Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Texas-based Space Services, Inc. is offering commercial cremated burial in outer space on memorial spaceflights. The firm is planning its 2007 Explorer Flight from the Vandenberg spaceport on a SpaceX booster to pay final tribute in over 200 deceased Earthlings who shared a passion for space. On launch day family and friends come to watch the remains thrust into space. The cost is less than $15,000.
While the idea is not new with about 150 remains having been launched to low Earth orbit, only one Dr. Eugene Shoemaker's remains have been placed on the moon by the Lunar Prospector in 1999. In January of this year, part of the remains of astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the planet Pluto, were sent into deep space aboard the New Horizons spacecraft.
In addition to Space Services, Inc., Difinity, Inc.will send remains plus a DNA sample into space while Columbad's Starburst Memorial will launch your ashes around the world. The space burial services industry is expected to grow as space access costs diminish.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Cost is the killer of human spaceflight and low cost is the life blood of the nascent Alt.Space or NewSpace industry. Several relatively small space firms are endevoring to build and license low cost suborbital vehicles for space tourism over the next 6 to 36 months but none are slated yet for orbit.
SpaceShipOne had its "Shepard" moment with the 2004 suborbital flight from the Mojave Spaceport flying straight-up 62.5 miles and back down like NASA's Alan Shepard achieved on a Redstone Rocket in 1961. The SS1 flight was hailed by many as the opening of commercial space to the masses but more must be done to open orbital access.
SpaceShipTwo, now under construction, will be larger and capable of a nine seater- three times the capability of SS1 - but with a similar flight profile of up 70 to 75 miles and back down. Many may claim the achievement of space but none will orbit aboard SS2 to have their "John Glenn" moment in 2008.
The holy grail of spaceflight is to boost humans and cargo to low earth orbit at $1,000 per pound or less. Access costs of $10,000 per pound is too costly to open an orbital space access era for humans.
SS3 could be the ticket. SS3 could be the first low cost orbital spaceplane if the technology and engineering enables a Mach 25 flight to achieve orbit sometime after 2010. But there are others who could leap over the best plans of Rutan and Virgin Galactic.
Jim Beason, CEO and founder of SpaceDev, is striving to build the first low cost to orbit spaceplane called the Dream Chaser but with a vertical (vid) rather than horizonal flight pattern. The firm may get a boost from NASA if selected for its Commercial Orbital Transportation System this summer.
Friday, May 26, 2006
IF the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) investment pays dividends, the US and UK may soon have the 'cloaking' stealth technology for military applications so says the BBC and MSNBC. Researchers have unveiled blueprints for building a cloaking device.
The technology was officially started in the 1950's for the U-2 spy plane. The 1943 near-mythical Philadelphia Experiment, a possible urban legend, allegedly used Albert Einstein's unified field theory of gravitation.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
"Well, it is a lot of land," Homans said describing how the location will be transformed over the next three years. "We are betting on the Second Space Age."
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Business-wise, Musk notes that SpaceX is in a "cash flow positive" and gaining post-crash contracts. SpaceX is preparing an aggressive launch schedule with Falcon launches every two to three months after the fall 2006 presumed success saying, "I hope that we're the primary mechanism for getting people to orbit in the world. By 2020 I'd like to take someone to another planet."
SpaceX plans to offer a orbital boost for $6-million as compared to the more traditional large contractor price of $25 to $30-million.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Recently, the Space Frontier Foundation has advocated a renewed effort to get teachers to space. Several NewSpace firms announced last month the donation of seats on private suborbital rockets for teachers to ride to space. NASA's announcement, meanwhile, is expected to fuel the Space Frontier Foundation's suborbital teachers in space competition. Hundreds of America's teachers have sought to become a part of the NASA program. Several will have better opportunities with the Alt.Space or NewSpace firms planning to launch from New Mexico.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
NASA will make a final selection from among six space firms: Andrews Space, Rocketplane Kistler, SpaceDev, SpaceHab, SpaceX, and t/Space. Each firm has a different design plan to achieve the specifications. Twenty firms initially made application to NASA for consideration following the expressed interest of nearly 100 for a Space Act Agreement demonstration contract.
NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) hopes to fund $500 million for one or more demonstration projects following the planned August 8 space firm selection. The agreement will be to ferry cargo and astronauts to the space station perhaps as early as 2010. The demonstration winner may forgo winning the privately funded America's Space Prize.
A successful Space Act Agreement for ISS commercial services will be a major boost to private alt.space integration with NASA government-directed operations.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Schweickart is advocating a new United Nations Treaty to address a global response to asteroids. The risk of doing nothing is great. On Sunday, April 13, 2036 a 1,000-foot-wide asteroid named 99942 Apophis could hit the Earth with a blast equal 880 million tons of TNT. NASA, at the direction of Congress, is tracking hundreds of asteroids while looking for other Near Earth Asteroids (NEOs).
Mining asteroids may be a profitable venture for the nascent commercial space firms by 2025 but it may be just in time. In 2029, seven years before the possible impact of Apophis, it will come closer to our planet than the television and weather satellites that beam back signals from 22,300 miles above. Some fear the close proximity will cause it to fall under gravitational influences to hit the Earth in 2036. Capture and mining the object may not only save the Earth from a catastrophic event but moreover asteroid mining could be a significant money maker for a would-be commercial space mining firm. Linked is a Planetary Radio interview with Schweickart.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The X-Prize Foundation is spearheading the the world toward the commercialization of space, and hosts the annual X Prize Cup in Las Cruces set for October 18-21 to promote technology competitions and other rocket advances.
Len Sugerman, who has kept the vision of a spaceport in southern New Mexico alive for many years, presented a $10,000 check to the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium to help with the efforts to make the spaceport a reality.
Friday, May 12, 2006
The first stage of the Kliper project envisages putting an 11-ton spacecraft into a 200-km orbit on the Soyuz-2-3 under the Russian Federal Space Program. With the second stage, the rocket's capacity would be upped to 13 tons, to launch the Kliper spaceplane, with a possible further increase to over 16 tons after engine modernization, according to RIA Novosti.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Pablo de Leon, an experienced spacesuit designer and former Ansari X-Prize suborbital contender, is also said to be designing new spacesuits for upcoming suborbital tourism and Rocket Racing League teams set to take off this coming October in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Field tests for the Mars prototype suit began May 1, with space studies graduate student Sau tucked inside the prototype. It enjoyed a public debut Saturday, May 6. View the BLOG.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
A 38 year old millionairess telecom entrepreneur and Iranian-born naturalized American of Plano, Texas, Ms.Ansari would be the first female space tourist. The Ansari family owns the Prodea firm investing in the emerging United Arab Emirates spaceport and a new Russian-made "Explorer" suborbital spacecraft.
The LLC will require a rocket capable of vertical takeoff and vertical landing to fly from one pad to another and back. The LLC is broken into two difficulty levels to maximize the interest from potential competitors while still resulting in the development of vehicles that are of value to NASA. Linked are the draft rules of the Lunar Lander Analog Challenge offered by the X-Prize.
Friday, May 05, 2006
The deal has been in the works for months with Sir Richard Branson who wants to make the Esrange launch pad in Kiruna one of its bases along with America's New Mexico's Southwest Regional Spaceport. The future of global spaceports was a recent topic of study.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
"As there has never been anyone who has actually worn a dress in zero gravity, the challenge was in having to hypothesise the situation," Matsui recently told British publication the Guardian. The new space tourism industry will certainly have such a wedding blast before the decade is out and Mastsui will be ready having tested several designs in Zero-G parabolic flights to ensure modesty is kept without the aid of gravity. There will be a designer microgravity wear line in 2007.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Excitement is building throughout the region as the state's first commercial spaceport takes shape in the beautiful high desert of New Mexico. The people of Southern New Mexico are in hopes of an economic transformation from the significant state investment. Hopefully, Mr. Rutan might consider placement of a mock-up SpaceShipOne or even SpaceShipTwo at the New Mexico Museum of Space History so the thousands of young children who visit the site may too be inspired to share his goals of commercial spaceflight in the years to come.