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Monday, April 30, 2007

NASA Rejects Moon Assistance Offer from Russia? NYET!

UPDATE: NASA denies that it has received any proposal from Russia to conduct joint Moon activities, despite media reports to the contrary. Still, some experts say the US agency is pursuing an increasingly isolationist stance and could be left behind as other nations forge new partnerships to explore space, according to

Sunday Russian media outlets reported that the Russian space agency Roskosmos has indicated that the American space agency NASA has rejected an offer pooling resources to explore the moon.

Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov said, "We were ready to cooperate, but for unknown reasons the United States have said they will undertake this program themselves."

NASA is planning the first flight of a retun to the moon in 2020. Federal funding issues have delayed the development of the Ares-I and Ares-V boosters, according to NASA Adminitsrator Mike Griffin.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wallops Better Than Canaveral for ISS Missions Says SpaceX CEO

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk considers Wallops Island "arguably the best launch site in the country" for missions to the space station in a report published today in The Virginian Pilot.

The advantage is location, Musk told Jon Glass of The Virginian Pilot. First, rockets launched from the spaceport would arc over the ocean, limiting risks to populated areas. More important, Wallops Island's latitude is aligned to the space station's orbit, meaning it takes less fuel and expense to send a rocket there from the spaceport's pad.

"Wallops is better suited to service the space station than Cape Canaveral," Musk said. "I think Wallops is really a contender."

Video of SpaceLoft XL Launch Captured by KREQ for the BBC

The BBC has reported and KRQE TV captured in video the Spaceport America launch of the SpaceLoft XL rocket Staurday morning from Upham, New Mexico's high desert. The event has drawn international media coverage of the commercial space launch. MSNBC also provides a photo and coverage of the launch. The USA Today has a report on the memorial services. The Times of London and the International Herald Tribune offer insights to the Saturday morning launch.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Myasishchev / Space Adventures Suborbital Has 200 Applicants

Virginia-based Space Adventures has 200 applicates for suborbital space flights aboard a developing Russian-made spacecraft according to reports of comments made by the company's Vice President Chris Faranetta.

Faranetta also said that the Myasishchev firm remains the company's Russian partner. Under a joint project, suborbital spaceships will be launched from Myasishchev M-55 high-altitude planes to the stratosphere. Each spaceship will carry a crew of eight-ten members. A flight will tentatively cost some $100,000.

The vehicle is expected to use its own engines to take tourists to near-Earth space, where they will stay several minutes in zero gravity conditions and then return to Earth. Spaceports are expected to be built in Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates to accommodate the flights, Faranetta said.

Astronaut Glove Challenge Set May 2-3 New England Air Museum

On Wednesday and Thursday, May 2-3, teams from around the nation will compete for a total of $250,000 from NASA for an improved astronaut glove design. The Astronaut Glove Challenge, one of NASA's seven Centennial Challenges, will take place at the New England Air Museum at Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Conn. The competition is free and open to media and the public. It begins May 2 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT and continues May 3 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

NASA is offering a total of $200,000 for the team that can design and manufacture the best astronaut glove that exceeds minimum requirements. An additional $50,000 goes to the team that best demonstrates Mechanical Counter Pressure gloves.

An astronaut's gloves are among the most critical pieces of the spacesuit. After an extended time of work using the current gloves, astronauts' hands have bled and been bruised, and fingernails have been damaged. This competition seeks new glove joint technologies that make the astronauts' jobs easier, more comfortable and safer with stronger gloves that increase flexibility and dexterity.

Friday, April 27, 2007

All Systems Go in New Mexico

UP Aerospace is advacing its countdown to launch the second SpaceLoft XL rocket from Spaceport America [video] for a Saturday commercial launch between 8:30 AM and 4 PM MDT.

"We're expecting calm winds and clear skies Saturday," UP Aerospace President Jerry Larson said. "All of our systems are checking out. Really we're down to doing some minor checks the day before the launch and we'll be ready to go."

The UP Aerospace mission, named "SL-2", will fly a wide range of educational experiments and commercial payloads into space.

Pose Space-related Questions to GOP Presidential Candidates

The first Republican presidential debate will be held Thursday, May 3, 2007 at 8:00 PM at the Ronald Reagan Library in California. The candidates participating include Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Tommy Thompson are all confirmed.

This is an opportunity to urge the news media to pose questions about space agency goals and funding, the future of commercial space, and military actions in space. Suggested questions may be posed for the presidential candidate debate by clicking HERE.

