In preparation for my chat with David Livingston tonight (7-8:30 pm PST, 10-11:30 pm EST) on The Space Show, I’ve been reviewing the NewSpace Log and trying to condense an extremely active year into a few top highlights and general themes. Below I start with a list of major developments and then follow with a more detailed accounting of progress in 2010. I’ll try to post a discussion of more general themes later.
(Note that by “NewSpace” I’m referring to new ways of doing space development that focus particularly on lowering costs and improving performance. So this is not limited to just small entrepreneurial companies.)
The top NewSpace highlights of 2010: – The highly successful flights of the SpaceX Falcon 9 flight in June and the Falcon 9/Dragon in November.
– President Obama proposed a NASA budget that canceled the Constellation program and its internally developed rocket projects and instead would have NASA use commercial space transport services selected via competition according to performance and price.
– In addition, NASA began several initiatives along the lines long proposed by space advocates: data purchase contracts with commercial space firms, contracts with commercial suborbital firms for flights for research payloads, and new Centennial Challenges announced plus increased funding for the program.
– Boeing, Orbital Sciences, and Sierra Nevada announced development of space transport systems for NASA’s commercial crew program.
– Boeing also is working with Bigelow Aerospace to provide transportation to the BA commercial space stations. Bigelow said six countries had given letters of intent to participate in the BA commercial space station project.
– The Shuttles are retiring but vertical takeoff/horizontal landing spaceplanes are alive and well. The X-37B/OTV-1 had a successful mission and Orbital and SNC plan to enter winged vehicles in the CCDev competition.
– The suborbital space transport industry did not reach space in 2010 but substantial progress was made by several companies including Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites, and XCOR.
– Plans for research with commercial suborbital space vehicles gathered momentum with a well attended conference last February (another planned for 2011), NASA committed $15M per year to the CRuSR program, spaceflight training programs for researchers opened, etc.
– Construction of Spaceport America moved along on schedule and the runway was dedicated in October. ==== Here is a more detailed list of NewSpace style developments in 2010.
NewSpace Biz: – SpaceX and Iridium sign largest commercial launch contract in history. – NanoRacks placed its system on the ISS – MDA failed to get funding for a space tug project – Rocketplane announced bankruptcy and liquidation – Bigelow said 6 countries had given letters of intent to participate in the BA commercial space station project
Suborbital research with commercial reusable vehicles gained momentum: