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NewSpace: A New Era In Space Exploration. As one era ends a new one begins: a new golden era in spaceflight. Join us for all the latest headlines in this bold new adventure.
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Republican Space Socialism Update

Republican Space Socialism Update | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

There are currently at least four (and possibly a fifth, though not funded) candidates to provide crew delivery services to the International Space Station. NASA has repeatedly stated its desire to eventually have at least two providers, both because they want to maintain competition to keep prices down, and so that there is a backup if one of them has a problem (i.e., they don’t want to repeat the mistake of the Shuttle, in which each time there was a problem with it, the agency had no access to orbit for its astronauts for a period of over two years). On Tuesday, the NASA personnel responsible for the program said that Chairman Wolf’s proposal wouldn’t save money, but instead would double the costs:

 

“We need competition as long as possible. The price to go with one [provider] starting today, and then all the way through certification and into services, is at least twice what it would be if you had competition at least as long as possible.”

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Shuttle Rocket, NASA Capsule Paired for New Space Taxi | Discovery News

Shuttle Rocket, NASA Capsule Paired for New Space Taxi | Discovery News | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Take a space shuttle booster rocket and make it bigger. Add a capsule NASA originally developed as a potential alternative to its deep-space Orion spaceship. What do you have?

 

Well, ATK, the company that built the space shuttles' solid rocket boosters, calls it Liberty and has offered the system to NASA as a potential space taxi to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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Liberty Rocket Announcement

ATK announces some exciting new developments regarding its Liberty Launch System; another contender in NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program.

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Space veterans offer NASA their Liberty launch system

Space veterans offer NASA their Liberty launch system | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — At a time when NASA’s human-spaceflight budget is frozen and likely facing cutbacks, the company that built the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters says it has developed a complete astronaut transportation system using America’s existing launch facilities.

 

If NASA lends its support to the system, known as Liberty, the project could end America’s dependence on the Russians to fly its astronauts in as little as three years.

 

Virginia-based Alliant Techsystems, also known as ATK, says Liberty would be a complete commercial crew transportation system, including the spacecraft as well as ground and mission operations. All of its elements would meet NASA’s requirements for carrying humans, ATK says.

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Shuttle Rocket Booster Maker to Launch Private Space Taxi by 2015

Shuttle Rocket Booster Maker to Launch Private Space Taxi by 2015 | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

LOS ANGELES — The aerospace company that built the solid rocket boosters for NASA's space shuttle fleet announced plans today (May 9) to develop its own private launch system — a spaceship and rocket — to fly astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit. The first manned flight could launch in about three years, company officials said.

 

Utah-based Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, announced the new project here at the first Spacecraft Technology Expo, where thousands of government and industry officials have gathered to discuss innovative new technologies and the future of human spaceflight.

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ATK Announces Complete Liberty System to Provide Commercial Crew Access | SpaceRef

ATK (NYSE: ATK) announced today it has developed Liberty into a complete commercial crew transportation system, including the spacecraft, abort system, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations, designed from inception to meet NASA's human-rating requirements with a potential for the first test flight in 2014 and Liberty crewed flight in 2015.

 

The company also announced Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will provide support to the ATK and Astrium Liberty team as a major subcontractor on the project.

 

"Our goal in providing Liberty is to build the safest and most robust system that provides the shortest time to operation using tested and proven human-rated components," said Kent Rominger, vice president and program manager for Liberty. "Liberty will give the U.S. a new launch capability with a robust business case and a schedule that we expect will have us flying crews in just three years, ending our dependence on Russia."

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SpaceX Shows Off Manned Dragon Capsule at Space Expo

SpaceX Shows Off Manned Dragon Capsule at Space Expo | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

LOS ANGELES — As private spaceflight company SpaceX puts the finishing touches on the interior of its prototype crewed capsule, the firm brought a life-size model of the vehicle to display here at the first annual Spacecraft Technology Expo.

 

The design of SpaceX's Dragon capsule recently passed a series of key reviews, during which a group of NASA engineers and former space shuttle astronauts tested how well they could maneuver inside the spacecraft. The NASA team practiced entering and exiting Dragon under normal and emergency scenarios, and they also evaluated the layout of the vehicle's controls and instruments.

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SpaceX Gets One Step Closer to Carrying People to Orbit

SpaceX Gets One Step Closer to Carrying People to Orbit | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

With the cargo version of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft waiting patiently at Cape Canaveral for its scheduled launch on May 19, its astronaut-carrying sibling has received a thumbs up from NASA.

 

“This milestone demonstrated the layout of the crew cabin supports critical tasks,” said SpaceX Commercial Crew Development Manager — and former astronaut — Garrett Reisman. “It also demonstrated the Dragon interior has been designed to maximize the ability of the seven-member crew to do their job as effectively as possible.”

 

The latest step for the manned Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX centered around the size and layout inside the capsule. The seven-seat vehicle was deemed acceptable after NASA astronauts and engineers evaluated the Dragon, including entering and exiting under normal and emergency scenarios, as well as reach and visibility tests.