This week Democrats held a presidential debate in South Carolina. Spaceports blog readers were urged to post questions to MSNBC relating to space policy for Democrats. Space policy questions were ignored.

To get space policy on the national presidential agenda, readers are urged to pose questions at every opportunity to both Democrats and Republicans about the direction of the nation's space policy relating to civil exploration, commercialization of space flight, and military-space.

More Space Law Like Virginia?

SpaceLawProbe blogger Jessica "Jesse" Londin rhetorically posed a question recently: "Which state will be the first to follow the lead of the Commonwealth of Virginia and enact its own spaceflight immunity law? California, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas?"

Alex Tai, Personal Spaceflight Federation chairman and chief operating officer of Virgin Galactic, recently told The Space Foundation conference in Colorado that the industry group wants to see the Virginia prototype become law in California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas - all states that are locations for commercial spaceports - not to mention Virginia, of course.

The Virginia Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act goes into effect on July 1, 2007 with the intent of encoraging commercial launch firms to inquire about utilization of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. Commercial space launch firms may dial (757) 824-2335.

Commercial space advocates are now reviewing possible 2008 legislation to enable commercial space launch firms using the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport to qualify for state tax exemption on gross income earned from suborbital and orbital flights, a rocket fuel tax exemption, real and personal property tax exemptions, and certain sales tax exemptions.

Word is that there may even be a resoultion by the Virginia legislature calling upon the Virginia Congressional legislation to seek passage of a federal Zero-G Zero-Tax Act regime.

Perhaps Sir Richard Branson might be wise to visit Virginia with the Queen of England next month. Hummm.... Sir Richard?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

SpaceX Gets Cape Canaveral Launch License for 2008

SpaceX has won approval of the US Air Force Space Command’s 45th Space Wing will grant a license to SpaceX to operate on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The SpaceX license agreement is a good news story for the Air Force and nation,” U.S. Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of Air Force Space Command, said in a statement. “These types of agreements encourage entrepreneurial space achievement which can benefit both the [Department of Defense] and commercial space industries.”

"We are very appreciative of the support of the Air Force and Gen. Chilton in giving us launch pad 40,” SpaceX President Elon Musk told SpaceNews in an April 26 telephone interview. “It was important for us to get launch pad 40 because that allows us to do both the Falcon 9 and Falcon 9- heavy from the Cape. It was really the only launch pad that could support our Falcon 9 heavy activities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NFIRE in Orbit after Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Night Launch

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport successfully launched the Minotaur-1 in 2:48 AM Wednesday for the second successful launch in 4-months from the commercial spaceport along Virginia's Eastern Shore [See Video where this Blogger viewed the launch]. More launch pictures are here 1, 2, and 3. Jon Glass of The Virginian Pilot reported the launch while Joe Gillin blogged the launch from the area.

A significant German-delegation was on-hand to view the launch since the NFIRE satellite carried German-made laser communication hardware. About 50 people were among the invited guests for the launch.

The commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport plans two more launches this year. The Hy-BoLT hypersonic experiment will be launched atop the two stage ATK ALV-X1 launch vehicle in mid-to-late 2007 on a suborbital flight. A third Minotaur-1 orbital launch is slated in December with the TacSat-3.

Dr. David Livingston spoke with Dr. Bill Reed, executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, Tuesday April 24 - the day of the Minotaur-1/NFIRE launch live from the Responsive Space Conference in Los Angeles. The interview will be a 4/24 download from The Space Show discussing the future of the FAA-commercial licensed Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Everything is a 'GO' at Wallops

The Virginia-based Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is being readied for a Monday 3:11 AM night launch of a classified military payload from the commercial launch facility marking the sceond boost to orbit from the site in four months reports The Virginian Pilot today.

"Everything's a go," says Dr. Billie Reed, director of the spaceport.

The spaceport is banking on more government business and hopes to draw in commercial operators, with an eye toward space tourism. Already, it and NASA Wallops have two more launches on tap, one for NASA that will test a new launch vehicle and another for the Air Force, reports Jon Glass.

"We're hearing rumblings and beginning to see launch five and six on the horizon," said Rick Baldwin, the spaceport's manager, "and we're looking forward to bigger things in the future."

