Export Control Reform Panel Discussion in DC on Thursday

Here are some additional details on the FAA COMSTAC Working Groups meetings being held later this week. The event is free and open to the public.

EVENT:  Export Control Reform Panel Discussion- Brian Nilsson, National Security Council Professional Staff Member, will provide a briefing on the Administration’s current export control reform plans and strategy.  Also participating in the panel will be Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) an important voice on Capitol Hill on the topic of export control reform, and Remy Nathan, Vice President for International Affairs at the Aerospace Industries Association, who will provide the business perspective.

The panel discussion will begin promptly at 8:30 am on Thursday, Oct. 13th, at the National Housing Center, located at 1201 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC (near the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. and 15th Street).

This panel discussion should provide attendees with invaluable insight into the latest in the ongoing export control reform effort and the likely Congressional reaction to the Obama Administration’s most recent plans.  The event is free and open to the public.  For more information please contact Mike Gold at mgold@bigelowaerospace.com or by phone at (240) 235-6016.  The panel discussion will not be streamed or webcast.

FAA COMSTAC Meeting Agendas

COMSTAC Working Group Meeting Schedule
October 13, 2011

COMSTAC Working Group meetings will take place at the National Housing Center, 1201 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. The COMSTAC meetings will be in Rooms A, B, and C.

 Time Session
8:00 am – 10:00 amExport Controls Working Group
Michael Gold, Chair
Director, D.C.Operations & Business Growth
Bigelow Aerospace
10:00 am-12:00 pmSpace Transportation Operations Working Group
Debra Facktor Lepore, Chair
DFL Space LLC/ Stevens Institute of Technology
12:00 noon – 1:00 pmLunch – On Your Own
1:00 pm – 3:00 pmRLV Working Group
Brett Alexander, Chair
3:00 pm – 5:00 pmRisk Management Working Group
Christopher Kunstadter, Co-Chair, XLInsurance
Janet Sadler, Co-Chair, Chartis Insurance UK Limited

Federal Aviation Administration
Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee Public Meeting

National Housing Center, 1201 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005
October 14, 2011
8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Preliminary Meeting Agenda

Time Session
8:00 am – 8:30 am Coffee
8:30 am – 8:40 amWelcome/Opening Remarks
Mr. Will Trafton
President, Will Trafton and Associates, LLC
8:40 am – 9:00 amRemarks
Dr. George C. Nield
Associate AdministratorFAA/ Office of Commercial Space Transportation
9:00 am – 9:35 amSpeaker
Mr. Sean Monogue
Chair, Missile Technology Export Control Group
Office of Missile, Biological, and Chemical Nonproliferation (ISN/MBC)
U.S. Department of State 
9:35 am – 9:45 amBreak 
9:45 am – 10:20 am Speaker
Mr. Joseph C. Parrish
Office of the Chief Technologist, NASA
10:20 am – 10:50 amRisk Management Report
Mr. Christopher Kunstadter
Vice President, XL Insurance
10:50 am – 11:20 amSpace Transportation Operations Report
Ms. Debra Facktor Lepore
DFL Space LLC / Stevens Institute of Technology
11:20 am – 12:20 pmLunch 
12:20 pm – 12:45Suborbital Characterization Report
Ms. Kate Maliga
Program Manager, Tauri Group 
 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm Speaker
Mr. Philip McAlister
CCT Program Executive, NASA 
1:15 pm – 1:25 pmBreak 
1:25 pm – 1:55 pmReusable Launch Vehicles Report
Mr. Brett Alexander
1:55 pm – 2:25 pmExport Controls Report
Mr. Michael N. Gold
Director, D.C. Operations & BusinessGrowth
Bigelow Aerospace 
2:25 pm – 2:45 pmNew Business
Mr. Will Trafton
2:45 pm – 3:10 pmPublic Comment Period/Open Discussions
Mr. Will Trafton
Mr. Jim Van Laak
Deputy Associate Administrator
FAA/Office of Commercial Space Transportation
3:10 pm – 4:00 pmClosed Session

Orbital Receives Commercial Launch License for Taurus II

(OSC PR – Dulles, VA – 31 August 2011) — Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that it received a Commercial Space Transportation Launch License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program demonstration mission in early 2012. An expanded license covering the test flight of the company’s Taurus® II rocket in late 2011 is expected to be granted in the near future.

To secure the license, Orbital was required to submit extensive technical and program management data to the FAA about its Taurus II rocket and Cygnus™ spacecraft to ensure that all necessary operational requirements and safety precautions are met. Among the many items reviewed by the FAA were the rocket’s planned trajectory, ground tracking procedures, onboard safety and flight termination systems, and the experience and training of the launch operations team.


FAA Grants Fund Improvements at Three Spaceports

The FAA has awarded grants totaling nearly $500,000 to improve spaceports in Virginia, California and New Mexico:

  • $249,378 to the New Mexico Space Port Authority’s Spaceport America to construct a mobile structure to prepare larger rockets before launch;
  • $125,000 to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport to improve security and remote monitoring;
  • $125,000 to the East Kern Airport District’s Mojave Air and Space Port in California for a Supplemental Environmental Assessment.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the “funding will help pay for a roll-back vehicle integration building to prepare space vehicles for launch. The facility will accommodate the larger vehicles that are under development and also be on a rail system that can be rolled back from the vehicle to help maintain dimensional stability.”

The grants were made under an FAA program that funds infrastructure improvements at the nation’s licensed spaceports.

