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Reusable Launch & Space Vehicle News
November 2004
Index Feedback

Scaled Composites photos
SpaceShipOne on its second rocket powered flight April 8, 2004.
Taken from Edwards AFB ground radar facility.
SpaceShipOne Updates

This section contains brief articles concerning developments in the field of reusable launch and space vehicles with links to news sources, NASA, company sites, etc.

See the Advanced Rocketery Section for entries on
advanced amateur & student rocketry, experimental rocketry,
& innovations by small rocket companies.

In addtion, the Space Log contains news about
amateur space activities, space businesses, etc.

RLV News Archive Directory

December 30, 2004

11:35 pm: Science friction ... Robert Zimmerman makes all the right points in his article Analysis: Scientists and engineers at war - UPI - Dec.30.04. I've written many times here on the reflexive (even robot-like!) and counterproductive antipathy towards human spaceflight that dominates the science community. So I won't rant about it further. I'll refer you instead to my comments on one Nobelist's attack on the President's space initiative, to my mostly failed efforts to find scientists who could make intelligent informed comments on the use of reusable suborbital spaceflight vehicles for research, and to this section with a collection of comments and links on the subject.

11:35 pm: X PRIZE needs donations... Only a short time left to trigger a matching grant to your X PRIZE donation: Only a few days left! - Space Race News! - Dec.30.04. Help the X PRIZE develop the X PRIZE Cup and other important projects that will continue to inspire progress in lower cost access to space.

11:35 pm: Learn how to build a SpaceShipOne ... Here's a chance to participate in building a copy of the SS1: Incredible Opportunity!! Students and Young Professionals Wanted for the Chance of a Lifetime - Space Race News! - Dec.30.04

11:35 pm: News briefs ... Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott urges NASA to move faster to obtain a Shuttle replacement: Astronaut says speed up plans for new craft: NASA could have shuttle replacement in 6 years, he says - Huntsville Times - Dec.30.04.

I don't see this happening if it depends on NASA designing and building the replacement. A CEV will only happen quickly and for a reasonable price if NASA contracts launch services out to low cost, innovative organizations like t/Space and SpaceX ...

... NASA certainly needs something not only to replace the Shuttle but also to compete with the Soyuz: Analysis: U.S.-Russia teamwork unraveling - UPI/Washington Times - Dec.30.04 ...

... AST opens an educational section on its web site: Commercial Space Transportation - FAA / AST - Education

2:05 am: Being there... I'll soon be making regular trips to the National Air & Space Museum with our nieces and nephews (and later their kids) so that I can point to a strange and beautiful little spaceship hanging up there in the center gallery and can tell them, "I was there when it flew to space for the last time": SpaceShipOne's final trip - MSNBC - Dec.28.04 ...

2:05 am News briefs ... Remember the giggle factor that use to come with the term "space tourism? 2004: The Year Space Tourism Finally Took Off - Space.com - Dec.29.04. Hope I live long enough to see the giggle factor similarly removed from terms like space hotel, space settlement, space community, etc. ...

... Keith Cowing wonders why NASA has to hire a British firm to study small launchers: Going Offshore to Study the Domestic Launch Market - NASA Watch - Dec.29.04. ...

... After charging a couple of tourists for rides to the ISS, it looks like the Russians are now taking the next step and making all passengers pay: Russia to charge for space trips - BBC - Dec.29.04. Sounds like a commercial human spaceflight service to me.

December 28, 2004

3:50 pm: A David and Goliath battle... There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today - Can Defense Contractors Police Their Rivals Without Conflicts? - about a conflict between SpaceX and Northrop. [Update Jan.22.05: The article is available for free at: Can defense contractors police their rivals? - Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine/AP - Dec.28.04]

Due to a lack of in-house expertise, Pentagon often hires aerospace contractors to do evaluations of projects carried out by other aerospace contractors. The potential for conflicts of interest has grown as the number of companies has decreased.

Northrop was hired to evaluate the Falcon I for launching military payloads. Northrop bought out TRW a few years ago and several people formerly at TRW now work for SpaceX. It appears that information learned from the evaluation led Northrop to accuse SpaceX of using proprietary information on pintle-injector technology developed at TRW.

SpaceX denies that it used any proprietary information and both companies have lawsuits against each other over the dispute. There is supposed to be "firewall" between the Northrop group doing the evaluations and the rest of the company. Northrop stands to lose out on other consulting contracts if it appears that it can't be trusted to keep confidential the information that it learns about competitors.

From the article it seems that SpaceX has the stronger position and the dispute might get settled out of court.

Apparently, the delay in the first launch of the Falcon I is not due just to technical difficulties. The article indicates that because of the dispute "the Air Force hasn't given the green light for SpaceX's first launch, which has been rescheduled for sometime next year."

Also, the pintle system wasn't a great bonus to the project anyway. The article says Elon Musk

now regrets choosing the pintle technology -- but not because of the legal problems it spawned. Contrary to Northrop's claim that trade secrets enabled SpaceX to develop an engine in mere months, SpaceX hasn't achieved the performance it seeks. "We will get to our objectives, in spite of the bloody pintle," says Mr. Musk, who is already looking to scrap the part for another engine technology.

3:50 pm: News briefs... See the update below to my speculation on future SpaceShip[#] development...

... More about Branson and rockets: Rocket Man: Richard Branson conquered the world. Now he wants to fly you to space. - Wired - Jan.05 issue ...

... More about the recent engine tests at Interorbital: Hypergolic Engine Test - Interorbital Systems - Dec.4.04 (via X PRIZE Space Race News!) ...

... Solar Skiff enters America's Space Prize contest (via X PRIZE Space Race News!) ...

... The new improved ET is prepared for the Return-to-Flight: Shuttle's Next External Tank Near-fit to Fly - Space.com - Dec.28.04

2:15 am: SS2 news and some speculation... The BBC reports on more details revealed about the SpaceShipTwo design: Virgin soars towards new frontier - BBC - Dec.27.04.