The spaceport, located in Accomack County, Virginia, is operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority in partnership with Maryland.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pose a Space-Related Question to the 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates Now

The first 2008 Democratic president debate will be held April 26 in South Carolina among candidates Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson. This is an opportunity to urge the news media at MSNBC to pose questions about space agency goals and funding, the future of commercial space, and military actions in space.

Suggested questions may be posed for the presidential candidate debate by clicking here. Urge “NBC Nightly News” Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams, the debate moderator, to ask a space-related question of the Democratic presidential candidates.

During the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, this BLOG will endeavor to encourage readers to engage the White House candidates on space-related issues to learn their respective positions and to make space a part of the 2008 campaign agenda.

Gunman Fires Shots at NASA Johnson Space Center Texas

NASA Johnson Space Center had a gunman on the center firing shots killing one man before taking his on life. The gunman was in building 44 on the Johnson Space Center property, police said. Building 44 holds a laboratory. The man reportedly was a contract employee but it is unclear. LIVE -TV coverage of the situation is underway. The gunman took two hostages. One female hostage survived the situation while the male hostage was killed before the suspect took his own life. The Houston Police and the FBI are investigating.

Bigelow Shows Orbital Stations

Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas has disclosed images of size comparison between the current pathfinder modules Genesis I and II, the Galaxy module planned for 2008, and the future human-habitable modules Sundancer and BA 330. The Genesis II launch has been delayed until May. The Galaxy module aimed for launch in late 2008. Bob Bigelow recently disclosed his commercial space business plans with a timetable for launch of the private commercial space stations and his launch service to orbit needs.

Rick Homans to Lead Spaceport America Construction in 2007

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson appointed the state's Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans as the new executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Homans, 50, will replace Lonnie Sumpter who passed away earlier this year.

Homans will oversee will be to oversee final design, engineering and preparation of construction bid documents for the spaceport, usher Spaceport America through licensing by the Federal Aviation Administration and lead a national search for a permanent executive director for the facility. The spaceport is expected to be operational by the end of 2009 or early 2010.

Homans has been rumored to be a possible Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Pete V. Domenici or the U.S. House seat now held by Heather Wilson. How long Homans will hold the Spaceport Authority post is unclear. He has served as chairman of the New Mexico Space Authority since its creation in mid-2005.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cyclone-4 to be Launched from Brazil's Alcantara Cosmodrome

Ukraine and Brazil will begin building a Tsyklon-4/Cyclone-4 space rocket complex at Brazil's Alcantara cosmodrome in the fall of 2007, Ukrainian National Space Agency Deputy Director-General Eduard Kuznetsov said April 19. Ukraine designed the Tsyklon-4 to launch satellites into near-Earth orbits, and it will be able to carry a 12,100-pound load. It reportedly might carry a Chinese-Brazilian observation satellite.

Brazil is very much interested in commercial launches from Alcantara, using both home- and foreign-built vehicles and promising good business for the parties involved, Ukraine and Russia included. The center's geographic location is better than those of other countries in higher latitudes. Alcantara's proximity to the equator, where the Earth rotates more quickly, allows the weight of payloads sent aloft to be increased by 30% to 40%.

The Kourou space center in French Guiana, which will soon launch a Russian Soyuz-2 vehicle, could become Alcantara's rival in near-equatorial regions in the next few years.

Citizens to Pause for Virginia Tech Fallen at Noon Friday

Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine has declared Friday, April 20, 2007 a statewide day of mourning for the victims of Monday’s tragedy at Virginia Tech. Several state governors throughout the nation called for their citizens to pause at noon in memory of the 32 students and faculty lost in the horrific events in Blcaksburg Monday.

“As our Commonwealth begins the long and difficult healing process, I am filled with images of a Virginia Tech community that is resilient and unified,” said Governor Kaine. “I ask that everyone in Virginia pause at noon on Friday to offer prayers of support for the victims, their families, and for all those affected by this tragedy.”

UPDATE on Kristina Heeger and her parents from The Roanoke Times.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Prayers for Virginia Tech Student Kristina Heeger

Described by The Washington Post as "an amazing, beautiful girl," Virginia Tech student Kristina Heeger was among those injured in the shooting rampage Monday on the southwestern Virginia campus in Blacksburg. reports that Kristina is the step-daughter of Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson of Vienna, Va.

We can only lend prayers and well-wishes to Kristina for a complete and speedy recovery now and in the days ahead. The grief and distress of the Anderson family is shared by every Hokie parent today and by those in the NewSpace industry.

