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Sorry for being gone for so long - life has been busy.
AWST Person of the Year
Aviation Weekly & Space Technology has named the Space Entrepreneur as its person of the year
, this year.  And those of us supporting Commercial Spaceflight have a lot to be encouraged about

This is a really great article, that provides a nice overview of where the industry is, and how far its come in the last year.

Collectively, they are in the vanguard of a new industry, poised to transform how humans venture into space in ways that most observers can scarcely imagine today. Space entrepreneurs had a big influence on aerospace in 2009, although it does not begin to compare with the impact they are likely to have in years to come.

It notes the X Prize flights, a few years ago, that Burt Rutan won with his SpaceShipOne.  However, it also talks about developments that have happened since then:

The roll out of SpaceShipTwo

The winning of the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, by Masten Space Systems & Armadillo Aerospace

The first commercially successful Falcon 1 launch

Returning to the article....

An interesting comment on space development is

Asked if he is shocked with the speed with which Masten subsequently achieved its $1-million prize success with its Xoie and Xombie rockets, Masten says, "Actually we were thinking—‘Gee, how did it take us so long?’ To start with, we thought it should only take two years to figure out, and all of a sudden four years roll by."

These things always seem to take longer than we expect.  I remember when I first posted a diary at Dailykos, where I suggested that space development may become an issue in 06 or 08.  Actually, it did just a little bit in 08, but there has been clear progress.  

The article also discusses the Review of Human Spaceflight Plans Committee (aka the Augustine Committee) and its subsequent report, and how the Commercial Spaceflight industry was considered in the report, and also played a role in considering various possibilities.

In June 2009, Greason was named to the White House Review of Human Spaceflight Plans Committee headed by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine. The Augustine panel found it might be cheaper and faster for the government to buy rides to low Earth orbit for its astronauts than to finish the Ares I crew launch vehicle NASA is developing in-house under its Constellation Program.

In fact, the report went a good deal farther, and practically endorsed utilizing Commercial Crew.  It also noted that, without NASA helping to develop the industry, the industry would be very unlikely to materialize

if a capsule is developed that meets commercial needs, there will be customers to share operating costs with NASA, but unless NASA creates significant incentives for the development of the capsule, the service is unlikely to be developed on a purely commercial basis.

It also noted the resistance and almost hostility from Congress, and institutions within NASA.  When discussing some of the recent Congressional hearings, again, quoting the article..

[John] Marshall surprised lawmakers when he testified that Orbital Sciences officials had told the ASAP they had not done a market survey for human space transportation because they did not believe a "credible market" exists.

The irony of this statement is that when John Marshall made it, Bigelow Aerospace's Mike Gold was sitting in the front role of the audience.  I would love to know the context of this statement, to better consider it.  Many of those hearings would've been well served by actually having some of the companies among the people being asked questions.  

Anyway, check out the whole article - its a good read.

Originally posted to FerrisValyn on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 05:03 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hi (4+ / 0-)

    I was wondering where you were!

    Good diary!

    Thanks!! as always!

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 05:09:25 PM PST

  •  The Hypocrisy of Richard Branson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    How can a man who claims that he believes in AGW spearhead a venture that spews so much carbon into the air?

    I understand someone who needs to jet to another city for business, or to see friends across the world.

    But how can Branson justify the jet fuel consumed in essentially enabling the highest skydeck in the world.

    Then again, perhaps he doesn't believe in AGW, and his statements to that effect are crafted to inoculate him from criticism.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

    by PatriciaVa on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 05:15:49 PM PST

    •  Actually, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, cfk, SJLeonidas, jlms qkw, Cure7802

      space tourism is unlikely to add that much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, considering both how efficient they are attempting to make it, and even the most optimistic growth curves.  

      Besides, IMHO, we'll need space development to deal with global warming.  And for that we'll need cheap access to earth orbit, and that means we'll need something that pushes us there

      •  I'm for space development (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm a huge believer in space development, and in contests to facilitate it. I also agree that we need cheap access to low-earth orbit.

