Has been a great day. There were so many good speakers.
Was also cool to meet a number of people whose names
I recognized from various New Space blogs/websites (Jeff
Foust from The
Space Review and Duncan Law-Green from Rocketeers.co.uk
to name but two.)
Summary of proceedings:
The conference opened with a quick "why we are
- Adventure aspect - grew up with Dan Dare, Apollo
11 (amazing achievement considering done with slide-rule
- Talked about how to date less than 1000 people have
been to space (I though it was less than 500?), and
how many people aspire to go to space/want to go,
therefore large market.
- Listed main challenges to overcome: Technical/Procedural/Locations/Safety/Certification/etc.
Recapped previous conference held at RAE 2006. Had
a big impact- media coverage, debates in Parliament.
Lot of changes in last 3 years - Technological (Cost
in lives lost, however), World economy changed. Flexibility
- key to success.
Need to be not just a rich man's fairground toy, other
applications key to industry
Gave history of company:
- Founded 1997 by travel experts, ex-astronauts, etc
- Goal - open space for private citizens
- $200 million of space services delivered so far,
7 people sent to ISS
- Dennis Tito first person willing to pay for spaceflight
- Charles Simonyi- first to go twice
- Showed a video of their experiences (highlight-
someone playing golf on the ISS!). Another person
mentions moon trip they had planned a few years ago.
- Asked who wants to go (almost all the audience raise
Why is Space important? Listed usual reasons:
- Need space resources to continue our way of life
- population continues to grow, resources declining,
- Earth/humanity subject to period catastrophes -
- Space applications vital to our lives on Earth -
- Humans have an innate need to explore - desire for
new experiences (moon landing pinnacle so far)
- Quote from Stephen Hawking- won’t survive if we
don’t go to space
- Governments have [opened] the space frontier? (ha!)
- How open for rest of us? How build on that foundation?
- Quoted usual figures for launchers (shuttle $10.00kg/lb)
- To usher in a ‘Golden Age’ need lower cost, only
space tourism has the volume to do so.
- Quotes Futron study -
- 25% polled might/might not go, 26% possibly
would, 25% definitely would= large potential market
- Near term 10,000’s per year
- To become a reality need a revolution - to get into
space and back safely.
Governments haven’t been able to do it so far, where
New Space comes in. Listed key players in industry Branson/Carmack/Bezos/Musk
- common theme all come from outside the space industry,
had changed/revolutionised their previous sector.
- Contrasted Old space ($35 billion for Ares 1/Orion)
v new (SpaceX)
- Commented how need each other, New Space wouldn’t
succeed without NASA as anchor customer.
- How developing relationship- SpaceX doing ‘donkey
work’ (supplying ISS), NASA pioneering new frontiers,
different job (why costing so much more to develop)
Apparently he used to work ion London, commented how
good to be back.
- Showed a few videos
- [Gave] last 10 years of company history in 30 seconds
from first engine up to Lynx.
- Commented how often innovation doesn’t come from
big projects but small incremental steps.
- More video - Oshkosh air show, test flights of Rocket
- Described how [they] demonstrated safety and quick
turnaround needed for commercial space flight (tight
schedules at air shows, could even go earlier than
planned when asked - not common for rocket engines!)
Could refuel in 8 1/2 minutes. Plan for Lynx to fly
4-5 times a day.
- Described what a tourist flight in Lynx would be
like, medical screening [and] training involved.
- Next went though the ‘Myths’ of space flight and
explained how they can be overcome (cot, size, etc).
Summarised projected markets by 2014 and breakdown
(launch service/sale of vehicles/equipment/other uses
of their composite materials)
- Unique aspects of Lynx - ‘green’ fuel, jet like
- Enabling tech - piston pumps, non-flammable composites
- all in hand.
- Company safety record - 4000 firings, 66 manned
flights - no lost time to accidents
- Other uses - pod (‘cub’) for expendable upper stages
10-15kg payloads for $500,000, 2 days notice needed.
- Looking at orbital concepts but no pictures yet!
2 concepts are studying - innovative and low cost,
when get cash flow from sub orbital will look at in
- Why coexist with old space - why not replace now?
Political question - old space has jobs/influence.
Question of how quick industry can adapt. 10-20 years
may replace old firms if don’t get taken over like
- How [do you] see Lynx system mature with 1 vehicle?
Mk 2 will be second one built- full 100km. Discussed
pro/con of their approach vs Virgin/SS2
- Have they looked at hypersonic systems? - Yes looked
at some old work by Northrop but don’t think cost
effective for them, maybe in future
- Comment by a Virgin employee that isn’t clear from
the talk that [the Lynx Mk.I] only goes to 37 miles
not into space - reservations have taken so far will
be for MK.I.
