January 2008

(Source: AIA)
Virgin Galactic plans to use a carrier plane to launch satellites high in the atmosphere, according to media reports. The project could help defray costs related to the company’s space tourism operation. Founder Richard Branson said the launch system would create less pollution than the rockets now used to launch satellites.

(Source: Salon)
The prospect of large-scale commercial space travel is music to the ears of Dennis Hope, who has been anticipating this era for more than a quarter-century. The Nevada-based entrepreneur — who styles himself as a latter-day Columbus with Murdochian marketing aplomb — is the founder and self-proclaimed “Head Cheese” of Lunar Embassy, an online portal that parcels out moon land for less than it costs to stay overnight at a Motel 6. For $19.99, Hope’s pie-in-the-sky sales pitch promises that you too can snap up your very own one-acre lunar plot. And with the Earthbound real-estate market cratering, who can resist the growth potential? A split-level overlooking the Sea of Tranquility, a condo at the foot of the Archimedes mountain range — the possibilities are endless.

Until a couple of years ago, no one paid much attention to Hope and other space-plot peddlers like Lunar International and the Lunar Registry; they were widely regarded as a few planets short of a solar system. Besides, the idea of claiming land in outer space or exploiting its resources remained chiefly theoretical. With crude oil nearing $100 a barrel, entrepreneurs focused on petroleum alternatives are looking at the green cheese in a whole new light — and that has lunar real estate agents envisioning asteroid showers of money raining down on them.

Visit http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/01/19/moon_real_estate/ to view the article.

(Source: Space.com and Virgin Galactic)


(Source: Space.com)

An American space tourist bound for the International Space Station (ISS) has begun training for his fall launch aboard a Russian rocket.

Computer game developer Richard Garriott is spending six weeks in Russia to undergo initial medical checks and the first round of training for flight aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

“This year is definitely where all my priorities and schedules have rotated to where space becomes the top priority and terrestrial activities become secondary,” Garriott told SPACE.com. “There’s no aspect of the actual training that I perceive that’s going to be scary or intimidating, I just look at it as going to be really smooth from here.”

Garriott, 46, is paying about $30 million to launch to the ISS with two professional spaceflyers this fall under an agreement between Russia’s Federal Space Agency and the Virginia-based firm Space Adventures. He is the creator of the Ultima series of online computer games and is contemplating $15 million spacewalk as an additional mission perk.

The son of former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, who flew aboard the U.S. Skylab station and a U.S. shuttle, the younger Garriott is set to become the first second-generation U.S. spaceflyer and the sixth paying visitor to the ISS during his mission.

“We have been having about five e-mails from each other a day,” Garriott said of his father, who will serve as chief scientist for his upcoming flight. “My dad will even tell you this is the hardest he’s worked since he left the space program.”

Garriott plans to spend about nine days aboard the space station, during which time he will perform protein crystallization and Earth observation experiments, some of which include photographing sites his father observed from Skylab in 1973.

But before launching, Garriott must educate himself in the workings of Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the ISS, not to mention the Russian language.

“I’ve never learned a second language before,” he said. “You just want to be able to participate fully and competently and enjoyably, and I’m gaining confidence that I can do that.”

On Sunday, Garriott expected to meet with ISS Expedition 18 commander Michael Fincke, with whom he’ll launch to the station later this year, as well as South Korean astronaut Ko San. Ko, South Korea’s first astronaut, will launch toward the space station on April 8 with the outpost’s Expedition 17 crew.

Garriott said he also hoped to meet with Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, commander of Expedition 17. Like Garriott, Volkov is a second-generation spaceflyer who, if all goes according to plan, will return to Earth with the U.S. space tourist later this fall.

“I’m really going to work hard to get a chance to meet him before he flies,” Garriott said.

(Source: Zdnet)
Virgin Galactic on Wednesday unveiled designs for SpaceShipTwo and the WhiteKnightTwo, two vehicles that are designed to usher in private spaceflight. The technology behind the system will have an open architecture “like Linux,” said officials.

In an event at the American Museum at Natural History in New York, Virgin Galactic unveiled the first product of venture to manufacture a reusable spacecraft and its launch craft. In July 2005, Burt Rutan, President of Scaled Composites and Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group of companies, formed a company to manufacture and design SpaceShipTwo, a suborbital craft, and White Knight Two, a launch system.

“Our vision of White Knight 2 would be part of a much longer development program. Have open architecture like Linux to allow other people to develop new vehicles and revolutionize new industrial uses of space,” said Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, Virgin’s spaceline.

For full Story, click here.

(Source: ThisisLondon.co.uk)

The Virgin Galactic spacecraft, which was being unveiled in New York today, is already under construction. Test flights are expected to begin in June, with commercial flights starting 12 months later.

More than 200 potential astronauts are believed to have already paid deposits for the £100,000 flights, including actress Victoria Principal, scientist Stephen Hawking, and Princess Beatrice.

Flights will last for two hours and will include four and a half minutes of weightlessness.

The 60ft ship is expected to reach an altitude of 110km – 68 miles – and will be launched from underneath a mother ship called White Knight.


