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RLV News Special Edition:
Review of the Space Access'05 Conference
April 28-30, 2005, Phoenix, Arizona

FAA regulations discussion panel with (L-R) Chuck Lauer (Rocketplane Ltd.), Jeff Greason (XCOR), John Carmack (Armadillo Aerospace), and John Powell (JP Aerospace)

This section contains the collected blog entries from RLV News, pictures, and summaries for the Space Access Society's annual meeting - SA'05, April 28-30, Phoenix, Arizona.



Previous Space Access Conference Reviews

RLV News Archive Directory

May 8, 2005: Conference Summary

SA'05 marked a midpoint, I believe, in the transition of the entrepreneurial space community from a collection of struggling hopefuls to an actual industry where the surviving companies produce real products and services for real customers.

Most of the space transport firms who came to the meeting are focused on the suborbital space race and many of them have little or no money to build their dream ships. However, several organizations have raised significant funding (in the multiple million dollar range), have hired sizable staffs, and are at an advanced design and/or prototyping stage.

This is quite an improvement from just three or four years ago when it seemed that no one had any money for any kind of project. While we are still far from a bonanza for private space development, it is quite impressive to see the drastic rise in the vitality and viability of the alt.space movement.

There were no great, surprise announcements at the meeting. Someone said that the conference displayed a bit of a hangover from the spectacular developments in 2004. The success of the SpaceShipOne flights and of the X PRIZE contest brought a huge wave of publicity for the alternative space world and dramatically raised its credibility. The passage of a regulatory framework in the US for commercial human spaceflight was another big surprise of '04 and was considered a very positive step by most of the attendees of the meeting.

In the aftermath of all this, there is a sense that there are great possibilities on the horizon but no guarantees. Space tourism, for example, looks increasingly like a viable market but until passenger flights actually begin, no one can be certain of its scope.

Similarly, the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act (CSLAA) seems to provide a solid, workable set of guidelines for commercial human spaceflight. However, there was the feeling that we will have to see how it is actually implemented to determine whether it will boost or hold back a new generation of piloted rocketships. (There also remains great uncertainly with regard to the availability and price of insurance for passenger flights.)

Note: For $100K to $200k a ticket, just a few hundred passengers a year are needed to support a space tourism industry, i.e. pay back the development costs and make a profit for at least two or three companies. If the number of customers signing up to pay large deposits increases significantly beyond 250 (the current sum from Space Adventures and Virgin Galactic), this would be strong positive signal and could have big ramifications even before a single paying customer flies to near space. For example, we could see space transport companies begin to attract investment from more conventional sources such as venture capital groups and not have to rely on angel investors and government grants.

So it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. The stage is set and for the next couple of years the funded companies will focus on building their vehicles. The real excitement will start in the 2007-2008 time frame when ships start flying.

Henry for President

(of Alt.Space.Org)

Henry Vanderbilt did a great job as always in organizing and running the meeting. Thanks Henry!!

An issue that frequently came up involved the need for an organization to represent the entrepreneurial space industry and to fight for its priorities in Washington and elsewhere. I work as a volunteer for the Suborbital Institute and it will support the struggle but an organization is needed with a broader base and mandate (suborbital, orbital, transport, and non-transport). It was emphasized that it would need a full-time leader who doesn't belong to any of the participating firms. Someone suggested Henry for such a role and I think he would be an excellent choice.

Other Resources

Note that the meeting was also reported on by Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial (with input also from Sam Dinkin) and Michael Mealling at Rocketforge. I link to some of their postings. In addition, the blog Tales of the Heliosphere posted comments from the meeting on April 28th and April 29 and provides some photos. The SpaceShow recorded a broadcast from the conference hosted by David Livingston.

[May.9.05: Jeff Foust posts part one of his review of the conference: The post-X Prize hangover - The Space Review - May.9.05.]

