November 24, 2013

Flights of Fancy May Launch the Space Industry’s Future (Source: Washington Post)
To hear the dreamers tell it, this is the next Silicon Valley. The Mojave Air and Space Port is the spiritual heart of the industry that people call “New Space.” Old Space (and this is still the dreamers talking) is slow, bureaucratic, government-directed, completely top-down. Old Space is NASA, cautious and halting, supervising every project down to the last thousand-dollar widget. Old Space is Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman. Old Space coasts on the glory of the Apollo era and isn’t entirely sure what to do next.

New Space is the opposite of all that. It’s wild. It’s commercial, bootstrapping, imaginative, right up to the point of being (and this is no longer the dreamers talking) delusional. Many of the New Space enterprises are still in the PowerPoint stage, with business models built around spaceships that haven’t yet gone to space. A bold attitude and good marketing aren’t enough to put a vehicle into orbit. The skeptics among the Old Space people will say to the upstarts: Where’s your rocket? How many times have you launched? Can you deliver reliably? Repeatedly? Safely? Click here. (11/23)

Alaska Aerospace Corp. Plans 2014 Launch From Kodiak Spaceport (Source: TribTown)
Things are looking up for the financially troubled Alaska Aerospace Corp. The Kodiak Launch Complex has one launch scheduled next year, and it's pursuing three more in future years. Chief Operations Officer Mark Greby declined to say which companies have expressed interest in launching from Kodiak's Narrow Cape spaceport. The board went into executive session to discuss the details.

CEO Craig Campbell said they have been aggressive about securing other contracts over the last three months, and they are looking at drone flights and monitoring the launches from other spaceports. "We can do a lot more than just launch government rockets out of Kodiak," Campbell said. The corporation is facing financial pressure from the Alaska Legislature to come up with commercial launches to balance state subsidies.

The corporation's plans to add a third launch pad at the Kodiak facility have slowed by lack of commercial interest. The proposed pad would be for medium-lift rockets. Orbital Sciences, a potential partner in the third pad expansion, likely won't make a decision on a West Coast launch site any time soon, Campbell said. Orbital believes it can send satellites into polar orbit from Virginia's spaceport. (11/24)

Change May be Coming to New Mexico Spaceport Revenue Allocated to Schools (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Millions of dollars awarded to science, technology, engineering and math programs at Sierra and Doña Ana county schools may be in jeopardy. At a state legislator's request, the Public Education Department is reviewing how school districts classify revenue from the county sales tax funding Spaceport America.

Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, a Gallup Democrat, has asked for the Spaceport tax revenue to be reclassified, subjecting it to a state law aimed at ensuring education funding is distributed fairly. If the money is reclassified, Las Cruces Public Schools would lose almost $1 million a year for STEM programs that reach about 8,000 students. Gadsden school district would be forced to cut seven full-time teachers, afterschool and summer programs. (11/22)

Private Space Companies are Really Taking Off (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Never before has the final frontier looked more like the Wild West. With NASA in a down period, private space companies have stepped in with plans that range from the boldly innovative to the potentially absurd. Take multimillionaire Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist. Tito, who visited the International Space Station in 2001, wants to blast two astronauts to Mars in early 2018 for a 501-day mission that would fly within 100 miles of the Red Planet.

Other space entrepreneurs are proposing, and even pursuing, missions once seen as improbable for the private sector — and they're having some success. Most notably, two U.S. space companies — SpaceX and Orbital Sciences — have delivered cargo to the space station. In another sign of growth, a SpaceX rocket carrying a communications satellite is scheduled to launch Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

And two space-tourism companies, Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace, aim to begin flights to suborbital space for wealthy adventurers as soon as next year. Tickets cost $95,000 to $250,000. In each case, aspiring astronauts would ride a futuristic plane to the edge of space for a few minutes of weightlessness. Click here. (11/22) 

India to Launch German, French, British, Canadian Satellites (Source: Zee News)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), that got global recognition for its successful launch of a mission to Mars, will now launch German, French, British and Canadaian satellites. "We will be launching EnMAP (Environmental Mapping and Analysis Programme) satellite belonging to Germany. The satellite will weigh around 800 kg," ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said.

"There will be four more small foreign satellites that would go along with SPOT-7," he added. Radhakrishnan said discussions were held with British agencies for launching three satellites each weighing around 300 kg and also to launch a set of Canadian satellites. The idea is to have at least one commercial launch every year using the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the ISRO chairman said. (11/24)

Opinion: CBO Issues Short-Sighted Recommendations on Human Spaceflight (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
In a massively ill-informed move, the CBO has offered up the concept of scrapping NASA’s manned space flight efforts and operations to help with the rampant budget mismanagement that is the federal government. The CBO issued a report where ending the U.S. crewed space efforts was raised as an option to reduce the federal budget deficit.

All crewed space operations would end, with only those necessary to maintain space communications needs spared. According to the report, those programs that relate to science and aeronautics would not be cut. The logic behind this giant leap backward for mankind is that technology has progressed to the rate where there is no longer a need to send crews into space (at least that is apparently what the CBO believes). (11/24)

LADEE Moves Into Planned Lunar Orbit (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA announced that the space agency’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) has entered its planned orbit around the Moon’s equator, which will put it in position to see frequent lunar sunrises and sunsets. This orbit places the spacecraft in the best spot to gather data on the Moon’s atmospheric composition, and to determine whether dust is being kicked up into its sky. LADEE will orbit the Moon every two hours at an altitude of eight to 37 miles for approximately 100 days. (11/24)

No comments: