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Space Transport News Special Edition:
Space Access'10 Conference
April 8-10, 2010, Phoenix, Arizona


Latest update: May 8, 2010

Space Access '10, the latest of the annual meetings of the Space Access Society, took place this year during April 8-10 in Phoenix, Arizona. This page provides various resources related to the meeting including links to the entries posted at Space Transport News. Several other blogs are also linked.

Henry Vanderbilt organized the meeting and is doing a great job as always. Henry discussed the Space Access Society, the annual meeting, and progress in private space vehicle development in an interview on The Space Show in March.



Previous Space Access Conference Reviews

Review of SA'10

Some themes in this year's Space Access Society meeting:

More groups are flying/building vehicles - The success of the Masten Space team in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Landing in 2009 announced their arrival in the real live rocket vehicle club. Paul Breed did not win a prize in the NG-LLC but people were nevertheless impressed with the flying that was done by his small team. These two groups join Armadillo Aerospace and XCOR as regular members of the Space Access Society who have now flown reusable, fast turnaround, rocket powered vehicles in public forums.

Commonly heard word: "Aerodynamics" - Everybody is going for higher altitudes now and that means reducing drag to reduce fuel consumption during the portion of the flight in the atmosphere. The VTVL (Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing) guys like Armadillo and Masten need to streamline their vehicles that were flown in the NG-LLC if they are to get up to space (~100km) and back down for a powered landing. The HTHL guy, XCOR, has worked with aerodynamicists and carried out many wind-tunnel studies to design their Lynx vehicle for flying to 100km (initially to 60km with the interim Mark I prototype).

A focus on challenges ahead - With the success by Armadillo and Masten in the NG-LLC, I was expecting a bit more of a triumphant and celebratory atmosphere at the meeting. However, the focus primarily was on future developments rather than past accomplishments. Challenges like the aerodynamics issues mentioned above must be overcome to achieve high altitudes reliably. They seemed very sober and determined as they prepare to tackle these challenges. The groups would very much like to be reaching tens of kms if not 100 km by the next meeting in 2011.

Suborbital science - Interest withn the science community in flying experiments on the coming reusable suborbital space vehicles, and, in particular, doing human-tended experiments on the crew capable vehicles, has grown substantially in the past year. There have been several well-attended meetings on the subject, there is interest by scientists in a broad range of disciplines, NASA has decided to provide substantial funding for such flights, and Alan Stern has been a tireless proponent of the concept. Adding this market to that of space tourism increases significantly the robustness of the business plans of the companies building these vehicles.

NASA going commercial - There were lots of presentations plus lots of discussions outside the conference hall about the big changes proposed for NASA by the Obama Administration, especially the emphasis on competitive commercial crew services for reaching LEO. Many in the SAS have pushed for decades for NASA to use the commercial services approach. The opposition to it from within NASA and its political supporters was not unexpected but there was optimism at the meeting that this could be overcome with strong leadership by the Administration, especially considering that the Constellation is not viable within any likely budget.

A busy year ahead - The VTVL firms expect to fly frequently in the coming year as they go for 100km. XCOR is starting construction of its first Lynx rocketplane prototype and might be doing initial test flights by the time of the next Space Access meeting. The rocket vehicle companies could begin in the next year to fly paid science payloads and generate income even when flights have not yet reached 100km. Everyone is anxiously waiting to see if the commercial initiatives in the new NASA budget will be accepted by Congress.

April 8, 2010 - Thursday

Henry Spencer
Henry Spencer, who traditionally leads off the Space Access annual conference, talked
about issues involved in human voyages beyond low earth orbit.

Thursday Session 1 - Afternoon


Armadillo Aerospace - 2010 review

Thursday Session 2 - Evening

April 9, 2010 - Friday

Jeff Greason
Jeff Greason talks about XCOR and also his experience on the Augustine Panel.

Friday Session 1 - Morning

Jeff Greason
Propellant depot discussion panel. (Left to right) Dallas Bienhoff (Boeing),
Rand Simberg, Jon Goff (Masten), and Bernard Kutter (ULA).

Friday Session 2 - Afternoon


Jeff Greason
Tim Pickens of Dynetics/Orion Propulsion.

Friday Session 3 - Evening

April 10 , 2009 - Saturday

Masten Space presentation with Ben Brockert.

Saturday Session 1 - Morning

Compilation of Masten Space highlights from the past year shown at SA'10.

Panel: Newspace Startup Finance: Eva-Jane Lark,Stephen Fleming, Joe Pistritto

Saturday Session 2 - Afternoon


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
NewSpace Watch at NSG


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