[May.16.05: Jeff Foust posts part two of his review of the conference: Entrepreneurial space and policy - Space Review - May.16.05. Also, Charles Pooley posts part of his presentation on Microlaunchers.]

[May.19.05: Richard Treitel has posted detailed summaries of the talks along with lots of reference links: Trip Report: Space Access '05.]

Talk Reviews

I've collected the commentary and talk reviews that I posted during the meeting [With some editing here and there]. The following tables group the presentations into a rough set of categories and the entries are ordered in the sequence they were given at the meeting. Click on the speaker name to go to a brief summary of the talk.

Space Transport
Organization System Speaker Status Funding
Triton Systems Stellar J HTHL suborbital Wes Kelly Design Searching
Venturer Aerospace Crewed capsules for ELV launch George W. Herbert Design / Company formation Searching but currently using stock equity to compensate employees.
Heron Aerospace Launch cannons Parker Bradley Design, prototype testing Apparently some funding but searching for more.
XCOR Xerus Jeff Greason Design Searching for Xerus funding but increasingly "optimistic". (See also Hardware below)
Microlaunchers Unmanned ELVs for microsats Charles Pooley Design Searching
TGV Rockets Michelle-B VTOL suborbital Pat Bahn Advanced design. 15 fulltime employees $10M in hand. Need $90M to fly by 2008.
JP Aerospace Air ships and suborbital rockets to near space; orbital air ship is long term goal.. John Powell Building and flying prototypes Each project funded by a customer such as the Air Force.
PanAero Space Van - kite assisted SSTO. Len Cormier Design Searching
Rocketplane Rocketplane XP - HTHL suborbital Chuck Lauer Advanced design. First flight in 2007. Fully funded ~$40M
Masten Space Systems XA-1.0, VTOL suborbital David Masten Design Searching
Armadillo Aerospace VTOL suborbital John Carmack Building and flying prototypes Fully funded
AirLaunch LLC QuickReach - orbital ELV dropped from C-17. Jim Muncy Design DARPA grants
Concept System Speaker Status Funding
Laser launch Diode laser arrays provide beamed energy to vehicle with heat exchanger to heat fuel for propulsion. Jordin Kare Design $2B needed for operational system to launch 250lb payloads at $200/lb
Hardware Components
Organization System Speaker
Flometrics Pistonless pump Steve Harrington
Frontier Astronautics Propulsion and Attitude Control System Tim Bendell
XCOR Rocket engines, composite fuel tanks. (Large NASA grant awarded.) Jeff Greason
Pioneer Rocketplane Propulsion systems Mitchell Burnside Clapp
Masten Space Systems Propulsion systems David Masten
In-Space Systems + Exploration Systems
Organization System or Concept Speaker
Independent. Sustainable spaceflight - designs and techniques for low cost, robust LEO-Lunar development. Henry Spencer
Boeing "Dry Launch" - fuel depots in LEO supplied by commercial launch companies Rand Simberg
t/Space Earth to LEO to the Moon comprehensive, low cost systems. Jim Muncy
Orbital Recovery Space tug to extend life of comsats that have run out of stationkeeping fuel Dennis Wingo
Constellation Services International (CSI) "Lunar Express" scheme to use a Soyuz from the ISS to do a lunar fly-by mission David Anderman
Lunar Transportation Systems Earth to LEO to the Moon comprehensive, low cost systems. Tom Taylor
Tethers Unlimited. Various tether systems discussed Gerry Nordley
Independent Bootstrapping in LEO Henry Cate
Independent. Lunar tether to grab regolith and throw it to the earth. Vincent Cate
Other Projects/Concepts
Organization System Speaker
Stratofox Tracking & recovery services for rocket and balloon programs Ian Kluft
The Rocket Company The co-author of the book lays out the reasons that rocket makers should sell rockets rather than provide launch services. David Hoerr
Astrovision Continuous, live, high-resolution video of entire world Shubber Ali
Policy/Advocacy/ Regulations
Organization Topic Speaker
Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Falcon and ARES program review. Cole Doupe
House Science Committee Background of the CSLAA and other regulatory issues Tim Hughes
AST Implementation of the CSLAA George Neld
AST Rule making process Michelle Murray
X PRIZE X PRIZE Cup Brooke Owens
Space Frontier Foundation NASA and its relationship with alt.space firms, advocates, etc. Rick Tumlinson
AirLaunch LLC/t/Space Falcon and ARES support Jim Muncy
JerryPournelle.com How to Get to Space: An Irreverent Guide Jerry Pournelle
National Space Society The ISDC and NSS projects George Whitesides
X-Rocket Suborbital Institute Ed Wright
Panel Discussions
Topic Members
Rocket entrepreneurs discuss regulations Chuck Lauer , Jeff Greason, John Carmack , John Powell
A Space Startup Investor's Checklist Steve Fleming, Joe Pistritto, Tom Olson
The Challenge of Cheap Orbital Access John Jurist, David Livingston, Sam Dinkin
Cheap Access Politics George Whitesides, Jim Muncy, Heny Vanderbilt, Rand Simberg