        But I do believe that Branson is being a hypocrite about it.  On a per-capita basis, space tourism probably spews MUCH more carbon than any jumbo jet.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

        by PatriciaVa on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 05:28:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually, probably not. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, SJLeonidas

          I am looking for it right now, and there was a study that found that, on a per capita basis, space tourism would be quite green.

          when I find it, I'll provide the link

        •  I disagree with your last statement (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, FerrisValyn, PatriciaVa

          It will take years (more likely decades) for space tourism (aka rocket flights) to approach anywhere close to flight rates like commercial jetliners.  

          Even on a per-capita (I assume you mean on a per-flight) basis, the rocket runs for minutes versus hours on a jet flight.

          If the fuels are chosen correctly (Liquid Hydrogen and Liquid Oxygen) CO2 is not even a byproduct of rocket flight.

          Lots of more effective places to work to fix Climate Change in my opinion.

          "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." --Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut or Yogi Berra, take your pick.

          by SJLeonidas on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 05:41:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Branson probably is a hypocrite about many things (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Kinda goes with the territory of being a marketing guru kind of guy.

          Governing well shall be the best revenge

          by Bill White on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:35:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  If we stopped burning coal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FerrisValyn, SJLeonidas

      this all becomes irrelevant in terms of atmospheric CO2 - if we don't stop burning coal, this all becomes irrelevant in terms of atmospheric CO2.

      We need massively deployed non CO2 energy sources including, solar, offshore wind farms (central Lake Michigan is a great location) and IMHO Gen IV and Gen V nuclear power (thorium and Hyperion as two possible examples). JFTR, I would favor shutting old current nuclear plants as soon as Gen IV and Gen V are proven and come on-line.

      Do that and a few space-planes here and there become utterly irrelevant to atmospheric CO2 levels.  

      Governing well shall be the best revenge

      by Bill White on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:34:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great to see you Ferris! (5+ / 0-)

    Maybe in 10 years I can find a way to afford a flight on SS2...

    Thanks for the link!

    "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." --Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut or Yogi Berra, take your pick.

    by SJLeonidas on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 05:21:52 PM PST

  •  I don't support this (0+ / 0-)
    In a world struggling for survival (really) this seems to be the ultimate in conspious consumption for self gratification.

    It is not scientific research for common good but catering to the whims of the wealty.

    Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

    by koNko on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:06:02 PM PST

    •  You consider things like (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, SJLeonidas

      Zero-G manufacturing and Space Based solar Power, and the markets offered by cheap space access to be conspicuous consumption?

      You'll forgive me if I don't see it that way

      •  I'm not against technology development (0+ / 0-)

        Or against wealthy patrons of the arts or science if it meets a good end; being a materials scientist myself I know how to beg, borrow and steal to do that, but I don't actually see much application or urgency for manned space travel as long as we continue to screw-up things here on earth and the money could be put to better use on technology to correct that first.

        I actually don't see much need for Zero-G manufacturing; beyond some basic R+D, most of the applications I've seen for that seem to be more an excercise in justifying space flights than producing genuinley useful things we can't otherwise make or find alternative technologies for. On the other hand, some Zero-G bioscience is promising at least to understand how gravity effects organisms! Other areas of pure science might also benifit from such working environments, but at what cost/benifit?

        Today, so much of our work is computational, requiring limited proof-of-concept work (the success of these spacecraft proves that) I really don't envision lot's of these things full of Richard Branson clones creating extra-terrestial trafic jams for a useful purpose; smaller craft without humans can cover most research on the cheap.

        BTW, the space-solar farming idea is interesting but has a LOT of problems (1) - methinks we can do a lot better a lot sooner on the ground; in any case we need better batteries for any of this stuff to work closer to maximum possible efficency.

        OK, all that said, I never like to discourage curiosiy, experimentation or creativity as long as the side effects don't result in too many missing fingers or deaths of innocent bystanders with my name and general appearance, and I wasn't trying to rain on the parade, just voicing my opinion.

        As long as there are enough Richard Branson clones, these guys will get funding and do their thing, I will be totally ignored and more power to them.

        (1) Not the least of which is the debris & solid particles from all the Krap we have already left up there crashing whatever new gizmos we put in orbit, a Big Mess with N.K.S. except tracking and avoidance of the big stuff (but the tiny stuff gets worse each year - yes, we have already polluted space).

