Cruz to Hold Commercial Space Hearing Next Week

Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON (Senate Science Committee PR) – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled “Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

This hearing will examine the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act signed into law in November 2015, potential regulatory barriers to address in future legislation, and ways to expand commercial opportunities for American firms in space.

Witnesses:

•    Mr. Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace
•    Mr. Rob Myerson, President, Blue Origin
•    Mr. George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic
•    Mr. Andrew Rush, CEO, Made in Space

* Witness list subject to change

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

NASA RFI Could Lead to Private Modules on Space Station

Robert Bigelow describes his company's space station module. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Robert Bigelow describes his company’s space station module. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

NASA has released a request for information (RFI) seeking ideas from industry about how to maximize commercial use of the International Space Station (ISS) that could lead to privately-built space modules being attached to the orbiting laboratory.

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ULA & Bigelow to Announce New Partnership on Monday

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Bigelow Aerospace Founder and President Robert Bigelow and ULA CEO Tory Bruno to Address Media at 4 p.m. MT

What: Media are invited to participate in a news conference on Monday, April 11, at 4 p.m. MT, during which Bigelow Aerospace Founder and President Robert Bigelow and United Launch Alliance (ULA) CEO Tory Bruno will announce a new partnership.

Since 1999 Bigelow Aerospace’s mission has been to provide affordable destinations for national space agencies and corporate clients. In 2006 and 2007, the company launched orbiting prototypes Genesis I and Genesis II. Bigelow Aerospace seeks to assist human exploration and the discovery of beneficial resources, whether in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), on the moon, in deep space or on Mars.

ULA is the nation’s premier launch services company and is transforming the future of space launch through its innovative new rocket and technology, while significantly reduce the cost of launch services. This partnership will continue making space more accessible for the future.

Where: The news conference will take place at the 32nd Space Symposium, which is held at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Media currently registered for the Symposium are invited to attend in person. The press conference will be held on the second floor of the International Center in the Media Center.

Remote participants are invited to watch via webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com

Bigelow Aerospace Lays off Employees

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Bigelow Aerospace has laid off an unknown number of employees:

In a Jan. 6 statement provided to SpaceNews, Bigelow Aerospace President Robert Bigelow said that the company determined that many areas of the company were “overstaffed” and decided to lay off employees to reduce the company’s expenses.

“In December of 2015, we analyzed the amount of staff that we employed throughout all of our departments at Bigelow Aerospace, and discovered that numerous departments were overstaffed,” Bigelow said in the statement. “Regrettably, we had to make the choice that, beginning with the New Year, we need to follow standard business protocols, which sensibly requires an attempt to achieve balance in how much staff is necessary.”

The company did not disclose how many people were laid off. Industry sources estimated that between 30 and 50 people lost their jobs, and that the company had more than 150 employees at the time of the layoffs.

The layoffs come after a hiring spree for the company. For much of 2015, Bigelow Aerospace advertised that it was seeking to fill more than 100 positions, both at its North Las Vegas, Nevada, headquarters and a new propulsion division the company opened in the fall in Huntsville, Alabama.

Bigelow’s BEAM module is set for launch later this year to be attached to the International Space Station. The experimental inflatable module will be tested on the orbiting laboratory.

Bigelow, NASA Execute NextSTEP B330 Utilization Study

Two BA_330 modules docked in lunar orbit. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)
Two BA_330 modules docked in lunar orbit. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Bigelow PR) — NASA has executed a contract with Bigelow Aerospace for the company to develop ambitious human spaceflight missions that leverage its innovative B330 space habitat. The contract was executed under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (“NextSTEP”) Broad Agency Announcement issued by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems program.

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Bigelow Hands Over BEAM Module for Launch

Bigelow concept space station with more internal volume than ISS. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Bigelow BEAM module packed and ready for shipping. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Bigelow Aerospace had a media event in North Las Vegas, Nev., today to mark completion of work on its BEAM module, which will be launched to the International Space Station in September aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The module will be provide additional habitable space on the station as NASA tests how well the inflatable technology performs in space.

Below are notes from the press event.
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Bigelow Ready to Ship BEAM to Cape for Launch

The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have scheduled a media availability next Thursday to mark the completion of all major milestones on the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

Reporters will have the opportunity to see and photograph the BEAM before it’s shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch to the International Space Station later this year. Robert Bigelow, president and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, and William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, will conduct a joint question and answer session with media.

The demonstration of expandable space habitat technology supports NASA’s long-term exploration goals on its journey to Mars, for which the agency will need to develop a deep space habitat for human missions beyond Earth orbit.

The BEAM is scheduled to launch in the second half of this year aboard the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the station and be installed on the aft port of the station’s Tranquility node.

For more information about Bigelow Aerospace, visit:

http://www.bigelowaerospace.com

For more information about the BEAM, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/news/beam_feature.html

Bigelow Hires 2 Former NASA Astronauts

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Space News
reports that Bigelow Aerospace has hired former NASA astronauts Kenneth Ham and George Zamka as the Nevada company ramps up hiring:

Zamka comes to Bigelow Aerospace from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, where he was deputy associate administrator from March 2013, when he left NASA, through June 11. Zamka will remain in Washington to aid the company’s business development efforts with the U.S. and other governments, and serve as a company face for federal policymakers, Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, said in a July 9 phone interview.

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The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: A Tale of Two Human Space Programs

commercial_crew_earthAll the promise, perils and contradictions of America’s human spaceflight effort were on display earlier this week in Washington, D.C.

Things were looking good for a day or so, but then the proverbial other shoe dropped to remind everyone of the deep trouble that lies ahead as NASA attempts to restore its human spaceflight capability and send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.

As NASA struggles to execute a series of ambitious programs on increasingly tight budgets, the main beneficiary appears to be the bumbling, crisis prone Russian space agency Roscosmos, which has reaped a financial windfall as a result of America’s equally bumbling human spaceflight policy. And matters could get worse before they get better (for NASA, at least).

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NASA, Bigelow to Discuss Private Sector Space Exploration Effort

Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)
Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas are holding a media availability at 1:30 p.m. EDT, Thursday, May 23, to discuss the agency’s Space Act Agreement with the company for its insight on collaborating with commercial industry on exploration beyond Earth orbit. Journalists can participate in-person or by teleconference.

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Video Interview with Robert Bigelow

Video Caption: Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace LLC, talks about his company’s inflatable module that will be tested on the International Space Station in 2015 and the outlook for space tourism. He speaks with Mark Crumpton on Bloomberg Television’s “Bottom Line”.