April 28, 2005

Jordin Kare

11:55 pm: Conference News ... Well, blogging will be a lot less frequent than I hoped. It just isn't feasible to do it from the conference room and the breaks are too short with so many interesting people to talk to. I'll try to do a summary each evening instead. Here are some highlights of today's meeting....

... London to Australia in a flash... Before I start on the talk reviews, I'd like to report on one interesting rumor I heard from a reliable source. It appears that Reaction Engines, the company led by Alan Bond of Hotol and Skylon fame, will receive a multi-year, multi-million euro contract from the EU, along with some matching funds from private sources, to support its propulsion R&D. In particular, they will investigate whether the SABRE engine technology could allow a passenger vehicle to fly between London and Australia in just four hours.

In the past few years, Bond's company Reaction Engines used private funds to do prototype development of the key precooler heat exchanger technology. The precooloer lowers the temperature of air going into a turbojet so that such an engine can push the Skylon up to Mach 6. (See the precooloer bench test setup.) The engine would then switch to rocket mode to go to orbit.

The LAPCAT project will focus on using this technology to power a suborbital vehicle for hypersonic long distance travel.

[Update: I previously wrote the money will come from ESA but it is actually an EU grant.] ...

... The conference began with some words from Barbara Stine, wife of the late G. Harry Stine who pioneered model rocketry and was also a great proponent of alternative access to space. Their son Bill Stine now leads Quest Aerospace. ...

... Henry Spencer reviewed issues related to "Sustainable Spaceflight Beyond LEO". He covered a lot of topics such as :

  • The Moon is a necessary first stop and "Mars can wait".
  • Building a heavy lift vehicle now would be a waste since it will inevitably be too small to match the growth of payloads. Might as well learn to do in-space assembly now.
  • He reviewed a wide range of orbits for earth-Moon operations.
  • The north pole area of the Moon currently looks like the best place to put a base. There appears to be two or three areas in near constant light there plus the hydrogen density detected by the Lunar Prospector is quite high there.
  • Mining, e.g. for water ice if that is the source of the hydrogen, is going to be really difficult and will require human operators. The dust is going to be hell on equipment and materials.

... Wes Kelly of Triton System LLC presented the Stellar J rocketplane project. The company will follow a four phase program beginning with a suborbital demo developed for $20M and eventually leading to a two stage RLV orbital system for around $400M. However, he focused less on the technical aspects of the vehicles and more on the challenges of creating a startup space business and raising money. ...

... George Herbert presented his new Venturer Aerospace company, which will develop reusable manned capsules for ELVs. In particular, he wants to fly the capsules on the Falcon V to capture the America's Space Prize. He showed two designs that they have in mind and a R&D program to find the best one and to build and fly it for around $50M. ...