Memorial Service/Flight for Cooper and Doojan Set in NM

The New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in conjunction with Celestis, Inc., will host memorial services for Astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr. (Colonel, USAF, Ret.), James “Scotty” Doohan and roughly 200 other individuals from more than ten nations on Friday, April 27th at 3 PM MDT.

The memorial service will precede an UP Aerospace rocket launch from Spaceport America at Upham, New Mexico, on Saturday April 28, which will carry a symbolic portion of the cremated remains of the flight participants. The Celestis Legacy Memorial Spaceflight will go into space on a suborbital trajectory similar to NASA's Mercury spaceflights in the 1961.

The Earthrise service launches flight capsules and modules into space and returns them to Earth via parachute recovery. Once recovered the Celestis capsules and modules are returned to family members and loved ones, providing them with a flown keepsake. More information about this company and the “Legacy Flight” can be found on their website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Launch Reset for 3:11 AM EDT Monday, April 23rd

The commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va. has delayed the launch of the Minotaur-1 booster with the USAF Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) payload from Saturday to 3:11 a.m. (EDT), Monday, April 23, 2007. With good weather, the launch may be witnessed for hundreds of miles along the East Coast of the United States. NASA Wallops provides launch details. There will be no live webcast of the launch.

The second orbital launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in a nearly 4-month period, the launch customer is the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The NFIRE satellite payload will gather near field, high resolution phenomenology data that will assist in development of boost phase intercept systems. NFIRE will also assess the viability of a laser communications system for missile defense applications.

Space Shuttle Manifest Revised

The Space Shuttle Launch Manifest is being revised by NASA officials following the tank rapairs now ongoing at the Kennedy Space Center. The once five flights slated for 2007 are now down to four with targeted launch pad dates dates in 2007 will be June 8 for Atlantis; Aug. 9 for Endeavour; Oct. 20 for Discovery; and, Dec. 6 for Atlantis.

Each flight for 2007 will be dedicated to the continued construction of the international space station with the goal of completing the mutli-billion orbitaing lab over the next 36 to 42-months and retiring the shuttle fleet in 2010.

Tether Makes Orbit

The Tethers Unlimited, Inc.(TUI) "Multi-Application Survivable Tether" (MAST) among several CubeSats achieved orbit this morning. The experiment is designed to study the dynamics of tethered spacecraft formation withsand survivability of a new multi strand tether technology in low Earth orbit(LEO). The Russian-Ukrainian launch of a Dnepr booster lofted the CubeSats to orbit. MORE from Spaceflight Now.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dawn to Launch to Asteroids June 30 from Kennedy Spaceport

The Dawn spacecraft has arrived at Space Coast Florida from the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico in anticipation of a June 30 launch date aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta-II Heavy on its way to the solar system's two largest asteroids.

The anticipated June 30 launch will carry the spaceprobe Dawn on a 3.2-million mile expedition to the primary asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter. On-orbit the Dawn spacecraft will be powered by ion propulsion system to visit and orbit first the 329-milewide asteroid Vesta and then on to the 597-milewide asteroid dwarf-planet Ceres where some scientists believe that water ice may exist.

After Dawn gets a gravity boost in a fly-by of Mars in March 2009, it will reach Vesta in late 2011 and Ceres in early 2015. In both cases, the spacecraft will survey the situation before beginning a polar orbit and bearing down for closer inspection. The spacecraft will circle both poles, while the body rotates to reveal its entire surface for mapping instruments on-board Dawn.

Asteroids and comets have become of higher interest in recent years with five unmanned probes visiting Hally's Comet; Galileo visiting 951 Gaspra, 243 Ida and Dactyl; NEAR visting asteroid Eros; Deep Space-1 visiting asteroid Braille and comet Borrelly; Stardust visiting asteroid Annefrank and Comet Wild 2; Japan's Hayabusa visiting asteroid Itokawa.

In addition to Dawn, missions now underway to asteroids include: the ESA's Rosetta planning a visit asteroids Steins in 2008 and Lutetia in 2010 and on to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014; and, America's New Horizons visiting Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) in 2016-2020 after Pluto and its moon Charon in July 2015.