- Also to Space Adventures - are [they] still
taking reservations? - Yes but no new info on
projects until they reach milestones [that they]
are happy with
- To SA - how maintain momentum - has another
flight to ISS this year, and another chartered
for after that. Still interest
- What is green about Kerosene? - Green compared to
- Ticket price on Lynx - $95,000 - half of Virgin
(but half the height, as someone shouted!)
- SA - lunar flight status - on hold until get
- Global lottery? - Proposed many times, too many
issues legally to make work
- Schedule for Lynx- begins tests late 2010, no set
date for commercial service. Mk2 depends on issues
find with mk1- 9-18 months later
Admitted [that they] are not a new space company, made
their demonstrators ages ago. Now big aerospace.
Why believe in a suborbital spaceplane?
- High level tourism market exists - $91 billion in
2005 - EADS involved in though sale of helicopters/jets
- Space exploration is a basic trend (listed explorers,
culminating in Tintin!)
How can [they] be part of [commercial spaceflight]:
- Suborbital mid-range of existing options (high -
ISS, low - 0g flights)
- Other applications - 0 g experiments, high speed
What are doing now?
- Have completed 1:1 scale mock up, wind tunnel tests,
- Slowed down work now, finished pre-project phase.
- Ready to go when get funding (hard to raise in current
- Will develop like an aircraft - extensive testing
and fully certified ([this explains] why so expensive)
When - won't be first! Waiting until funded.
Described how impressed they are with XCOR and other
companies, commented how they are building a space transport
system that could be used with other vehicles like Lynx
or its developments. Called their approach ‘schizophrenic’.
Showed video given to potential customers - Usual PR
Described how Virgin group is a ‘branded venture capital
group, and how space fits in (new tech that improves
other sectors). One of the few large groups that believes
in climate change and migrating through technology.
(Gave example of their pendalino trains - most efficient
high speed trains in Europe)
Talked about Global Flyer and how it lead to SS1/2,
materials tech allows it to be possible today (X-15
held back by material of the day)
‘Better to follow a pioneer than be one’
SS2 - new system, described follows from SS1, safer
than ground launched rocket (but not necessarily a spaceplane
like XCOR’s), and more flexible.
Composites key - WK2 = combination of WK1 and Global
Next went to the describe how the customers input led
to the bigger design of WK2, which has given greater
flexibly/more options. 17 tons to 50,000ft payload,
more than needed for SS2. Can use to put a 200lb payload
Twin hulls - using one for 0g experiments, other for
passengers to view launch. Has 7g capability, so can
use for training anywhere in world. Want to maximize
experience. Under current legislation can only be used
for space applications, not for water bombing, aid drops,
courier etc. Does have 2000+ mile range.
Other applications - 4 businesses planned
- VG Space Tours
- VG Science services
- VG cargo (satellites)
- VG World Travel (commented Virgin Atlantic would
want that one!)
Showed a video of WK2 in flight
And had a nice model too. Talked about importance of
being environmentally friendly and the tech developed
being used elsewhere (esp. composites in commercial
Described Spaceport America and how [they] plan to
operate [it] as home base, but will [go] ‘on tour’ from
different spaceports - UK needs regulations to allow
to operate. Sweden already has legislation similar to
US to allow flights.
Finally described investment opportunity - looking
to IPO within 2 years of service starting, but will
consider taking on external investors next year.
- Affect of ITAR? - confident US gov understands issues
and don’t think will be a problem (many foreigners
fly on 747’s, doesn’t mean can build one)
- How did Burt react to their changes in requirements?
- No changes during project, had planned from early
stages. Feel [they] have been a good customer
- Can give examples of space science customers who
are willing to pay? - not yet, only one can name is
NOAA because aren’t paying
- Why rely on one type of vehicle? - in long term
[they are] looking at operating other systems when
they are developed.
- What want out of IGT group? - (advising on UK policy)
- not sure what want, don’t want status quo to remain.
- World travel plans? - can’t go [into that], not
looked at much yet. Will look at when system up and
- Insurance? - WK2 insured, rare for experimental
aircraft. To get data for insurance industry - lower
premiums more data they have
Gave history of Lossiemouth, (built 1938, trained Dambusters
in WW2), advantages as a spaceport- compare well to
Spaceport America in terms of workforce, facilities.
No barriers to using airbase for tourist flights -
MOD underwrites maintenance costs.
Scotland - 90 research units, 135 companies including
12 global aerospace firms.
Opportunities - big tourist industry already looking
to entertain families while space tourists doing training,
History of Swedish spaceport, facilities offer. Partners
include Ice Hotel, history of extreme tourism.
Kiruna - has space high school, Institute of space
physics, EISCAT radar station/tracking network- everything
needed to run a spaceport
Progress - done application for suborbital spaceport,
May 09 issued statement will conduct launches under
sounding rocket rules for 3rd party liability. Have
started planning services [that they] will provide.