As mentioned here recently, the SS2 will carry up to 8 passengers plus a pilot. In addition:

  • It will have "the same diameter crew cabin as a Gulfstream V business jet" (1.9m by 2.2m).
  • They are "aiming for a top altitude of between 84 and 87 miles (135-140 km)" to provide additional time to experience weightlessness
  • "'Instead of shoulder harnesses and tight seatbelts we want this roller coaster-type bar that you fold out of the way and you can float around,' Rutan said."
  • There will be the "option of landing in a different place from where they took off." For example, they could "launch not far from Las Vegas and land in Mojave"

... There seems to be considerable overlap among the SS2 vehicles, the Air Launch system proposed for DARPA's Falcon project, and the Transformational Space (t/Space) proposal for NASA's CEV/Lunar exploration system. (Air Launch and Scaled Composites are members of the t/Space collaboration.)

A new carrier aircraft, larger than the White Knight, will be built for the SS2. Slide 8 of the t/Space presentation shows the "Air Launch LLC Option". I assume the new SS2 carrier could also serve as the carrier for the CCB (Common Core Booster - slide 11).

It certainly should be suitable for the Air Launch QuickReach unmanned rocket that is intended to put 1000lb payloads into orbit. Air Launch says that "later versions of QuickReach can deliver 10,000-lb. payloads simply through modest increases in the diameter of the vehicle and its engines."

This all leads to a number of scenarios that could produce a privately owned manned orbital system in the not so distant future. For example, say that NASA doesn't select t/Space for the CEV but DARPA selects QuickReach for Falcon Phase III. Then the government would be funding the orbital rocket portion of the system while the SS2 project builds the carrier and gains experience with manned spaceflight operations in the suborbital realm. It doesn't take a big leap in imagination to see them making the next step to a SS3 orbital module.

Update 3:50 pm: Update... Gary Hudson of Air Launch says that while "all three [mission sets] involve air-launching technology and carrier aircraft", the carrying capacity of the next version of the White Knight will probably be 3-4 times too small even for QuickReach and a factor of 10 too small for the CCB.

"Bottom line is that while there are superficial [similarities], the actual aircraft payload requirements (and even launch strategies) vary widely between the three mission sets."

Still, even if a third generation White Knight is required, it's still looks to me like a building block technology development sequence is being followed that can lead to a commercial orbital manned system. Slide 8 does, after all, show a carrier that looks a lot more similar to the White Knight than to a C-17.

December 27, 2004

12:05 pm: AIAA 2004 reviews... Via a posting on aRocket come these reviews of space technology development for the past year: AIAA Technical Committee Highlights. They include references to various entrepreneurial organizations such as Armadillo Aerospace, eAc, and others. Some topics of interest (select the pdf links):

... A radar aid to Shuttle launches: Shuttle may see launch at night: Radar duo could help lift restriction - Florida Today - Dec.24.04.

December 24, 2004

8:05 pm: News briefs... I've been told by Bill Colburn that Interorbital "had a 40 second full up test of their upper stage 3000 lbf Thrust engine". Bill says this "matches the old PRS [Pacific Rocketry Society] civil rocketry highest total impulse of 120,000 lbf-sec if in a single burn of 40 seconds." [Please contact Bill, not me, if you want to argue about rocketry records.] ...

... More about the space bill history from Alan Boyle: Private-spaceflight bill signed into law: After long struggle, law opens way for tourism - MSNBC - Dec.24.04. (Via Space Politics.) ...

... The EAA recognizes Mike Melvill and the SS1 project: Audience Journeys into Space with Mike Melvill at EAA Wright Dinner - EAA News - Dec.18.04 * Mike Melvill Tours EAA - EAA Headquarters - Dec.17.04 (links via Aleta Jackson) ...

... I've heard from a subscriber to the Starchaser "supporters magazine" that the latest issue expresses various sour grape criticisms of the SS1, e.g. Starchaser would have won if someone as rich as Paul Allen had backed them, that the SS1 was over-complicated ("Ferrari when a VW was all that was needed"), and it should have had an escape system. Sound rather petty to me but at least they are continuing with their program. "Thunderstar has more to offer than the competition and will corner a large percentage of the new and evolving markets".

1:35 pm: Commercial space act becomes law... President Bush signed the commercial space bill: XCOR Congratulates President Bush: HR 5382 Becomes Law - XCOR/PR Newswire - Dec.23.04 (via spacetoday.net.)

December 23, 2004

1:35 pm: News briefs ... Robert Zimmerman argues that we need to take risks if we are to suceed in developing space: Analysis: Space and the willingness to die - UPI - Dec.23.04...

... The web cast of the launch was impressive but I apparently the performace was less than perfect: Better Delta 4 Heavy launch comes up short - Spacetoday.net - Dec.22.04. (Discussion at Transterrestrial)...

... Maybe in a decade or so we will see a bump in the number of majors in aerospace engineering as students inspired as kids by SpaceShipOne reach college age: Rediscovering the final frontier: A new exhibit at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry lets visitors explore space without leaving the ground. - St. Petersburg Times - Dec.23.04

December 22, 2004

2:00 pm: News briefs ... Burt Rutan is awarded Entrepreneur of the Year - Inc.com - Jan.05. The article provides an extensive profile of Burt. ...

... More about the SpaceX launch of a Space Services payload: Space Race 2: Rest In Space by Irene Mona Klotz - UPI/SpaceDaily - Dec.21.04.

(both links via spacetoday.net.)

Update 11:35 am: News briefs ... A side business for SpaceX's Falcon I get some attention in the press: Space: Final frontier is final resting place: At the end of February, SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket will make its maiden voyage with some 125 civilian passengers. - CNET News - Dec.21.04 * Rest in...Space? [Motley Fool Take] - Fool.com - Dec.21.04 ...

... Another one of those "we can't do anything in space without radical new technologies" type of articles: Toward a New Vision of Manned Spaceflight - Technology Review - Dec.04. (Adding more shielding seems less of a hassle than "radical biological enhancements".) ...

... Bill Colburn tells me about his book, A Manual for Hybrid Propulsion System Design by William H. Colburn, which includes info on hybrid propulsion from the "GIRD vehicle in the 1930's to the SpaceShip One".

December 21, 2004

11:35 am: SpaceShipOne and Two news... In this interview - SpaceShipOne designer talks about flight’s future - thedesertsun.com - Dec.20.04 (reprint at Space Race News) - Burt Rutan says:

  • SS1 will not fly again. Paul Allen doesn't want to risk damaging it. Instead it is headed for the main gallery area in the Air & Space Museum in DC.

  • SS2 will carry 9 people. Previous statements had indicated 5.

  • " It would also fly higher, and further down range. So this is going to be a craft that could do sustainable business for a long time, flying thousands of people."

