October 2009

MSNBC’s Alan Boyle discusses Spaceport America.

Rob Coppinger of Hyperbola posted video from the recent International Astroautical Space Congress in Daejon, Korea.

Press Release: Space Foundation

Urges the Nation to Support Comprehensive Research Agenda

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Oct. 21, 2009) – The Space Foundation today strongly recommended that the United States keep the International Space Station (ISS) functioning until at least 2020 and beyond, if possible.

The recommendation is the key message of a Space Foundation white paper, The International Space Station: Decision 2015, that argues for continued U.S. involvement to further scientific study, maintain positive international collaboration, and significantly improve the nation’s space-related return on investment.

“To abandon the International Space Station now that it is just becoming fully functional would be illogical and unwise from both scientific and political perspectives,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. “In the more than two decades we’ve taken to create this marvel of engineering and international cooperation, we’ve reaped tremendous rewards. But,” he continued, “I believe we’re just now on the cusp of understanding the real value of this endeavor.”

The U.S. is considering wrapping up its ISS involvement in 2015 and letting the $100 billion orbiting laboratory re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in 2016. The ISS is both the largest and the most collaborative human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. Fifteen countries are involved in the project, 11 of which have operations centers. To date, ISS education programs have reached more than 31 million U.S. students.

The first module of the ISS was launched in 1998, with multiple missions adding to the station over the years. ISS laboratory and research space tripled in 2008 with the addition of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo module. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2010, after which the cost of continuing operations should be relatively low, while the potential benefits to be gained from onboard research and development will be higher than at any previous time. The U.S. initiated the ISS program and continues to manage assembly, servicing, operation, resupply, and most astronaut training for the station program.

“If the U.S. allows ISS leadership to lapse, it will likely fuel negative international perceptions about our leadership, our reliability as an international partner, and our commitment to scientific and technical endeavors,” said Pulham.

Rationale for Recommendation
The International Space Station: Decision 2015 provides a strong argument for keeping the ISS operating, stating that lengthening ISS’ lifespan will benefit the U.S. by:

Helping maintain international space leadership;
Demonstrating reliability as an international collaborator;
Driving continued space-driven innovation;
Preparing the nation for long-term space exploration;
Offering education programs that inspire students and enhance competitiveness in math and science;
Nurturing the high-tech workforce, contributing to global competitiveness;
Encouraging commercial space development; and
Capitalizing on the $100 billion already invested.
“Beyond recommending continued involvement,” said Pulham, “the Space Foundation believes that we must maintain a comprehensive research agenda with participation from government agencies, academic institutions, and commercial enterprises, using the phenomenal resources available aboard this orbiting international laboratory.” Many research projects are directed at Earth-based issues, such as disease prevention or alternate energy sources, in addition to research that supports space exploration. Plus, the ISS is the only existing platform that allows long-term, tended research in microgravity conditions.

Space Foundation Recommendation Consistent with Findings of Special Commission
The Space Foundation’s recommendation to keep the ISS functioning until at least 2020 is supported by findings in the Executive Summary of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee Report, which was released in September in advance of a full report expected shortly. The Committee, chaired by retired Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine, was established by the Obama administration to evaluate U.S. human space flight programs and develop alternatives to ensure that future human space flight plans are safe, innovative, affordable, and sustainable.

The Executive Summary noted that, “The Committee finds that the return on investment of ISS to both the United States and the international partners would be significantly enhanced by an extension of ISS life to 2020. It seems unwise to de-orbit the Station after 25 years of assembly and only five years of operational life.”

Commenting on the potential impact of abandoning the ISS to international relationships, the Executive Summary said, “The strong and tested working relationship among international partners is perhaps the most important outcome of the ISS program … Not to extend its operation would significantly impair U.S. ability to develop and lead future international spaceflight partnerships.”

The Committee also agrees with the need for additional research, saying in the Executive Summary report, “Now that the ISS is nearly completed and is staffed by a full crew of six, its future success will depend on how well it is used. Up to now, the focus has been on assembling ISS, and this has come at the expense of using the Station. Utilization should have first priority in the years ahead.”