... Lt. Cole Doupe of the Air Force gave an interesting review of the DARPA/Air Force FALCON small launcher program, the ARES RLV first stage/ELV second stage program, and the long term plan to develop a series of hypersonic vehicles ...

... Steve Harrington of Flometrics gave an update on development of their pistonless pump, which offers comparable performance to a turbopump but at a much lower cost....

... Jordin Kare gave an optimistic presentation about laser launch. In his scheme, a large array of low cost diode lasers shines light on a vehicle with a heat exchanger that converts the beamed power to heat for the on board fuel. The recent development of fiber lasers that very efficiently convert the poor quality diode light to single mode laser light greatly simplifies the beam handling. With this development, there no longer appears to be any show-stoppers for laser launch. A one megawatt system could be powering a suborbital test vehicle within 3-4 years. A 100MW system to put 250 pound payloads into orbit for $250/lb could be running in ten years. ...

... There were three tether related talks. Gerry Nordley reviewed various projects at Tethers Unlimited. He showed some cool, high-quality animation of the launch, deployment, and operation of a momentum transfer tether system. Henry Cate talked about "bootstrapping of LEO tethers" and his son Vincent Cate discussed using rotating tethers around the Moon to pick up regolith and hurl it to the earth. ...

... Parker Bradley of Heron Aerospace reviewed the fascinating history of long distance cannons and the attempts to use them as first stage boosters for rockets. Building on the pioneering work of the 1960s HARP project, they are working on systems to send small payloads to orbit at low cost. They are using a Navy cannon at White Sands to do tests.

11:20 am: News briefs ... Rand Simberg will be blogging from SA'05 via Transterrestrial Musings. I assume Sam Dinkin will also be posting his impressions of the meeting there as well.

April 29, 2005

George Neld of the AST-FAA

11:55 pm: Conference News ... Another intense day of space access presentations. I'll again give brief reviews of each. As I mentioned earlier, Rand Simberg [at Transterrestrial] is blogging many of the sessions. Also, Michael Mealling at Rocketforge is photo-blogging the meeting. For example, he has documented that a Flometrics pistonless pump works extremely well at supplying Margarita rocket fuel ...

... One interesting news item of the day came up during Mitchell Burnside Clapp's talk. He said that he has left Rocketplane Ltd. due to "creative differences." He has now reawakened Pioneer Rocketplane in Colorado and is consulting and developing new technologies.

Here are short summaries of the talks. (Very short for those blogged by Rand.) ...

... The morning session was dedicated to regulatory issues. (Suborbital Launch Regulation - Transterrestrial) Tim Hughes, the majority counsel of the House Science Committee, talked about the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act (CSLAA), which he helped to push through Congress last year ...

... Then George Neld, Deputy Associate Administrator from the AST, reviewed the situation with suborbital spaceflight and how AST will implement CSLAA....

[Update - May.13.05: Craig Day of the AIAA and George announced the release of the document: Guide to the Identification of Safety-Critical Hardware Items for Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Developers. During its development over two years, AIAA served as the "facilitator" between AST and an industry working group. More about the project on the AIAA - RLV Guide page and in the news release: AIAA Releases Important Guidelines for RLV Design - AIAA - Apr.29. 05 (pdf).]

... He was followed by Michelle Murray, also of AST, who gave a tutorial on the process by which a guideline becomes a regulation and how industry and the public can affect the process. ...

... A panel discussion (see photo at top) with Chuck Lauer (Rocketplane Ltd.), Jeff Greason (XCOR), John Carmack (Armadillo Aerospace), and John Powell (JP Aerospace) talked about the regulatory situation. Basically, they are happy with AST and the CSLAA process so far. (Regulatory Panel Discussion-Transterrestrial.) ...

... Eric Anderson of Space Adventures was supposed to give the first talk of the early afternoon session but he canceled at the last minute. So instead there were some brief substitute talks. (After Lunch - Transterrestrial)...

... First, Tim Bendell introduced the new startup Frontier Astronautics, which is specializing in highly reliable, robust propulsion and attitude control systems. ...

