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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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NASA Jumps into Gaming

Apparently NASA is working on a massively multiplayer online game called Astronaut: Mars, Moon, and Beyond. A demo is avalible at their website.

Top Stories of 2009

Alan Boyle at MSNBC reviews the top space stories of 2009 and allows you to vote for your favorite.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Soyuz Launches for Christmas

The Russian Soyuz rocket launched American, Russian, and Japanese astronauts into space yesterday. These three new astronauts will spend Christmas on the International Space Station joining American Jeff Williams and Russian Maxim Surayev.

NASA Should Learn from Silicon Valley and Russia

Former astronaut Edward Lu says NASA should take a lesson from Silicon Valley and Russia and build smaller highly reliable rockets, like the Soyuz, and launch them as fast as new ideas in the technology world.

EU has lots of Plans, but Little Money

The European Union has plans for a Mars sample return mission and manned launches over the next decade. However, it is difficult to see how they are going to increase the spending on space the required 50% given the current budget deficits in Europe.

World Waits on US Plan

According to John Kelly, the rest of the World is talking a good talk about space, but in reality they are waiting on the US, and more specifically the Obama administration, to decide what we are going to do in space over the next ten years.

Obama Pushes Private Space Ferries

The Obama administration, in one of its few nods to private industry, is asking NASA to fund private companies on the order of $3.5 billion to develop private transport to orbit. It is rumored that they may add $1 billion to NASA's budget begging in October of 2010.

This is good news to companies like SpaceX, who are already set to receive $1.6 billion to develop and test their Falcon 9 rocket under the COTS program.

They are also, not surprisingly, seeking international support in developing rockets to land on the Moon and Mars.

Like the old Vulcan proverb, Only Nixon can go to China...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Virgin Galactic wants to Branch Out

Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn says that space tourism is just the beginning. He sees Virgin Galactic moving into space science, servicing space server farms and replacing long-haul flights.

Peter Diamandis at Arizona Science Center

If you are in Phoenix next month...

PHOENIX, AZ -- 05/06/09 -- The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Enterprise Forum of Phoenix will host an extraordinary event, Rewarding Breakthrough Innovation, on June 4, 2009, at the Arizona Science Center where Arizona business leaders and community members will meet the key figure in the development of the personal spaceflight industry, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. He will be sharing his experiences, vision and passion for having created many space-related businesses and organizations including the X PRIZE Foundation, the Rocket Racing League, Zero Gravity Corporation, Singularity University and Space Adventures, Ltd.

The evening experience includes a direct conversation with Dr. Diamandis exploring how Arizona can participate and contribute on a global scale by advancing opportunity through science, education, technology and entrepreneurism. The presentation by Dr. Diamandis will highlight the X PRIZE Foundation, where money is rewarded to directly fund research in areas of exploration in space and underwater, life sciences, energy and environment, education and global development to benefit humanity. He will share how to get involved and even compete for the million dollar prizes like the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE awarded in 2004 to Mojave Aerospace Ventures for the world's first private spaceflight on SpaceShipOne.

He will also incorporate highlights of his vision and role as the Vice Chancellor and Chairman of Singularity University, a revolutionary education program that focuses on inspiring leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity's grand challenges. Registration is required.

"The exciting event is part of the continuing series presented by the MIT Club of Phoenix, now the newly formed MIT Enterprise Forum of Phoenix, with a mission of fostering entrepreneurship and exploring innovation with unique access to leaders and pioneers in areas of business, technology and science," said Armando Viteri, chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum Phoenix. "We are privileged to have Dr. Peter Diamandis share his experiences and encourage us to use imagination and change the way we see ourselves on this planet."

Seating is limited and registration is required. Attendees will have a chance to personally greet Dr. Diamandis in an open networking session beginning at 5:00 PM. Hors d'oeuvres will be served. The live presentation will start at 6:00 PM and opportunities for question and answer will be 7:30 to 8:00 PM.

