blogging from the Exploration Conference in Denver.

(hat tip to RLV and Space Transport News).

NASA to Hit Moon with Two Probes

NASA is planning to launch two probes at the Moon's south pole to check for more ice.

NASA Tries to Fire up Public

NASA is trying to get the public more excited about space by pushing the advancements it brings to the Earth, such as insulin pumps.

I think they would do better to get people out of orbit.

SpaceDev to Produce Gear Boxes for NASA Mars Science Laboratory

SpaceDev has won the contract to product the gear boxes for the Mars Science Laboratory for NASA.

SpaceX Completes Qualification Testing of Merlin Regeneratively Cooled Engine for Falcon 1 Rocket

Hawthorne CA – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announced today that it has completed the qualification testing program of its Merlin 1C next generation liquid fueled rocket booster engine for use in the Falcon 1 rocket.

Tests were conducted at the SpaceX Texas Test Facility near Waco, TX, on a Merlin 1C configured for powering the first stage of a Falcon 1 rocket. After completing development testing in November of 2007, the qualification program began to verify the final design features on an actual production engine, clearing the way for full-scale manufacturing.

“Our propulsion and test teams finished the qualification program with a record-breaking day that included four full mission duration firings on the engine,” said Tom Mueller, Vice President of Propulsion for SpaceX. “This marathon run brought the total operating time on a single engine to over 27 minutes, which is more than ten complete flights. The engine meets or exceeds all requirements for thrust, performance and durability.”

“This was the final development milestone required for the next Falcon 1 flight,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. “In the coming weeks we’ll begin qualifying Merlin for the higher thrust and performance levels required by our Falcon 9 rocket, keeping us on track for delivering the first Falcon 9 vehicle to Cape Canaveral by year end.”

The single Merlin 1C will power SpaceX’s next Falcon 1 mission, scheduled to lift off in Spring of 2008 from the SpaceX launch complex in the Central Pacific atoll of Kwajalein. The far larger Falcon 9 uses nine Merlins on the first stage, and a single Merlin in vacuum configuration powers the Falcon 9 second stage.

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.
In its Falcon 1 configuration, Merlin 1C has a thrust at sea level of 78,000 lbs, a vacuum thrust of 90,000 pounds and a vacuum specific impulse of 301 seconds. In generating this thrust, Merlin consumes 300 lbs/second of propellant and the chamber and nozzle, cooled by 90 lbs/sec of kerosene, are capable of absorbing 10 MW of heat energy.

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. With a production rate of one engine per week by late 2008, SpaceX will produce more rocket booster engines than the rest of US production combined and more than 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.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Space Review: 2/25/2008

This weeks Space Review is out:

Hale and farewell

Satellite shootdown overcomes bureaucracy

Seven generations: a re-evaluation of the Paine Report

John Glenn and the Flying Banana

Review: Twilight War

Dress Rehearsal for Next Shuttle Launch

Astronauts will strap into the Shuttle Endeavour today in a dress rehearsal for the March 11 liftoff. The trip will carry the first part of the Japanese Kibo science research facility and two Canadian robot arms to the ISS. The 20 turnaround after Atlantis landed on the 20th of this month is the fastest since the shuttle returned to service in 2005.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Great Planet Debate

Next August the "Great Planet Debate" will be held at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. Apparently the definition of a planet the IAU created last year just hasn't stuck with people. Critics say the letter of the definition leaves Jupiter out as a planet.

The X PRIZE Foundation Announces Official Contenders in Private Moon Race

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- 02/21/08 -- The X PRIZE Foundation and Google, Inc. today announced the first ten teams to register for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million in prizes. This international group of teams will compete to land a privately funded robotic craft on the Moon that is capable of roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth.

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, announced the teams at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. "I'm very pleased to welcome our first 10 fully registered teams to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Only 6 months after the announcement of this competition, the response has been incredible -- we have received over 567 expressions of interest from 53 nations. By comparison, at the 6 month point of the Ansari X PRIZE we had only 2 teams registered. I think we are going to see an exciting and very competitive race to the Moon, highlighted by some very creative designs unlike anything we have seen come out of the government space programs. Many of these teams represent some of the most creative and entrepreneurial minds in space exploration today. I wish them all the very best of luck. I can't wait to join with Google in paying the winner," said Diamandis.

"We are excited that ten teams from around the world have taken up the challenge of the Google Lunar X PRIZE," said Megan Smith, Google's Vice President for New Business Development. "We look forward to the exciting achievements and scientific advancements that will result from the efforts of these teams as they participate in the next great space race."

The ten teams are:

Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association (ARCA): Based in Valcea, Romania and led by Dumitru Popescu, ARCA was also a contender in the Ansari X PRIZE. Two of ARCA's most innovative projects to date have been the Demonstrator 2B rocket and Stabilo, a two-stage manned suborbital air-launched vehicle. The craft they plan to enter in the Google Lunar X PRIZE will be called the "European Lunar Explorer."

Astrobotic: Team Astrobotic, led by Dr. William "Red" Whittaker, was formed to coordinate the efforts of Carnegie Mellon University, Raytheon Company and additional institutions. One of Carnegie Mellon's specialties is autonomous navigation through stereo vision and other technologies. This enables Carnegie Mellon's robots to automatically avoid obstacles and select their own route across unmapped terrain. Astrobotic will compete for the prize using their "Artemis Lander" and "Red Rover."

Chandah: Chandah, meaning "Moon" in Sanskrit, was founded by Adil Jafry, an energy industry entrepreneur. He is now chairman and CEO of Tara, the largest independent retail electricity provider in Texas. Jafry's goal is to catalyze commercialization of space, and bring advances in space travel, tourism, sciences, and technology to the general public at large. Team Chandah's spacecraft will be named "Shehrezade."

FREDNET: Headed by Fred J. Bourgeois III, this multi-national team is comprised of systems, software, and hardware developers who serve as the leaders and overall coordinators of an international group of Open Source developers, engineers, and scientists. Their goal is to bring the same successful approach used in developing major software systems (such as the Internet, and Linux) to bear on the problems associated with Space Exploration and Research.