(Source: KBAK)
Citations have been issued against Scaled Composites where a massive explosion killed three workers and injured three others as they tested a rocket fuel. Cal-OSHA proposes a $25,000 fine against the company operated by SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan. Rutan was not available to comment. The accident happened in July as workers tested nitrous oxide as a rocket fuel. It was a 15-second test, considered routine. But, Cal-OSHA says the workers were not adequately trained with nitrous oxide. “The company failed to properly train its employees and supervisors, and to have policies and procedures that protect their employees in the workplace,” said OSHA spokeswoman Kate McGuire in San Francisco.

(Source: ETC Corp.)
Environmental Tectonics Corporation’s National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center has launched its Air and Space Adventure Programs, a series of programs designed to provide realistic flight experiences for astronaut and fighter pilot enthusiasts alike. The NASTAR Center is now offering 2-hour, half-day, full-day, and 2-day combo programs that simulate fast jet flights and space voyages. NASTAR is doing this with the same technology it uses to train military fighter pilots and Virgin Galactic space passengers. With these programs, the general public can come to the NASTAR Center and find out what it is like to fly a high-performance jet or blast off into outer space. They can do this just for fun, or to enhance their knowledge and test their aptitude pulling G’s for those interested in signing up for a real space launch or becoming a fighter pilot.

(Source: InfoWorld)
The U.S. space program should look to collaboration and open systems to drive the next wave of human exploration and innovation, Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said. “Assume that you don’t have all the answers,” Schmidt said during a speech celebrating NASA’s 50th anniversary. “I can assure you that we don’t.” He talked about the importance of collaboration between organizations, such as the images from NASA and private satellite providers Google has used to create Google Earth, but also of the benefit to NASA and other government agencies of seeking ideas from the public.

National group with a new approach to aerospace venture financing l aunches its 2008 membership program

LEESBURG, VA – Space Angels Network, LLC, http://www.spaceangelsnetwork.com, a national network of seed- and early-stage investors focused on aerospace-related ventures, announced today that it has accepted the first 11 companies into its online community. The company has also launched a 2008 membership drive to expand its network of accredited investors interested in finding opportunities with innovative growth companies in aerospace-related fields.

The diverse group of companies includes:
A&S Media Group ( http://www.airandspace.tv )
Aprize Satellite ( http://www.aprizesat.com )
Assured Power & Communications ( http://www.assurecom.com/ )
Gotham Studios (http://www.gothamstudios.co/ )
Lumedyne Technologies ( http://www.lumedynetechnologies.com )
R3 Scientific ( http://www.r3scientific.com/ )
Rocketplane Global ( http://www.rocketplaneglobal.com )
Slipstream ( http://www.slipstreamgroup.net/ )
StarPort Café ( http://www.starportcafe.com/ ) (stealth mode)
UP Aerospace (http://www.upaerospace.com/ )
WheelTug ( http://www.wheeltug.com/ )

“This is an exciting time for Space Angels Network, as we continue to re-define the investment landscape for aerospace-related ventures,” said Dr. Burton Lee, co-founder and managing director of Space Angels Network. “We congratulate these companies on joining our network, and believe their diversity is indicative of much broader technology and market trends throughout the aerospace sector.”

These companies represent both traditional space-based business models—such as rocket and satellite ventures—and also many terrestrial products and services, dual-use applications, and aviation-focused opportunities. They are primarily located in the U.S. , but some foreign companies are also included. The companies fall within the seed- and early-stage spectrum—from prototype development to early revenue—and include diverse sectors, such as military/security, enterprise software, semiconductors, air taxis, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cable television, audio/video entertainment, retail, space tourism, energy, and telecommunications. Their capital requirements range from $100,000 to $10 million.

“In order to satisfy the diverse investment interests of our members, Space Angels Network’s approach is to cast a very wide net,” said Guillermo Söhnlein, co-founder and managing director of Space Angels Network. “Our focus is on ventures with unique aerospace-specific elements that might be overlooked mainstream angel groups.”

The company’s 2008 membership outreach is to attract U.S. accredited investors interested in exploring seed- and early-stage investment opportunities with aerospace-related ventures. While primarily focused on individual investors, Space Angels Network will also accept applications from a limited number of institutional members, including state investment funds, venture capital and private equity firms, family offices, trusts, university endowments, pension funds, and foundations. Additional information (including membership benefits, requirements, and applications) can be found at www.spaceangelsnetwork.com/investors.php

About Space Angels Network, LLC
Space Angels Network is a professionally managed, member-led national network of seed- and early-stage investors focused on aerospace-related ventures. The online platform allows members to find investment opportunities, to connect with like-minded accredited investors and aerospace industry experts across the U.S. and Canada, and to collaborate on due diligence and deal negotiations. Through its extended strategic relationships with venture capital firms, federal science and technology agencies, state economic development organizations, research universities, incentive prize organizations, and other partners, Space Angels Network creates a robust ecosystem for both aerospace entrepreneurs and investors to connect for seed- and early-stage financing.

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