Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

New Space has Talked the Talk; Can it Launch the Launch?

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
February 7, 2010
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Artist's conception of the private Excalibur Almaz space station in orbit. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

Former NASA astronaut and Augustine Committee member Leroy Chiao says that President Obama’s plan for NASA gives the “New Space” community a chance to execute on everything it’s been promising for the last few years:

Many of my colleagues and peers have written articles and pieces, deriding the idea of commercial LEO access. Indeed, the track record of the self-described “New Space” companies has thus far, been marked generally with failure and arrogance. Not all, but many of these folks, before they run their companies into the ground, seem to spend the bulk of their time attending self-serving, self-aggrandizing conferences where openly slinging mud at NASA is sport. This is hardly constructive, and it brings discredit to others who have serious aspirations for the future of commercial spaceflight.

However, I respectfully disagree with my colleagues who believe that only governments can and should engage in human spaceflight. We members of the Augustine Commission (as the review committee came to be known) fully intended for the commercial LEO efforts to include contributions from the traditional aerospace companies. These companies, or their predecessors, built every US crewed spacecraft to date. They have much to offer. To exclude them entirely would be foolish and valuable knowledge wasted.

The time is right for commercial human spaceflight….

Chaio is Executive VP of Space Operations for Excalibur Almaz, a private commercial space venture based in the Isle of Man that will use refurbished Soviet-era military hardware to launch a private space station. Read the full essay on his blog.

Meanwhile, one of Chiao’s former colleagues is also working on making commercial space a reality in the United States:

“The 2011 NASA budget… acknowledges one of the biggest barriers to exploring space: how you pay for it,” said Ken Bowersox, a former shuttle commander now working with Space Exploration Technologies, a startup commercial space launching firm that plans to fly cargo and crew to the station.

“One of the things that you have to work in order to fix that issue is the relationships between the government and the contractors which provide the services. The government, hopefully, will set the destination. The contractors, with their innovation and flexibility, should be able to come up with new and innovative ways to get that job done,” Bowersox said.

Read the full story at Discovery News.

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