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Friday, April 30, 2004

Armadillo in the X Prize hunt
chabot imageAlan Boyle wrote:Armadillo Aerospace's John Carmack set me straight about his attitude toward the X Prize, the $10 million competition for privately funded spaceflight. I went slightly overboard when I wrote that Carmack considered himself out of the running for this year because of the logistical difficulties.
"A slight correction — we haven't given up on the chance of winning the X-Prize," Carmack wrote today. "I was just being honest in saying that a lot of things would have to go right to make it happen, which isn't a high probability bet. We will undoubtedly be flying full-scale hardware this year, but getting everything well-tested enough to carry people, hitting all the performance marks, and getting the launch license all in the next eight months will be tough."
One thing I don't want to do is sell Carmack and his Armadillo team short. During the Space Access '04 conference, there were repeated references to the Orteig Prize competition of the 1920s, which was won by underdog Charles Lindbergh instead of the favorite, Richard Byrd. The pundits turned out to be wrong in 1927, and I'll try not to make that mistake again.

Da Vinci Project
chabot imageThe Canadian da Vinci Project is pressing forward with the building and testing of its X PRIZE entry "Wild Fire MK VI" vehicle. Recent activities include sub-assembly installations inside the capsule. The project's flight simulator became operational about six months ago, and da Vinci is in the process of adding refinements to the trendicators that will aid in determining role, pitch and yaw rates, as well as to the pilot's flat screen display.
The Global Star satellite network is being used on the Wild Fire vehicle as the primary tracking data and audio link to the spacecraft and balloon. The tracking data shows up on a moving map display based on precise airborne GPS and INS equipment. Mission control receives the primary feed from the network's hub while mobile satellite receivers used by ground recovery teams have a direct tie into portable PC's. The result is real-time tracking in remote locations, ensuring that the recovery teams are directed to the spacecraft hardware as soon as it lands. Global Star satellite transmitters and receivers are undergoing system bench testing at the da Vinci facility in Toronto prior to installation in the spacecraft. www.davinciproject.com

chabot imageStarchaser Industries has teamed up with British marketing consultants Freerange Design Ltd in a bid to raise Starchaser's profile and attract further sponsorship funding. The new marketing strategy involves a tour campaign where Starchaser's record-breaking "Nova" rocket is transported and displayed to potential sponsors, courtesy of a partnership with Royal Mail Special Delivery.
The Royal Mail has been doing a sterling job, taking Nova across the length and breadth of the UK--sometimes to awkward or almost inaccessible places. Certainly the most notable visit was to London, where Nova was photograpphed beside the London Eye and on Westminster Bridge in front of Big Ben. Nova is the largest rocket ever launched from UK, where it flew the planned profile to over 5000' and was successfully recovered from its water landing.
Freerange Design is also helping to rebrand Starchaser as the company moves towards relaunch as a Public Limited Company. As a PLC, Starchaser will be set up to offer shares for sale to the general public. www.starchaser.co.uk

Deleon & Associates
chabot imageThe Argentine X PRIZE team of De Leon and Associates reports progress in its work towards a new flight test, having started in the final design of the capsule cockpit. Building of a flight vehicle/capsule is anticipated to begin shortly; at present several ergonomic studies are underway to determine how best to acommodate three persons in the spacecraft (as required by X PRIZE contest rules).
Testing of the thermal protection system has already been achieved succesfully, shown here in the thermal plot. http://www.deleontechnologies.com/space.htm

Space Transport Corp
chabot imageConstruction and launch planning are in progress for the upcoming Rubicon test flight to 20,000 feet, which STC expects to conduct in June. Several unmanned flights to 100 kilometers are expected to take place in the summer months once launch licensing is complete. Manned flights are slated for the fall.
In addition, STC is planning a subscale rocket flight for late April. Plans are for this flight to include cameras to capture video from space altitude. www.space-transport.com