SpaceDev is planning the first commercial mission called NEAP to asteroid Nereus originally but with a mission launch between 2009-2011 a new target asteroid is probable. The legal ramifications of the SpaceDev mission are unique. NASA now has a human asteroid mission under active review for perhaps in the 2019-2022 timeline.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Space Adventures Growing Space Tourism Business Model Success

Virginia-based Space Adventures is featured in the Monday morning edition of The Washington Post. The space tourism firm is hoping to announce the first round-the-moon [cislunar] $100-million flight before year end 2007 to take place in 2011. Meanwhile, the space firm is developing two commercial spaceports in the Middle East and Asia where it is planning suborbital launches of space tourists above 63.5-miles altitude or the edge of space for 5-minutes of weightlessness.

Robert Bigelow Has Big Biz Plans

Bob Bigelow told reporters in Colorado this week that his firm will "be the Hudson’s Bay Company of commercial space" as he seeks to gain orbital launch services requiring 13 launches in 2013, increasing to 25 in 2015 and 30 in 2017 the ability to carry six to eight people, and cargo, at a time. Jeff Foust brings all the details into focus in The Space Review Monday.

The next launch by Bigelow Aerospace is the Genesis-2 space station aboard a Dnepr rocket from Russia is planned before the end of April.

Atlas-V Gaining Launch Currency with Bigelow and SpaceDev

The fledgling commercial space firm SpaceDev announced on Tuesday at the Space Symposium that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with United Launch Alliance to study utilization of an Atlas-V 431 booster to aloft the Dream Chaser spacecraft to orbit in the future.

The Atlas-V booster of United Launch Alliance has drawn agreements with Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceDev for potential use as a human-rated launch vehicle with more details and simulations at NASASpaceflight.

Utilization of the Atlas-V booster for space tourism and other commercial activity has been under intensive study the past year or so because of the level of reliability of the booster over a lengthy period of time.

The capacity of existing commercial spaceports to provide launch infrastructure to the Atlas-V booster is a limited, however. Today Canaveral and Vandenberg are the launch options for the booster requiring commercial firms to compete with the launch traffic posed by the civil and military launch and range needs.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia's Wallops Island (on the Virginia-Maryland stateline) is undertaking studies to be released in the fall of how it may more effectively be involved in the commercial space launch business to the ISS in the next decade. Whether or not the fledgling commercial suborbital and orbital spaceport could muster the financial withwithal to achieve heavy-lift infrastructure investment for COTS is yet to be seen without a significant federal role.

Yuri's Night 2007 A Confluence of Culture in San Francisco

"As I looked around, flashing lights everywhere, ambient DJ music in the background, friends saying hello, science and art on abundant display, and everyone smiling, I knew we were all in the right place, just like Yuri Gagarin was in 1961, " is how Daniel Terdiman of C/NET called the Yuri's Night event as NASA AMES. Event pictures are here and here with a last look at the Yuri's Night promotional video.

Friday, April 13, 2007

San Francisco: Yuri's Night LIVE

Yuri's Night 07 will be webcast LIVE from Hanger N211 at the NASA Ames Research Center in San Francisco, California beignning at 10:30 PM EDT. Register to be a part of the celebration of humankind's trek into space and gain access to the live streaming video space party.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Let's Go!" - Yuri Gagarin

Forty-six years ago Cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth in a political atmosphere of the bi-polar East-West Cold War but the feat was one that lives-on in space history throughout the years. A VIDEO for Cosmonauts Day!

On 12 April 1961 in his craft Vostok 1, Gagarin completed a single orbit of the Earth. Performed at an altitude of 187 3/4 miles (302 kilometers), the orbital rotation took 108 minutes at 18,000 miles an hour.

The international celebrations of Yuri's Night is observed to commemorate the first human in space and the first space shuttle launch. Visit the link Yuri's Night to celebrate the human achievement. The Gagarin first space flight in Russian VIDEO and parties 1, 2, and 3.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bill Gates to Outer Space?

Microsoft Corporation tycoon Bill Gates is reportedly considering a space flight to the International Space Station cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin told journalists in a video link-up from the orbiting space station today.

"Charles [Simonyi ]said that Bill Gates is also preparing to visit space," the cosmonaut said adding, "So the next time someone will be with Bill Gates. For me this is the biggest surprise of our flight."

Gates, the wealthiest human being estimated at over $56-billion, visited the Russian the cosmonaut training center at Star City near Moscow several months ago.

Space Adventures spokesperson Stacey Tearne told that the firm has not yet been contacted by Gates about a possible orbital spaceflight, but the company does have its next candidate in mind.