Read the Full White Paper
To read The International Space Station: Decision 2015 or download a copy, go to www.SpaceFoundation.org/research. The paper includes more detail on the Space Foundation’s recommendations and a comprehensive history of the ISS.

To read the Executive Summary of Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee Report, click here

About the Space Foundation
The Space Foundation is an international, nonprofit organization and the foremost advocate for all sectors of the space industry – civil, commercial, and national security. Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is a leader in space awareness activities, space-related educational programs, and industry events, all in support of its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity.” An expert in all aspects of the global space industry, the Space Foundation publishes The Space Report 2009: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity and provides three indices that track daily performance of the space industry. The Space Foundation will sponsor the Strategic Space Symposium with USSTRATCOM Nov. 2-4 in Omaha, Neb., and the 26th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 12-15, 2010. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation conducts research and analysis and government affairs activities from its Washington, D.C., office and has field representatives in Houston, Texas, and Cape Canaveral, Fla. For more information, visit www.SpaceFoundation.org/. Follow us on Twitter: SpaceFoundation and read about the latest space news and Space Foundation activities in Space Watch.

Don’t  let the setting fool you… Enjoy this video with Elon Musk founder of Space X on the show Valley Girl describes itself as  ‘(if) Legally Blonde had taken Silicon Valley instead of Harvard Law-and been brunette-and you have the Valley Girl.


I recently was part of a tour of Space X’s headquarters in Hawthorne California back in late August. We unfortuantely had missed seeing a Falcon 9 being shipped out by a few days. Thank you to Dr. Armin Ellis  of the Dartmouth Entrepreneur’s Club Los Angeles & Max Vozoff, Space X for coordinating.

Dartmouth Entrepreneur Club and Space X's Dragon Lab

Dartmouth Entrepreneur Club and Space X's Dragon Lab

This letter was originally published in Space News.

On behalf of myself and all of us at Bigelow Aerospace let me first congratulate you on becoming NASA administrator. I’m sure the joy you must feel in being entrusted with leading such an extraordinary organization is only rivaled by the difficulty of the decisions you are now facing.

We appreciated the fact that you and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver took the time to meet with commercial

space executives and, as we expressed during that meeting, Bigelow Aerospace remains a strong supporter of commercial crew transportation. However, in that discussion last month, and in subsequent public appearances, you have consistently voiced a concern and a question. Specifically, you have often commented on the importance of commercial space transportation providers proving themselves via cargo delivery, and have asked the question what is the definition of “commercial space.” I hope we can help you to address both of these issues, and I will begin with cargo delivery.

Your request that commercial providers should prove themselves via cargo delivery is easily answered since it has already occurred. As a matter of fact, mere hours after the commercial space meeting you convened in delivering a communications satellite. Many of the misconceptions surrounding “commercial” space transportation spring from the fact that the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 are being left out of the discussion. As you’re probably aware, Bigelow Aerospace has invested a great deal of time and money examining the viability of the Atlas 5 as a commercial crew carrier, and these analyses have made us a strong supporter of the system. The reason we are so enthusiastic about the Atlas 5 is largely because it addresses the very concern that you’re voicing, the Atlas 5 rocket has time and time again proven itself capable of reliably launching high-value cargo. As a matter of fact, the Atlas 5 is unquestionably one of the most reliable and safest space launch systems in operation today. The Atlas family has had many dozens of consecutive successful launches, an unparalleled track record, making it the perfect choice for human- rating, since, ultimately, a great deal of “human-rating” is providing proven flight heritage.

This is not to say that we don’t have great hope for and belief in Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and the Falcon 9. We believe that SpaceX has the potential to revolutionize the launch market. However, when the commercial crew transportation debate is artificially limited to only the two current participants of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, and the Atlas 5 is ignored, as it was during the congressional hearing in the House several weeks ago, this leads to a flawed discussion and problematic conclusions. We don’t know if the House authorizers avoided talking about the Atlas due to bias, ignorance or a combination of both, but we have faith that you and President Barack Obama’s White House are not suffering from a similarly limited vision.

