Private Israeli Astronaut Made Fortune Selling Weapons, Security Systems & Other Services to Developing Nations

Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eytand_Stibbe and two unidentified individuals will fly on the AX-1 mission. (Credit: Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A former fighter pilot paying to become the second Israeli to fly into space late next year made his fortune by supplying military weapons, security systems and other services to the governments of Angola, Nigeria, Haiti, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Eytan Stibbe, 62, will join retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and two unidentified individuals on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for a privately-funded mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Stibbe will pay for the cost of the trip and stay at the station.


FAA Oversight of Commercial Space Transportation Hearing Video

The House Subcommittee on Aviation held its first hearing in seven years on the FAA’s oversight of commercial space last month. Members heard from a heavily industry-centric panel of experts who largely praised the moratorium on regulations that is in place until 2023.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s scathing criticism of the FAA’s oversight role on SpaceShipTwo prior to the accident was briefly discussed on a couple of occasions, as were the potential conflicts between FAA’s dual roles of oversight and promotion.

Taber MacCallum of World View Enterprises dismissed the criticism of FAA Associate Administrator George Nield and the FAA’s performance prior to the crash as Monday morning quarterbacking. He also called for a permanent extension of the moratorium on regulations.

Michael López-Alegría also claimed that the FAA had done its job properly. He dismissed the idea that regulating the industry would make it any safer.

Witness List:

  • Dr. George C. Nield, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration | Written Testimony
  • Dr. Gerald L. Dillingham, Director of Civil Aviation Issues, Government Accountability Office | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael Gold, Chair, Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael López-Alegría, Vice Chair, Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Taber MacCallum, Chief Technology Officer, World View Enterprises | Written Testimony


XCOR Announces New Board Members and Advisors

XCOR CEO Jeff Greason
Jeff Greason

MIDLAND, Texas, March 30, 2016 (XCOR PR) – The board of directors at XCOR Aerospace is seeing new additions, and with immediate effect the board welcomes 3 new members: Charles Thomas (Tom) Burbage, Michael Gass and Arthur Bozlee.

Former board members Jeff Greason, Stephen Flemming and Michiel Mol gave up their board seats to allow for these new members. Michiel Mol, XCOR’s biggest shareholder, will remain actively involved in the company’s daily operations.

All new members have prominent previous experience in the air and space industry.


Stu Witt Retires From Mojave Spaceport in Style

Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

They came to Mojave from near and far — from the dusty desert communities of Lancaster, Boron and Ridgecrest to the snow swept tundra of Sweden — to send Stu Witt off in style. One of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C. played hooky from Congress to wish his friend a happy retirement.

Hundreds of people gathered on Jan. 8 to mark the end of Witt’s nearly 14-year term as CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port. The event featured a reception and a long parade of friends and colleagues singing his praises.


Lopez-Alegria Becomes Advisor to zero2infinity

Michael Lopez-Alegria

BARCELONA, Spain (zero2infinity PR) — After many years of friendship, an Agreement was formalized between Michael López-Alegría and zero2infinity. The former NASA astronaut will advise the company in both technical and business matters.

Michael López-Alegría is a Spanish-American astronaut who flew to space four times and performed ten spacewalks. After retiring from NASA in 2012, he became President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation in Washington, DC. His expertise in both American and Russian space programs will be an important asset in establishing human space travel in Europe. López-Alegría will put his years of experience and extensive knowledge in the field of commercial spaceflight to the service of zero2infinity, supporting its objectives and dreams of sustainable, near-space access for scientists, passengers and payloads.

One of the main objectives of zero2infinity’s project “bloon”, a manned high-altitude balloon, is to give the overview effect to the people flying it. During a Google hangout organized by zero2infinity on March 5th, 2012, about this emotional shift in perspective that is known as the “overview effect,” Lopez-Alegria said: “The Earth is covered by the atmosphere, which is analogous to the skin of an apple, that is pretty thin. Even in a balloon flight, you’d be outside this boundary just about; you’d be able to perceive what that’s like, and that just in itself, with the curvature and the blackness of the sky, will give a very strong sense of the bigger picture”.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Gets New President

csf_logo_newestSpace News reports that Eric Stallmer will replace outgoing Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria in September.

Stallmer has served as vice president government affairs at Analytical Graphics since 2001. Previous to that position, Stallmer had served as president of the Space Transportation Association.