... Ian Kluft reported on Stratofox, which provides "tracking and recovery operations for amateur rocketry and high-altitude balloon ('amateur aerospace') flights" ...

... Then Rand Simberg, who is currently consulting with Boeing, presented a CEV concept that Boeing is investigating that involves commercial delivery of fuel to orbiting depots. This so-called "dry launch" approach would mean that vehicles for in-space and lunar transport could be launched without fuel and so, being lighter, they would not need new heavy lifters. This would open a great opportunity for the new launch companies to provide fuel to the depots. ...

... Jeff Greason reviewed the status of XCOR. Recently the company announced that it had won a multi-million dollar contract with NASA to do R&D for composite fuel tanks. (BTW: XCOR is now hiring and, in particular, is looking for a composites structures engineer.) XCOR has not yet raised funding for the suborbital Xerus development but Jeff is cautiously optimistic. When asked about the costs, he said it depends a lot on the final design and could range from $2M to $10M. ...

... As mentioned above, Mitchell Burnside Clapp said that he has left Rocketplane Ltd., and is now with Pioneer Rocketplane in Colorado. He is developing new concepts and he talked about a new bi-propellant engine design that takes advantage of the temperature difference between the LOX and, say, kerosene to drive a heat engine, which in turn drives a compressor to pressurize the propellants. (Rocketplane - Transterrestrial) ...

... Charles Pooley of Microlaunchers talked about his small but very inexpensive unmanned vehicles that could put small payloads into LEO and even send them to Mars. ...

Olson, Fleming, and Pistritto

... This was followed by a very interesting panel discussion on how space startups can raise funding. Steve Fleming and Joe Pistritto, who were among XCOR's initial investors, and Tom Olson of The Colony Fund reviewed the options that entrepreneurs face in looking for money. They gave lots of useful advice on what to do and what not to do when trying to sell a company to potential investors. (Investment Panel -Transterrestrial ) ...

... After dinner, Brooke Owens of the X PRIZE Foundation showed some entertaining videos of the X PRIZE and then reported on plans for the X PRIZE CUP, which will have its first event this October. Currently, ARCA, Armadillo Aerospace, the da Vinci Project, Rocketplane Ltd., Starchaser and XCOR have indicated they will carry out demonstration flights at the exhibition. Rocket competitions won't start until the 2006 or 2007 events. ....

... David Hoerr, co-author of The Rocket Company, presented ideas from the book and focused in particular on the proposal that rocket builders should sell vehicles to other companies and let those firms do launch services. That is, follow the model of Boeing and Airbus, who build planes and sell them to other companies that specialize in flying passengers. Such an approach lets each company specialize in what it does best and spreads the financial burden....

... Pat Bahn gave an update on the status of TGV Rockets. He says the company, based in Norman, Oklahoma, now has 15 employees and should be ready in May for a preliminary design review of their VTOL suborbital rocket. The plan is to fly by early 2008. They have spent about $10M so far and expect to spend about $100M. They have sold two vehicles to government customers and this money has made the company "cash flow positive". They are avoiding passenger service due to fears over liability issues and instead are focusing on military applications, science and technology payloads, and microsatellite launch (via an expendable second stage.)

[Update May.4.05: Pat sent this clarification today: "When I use the phrase, "I sold a rocket", it is in reference to selling a development program, not necessarily a specific tail number to a specific customer. We are working towards flight hardware but are working on design only at this time"] ...

... The session ended with a panel consisting of John Jurist, David Livingston, and Sam Dinkin who presented the results of their paper that estimates the minimum cost of launching payloads to orbit. There was a spirited discussion of why range services and insurance are so expensive (these two items dominate the launch costs) and how they can be reduced.

5:15 pm: Conference briefs ... Rand Simberg has real-time blogged most of the presentations today. See Transterrestrial Musings.

I will post some comments about the presentations later tonight.

