Orphans of Anderson: Film Examines the Fall of Mir and a Tech Mogul

There are two especially dangerous types of people in the world: those with nothing to lose, and those with everything to lose. The former is desperate and, having little at stake, is often willing to do almost anything to survive. The latter often feels like he can do anything. This attitude can propel them to great heights – and to spectacular falls.

The themes of desperation and hubris run through Michael Potter’s film, Orphans of Apollo. The fascinating documentary recounts the briefly successful – but ultimately failed – effort to privatize the Russian space station Mir at the turn of the century. The film – which is now available on DVD and will screen at the Sacramento International Film Festival on March 30 – also chronicles the fall of early space entrepreneur Walt Anderson.


SpaceX’s Anchor Tenant for Commercial Orbiter? The Military

SpaceX Seeks Customers for DragonLab Spaceship

“We’re committed to flying it,” Max Vozoff, SpaceX’s Dragon product manager, said in an Oct. 29 interview here. Vozoff said SpaceX’s message to attendees of the DragonLab user conference would be pretty straightforward: “It’s a commercial mission flying with or without you,” he said. “There are slots available if you want to come along.”

“So far, SpaceX has lined up at least one customer for the first DragonLab flight planned for 2010. Although Vozoff would not tell Space News anything about its anchor customer, SpaceX told other space officials here that it had signed up a classified U.S. government customer for DragonLab’s debut.”

Space Adventurer Assessment Now Available for the Holidays at Only $1K

Looking for that perfect stocking stuffer for that special someone who already has everything? Consider dropping a grand for the Space Adventurer Assessment/Report. Get it now on layaway before the price goes up 75 percent!

Universal Space Systems’ Press Release

For the next eight (8) weeks the only Space Tourism reference guide of its kind can be purchased at a guaranteed to never be lower pre-release price. The Space Adventurer Assessment/Report special discount price is only $1,000.00 (USD). This is $1,000 lower than the current lowest pre-release price, a 75% discount off the full price and you can take up to 1 year to pay.


Oh no….a Legal Black Hole…This Doesn’t Sound Good….

Space tourism flies into a legal black hole
New Scientist

“The civilian space flight industry is on a high, and nowhere was this more apparent than at the International Aeronautical Congress in Glasgow, UK, last month, where executives wielding slick promotional videos and models of “nearly ready” spacecraft were promising sub-orbital flights to people with deep pockets.

“Yet despite growing confidence, a serious note of caution is being sounded: can civilian spacecraft ever be as safe as holiday airliners? At the moment there are no …

What? No What? Little packets of peanuts? Beverage service? The Skymall catalog?


Obama – in a Landslide!

Congratulations to Barack Obama on his election as president. I can only echo the words of John Adams on the morning of July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence:

“It is a great day. It is a good day.”

It is indeed.

Spaceport America Augers in – Otero County Voters Reject Tax Hike

Voters in Otero County appear to have firmly rejected a proposed tax hike to help put millionauts into space.  The vote totals, as of 21:37 local time, were:

FOR: 8,179 (47.74%)
AGAINST: 8,954 (52.26%)

These are probably not official results yet, and I don’t know if there are any absentee ballots to count. But unless something significant changes, the measure has gone down to defeat.


Otero County to Vote on Spaceport America Tax on Tuesday

A couple of opinion pieces from the Alamagordo Daily News in support of a tax increase to help fund the construction of New Mexico’s Spaceport America. Voters in Otero County go to the polls on Tuesday.

Spaceport studies reflect positive impact in Otero County
Yvette Herrell
Alamagordo Daily News

“Of course, the largest benefit to Otero County will be measured in economic impact. Between increased tourism throughout the community and at the space museum generated by the development of commercial space activity, studies predict thousands of new jobs created by the spaceport. There is no allocation or division of opportunity by the spaceport, so there is no limit to the economic opportunity that Otero County can experience. In fact, the return to Otero will be quickly realized through the re-investment of 25 percent of the new tax funds to local schools and education, especially in the areas of math and science. More money for high-tech education means students that are better prepared to take advantage of these jobs of tomorrow!”

To the voters of Otero County
Garrey Carruthers
Alamagordo Daily News

“While the high tech stuff gets most of the attention, often overlooked are the significant contributions to our economy through ‘terrestrial tourism’ such as the trips to the White Sands Monument, International Space Hall of Fame, the mountains by those who accompany the space travelers. And my vote in the affirmative here in Doña Ana County was even more motivated by the influence the spaceport will have on the educational aspirations of our young people.”

