July 24, 2010

Details Emerge on Space Adventures / Armadillo Aerospace Collaboration (Source: Parabolic Arc)
During the NewSpace 2010 conference in California, Space Adventures' Tom Shelley provided some details on his company's new partnership with Armadillo Aerospace. "We believe they really do have a mechanism for radically reducing the cost of spaceflight," he said. After 200 Armadillo flights so far, and 40 Armadillo-supported flights of Rocket Racing League vehicles, Space Adventures expects to fly space tourists on suborbital Armadillo vehicles for $100K per person. Armadillo plans 20 more test flights in the next 12 months and is hiring more people to support their evolving human spaceflight plans. (7/24)

NanoRacks Commercial Research Platforms Activated on the Space Station (Source: Parabolic Arc)
This July, U.S. Astronaut Shannon Walker activated a fully commercial research facility designed to make access to the International Space Station easy and cost-effective for scientists and educators. Developed by NanoRacks LLC, of Laguna woods, Calif., the research platforms are designed for use within the pressurized space station environment.

Each platform provides room for up to 16 customer payloads to plug effortlessly into a standard USB connector, which provides both power and data connectivity. Its plug and play system uses a simple, standardized interface that reduces payload integration cost and schedule for nano-scale research on the orbiting laboratory. (7/24)

Mars Moon a Better Option for Human Missions (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In a paper presented at the NewSpace 2010 conference in California, Dr. Jim Logan of Space Medicine Associates says radiation problems make living on the Moon and Mars problematic. He says asteroids and the Martian moon Deimos would be better options. Click here to see an abstract of his paper, describing why. (7/24)

Six Spectacular Minutes That'll Cost You $200,000 (Source: NPR)
Last week, Virgin Galactic launched the first manned test flight of SpaceShipTwo, which will eventually take tourists into space for $200,000 a passenger. Unlike the $30 million space station trips offered by the Virginia-based Space Adventures, SpaceShipTwo’s flights will not put tourists in orbit.

Instead, it’ll launch them to a altitude of 68 miles above sea level, or six miles above the boundary of space. They'll officially be astronauts, and will have six minutes to unbuckle and float weightless about the cabin. It’s an amazing opportunity, for sure. But six minutes of legitimate space time seems awfully skimpy for $200,000. (7/23)

Envisat To Pose Big Orbital Debris Threat for 150 Years, Experts Say (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency in three years will become the owner of what is possibly the most dangerous piece of space debris circling the Earth: the 8,000-kilogram Envisat Earth observation satellite. Envisat, whose mission has been extended to 2013, is the biggest nonmilitary Earth observation satellite ever built.

And now, once in retirement and in a near-polar orbit at 782.4 kilometers in altitude, Envisat will become what space debris experts say is a huge problem that will not go away for about 150 years. That is how long it will take for Envisat, given its orbit and its area-to-mass ratio, to be gradually pulled into the Earth’s atmosphere. (7/23)

Suborbital Price Drop Foreseen by 2014 (Source: Space News)
By 2014, a ticket for suborbital flight is likely to cost between $50,000 and $100,000 as the industry develops to offer hundreds or even thousands of flights annually, according to a panel of experts speaking July 23 at the Space Frontier Foundation’s annual conference in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The most optimistic estimates were offered by Lee Valentine, executive vice president of the Space Studies Institute in Princeton, N.J., and an investor in XCOR Aerospace of Mojave, Calif., and David Masten, chief executive of Masten Space Systems of Mojave, who said the industry would be offering between 1,000 and 100,000 flights annually. (7/24)

TASC Beats Scitor for SBIRS Support Work (Source: Space News)
TASC Inc. was awarded an Air Force contract worth as much as $198 million to provide technical assistance and advisory services supporting the development of U.S. Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning satellites. TASC unseated incumbent Scitor Corp. to win the SBIRS systems engineering and integration contract, which features a three-year base period with two one-year options. (7/24)

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