UPDATE: Here’s the Federation’s press release:

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that Eric Stallmer has been named as its next President. Stallmer will join CSF staff in September and will assume the position of President following the departure of Michael Lopez-Alegria.

CSF Adds Six New Members

csf_logo_newestWashington D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the addition of six new member organizations. Bigelow Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters have joined as new Executive Members and Moon Express has moved up from Associate to Executive Membership. ASRC Federal, Spaceport Sweden, and World View Enterprises have joined as Associate Members.

“The CSF membership is representative of all facets of space exploration,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “This diversity is indicative of a growing, thriving sector, with each company contributing to the overarching success of the commercial space exploration industry.”


National Space Transportation Policy Pleases Lots of Groups

The Obama Administration released an update of the National Science Transportation Policy last week. The policy was widely praised for emphasizing commercial space transportation while at the same time directing NASA to focus on deep space exploration.
Below are reactions from key groups followed by a fact sheet released by the White House.
csf_logo_newestCommercial Spaceflight Federation
“The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds the clear vision of this Policy, which includes strong continued support for the use of competitive commercial space services. (more…)

Launch Indemnification Regime to be Extended — But for How Long?

Congress wants to extent a cost-sharing agreement between industry and the federal government to cover losses from commercial launch accidents beyond its expiration date at the end of the year. The main question seems to be how long of an extension will be passed.

Legislators in the House have introduced a bi-partisan measure, H.R. 3547, to extend the protections by one year. Over in the Senate, Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced S. 1753 to extend the indemnification regime by three years.

Under the system, commercial launch providers must cover third-party losses up to $500 million. The government will step in to pay any losses from $500 million to $1.5 billion. Anything above that level reverts back to the company.


CSF President to Appear on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything

csf_logo_newestWashington D.C. (CSF PR) — On October 7th starting at 2pm ET, in the spirit of World Space Week, CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria will answer questions in the popular interview series “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, a site with 50 million visitors a month. AMA subjects have run the gamut from celebrities such as Woody Harrelson and Seth MacFarlane to political leaders such as President Obama. Community members are encouraged to submit any questions for Michael Lopez-Alegria regarding his career as an astronaut, his extensive time on the International Space Station, and his goals for the future of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Michael will begin answering questions live at 2pm ET at


Commercial Spaceflight Federation Expands Membership

csf_logo_newestWashington, D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the addition of three new organizations to its membership: Alaska Aerospace Corporation as an Executive Member; and the Metropolitan State University of Denver and Waypoint 2 Space as Associate Members.

“We are very pleased to have these three new members on board,” stated CSF President, Michael Lopez-Alegria. “Each new member brings unique perspective and expertise to the table, and are engaged in exciting activities within the sector. I look forward to working with each of them.”


Statements of Regret over Garver’s Departure From NASA

Space Florida President Frank DiBello
Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Statement from Space Florida President Frank DiBello on Lori Garver’s departure from NASA as Deputy Administrator, announced on August 6, 2013:

“More than anyone in Washington, Lori Garver has advocated passionately for the future of commercial space in the service this nation. That commitment has been challenged repeatedly by opposition from powerful competing interests around the country and on Capitol Hill. Although a fierce advocate for that which will ultimately secure this nation’s future in space, she was unfailingly warm and personable. We need more people like her in this industry. She remained ever faithful to her vision, and we are all the better for it.”


Action on Extending California’s Spaceflight Liability Law Postponed to January

California_Great_SealSACRAMENTO (Steve Knight PR) — A measure to address an emerging commercial space travel industry in California authored by Senator Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley) was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee today in order to work with committee members and industry leaders on the best strategy to move forward in California.

Senate Bill 415 seeks to extend limited liability protections that now cover spaceflight operators to include commercial space manufacturers and suppliers. The bill will be heard again in January 2014, when a vote will be taken before the bill continues through the legislative process.


Commercial Spaceflight Federation Announces New Members

Washington D.C.
(CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation announced today that several companies have joined the organization.

“Interest and activity in commercial spaceflight continue to blossom at both traditional and new space companies,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “It is very satisfying to see the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s membership expand to include such a preponderance of the players in the commercial space panorama.”


CSF President Named Vice-Chair of FAA Advisory Panel

Michael Lopez-Alegria

Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – On Monday, November 19, the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation announced that Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation would be the vice-chair of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).

COMSTAC provides information, advice and recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration on all matters related to U.S. commercial space transportation.