To register for the event, visit or call 602-640-9005. Members of the MIT Enterprise Forum, MIT Club of Phoenix, Arizona Science Center and All-Ivy Council of Phoenix members pay $50 by pre-registering and all other pre-registrants pay $60 to attend. If seating is available, the cost on the day of the event is $75. MIT students and their parents attend for $40. Arizona Science Center is located at 600 East Washington Street Phoenix at Heritage and Science Park in Copper Square. Registration for the event is open through midnight June 2, 2009. Corporate sponsors include Osborn Maledon, Stearns Financial Services, Arizona Science Center and Advisory Board Architects.

MIT Enterprise Forum of Phoenix -- The MIT Enterprise Forum of Phoenix is a chapter for the MIT Enterprise Forum, The Global Entrepreneurial Network. Formerly the MIT Club of Phoenix, a chapter of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Alumni Association, the new MIT Enterprise Forum of Phoenix is dedicated helping technology entrepreneurs with direct access to experienced and successful CEOs through a series of coaching panel events of local business experts. MIT Enterprise Forum of Phoenix brings together local, national and even global leaders and entrepreneurs from real companies discussing real issues, providing everyone a front row seat to behind-the-scenes success. The organization has the mission to enhance the value of the MIT degree, build community, and celebrate shared experiences.

Media Contact:
Jamie Glass
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2010 NASA Budget Request Released

The 2010 NASA Budget Request has been released. For more information check out NASA's budget site. RLV and Space Transport News has comments specific to COTS.

White House Statement on NASA Review

The White House has released a statement on the study they are currently undergoing on the Ares program.

Masten Space B-750 Engine Test Video

Masten Space has released a video of their B-750 engine test. Enjoy!

May 11 Shuttle Launch in HD

NASA will begin broadcasting in high definition (HD) from the Kennedy Space Center Friday at Noon (EDT). It will continue through the weekend. On Monday, at 8:30 AM EDT, it will begin launch coverage. The Shuttle Atlantis should liftoff at 2:01pm EDT.

NASA streaming and schedules are at:

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hybrid Rockets May Never be Cheap

Virgin Galactic President, Will Whitehorn, says that while SpaceShip2 prices may get down to $100,000 a person, they will likely never reach $10,000.

RLV and Space Transport News argues that liquid reusable transports are the way to get to space on the cheap.

Obama Studying Ares Program

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Obama administration is studying whether the Ares program is the best way for NASA to move forward. With cost overruns moving the expected cost from $25 billion to $44 billion and reducing the number of crew seats from six to four, many are questing whether Ares is a good idea.

Former NASA Chief Michael Griffin said "I don't agree that there is a better approach for the money, but if there were, so what? Any proposed approach would need to be enormously better to justify wiping out four years worth of solid progress."

I am reminded of a Turkish proverb: "No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back."

Florida Today has more information on the study. RLV and Space Transport News questions whether the former CEO of Lockheed Martin should be leading the study.

Astronauts Get It

In an interview with Jeffrey Hoffman, MIT professor and former space shuttle, MIT News ask him about the shuttle retirement. He said he thinks it is time to retire the shuttle and get on with exploration. With respect to the private space industry, he said:

The only thing we need a spaceship for during the next few years is to get up to the space station, but the Russians will do that for us, and maybe even Elon Musk [founder of SpaceX, which is building the privately-funded Falcon 9 rocket] will do that for us. In fact, I'd love to see private industry take over maintaining the low-Earth orbit infrastructure. If private industry could support that on the basis of tourist travel and however else they can make money, then NASA could buy their services at the marginal cost of doing business instead of maintaining the whole infrastructure. I mean, NASA spends a third of its budget just supporting a transportation infrastructure, and if that could be obtained from the private sector, NASA would save a lot of money, which could be used for exploration, which is what I think NASA's real goal should be in the future, not running a transportation system.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hubble Mission Cleared for May 11

The final Hubble Space Telescope mission has been cleared by NASA. The Space Shuttle Atlantis will carry seven astronauts to the venerable telescope on May 11 at 2:01pm EST.

