Tag Archives: commercial

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

Virgin Galactic aims for its first launch of SpaceShipTwo within a year

Virgin Galactic expects to make its first launch of SpaceShipTwo within a year.

“The mother ship is finished… The rocket tests are going extremely well, and so I think that we’re now on track for a launch within 12 months of today,” [Richard Branson] told CNN’s Piers Morgan late Wednesday.

Share

Private Japanese weather company to launch satellite to track Arctic Ice

A private Japanese weather company plans to launch a satellite to track Arctic ice for use by shipping.

The satellite will transmit images and information about sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Weathernews will combine the information with available data on sea currents, weather and wave height to provide consumers with a finished product enabling safe navigation along the northern route.

Though I know most people are skeptical of this idea, I think that all weather information should be gathered and sold by private companies, as Weathernews is doing above. For example, the Weather Channel makes its money providing weather information to the public. If they didn’t get the satellite data free from NOAA weather satellites, they would have every reason to launch their own satellites.

Share

NASA to unveil its heavy-lift rocket design

Two stories, one from AP and the other from Florida Today, say that NASA will announce today the design of its heavy-lift rocket, mandated by Congress and estimated to cost around $35 billion. Here is NASA’s press release. To me, this is the key quote (from AP):

NASA figures it will be building and launching about one rocket a year for about 15 years or more in the 2020s and 2030s, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet made. The idea is to launch its first unmanned test flight in 2017 with the first crew flying in 2021 and astronauts heading to a nearby asteroid in 2025, the officials said. From there, NASA hopes to send the rocket and astronauts to Mars — at first just to circle, but then later landing on the Red Planet — in the 2030s. [emphasis mine]

In other words, after spending $1.7 on the National Space Plane, $1.2 billion on the X-33, $1 billion on the X-34, $800 million on the Space Launch Initiative, and finally, almost $10 billion on Constellation, none of which ever flew, NASA is now going to spend another $35 billion on a new rocket that won’t fly for at least another decade.

To be really blunt, this new rocket, like all its predecessors, will never fly either. It costs too much, will take too long to build, and will certainly be canceled by a future administration before it is finished. It is therefore a complete waste of money, and any Congress that approves it will demonstrate how utterly insincere they are about controlling spending.

A clarification: Some of the $35 billion mentioned above has already been spent for the Orion capsule. This however still does not change any of my conclusions.

Share

NASA and ATK sign new launch development agreement

At a press conference today, NASA and ATK announced a new launch development agreement, running through March 2012, to help develop ATK’s Liberty solid rocket into a launch vehicle that could bring both cargo and crews to ISS.

The agreement provides ATK no funds, but is designed to give ATK as much support from NASA as possible in developing Liberty, tested fired last week for only the third time. If this initial agreement goes well, it will position ATK to compete for the next round of development subsidizes.

According to ATK, they think they could launch by 2015, and are hoping to provide a rocket capable of flying the spacecraft and freighters of Boeing, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, and even SpaceX (should Falcon 9 have problems and they need a rocket to launch Dragon).
» Read more

Share

Speculation on what the ATK/NASA announcement later today will be about

More speculation here and here on what the ATK/NASA announcement later today will be about. As Jeff Foust notes,

Last Friday NASA announced that the space agency and ATK would announce an agreement this Tuesday “that could accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation capabilities”. (The announcement was originally going to be only available to media calling into a telecon line, but NASA said Monday the announcement will be on NASA TV at 3 pm EDT.) The announcement has generated various degrees of glee or despair, depending on one’s opinions about ATK’s work on solid rocket motors it has proposed for its Liberty rocket and is seeking to have incorporated into NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket.

Share

$18 billion for one test launch

NASA thinks it will cost $18 billion to complete and launch in 2017 one test flight of the Congressionally-designed Space Launch System, the program-formerly-called-Constellation.

This is madness. One flight, unmanned, in seven years? No sane customer would ever buy such a product, especially when there are now a number of cheaper competitors who will likely be flying manned in less time.

Note also that even if NASA’s figures are exaggerated, which I am sure some Senators and Congressmen will claim, I would bet that they are not that far off, based on the space agency’s fixed labor costs and past history.

Share
1 162 163 164 165 166 173