Michael Gold, Bigelow Aerospace’s director of business growth talks to The Economist about funding challenges, biotech in space and why Bigelow thinks Obama’s plans make sense.
Michael Gold, Bigelow Aerospace’s director of business growth talks to The Economist about funding challenges, biotech in space and why Bigelow thinks Obama’s plans make sense.
Space Frontier Foundation
Date Released: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
In the wake of the Augustine Commission’s declaration that the troubled Ares rocket program is unaffordable under any realistic budget projections, the Space Frontier Foundation renewed its call to immediately cancel the costly dead-end project and replace it with multiple commercial vehicles. “Three years ago we published Unaffordable and Unsustainable, declaring that government must henceforth ‘buy all crew and cargo services with a destination of low Earth orbit [from] commercial providers using privately-owned and operated spaceships’,” said Foundation co-Founder Bob Werb.
“For over a decade, we’ve said that continuing to try and develop new government rockets costs too much and delays human exploration beyond Earth orbit,” added co-Founder Rick Tumlinson. “Pouring more money into Ares now is the equivalent of giving a taxpayer-funded I.V. to a corpse. Instead, let’s use those funds to give birth to a new and vibrant space transport industry that might actually make money
and open the space frontier to everyone.”
“Derivatives of proven commercial launch systems, and new ones under development, could meet any reasonable need for heavy lift,” said Foundation co-Founder, James Muncy. “The barrier is psychological: NASA will have to stop pretending it can design cost-effective launch vehicles and instead focus on exploration systems that fit on the launch vehicles taxpayers can really afford.”
Werb concluded: “The choice is clear. We can continue funding an overpriced, government space limousine, or we can kick-start a whole new industry that will reduce government’s costs and create new jobs. The tools of private sector innovation and competition offer our best and only chance to have affordable and sustainable human space exploration.”
Excalibur Almaz Limited (EA), an international space exploration company, today announced plans to open up a new era of private orbital space flight for commercial customers, using updated elements of the “Almaz” space system originally developed by JSC MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia.
Realization of EA’s project with technical assistance from NPOM will allow regular access to and from space. This project joins Russian space technology expertise with an international private enterprise to create a commercial offering of orbital spaceflight services for global customers.
EA plans to offer week-long orbital space flights beginning as early as 2013 –
taking a big leap beyond the sub-orbital flight market targeted by most other private space companies. In addition to NPOM, other leading aerospace firms in the U.S., Europe and Japan will provide technical support for EA’s space flight operations
The original Almaz space system technology, comprising reusable reentry vehicle (RRV) and space station, was successfully tested in flight by NPOM. Working with NPOM and its international contractors, EA is now updating the spacecraft to conduct crew and cargo space missions for private individuals, corporations, academic institutions and national governments.
EA Founder and CEO Art Dula said, “Through cooperation with NPOM and with the support of leading space contractors around the world and an exceptionally strong management and advisory team, EA is in a unique position to initiate a new era of private orbital space exploration.”
Cosmonaut Vladimir Titov, advisor to EA in Russia, said, “With this announcement, the dream of private orbital space exploration may become a reality in the very near future.”
EA has ownership of several Almaz spacecraft, including reusable reentry vehicles (RRVs) and space stations.
EA will tailor space missions to accommodate customer objectives including exploration, cargo transportation and experimentation. On selected missions, spacecraft and space stations would provide platforms for microgravity scientific experiments, potentially serving the needs of governments and academic institutions.
EA’s spacecraft will consist of two parts: an RRV and an expendable service module to provide crewmembers with room to comfortably operate during spaceflight. EA will update the Almaz RRVs with flight-proven technologies where appropriate, while retaining tested legacy systems to ensure safety and economy of operation. A critical feature of the RRVs is their reusability, which will reduce logistical, overhead and program costs for commercial access to space.
EA plans for its spacecraft to be compatible with a number of launch vehicles and capable of being launched from worldwide sites.
In addition to NPOM, leading aerospace firms contracting with EA include Space Flight Operations (SFO), a subsidiary of United Space Alliance, of the U.S.; Paragon Space Development Corporation of the U.S.; Qwaltec of the U.S.; EADS Astrium Space Transportation of Europe; and Japan Manned Space Systems (JAMSS) of Japan. EA has also formed strategic alliances with academic institutions including Rice University of the U.S and the International Space University of France, and is an Industry Forum member of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute of the U.S.
Established in 2005, EA is incorporated, headquartered and registered on the Isle of Man in the British Isles. EA’s support contractors are in Russia, Europe, Japan and the U.S. EA’s founders, executives and advisors include astronauts, cosmonauts and commercial aerospace business entrepreneurs.
International Launch Services (ILS) successfully carried the AsiaSat 5 satellite into orbit today on an ILS Proton for Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat) of Hong Kong. This was the fourth commercial mission of the year for ILS and the sixth successful Proton launch of 2009. From contract signing to launch, the full integration of the AsiaSat 5 mission was completed in less than six months.