LunaTrex: Led by Pete Bitar, LunaTrex is comprised of several individuals, companies, and universities from all over the United States, some of whom were also competitors for the Ansari X PRIZE. Each team member brings their own history to the mix: rocket science, high-altitude near-space R&D, defense directed-energy technology, aviation design and development, robotics, trajectories, and non-conventional propulsion expertise. The name of their competing craft will be "Tumbleweed."

Micro-Space: Helmed by Richard Speck and based in Colorado, Micro-Space, Inc. has a 31-year history of producing world class, high tech products. Since focusing on the development of spaceflight systems, they have flown 17 innovative, bipropellant liquid fuel rockets, three near-hover rockets with vectored thrust guidance, scores of flights with telemetry and radio tracking, and several innovative life support systems. Micro-Space has been a competitor in the Ansari X PRIZE as well as the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Their "Human Lunar Lander" will compete for Google Lunar X PRIZE.

Odyssey Moon: The first team to register for the competition, Odyssey Moon is a private commercial lunar enterprise headquartered in the Isle of Man and founded by Dr. Robert Richards. Odyssey Moon's business plans are actively in development for a series of missions to the Moon during the International Lunar Decade in support of science, exploration and commerce. Their Google Lunar X PRIZE craft is titled "MoonOne (M-1)."

Quantum3: A U.S.-based team, Quantum3 is led by Paul Carliner, a senior executive in the aerospace industry. They propose to field a small spacecraft launched from an East Coast range using launch-coast-burn trajectory for a propulsive soft landing on the surface of the Moon at the Sea of Tranquility. Quantum3 is taking a partnership approach to the mission, utilizing the unique capabilities of the private sector and academic communities. Their craft will be called "Moondancer."

Southern California Selene Group: According to team leader Harold Rosen, the approach taken by the Santa Monica Selene Group can be succinctly summarized as "an elegantly simple design that is relatively inexpensive to implement." The architecture for their "Spirit of Southern California" spacecraft will combine the control and communication systems used in some of the earliest communications satellites with the latest in electronic and sensor technology.

Team Italia: Based in Italy and led by Prof. Amalia Ercoli-Finzi, Team Italia is a collaboration between several universities. The team is currently running a prototype of its system at Politecnico di Milano. The architecture of the robotic system is under study: a single big rover or a colony of many robots, light and mobile, with many legs and wheels, able to be compacted in the lander and distributed quickly on the Moon's surface with cameras and sensory support.

The X PRIZE Foundation has also announced that Space Florida will be a new preferred partner and the first preferred launch site for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. Each preferred partner offers additional prizes or strategic services at a discounted rate to all competition teams. As the first preferred launch site, Space Florida will award an additional prize of $2 million to the Grand Prize winner of the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, provided the winner launched the winning flight from the State of Florida and upon confirmation that the winner has complied with all competition rules. Space Florida was created by the Florida Legislature to sustain Florida's position as the global leader in space exploration and commerce, and is the principal organization charged with promoting and developing Florida's aerospace industry.

The $30 million prize purse is segmented into a $20 million Grand Prize, a $5 million Second Prize and $5 million in bonus prizes. To win the Grand Prize, a team must successfully soft land a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, rove on the lunar surface for a minimum of 500 meters, and transmit a specific set of video, images and data back to the Earth. The Grand Prize is $20 million until December 31st, 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15 million until December 31st, 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation. For more information about the Google Lunar X PRIZE, please visit

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. On October 4, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The X PRIZE Foundation has since launched the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, and will continue to offer new prizes for breakthroughs in the areas of life improvement, exploration, equity of opportunity and sustainability. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit or email

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google's targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit

Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

US Hits Spy Satellite

Wednesday Evening, the US Navy was on target to destroy the aging spy satellite that was falling towards the Earth.

China sees it as the beginning of a space arms race. I would argue there are a lot of differences between the US destruction of its satellite and Chinas hit on an old weather satellite January 2007.

First, the US told everyone what was going to happen. There were even web sites given the time of the launch. China just fired the missile and waited for the chips to fall. Second, and most important, while China's satellite was old, it was in a stable orbit and posed no danger to anyone. This leads this reporter to believe that the main focus of China's launch was to test their ASAT capability, not to destroy the satellite. The US has had ASAT capability for a long time. This was, simply, a way to make sure no one was harmed by a satellite, hurdling towards the Earth.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

NASA Delays Discovery's Mission until May

NASA has delayed the Space Shuttle Discovery's mission one month to May 25 due to a bad angle between the ISS power generation panels and the sun during that month.

Virgin Galactic Looks for Profit in 2010

Virgin Galactic group director, Alex Tai, says he expects the company to be profitable by 2010. Virgin plans to buy five SpaceShipTwo suborbital spacecraft with an option for seven. The company says 800,000 people have expressed interest and they have $31 million in ticket sales. A single suborbital ticket costs $200,000.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Tonight, if you are in North America, you can see a total lunar eclipse beginning at 10:01 p.m. EST (9:01 CST). The eclipse should last 51 minutes.

Houston, Can You Hear Me Now?

NASA and the British National Space Centre are working on a trial phone service on the Moon. Satellites will allow astronauts at a lunar base on the south pole of the moon to talk with each other and with the Earth with a simple phone.

This is a very good idea. It is simple technology, off the shelf, and everyone already knows how to use it.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Safely Home

The Space Shuttle Atlantis landed safely this morning in Kennedy Space Center.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Photos of OSC's Taurus II

OSC has graphics of the Taurus II and Cygnus Spacecraft they plan to use for COTS here.

NASA Selects Orbital To Demonstrate New Commercial Cargo Delivery System For The International Space Station _ Press Release

-- ISS Cargo System Includes New Cygnus™ Maneuvering Spacecraft, Interchangeable Cargo Modules and Taurus II Medium-Lift Launch Vehicle --
-- Initial COTS Demonstration Mission Scheduled for Fourth Quarter of 2010 --
(Dulles, VA 19 February 2008) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) announced today that it has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to  demonstrate a new space transportation system for delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).  In a three-year, $320 million cooperative program, NASA will invest $170 million and Orbital will contribute $150 million (including its planned Taurus II launch vehicle development investment) in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) project.  In its first phase, the COTS project will involve the development and flight demonstration of a commercial cargo delivery system to low Earth orbit with the potential to support ISS operations following the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010.  This system will consist of a new advanced maneuvering spacecraft called Cygnus™, along with several interchangeable modules for pressurized and unpressurized cargo, and will be launched on Orbital's new Taurus II medium-lift rocket.