December 20, 2004

8:45 pm: News briefs... Spaceflight Now has posted an impressive 10-part report by Bill Harwood about the next Shuttle mission: Returning the space shuttle to flight - Special 10 part report at Spaceflight Now | STS-114 Shuttle Report ...

... A newspaper editor believes that it was necessary to pass the commercial space bill but laments the fact that it was necessary: Regulation vs. innovation: Space-industry oversight bill has its merits, but why must government get involved? - Victor Valley [CA] Daily Press - Dec.20.04 ...

... Northrop also gets an inflatable aerobrake project funded by NASA: NASA Selects Northrop Grumman To Help Achieve Vision for Space Exploration: Company Offers Innovative Concepts for Human and Robotic Technology - Northrop Grumman- Dec.17.04 (via spacetoday.net.) ...

... Here's a long report on O'Keefe's tenure: Three Years in the Hot Seat by Brian Berger - Space News/Space.com - Dec.20.04.

11:50 am: News briefs... It was a spectacular year for alternative approaches to space development: 2004 the breakout year for space entrepreneurship? by Jeff Foust - The Space Review - Dec.20.04 ...

... And projects like those of Bigelow Aerospace indicate the next few years could be even better: Thinking big at Bigelow Aerospace by Sam Dinkin - The Space Review - Dec.20.04 * Assaying Gold at Bigelow Aerospace - The Space Review - Dec.20.04 ...

... The SS1 continues to impress the press around the country: For aviation pioneer, high risk is routine: Mike Melvill flew SpaceShipOne into outer space - Post-Crescent (Wisconsin) - Dec.18.04 (via spacetoday.net) ...

... Low cost expendables could be around for a long time: Russians harness Cold War demons for space: Military plans test launch of ICBM - MSNBC - Dec.17.04.

11:50 am: O'Keefe notes... Taylor Dinerman sees solid progress during O'Keefe's tenure: Sean O’Keefe: NASA’s indispensable reformer - The Space Review - Dec.20.04 ...

... Robert Zimmerman believes O'Keefe was too squeamish with respect to human spaceflight, but the NASA chief himself says putting humans in space is a primary task for the agency: Human spaceflight the key for new NASA boss - New Scientist - Dec.17.04 ...

... Despite O'Keefe's improvements in NASA's accounting systems, the agency still has problems making clear and definitive statements on the costs of projects past and future: GAO report criticizes shuttle cost estimates - spacetoday.net - Dec.18.04 ...

... Rand Simberg believes the agency is manipulating these numbers to justify the decision to cancel the Shuttle repair mission: Fudging The Numbers - Transterrestrial Musings - Dec.20.04...

... John Young thinks NASA hasn't changed all that much with respect to safety issues: Astronaut counters O'Keefe, says NASA culture hasn't changed - Houston Chronicle - Dec.17.04...

... Rand disagrees with Keith Cowing over Young's views: Failure Has To Be An Option - Transterrestrial Musings - Dec.17.04 ...

... Jeff Foust wonders if there is really a way to affect the selection of the next NASA administrator: NASA administrator lobbying effectiveness? - Space Politics - Dec.18.04 ...

... Keith Cowing reports on the status of the rumor watch: Name Game Update - NASA Watch - Dec.19.04

December 18, 2004

2:30 am: Space bill debate... The Thursday special edition Space Show, which is now available in the archive, was one of the best as far as intensity and strong back-and-forth discussion are concerned. Robert Zimmerman presented his case that the new space legislation gives too much power to AST and will inevitably lead to the regulators causing big trouble for the rocket entrepreneurs. In turn, David and several callers made strong counter arguments that he was overreacting and the bill has far more positives than negatives. (One caller also made some keen and insightful comments about HobbySpace... Thanks Patrick!)

Tune in also to the two shows this Sunday, both of which will probably also include discussion of the space bill among other space policy issues. The regular 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) show features Professor Joanne Gabrynowicz, director of the National Remote Sensing and Space Law Center and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Space Law.

A special show at 5:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features Frank Sietzen, co-author with Keith Cowing of New Moon Rising, about the development of the President's space initiative. He is a Washington-based writer covering space issues for UPI Science News, Geospatial Solutions magazine and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He also worked with SpaceX and was the former president of the Space Transportation Association. He was also

2:30 am: News briefs... The latest newsletter from the International Association of Space Entrepreneur (IASE) includes a couple of space transport related articles: 2004: A Breakout Year for Space Entrepreneurs? by Jeff Foust and Of Rockets and Rich Men by Paul Contursi and Thomas A. Olson, the Colony Fund ...

... Amazing that a trained historian like Roger Launius cannot recognize a distinction between a silly Pan Am PR stunt (which actually occurred in the 1960s, not the 1980s) and today's situation with the SS1 flying and the SS2 project well funded and underway: Fly me to the moon... - Financial Times - Dec.17.04.

December 17, 2004

3:15 pm: Pete Worden info ... Some miscellaneous items about Pete Worden on various space sites and via a Google scan:

According to different commentators, his chances of getting the NASA job are either snowballing or have a snowball's chance in hell. I tend to believe the latter point of view. The alt.space crowd [which includes me] may manage to get a space bill passed (barely) but choosing the next NASA director is a bridge way too far.

1:30 am: News briefs... Pete Worden gets a booster in the Senate: Brownback Urges General Worden for NASA Administrator - Senator Sam Brownback office - Dec.16.04 ...

... Some in New Mexico see the X PRIZE Cup as a :X-Prize may bring economic boom - Alamogordo News - Dec.16.04...

... The Shuttle Return-to-Flight program is moving along well according to the Stafford-Covey Task Group: NASA Makes Progress in Columbia Board Recommendations - Space.com - Dec.16.05...

... Raytheon has some in-house technology it wants to use to develop a low-cost lunar lander: Missile team homes in on the Moon - BBC - Dec.16.04

X PRIZE entrant pursues new goals... Space Transport has altered its business plan and reconfigured the vehicles that it is developing:

  • Spartan Three-Stage Rocket - sounding rocket that will take 2-10 pound (1-5Kg) payloads to 100 km and back for $5000 per flight.

  • Rubicon - emphasis has shifted to unmanned launches for this vehicle, which would send 600-pound (270Kg) payloads to 100 km. Per-launch costs for Rubicon will start around $75,000.