Canadion Arrow
chabot imageAfter successfully testing its 57,000-pound thrust engine, the Canadian Arrow team is now developing the equipment needed for landing its X PRIZE vehicle. "We are now working on our recovery equipment since the main engine is finished and operating," said team leader Geoff Sheerin to journalist Leonard David of Space.com. "We just performed some successful drop tests of the crew cabin to measure water impact deceleration." www.canadianarrow.com

David Knight Joins X PRIZE Team as VP, Business Development
chabot image Technology executive David Knight has joined the X PRIZE team as Vice President, Business Development. With a long history of building fast-growth startup companies in communications, software and media, David now brings his skills and experience to bear on core activities for the X PRIZE Foundation, including fundraising. His key responsibilities will be to develop key partnerships and to generate monies from new sources, such as the X PRIZE Auction and Merchandise programs. David also plans to spearhead the X PRIZE VIP Hospitality program, giving corporations the opportunity to bring their top executives and customers to exciting X PRIXE activities, including launch-attempts.

CarryOn Communications Hired to head PR for XP
X PRIZE is pleased to announce that it has hired CarryOn Communications to coordinate the competition public relations and outreach. Sarah Evans, VP of CarryOn will head the PR effort. CarryOn will work directly with Ian Murphy of Federal City Communications. Federal City has been heading X PRIZE's PR efforts during the past five year period.

DeepBlu Studios hired to run live web
X PRIZE is pleased to welcome Amye Osti, CEO of DeepBlu Studios to our team. DeepBlu Studios is an expert in live webcast events, having produced the Sundance Online Film Festival. DeepBlu Studios will work with Dave Fletcher and the team from themechanism, LLC and with Dan Rayburn and Jack Bader to implement the live launch web casts.

X-Prize News Letter
chabot imageThe X-Prize sent out today "April 2004 News Letter".
You can sign up for the news letter at:
For the people who didn't got this letter:

Canadian Arrow: Arrow at fundraiser tomorrow
chabot imageThe Canadian Arrow, a 16.4-metre long suborbital rocket destined for outer space, will be on display tomorrow, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at St. Marguerite d'Youville church on Sandalwood Parkway E.
The parish is celebrating its 10th annual walk-a-thon tomorrow, and the first anniversary in the new church at the corner of Torbram Road. As part of the celebration the Arrow team, one of 19 international teams competing in the race to space for the U.S. $10 million "X Prize", will be on hand.
The rocket has a 25,855 kg thrust liquid propellant engine and is designed to carry three astronauts to an altitude of 100,584 metres.
Everyone is invited to come to the event to see the rocket, learn about space travel and take pictures. Anyone interested in participating in the walk should call the parish office at 905-792-7497. This year the walk-a-thon proceeds will be used to buy a sound system for the building. In the past the event has raised a total of $40,000.
The X Prize will be awarded to the first team successful in launching a three-person crew into space, safely land, and re-launch the same rocket within 14 days. Future launches of the Canadian Arrow may be held in Ontario or Manitoba, with splashdown recovery in the Great Lakes or Hudson Bay.
For more information about the rocket or the competition, or for tours of the flight training centre in London, Ontario, visit www.astronaut.ca.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Space Commission meets on Friday
The New Mexico Space Commission meets on Friday at the Tays Special Events Center, at 1:30 p.m. Harp, a New Mexico Space commissioner, eagerly anticipates discussion of the X Prize Cup’s launch-site status.
New Mexico is one of two finalists for the X Prize Cup location: a place to hold an initial Trophy competition, then subsequent annual X Prize Cup competitions.
If New Mexico is chosen, White Sands Missile Range would be the launch site. Bolstering the Land of Enchantment’s chances, for the first time in White Sands’ history the U.S. Army base has agreed to allow launches with human passengers.

NASA's X-Prize Looking for Ideas
chabot imageSometimes it takes a prize to really propel an industry forward, like with the historic Orteig Prize, which rewarded Charles Lindbergh $25,000 for crossing the Atlantic by airplane. In its most recent budget, NASA has set aside some budget to reward groups who accomplish certain milestones. The agency will be holding a workshop on June 15-16 in Washington D.C. to gather ideas and brainstorm on what kinds of goals will leverage this budget the furthest.