We will be announcing an identity of our next orbital client,” Tearne said, adding the announcement could come within the next eight weeks.

The firm has secured seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft for private spaceflights in 2008 and 2009, Tearne said.

Virginia Commercial Launch Pad Commences Second Orbital Campaign in Mere 4-Month Period

The commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport has commenced the launch campaign for the Minotaur-1 orbital spacecraft NFIRE set for 4 AM EDT, Saturday, April 21 from the Virginia Eastern Shore Wallops Island.

NFIRE is a project of the Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency. MDA is funding the flight. The payload will test experimental equipment to gather data on exhaust plumes from rocket launches for military space defense systems. DoD has purchased launch services from the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.

The spaceport is conducting its second launch in just slightly four months following the very successful first December 16 orbital launch of the TacSat-2 aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation configured Minotaur booster.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is seeking to market launch services to the military, NASA, and commercial sectors. A study is now underway for NASA COTS vendors to use the Virginia launch facility to boost supplies to orbital space stations. The runway and launch pads may also be possible suborbital tourism spacecraft launch facilities in the future.

Virginia's state legislature recently enacted a Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act to boost prospects of commercial launch firm use of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Atlantis Launch No Sooner Than June 8 from Kennedy Spaceport

The Space Shuttle Atlantis has been rescheduled to launch from the Kennedy Spaceport no sooner than Friday, June 8th after delays forced the hail-damaged external fuel tank.

Endeavor is expected to launch August 5 with teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan. Two more space shuttle flights in October and December will continue expansion of the space station.
How the delay will cascade down the launch mainfest is not now fully known.

No Space Tourists Until 2009, Roscosmos Spokesman Says

The Russian Space Agency Roscosmos has announced no further space tourists will fly to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz TMA until 2009 with all seats for the remainder of the year and throughout 2008 having been already assigned.

"The name of next space tourist will be known after the return of (Charles) Simonyi," Alexei Krasnov, head of the manned program for Roscosmos, told journalists in Moscow earlier today. The 6th space tourist will fly in in 2009.

The name of next space tourist is to be announced very soon by the Virginia-based Space Adventures, which by agreement with Roscosmos engages in the marketing of space travel to the ISS.

"We are busy drawing up diagrams of space flights for 2009, proceeding from the assumption that the ISS will be manned by six-member crews. Therefore, it is not clear so far which particular spaceship will be used for tourist to travel," Krasnov pointed out. "As for prospects for a flight of Russian space tourist, they have not been examined so far", he said.

With the Soyuz-TMA third seat in demand, Malaysian Research Cosmonaut Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor will be boosted to the space station aboard Soyuz TMA-11 October 2, 2007 while either South Korean female Yi So-yeon or male Ko San will be launched aboard Soyuz TMA-12 April 8, 2008.

NASA's Mike Griffin on C-SPAN

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin appeared on C-SPAN this past Sunday where he discussed the so-called "space gap." He discussed the concern with the retirement of the space shuttle in 2010 while the Orion spacecraft will not fly until 2014. Dr. Griffin discussed finishing the the construction of the space station, NASA budget outlook, and how NASA could narrow the gap from 2010 to June 2013 but did not predict the tact the White House may take. The comprehensive interview is worth the watch.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sierra County to Consider Spaceport America Tax Too

Sierra County, home of Spaceport America in Southern New Mexico, will begin discussion of a referendum election next week as a follow-on to the successful 0.25 gross receipts tax passed by Dona Ana County voters last Tuesday. Dona Ana County (Las Cruces) agreed to the tax increase to fund $49 million of the $198 million needed for spaceport construction.

Sierra and Otero Counties may hold referendums on GRT increases to raise an additional $11 million in spaceport construction revenue bringing a total local contribution to the project of $58 million. The State of New Mexico has pledged over $115-million.

Sierra County Commissioner Walter Armijo will push for the tax election in his county to fund help fund the spaceport at Upham, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican Sunday. The meeting next week will aid in a decision of whether the election will be held by mail or in-person.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Soyuz TMA-10 to Dock with ISS Monday at 3:12 PM EDT

NASA-TV provided live coverage from Baikonur Cosmodrome of the Soyuz TMA-10 launch countdown, blastoff through the night clouds, and the ride to orbit capsule-video as the rocket roared through three stages of thrust to achieve orbit. Staurday. On Monday the Soyuz TMA-10 will dock with the ISS. NASA-TV coverage of the docking begins at 2:45 PM EDT. Launch-to-orbit video and the Charles in Space trailer are linked for viewing.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The FAA-AST Issues Final Regs to Govern Experimental Permits for Reusable Suborbital Rockets

The Federal Aviation Administration issued the Final Rules on governing the issuance of experimental permits for the launching for reusable suborbital rockets Friday afternoon.