  • Nano-Satellite Orbital Launch Vehicle (N-SOLV) - an expendable launch vehicle to send 20 pounds (9Kg) into orbit. "Projected recurring costs for N-SOLV are around $300,000."

I expect that some of the other ex-X PRIZE competitors, rather than disappearing, will pursue similar markets.

December 16, 2004

4:15 pm: NASA Administrator news briefs... The next administrator will probably be more supportive of manned spaceflight and also a Hubble repair mission by Shuttle astronauts than O'Keefe, according to Bob Zimmerman: Analysis: O'Keefe's exit may save Hubble - UPI/Wash. Times - Dec.16.04...

... On the other hand, Pete Worden has been mentioned as a candidate and, while supportive of manned spaceflight, he's not keen on flying the Shuttles at all:

"I’m absolutely convinced that we don’t ever need to fly the shuttle again. We’ve got three of them. Put them in the Smithsonian ... school parking lots. Kids can climb on them" (Space News, Nov.29.04)

... From this and other quotes in that article, Worden and Robert Walker both sound like they would make excellent NASA administrators and reformers.

3:30 pm: Some space transport news comes in this article from the Economist about space tourism: One small step for space tourism... - Economist - Dec.16.04.

Highlights about SpaceShipTwo include:

  • As announced before, Virgin Galactic plans to spend up to $100m and so far has committed $20M for licensing of the SS1 technology.
  • A mock-up of the interior is under construction.
  • A construction contract for the 5-passenger SS2 will be signed in early 2005
  • Exterior work will then begin
  • Star Trek names will be assigned to the vehicles - VSS Enterprise and VSS Voyager for the first two.
  • There will be a new mother ship instead of the White Knight
  • Testing of the first vehicle will occur "some time during 2007"
  • The $200K for the ticket will buy a 3-day experience that includes "medical checks" and a custom molded flat foam seat so that riders "will barely notice a G-force that might cause them to pass out if they were sitting upright".
  • Passengers will remain tethered to their seats by "rubber bungees that allow them to float about a bit, but will reel them in for descent after four or five minutes of weightlessness".
  • About 13K people have registered to pay a deposit. Virgin needs 5K customers over 5 years to make a profit.
  • "they do not intend to fly unless they can make their spacecraft as safe as a private jet."

There are also some rumors about Blue Origin:

  • The Blue Origin vehicle will fly 7 passengers
  • It will be a single-stage, liquid-fueled, Vertical-Takeoff-Vertical-Landing vehicle.

BTW: I heard that a couple of Blue Origin reps came to the recent COMSTAC meeting held by the AST. However, they were apparently there just to listen and did not give a presentation.

3:30 pm: News briefs... Andrews Space wins a grant to study an inflatable aerobrake: Andrews Space, Inc. Wins Contract To Flight Test A Variable-Drag Ballute - Andrews Space - Dec.16.04 (pdf) * (html version at Primezone.) ...

... Looking around for space tether info, I came across this interesting article about Tether's Unlimited and its project called MXER (Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic Reboost tether system) funded by NASA: Lassos in Space: Giant Slings Seek to Capture, Launch Spacecraft - NASA Langley - Nov.19.04.

December 15, 2004

9:55 pm: More space bill article edits... I've been informed by Robert Zimmerman that

"the paragraph that was removed from my UPI column, 'Congress restricts private space,' has been put back in. After discussing the deletion with my editor I decided I didn't want to change my article. While my analysis of the new law might certainly be wrong (and it certainly is in the minority), I wish to stand by that interpretation. I am sincerely worried about the consequences of the new law. I also think that had the new law been in effect, AST could very easily have felt obliged to step in and interfere with the X-Prize after the problems on the first flight."

As he indicates, those in the suborbital spaceflight business that were involved with pushing the bill through Congress strongly disagree with him. They believe that AST is obligated to encourage development of the industry and the office realizes that problems during test flights are bound to occur. The industry obviously won't develop if it can't make mistakes during testing. (A serious problem during a paying passenger flights is another question.)

Tomorrow night there will be a special version of the Space Show with Mr. Zimmerman at 7:30PM - 8:30 pm (PST). I hope an industry proponent of the bill will participate in the discussion of the legislation.

I think all can agree that it is important in the coming months that industry people work as closely as possible with the AST while it translates the bill into explicit regulations and policies. If it does start heading off in a bad direction of some sort, it can then perhaps be nudged back on track.

(You can find links to Robert Zimmerman's UPI columns, archived interviews, etc., on his home page.)

9:55 pm: News briefs... Speaking of the space bill, Jim Benson gives it his support: SpaceDev Chairman Weighs-In on Landmark Commercial Space Legislation - SpaceDev - Dec.15.04 ...

... Gee, maybe there is finally writing on the wall of the Shuttle hangar: Space Shuttle Service Life Extension Program Discontinued - NASA Watch - Dec.15.04.

2:45 am: News briefs ... Irene Mona Klotz reports on efforts to find sponsors for spaceflight projects. It has been extremely difficult over the years but seems to be getting slightly easier: Space Race 2: Selling space - UPI/Washington Times - Dec.14.04 ...

... Jim Oberg reports that development by the Russians and Germans of an inflatable re-entry system continues quietly: Russians keep working on ‘space parachute’ : Test flight delayed; inflatable craft could eventually bring cargo or crew back to Earth from orbit - MSNBC - Dec.14.04...

... It seems to me that NASA should be serving the development of the space industry, not the other way around: Report: NASA tech transfer programs could hamper return to moon - www.GovExec.com - Dec.14.04

2:45 am: The X PRIZE needs your donations:

by Erik R. Lindbergh

It has been an honor for me to be a part of a small, passionate group of individuals that have managed to change the way the public thinks about space travel, much like my grandfather and the Spirit of St. Louis organization changed the world's perspective on aviation. The X PRIZE Foundation has met with unequivocal success. We have accomplished our objectives and passed beyond them. Our bold vision of re-opening the space frontier is no longer just a dream, it is a reality.

We look forward to a future when regular people will fly into space. A future when we can improve our quality of life on earth by realizing the resources and research potential of space.

I believe that the most powerful legacy of the X PRIZE Foundation thus far, is that we have inspired a new generation of people to dream about the possibilities of the future.

The X PRIZE Foundation is in a unique position to continue motivating kids of all ages, to reach for the stars and expand the human potential. We need your support in order to continue this extraordinary mission.