StarShipOne pilot keynotes awards lunch
chabot imageA "very entertaining ... and pretty darn cool" supersonic flight to the edge of space and the presentation of four annual awards were the highlights of the Naval Test Wing Atlantic luncheon during the intermission of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School's yearly reunion and symposium here Friday.
The four awards, the most prestigious within NTWL, were handed out this year by Capt. Tom Phelan, NTWL commander, and his new boss, incoming NAWCAD Commander Capt. Jeffrey Wieringa, a rear admiral select. The awards are given to the outstanding test pilot of the year, outstanding Naval flight officer of the year, outstanding test engineer of the year, and Test Pilot School instructor pilot of the year. Read More

Space.com: X Prize Will Be Won by 'Summer's End', Event Organizer Says
chabot imageThe race to loft a three-person spaceship on a suborbital flight twice in two weeks will be won by the end of the summer, the competition’s founder said Wednesday.
Peter Diamandis, chairman of the international X Prize competition to build and launch reusable spaceships, announced that the race will most likely be won in mere months.
“We do expect the X Prize to be captured within three to five months,” Diamandis said during a presentation here before the 41st Space Congress.
The X Prize is a competition between 27 teams across seven countries to design, build and develop a craft capable of launching three people 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) into space, returning them safely, then repeating the feat with the same vehicle within two weeks. The first team to make such a flight wins a $10 million purse, though the entrants have spent more than $50 million to develop their vehicles.
So far, the leader appears to be SpaceShipOne, an entry led by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and his company Scaled Composites. With a launch license already in hand, and several test flights under his belt, Rutan appears poised to snag the X Prize. But Diamandis added that other teams are also well on their way, including the Canadian Da Vinci team headed by Brian Feeney, which has secured a launch license in Canada. Read More

Canadian Arrow: Astronaut centre is looking for a new home after its London facility is sold to a boat maker.
chabot imageThe world's first privately-operated civilian astronaut training centre may take off from London before it ever serves its first customer. The Canadian Arrow Space Centre on Fanshawe Park Road East is looking for a new home.
The facility that houses Canadian Arrow is being taken over by a London business success story, Hudson Boat Works, one of the world's top three racing-boat makers.
And, unless it cuts a deal of co-existence or finds a new city home, Arrow may be headed to another city.
"Everything is up in the air," said Geoff Sheerin, team leader of Canadian Arrow.
"I need to find a new location and I may need to move out of London," he said. "I'm not sure the money we need to propel this project is in this community. So, just from a financial perspective, we may have to move."
Canadian Arrow has been offered financial incentives to move. Windsor and Sarnia have expressed interest.
The company's bad news was delivered at city hall's board of control yesterday, where Sheerin gave an update on the space centre and its progress toward the X Prize.
Aside from training civilian astronauts, the Arrow team is trying to beat 24 other teams in a worldwide race for the $10-million US X Prize, which goes to the first team to launch a manned rocket twice within 14 days at least 100 kilometres into space before a January 2005 deadline.
The prize, privately funded by donors such as author Tom Clancy and actor Tom Hanks, was set up to encourage commercial space travel.
But the big prize for Arrow and London isn't the contest but a new industry -- space tourism.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Space Transport Corporation News:
chabot imageSTC met with all active X Prize teams in Los Angeles the weekend of April 17th.
Getting to meet the X Prize competition first-hand confirmed some assumptions STC had previously made and led to some new insights. All teams presented their project status in the conference.
Many teams are focused on public relations, with the idea that they need to raise public interest in order to fund their projects. STC is taking a different approach -- raise interest by testing hardware. Either approach is reasonable, but it appears that these “PR-focused” teams will not be able to have functional vehicles in time to win the X Prize.
Besides STC, only a few other teams are actively building hardware. Of those teams, it seems that Scaled is the only team on track to possibly win the prize. The others seem to have significant unresolved technical challenges in front of them. However, it seems that Scaled also has some challenge left -- they are by no means sure that they will win the prize in 2004.
The door is open for an underdog like STC. Of course, development must go smoothly, and we will have to raise the required funds. Other teams probably question our ability to win the prize because the funding issue is in the air. However, with a solid fundraising effort such as we are now commencing, STC can raise the necessary capital.
After the conference, STC visited Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's aerospace department. They are a potential customer for N-SOLV. We learned a lot about their needs and about our Russian competition. The multi-university satellite program that Cal Poly leads would buy three N-SOLV launches per year. Low cost and convenience make N-SOLV attractive to them.
A three-stage rocket launch is upcoming and hopefully will result in some cool photography. Stay tuned.