The COTS project is strategically important to both NASA and Orbital," said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  "For NASA, the ability to deliver cargo to the International Space Station with reasonably priced commercial services is part of its long-term plan to rely on American industry for routine Earth-orbit operations, as the space agency focuses on returning astronauts to the Moon and beyond.  For Orbital, the COTS project is a critical element of the company's strategy to play an expanded role in human spaceflight programs, including ISS operations and the development and support of NASA's Orion program."

Orbital's COTS demonstration mission is scheduled to take place in the fourth quarter of 2010.  Subject to NASA's future requirements, Orbital will be prepared to carry out several follow-on operational COTS missions in 2011 and to conduct as many as eight operational ISS cargo flights a year by 2012 and 2013.  The Cygnus spacecraft to be launched aboard the Taurus II rocket will be capable of delivering up to 2,300 kg of cargo to the ISS and will be able to return 1,200 kg of cargo from the ISS to Earth.

The COTS project will provide NASA with a U.S.-produced and -operated automated cargo delivery service for ISS support, to complement Russian, European and Japanese cargo vehicles.  In addition, the COTS project will help facilitate the introduction of Taurus II, a new medium-class launch vehicle that can be used by NASA and other government agencies and private-sector satellite operators for a variety of scientific, national defense and commercial space missions.  

By serving as an anchor mission for Orbital's Taurus II rocket, the COTS project will not only benefit NASA's ISS operations with reliable commercial cargo service once the system is fully operational, but will also aid NASA's Earth and space science and planetary exploration programs with lower-cost launches of medium-class satellites," said Dr. Antonio L. Elias, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group, which leads a company-wide team developing the Taurus II launch vehicle and the Cygnus spacecraft.

Orbital currently plans to carry out the development, production and integration of the Cygnus spacecraft and cargo modules at company facilities in Dulles, Virginia and Greenbelt, Maryland.  The company's design, manufacturing and testing activities related to the Taurus II rocket will be done in Dulles and Chandler, Arizona.  Early COTS missions are planned to be launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore, with integrated mission operations conducted from control centers in Dulles and Houston, Texas.

About Orbital

Orbital develops and manufactures small rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers.  The company's primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low Earth-orbit, geosynchronous Earth-orbit and planetary spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles.  Orbital also offers space-related technical services to government agencies and develops and builds software-based transportation management systems for public transit agencies and private vehicle fleet operators.

And the COTS Winner Is...

Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) has been selected as the second finalist along with SpaceX will work to achieve COTS milestones.

OSC is looking to develop an new medium class launch vehicle they call the Taurus II. The first stage will use LOX/Kerosene liquid fuel using Aerojet engines. ATK would develop the Castor-derived solid fueled second stage.

NSS Looking for Help on Space Elevator

The National Space Society is looking for help on the power beaming part of the Space Elevator Challenge. (hat tip - RLV and Space Transport News).

Kennedy May go Private

NASA is looking at allowing private companies to build launch pads at Kennedy Space Center.

COTS Annoucement Today

NASA will announce the second player in the COTS program today at 4:00 EST (3:00 CST). Stay tuned.

Shuttle Leaves ISS

The Shuttle Atlantis has disembarked from the ISS with the looming spy satellite "shoot down."

Rocky Planets may be Common

According to Scientists working with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the temperature of dust around 309 Sun-like stars indicates the presence of large rocket bodies in orbit around them.

93% Pass Virgin Galactic's Physical Requirements for Spaceflight

Apparently 93% of the people who have bought tickets for flights on Virgin Galactic's suborbital flights aboard SpaceShipTwo have passed the physical requirements. They were hoping for 80% so they are pleased.

Of and the rest of the space review is out.

An interview with Richard Garriott

Spysat down!

Space myths 2

Review: Robots in Space

Monday, February 18, 2008

Britian May Train Astronauts

Britain, who up until now has been the only developed nation without an astronaut, has changed its tune with the UK Civil Space Strategy: 2008-2012 and beyond.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two New Planets Found

Scientists have found two new planets (a Jupiter and Saturn mass) around a star half the size of our Sun. The duo was found by scientists at the Ohio State University using a technique called gravitational microlensing which has previously found four other planets.

The planets orbit the star OGLE-2006-BLG-109 and are designated OGLE-2006-BLG-109-b and c. A description can be found here.

NASA Adds a Day to Atlantis' Mission

NASA has added an extra day to STS-122. Due to an illness of one of the crew, there is still more work to be finished. I am sure no on is unhappy about spending an extra day in space, even if it is busy.

NASA Chief Defends going to the Moon

Mike Griffin defended NASA's plan to return to the Moon instead of going straight to Mars. A group of scientists and engineers recently questioned the need to return to the Moon.

Griffin said, "I'm always intrigued by the idea that since we've spent a few days on the moon that the place is now uninteresting for all future time and that we should ignore it and head straight for Mars,"

Here is a roundup of some of the criticism.

Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin in Final Stages of Deal

According to Flight Global, Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin are hammering out the final agreements in a deal that would include 50 Atlas V launches by 2015. The launches would carry cargo and crews to Bigelow's much talked about inflatable space station. Currently, a two scale models of the station, Genesis 1 & 2, are orbiting Earth.

Titan, the New Middle East

Apparently Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth. Maybe we can talk big oil into funding some trips. (That is only a half joke, because new space would certainly jump on that trip).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NASA to Announce COTS Phase I Selection

NASA is set to annouce the selection of a second private business in the COTS Phase 1 Demonstration on February 19.

SpaceX Successfully Completes NASA Preliminary Design Review for Dragon Spacecraft Mission to Approach International Space Station

HAWTHORNE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the second Falcon 9 / Dragon demonstration under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) project. NASA representatives attended the event, held 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 International Space Station (ISS), and return cargo to Earth. The first COTS flight will demonstrate launch, operations over several orbits, reentry and return to Earth.

During this second and much longer demonstration, the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft will approach within 10 kilometers of the ISS and hold its position. The primary objective of the four day long mission is to demonstrate Dragon’s communication and control system links to the ISS. According to the SpaceX plan, astronauts and ground controllers will conduct an extensive test of the two-way Dragon-ISS UHF band communications system, which will be essential to the third COTS demonstration mission. This system, being developed and qualified by SpaceX, includes transceiver equipment planned for installation on each Dragon Spacecraft and aboard the ISS. It will permit the ISS crew to monitor and operate the Dragon craft directly.

“Planning this mission required SpaceX to collaborate closely with ISS personnel and it went very well,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. “This is a working relationship that will be increasingly important as we move forward to meet NASA’s need for transport to and from the Space Station.”

Although these demonstrations are for cargo re-supply, SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft to transport up to seven astronauts to Earth orbit and back. “We have made substantial progress and are confident we can address the gap between Shuttle retirement and Orion operations,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX VP of Business Development. “We look forward to advancing with the crew-carrying Dragon configuration for NASA should they give the go-ahead.”

Other objectives for this second COTS demonstration include proof of navigation and maneuvering abilities, deployment and operation of solar arrays and thermal cooling systems, Dragon receiving GPS data from the ISS, and transmission of telemetry from Dragon to SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne via the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS).
During the meeting, held on December 19, 2007, all comments and questions raised by NASA’s experts were addressed by the SpaceX design team. SpaceX continues its record of successfully meeting all COTS milestones to date on schedule.

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, including low Earth orbit, geosynchronous, and planetary missions.

ESA Columbus Part of the ISS

The Shuttle Atlantis has completed its mission and the European module, Columbus, is officially part of the International Space Station.

Space Tourists Healthy for Flight

Richard Garriott, the next space tourist, and his backup, Nik Halik have both been given a clean bill of health for a flight to the ISS.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Astrospies" premieres February 12 on NOVA

On Tuesday, February 12, NOVA will present the premiere of "Astrospies," an inside look at the covert space programs that hid in the shadows of the 1960s space race.

Millions remember the countdowns, launches, splashdowns, and parades as the U.S. raced the Soviet Union to the moon in the 1960s. But few know that both superpowers ran parallel covert space programs to launch military astronauts on spying missions, and even fewer know what became of the military astronauts they trained. Highly classified for decades, these top-secret missions might easily have triggered a literal war in orbit. NOVA travels to Russia for exclusive access to cosmonauts and their restricted space facility, and obtains candid first-time interviews with astronauts in the American military space program.

You can get a sneak peak inside a fully intact, never-launched version of the Russian spy station in this clip:

"Astrospies" will premiere Tuesday, February 12 at 8pm ET/PT on most PBS stations. You can also learn more at the Astrospies Web site:

What The Bigelow/Lockheed Agreement Says about Lockheed

Everyone seems to be talking about what the deal between Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin to us an Atlas V to take people to the inflatable space station says about what Bigelow is doing. I, however, see it a different way. What does it say about Lockheed?

It is common among new space folks to talk about traditional aerospace as "dinosaurs" who live off the government and pooh-pooh creativity and innovation. However, what I think this proves it the more correct statement that they are looking for profit.

Lockheed builds rockets for the military and NASA because it is a safe way to make money. What the new agreement with Bigelow shows me is that Lockheed Martin sees these stations as a viable way to make money. They don't normally push new ideas because they are risky. Risky ventures are for companies trying to make a profit from nothing, like SpaceX or Bigelow. I think it is a wonderful milestone in new space that a traditional "dinosaur" is willing to throw their hat into a private space venture, expecting to make money.

That’s just one space writers opinion. Continue with the discussion.

Discussion on the Bigelow/Lockheed Deal

Some discussion on Bigelow contracting with Lockheed Martin to use the Atlas V to send passengers to Bigelow's inflatable space station.

Clark Lindsey: Briefs: More Atlas V/Bigelow discussion; Conspiracies vs. flawed plans

Jon Goff : LM/Bigelow Atlas V Deal - Selenian Boondocks.

Rand Simberg: More Fur On The Dinosaurs - Transterrestrial Musings

Rocket Racer Test

There was a Rocket Racer test last Saturday at Mojave. Can't wait to see it.

Shuttle Docks with ISS, Spacewalk Delayed

The Space Shuttle Atlantis has docked with the ISS. However, due to an undisclosed illness, the first EVA has been delayed until today.

Space Review 2/11/2008

The Space Review is out for this week:

Recall and remembrance in Rocket City

Somewhat as a clamor in the wilderness

All along the watchtower

India and the US: partners or rivals in space?

Space policy optimists and others

ATV Launch Time Set

The ESA's ATV is set for a liftoff is set for 0424:47 GMT (10:24:47 p.m. CST March 7) from Kourou, French Guiana.

Group to Debate NASA's Goals

A group of scientists, engineers, and former astronauts are getting together at Stanford to discuss whether NASA's current timetable is capable of getting us to the Moon.

Russian-Chinese Present Space-Weapons Treaty to UN

Russian and China have teamed up to present a treaty banning weapons in space to the UN disarmament committee.

Doesn't the outer space treaty already ban offensive weapons in space? Do we really want to ban defensive weapons with China's testing anti-satellite weapons last year? I don't think so. Luckily, the US doesn't see to interested in the treaty.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Allard and Ansari Featured Speakers at 24th National Space Symposium, Kehler to address Corporate Partnership Dinner

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 7, 2008) - The Honorable Wayne Allard, U.S. Senate and Ms. Anousheh Ansari, co-founder and chairman, Prodea Systems, have confirmed their participation as featured speakers at the Space Foundation's 24th National Space Symposium. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, USAF, commander, Air Force Space Command will deliver remarks at a dinner honoring Space Foundation corporate supporters. They join the list of previously confirmed speakers, which includes senior leaders from across the space industry. Scheduled to take place April 7-10 at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, the symposium is the premier annual gathering of the global space community.