April 30, 2005

Jim Muncy

(Posted May 2) 1:15 am: Conference News ... The last day of the conference included several presentations about companies with exciting projects in development. There were also sessions dealing with politics and with the strategies needed to promote commercial space.

As on the previous days, both Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial and Michael Mealling at Rocketforge blogged the sessions.

Here are short summaries of each of the presentations:

... John Powell of JP Aerospace gave the status of the organization's many near space projects. He showed photos and videos of their huge air ships line such as the Ascender 175.

They hope to send an air ship to as high as 200k ft. (A Japanese group is also aiming for this altitude.)

The company has been working the past few years with an Air Force contract but he did not discuss the current status of their AF projects. He did say that the organization has always had each vehicle project funded by a customer.

JP Aerospace also launches sounding rockets. They will begin testing the deployment of Mach Gliders, i.e. V-shaped airships, which are tightly packed into the nose cones of their rockets and then released and inflated.

The long term goal remains development of a airship that can go from a high altitude Dark Sky Station all the way to orbit. JP said they currently believe they can achieve this seven years from now. However, as before, he did not give any information about the technology/techniques/magic that would make the scheme feasible.

Thousands of students have participated in the PongSats program and JPA plans to offer it to many more students. ...

... Len Cormier gave an update on his design of the Space Van 2009 (see last year's Space Van 2008 slides.) A huge wing span allows the first stage to reach 42km where it releases a second stage spaceplane. ...

... Chuck Lauer gave a status report on Rocketplane Ltd. The company obtained private funding of ~$30M along with ~$10M from selling tax credits that it won from the state of Oklahoma. They have 25 employees at their facility in Oklahoma, where they are in the process of converting a Learjet into a spaceplane. It will have new wings and a new tail plus a rocket engine. The jet engines remain for use in a powered landing.

They recently completed a preliminary design review and expect to have their critical design review in August. First flight is planned for early 2007.

More in Rocketplane (Take Two) - Transterrestrial Musings..

... I won't attempt to improve on Rand's description of Rick Tumlinson's talk: Reverend Rick - Transterrestrial Musings ...

... David Masten reported on the status and plans for Masten Space Systems. Their goal is to develop a VTOL vehicle that can take 100kg to 100km and back. It will execute a powered landing after slowing down with an air brake. They will aim for a 45 minute turnaround time. Their target market is the education and science market. Currently, the firm is concentrating on engine development, especially ignitors and injectors. (See March 2005 Update.) ...

... John Carmack began with an entertaining video of Armadillo Aerospace's many launches and landings, some of which were less than elegant. (I believe this video was also shown at the 2004 SFF meeting.) He reviewed the propulsion studies and tests carried out by AA over the past few years with engines that used H2O2 in one way or another and how they came to decide to concentrate on bi-propellant engines. (See his recent updates for details.)

They are considering a vehicle with two gimbaled engines. They are committed to flying a demo at the XP Cup in October.

A remark that I found quite interesting dealt with VTOL. He noted that without really trying hard, they achieved mass ratios in the 4 to 5 range, whereas Burt Rutan found it very challenging to achieve with his winged vehicle a much lower mass ratio . ...

... Jim Muncy, known widely for his political skills, put on his business hat and discussed the status of two companies with which he is involved.

First, he reviewed Air Launch LLC, which also includes Gary Hudson, Bevin McKinney, and David Gump. The company last year won one of the DARPA Falcon design contracts. A QuickReach vehicle rides inside a C-17 air transport (actually, 2 vehicles would fit in the C-17) . After dropping form the airplane, the vehicle fires its LOX/Propane engine

Space Vector Corporation, also a member of the project, provides a Falcon page that lists the advantages of air launch.

Jim then switched to a description of t/Space, which is pursuing "a lunar exploration architecture and Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) for affordable Moon expeditions." It would take advantage of technologies like that developed by Air Launch, to provide a much lower cost CEV system than usually discussed by NASA. The slides on their web site's Background page give many of the details.