Earlier this week we announced a $100,000 matching donation challenge where we will receive a matching dollar for every dollar that you donate. Thank you for the wonderful response! We have already raised $9,000 but we still have further to go.

Please consider making a donation today or increasing your support so that we don’t lose this matching gift.

Donate online on our secure site by clicking HERE - or call us at

Thank you!

Erik R. Lindbergh
Executive Vice President

December 14, 2004

9:50 am: News briefs... The idea of selling space memorabilia that has actually flown in space gets a boost from this auction: "SpaceShip-flown rocket to be auctioned" - collectSPACE - Dec.13.04. The company TOSPACE, for example, has been offering fledgling suborbital companies money to fly collectibles to 100Km ...

... More comments from Mike Melvill on his flights: Space travel ideas soar with civilian astronaut - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel - Dec.13.04 (via spacetoday.net.) ...

... A lunar space elevator is starting to sound more reasonable than I thought when I first heard the idea: Going Up, Next Floor: Elevating to the Moon - Astrobiology Magazine - Dec.14.04. Could be the thing it makes it practical to send Platinum Group Metals from the Moon to the Earth (e.g. see MoonRush) ...

... And maybe payloads of bulk materials could be dropped to earth via low cost re-entry systems like this - Flight experiment by a deployable flexible structure - ISAS/JAXA - Sept.9.04 - or this.

December 13, 2004

5:30 pm: Space bill briefs... This week's Space Review includes an article by Sam Dinkin on the space bill: Getting into the act - The Space Review - Dec.13.04. (See also Nathan Horsley's earlier analysis of the bill.)...

... Robert Zimmerman returns for a special program on the Space Show this Thursday at 7:30PM - 8:30 pm (PST) to "examine the pending Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 legislation waiting for the President's signature." ...

... Also, on the Space Show this Sunday at 12:00PM - 1:30 pm (PST) there will be a return visit of Professor Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, who is a space law specialist from the University of Mississippi Space Law Center. I imagine she will also give her views on the new law.

1:15 am: News briefs... The Return-to-Flight program seems to be gathering momentum: Space Shuttle Milestone: NASA Installs Main Engines on Discovery - NASA - Dec.10.04 * Shuttle Pace Accelerates Toward Return to Flight - Aviation Week - Dec.12.04...

... For archived links to recent articles about the commercial space bill, see the Space Legislation - Space Activism Section and the Regulatory & Legal Issues subsection in RLV Information section.

December 11, 2004

12:05 am: The Commercial Space Launch Act with the amendments of H.R. 5382 include is available at the Suborbital Institute (109KB doc).This is an unofficial, "hand-made" version that shows what the final act should look like when it is signed into law. This is convenient because otherwise, you have to insert all the amendments yourself into Chapter 701 of Title 49 of the US Code to understand what has changed.

My thanks to Andrew Case and others in the Suborbital Institute who worked on this and made it available.

December 10, 2004

5:05 pm: No halting the SS1... I've been informed that the official UPI version of Robert Zimmerman's article on the space bill no longer includes the paragraph that says if the bill had been in effect at the time, the spinning on the first SS1 X PRIZE flight "would have forced AST to halt the second flight".

The language in that paragraph was due to the editor's "editing, not Bob's reporting or analysis." [Dec.15: See update.]

4:50 pm: News briefs... I'm told that Lou Dobbs will include a segment about space tourism on his CNN program this evening...

... Jeff Foust comments further on the space bill: HR 5382's close call - Space Politics - Dec.10.04.

8:55 am: News briefs... Official press release from the House Committee on Science: Commercial Space Bill Wins Final Approval From Congress - House Committee on Science - Dec.9.04 ...

... The SFF praises the space bill success: Permission to Fly: Granted! Senate Passes Commercial Space Bill Enabling Private Space Flight - Space Frontier Foundation - Dec.9.04 ...

... With the money that Larry Ellison spends on sailing ships, he could build his own suborbital spaceship to fly winners of the Oracle contest (e.g. mounting an America's Cup entry averages around $70M): I married a Java developer from outer space! - CNET News - Dec.9.04 .

(These three links via spacetoday.net)

2:10 am: News briefs... More space bill commentary:

... Dennis Tito told a Senate Committee in July of 2003 (pdf) that Congress should "mandate in law an enabling regulatory framework for commercial suborbital human space flight, and ensure that this job be carried out by the Office of Commercial Space Transportation." If Congress did so, that he indicated he would invest in a suborbital project. Well, now he can show us if he really meant it. ...

... NASA specifies the architecture for the CEV and the overall earth-lunar transportation system: CEV Specs - NASA Watch. Seems overly specific to me at this early stage but maybe there is still room for innovative approaches like that from t\Space.

December 9, 2004

1:10 pm: More space bill follow up... I think it will be awhile before we know the full ramifications of this bill (I take it for granted that the President will sign it). The FAA/AST office, for example, will certainly need some time to decide how it will implement the legislation with specific regulations and guidelines.

I'm also wondering how Burt Rutan will react to the new regulatory framework. He said at the recent SFF meeting that he preferred to follow an aviation style certification procedure for his vehicles because he believes this offers the best defense against liability lawsuits. But while he did not support the bill, he did not actively campaign against it either. So I assume he must have believed he could live with it if it passed.

Charles Lurio, a space activist who campaigned for the bill and helped to raise the bill's visibility with the media, said this in his newsletter:

Was this legislation perfect? No. But it does what is needed, and at the time needed: It opens the door for an infant industry to get started, one that could lead to a transformation in spaceflight as significant as the personal computer revolution that came from the early home computer tinkerers of the 1970s.

This isn't the end of this story, not even of the political one. But assuming the legislation is signed into law, we can hope that the primary focus can shift to where it should be: the investors, designers and inventors that must now step up to the plate.

Jeff Foust comments on the bill at HR 5382 lives - Space Politics - Dec.9.04

1:10 pm: Space in your Christmas list... During your holiday shopping this year be sure to drop in at the gift shops sponsored by various companies and organizations involved in commercial space transport development.

For example, Rocket Boosters, highlighted in this article - SpaceShipOne souvenirs hot items for charities - Antelope Valley Press - Dec.8.0, offers lots of SS1 memorabilia. Other shops include:

(Sorry if I left your space transport company's shop off the list. Glad to add it if you let me know.)