The new rules will enable permit golders to utilize a single experimental permit to cover multiple launch vehicles of a particular design and allow an unlimited number of launches. The FAA will identify the type of design changes that may be made to a launch vehicle without invalidating the permit. The one-year permit is renewable following an FAA review. None of the test flights covered by an experimental permit can be conducted for compensation or for hire.

The new rules establish criteria for the physical area in which a launch vehicle with an experimental permit can operate. The area, among other things, must be large enough to contain planned trajectories. It cannot contain nor be adjacent to a densely populated area.

Saturday 1:31 EDT Soyuz TMA-10 Launch Set from Baikonur

Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., the fifth civilian space traveler, is set to rocket to the orbital space station Saturday at 1:31 PM EDT. The launch April 7 will be carried on NASA-TV beginning at 12:30 p.m EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz TMA-10. The New York Times provides a colorful story while the The Voice of America enabled a short Video.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Stewart to See Simonyi Blastoff

American diva and business mogul Martha Stewart is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome to see her friend Charles Simonyi lift-off to orbit to the International Space Station Saturday at 1:31 EDT today.

Stewart will watch the rocket disappear into the night sky from an observation post along with other guests. After her arrival Stewart went on a tour of the launch pad -- the one used by Yuri Gagarin in 1961 to become the first human to rocket into orbit.

Stewart, who is admired as a guru of fine living in the United States, had helped Simonyi select a menu for a dinner he plans to share with his ISS colleagues on Russia's Cosmonauts Day on April 12. ABC News provides more details.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Mexico Spaceport Tax Passes

The New Mexico spaceport gross receipts tax has passed continuing the election night trend and projection running in favor of the spaceport funding scheme. No word yet on possible court challenge by spaceport tax opponents.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has issued a statement saying, "Based on unofficial results, the spaceport ballot initiative has passed. This positive vote for the spaceport ballot initiative means America's New Frontier begins in southern New Mexico. I'm proud that the people of Doña Ana County chose a high-tech and high-wage future, with better math and science education, and expanded opportunities for young men and women right here in New Mexico."

Heath Haussamen continues to provide insights from New Mexico Politics on the Dona Ana spaceport tax vote.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

IT'S THE LAW: Virginia Spaceflight Liability & Immunity Act to be Effective July 1st

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and the General Assembly have adopted a landmark Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act to require disclosure of risk associated with human flights aboard commercial space launch vehicles while providing liability protection to commercial space launch firms and their subcontractors.

Legislators meeting in a reconvened one-day session in Richmond today passed Gov. Kaine's amendment to original bill offered by State Delegate Terry G. Kilgore. The Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act will become effective July 1, 2007 with an anticipated life span of six years to July 1, 2013.

Virginia adds the first-of-its-kind measure to its quiver of arrows in seeking to make the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport a more business competitive location among a growing number of FAA licensed commercial spaceports in the United States.

While there remain skeptics about how a trial court judge would apply the new state law in a worst case scenario, the measure is the first state in the nation to adopt law to seek to lower human spaceflight insurance liability costs for commercial space launch firms boosting to space from its FAA-licensed Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va.

The Space Frontier Foundation, The Personal Spaceflight Federation, the National Space Society, and Virginia's regional technology councils coordinated support with Del. Kilgore and Gov. Kaine for final passage of the bill into law.

UPDATE Thursday from Jesse Londin at the Space Law Probe.

YES- 50.6% to No - 49.4% - Dona Ana County Passes Spaceport Tax

The voters have spoken and it appears that from the 17,315 votes cast on the spaceport tax question, the yes vote appears to have prevailed by a mere 204 votes or 8,781 or 50.6% 'yes' to 8,577 or 49.4% 'no' in Tuesday Dona Ana County, New Mexico voting with all precincts reporting.

Provisional ballots, however, were yet to be counted. The 541 provision ballots leaves the ballot question not fully resolved, according to the The Guardian. The provisional ballots will be counted Thursday when the election results are canvassed and certified.