chabot imageX PRIZE is please to welcome Eugene W. Roddenberry, Jr. as its newest member of the X PRIZE Advisory Committee. He is the son of legendary science-fiction creator, Gene Roddenberry, who's television series, "Star Trek" and "Earth: Final Conflict", changed the face of television. Eugene Roddenberry shares his father's passionate views on the world and humanity and has joined the X PRIZE team because, in his words, "the X PRIZE represents the vision and spirit of exploration embodied in Star Trek."

chabot imageX PRIZE Is pleased to announce that Kevin N. Kalkhoven, co-owner of Champ Car World Series has joined the X PRIZE Foundation Board of Trustees. Kalkhoven joined Uniphase Corporation in 1992 as President, CEO and Chairman. During his tenure, the market cap of the company grew from $35 million to $100 billion. Mr. Kalkhoven retired from JDS Uniphase in May 2000 and co-founded the venture firm in August 2000. Mr. Kalkhoven currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Optium Corporation and is a board member of AMCC. For more information: click here.

Monday, April 26, 2004

chabot imageIsraeli X PRIZE competitors IL Aerospace Technologies (ILAT) presented it's space tourism business model to a panel of judges and an audience of over 200 venture capitalists, investment bankers, angel investors, attorneys, Wharton alumni and business community leaders at the 2004 Venture Fair today. The results are expected to be released sometime in the future.

Armadillo Aerospace News: Space Access '04
Most of us were at Space Access, so no update this week. Whenever I skip a weekly update I get a lot of emails wondering if we are ok…

Friday, April 23, 2004

XCOR Aerospace Receives Launch License
chabot imageToday at the Space Access conference in Phoenix, Arizona, XCOR Aerospace announced it has received a Reusable Launch Vehicle mission license from the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). This license is the second granted by AST, the first was issued to the American SpaceShipOne X PRIZE Team.

While XCOR is not competing in the X PRIZE, they do plan to participate in the followon X PRIZE CUP. The X PRIZE Foundation congratulates them on this significant step forward.
XCOR news release: http://www.xcor.com/launch-license-grant.html
MSNBC news article: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4816565/

Monday, April 19, 2004

The official xprize website released today that:
X PRIZE leaders from 12 teams gathered at a 2-day meeting in Los Angeles to trade experiences, discuss the future of sub-orbital tourism, and discuss the X PRIZE Cup.

Pictured here (Left to Right): Dumitru Popescu, ARCA, Romania; Pablo DeLeon, DeLeon, Argentina; Oded Loebl, ILAT, Isreal; Eric Meier, Space Transport, USA; Steve Bennett, Starchaser, UK; Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites, USA; Randa Milliron, Interorbital Systems, USA, Chuck Lauer, Rocketplane LTD, USA; Brian Feeney, daVinci Project, Canada; Neil Milburn, Armadillo, USA, Tim Pickens, HARC, USA; Lori Sheerin, Canadian Arrow, Canada
chabot image

Space.com: X Prize Entrants Race Against Time and Each Other
chabot imageSpace.com released today a new article related to the xprize:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The X Prize contest that is meant to spark suborbital passenger flight is heating up. Twenty-seven teams from seven nations are in an intense race to win a unique top spot in the record books of entrepreneurial one-upmanship.
The "straight up" rules are clear: A $10 million X Prize cash award will be turned over to the first team that privately finances, builds and launches a three-person spaceship that scoots up to 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) altitude, returns safely to Earth, repeating the feat with the same ship within two weeks. Read More