The ILS Proton Breeze M launched from Pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:47 a.m. today local time (3:47 a.m. in Hong Kong, August 12, 19:47 GMT, August 11 and 3:47 p.m. EDT, August 11). After a 9 hour 15 minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the AsiaSat 5 satellite, weighing over 3.7 metric tons, into geo-transfer orbit. This was the 347th launch for the Proton. The Proton Breeze M vehicle is developed and built by Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, Russia’s premier space manufacturer.
Built by Space Systems/Loral, AsiaSat 5 will replace AsiaSat 2 at the orbital location of 100.5 degrees East. This new satellite with an enhanced pan Asian C-band footprint and high-power Ku-band beams over East Asia, South Asia, and an in-orbit steerable Ku beam, will provide advanced satellite services including television broadcast, telephone networks and VSAT networks for broadband multimedia services across the Asia Pacific. The satellite is based on the Space Systems/Loral 1300 platform, designed for a lifespan of 15 years. The station-keeping lifetime of the satellite may be even longer as a result of the performance of the ILS Proton launch vehicle.
Frank McKenna, President of ILS said, “This full integration and successful launch on ILS Proton of AsiaSat 5 in less than six months was a focused team effort on behalf of ILS, Khrunichev, AsiaSat and Space Systems/Loral. This is the real value that ILS/Proton offers our customers and we are proud to have met AsiaSat’s demanding business imperative for the replacement strategy of AsiaSat 2.”
“Launching AsiaSat 5 on ILS Proton was the best solution to meet our planned schedule for AsiaSat 2 replacement, to assure service continuity for all users on AsiaSat 2. We are most grateful for the diligence, professionalism and dedication demonstrated by ILS and Khrunichev to achieve on time delivery that is simply unmatched,” said Peter Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of AsiaSat.
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the creation of the Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG), composed of experienced scientists, researchers, and educators dedicated to furthering the research and education potential of suborbital reusable launch vehicles under development by the commercial spaceflight sector.
The panel is chaired by Dr. S. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, a space scientist who previously served as head of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
The members of the Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG) are aiming to increase awareness of commercial suborbital vehicles in the science and R&D communities, to work with policymakers to ensure that payloads can have easy access to these vehicles, and to further develop ideas for the uses of these vehicles for science, engineering, and education missions.
“The innovative vehicles being developed by a wide range of commercial suborbital companies, including Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace, represent valuable new capability for scientists, engineers, and educators,” said Alan Stern, Chairman of SARG. “Because some of these vehicles are approaching first flights in 2010 and 2011, it is crucial to start engaging with the broader scientific community as soon as possible to put payloads and scientists on these vehicles.”
In addition to Dr. S. Alan Stern, SARG includes the following members:
SARG has been officially formed as a coordination and advisory committee of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (www.commercialspaceflight.org), with Matthew Isakowitz, Associate Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, serving as Program Officer. The first meeting of SARG will occur August 18, in Boulder, Colorado.
The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. CSF member organizations include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, and spaceports. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is governed by a board of directors, composed of the member companies’ CEO-level officers and entrepreneurs.
The Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG) is a coordination and advisory committee of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, composed of scientists and researchers dedicated to furthering the scientific potential of suborbital reusable launch vehicles under development by the commercial spaceflight sector. SARG will seek to increase awareness of commercial suborbital vehicles in the science, R&D, and education communities, work with policymakers to ensure that payloads can have easy access to these vehicles, and aim to generate new ideas for uses of these vehicles for science, engineering, and education missions.
NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program is applying Recovery Act funds to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities. These efforts are intended to foster entrepreneurial activity leading to job growth in engineering, analysis, design, and research, and to economic growth as capabilities for new markets are created. By developing commercial crew service providers, NASA may be able to reduce the gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability. All ARRA funded activities must comply with its provisions and will conclude no later than September 30, 2010.
The program intends to solicit proposals from all interested U.S. industry participants to mature the design and development of commercial crew spaceflight concepts and associated enabling technologies and capabilities. NASA plans to use its Space Act authority to invest up to $50 million dollars in multiple competitively awarded, funded agreements. This activity is referred to as Commercial Crew Development, or CCDev.
An Announcement soliciting proposals for Space Act Agreements (SAAs) is currently planned to be released on or about August 10, 2009, with proposals due approximately 45 days later. The award of SAAs is planned for November 2009.
NASA does not intend to issue a draft of the Announcement but does plan to conduct a pre-proposal conference at JSC on August 13th , at the Gilruth Center’s Ball Room, at 10:00 am, to discuss the solicitation and answer questions.
NASA will only consider proposals from U.S. commercial providers as defined by the Commercial Space Act of 1998.