Allard will open the symposium's three days of programming about the progress and future of the space industry with remarks from a congressional perspective at 8:40 a.m., on Tuesday, April 8. Ansari, who visited the International Space Station as the first female private space explorer in 2006, will speak on Thursday morning, April 10. Kehler will serve as the featured speaker for the Corporate Partnership Dinner, co-sponsored by Northrop Grumman on April 8.

The symposium brings together all sectors of space - civil, commercial, and national security - to highlight the accomplishments and address the opportunities and issues facing the space industry today. More than 7,500 participants from across the United States and many foreign countries are expected to attend the 24th National Space Symposium. These individuals represent both the history and future of this $220 billion industry, include senior executive leadership from NASA, NOAA, and other civil space and government agencies; the commercial space and satellite broadcasting industry; the Department of Defense and military space commands; space entrepreneurs; universities and academia; and senior representatives from the global space industry.

Previously confirmed featured speakers include Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel, USAF, commander, Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command; Mr. Jean-Yves LeGall, chairman & chief executive officer, Arianespace; Gen. Victor E. Renuart, USAF, commander, NORAD/USNORTHCOM; Lt. Gen. William L. Shelton, USAF, commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic-Space), Air Force Space Command and commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command; and The Honorable Michael W. Wynne, secretary of the Air Force.

Additional speakers, panelists, and moderators include Mr. Eric C. Anderson, president & chief executive officer, Space Adventures, Ltd.; The Honorable James M. Beggs, former NASA administrator and life director, Space Foundation; Ms. Nancy S. A. Colleton, president, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies; Brig. Gen. Duane W. Deal, USAF, (Retired), director, national security space programs, Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University; The Honorable Robert Frosch, Ph.D., Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Mr. Michael Gass, president and chief executive officer, United Launch Alliance; Richard J. Gilbrech, Ph.D., associate administrator for Exploration Systems, NASA; Brig. Gen. John E. Hyten, USAF, director of plans & requirements, Air Force Space Command; Mr. James Oberg, noted space consultant and author; The Honorable Sean O'Keefe, Louisiana State University and A&M College; Brig. Gen. Robert "Tip" Osterhaler, USAF (Retired), president and chief executive officer, AMERICOM Government Services; Mr. William W. Parsons, Jr., director, Kennedy Space Center; Mr. Lon L. Rains, vice president, Editorial, Trade Publishing, Imaginova Corp. and editor, Space News; Mr. Chris Scolese, associate administrator, NASA Headquarters; Mr. William Shernit, president and chief executive officer, Intelsat General Corporation; Ms. Gwynne Shotwell, vice president, business development, SpaceX; Ms. Jill Smith, president and chief executive officer, DigitalGlobe, Inc.; Vice Adm. Richard H. Truly, USN (Retired); Brig. Gen. Simon P. "Pete" Worden, USAF (Retired), director, Ames Research Center.

Highlights of the 24th National Space Symposium include an extensive exhibit center representing more than 140 organizations and companies, co-sponsored by Lockheed Martin; a spectacular Opening Ceremony, co-sponsored by United Space Alliance; Opening Night Fireworks and Dessert Reception, co-sponsored by Raytheon; the presentation of the Space Foundation's highest honor, the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award, at a luncheon co-sponsored by Boeing; and the Space Technology Hall of Fame Dinner, co-sponsored by Space Florida.

Additional co-sponsors of the symposium are Analytical Graphics, Inc., ATK, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Cisco Systems, CSP Associates, Harris Corporation, Honeywell, Infinite Links, Intelsat General, ITT, Perot Systems Government Services, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and Stellar Solutions. Media partners for the 24th National Space Symposium are Aviation Week and Space News. Frontier Airlines is the official airline of the conference.
Online registration and more information, including an updated program agenda, confirmed speaker list, and exhibitor list, are available at
About the Space Foundation

Founded in 1983 and celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Space Foundation is an international nonprofit organization advancing space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity. A leader in space awareness activities, major industry events, and educational enterprises that bring space into the classroom, the Space Foundation is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo. It conducts research and analysis and government affairs activities from its Washington, D.C., office, and has field representatives in Houston and Cape Canaveral, Fla. Along with partnering organizations, the Space Foundation also conducts Strategic Space and Defense 2008, scheduled 6-8 October in Omaha, Neb. For more information, visit

40% of Americans would Go to Space

According to an ABC poll, 40% of Americans would go to space if the price was lower. 65% are sure than "ordinary people" will fly into space.

The required price varies with 21% for under $500 to 4% who would pay $1 million. The median answer was $2000 dollars.

The questionnaire used is here.

Ares 1 Criticism

Aero-News Network has a summary of the criticism NASA's planned Ares 1 vehicle is receiving. It is reported that its thrust oscillation is much worse than was expected. This is the criticism Mike Griffin was hinting may be coming from Lockheed Martin.

He did say, however, he welcomes private enterprises interested in developing economical ways to place humans in orbit and NASA would use those services and focus on the Moon.

So, when the Atlas V Robert Bigelow is having manned rated for his inflatable space stations get finished, will NASA use it for orbital transport?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Griffin Blames Reports of Ares Rocket on Lockheed Martin

Mike Griffin, director of NASA, has implied that reports of Ares development problems have come from contract loser Lockheed Martin. He might be right, but he better be careful what he says. Lockheed has a lot of lawyers.

Oxidizer Tank Responsible for Last Years Scaled Composites Explosion

The investigation into Scaled Composites' explosion last year has found the cause to be in the oxidizer tank for the propulsion system. The explosion killed three people who were working on SpaceShipTwo, the suborbital craft planned to be used by Virgin Galactic for space tourism.

NASA's Deep Impact Begins Hunt for Alien Worlds

GREENBELT, Md., Feb. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA's Deep Impact
spacecraft is aiming its largest telescope at five stars in a search for
alien (exosolar) planets as it enters its extended mission, called EPOXI.

Deep Impact made history when the mission team directed an impactor
from the spacecraft into comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005. NASA recently
extended the mission, redirecting the spacecraft for a flyby of comet
Hartley 2 on Oct. 11, 2010.

