SpaceUp unconference schedule + Finding Starship Congress talks on video

There are several SpaceUp “unconferences ” coming up this fall.¬† See if one is near you:


I’ve enjoyed watching many of the talks at the recent Icarus Interstellar¬† Starship Congress event in Dallas (see earlier post here. The videos are up to 12 hours long so it took some searching to find a particular talk. Now, however, the program schedule has links directly from each talk to the position on the video where it starts: Schedule | Icarus Interstellar

The Skylab story

Space historian Roger Launius writes about the sad fate of Skylab, America’s first space station: Was NASA Serious about Trying to Rescue Skylab? – Roger Launius’s Blog.

Jim Oberg points to his earlier article on Skylab: Skylab’s Untimely Fate: James Oberg tells the sad story of how the United States abandoned the largest space station ever built and spent a quarter century trying to regain the capability – Air & Space, February/March 1992, pp. 73-79.

NASA MSFC Mighty Eagle to fly today + Morpheus Lander video of latest test

NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center’s Mighty Eagle vertical takeoff and landing vehicle will try a tethered flight test today. See updates at Mighty Eagle (NASAMightyEagle) on Twitter.

And here is a video of yesterday’s tethered flight test of the NASA JSC Project Morpheus lander:


The Morpheus team successfully completed Tether Test 30 with the Bravo vehicle at Johnson Space Center on Thursday, August 29, 2013. All test objectives were met within the ~63 second flight including ignition, an ascent of 5 meters with 15 seconds of hover at the apex, a 3 meter backwards lateral translation, another 15 seconds of hover, and a forward slant descent to “landing” (at the end of the crane tether) using free flight guidance. The Morpheus team plans to travel to KSC in early October to begin our free flight test campaign!

Space policy roundup – Aug.30.13 [Update]

Some recent space policy related items :


See also The Cold War Returns to Space – Greg Autry/Huffington Post

Oddly, while the White House has been a strong advocate for privatization in space, some Republican Senators and Members of Congress still envision America’s future in space as looking more like the Postal Service or Amtrak. They’ve subverted CCiCap and its predecessors by diverting funding to an old school, nationalized space program known as the Space Launch System (SLS), designed to eventually carry astronauts to Mars or the asteroids. This giant launch vehicle is not well suited for primary the job at hand – delivering Americans to the ISS and satellites to Low Earth Orbit. More recently the Capitol Hill opponents of New Space have moved to force these entrepreneurial firms into the same Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) model that has corrupted big government aerospace projects for years. All of this delays America’s return to space in a blatant effort to protect socialized space jobs in Alabama and Texas.

Neil deGreasse Tyson says Elon Musk can’t get to Mars:¬† Neil deGrasse Tyson On Elon Musk SpaceX – Business Insider.

There are several factors that Tyson is overlooking:

  • Musk is saying that Mars can only be affordable for private entities if the costs are drastically lowered.
  • Musk’s goal is for SpaceX to achieve drastically lower costs by developing fully, rapidly reusable launch vehicles.
  • Since propellants make up less than half a percent of the current cost of getting to orbit, full reusability could lower costs by as much as a factor of 100 over the current cost of getting to orbit.
  • The only progress being made in lowering space transportation costs is in the private sector.
  • If SpaceX succeeds in lowering costs that much, they can in fact make lots of money in selling transportation ranging from commercial spacecraft to people buying ride to Mars.
  • Tyson continues to ignore the many, many examples of private entities leading the exploration of a frontier, e.g. Columbus voyages were funded by Italian banks, polar exploration was mostly privately funded, IBM research has won several Nobel prizes, etc.


Update 2: NASA may finally get a 2013 budget: JWST, Commercial Crew Spared Cuts in NASA FY2013 Operating Plan – SpacePolicyOnline.