Been doing business plans too. Want to start a International
Space University in 2011.
Want to provide tailor-made support for operators as
soon as is demand for their facilities.
What better way to bring everyone down after lunch
than by discussing insurance/legal affairs? Talked about
risks, how minimise, differences in liability for space
and aviation activities.
Are space tourists astronauts? - No, participants under
current regulations. I didn’t take many notes as I didn’t
find the subject that interesting.
- How much support for Lossiemouth in London/Edinburgh?
- more in London, (defence still under Whitehall),
MP for Moray very keen
- Trade off for spaceports between remoteness and
things do? UK - advantage in more for the family to
do, At Kiruna already have thriving adventure tourist
trade (esp. ice hotel), spaceport will enhance (joked
- can see santa - that’s Finland!)
- Why hasn’t kiruna developed as a launch site more
in the past? - overflight issues, most previous launcher
would have 1st stage impact in Norway. Falcon 1 first
that wouldn’t hit. Not an issue with suborbitals
Had requests for support, studies to see what ESA’s
role should be.
- Activities - general studies programme - assessed
practicality /credibility, looked at carbon footprint.
- ESA’s main interests - technology/new developments,
could lead to new high speed transport.
- Commercialisation - could link with manned space
- Visibility of space activities - need distinction
between career astronauts and space flight participants.
- Legal aspects - want to put European player level
- Current view - should show ’Cautious support’ to
Described role of Office of Commercial space flights
role, launches have licensed in past year (7).
- Listed other notable events - WK2 rollout, Falcon
1 launch, Armadillo winning XPC, NASA contracts to
- Regulatory role- requirements for liability for
- Augustine panel- review of Human space flight -
- Listed approaches to safety, flight crew requirements
have issued and guidance for participants- informed
- Medical requirements- none! Is guidance to operators,
but can do what they want.
- Won’t stay like this forever, initial rules while
- Distinction between participant and professional
astronauts - not passengers like on a plane,
- What safety requirements for HTHL vehicles that
won’t affect public like traditional Rockets?- safety
standards the same, test in isolated areas and see
where go from there.
- Does ESA foresee a time when will be more involved
with flight providers, say as anchor customers?- Will
wait and see results of current policy. Still early
- What rules likely in Europe?- difficult to say as
so man national bodies involved, more complex than
- What timescale do they see the need for international
harmonisation of rules?- FAA- don’t foresee for next
few years, are interested in talking to other countries/agencies.
For p2p travel will need international agreements.
Starting to meet with representatives from UK/France/Japan
Described his background, why he wanted to go. Father
was an astronaut, grew up surrounded by them and NASA
employees. Told couldn’t be a NASA astronaut as he had
bad eyesight, [so] decided to find another way.
- Has done other extreme trips - South Pole, Hydrothermal
vents, titanic, considers a researcher not just a
tourist (took samples from vent, has a company now
selling novel proteins gathered from the bugs he cultured)
- Training went through - needs same level of expertise
as other astronauts.
- Least favorite part – food in Russia (same every
meal) [, also] medical preparations not fun, had to
have surgery before could go.
- Launch - like strong and graceful ballet. Not violent.
- Mentioned space adaptation sickness, had fluid shift.
- Very loud in some parts of ISS, newer bits quieter.
- Toilet needs improving.
- Described experiments did in orbit - protein crystal
growth, ham radio, art in space, education outreach.
- Photos took - more than official crew had to do.
Did some same shots his father took 30 years ago to
- Impact has had on him - seeing Earth from space.
Can see human impact everywhere - no fertile land
not used by people.
- Very good speaker and enthusiast, wants to go back.
Thinks will be able to do so soon (even though he
spent most of his fortune on this flight)
- Was it possible to do a space walk? - yes, did some
training. Only reason didn’t was couldn’t afford.
- Have you had any contact with the Overview institute?
- What next? - Has spent most of fortune, thinks will
go on a sub orbital flight, if not orbital within
- What made communications so effective - outreach
to schools, competitions, got kids to ask questions
- What else could be done in space - Protein crystal
experiments - showed can be done, needs following
- Question about photo of the launch - was there a
guy that close to the rocket? No - but launch control
was a bunker 100 meters from pad
- Do you foresee a time when space travel will be
too expensive - no, currently huge amount of global
income spent on luxuries, will have to drop a lot
before [it] is unaffordable, Need cheap energy, conservation
won’t solve problems. Space part of the solution (SPS,
Afterwards was a drinks reception. Pictured here Jeff
Foust from The
Space Review and Duncan Law-Green (Rocketeers.co.uk).
Freebies! A souvenir wine glass, courtesy of Logica!