Blue Ridge Nebula's Family team is kicked out of X-Prize
chabot imageBlue Ridge Nebula's Family team is kicked out of X-Prize because of their racism attitudes, The BRNA companys boycotts Zero Gravity foundations management behaver ,and moves on , and into first place in the commercial / Third wave airlines " race for space". Third major flight of the family line of the ( first man made "real" FAA registerd) Haynes Flying Saucers will be this summer. Please stop by in Colorado to see aviation history in the making, thanks for the on going support, 5 k site hits this year, and God Bless you all. More Info

Armadillo Aerospace News: Better liftoff, Jet vane vehicle
chabot imageAfter missing both the originally quoted and later verbal ship dates, the thermocouple amplifiers from Axiomatic finally arrived, and, wait for it… they were the wrong supply voltage. I wasn’t about to wait for them to correct it, so I looked around until I found another supplier. http://www.piresearch.com/ had just what I wanted, and they fed-exed three two me the next day, and said they could get more from the UK by Friday. On Friday they called and said that they had been hung up in customs longer than expected, but they could ship it Saturday delivery if I wanted. Quite a difference in service. The Axiomatic parts went back for a refund. The Pi parts are intended for auto racing exhaust temperature measurement, so they don’t include a precise calibration, but they are doing the job.
We built some metal stands that the vehicle could rest on during warmup and before liftoff, then have them just fall over so the vehicle would have free-swinging space under the crane, but it kept falling off of them during the warmup pulses when it lightened up a little. I would really like to get this working so the vehicle doesn’t have to start out rotating and tipping, and I can give everything a really good warmup, but we may need to make them a bit more self supporting, and actually pull them out from under the vehicle on liftoff, but that is potentially error prone. Read More

Friday, April 16, 2004

Starchaser's next OPEN DAY, april 24/25
chabot image- Genuine nasa moon rocks
- See the monster nova/starchaser 4 rocket
- Create & Launch your own paper rockets
- Presentations & Films throughout the day
- Official Starchaser memorabilia and souvenirs available
- Barbecue and Refreshments available each day
- Read more

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Scaled Composites: Test data Second powered flight of SpaceShipOne
chabot imageScaled Composites updated today their test data page.
Flight 53L / 13P Date: 8 Apr 04 Flight Time: 1.3 hour / 16 min 27 sec
White Knight Pilot: Binnie White Knight Copilot: Stinemetze
SpaceShipOne Pilot: Siebold
High Chase-Starship Crew: Karkow / Schere
High Chase Alpha Jet Crew: Van der Schueren / Johnson
Low Chase-Extra Pilot: Melvill / Coleman
The second powered flight of SpaceShipOne. 40 seconds motor burn time. Handling qualities during boost, through transonic and supersonic. Reaction control system functionality in-flight and feather configuration stability during transonic re-entry. Evaluation of radar tracking capability.
Launch conditions were 45,600 feet and 125knots. A planned immediate motor ignition was delayed about 2 minutes to evaluate a shock induced stall buffet resulting in an ignition altitude of only 38,300 feet. The 40 second rocket boost was smooth with good control. Pilot commented that the motor was surprisingly quiet; however the boost was heard by ground observers. Burnout occurred at 1.6M and apogee was over 105,000 feet. There was no noted flight control flutter or buzz during the climb. Feather recovery was nominal. Maximum feathered speed on entry was 0.9 Mach. The wing was de-feathered and locked by 40,000 feet. Handling quality assessments during descent were satisfactory and a smooth landing made to runway 30 at Mojave. All video and tracking systems performed well with spectacular footage obtained onboard, from chase and from ground stations.

