Selected Stories from the Media
June 21, 2013
A suborbital sounding rocket launched seven space-technology experiments — plus some unusual commercial payloads — from New Mexico's Spaceport America on Friday. The 20-foot-tall (6-meter-tall) UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket rose into the sky just before 8 a.m. MT (10 a.m. ET), reached an altitude of 73.9 miles and made a parachute-aided descent back to Earth, NASA reported. The rocket and its payloads were recovered intact from the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range, 23.5 miles (37.8 kilometers) downrange, New Mexico's Spaceport Authority said.
June 4, 2013
In a packed hotel ballroom within sight of the Rocky Mountains, entrepreneurs and researchers gathered on 3 June to discuss their sky-high dreams for commercial spaceflight. One day soon, they say, private spaceships will zip aloft on a daily or even hourly basis, for a brief taste of zero gravity in suborbital space. Tourists will line up for rides, and scientists will hop on board to do planetary science, materials research and even human physiology studies.
February 12, 2013
It’s been some time since we did an update on our progress, February 2012 to be more precise, so here is a belated summary of our three STIG B launches. It’s quite a lengthy report so we’re going to split it up into four submissions; this preamble followed by three separate mission reports.
December 3, 2012
Sir Richard Branson wants his tourist spaceship also to become a high-altitude science platform. The billionaire's rocket plane will carry six fare-paying passengers just above the atmosphere to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. But the vehicle has been designed so that its seats can be removed easily and the space filled with science gear. Passenger flights should begin in 18 months or so; research sorties could start soon after. The US space agency (Nasa) has already chartered the rocket plane.
October 25, 2012
Seven College of Engineering students are still walking on air, at least figuratively, after a recent opportunity to test their satellite design at near-zero gravity. Members of the Boston University Student Satellite for Applications and Training (BUSAT) team participated in a weeklong series of microgravity flights over the Gulf of Mexico in late August.
March 21, 2012
At least two commercial aerospace companies with operations in eastern Kern County are expected to benefit from a new partnership between NASA and private companies developing commercial access to space. On Wednesday, NASA's Flight Opportunities Program announced its selection of 24 space technology payloads slated for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft.
March 6, 2012
Made in Space, a Silicon Valley startup located at the NASA Ames Research Center, aims to get a 3D printer into the International Space Station by 2014. Why make parts in orbit? It’s practical: Maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS) currently requires expensive rocket launches to carry replacement parts and tools into space.
January 23, 2012
The first privately owned passenger spaceship is on track for a test flight beyond the atmosphere this year, and nearly 500 people have signed up for rides. Another company just closed on $5 million equity financing, enough to finish building a two-seater rocketplane called Lynx. Both firms -- and a half-dozen more -- are looking at flying not just people, but experiments and payloads owned by research laboratories, businesses and educational institutes.
October 13, 2011
Another exciting piece of news in the run up to our New Mexico Spaceport event on Monday! We have been informed by NASA, that, following a submission of proposals, Virgin Galactic has been selected under its Flight Opportunities Program to provide the Space Agency with up to three charter flights on SpaceShipTwo, under a contract with a value of up to $4.5m. This will provide opportunities for engineers, technologists, and scientific researchers to conduct cutting-edge experiments in space.
August 10, 2011
NASA has picked seven private spaceflight companies, each working to build a commercial spaceship, as its transportation of choice for launching experiments to the edge of space and back. The space agency announced the selections Tuesday (Aug. 9), as part of the agency's Flight Opportunities Program. The seven commercial companies will receive two-year contracts to integrate and fly an indefinite number of technology payloads on their reusable suborbital vehicles, which fly to space but do not make a full orbit around the Earth. The flights will include manned and unmanned missions. The contracts are worth a combined total of $10 million, and the flights will carry a diverse mix of payloads to meet the agency's research and technology needs, NASA officials said in a statement.
July 28, 2011
3-D printers that could crank out parts for spacecraft and space stations – from wrenches to screws – all while in orbit is becoming one step closer to reality. A company called Made in Space has completed a successful testing period of two 3-D printers on multiple NASA flights, with a scaled-down wrench becoming the first-ever tool printed in partial zero gravity. Printing out parts in space could eventually be transplanted to other worlds such as the moon, where it could help human colonies gain a foothold by printing out robot parts or buildings, piece by piece.
July 7, 2011
Private entrepreneurial rocket firms are throttling up efforts to create a new breed of reusable hardware capable of hauling payloads to the edge of space and returning them softly to solid ground. The work is being backed by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, an initiative that recently united the agency's Facilitated Access to the Space environment for Technology (FAST) program and its Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program.
May 16, 2011
Washington, D.C. – NASA has announced its first four payloads to fly on commercial suborbital spacecraft, kicking off a new era of low-cost technology R&D, science, and STEM education enabled by new commercial spacecraft being developed by Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace. NASA also announced the latest round of payloads to fly on the Zero-G parabolic aircraft operated by Zero Gravity Corporation. NASA’s suborbital payloads announcement illustrates the high-payoff projects being pursued by NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT), a newly formed division whose purpose is to revitalize technology R&D at NASA through innovative research.
May 4, 2011
But the enthusiasm of individual researchers is one thing. Getting the institutions they work for to pay for tickets is something else. NASA, for example, has signed contracts with Armadillo and Masten, paying nearly $500,000 for seven flights carrying engineering equipment. But the agency does not yet have approval to buy seats for suborbital passengers — both Armadillo and Masten are currently focusing more on unmanned flight — and none of the flights it has purchased will actually reach space. The highest planned altitude is about 40 kilometres.