Putting his political hat back on, Jim recommended that the community urge Congress to increase FY06 funding for the DARPA Falcon project so that two SLV concepts can proceed to the next phase. He thought the ARES project should be pushed to "maximize synergies" with the new commercial suborbital RLVs.

See also Rand's Afternoon Session - Transterrestrial Musings and Jim Muncy's policy and politics update - RocketForge.

... Dennis Wingo gave a technically detailed review of Orbital Recovery. The company appears to be on its way to a first launch in 2008. It will have to be a real mission for a real customer. He said that two potential customer are currently doing their due diligence on the project ...

... David Anderman of CSI presented the Lunar Express scheme for combining a Soyuz available after a mission to the ISS with a module launched from earth to do a fly-around of the Moon. This would offer a low cost, quick way to get manned lunar exploration in gear. (Here's a pdf about the proposal.) ...

... Tom Taylor presented the Lunar Transportation Systems scheme for lunar exploration. They have a complete earth to LEO to the Moon set of spacecraft, all based on a common set of structures. A crucial aspect of their scheme is the transport and swapping of fuel tanks. That is, rather than transferring the fuel, they swap tanks. The organization was formed by Walter Kistler and Bob Citron, who previously founded SpaceHab and Kistler Aerospace. ...

... Shubber Ali reviewed the status of AstroVision, which plans to offer "the first live, continuous true color image stream of the Earth." The initial market is Asian. They recently signed an agreement with Apple Computer to provide a super computer cluster that could handle the 25 TBytes of data produced each day. Ball Aerospace will build the spacecraft and they are pushing for launch by 2008...

... Jerry Pournelle gave a talk entitled "How to Get to Space: An Irreverent Guide". He reviewed his actions as Newt Gingrich's science advisor in the early 1990s that led to the DC-X project. He listed the three essential rules for X projects - no new technologies, build three vehicles, and push the technology - and pointed out the ways that NASA projects like the X-33 violated all of them.

He believes large prizes, e.g. $10B to whomever establishes a Moon base that keeps 31 Americans alive for three years, as the best way to get around NASA roadblocks ...

... George Whitesides, head of the National Space Society, discussed the history of the NSS and how he wants the organization to contribute to pushing humanity into space. The ISDC has an impressive list of interesting speakers, many from the alt.space community...

... Ed Wright of X-Rocket reviewed the history of the Suborbital Institute and how it contributed to the passage of the CSLAA. He suggested new issues to push such as ITAR reform and the purchase of launch services by NASA and other government agencies. He also urged an emphasis on how suborbital can contribute to education, e.g. providing low cost access to space for student projects...

... The final session - Cheap Access Politics - was led by a panel consisting of Whitesides, Muncy, Vanderbilt, and Simberg. Various ideas were suggested by the panel and also from the audience on how the community can further the cause of lowering the cost of access to space.

The ideas included: get ITAR restrictions loosened or dropped entirely, make an alliance of some kind with the aeronautics people getting de-funded by NASA, require that 1% of the NASA budget go for commercial launch services, and organize a broad commercial launch industry group that would be led by a full-time person who did not work for any of the companies in the group.

Henry publish a full list of the ideas in a future update on the Space Access website. See also Michael's list at Space Policy discussion of "low hanging fruit" that needs doing - RocketForge

April 27, 2005

8:40 pm: Testing, testing ... Made it to Phoenix and it appears that I can upload files OK via a free wireless connection available from the conference hotel. (Kudos to Four Points Sheraton and to Henry for selecting it). So I will be posting reports during the meeting. However, I want to do plenty of shmoozing to find out what's happening in the mad, mad world of alt.space rocketeering. So expect updates to be random and intermittent.

The first session starts at 2pm tomorrow.

1:15 pm: News briefs... Off to Phoenix to attend Space Access '05 so this may be my last update for awhile. ...

... Sam Dinkin gives his preview of the SA'05 meeting...


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