Foust: Economic Downturn to Effect NewSpace

Is there an economic downturn in space?
Jeff Foust
Venture Beat

“Some companies, like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ secretive launch vehicle venture) are funded primarily or exclusively by extremely wealthy founders, and are less susceptible to market forces that could dry up outside investors. For other, less fortunate NewSpace players, the downturn has come at exactly the wrong time. Lining up the ten or even hundred million dollars just got a whole lot harder. Without the money, these companies’ visions of reusable rockets, lunar rovers and the like will probably remain just that — visions — and the organizations themselves will either go into hibernation or out of business entirely.

“So far, the tone hasn’t been that alarmist. At last week’s Space Investment Summit 5 (SIS5) in Los Angeles, NewSpace firms, investors and industry analysts downplayed any immediate effects the country’s economic situation may be having on funding prospects.”

Starchaser Gets Research Grant to Create “Eco-Friendly” Rocket Engine

Starchaser Press Release

Manchester based high technology company Starchaser Industries has been awarded an £130,730 [$210,317] Grant for Research and Development (GRAND) from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to develop a unique eco-friendly rocket engine for eventual use as a safety system aboard commercial space rockets.

Specialising in the development, operation and commercialisation of space related products, Starchaser Industries have identified a unique way to develop an environmentally friendly hybrid rocket engine that will utilize “green” propellants, producing virtually no harmful emissions.


Musk Pulls Back on SpaceX Work, Lays off 25 Percent at Tesla as Cash Reserves Shrink

An updates on Elon Musk, who is now trying to balance CEO commitments to both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, his electric car company. Facing a severe credit crunch that has cut off access to capital, Musk fired the previous CEO, laid off 87 Tesla employees, and delayed the launch of a battery-powered Model S sedan.

In an interview with The New York Times, Musk said he would have to cut back his time on SpaceX from about 70 percent to 50 percent so he could take over as Tesla CEO from Ze’ev Drori.


Korean Astronaut: Next Stop, the Moon

Korean astronaut So Yeon Yi recently spoke with the Space Generation Advisory Council’s Regional Coordinator for Asia Pacific, Bee Thakore, about her trip to the International Space Station.

Bee: Would you like to travel to Moon or Mars?

So Yeon Yi: Definitely! I pray that they pick me for Moon. I would love to see both Moon and Mars.

Bee: What do you plan to do now that you have attained your dream of being an astronaut?

So Yeon Yi:
Before becoming an astronaut I was not as aware of the strides that we need to bring in our educational systems and how important it really is to provide the young people – students in schools and colleges with the right tools and above all, inspiration. I am considering furthering research and being very active in inspiring the young generation.

Space Entrepreneurs Promise Point-to-Point Travel, Low-Cost Launches

Spinoffs Expected From Suborbital Vehicle Work
Space News

The development of commercial suborbital space vehicles should lead eventually to businesses such as commercial hypersonic point-to-point air travel and low-cost launches to low Earth orbit, according to spaceship builders, venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs who gathered here October 22-23 to take part in the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.

The key to making those businesses profitable will be achieving safe, affordable and reliable access to space, Jeff Greason, president of XCOR Aerospace of Mojave, Calif., said at the conference, which was hosted by the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium. The private suborbital flight enterprise “builds up the infrastructure we need to go do the bigger and better things,” he added.

Phoenix Mission Team Wins National Space Club Award

23 October 2008

PASADENA, Calif. — The National Space Club presented NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander mission team with its Astronautics Engineer Award last night in Huntsville, Ala. Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., accepted the award on behalf of the team at the Space Club’s 20th Annual Dr. Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner.

The nonprofit National Space Club established the Astronautics Engineer Award in 1991. It is given to scientists and engineers in the United States who have led and made significant contributions in rocketry and astronautics. Past recipients include NASA’s Return to Flight Team and Alan Stern, former associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.


Kaguya Captures Earth Rise in HDTV

Check out this amazing movie of the Earth rising over the Moon shot by the Japanese Kaguya orbiter.

9 October 2008

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) successfully captured a movie of the “Full Earth-Rise” using the onboard High Definition Television (HDTV) of the lunar explorer “KAGUYA” (SELENE) on September 30, 2008 (Japan Standard Time, JST, all the following dates and time are JST.) The KAGUYA is currently flying in a lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km.