The Commercial Crew and Cargo program also manages NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) partnership agreements with U.S. industry to help develop safe, reliable and cost-effective systems to carry cargo and eventually crew to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. Additional background information on NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program and COTS may be found at: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/c3po/home
Please notify the point of contact listed in this synopsis of your interest in this potential competition by August 12, 2009. Your non-binding letter of intent should include the company name, point of contact, address, phone number, e-mail, and nature of interest as either a primary participant or team member. Potential respondents are responsible for monitoring the Internet site for the release of the Announcement and for downloading their own copy of the Announcement and amendments. A web site has been established for this Space Act Agreement competition: http://procurement.jsc.nasa.gov/ccdev
An Ombudsman has been appointed – See NASA Specific Note “B”.
The Announcement soliciting proposals and any related documents will be available over the Internet. The NASA/JSC Business Opportunities page is located at:
This is not a solicitation for proposals and NASA does not intend to respond to questions about this synopsis at this time. Further information will be provided as amendments to this synopsis.
Point of Contact
Name: K. Lee Pagel
Title: Agreements Officer
The Next Step in Space Coalition, a group of businesses, organizations, and people working to ensure the future of US human spaceflight, announced today that its membership has grown to include a diverse set of businesses and organizations, including Google, Inc., Analytic Graphics Inc., the Space Coast Economic Development Commission and the National Space Society.
With its new members, the Next Step in Space Coalition now includes large aerospace companies like Sierra Nevada Inc., Analytic Graphics and SpaceX, as well as smaller companies such as Odyssey Moon and Space Adventures. Also pledging their support are space related organizations including Space Florida and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
To date, more than 20 businesses and organizations have joined the Next Step in Space Coalition, which was established to educate government officials and the general public on the current role of commercial companies in space transportation and the potential role of commercial companies in the future of human spaceflight.
To see the full list of the Next Step in Space Coalition members and learn more about the importance of commercial spaceflight please visit NextStepInSpace.com
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) anounced the successful completion of qualification testing for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle first stage tank and interstage.
Testing took place at SpaceX’s Texas Test Site, a 300 acre structural and propulsion testing facility, located just outside of Waco, Texas.
The first stage tank and interstage hardware were subjected to a proof test of 1.1 times the maximum expected operating pressure (MEOP), and a burst pressure proof test of 1.4 MEOP; qualifying both articles with a 1.4 factor of safety. The 1.4 factor of safety designation means that the first stage tank and the interstage can withstand 140 percent the maximum internal pressure expected during flight, and qualifies both pieces of hardware to meet human rating safety requirements, as defined by NASA. The first stage also passed this human rating milestone when subjected to structural bending tests.
The testing regimen included over 150 pressurization cycles, exceeding the number of required life cycles by more than 100. In addition, the first stage and interstage were subjected to stiffness tests, maximum dynamic pressure loading and main engine cutoff conditions; all at expected values, as well as ultimate loads.
“Falcon 9 continues to pass qualification testing in preparation for its first flight, scheduled for 2009,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. “All hardware was designed to be man-rated, and these tests confirm that SpaceX is one step closer to flying humans on the Falcon 9/Dragon system.”
Falcon 9′s first stage and interstage also passed ground wind qualification tests, critical for when the vehicle is vertical on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Both components were designed, built and tested by SpaceX.
Google Lunar X PRIZE contender Odyssey Moon Limited today is announcing its partnership with the International Space School Education Trust (ISSET) and their customer Moonlink Ltd. of Yorkshire to put a British science instrument on the Moon.
Moonlink has signed up with the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) to set aside one kilogram of payload capacity on Odyssey Moon’s “MoonOne” lunar lander, to be launched to the Moon in late 2012. Moonlink will be heading up a county wide competition driving innovation in schools, universities, and local industry in the form of a competition to design, build, and fly an experiment to the Moon.
Chris Barber, director of ISSET, said: “It is a world-class opportunity to discover the unfound genius of Yorkshire. Also, importantly, the building of a lunar experiment in Yorkshire will increase jobs, together with research and development capabilities in the region.”
The competition will be open to students from UK universities, colleges and high schools, with individual entries also invited from the public. Full-details regarding participation in the competition will be announced after summer.
Gary Fawcett, chief executive of Link Telecom, one of the UK’s leading private sector sponsors of education-related initiatives, has been appointed Managing Director of Moonlink. “The project will put Yorkshire at the forefront of technological discovery in the UK and help increase both the prestige and confidence of the region,” he said. “It will provide spin-off technologies and business opportunities, raise the county’s technological and innovative profile, boost the self-esteem of the region and help create new employment opportunities.”
Fawcett and Barber also aim to leverage the mission to increase research capabilities among Yorkshire universities and intensify student and pupil interest in STEM partnerships – a series of regional hubs
that provide up-to-date information, support and advice to schools about quality science technology engineering and mathematics activities that enhance and enrich the curriculum.
“Yorkshire is literally now leading the world in innovation,” said Odyssey Moon chairman Dr. Ramin Khadem. “We are thrilled to have ISSET and Moonlink onboard.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity for students and an inspiration to all of us,” said Odyssey Moon CEO, Dr. Robert Richards. “Seeing a program like this makes me wish I was back at school as a student again. I hope this educational competition model catches on worldwide.”