December 8, 2004

Update - 11:50 pm: Follow up... Here are some comments and articles related to the bill:

11:25 pm Commercial Space Bill Passes Senate! Amazingly, at the last possible moment, the bill was finally passed:

HR 5382, The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act, just passed the US Senate by unanimous consent. Having already passed the House of Representatives, it will now go to the President for signature and at that point become law. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has worked toward this moment over the last year.

The lack of this law would not have been the end of the world for the emerging "alt space" industry, and the passing of it will not solve all problems from this moment on. Nevertheless, we believe that HR 5382 is a significant step forward in establishing a regulatory regime that, whether or not it's perfect, is Good Enough for this new industry to get underway with.

Thanks again, all.

Henry Vanderbilt
Space Access Society

Congratulations to Jeff Greason, Jim Muncy, Charles Lurio, Henry Vanderbilt, and the many others who worked really hard to get this bill into law.

1:15 pm: X PRIZE contributions... THE X PRIZE Foundation has "received a $100,000 matching dollar challenge from a small group of generous X PRIZE donors.": The X PRIZE Foundation: We Did It! - Space Race News - Dec.8.04. So, for example, a $50 donation will be matched with $100.

Money will go for educational and advocacy programs and for projects like the X PRIZE Cup.

Donations can be make here.

11:35 am: News briefs... An essay in today's Wall Street Journal talks about the regulatory hurdles faced by the nascent commercial space tourist business and argues that Congress has not helped the situation by blocking the commercial space bill: The 'Final Frontier' May Be a Senate Waste Basket By Holman W. Jenkins - WSJ.com - Dec.8.04. (This is a subscription link. I'll check later to see if they they move it to the free Opinion Journal section.) Rand Simberg discusses the piece...

... The article - Last rocketeers set sights on Mars - USATODAY.com - Dec.8.04 - reports on the remaining members of von Braun's rocket team in Huntsville and makes the point that today's rocket entrepreneurs are taking over where they left off. ...

... They may have to put in extra seats for the first commercial SS2 flight as demand continues to rise: Car chief plans to be first Irishman in space - Belfast Telegraph - Dec.6.04 (via spacetoday.net)

2:30 am: News briefs... More about the GoldenPalace/daVinci balloon first stage: Space Race 2: Inflatables take shape By Irene Mona Klotz -UPI/Washington Times - Dec.7.04 plus a brief mention of Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable spacecraft...

... The latter have also been mentioned as possible safe havens for shuttle crews: How a ‘safe haven’ could help save Hubble: Study suggests launching module by Jim Oberg - MSNBC - Dec.7.04...

... Alan Boyle talks about the status of the suborbital space tourism business: Selling the Sky: Marketing efforts take aim at the suborbital frontier - CosmicLog/MSNBC - Dec.7.04...

... More Kudos for the SS1 team: Knight, new craft receive awards: State authority honors late senator, SpaceShipOne - L.A. Daily News - Dec.6.04...

... Based on this song, I doubt Vim will be getting a NASA arts grant anytime soon. (Via Space Race News.)

December 7, 2004

1:15 pm: Oracle suborbital contest... Oracle and Space Adventures have teamed to offer a suborbital trip to some lucky programmer: Oracle Gives Developers Opportunity to Reach for the Stars with a Trip to Suborbital Space - Space Adventures - Dec.7.04.

Participants register at the Oracle Space Sweepstakes site and then must complete online quizzes on topics related to the company's software development tools. Those who pass the quizzes will gain an entry in a drawing for the flight. The contest is part of the promotion of the Oracle OpenWorld conference now going on in San Francisco. The contest will last till May and the winner will be announced in June.

12:20 pm: T/Space space transport concepts are included in the company's recent report to NASA: Mid-Term Architecture Briefing - T/Space - Dec.3.04 - flash - pdf (via Curmudgeon's Corner).

The ETO (Earth-to-Orbit) system includes a White Knight type of first stage to launch S1 CSX modules, which can be configured to launch crew, cargo, or fuel. (See page 8 - Pictorial Taxonomy of Transportation Elements.) The S1 is also shown riding on top of other vehicles including the SpaceX Falcon V and a Kistler K-1.

The ETO second stage is called the Common Core Booster (CCB). The CCB is an expendable. Engines on the S1 provide the third stage boost.

A triple CCB second stage would be required to launch the much larger S2-CEV module that provides transport from LEO to the lunar surface for crews, cargo, or fuel. Though the CEV/Triple CCB combo is much larger than the S1-CCB (see page 13), the report indicates that the same aircraft (to be built by Scaled Composites) could be used for both. (Drop occurs at 25K ft.)

Multiple S1 flights would bring propellant to LEO for transfer to the CEVs, which would provide repeated trips to the Moon and back.

2:30 am: News briefs... More about the Shuttle Return-to-Flight campaign: NASA Says Shuttle Is On Track for May Flight - Washington Post - Dec.7.04 * NASA's Return to Flight on Track, Shuttle Officials Say - Space.com - Dec.6.04...

... Reports presented at the October COMSTAC (Commercial Space Transportation Committee) meeting have been posted on the FAA/AST website. These include (in PPT format) :

... The Cal State Long Beach/Garvey Spacecraft group launches a big one: Prospector 5 XL Launch - Adv. Rocketry News - Dec.7.04

December 6, 2004

10:15 am: News briefs... John Carmack reports on setbacks in development of a new engine design: Wound engine failed - Armadillo Aerospace - Dec.6.04...

... In orbit repair of Shuttle wing damage presents a difficult problem: NASA unsure shuttle fixes can be made in-flight - HoustonChronicle.com - Dec.5.04.

2:00 am: On line classes in space tourism and "cost engineering" are available from Japan. The latest bulletin from Robert Goehlich at Keio University says:

Why not join “Space Tourism II live broadcasted Lecture” and share your ideas? It takes you only about 5-10 minutes to setup your computer. You are welcome to join as a passive online member (just watch occasionally like “TV style”), an active online member (communicate with classroom and join “Space Tourism Market Simulation” Game) or online speaker (if you like to give a presentation).

Login at: www.robert-goehlich.de. Please let me know your wish when you register. Handouts are available for download latest 1 day before lecture starts.