As it cruises toward the comet, Deep Impact will observe five nearby
stars with "transiting exosolar planets," so named because the planet
transits, or passes in front of, its star. The EPOXI team, led by
University of Maryland astronomer Dr. Michael A'Hearn, directed the
spacecraft to begin these observations January 22. The planets were
discovered earlier and are giant planets with massive atmospheres, like
Jupiter in our solar system. They orbit their stars much closer than Earth
does the sun, so they are hot and belong to the class of exosolar planets
nicknamed "Hot Jupiters."

However, these giant planets may not be alone. If there are other
worlds around these stars, they might also transit the star and be
discovered by the spacecraft. Deep Impact can even find planets that don't
transit, using a timing technique. Gravity from the unseen planets will
pull on the transiting planets, altering their orbits and the timing of
their transits.

"We're on the hunt for planets down to the size of Earth, orbiting some
of our closest neighboring stars," said EPOXI Deputy Principal Investigator
Dr. Drake Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
EPOXI is a combination of the names for the two extended mission
components: the exosolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet
Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the flyby of comet Hartley
2, called the Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI). Goddard leads the
EPOCh component.

More than 200 exosolar planets have been discovered to date. Most of
these are detected indirectly, by the gravitational pull they exert on
their parent star. Directly observing exosolar planets by detecting the
light reflected from them is very difficult, because a star's brilliance
obscures light coming from any planets orbiting it.

However, sometimes the orbit of an exosolar world is aligned so that it
eclipses its star as seen from Earth. In these rare cases, called transits,
light from that planet can be seen directly.

"When the planet appears next to its star, your telescope captures
their combined light. When the planet passes behind its star, your
telescope only sees light from the star. By subtracting light from just the
star from the combined light, you are left with light from the planet,"
said Deming, who is leading the search for exosolar worlds with Deep
Impact. "We can analyze this light to discover what the atmospheres of
these planets are like."

Deep Impact will also look back to observe the Earth in visible and
infrared wavelengths, allowing comparisons with future discoveries of
Earth-like planets around other stars.

The University of Maryland is the Principal Investigator institution,
leading the overall EPOXI mission, including the flyby of comet Hartley 2,
called the Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI). NASA Goddard leads
the exosolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and
Characterization (EPOCh). EPOXI is a combination of the names for these two
extended mission components. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., manages EPOXI for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.,
Boulder, Colo.

For information about EPOXI, visit:

Help Name the Next NASA Telescope

NASA is looking for help in naming the next space telescope, Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope or GLAST. The telescope is set to be launched May 16 and will look for black holes, gamma-ray bursts, pulsars and other high-energy phenomena.

Suggestions must be received by March 31. The name should include an essay, 25 words or less, about the reason for he name. The name will be announced at the launch.

Go to to suggest a name.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

National Space Society Space Settlement Art Contest Winners Announced

The National Space Society's art contest has announced its winning entries to illustrate the NSS 2009 Space Settlement Calendar. You can find view all entries to this contest online at

The Grand Prize winner is Raymond Cassel from Parker, Colorado, with his striking image of a Martian greenhouse digging out from a sandstorm, "After the Storm." Raymond will have his artwork featured on the calendar cover and as one of the monthly images.

There were also four First Prize winners in the categories of Best Lunar Settlement, Best Mars Settlement, Best Asteroid Settlement, and Best Orbital Settlement. Jonathan Chapin from Jupiter, Florida won First Prize for Best Lunar Settlement with "The Lunar Greenhouse." Timothy Hodge from Rancho Cucamonga, California won for Best Mars Settlement with "Martian Evening." Goetz Scheuermann from Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany won for Best Orbital Settlement with "O'Neill Style Cylinder Colony." And Bryan Versteeg from Calgary, Alberta, Canada won for Best Asteroid Settlement with "Asteroid Mining for Station Creation."
The remaining seven winning entries that will be featured in the calendar include "In Jupiter's Realm" by Raymond Cassel, "Mars 3009," "Prospectors," and "Luna" by Joe Vinton, "Space Art Exhibition on Mars" by Richard Bizley, "Moonbase One" by Alex Aurichio, and "Lover's Lookout" by Phil Batchelor.

The Grand Prize winner will receive $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.

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).

Each of the additional winning images will appear in the calendar and the artists will 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.

The calendars are scheduled to be published and available for retail purchase by the end of May 2008. Further details will be posted on

The contest judges and the National Space Society would like to congratulate the winners and thank all of the participants who submitted art for this contest. The society looks forward to creating future opportunities for artists to further the cause of space settlement.
About the National Space Societyhe National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and more than 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society also publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space.

For more information about NSS, visit

Atlantis and Columbus Module in Space

The Space Shuttle Atlantis made a successful launch at 2:45 pm EST (19:45 GMT). STS-122 carried the ESA module, Columbus, to become part of the ISS.

Building a Moon Base

Ion O'Neill has part one of a series on the challenges of building a Moon Base.

February Lunar Eclipse

If you weren't aware, there will be a lunar eclipse visible from North America February 20th.

NASA 2009 Budget Includes Seven New Science Missions

The current 2009 budget for NASA includes seven new science missions, including one to either Jupiter or Saturn's moons, one to study dark matter, and one to the study the Sun's corona. The others will be lunar missions and earth science.

Zaphod Beeblebrox to Be Stranded on the Moon for Three Years

Sam Rockwell, who played Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Guy Fleegman in Galaxy Quest, is doing a new movie where he will be stranded on the Moon for three years.

(hat-tip to Curmdugeons Corner)

Virgin Galactic to Sale Suborbital Training at a Discount

Some people may not have the $200,000 ticket price for a trip to space on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, but Virgin Galactic is considering selling parts of the training at a much lower price. This training might include SpacShipTwo simulators and weightless flights aboard a parabolic aircraft, such as Zero-G

Watch Today's Shuttle Launch

If the weather holds out and the Shuttle is launched today, you can see it on NASA TV or on your computer. The launch of Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for 2:45 EST. There is only a 30% chance the weather will be good enough to allow the launch, however.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bigelow Open to Other Launch Providers

According to Chris Reed,

"Whatever the initial agreement on the Atlas 5, [Bigelow Aerospace is] very much open to using - and want to encourage the availability of - other, privately developed launchers (e.g. they have a Falcon 9 reservation) both during the five years starting in 2011 and beyond"

RLV and Space Transport News has more thoughts on Bigelow's plans and accomplishments.

