NSRC 2012: Flight Providers Status Update

Panel Members

  • Bretton Alexander, Blue Origin
  • Neil Milburn, Armadillo Aerospace
  • Andrew Nelson, XCOR
  • William Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic
  • Joel Scotkin, Masten Space Systems

Bretton Alexander: Blue Origin

  • lost a vehicle last year in flight — this was a test vehicle that we expected to lose, not an operational vehicle
  • Blue Origin is focused on building a human spaceflight business first
  • Blue Origin orbital vehicle will eventually shift from Atlas V to company’s own resuable launch vehicle

Neil Milburn, Armadillo

  • We’re a small company, were trying to do too many things…backed away from the SuperMod….wasn’t in the technical direction they were heading in…
  • Want to focus on building a resuable suborbital vehicles with partner Space Adventures for human space tourism flights.
  • Recounts recent STIG-A flights — flight in January had roll control inversion problem — balloon chute failed, ripped away — lost the payload
  • STIG-B: diameter increased to 20 inches (50 cm); two-stage recover system (supersonic ballute, Wamore GPS steerable main); requires license (too big for flying under waiver); substantial payload capacity
  • Looking to fly STIG-B in May — quite a push — 3 potential payloads lined up for the flight — working with FAA AST on permits and licensing
  • 140 km with a modest payload with 10 kilo payload — up to 4 minutes of really good microG time — 3 minutes on first flight
  • about 120 kilograms on a 100-km flight
  • Payload User’s Guide will be up on Armadillo website this week
  • STIG-B is not approved yet for the Flight Opportunities Program yet — sent Payload Users Guide to Flight Opportunites office already
  • STIG program is test vehicle for the space tourism vehicle they are developing

 Andrew Nelson, XCOR Aerospace

  •  Supersonic wind tunnel efforts — going to Wright Patterson and Marshall soon to make final tweaks
  • Learn a lot from wind tunnel testing — very fortunate to be able to use these systems for your work….
  • Nose cone for Lynx has been formulated — shows picture of first fit of the nose cone onto the vehicle
  • Shows fuselage which was recently delivered — it’s on the test stand and is being fitted with components
  • Bid docs for cockpit and wing strakes are out now….
  • Looking forward to having all these pieces put together and do a test flight by the end of the year….
  • Path we have laid out go out to a fully reusable system — plan for orbital will look very similar to what we’re doing today
  • Next step for us in terms of getting to orbit will be launching nanosats into LEO
  • Design for fully suborbital vehicle is on the drawing board and being advance…what Dan DeLong does in his spare time

Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic

  • 78 flights of WK2
  • 15 captive carry of SS2
  • 16 glide flights
  • testing the rocket motor on the ground — did hit full duration on Rocket Motor 2
  • hope to have powered flights later this year
  • look forward to being in service soon
  • common cabins with SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo
  • VG mission specialist in back for experiment flights
  • Alan Stern and June Scobee Rodgers will be flying on future research flights

Joel Scotkin, Masten Space Systems

  •  Xaero vehicle is essentially complete
  • Worked closely with Flight Opportunities Program and Draper Labs on GENIE flight on test flight
  • Doing a lot of work around approach and landing technologies — working with various companies
  • Xaero class vehicles will be focsing on high altitude flights — ramping up
  • Xaero-B vehicle is now under construction — will be testbed vehicle for the 20-30 km vehicles
  • Xogdor vehicle will be for 100 km flights
  • Xeus vehicle — using an ULA centaur tank
  • Sensei — Masten Rocket Hypervisor
  • 100 km flights hopefully toward the end of this year
  • long-term goal: grow vehicles into a nanosat launcher
  • have a backlog of payloads already — looking for additional ones
  • Xaero-B under construction and other vehicles are in the works — getting a large piece of ingot from Scandanavia for fuel tanks