Also: White Knight Flight Test Summaries
Flight 52 Date: 5 Apr 04 Flight Time: 2.0
White Knight Pilot: Siebold White Knight Copilot: Karkow
Objectives: Avionics checkout flight, pilot proficiency and landing practice.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: Up in the air (sort of), Jet vanes, Big Engine V2.0
chabot imageThe thermocouple amplifiers still didn’t arrive. Axiomatic said they would ship next-day delivery on Wednesday, but when I called on Friday looking for a tracking number, no one was answering the phones. They have now missed both their quoted ship date and their verbal ship date. I went with their product because they offered 12V power and a decent case, but I am probably going to look elsewhere for the next batch.
We did a careful valve cracking calibration of all the vehicle valves. We had done this before, but I had botched the correction code, and we weren’t all that precise. To make a better check than just listening for gas escaping the nozzles, we stretched disposable gloves over all the nozzles and watched for when they started to inflate. This worked very well. There were two correction factors that the code applied to the throttle position that I wound up removing: the A/D raw to native conversion nudged the potentiometer range in a percent on each side so that the values would stay truly in the 0% to 100% range even with some noise, and the flight control software scaled the desired throttle by 70% so it would never be in the nearly fully open ball valve range with little authority. I removed both of these (I limit the controlled throttle explicitly now instead of implicitly), and now the cracking points are all at approximately the same level we see on the test stand data feedback. The individual valves cracked at different points ranging from 11% to 15% before correction, which obviously makes them not warm up the same at low throttle levels. With correction, they all crack at 11%. Read More

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Russians develop unique space plane
According to Ivan Obraztsov, full-time member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and academic supervisor of the Applied Mechanics Institute, Russian experts had designed a cargo-passenger space plane capable of flying at 90-200-km altitudes in the early 1970s; that spacecraft could hurtle along at 30,000 kph. However, that project never took off the ground because of financial snags.

Our calculations show that it would take just 50 minutes to fly from Moscow to New York. A Moscow-Tokyo flight would last 53 minutes; meanwhile it will take 66 minutes to reach Sydney from Moscow, he pointed out.

Friday, April 09, 2004

JOKE: British Team Intends To Win X Prize
Randomperspective released this JOKE article today:
Following the recent success of the Scaled Composites in becoming the first private company to get a license to launch a rocket powered sub orbital flight, a British Developer has come forward – claiming to be the main rivals to the team tipped to take the prize later this year.
The team started work on what they called ‘The Brunel Project’ more than 15 years ago. Although the X Prize had not then been announced, the project had been started to test one of the greatest questions left from the Industrial Revolution: could the Victorians have achieved space flight?
It was often the fantasy of science fiction writers, but in 1988 evidence emerged of the project Brunel intended to follow what became his final project, The Great Eastern, with. Historians uncovered a sketch by the engineer of what appeared to be a steam powered space vessel. After receiving a government grant, a team of researchers began work on the project to assess its feasibility.
When the results came back positive, the decision was made to test whether Brunel’s creation would have actually flown. Like the manufacturing of the Babbage Engine, historians wanted to see if Britain could have dominated the world through to the 20th century on the premise that it listened to some of it’s eccentric geniuses more bizarre ideas.
The team intends to release further details of their space ambitions when they launch their website later this month. Read More

Thursday, April 08, 2004

SpaceShipOne Second Powered Flight
On April 8, SpaceShipOne completed its second supersonic test flight - this time it traveled up to Mach 2, beating its own record reaching an altitude of 105,000 ft.
Behind the controls of SpaceShipOne's second successful powered flight was pilot and future astronaut, Peter Siebold.

Scaled is roughly 1/3 of the way to 100 km.
"105,000 feet down, 223,000 feet to go!" exclaimed an excited onlooker, as he watched the ship fly overhead.

Space.com released a news post: http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/spaceshipone_test_040408.html

No details about the flight have been publicly issued by Scaled Composites, although the firm did respond to SPACE.com inquiries that, indeed, the flight had occurred and a de-briefing about the vehicle’s handling during the test is underway.