Space Review May 4th, 2009

The newest Space Review is out:

Doing more for less (or the same) in space science
While NASA may be getting a modest budget increase overall in 2010, its space science program has a challenge of doing increasingly complex missions within a relatively constrained budget. Jeff Foust reports on what some NASA officials say are the best ways for NASA to balance cost, performance, and risk for its ambitious slate of science missions.Monday, May 4, 2009

Unilateral orbital cleanup
The removal of orbital debris accumulating around the Earth is often described to be an international problem. Taylor Dinerman discusses how it might be more expedient for the United States to start on this on its own rather than wait for a multinational effort to form.Monday, May 4, 2009

The vital need for America to develop space solar power
While there has been considerable discussion about how to develop space-based solar power, there has been less examination of why it’s needed. Mike Snead explains why solar power from space might be the only way to meet the world’s growing demands for energy in the next century.Monday, May 4, 2009

Review: License to Orbit
Capturing the dynamic nature of the entrepreneurial aspect of the space business can be difficult for the author of a book. Jeff Foust reviews one book that falls short of accurately describing the state of the space tourism industry even when keeping that difficulty in mind.Monday, May 4, 2009

Rocket Boy Loves SpaceX

Homer H. Hickam Jr., author of Rocket Boys, is spoke in Waco, TX last night. He was also given a tour of the Space test site and said "[Space X is] one of the great hopes for the American space program.”

ITAR May Prevent Non-US Space Tourist

According to Aviation Week, current ITAR rules currently prevent non-us passengers from flying to space with US companies. Apparently just riding on a space vehicle is enough to learn dangerous secrets about rockets.

I am not sure how this affects Virgin Galactic, which is a British company flying US built space ships. ITAR really needs an overhaul.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

NASA Backing off of Moon Base

After years of planning a permanent base on the Moon under President Bush, NASA in a now backing off of that promise. In a hearing with the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, acting NASA director Scolese admitted that building a permanent colony on the moon would be "expensive" and that we would most likely have something "less than an outpost."

SpaceX Launch Postponed

SpaceX has postponed the launch of a Malaysian satellite due to concerns about vibration. The flight was scheduled for Monday. The exact date of the new launch has not been set, but according to the Malaysian government, it will take about six weeks.

The satellite, RazakSat, is designed for Earth imagining.

White Knight 2 Video

Wire has a video of the White Knight 2 in Flight.

ESA to Launch Two Space Telescopes

The European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to launch two space telescopes, Herschel and Planck, on May 14 aboard an Ariane 5. Planck is already loaded on the rocket awaiting its partner .

ESa to Launch Two Space Telescopes


NASA Begins Layouts

As the retirement of the shuttle approaches, NASA began its first round of layoffs Friday. According to NASA officials, 160 jobs were eliminated on Friday with 900 more to come. The jobs were mostly in manufacturing external tanks and boosters for the space shuttle.

Orion Engines Tested

Aerojet has finished testing the engines for the Orion crew capsule. The engines are 160lb mono-propellant. The test involved vibration and hot fire test over a variety of altitudes.

Three Indian Students win NASA Trip

Jay Patrikar, Shantanu Manke and Madhur Bhalkar, three Indian students, won a competition for the space settlement design contest. The prize was sponsored by NASA and NSS. The three students will present their design at the ISDC 2009 in Orlando, FL.