About $49-million in construction bond debt for Spaceport America will now have a dedicated revenue stream to retire the bonds from the 0.25% gross receipts sales tax in Dona Ana County. The total construction costs for the spaceport is expected to be $198 million. The New Mexico Legislature has dedicated $115 million to the project at this point.

Gov. Bill Richardson said late Tuesday that he knew the election would be close. "What is clear is that the voters of Dona Ana (County) are both cautious with public investment and hopeful in seeking to create a high-tech, high-wage economy and improve math and science education for Southern New Mexico," he told The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Heath Haussamen provides insights from New Mexico Politics on the Dona Ana spaceport tax vote analysis and longer-term implications. The Las Cruces Sun-News offers a colorful story on the mood of the ballot question camps.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Down to the Wire in New Mexico

Dona Ana County, New Mexico voters will decide the future fate of the first specifically designed suborbital tourist spaceport today. Governor Bill Richardson has advocated the spaceport for 30-months. SEE BALLOT.

Monday, April 02, 2007

NPR Reports on CLOSE Tuesday Dona Ana Spaceport Tax Vote

In Weekend Edition, National Public Radio (NPR) provided a report on the Tuesday vote for or against a 0.25 gross receipts tax in Dona Ana County, New Mexico to assist Spaceport America construction. Evan Woodward reports for member station KRWG in Las Cruces, New Mexico Sunday ---- LISTEN-IN.

Space Generation Congress Application Deadline April 15

The 2007 Space Generation Congress application deadline is April 15, 2007 for ages 18 to 35 to participant in the United Nations sponsored conference will enable over 100 youth delegates from around the world to gather at Hyderabad, India September 20-22.

The conference is designed to track the 58th International Astronautical Congress as a part of the International Astronautical Federation. SGC is held for the purpose of providing younger people a voice in international space policy. An application to be a delegate is HERE.

The Space Generation Congress is supported by the Space Generation Advisory Council.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cosmic Highway into the 21st Century: Will it come true?

Inspired by Dr. Peter Pesti's Detailed Roadmap of the 21st Century, Karsten Staack created an innovative YouTube video outlining the innovations expected by futurists over the next nine decades relating to fusion power, cyborg robots, virtual reality, computing, planetary colonziation, space elevators, and more.

"The 21st Century will it come true?" is set to the music entitled "Cosmic Highway" from the Purple Onion album by Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade.

One analyst of the virtual tour said it "is not the amazing new toys we'll all have, but the profound social, political, and economic implications these would clearly have for humanity." One local observer used the word "transhumanistic" or H+ to describe it.

'Scotty to Beam-Up' April 28

The remains of actor James Doohan, who played the starship Enterprise's chief engineer Scotty on Star Trek, will be blasted into space next month, the company organising the flight says.

A memorial service will be held at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo on Friday, April 27. The Saturday launch will take place at New Mexico's new "Spaceport America" location adjacent to the White Sands Missile Range. A specific time of day has not yet been set for either event. Both the memorial and viewing of the launch will be open to the general public. Doohan's widow, Wende, will be present at both events, and other special guests may be announced later.

The Canadian-born actor who inspired the catchphrase "Beam me up, Scotty" — even though it was never actually uttered on the television show — died two years ago at the age of 85.

Houston-based commercial company Space Services Inc said some of Doohan's remains were packed into a rocket at Las Cruces, New Mexico, yesterday ahead of the flight scheduled for April 28. Cyclotimia will provide space ceremonial music for the Celestis’ Legacy Flight.

Space Services is a commercial venture that charges $495 to send a sample of a person's ashes into suborbital space. Capsules containing the ashes are retrieved, mounted on plaques and given back to relatives.

Billionaire Charles Simonyi to Ride Soyuz to ISS

Billionaire software engineer Charles Simonyi, 58, is set to be launched this week from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz TMA-10 for a 12-day stay on-orbit at the International Space Station becoming the fifth space flight participant ("tourist").

The launch April 7 should be carried on NASA-TV beginning at 12:30 p.m EDT with a 1:31 launch time.

Simonyi, an ex-Microsoft executive and creator of of the “Word” and “Excel” software programs, paid approximately $25-million for the orbital space stay to Virginia-based Space Adventures.

Simonyi follows in the footsteps of Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Gregory Olsen, and Anousheh Ansari -- all "space flight participants" who have also traveled to the international space station aboard Russian rockets.