Therefore, to answer your concern, a commercial crew rocket has not only proven itself capable of delivering cargo worth billions of dollars, but, in the form of the Atlas, has been doing so for decades.

Next, you ask a much more difficult question, what is “commercial space.” There can be many responses to this query, and, as you have pointed out, if you line up three entrepreneurs they will likely give you a half dozen answers. However, we believe there are several general principles that separate “commercial space” from traditional programs. First, “commercial” initiatives are allowed to fail. Per the COTS structure, if a commercial project’s budget skyrockets, or if key technical milestones are abrogated, the initiative is shut down (this is why Kistler’s removal from the COTS program was actually a triumph in good government contracting). Also integral to this concept is the requirement of firm, fixed pricing. Again, the COTS program serves as an excellent example of this strategy, since it utilizes a firm, fixed amount of government funding tied to achieving specific milestones. In the end, “commercial” space is less about who is doing the work than the means of procurement. When NASA needs to send some international space station hardware or documents quickly overseas, it doesn’t build a boat, you use Federal Express or some other commercial carrier. NASA simply buys a service, at a fixed price, and steps away. By funding a commercial crew program that follows this COTS model, you can make the commercial purchase of space transportation a reality, freeing NASA forever from the shackles of low Earth orbit (LEO).

Additionally, it’s just as important to ask what commercial space isn’t, because there are many misconceptions there as well. Commercial does not inherently equal small or unproven, as demonstrated consistently by the Atlas and Delta rockets. Moreover, we recently teamed with Boeing, and together submitted a proposal for the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. Some have tried to marginalize commercial crew as a risky strategy due to the lack of performance and experience of the companies involved. Boeing submitting a CCDev proposal and its desire to become a leader in the commercial space field flies in the face of such criticism. Arguably, no one has more experience in human spaceflight than Boeing, and to ignore their powerful entrance into the commercial crew transportation arena is to do a great disservice to the field itself and the current debate.

Both large, experienced companies like Boeing, and new entrepreneurial firms like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX, believe in the value of commercial crew. The Atlas 5 has already proven itself more than capable of delivering high-value cargo, and, if a commercial crew program is initiated, the Atlas will readily prove itself capable of delivering crew to LEO. Herein lies the answer to your human spaceflight dilemma. A commercial crew program can easily return Americans to space in a mere four years for the amount of funding recommended by the Augustine Committee.

America has already abdicated its leadership in commercial space launch, with nearly all such activities being conducted by Russian, European, Indian or Chinese entities. Our commercial satellite manufacturing base has also steadily been slipping away, and the decisions you make in the near future will determine if commercial crew transportation becomes yet another domestic industry whose jobs and capabilities are permanently shipped overseas.

As you are well aware, future U.S. access to space will soon be entirely dependent on Russia. The Russians are excellent capitalists, and you should expect prices to rise above the already stunning $51 million per seat that NASA is currently paying during every subsequent Soyuz contract negotiation. A robust commercial crew program represents this nation’s only hope of reversing this deplorable situation and reviving America’s human spaceflight capabilities. If you choose this path, it will free NASA both in terms of substance and financing to look beyond LEO, leaving the agency to again become a trailblazer to the stars.

Robert T. Bigelow is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace.

From D. Petrova

There is a conference dedicated to promoting Space Biomedicine  on Saturday November 7th at Cambridge, UK) and it hopes to provide substantial contribution to the global field of space biomedical research.

See the attached two pdfs.

pdf 1

pdf 2

Thank you to  Scott Farr for the pics below. He  had to battle 3 hours of traffic to get into the airshow at Edwards AFB earlier today . Thank you Scott!

WhiteKnight 2 with B1 Bomber at Edwards AFB Flight Test Nation 2009

WhiteKnight 2 with B2 Bomber at Edwards AFB Flight Test Nation 2009

WhiteKnight 2 static display at Edwards AFB Flight Test Nation 2009

WhiteKnight 2 static display at Edwards AFB Flight Test Nation 2009

Fun although not immediately relevant to commercial space efforts.

Every space mission on a map

Every space mission on a map

Every space mission on a map


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