Virgin Galatic in "Advanced Discussions" with UAE on Spaceport

Virgin Galactic, the space tourism wing of Virgin Group, is in what the company describes as "advanced discussions" with the United Arab Emirates to build a spaceport in Dubai. While the company is also in talks with Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, they discussions with the UAE is the farthest along. Virgin Galactic wants a port in the middle east to support people with the means and desire to go into space, but who want a local supplier. UAE is also interested in using the port for scientific research.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

White House has Continued Problems Finding a NASA Chief

The White House apparently doesn't even have a front runner to replace NASA administrator Dr. Michael Griffin. Most either don't want it or can get past the politics.

BTW: President Obama, I would be happy to take on the job...

Congress Extends Shuttle Service to 2011

Congress has approved $2.5 billion to support Shuttle missions into 2011 if NASA needs the extra time to complete necessary missions. One possible such mission is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer attachment to the ISS.

I don't know if more space shuttle missions are required, but I would like to see some of this money got towards the COTS program if the shuttle is not needed. I won't be holding my breath, though.

Twitter Interview with Sir Richard Branson

The LA times travel section are conducting an interview with Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, at 8:20 PST (10:20 CST). You can view it at live on @latimestravel and @virginamerica.

COTS-D Gets Started with Stimulus Money

The COTS-D program, the human flight phase of the COTS program, has been given $150 million of the $400 million allocated to NASA for human spaceflight in the stimulus package.
SpaceX and Orbital Science are currently competing on the COTS-A and COTS-B phases, but only SpaceX has negotiated rights to try for all COTS phases.

The $150 million is divided into $80 million for a "crewed launch demo," $42 million for a docking system to the international space station, $20 million for a cargo transportation demo and $8 million for miscellaneous costs, such as human rating.

The remaining $250 million will go to NASA's constellation program.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Press Conference on Mecury

NASA is planning a press conference on April 30th to reveal discoveries made by the MESSENGER probe. Flybys occurred on January 14, 2008 and October 6, 2008.

White Knight 2 Set to Debut at EAA AirVenture 2009

White Knight 2, the carrier plane for the much anticipated Space Ship Two, will make its public debut at the EAA AirVenture 2009 in Oshkosh Wisconsin. The event is set for July 27-Aug. 2 at Wittman Regional Airport.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Australians Ready for Space

Apparently Australians are ready to leave the Earth. Reports say residents of the "land down under" purchased 10% of Virgin Galactic's tickets to space.

Obama Loves Science, NASA Not So Much

According to Discover magazine, in three recent speeches President Obama is pushing "massive reinvestment" in science. He fails to ever mention the venerable space agency at all.

So far our beloved leader has a big fat zero in showing leadership in space.

Astronauts are still Popular

Apparently, regardless of what cynics may say, astronauts are still popular with youngsters. Mike Massimino who is scheduled on the next Hubble Space Telescope mission in May, has started a twitter account. In a single month he has caught up with NASA critic (and nut-job comic) Stephen Colbert who has spend two years building his following.

May the young people still like space? Who knew...

NASA Plans Antimatter Detector

NASA has plans to send the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on a currently unplanned shuttle mission in 2010. The AMS probe will become part of the International Space Station. Its mission is to search for antimatter particles in space.

A particle of antimatter is the opposite of regular matter (positron to electron, proton to anti-proton). It is theorized that there should be just as much antimatter as matter in the universe, but we have only found a very small amount of it to date.

This mission would require congress to approve one extra shuttle mission.

Orion Mock-Up Dropped in the Water

A life size mock-up of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle slated to go the Moon in the next decade is being dropped in the Atlantic Ocean this month. The test simulate a water landing similar to what most pre-shuttle capsules and astronauts experienced.

Dr. Giffin at my School

On April 14, 2009, Dr. Michael Griffin, former head of NASA was named eminent scholar and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, where I am currently ABD on my PhD.

Just saying...

Genesis II Completes 10,000 Orbits

Bigelow Aerospace's test hab completed 10,000 orbits last Thursday. Congratulations guys, can't wait until the full size guys are up there.