NASA to Cut 1000 Shuttle Jobs in 2009

It looks like NASA is cutting about 1000 shuttle jobs in the 2009 budget. Makes sense to me, since the shuttle is retiring in 2010. It will likely cause some commotion in congress, though.

Space Policy Debate

The Space Transportation Association (STA) hosted a debate between Lori Garver and Jim Muncy on the various presidential candidates' views on space policy.

Only Senator Clinton's policy vaguely mentions commercial space. Senator Obama is vaguely in support of the Ares program but has talked about postponing the return to the Moon for education. John McCain supports the current program, but how he views the commercial space industry is unknown, really.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Virgin Galactic Plans Flight Test this Summer

Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites have said WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo are almost complete and plan the first flights test this Summer.

NASA Gets Atlantis Ready for Launch Thursday

NASA is readying Atlantis for a launch Thursday, February 7. The launch is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. EST. STS-122 was scheduled for last December, but due to a fuel sensor malfunction, has been postponed until Thursday. The ESA module, Columbus, is riding about the shuttle to the ISS.

NASA Wants People-People for Astonauts

Due to long stays on the Space Station, NASA wants astronauts to be people-people. Specifically, they need to be:

•Diplomat. The station is operated jointly by the United States and Russia, soon to be joined by Europe and Japan. International relations can get rocky, and the station crew must work together while their bosses on Earth argue. "That's probably the biggest stress" on the crew, says Kenneth Bowersox, a former astronaut who commanded the station in 2002-03 and the shuttle in 1995 and 1997.

•Linguist. The main languages on the station are English and Russian. That's also true on the Russian spaceships.

•Scientist. Dozens of experiments are conducted on the station. The crew keeps them running.

•Repair technician. The station is a complex machine, and things break. Sometimes that means just getting out the wrench. Sometimes that means going on a spacewalk to fix a broken motor, as the crew did last week.

NASA Unveils $17.6 Billion Budget for 2009

[update] Jeff Foust discusses the boring budget.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA announced a $17.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2009 to continue exploring the solar system, building the International Space Station, studying Earth from space and conducting aeronautics research.

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said the increase for NASA's 2009 budget demonstrates President Bush's commitment to the agency's missions. With the increase, NASA still accounts for less than 1 percent of the federal budget.

The NASA budget includes $5.78 billion for the space shuttle and space station programs, $4.44 billion for science, $3.5 billion for development of new manned spacecraft systems and $447 million for aeronautics research.

Dale noted steady progress with NASA's missions, with three successful space shuttle launches last year and up to six planned for this year, including a flight to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The agency also is making progress in developing the Orion spacecraft and Ares launch vehicles to replace the aging shuttle fleet and prepare for journeys to the moon and destinations beyond.

NASA has 55 science missions currently in space, about half involving international partnerships, with 15 additional missions scheduled for launch by the end of 2009.

"In Earth science, NASA's investments in measuring the forces and effects of global warming are allowing policymakers and the public to better understand its implications to our home planet," Dale said.

A recently completed decadal survey for Earth Science includes views of the scientific community that will help the agency develop and prioritize new missions to add to humanity's knowledge of Earth and its climate and ecosystems. NASA will dedicate $910 million to develop new missions to add to our Earth-observing fleet of spacecraft.

The budget also includes funding for lunar science to further scientific understanding of the moon and for planetary science and astrophysics to continue exploring worlds beyond Earth and to study dark energy and other mysteries of the cosmos.

In aeronautics, NASA is helping address fundamental research needs facing the Next Generation Air Transportation System, aimed at making U.S. air travel safer and more efficient.
As the International Space Station nears completion, the NASA budget provides funding to help spur development of commercial space transportation services to send cargo and possibly crews to the station after the shuttles retire in 2010. Without commercial providers, the United States will depend on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to carry astronauts between Earth and the space station.

"The development of space simply cannot be 'all government all the time,'" Dale said. "NASA's budget for FY 2009 provides $173 million for entrepreneurs - from big companies or small ones - to develop commercial transport capabilities to support the International Space Station. Over the longer term, NASA is designating $500 million toward the development of this commercial space capability.

"With over $2.6 billion in NASA funds available over the next five years to purchase cargo and crew services to support ISS operations, we would much rather be using this money to purchase cargo and crew services from American commercial companies than foreign entities," she added.


NASA to use Russian Rockets if COTS Fails

If the companies selected by NASA for COTS fail to produce cargo delivery service to the ISS in 2010, NASA says they will buy seats from Russia. Currently SpaceX, the first COTS selection, is preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida later this year. NASA is expected to make the selection of the other private company this month.

Update: Elon Musk has said: "There will be no gap in American access to the space station," Musk said in a statement.

Iran Launches Rocket

Iran launched a rocket on Monday designed to carry its first locally-made research satellite in 2009. This is a concern to the US with worries of Iran's nuclear program and their hatred of Israel and the US.

Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin Converging on Terms for Launch Services

Atlas V Would Be Booster for Bigelow-Built Commercial Space Complexes

Las Vegas, NV 02/05/08 – Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services are engaged in discussions and converging on terms to supply Atlas V launch vehicles to provide crew and cargo transportation services to a Bigelow-built space complex.
Bigelow Aerospace already has successfully launched two of its Genesis units that demonstrated the technology and feasibility of its expandable space module technology. This experience has formed the basis for a larger commercial space complex, which is now proceeding into full-scale development.

Bigelow Aerospace is on schedule to provide a low-cost, low-Earth orbit space complex that is accessible to the private sector for commercial activities. The Bigelow architecture can be adapted for a variety of missions and is designed to provide increased volume, enhanced safety and reduced costs to the extent that space-based activities will become more affordable for entrepreneurs, small businesses and the public at large.

“I don’t think anyone could deny the excellent record and pedigree of the Atlas V401 as a quality choice to be upgraded to carry human passengers,” said company founder and President Robert T. Bigelow.

“The Atlas V is ideal to provide commercial crew and cargo transportation for this pioneering commercial space venture,” said David Markham, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services. “Bigelow Aerospace possesses an unparalleled vision and entrepreneurial perspective that is crucial to truly opening the commercial space market to a larger segment of the population. Targeting the Atlas V for use demonstrates a commitment to flight-proven domestic launch services to ensure success.”

