The Federation Names Stern Chairman, Expands Membership

CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) elected new officers and approved several new member companies at its bi-annual Executive Board of Directors meeting last week in Seattle, expanding its membership to 74 organizations.

Dr. Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute was elected as the new Chairman of the CSF Board of Directors. Dr. Stern, who has been on the CSF board for 7 years and has played many roles in the commercial spaceflight industry, was recently named for the second time to Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the World. In the past, Dr. Stern served as NASA’s Associate Administrator for science and participated as a Principal Investigator on 9 NASA missions, including the historic New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Dr. Stern replaces outgoing chairman, Frank Dibello of Space Florida, who served two years as chairman. Read more of Dr. Stern’s bio here. 

(more…)

CSF Congratulates Moon Express on License Announcement

CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) congratulates Moon Express, Inc., on its U.S. government authorization for a planned robotic mission to the Moon in 2017. This is the first time that a private enterprise has been licensed by the U.S. Government to venture to the lunar surface.

Moon Express first filed the application with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on April 8, 2016. The company then consulted extensively with the FAA, White House, State Department, NASA and other federal agencies before being granted the landmark license. The formal approval sets a precedent for the private sector to engage in peaceful space exploration in accordance with U.S. national obligations of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

(more…)

The Federation Adds 3 Members

CSF_logo2Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is excited to announce the addition of three new associate members: Calspan Corporation, Firefly Space Systems, and TIP Technologies.

“The commercial spaceflight industry is developing and innovating at an ever-increasing pace,” said CSF president Eric Stallmer. “With the recent expansion of membership we have brought on board three different companies focusing on areas ranging from systems testing, small satellite launches, to quality assurance software. This diversity is a testament to the vast reach and influence of the rapidly growing commercial space sector.”

(more…)

House Science Committee on ICBM Use as Launchers: It’s Complicated

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON, D.C. (House Science Committee PR) –
The Space Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine the current state of the small satellite commercial launch industry, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars of economic activity and serves both the private and public sector. Several companies are currently working to supply the growing demand for commercial launches. Witnesses today discussed various policy challenges that may need to be addressed.
(more…)

NSRC is Back!

NSRC 2016 logoAfter a three-year hiatus, the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is back.

NSRC-2016 will be held June 2-4, 2016 at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado!

More information will be posted soon at http://nsrc.swri.org/

Federation Praises Blue Origin Flight

CSF_logo2Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) Member Blue Origin celebrated a historic milestone yesterday, announcing that it safely and successfully completed a controlled, vertical return of the New Shepard rocket booster to its West Texas launch pad after reaching a planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 km). The fully-reusable spacecraft is designed to carry astronauts on a suborbital spaceflight to experience weightlessness and view the Earth through the largest windows to ever fly in space. The New Shepard vehicle also expands access and capabilities for suborbital researchers through NASA STMD’s Flight Opportunities Program.

Through this historic landing, Blue Origin has demonstrated the economic viability of reusability, a revolutionary approach to spaceflight that counts fellow CSF Members Masten Space Systems and SpaceX among its pioneers.  Reusable rocketry holds the promise of driving down launch costs and decreasing turn-around time.

“This is yet another example that confirms the USA’s successful equation for a 21st century space industry: innovative regulatory framework combined with open access to NASA’s institutional knowledge and commercial ingenuity, perseverance, and patience can achieve great things,” said Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

“Through the flexible regulatory framework prescribed by the recently-passed CSLCA, spacecraft designers have leeway to design safe and innovative vehicles, like Blue Origin’s New Shepard, that continue to push the bounds of our technological advancement in space,” added CSF Executive Director Tommy Sanford. “Supporting a regulatory environment that catalyzes innovation and ingenuity in design was Congress’s intent with the CSLCA and, as the recent flight of New Shepard demonstrates, it clearly payed off.”

CSF Adds New Member Companies

CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomed several new member companies at its Executive Board meeting this week, expanding its membership to more than 60 companies.

Spaceport Camden of Camden County, Georgia joined CSF as an Executive Member. Steve Howard, Spaceport Camden project leader, will represent his organization on the CSF Board of Directors. “CSF’s mission strategically aligns with Camden’s goals, and we are pleased to join other industry leaders as part of this organization,” Howard said.

(more…)

CSF: SpaceShipTwo Provides Valuable Lessons Learned

The spot where SpaceShipTwo's cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
The spot where SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WASHINGTON, DC (CSF PR) — Today the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a public hearing to adjudicate the probable cause of last year’s SpaceShipTwo test flight accident, which resulted in an in-flight breakup. NTSB’s investigators and analysts presented their findings, conclusions, and recommendations in a draft report to the NTSB Board members. Throughout the discussion, NTSB staff and Board members praised the industry’s strong commitment to transparency and cooperation during the investigation, which helped lead to a more timely and complete resolution of the accident investigation.