This month's schedule:

  • Space Tourism II Class:
    • December 8: “Feasibility of Suborbital Spaceplanes” presented by Prof. Yoshiaki Ohkami (Keio University, Japan)
      “Recent Developments in Space Commercialization from Industry and NASA: Tourism and Beyond“ presented by Mr. A.C. Charania (SpaceWorks Engineering, USA)

    • December 15: “Future Space Transportation Systems” presented by Mr. Hirokazu Suzuki (JAXA, Japan)

  • Cost Engineering I Class:
    • December 8: “How Valuable is Your Spaceship: Determining Cost, Operations, and Safety of Future Space Vehicles“ presented by Mr. A.C. Charania (SpaceWorks Engineering, USA)

    • December 15: “Case Study for a Typical Suborbital / Orbital Rocket for Space Tourists”

You can also download the lecture presentations in pdf format.

December 4, 2004

11:00 am: Rocket auction... One of the rocket sculptures that flew on the SS1 X PRIZE flight is on sale at ebay: eBay item 3945035703 (Ends Dec-13-04 05:00:00 PST) - RETRO BRONZE MINI ROCKET by Erik Lindbergh.

The sculptures were designed and created by Erik Lindbergh, who is the grandson of Charles Lindberg and is a Vice President and Trustee of the X Prize Foundation. The proceeds from the auction will "benefit The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation, a public 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of improving the quality of life through balance between technology and the environment."

The current bid is $13,600.00.

11:00 am: News briefs... Robert Zimmerman reports on NASA's prize programs and the difficulties the agency is having in convincing Congress to allow it to offer X PRIZE sized awards: Congress Impedes NASA Prizes - UPI/SpaceDaily - Dec.2.04...

... The recent Space Show interview with Zimmerman is now in the archive. He is a frequent guest there and you can find his other interviews also in the archive...

.... NASA decides there is little risk in announcing shuttle launch times: Space shuttle launch times no longer secret - Spaceflight Now - Dec.3.04.

December 3, 2004

1:00 am: SAS Update... Henry Vanderbilt sent out this bulletin on the status of the commercial space bill:

Space Access Update #107 12/02/04
Copyright 2004 by Space Access Society

Commercial Space Launch Bill Nears Final Test In Senate
Urgent - Call Or Fax Both Your Senators Before Monday

When last we saw HR 5382 (The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act, which does useful things for would-be private space passenger carriers) it had just been approved by the House of Representatives. (See http://www.space-access.org/updates/sau106.htm for details.) (By the way, thanks again for your efforts! 5382 needed a two-thirds majority to pass the House under the streamlined procedure used in the last- second Congressional rush, and got it, barely - chances are good you all made the difference in that one.)

At the time, we told you that the Senate might also pass HR 5382 before this 108th Congress gives way to the newly elected 109th (at which point all unfinished 108th business simply goes away) but we were a little short on details, and asked you all to stand by.

Alas, we're still a little short on details, but the time has come to act. HR 5382 does still have a long-shot chance to pass, we know that. This Congress will be back in session one last time early next week, mainly to once again try to pass two major bills, the huge catchall "omnibus budget" spending measure and the "9/11" intelligence agencies reorganization. The situation is complicated - more about it in the "Background" section below - but what you can do to improve 5382's odds is simple:

Between now and the beginning of next week, contact both Senators from your state and ask them to support HR 5382. The mechanics of this should be familiar by now, though given that we have a bit more time (Monday December 6th is the earliest the Senate might look at HR 5382 again) you have some options:

Phone Call

If you don't have the phone number of your two Senators' DC offices handy, log on to http://www.vote-smart.org and enter your nine-digit zip code in the Find Your Representatives box, and scroll down to "Senators". Then phone both Washington DC offices (the area code 202 numbers) and tell whoever answers that you're from [your hometown], and you're calling to ask Senator [your Senator's name here] to support HR 5382. If they ask you for more info, do your best to provide it (take a quick look at "Background" below - the short version is "because it's important for the success of the new commercial space flight industry") then thank them for their time and ring off. If you get answered directly by a voicemail (more likely over the weekend) give the same basic short pitch.


If you fax, be polite, brief, and straightforward - keep it well under one page of reasonably large and readable print (a paragraph that's read is better than an essay that isn't), make your basic point at the start, support it briefly, then sign it with your name, city, and state and send it. (No paper-mail letters - word is those currently are backed up for months by security checks - and email comes in such volumes that individual emails carry little weight. If you want to write, fax it if you can.)


EVERBODY reading this who votes in the US needs to do this - every Senator counts, as the only way the Senate will consider HR 5382 in the very short time remaining in this Congress is under "unanimous consent" rules - meaning all it takes is one Senator to put an (anonymous by Senate custom) "hold" on HR 5382 and the bill is dead.

Our information is that when HR 5382 came up the week before last, several Senators did so - but we don't know anything useful about who, or why - all we have is rumor and speculation.

Our estimate of the situation is that any attempt to do precise targetting or message-tailoring would likely do more harm than good. Our best shot is to contact the entire Senate and make the positive case for HR 5382 to each and every Senator. If we're lucky, the combination of constituent interest, information, and possible persuasion from fellow Senators who've also been hearing about it will sway all the holdouts. As we said, it's a bit of a long shot - but every last one of you can help improve the odds. As soon as we've sent this out, we're going to go look up the numbers and make the calls - you do it too!

For more info on the history and content of HR 5382, see

(HR 5382 is the latest hard-fought compromise version of HR 3752, which in turn started out life as HR 3245.)

Our Brief Supporting Pitch

This new commercial space passenger industry has huge promise. It's appropriate to have the FAA stringently regulate risk to uninvolved bystanders from the start, but the technology is still brand new and there's a lot yet to learn about the best most reliable ways to do things. Industry participants have to be able to take some risks in these early days in order to learn enough so that rockets can eventually be as safe as airplanes took generations of accumulated aviation experience to get.

Some Points From The Chair Of The House Science Committee

This bill concerns the commercial space flight industry, an industry that is now of interest only to entrepreneurs and daredevils and should not be regulated as if it were a commercial airline acting as common carrier...

The bill does give FAA unlimited authority to regulate these new rockets to ensure that they do not harm anyone on the ground and to ensure that the industry is learning from any failures. The bill also gives FAA additional authority after 8 years by which time the industry should be less experimental.

[SAS note - this new compromise provision has caused some confusion - our understanding is it allows FAA AST to regulate only specific matters that have caused actual problems for passenger/crew safety for the first 8 years.]

[Aircraft industry-style "mature technology" regulation] would be the equivalent of not letting the Wright Brothers test their ideas without first convincing federal officials that nothing could go wrong.