FAA Experiment to Fly on Masten Xaero CRuSR Flight

The Xaero vehicle during assembly November 2010. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

From the FAA:

An FAA-sponsored payload (an ADS-B transmitter, loaned to NASA by MITRE Corporation), will fly on NASA-funded CRuSR missions. This payload will be hosted on both the Masten Space Systems Xaero reusable launch vehicle (RLV). This vehicle will operate in Vertical Takeoff/Vertical Landing (VTVL) mode with minimal lateral translation during flight. A NASA payload that will monitor vibration and other environmental parameters during flight will also fly on this mission. This is the first experimental payload NASA has selected to fly on a commercial RLV as part of their CRuSR Program.

The Masten Space Systems Xaero vehicle will operate from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. It will fly twice to an altitude of up to 17,900 feet above MSL. The Masten Space Systems Xaero CRuSR mission will occur NET mid-July 2011.

Read the full FAA fact sheet below.


NASA IG Looks at Commercial Crew Challenges

The NASA Inspector General’s Office issued a report today titled, “NASA’s Challenges Certifying and Acquiring Commercial Crew Transportation Services,” looking at what obstacles lie ahead as NASA pursues its CCDev program. The challenges include:

  • modifying NASA’s existing safety and human-rating requirements for commercially developed systems
  • selecting an acquisition strategy for commercial crew transportation services
  • establishing the appropriate insight/oversight model for commercial partner vehicle development.
  • relying on an emerging industry and uncertain market conditions to achieve cost savings
  • managing the relationship among commercial partners, the FAA, and NASA.

I’ve reproduced the audit’s results and management action sections below. You can download the full report here.

NASA Holds Suborbital Launch Vehicle Industry Day at Dryden

Michelle Murray of the FAA's Commercial Space Transportation office addresses representatives of aerospace firms during a Flight Opportunities Program Industry Day at NASA Dryden Jan. 25. (NASA photo / Tom Tschida)


Representatives of more than 20 aerospace firms both large and small met with officials of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center Jan. 25 during an Industry Day meeting for potential providers of sub-orbital reusable launch vehicle and payload integration services.

Discussions focused on NASA’s interest in acquiring commercial flight and payload integration services for NASA-provided technology payloads on sub-orbital reusable space launch vehicles, as reflected in a recent NASA Request For Information submitted to potential commercial providers.

During the morning sessions, Steve Meier, director of the Cross-Cutting Demonstrations Division of NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist, stressed the partnership approach that NASA is seeking with commercial launch vehicle firms, while Michelle Murray of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation outlined the FAA’s licensing and commercial launch approval process.


FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference to Feature Bigelow, Babbit

AIAA Press Release

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will co-sponsor the 14th annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference, to be held February 9–10 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW, Washington, D.C.

The conference will feature high-level speakers and panels examining the state of technology and capabilities in the commercial space transportation sector, including new space technologies, government customers for commercial space, and commercial space transportation regulatory issues.


NASA Safety Panel Finds Urgent Need for Clear Direction, Commercial Space Acquisition Strategy

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel that offers guidance to NASA has released its annual report for 2010. A key finding, unsurprisingly, is that the long uncertainty over the space agency’s future is causing a great deal of confusion and lowering morale at NASA centers, possibly jeopardizing safety operations.

The ASAP report also includes a lengthy section concerning NASA’s plans to procure human spaceflight on a commercial basis, with considerable emphasis on the need for the space agency to develop a clear acquisition strategy.

Urgent Need to Promulgate Acquisition Strategy

An acquisition strategy is fundamental to the development of standards and requirements for commercial crew transportation. The Panel has emphasized the necessity of developing and promulgating a good acquisition strategy as quickly as possible.

Key excerpts of the report that deal with clarity of purpose and commercial space are reproduced after the break.


FAA Helps Santa Claus Bring Joy to the World

Santa One's instrument panel. (Credit: FAA)


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety inspectors at the North Pole certified Santa One, the reindeer-powered sleigh piloted by Santa Claus, for its Christmas Eve round-the-world delivery mission.

Santa One, led by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is outfitted with new satellite-based NextGen technology, which will allow Santa to deliver more toys to more children with improved safety and efficiency.

“Children around the world will get their gifts on time, regardless of the weather, thanks to NextGen,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We’re proud to say NextGen is bringing Santa Claus to town.”


SpaceX Receives FAA Re-entry License for First Dragon Flight

Artists conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit


Since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation was created in 1984, it has issued licenses for more than 200 launches.

Today the FAA has made SpaceX the first-ever commercial company to receive a license to re-enter a spacecraft from orbit.


SpaceX Delays First Dragon Flight to Dec. 7

Artists conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit

Aviation Week reports that SpaceX is rescheduling its late November launch of the first Dragon capsule to Dec. 7 to allow for more testing. The robotic freighter, designed to resupply the International Space Station, will be sent into space on a test mission aboard the second Falcon 9 rocket. The precise date will be impacted by the launch of the space shuttle Discovery, which was postponed last week until Nov. 30 due to technical problems. The Falcon 9/Dragon launch was originally scheduled for early November. SpaceX is also awaiting a landing permit from the FAA to return Dragon to Earth.

SpaceX Aims for Nov. 20 Falcon 9 Launch as it Awaits Re-entry License

Artists conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit

SpaceX Awaiting FAA Approval of Dragon Re-entry License
Space News

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is awaiting U.S. regulatory approval to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo vessel as soon as Nov. 20 after more than a year spent tying up loose ends associated with the recoverable space capsule’s re-entry license application, which the company submitted in final form to federal regulators Oct. 29, according to government and industry sources.


FAA Awards Space Transport Grants for Spaceport America, Mojave, Cecil Field and Alaska

Cecil Field in Jacksonville, recently designated a commercial spaceport.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new grant program designed to fund projects that develop and expand commercial space transportation infrastructure.  The Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Grants will be awarded to four separate projects located in Alaska, California, Florida, and New Mexico.