April 27, 2011
For years, when John Spencer talked about tourists taking forays into space, he often was met with giggles or a blank stare. The laugh factor on this was really intense," says Spencer, founder of the Space Tourism Society, an advocacy group based in West Los Angeles. But with corporate visionaries pouring millions of dollars into the building blocks of such an industry, Spencer says, few people are laughing now.
Powered flight tests are slated later this year for SpaceShipTwo, a craft built to carry humans on brief excursions more than 100 kilometers into space. And although publicity indicates that these travelers will be rich thrill-seeking "space tourists," some of them are, in fact, going to be scientists, engineers, and probably even graduate students on funded research programs, according to S. Alan Stern, a scientist now spearheading the development of this new concept.
March 14, 2011
One sign of the maturity of a particular field is the types of questions people ask about it. In its early stages, there are a lot of “why” questions—why do a particular thing?—as people try to make sense whether a particular concept is worthwhile. Later, those questions evolve into the “how” variety—how to do this?—as people try to act on this concept, implying that those earlier “why” questions were answered positively.
February 28, 2011
If all goes as planned, within a couple of years, tourists will be rocketing into space aboard a Virgin Galactic space plane — paying $200,000 for about four minutes of weightlessness — before coming back down for a landing on a New Mexico runway. Sitting in the next seat could be a scientist working on a research experiment.
January 18, 2011
Virgin Galactic may be funded by a billionaire from Britain, but the company's new president emphasizes the private space effort's "Made in America" stamp. President and CEO George T. Whitesides can't quite match Virgin founder Richard Branson's bank account. When it comes to credentials in the space community, however, he's hard to beat.
September 2, 2010
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has announced that Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwell, Texas, plans to launch three NASA-funded tests of their vertical takeoff and landing rocket technology from Spaceport America this winter. "These launches mark an important step in NASA's plan to empower the emerging commercial spaceflight industry to assume a greater role in the nation's space program," said Rick Homans, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. "Spaceport America is the launch pad for this new industry, and Armadillo's decision to launch here affirms our important position.
August 31, 2010
Under its Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program--CRuSR (say it out loud)--NASA's forking over nearly half a million dollars to Armadillo Aerospace and Masten Space Systems. It'll help these new commercial companies reach the edge of space with their quirky experimental rockets.
August 31, 2010
Two commercial space companies are set to launch experimental rockets on a series of test flights close to the edge of space, supported by new NASA funding. NASA announced Monday that it has awarded a total of $475,000 to Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas, and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif., which are planning seven test flights this fall and winter. "These two awards are just the beginning of an innovative teaming relationship with industry to provide affordable access to the edge of space while evaluating the microgravity environment for future science and technology experiments," NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun said in a statement.
August 30, 2010
NASA says it's awarding about $475,000 to two of the pioneers of the suborbital spaceship business — Texas-based Armadillo Aerospace and California-based Masten Space Systems — for test flights that will approach the edge of outer space. Those two companies have already won $2 million of NASA's money between them, prizes that were offered in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. But today's announcement signals that the space agency is open to giving the new guys some real business.
August 30, 2010
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to congratulate two of its member companies, Armadillo Aerospace and Masten Space Systems, for winning an initial NASA test flight contract as part of the Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) Program. The first round of the program, an open competition for small businesses, was formally kicked off by NASA earlier this year with a Request for Quotations for commercial reusable suborbital flight services.
July 24, 2010
By 2014, a ticket for suborbital flight is likely to cost between $50,000 and $100,000 as the industry develops to offer hundreds or even thousands of flights annually, according to a panel of experts speaking Friday at the Space Frontier Foundation's annual conference in Sunnyvale, Calif.
December 4, 2009
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) recently established the Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program (CRuSR) Office at Ames Research Center (ARC). NASA recognizes the significant accomplishments of the commercial reusable suborbital spaceflight industry and is contemplating two significant procurement actions: 1) A potential procurement of reusable suborbital spaceflight services, and 2) a solicitation of research investigations that will utilize those commercial reusable suborbital spaceflight services. Researchers proposing to fly investigations on these vehicles will need information about the payload environment, flight profile and potential for human participation.
October 2, 2009
In 1946, when the U.S. Army formed its Rocket Research Panel, only a tiny fraction of the nation’s astronomers, atmospheric scientists, biologists and solar physicists appreciated the power that access to space would have on their research. Yet just a decade later, rocketborne research had become so powerful a tool that it formed the centerpiece of space efforts in 1957’s International Geophysical Year (IGY).
July 7, 2009
Interest in the use of commercial suborbital vehicles for science and research missions has been one of the most exciting developments for our industry over the past year. We’ve seen a diverse cross-section of interest in the various capabilities of these new commercial vehicles, and it quickly became apparent this is not simply a matter of driving down costs when compared to traditional suborbital platforms like sounding rockets and balloons. A variety of unique and creative ideas for making use of these vehicles have surfaced due to our industry’s direct engagement with the scientific community.
December 12, 2008
NASA scientists, academic researchers and potential future space flight service providers will discuss new ways to conduct autonomous and human-tended space, life and Earth science experiments at the Human-Tended Suborbital Science Workshop, on Monday, Dec. 15, 2008 in San Francisco.