(more…)

CSF Praises Modest Increase in FAA AST Budget

faa_logoWASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) — Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill. The Bill provides $17.425 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, $2 million for Commercial Space Transportation Safety, and $2 million for Facilities and Equipment to better integrate Commercial Space Traffic with the National Airspace System.

The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) ensures that commercial launch and reentry activities are conducted without additional risk to the public or adjacent property, and that the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States are protected. While the Senate’s THUD Appropriations Bill doesn’t fund all of the requested increase in AST funding, it should ensure that AST can diligently process commercial space licenses and permits in a timely manner, without having to prioritize some applications over others, and thereby potentially delay some launches.

There were nine licensed or permitted Commercial Launches in FY 2015, and five Commercial Reentries. Each launch and reentry requires careful analysis of systems and trajectories, and coordination with air traffic to ensure public safety. Research into improved safety methods, and funding to improve facilities and equipment will streamline some activities and automate others. These are critical improvements as both space and air traffic volume increase. In addition to the FAA AST’s licensing and permit responsibilities, the Office also has oversight support responsibilities related to launch accident investigations.

“CSF applauds the Senate Appropriations Committee, and especially subcommittee leaders Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) for supporting the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation in a time of unprecedented activity,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “We also want to especially thank Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) for helping ensure that the FAA has the resources necessary to be a reliable and responsible partner in the economic development of space. CSF looks forward to continuing to work with Senate and House Appropriators to maintain the Senate’s number or even achieve the full budget request as they complete the FY 2016 appropriations process.”

ESA, CSF Weigh in on Failed Falcon 9 launch

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain

Hearing the news of today’s loss of SpaceX CRS-7 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain stated: “We at the European Space Agency deeply regret this failure that shows that sending launchers into space is a very hard job. However a failure does not undermine all the previous successes. We wish our colleagues on the other side of the ocean all our best in fixing the problem and getting back into flight again soon”.

(more…)

CSF Hires New Assistant Director

CSF_logo2Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – Jane Kinney will join the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) next week as its new Assistant Director. Kinney’s new appointment follows the departure earlier this month of Sirisha Bandla who left CSF for a new position in the commercial space industry.

Prior to joining CSF, Kinney worked in the space industry including serving as a Flight Controller at the NASA Johnson Space Center where she provided mission operations support to the International Space Station. In addition, she was a systems engineer at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

(more…)

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Increase in NASA’s Budget

Capitol Building
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an $18.289 billion budget for NASA that is $279.3 million above the FY 2015 level but $239.6 million what the $18.529 billion the Obama Administration’s requested and the House approved.

The biggest differences between the Administration and the Senate lie in human spaceflight. Appropriators would spend $3.51 billion on the Space Launch System, the Orion spacecraft and related ground systems. The Administration asked for $2.86 billion for these programs. The House would spend $3.4 billion.

(more…)

CSF Applauds Failed Mikulski Amendment to Fully Fund Commercial Crew

CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) — Today the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2016 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill. The bill increases NASA’s budget by $279 million above its FY 2015 budget, but underfunds NASA’s Commercial Crew program by more than $300 million. Failing to fully fund the Commercial Crew program in FY 2016 would result in the United States human spaceflight gap being extended, again, and ensuring further payments to the Russians for launches of American astronauts to the ISS beyond 2017. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Vice-Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, offered an amendment that would have restored the $300 million to the Commercial Crew program, avoiding a further gap and reliance on the Russians. The Committee failed to adopt the amendment.

Full funding for the Commercial Crew program is necessary to support NASA’s CCtCap Contract, as was strongly recommended by NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) for the safety, reliability and the best schedule performance. The ASAP, in its most recent annual report, expressed concern over the impact of insufficient funding for the Commercial Crew program on contractual obligations: “Under these Firm Fixed Price contracts, the contractor receives pre-determined payments for completion of pre-defined work. If the [Commercial Crew] Program does not receive sufficient funding, the contractor cannot be directed to ‘slow down’ without an equitable adjustment (increase) in fixed price. Alternatively, reducing the scope of certification work to accommodate funding shortfalls could affect safety.”

Last month during the ASAP’s 2015 Second Quarterly Meeting, NASA’s independent safety advisory panel reiterated its funding concerns: “Now that the companies are under fixed-price contracts, it is important for all to recognize that if NASA does not receive the appropriations that it is counting on, it will have a very significant impact on schedule, and we will end up relying on the Russians beyond the 2017 target.”

“We understand that as long as the 2011 budget caps remain in place, Congress will be forced to make tough tradeoffs regarding funding priorities,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “With that said, fully funding NASA’s Commercial Crew program should be viewed as a priority, as strongly recommended on numerous occasions by NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety and Advisory Panel. We applaud Senator Mikulski’s effort to amend the bill, which would have responsibly funded the Commercial Crew program at this critical stage in development and safety certification. While Senator Mikulski’s effort came up short today, we look forward to continuing to work with the Committee to find ways to fully fund the Commercial Crew program and avoid unnecessarily extending our reliance on the Russians.”