Tag Archives: commercial

Space News suggests Congress use the billions for NASA’s heavy-lift rocket to fund JWST

In an editorial yesterday Space News suggested that Congress use the billions it is allocating for NASA’s heavy-lift rocket to fund the James Webb Space Telescope instead.

This is not surprising. Webb already has a strong constiuency (astronomers, the public) while the Space Launch System has little support outside of Congress and the specific aerospace contractors who want the work. With tight budgets as far as the eye can see into the future, and the likelihood that Congress is going to become more fiscal conservative after the next election, it would not shock me in the slightest if SLS gets eliminated and the money is given to Webb. And if the SpaceX and Orbital Sciences cargo missions to ISS go well then cutting SLS would almost be a certainty, as this success would demonstrate that these private companies should be able to replace SLS for a tenth of the cost.

And I also think this would be a much wiser use of the taxpayers money.

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Eco-friendly festival closes down due to lack of attendence

Eco-friendly festival closes down due to lack of attendance.

Reminds me of a local news piece here in Maryland last week, where a team from the University of Maryland in College Park won a Department of Energy competition for the best built solar powered house. The problem is that the house cost $330,000 to build, is only 920 square feet in size, and the best price they hope to get for it is $250,000, if that.

In other words, it appears that these ecological projects have little to do with the real world, where creating something that customers will want to buy is the only way to succeed. All else is fantasy.

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If all goes well, 2012 will be a busy year at ISS for both Dragon and Cygnus

If all goes well, 2012 will be a busy year at ISS for both Dragon and Cygnus.

The article outlines the preliminary cargo schedule for both ferries next year, assuming their initial test flights succeed (a big assumption).

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Russia drops plans to build a replacement for Soyuz rocket

Russia has dropped its plans to build a replacement for its Soyuz rocket.

This is not the first time that the Russians have abandoned plans to come up with a new rocket, which suggests once again that — as successful as their space effort has been — they lack the ability to come up with new product. This in turn makes vulnerable the Russians’ market share in commercial space.

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The moon contains a vast resource of titanium

There’s gold in them hills! Actually, it’s titanium, and it’s on the Moon.

The highest titanium abundances on Earth are around 1 percent or less. The new map shows that in the [Moon’s] mare, titanium abundances range from about one percent to a little more than ten percent. In the highlands, everywhere TiO2 is less than one percent. The new titanium values match those measured in the ground samples to about one percent.

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An update on the ongoing X-37B mission

An update on the ongoing X-37B mission.

I like this quote from the article:

Meanwhile, Boeing has begun to look at derivatives of their X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle — including flying cargo and crew to the International Space Station. Speaking this week at the Space 2011 conference —organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and held in Long Beach, Calif. — Arthur Grantz of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems sketched out a host of future uses for the space plane design. For one, the X-37B, as is, can be flown to the space station and dock to the facility’s common berthing mechanism. No new technology is required for X-37B to supply cargo services to the ISS, Grantz said. Also, an X-37C winged vehicle has been scoped out, a craft that would ride atop an Atlas 5 in un-shrouded mode.

The Boeing roadmap, Grantz added, also envisions a larger derivative of the X-37B space plane, one that can carry up to seven astronauts, as well as tote into Earth orbit a mix of pressurized and unpressurized cargo.

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Five myths about China’s space effort

Five myths about China’s space effort. Key recommendation:

Recognize the significance of space as a field of competition. Beijing is not engaged in a space race with Washington. But China is engaged in a great power competition with the U.S. in which space is one arena. American decision makers should come to terms with this duality. In this regard, the Chinese are unlikely to be manipulated by American proposals on “codes of conduct” or meetings with the head of NASA. As long as Beijing and Washington are in competition, space will be one of the major venues.

And competition is not a bad thing. It is going to be the fuel that gets the human race into space.

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Scientists push for monitoring network to collect environmental and socioeconomic data from around the world

What could go wrong? Scientists push for a monitoring network to collect environmental and socioeconomic data from around the world.

Sandy Andelman, an ecologist with Conservation International in Arlington, Virginia, discussed her work setting up a pilot project that began two years ago in southern Tanzania. In addition to basic environmental data about soils, nutrients and land cover, the project tracks agricultural practices. It also incorporates data about income, health and education that is maintained by the government. Andelman says that all the data she collects can be broken down to the level of individual households, and that initial results from the project have already prompted the Tanzanian government to adjust the way it zones agricultural land in the area. [emphasis mine]

Lord help the farmers whose lives will be tracked by this network.

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Reality always wins

Elon Musk’s talk yesterday at the National Press Club revealed several interesting things, about SpaceX’s rocket effort, about the state of the American commercial space industry, and about Elon Musk himself.

First, the company’s rocket design effort. Musk centered his talk on SpaceX’s new effort to make its Falcon 9 rocket completely reusable. Though he produced little specific details, and the moderator at the event asked no questions about it, it seems the engineering centers around these three concepts:
» Read more

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SpaceX suspends production of its Falcon 1 rocket

SpaceX suspends production of its Falcon 1 rocket.

As much as I am a fan of Elon Musk and SpaceX, and though I realize that they have been focusing on getting Falcon 9 and Dragon off the ground — the payoff there is greater and a failure of Falcon 1 during this time could be very politically painful — this action contradicts SpaceX’s years of claims that they had a slew of signed contracts to launch Falcon 1.

I will be attending Elon Musk’s luncheon speech today at the National Press Club, and hope to ask him about this and other things.

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NASA proposes major reconstruction of its launch facility at the Kennedy Space Center

NASA proposes major reconstruction of its launch facility at the Kennedy Space Center.

They say this modernization is intended to make Kennedy more competitive in the modern commercial space market, which I am sure is true. Another way to look at it, however, is that Kennedy is getting favored treatment by the government, receiving a huge subsidy from NASA that the other private spaceports in New Mexico and elsewhere were not even allowed to compete for.

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Orbital Sciences has launch success

Orbital Sciences has a launch success, putting an Air Force reconnaissance satellite into orbit from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska.

For Orbital, this success cleans off some of the stain left on the company from the recent launch failures of its Taurus 1 rocket. What would leave the company stainless, however, will be a successful first launch of its new Taurus 2 rocket, needed to carry its Cygnus capsule to ISS and scheduled for late this year.

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Proposed changes in hardware specifications may make it impossible to run free operating systems such as Linux on computers.

Proposed changes in computer hardware specifications may make it impossible to run free operating systems such as Linux.

The extension of Microsoft’s OS monopoly to hardware would be a disaster, with increased lock-in, decreased consumer choice and lack of space to innovate.

The article also notes how these restrictions might violate European Union competition law.

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