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Astronaut joins effort to profit from harvesting raw materials in space

Astronaut joins effort to profit from harvesting raw materials  in space | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Planetary scientist and Northern Virginia resident Tom Jones is an astronaut who flew on the space shuttle four times. With a long-standing interest in asteroids, Jones recently signed on as scientific adviser for a new company, Planetary Resources, which has a big, science-fiction-esque goal: profiting from raw materials in space. The company is bankrolled by space business veterans and bigwigs from Silicon Valley and Hollywood, including Google guys Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and filmmaker James Cameron. Jones spoke in a recent interview about this new venture and the future of life in space.

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Is Our Time in Outer Space Finally At-Hand?

Is Our Time in Outer Space Finally At-Hand? | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Last week it was asteroid mining, as Peter Diamandis and his partners showed us their bold new venture, Planetary Resources, aiming eventually to start harvesting trillions of dollars worth of materials that would then no longer have to be ripped out of Mother Earth.

 

This glimpse of a vigorously bold and can-do future provoked The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart to comment, “Do you know how rarely the news in 2012 looks and sounds how you thought news would look and sound like in 2012?” to fervent approval from his audience. Having worked in this area 30 years ago, I was thrilled to see this forward-looking initiative finally get rolling in my lifetime. Oh, but also… to see it completed…

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BLAST FROM THE PAST: BLUE ORIGIN'S VTOL ROCKET A COUSIN OF THE McDONALD DOUGLAS DC-X "DELTA CLIPPER"

BLAST FROM THE PAST: BLUE ORIGIN'S VTOL ROCKET A COUSIN OF THE McDONALD DOUGLAS DC-X "DELTA CLIPPER" | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

NASA’s Commercial Crew initiative is getting barraged with cutback requests on Capitol Hill, and now the House is preparing to vote on legislation that would require NASA to immediately downselect a single commercial spaceflight purveyor from the eclectic list of companies vying for NASA dollars. This is a terrible idea as you have no competition with a single purveyor, two would be a much more palatable choice if any. If you choose only one at this early stage in the game than you might as well cancel the program overall as it’s goals would be free of cost saving downward market pressure through competition. Choices currently range from truly innovative to archaic and metaphorically span the history of American spaceflight. Some companies such as Space-X and ATK use the tried and true method of launching expendable or semi-expendable rockets with capsules that return to earth via parachutes. Others, such as Boeing/Sierra Nevada’s entry use a Space Shuttle like lifting body aircraft that will be launched on the tip of a rocket and return to earth like the Shuttle.

 

Where Blue Origin, the mysterious commercial spaceflight company started by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, differs is that Blue Origin’s concepts envision an almost immediately reusable vehicle space vehicle, a goal that has been considered the holy grail of manned low earth orbit transportation for decades.

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NASA Budget Cuts Draw Threat of Presidential Veto

A 2013 spending bill that would fund NASA’s commercial crew program below the level President Barack Obama requested drew a veto threat Monday (May 7) as the U.S. House of Representatives was preparing to begin debate on the proposal.

 

The $51 billion Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act for 2013 (H.R. 5326) that the Republican-led House began debating today (May 8) would fund NASA at $17.56 billion next year — the lowest level since 2008 and some $150 million less than President Obama requested for the agency.

 

NASA’s commercial crew program — a two-year-old effort that aims to foster development by 2017 of at least two privately operated launchers capable of transporting crews to the International Space Station — would receive $500 million next year under the House spending measure, which is $330 million below the White House request.

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Private Space Plane Builder Sierra Nevada Expanding to Florida

Private Space Plane Builder Sierra Nevada Expanding to Florida | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

COCOA BEACH, Fla. — Sierra Nevada Corp., one of four firms working on space taxi designs for NASA, is stepping up plans to expand its work force and operations in Florida, company and state officials announced May 4.

 

"The goal that we have here is really quite simple — we want to take the 'Help Wanted' signs out of the windows in Russia and bring it back here," Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president of Sierra Nevada's Space Systems Group, said during an announcement here.

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Lunar lander options

Lunar lander options | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Under the Bush Vision of Space Exploration, NASA was planning to spend around $10 billion to development the Altair lunar lander. That’s certainly a significant amount of money – several times what SpaceX expects to spend to develop both the Falcon rocket and the Dragon capsule – but NASA was proposing (not unexpectedly) to build the mother of all lunar landers, rather than a minimal cost system. Since we now know that’s unrealistic, what sort of lander options might be affordable, either for NASA or private industry?

 

Surprisingly, there are a number of possibilities which, if not quite off-the-shelf, are fairly close.

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ATK adds crew capsule to Liberty rocket proposal | Spaceflight Now

ATK adds crew capsule to Liberty rocket proposal | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Joining a growing list of aerospace companies competing to build a commercial crew taxi for NASA, rocket contractor ATK announced Wednesday it could launch astronauts into orbit by 2015 aboard the firm's Liberty rocket and a composite module derived from existing programs.

