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NewSpace 2010: NASA and the Private Sector Move Forward

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 26, 2010

A Boeing CST-100 crew module docks at Bigelow Aerospace's Sundancer space station. (Credit: Boeing)

The following are notes from Jim Keravala on two separate talks given by NASA officials — Doug Comstock and Charles Miller — on Saturday during the NewSpace 2010 conference. Both men talked about how NASA is working with the private sector to open up space so that it is cheaper and easier to access and use for a variety of activities.

“The New Way Forward
Doug Comstock
Director, NASA Innovative Partnerships Program

— Working on the grand challenges
— NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist (OCT) offers early stage funding in technology and software
— OCT offers access to NASA technical expertise
— Examples of NASA/industry collabortion include Ad Astra Rocket Company and Bigelow Aerospace
— Looking for the Wright brothers of the 21st century
— NASA is interested in fuel depots, near-term technology building blocks and demonstration missions

A New Day for NASA and NewSpace
Charles Miller
Senior Adviser for Commercial Space

— NASA Office of the Chief Technologist
— One third wanted the American revolution; these shifts are not easy to make
— SFF proposed the near/far frontier paradigm and recommended LEO to be the purview of private industry
— Obama’s proposal echoes this mandate
— Conducted a June 2010 workshop on low cost reliable access to space
— Key requirements/milestones identified:

  • in-space servicing of vehicles
  • propellant transfer
  • satellite maintenance
  • orbital transfer
  • debris mitigation
  • on-orbit assembly

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