Space Access Society

... Alan Boyle also provides an update on the bill: Lost in (congressional) space: - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Dec.2.04.

1:00 am: News briefs... Robert Pearlman of collectSpace.com reports on some memorabilia flown on the SS1 that is coming up for auction: "SpaceShip-flown rocket to be auctioned" - collectSPACE - Dec.2.04...

... Here is an interesting posting on sci.space.history that reports on a discussion with Mike Melvill about flying the SS1...

... The GoldenPalace/da Vinci homepage now includes a picture of the helium balloon (in a rolled-up state) that they reported on yesterday. ...

... Jim Oberg reports on a NASA deal with the Russians for another year of Soyuz flights to the ISS: NASA, Russians forging a deal for rides: Crew-hours would be swapped for seats on Soyuz - MSNBC - Dec.2.04.

December 2, 2004

1:20 pm: News briefs... Scaled has recently updated its galleries of photos for X PRIZE Flight #1and X PRIZE Flight #2...

... More about the Kliper: Russia Unveils Model of New Clipper Space Shuttle - MOSNEWS.COM - Dec.1.04 (via spacetoday.net).

2:15 am: "Worlds Largest Reusable Helium Balloon"... GoldenPalace/da Vinci posted this announcement today:

The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project announced today that it has completed construction and flight qualification of the “Worlds Largest Reusable Helium Balloon” for its planned manned flights to space. The balloon will carry the projects Wild Fire MK VI manned spacecraft to its launch altitude of 70,000 feet (21,340 meters).

News briefs... Burt's tips for engineers: Space pioneer Rutan offers down-to-earth engineering advice - EDN - Dec.1.04...

... More about Winglee's beam transport: Sailing through space on a plasma beam - csmonitor.com - Dec.2.04. (Both links via spacetoday.net)...

... Universal Space Lines will work with Boeing on a "small-scale prototype of a lunar and planetary lander that can skillfully detect and avoid natural and man-made hazards.": Boeing set to build lander prototype: The $34 million project is part of a plan to explore the moon and Mars. - OC Register - Nov.25.04 (Link via HS reader T. Rusi.)

December 1, 2004

5:45 pm: Falcon 1 launch delay... The first launch of the SpaceX Falcon 1 has been pushed back again according to the article: Falcon 1 Launch Delayed Until At Least February - Space News - Dec.1.04 -subscription required (via spacetoday.net). No specific problems are cited, but general difficulties with the engine development seem to be the main culprit.

"Musk said that in hindsight, the company’s engine designs could have been less ambitious, a decision that might have permitted an earlier first flight."

10:45 am: News briefs... More about the Kliper project from Jim Oberg: Next-generation Russian spaceship unveiled Getting the money to build it may not be so easy - MSNBC - Dec.1.04...

... Leonard David reports on designs for inflatable aerobrakes: Fly Higher, Fly Lighter: 'Ballute' Technology Aimed at Moon Missions - Space.com - Dec.1.04...

... Here is a brief article from Burt Rutan for the December issue of Wired: After the X Prize - Wired - Dec.04...

... And here is a report on his remarks to students at San Jose State University: Designer: Sky's the limit for space travel: Students told of road to first commercial rocket: - San Jose Mercury News - Dec.1.04 (via spacetoday.net)...

... Jeff Foust reports on chances for the commercial space bill to pass in the upcoming mini-session of Congress: More on HR 5382 - Space Politics - Dec.1.04.

2:15 am: Saving the VSE from NASA & The Three Stooges... Now that Congress has approved a generous budget for NASA, the obvious fear is that the extra money will not produce real progress towards implementation of the VSE (Vision for Space Exploration) but instead it will all vanish in the overruns and overheads for the Shuttle Return-to-Flight, ISS, and Hubble rescue programs.

With regard to this threat, Leonard David reports on some interesting comments made at the recent SpaceVision 2004 meeting at MIT: Experts Say Path Beyond Earth Orbit Has Its Challenges - Space.com/SpaceNews - Nov.29.04 (via HS reader P. Underwood ).

For example, former Congressman Robert Walker noted:

"There are lots of people inside of NASA who believe that their individual little programs are vastly more important than the totality of the program...

...So one of the things that NASA has to do is fight its way through its own culture..."

For example, there are those inside NASA, Walker said, who see getting the space shuttle back to flying and completing the International Space Station as the "be all and end all" of the President’s vision. Those people, he said, believe that "if we can do those two things over the next few years ... we can keep the shuttle flying out to about the year 2015 ... and everything will be hunky dory."

I'm particularly in agreement with retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Simon "Pete" Worden who said:

"I’m absolutely convinced that we don’t ever need to fly the shuttle again. We’ve got three of them. Put them in the Smithsonian ... school parking lots. Kids can climb on them,"

... Worden said his Capitol Hill experience demonstrated to him that NASA actually stood for "Never A Straight Answer."

Worden also criticized the state of the aerospace industry calling large aerospace contractors "the three stooges" -- companies in which the average age of engineers is far too old. He complained that the companies are not likely to reinvent themselves, and that those firms should not be expected to help shape an affordable program in response to President Bush’s space vision. "We have a problem with the companies. It's not necessarily their fault. They really are Department of Defense design bureaus," Worden said.

Worden went on to say that NASA should turn to "non-traditional start-up commercial space firms. As a first step, commercial services should provide all of NASA’s launch needs, starting with the international space station".

However, Walker points out that "[m]ost of the private sector regards NASA as hostile to their interests...They regard NASA as being a place that will tell them all the reasons why they can’t do what it is they are looking to do."

2:15 am: News briefs... The Canadian Arrow project and one of its astronauts gets profiled in Space Race 2: Young Pilot Aims For Space - UPI/SpaceDaily - Nov.30.04 ...

... The XCOR Steam Engine contest is described in Steam Engine Prize goes up for grabs - Antelope Valley Press - Nov.30.04...

... Keith Cowing posts a link to an interesting set of photos of a full-scale mock-up of the Russian Kliper crew module ...

.... GoldenPalace/daVinci posted a report dated November 25th on their home page about the status of the project and preparations for the first launch ...

.... Another innovative Scaled Composites vehicle will soon set off on a record breaking flight: Around the World, With 13 Fuel Tanks and a Single Seat - NY Times - Nov.30.04.

Continue to November 2004

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