 

A proposal for the Liberty rocket and spacecraft was submitted to NASA in March. The space agency expects to announce in August awards of between $300 million and $500 million to at least two companies over a 21-month period.

 

ATK is vying for NASA awards with SpaceX, Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corp., and other companies working on commercial crew transportation vehicles. Unlike other companies, ATK's Liberty program is currently operating entirely on private funding.

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Liberty: Space Transportation System for Tomorrow's Astronauts

"Liberty is the safest, most reliable, most economical commercial space transportation service ever developed. It includes the spacecraft, abort system, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations."

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ATK Liberty Launch Vehicle Targets First Crewed Flight in 2015 | Commercial Space Watch

ATK Liberty Launch Vehicle Targets First Crewed Flight in 2015 | Commercial Space Watch | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

It was 15 months that ATK with Astrium (an EADS Company) announced that they were working together and would compete in NASA's Commercial Crew Development-2 (CCDev-2) procurement. At that time they announced an initial test flight by the end of 2013, a second test flight in 2014, and operational capability in 2015. Today's announcement reinforces the previous plans with a few changes and offers some new information.

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ATK announce Liberty KSC test flights, reveal crew spacecraft with MLAS | NASASpaceFlight.com

ATK announce Liberty KSC test flights, reveal crew spacecraft with MLAS | NASASpaceFlight.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

In a wide-ranging release of information, ATK have announced what is their complete crew transportation system. With the previously announced Liberty launch vehicle as the foundation, the Utah company have now revealed that their own crewed spacecraft will fly atop of the vehicle, with the MLAS launch abort system. Test flights are set to begin in 2014 from the Kennedy Space Center.

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Dream Chaser test plan outlined by Sierra Nevada | Spaceflight Now

Dream Chaser test plan outlined by Sierra Nevada | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Sierra Nevada Corp., one of the firms vying to build a commercial space taxi for NASA, plans a series of automated and piloted atmospheric flight tests of its lifting body Dream Chaser spacecraft beginning this summer, ultimately leading to an orbital demonstration mission in 2016, according to company managers.

 

The flight tests will initially prove the Dream Chaser's aerodynamic qualities using an engineering article being outfitted at Sierra Nevada's space campus in Louisville, Colo.

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Arizona Man Wins Free Trip to Space

Arizona Man Wins Free Trip to Space | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

An Arizona man earned a free trip to suborbital space today (May 9), claiming the prize after winning a harrowing, high-altitude race around the outside of Seattle's Space Needle.

 

In a ceremony held at the Space Needle today, famed moonwalker Buzz Aldrin announced that Gregory Schneider had won the suborbital spaceflight, an award valued at $110,000.

 

The free rocket ride is the grand prize of a months-long competition called Space Race 2012, which is sponsored by the Space Needle and space tourism company Space Adventures.

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In Their Own Words: Brent Jett

Brent Jett, a deputy manager at NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), discusses the program.

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NASA: Competition at core of commercial crew program | Spaceflight Now

NASA: Competition at core of commercial crew program | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

NASA managers argued Tuesday a proposal by lawmakers to immediately select a single provider for commercial crew transportation services would undermine the agency's strategy of reducing the cost of space travel through private industry.

 

Officials are in the middle of evaluating industrial bids for the commercial crew program's next phase, with a goal of selecting at least two companies by August to continue developing rockets and spacecraft for the next two years.

 

NASA plans to award multiple industry teams each between $300 million and $500 million under agreements set to run until at least May 2014.

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Interview with Edward Wright, part 2 - Experiments in Space | Moonandback

Interview with Edward Wright, part 2 - Experiments in Space | Moonandback | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Edward Wright talkes with Moonandback about the types of experiments teachers and citizens will operate on suborbital launch vehicles.

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Gallery: Space Adventures' Suborbital Rocket Ride

Gallery: Space Adventures' Suborbital Rocket Ride | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

An artist's depiction of a suborbital spaceflight offered by Space Adventures aboard an Armadillo Aerospace Vehicle. Seattle's Space Needle is offering a free trip on the spaceship as part of its Space Race 2012 contest.

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NASA Commercial Partner SpaceX Completes Crew Accommodations Milestone | SpaceRef

NASA Commercial Partner SpaceX Completes Crew Accommodations Milestone | SpaceRef | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has finished an important evaluation of a prototype Dragon spacecraft designed to carry people into orbit. This key milestone is part of SpaceX's partnership with NASA under a funded Space Act Agreement to advance the design of crew transportation vehicles.

 

The primary goal of the tests was to determine whether the layout will allow astronauts to maneuver effectively in the vehicle. Several veteran space shuttle astronauts and NASA engineers conducted the evaluation during a pair of two-day-long reviews.

 

"I am very pleased with the progress SpaceX and our other commercial partners are making during the CCDev2 effort," said NASA Commercial Spaceflight Director Philip McAlister. "Together with NASA's development of beyond low-Earth orbit systems, commercial crew and cargo transportation is an integral part of our overall human spaceflight program."

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