SpaceShipOne’s first powered flight took place on December 17, 2003. In that test, the motor roared to life for 15 seconds. According to a Scaled Composites source, today's flight was the 13th airborne demonstration of the vehicle.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

More on SpaceShip One launch license (updated)
chabot imageMSNBC has the story as well:
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) has given license approval to Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, permitting the firm to expand flight testing of SpaceShipOne  -- a privately-financed rocket plane to carry passengers to suborbital altitude...
Charles Kline, Jr., Special Assistant for FAA/AST External Affairs confirmed to SPACE.com that a launch license had been issued April 1: "We have issued a launch license today to Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites."
Read More

This license will let Scaled Composites engage in engine firings longer than the 15 seconds used in the December "Wright Brothers Centennial" test, in which SpaceShip One surpassed the speed of sound for the first time.

The FAA has posted the press release online, and the AP has the story with quotes from FAA spokesman Henry Miller: FAA inspectors carefully examined the space vehicle to make sure it's safe, said Price.

"There's no sure thing in anything when it comes to rocketry," he said. "We want to do what we can with the knowledge we have to make sure the launch is as safe as possible for the public."
Read More.

Scaled Composites news: Feds Give Private Spaceship Go-Ahead to Expand Flight Testing
chabot imageThe Federal Aviation Administration’s Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) has given license approval to Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, permitting the firm to expand flight testing of SpaceShipOne -- a privately-financed rocket plane to carry passengers to suborbital altitude.
SpaceShipOne, built by Scaled Composites is being led by aircraft designer Burt Rutan, who heads the company. The rocket plane and its carrier mothership, the White Knight, were unveiled on April 18, 2003. Since that time, the craft has undergone extensive piloted glide tests and one powered flight.Rutan and his team of Scaled Composites engineers are vying for the $10 million X Prize purse. The competition is geared to advance routine suborbital passenger flight, as well as hasten the day of regular and, hopefully, low-cost orbital voyages of private citizens in the future.
Charles Kline, Jr., Special Assistant for FAA/AST External Affairs confirmed to SPACE.com that a launch license had been issued April 1: "We have issued a launch license today to Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites."AST's commercial space transportation licensing program is designed to ensure public health and safety through the licensing of commercial space launches and reentries, and the operation of launch sites.
Protection of public health and safety and the safety of property is the objective of AST's licensing and compliance monitoring/safety inspection processes.
The FAA/AST issues a license when it determines that an applicant's launch or reentry proposal or proposal to operate a launch site will not jeopardize public health and safety, safety of property, U.S. national security or foreign policy interests, or international obligations of the United States. FAA/AST does not license launches performed by and for U.S. government agencies. Read More

The Starship at Scaled Composites
Not quite X-Prize news, but keep this in mind when you see the latest pictures from Scaled Composites and SpaceShip One. Russ Niles at AvWeb reports that Bob Scherer's chase aircraft is now one of only five or six Beech 2000 Starships still flying:

And then there were six ... or is it five? Raytheon's effort to decommission the fleet of Beech 2000 Starships has met with some resistance by pilots who just don't want to give up the composite, canarded, tailless twin turboprop that the company once hoped would revolutionize the business-aircraft market... One proud owner unlikely to willingly give up his is Robert Scherer, who, when he's not flying for business or pleasure, uses the Starship as a chase plane for Scaled Composites' entry in the X PRIZE competition...

Read More

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

ARCA News: The hydrogen peroxide monopropellant system completed four ground tests.
chabot imageOn April 1-3 the hydrogen peroxide monopropellant system completed four ground tests. On the last test we obtained 35% of the nominal thrust on 6 sec running. During this first test session we obtained all calculated parameters. At the end of April the system will be tested at full-specified thrust and time. Click here to download the complete press release (Word DOC file).
ARCA is proud to announce that from the data we have until now, the system tested on April 1-3 is the world first reusable monopropellant propulsion system integrally constructed from composite materials. Also, this is the most powerful Romanian liquid fuel engine ever constructed. If you want to see a short video clip (2.4 Mb) with one of the tests, click here to download.
News Article Source (with pictures)