The Atlas booster has been used for decades to launch government and commercial payloads to a wide range of orbits and its reliability record is at the top of the space industry. As the simplest, most robust, and most reliable version of the Atlas V family, the 401 configuration has been selected by Bigelow to launch its space complex. This launch vehicle, compliant with the Federal Aviation Administration’s stringent requirements for unmanned spaceflight, will undergo modest system upgrades that will augment existing safety features prior to flying the first passengers.

During the operational phase, which is currently planned to begin in 2012, up to 12 missions per year are envisioned, increasing as demand dictates.

About Bigelow Aerospace:
Bigelow Aerospace is an entrepreneurial space development company headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev. Its goal is to open the frontier of space to all of humanity by drastically reducing the costs and enhancing the efficacy and utility of space-based activities. The company’s primary focus is on the development of robust, next-generation expandable space habitats. Bigelow Aerospace has manufacturing facilities and offices in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Houston and Maryland.

About Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services:
Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services performs all commercial Atlas launch service missions, and provides marketing, contracting, sales and mission management for commercial Atlas missions. Atlas is manufactured by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company, formed in 2006.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Video of SpaceShipTwo Unveiling

Michael Belfiore has a video of the unveiling of SpaceShipTwo last month. He also live blogged the event if you haven't seen it yet.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Addressing the Practical Challenges of Commercial Space and Private Aviation Start-ups

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Imaginova Corp. and Esther Dyson of
EDventure announced today that they will jointly present Flight School
2008: Where the Rubber Meets the Clouds. The intensive three-day workshop
allows participants to identify and address the major challenges facing
entrepreneurs in private aviation and commercial space. Flight School 2008
will take place June 4 to 6 at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder, Colorado.

Flight School 2008 participants will include entrepreneurs, marketers,
equipment manufacturers, aircraft and facilities operators as well as
analysts, investors and regulators. They will come together to share
experiences, refine strategies and better understand each other's common
pursuits and competitive positions.

"Personal spaceflight and private aviation start-ups are transforming
the establishment in an exciting way," said Dyson, creator of the Flight
School workshops, chairman of EDventure and former host of PC Forum. "Years
ago, I watched the Internet and the PC transform information technology
from a world of scientists and government-funded high priests into a
vibrant, innovative sector of commercially energized and fearless start-ups
who have changed the world. Flight School 2008 is assembling the pioneers
who will lead a similar transformation in air and space."

Planned discussion topics for Flight School 2008 include:
- The air traffic control challenge: Growing up around an old model
- Air taxis: What have we learned so far?
- Air charter economics: Can they last?
- Safety, reliability and innovation
- Environmental issues: Facing the facts
- Finance: Where the money meets the clouds
- Insurance and legal issues
- Sizing the commercial space market
- The aftermarket: Hotels, tours and training
Flight School 2008 workshop sessions will be moderated by Dyson; Lon
Rains, Editor-in-Chief of Space News and Christian Kjelgaard, Senior Editor

Lead-off speakers for the interactive sessions will include "new
veterans" such as:

- Eric Anderson, President and CEO of Space Adventures
- Peter Diamandis, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Zero-G Corporation
- Dan Gerrity, CEO of Naverus Corporation
- Eric Haseltine, Managing Partner of Haseltine Partners LLC (formerly
with the Directorate of National Intelligence and Walt Disney
- John Higginbotham, Chairman of SpaceVest
- Ed Iacobucci, President and CEO of DayJet
- Vern Raburn, CEO of Eclipse Aviation
- Andrew Steinberg, Attorney-at-Law (Former Assistant Secretary of
Transportation for Aviation and International Affairs and Chief Counsel
of the Federal Aviation Administration)
Participants will also have the opportunity to register separately for
a Zero-G weightless flight after the close of the workshop on June 6.

"As publisher of Space News, and, Imaginova has
been at the forefront of chronicling the growth and development of personal
spaceflight and commercial aviation. It was a natural fit for us to co-
present Flight School 2008," said Dan Stone, President and CEO of Imaginova
Corp. "Esther Dyson is one of those exceptional talents whose curiosity,
imagination and business acumen make her a true visionary. Assembling the
best minds and rallying them around solutions will undoubtedly help propel
innovation and we're proud to be a partner in this exciting endeavor."

Early bird registration for Flight School 2008 begins January 31, 2008.
For session details, an agenda, an updated list of speakers and their bios
and registration information, please visit:

About Imaginova

Imaginova is a leading digital media and commerce company and the
preeminent online destination for the Intellectually Curious. The Imaginova
Network of media properties, including,,, and Space News (, delivers
engaging and entertaining editorial and multimedia content to a robust
community of curious and well-informed users. Imaginova's original content
is syndicated through major online portals and licensed by educational
publishers and institutions. Imaginova is also the premier source of
innovative consumer and educational products available at,, and
Founded in 1999, Imaginova Corp. is privately held and based in New York
City, with offices and news bureaus in Virginia, California, Toronto and
Paris. For more information, please visit

About Esther Dyson and EDventure

Esther Dyson is a long-time catalyst of start-ups in information
technology in the US and other markets, including Russia. Since selling her
company EDventure Holdings to CNET Networks in 2004, she has taken on newer
challenges in private aviation and space as well as health care (as a
director of 23andMe, a consumer genetics company). Her IT investments have
included Flickr and (both sold to Yahoo!), Medstory (sold to
Microsoft), as well as Meetup Inc.,, Boxbe and Voxiva; she
sits on the boards of the latter four companies. Dyson is also an active
investor in air and space, with holdings in Space Adventures and Zero-G
Corporation, as well as XCOR Aerospace, Constellation Services, Coastal
Aviation Group, Airship Ventures and Icon Aircraft. She does business under
the (reclaimed) name of EDventure.

For more information, please visit

PlanetSpace to Locate Launch Site in Breton Canada

PlanetSpace will launch from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada if they will the $175 million dollars currently avalible from NASA's COTS program.

(Update 2/2/08, it is apparently Cape Breton -djs)