WK2 Testing Status

If you have been living under a rock and haven't seen it, here is a link to the press release Scaled Composites released on the WK2 testing status and the greatly exaggerated rumors floating around on the web.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ESA and NASA Planning Two Solar Missons

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are looking to return to the Sun in the next decade. The ESA is looking at a 2017 launch of the Solar Orbiter probe which will orbit our closest star at around 20 million miles. NASA will launch the Solar Probe Plus later but it will orbit 4.3 million miles from the Sun, inside its corona.

The last probe to the sun was the Helios probe sent in the late 70s.

Obama too Busy to Name Head of NASA

I know NASA is under cloud of confusion with no leader at the helm. They are unsure of the future with a new administration and they are trying to create a 2010 budget with very little guidance. But come on guys, President Obama is a busy man. You can ask him to take time from his busy schedule to fool with something as unimportant as our national space program. He has communist dictators to schmooze.

(That was sarcasm if you missed it. I know it is subtle...)

NASA Budget Gets Little Help from the White House

Apparently Obama's administration is not interested in helping NASA craft the 2010 budget. According to reports the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is proposing a $3.5 billion cut in the shuttle replacement.

Some good news is this may force NASA to move toward a evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV), such as the Atlas V or Delta IV, rather than spend years building new rockets in order to provide aging space shuttle workers with jobs.

I'm Back after a Sabbatical

After a not so brief sabbatical to finish all my classwork and get ready for the qualifying exam, space pragmatism is back to provide you with up to date news on government and private space programs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SpaceShipOne Talk

The American Aviation Historical Society will play host to Dan Linehan of Monterey, Calif. and author of "SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the DLC Auditorium on the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus.

The presentation will cover the reasons and methods of design, construction, testing and operation of SpaceShipOne and the development of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo with the aid of photos, video and animation.

For information, call 777-6985 or e-mail

Obama to Ban Space Weapons

This is a shock. President Obama wants to ban all weapons in space. Specially he wants a "worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites."

I have a bad feeling about this...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Space Adventures Carries On

Space Adventures the firm that has sold more than a few space tourist seats to the ISS, are continuing on despite the news from Russia that there will be no more flights for tourists to the ISS. Space Adventures plans to buy their own Soyuz flights rather than taking a seat on a scheduled flight.

There may be no were to park, however.

Ares 1 to Fly in July

NASA plans an unmanned test flight of the Ares 1 in July of this year. It is the first unmanned test flight by NASA since the Apollo program.

SpaceX to Donate Flight

SpaceX is going to donate payload space on a Dragon/Falcon IX flight to the winner of the Heinlein Trust Microgravity Research Competition.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Russia Says No to Space Tourists

Russia Agency chief Anatoly Perminov said that after 2009, no more space tourists will be carried to the ISS on Russian rockets. Software giant Charles Simonyi will be the last tourist going up. Russians say this move comes because the ISS crew has increased from 3 to 6. My guess would be they are feeling pressure from NASA who never really supported the practice.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Methane on Mars

The Planetary Society discusses the recent finding of Methane in Mar's atmosphere and what it could mean for life.

Sierra Nevada Completes SpaceDev Buyout

Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) has finished their acquisition of SpaceDev. SpaceDev will form part of SNC's Space Systems Business Area.

Musk Factor

Brian Enke writes about how much SpaceX planned 10x launch cost saving will actually save on a mission.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Griffin is Out ??? is In

NASA head Mike Griffin is leaving NASA after four years. Present Elect Barack Obama has yet to name who he wants to lead the space agency. Associate Administrator Christopher Scolese will lead until someone is named.

It is unclear whether Obama will continue the plan to head to the Moon by 2020. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

PlanetSpace Whines about Losting COTS

PlanetSpace, which to our knowledge has never launched actual hardware, is protesting the award of the COTS money to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences.

Spaceport T-Shirts

The Las Cruces Sun News has an overview on the "branding" of Spaceport America including a store where you can buy T-Shirts (or sweat shirts in the current weather).