Monday, April 05, 2004

Next era of flight starts in ... Kindersley?
chabot imageSASKATOON - A space launch this summer in Kindersley, Sask., is expected to be witnessed by billions of people worldwide.
"It's very confusing because this is the dawn of a new era in travel, from right here in Kindersley. We should be all over this in Saskatchewan but instead, no one seems to know or care," said Melanie Wildman, spokeswoman for the da Vinci Project, a volunteer-driven effort to launch the world's first independent manned space capsule.
Wildfire, as the capsule has been named, will be sent into the stratosphere from the airport in Kindersley, a town of 5,500 southwest of Saskatoon. An announcement for da Vinci's launch date will be made in Long Beach, Calif., on April 18 at the first race for the Champ Car World Series. Media from across the globe will descend on Kindersley for the launch. According to Wildman, CNN and the BBC have confirmed they will be there, as have other news agencies from Europe.
"This is going to be the biggest media event in Saskatchewan's history," she said. "The Associated Press has said it will be one of the top five human interest stories of 2004." Read More

Armadillo Aerospace News: 3700 lbf, Ceramic monolith, Jet vanes
chabot imageThe thermocouple amplifiers didn’t arrive, so we weren’t able to fly the big vehicle. Damn shame, because the weather was perfect, and it is probably going to rain this coming week. We insulated everything on the vehicle, mounting a replacement pressure gauge up on the support plate instead of on the distribution manifold, wrapped the feed lines, rewired the master cutoff with Tefzel wiring, and built a box around it.We also had an unexplained failure of our A/D board. The boards digital output still worked, and the FIFO was operating, but all data read zero. We suspect the on-board DC/DC converter had failed, but it is a cause for some concern. I replaced it with a spare that I had fortuitously just ordered, and everything is working fine, but we will keep a close eye on it. Read More

We're looking for more news administrators
chabot imageWe're looking for more news administrators to keep this x-prize space race news reporting website up to date.
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Sunday, April 04, 2004

chabot imageThe Israeli Team ILAT announced that their space tourism Business Plan has reached the semi-finals in the annual Wharton Business Plan Competition (WBPC). A distinguished panel of Venture Capitalists and other business experts have recently narrowed the field from 300+ business plans entries to just 25, of which ILAT is one. The Team's next goal is to advance to the finals, where only eight teams will be allowed to present plans before a panel of judges and an audience of over 200 venture capitalists, investment bankers, attorneys and business community leaders. The WBPC fosters the entrepreneurial spirit and business literacy by helping to promote the creation of new ventures. ILAT's success at this stage is of particular interest to the X PRIZE competition, in that this is the first time that space tourism will be examined at this prestigious event. For more information visit whartonbpc.com, or go to ilat.net.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Scaled Composites: White Knight Flight Test Summaries
chabot imageWhite Knight Flight Test Summaries update:
Flight: 51 Date: 31 Mar 04
SpaceShipOne Flight 13P launch rehearsal, avionics checkout and landing practice
Flight: 50 Date: 30 Mar 04
Avionics software evaluation, launch release rehearsal and landing pattern practice

chabot imageWASHINGTON, D.C. National Space Society Executive Director George Whitesides issued the following statement following the announcement on March 29th by Space Adventures that Dr. Gregory Olsen will be the next 'private space explorer' to ride a Soyuz spacecraft into orbit.
"NSS members welcome the continuing support of space tourism by the Russian government and Space Adventures. As a private space flight passenger, Dr. Olsen continues in the tradition of technically knowledgeable entrepreneurs like Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth.
Private space explorers like Dr. Olsen are making a significant contribution to the space program, both financially and scientifically. They bring much needed funds to the Russian government at a time when the US and others are constrained in their ability to help. Dr. Olsen's bold decision also demonstrates the strong level of interest in public space travel. "We commend Dr. Olsen's pledge to promote spaceflight via school appearances after his return from space. Continuing development of space technology in all countries will bring down the cost of human spaceflight, so that more people can experience it firsthand.
Finally, we note that Dr. Olsen is currently planning to launch in April 2005 onboard a Soyuz rocket. We note with excitement that the next private citizens to go to space may well be before this, with the expected suborbital launch of X PRIZE competitors later this year. The growing number of private space tourism opportunities heralds the arrival of a new age of space travel." More Info

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