        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

        by koNko on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 04:15:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re: (0+ / 0-)

          Let me offer a short list of the near-term industries that are related to human spaceflight (you won't necessarily see it all at once, but the relation is there - they either enable cheaper human spaceflight, or actually require humans in the loop)

          1.  Space debris removal
          1.  Satellite & spacecraft refueling
          1.  Humans to Space/Orbit (space tourism is part of this, but only part - you can also include scientists, professional astronauts and so on)
          1.  Cheap remote sensing
          1.  Space Sports
          1.  Space/Zero-G Science and R&D
          1.  K-12 Education
          1.  Space Burial
          1.  Large scale cargo to orbit

          All of these are potential markets, that could easily be tapped within 5 years, or less, without much difficulty.  And, in fact, there is a company working on every single one of these various markets.  

          We've discussed the zero-g manufacturing a little, but I am fairly optimistic about it, considering the comments that Tom Pickens 3rd raised at ISDC a few years ago (You can find it on Youtube - search for Tom Pickens ISDC ).  You may know more than I have heard, but my understanding is there is real interest in things like pure substrates and bio-tech (as you alluded to).  That is a little more long term, but we don't know much about it, so I would submit that its worth while

          Carrying it further down the road, there is the potential for space based solar power, which we've already talked about as well.

          What we are doing here, is creating industries, high-tech industries, that will hire people, and put them to work.  Much like we did with the internet - look at all the jobs that created.  We didn't know the jobs and companies that would be created, like Facebook & Dailykos, back in the early 90s.  But this expansion of society has created a number of jobs.  Doing space development (of which most space entrepreneurs are engaging in) is expanding society, so we become spacefaring.  To expand on this further, (and I should be fair, these are more long term prospects, but should not be ignored, I am embedding a short video

          This isn't about conspicous consumption - this is about societal expansion, and getting access to the space resources, to help society. IMHO, The Space Option has to be part of our plan to save the planet, and we'll need The High Frontier

        •  To add (0+ / 0-)
          1.  Those of us who support actual space development (and not the crap like Ares) are fighting so that we actually GET a return from human spaceflight.  Right now, most of the $8 Billion we spend on human spaceflight doesn't actually give us any substantive return.  But that doesn't mean it has to be like that.  If we spent most of that $8 Billion on industry creation, we could do some really incredible things.  
          1.  I am well aware of the space debris issue.  Actually, the real concern right now is collisions between big things, not just the small stuff.  But, as I alluded to, this could easily become another industry.  
    •  Many technologies were once the perview of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FerrisValyn, SJLeonidas

      uber rich, but breakthroughs have often made them cheaper, better and available to the masses.  I consider this a small price to pay for the possibility of getting some of our eggs out of this one basket.

      Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

      by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:24:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Compared with the mega-yacht market (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FerrisValyn, SJLeonidas

      this is not a big deal.

      Governing well shall be the best revenge

      by Bill White on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:28:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did I suggest sending mega-yachts into orbit? (0+ / 0-)

        Obviously, now that Paris Hilton has runined her looks and made a complete ass out of herself she needs somewhere to party beyond the 12 mile limit so my daughter doesn't get any big ideas too soon, but what has the upper atmosphere ever done to deserve unscheduled visits from Bible-toting, sex-crazed, doper ex-cons (even though the idea of rocketing her and her pals into geo-syncronus orbit has some merrit) ???

        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

        by koNko on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 04:25:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This one looks reasonably useful (0+ / 0-)


        So I'm prepared to make a down payment if you accept cash


        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

        by koNko on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 04:35:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here is a question I've been pondering (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FerrisValyn, SJLeonidas, NellaSelim

    What do space tourists want?

    What are they seeking that they might part with $100,000 or $200,000 for a few hours (including pre-flight etc . . .) spent flying on a rocket-plane?

    I've been re-reading Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" and I think for many the motivation will be about extreme machines as much as it is about space.

    But such answers are necessary if people like Branson are to sustain profitability in sub-orbital business realm.

    Governing well shall be the best revenge

    by Bill White on Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:26:38 PM PST

  •  Fingers crossed for upcoming Falcon 9... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill White

    launch. Should be in February 2, but there is some kind of schedule conflict that is not resolved yet.

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