RocketPlane’s Florida Opportunity
Chuck Lauer announced that Rocketplane Global had signed a letter of intent with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) to fly out of Cecil Field, a former naval air station that received a spaceport license from the FAA earlier this year. Rocketplane, he said, was the first company to reach an agreement with the JAA to operate out of Cecil Field. The flights would be coupled to the development of a tourist attraction at the spaceport that would offer a more mass-market experience, including virtual reality spaceflights, at a cost similar to typical theme park admissions.
The folks at NewSpaceJournal have posted some write-ups about this year’s Space Access Conference in Phoenix earlier this month:
A thrilling and terrifying time for NewSpace
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In some ways, the most dangerous thing that can happen to true believers is to give them everything that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re asking for and watch them fail.Ã¢â‚¬Â So said Jeff Greason, president of XCOR Aerospace, in his talk Friday at the Space Access Ã¢â‚¬â„¢10 conference in Phoenix. While supporters of NewSpace might argue that they havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gotten everything theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve wanted yet, clearly there is more interest in, and scrutiny of, the commercial space industry in general and entrepreneurial space ventures in particular. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am both thrilled and terrified at the magnitude of the opportunity that is now facing our industry,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
An Evolving Armadillo
Speaking at the Space Access Ã¢â‚¬â„¢10 conference in Phoenix yesterday, John Carmack noted that the evolution of Armadillo Aerospace from a group of hobbyists to a full-fledged business is nearly complete. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve pretty much become the company we set out to be a number of years ago,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said, with most of the core team now full-time employees and the company making an operating profit. But the business theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing with organizations ranging from the Rocket Racing League to NASA can be Ã¢â‚¬Å“distractingÃ¢â‚¬Â to their core efforts. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is kind of getting in the way of building the things we want to build for the vehicles we want to build,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. He said he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to become yet another small aerospace company, Ã¢â‚¬Å“always chasing around their friends and contactsÃ¢â‚¬Â looking for work.
SA10: Commercial RLV Technology Roadmap update
Dan Rasky of NASA Ames presented on the status of their Commercial RLV Technology Roadmap Study, seeking to identify what technologies needed for such vehicles (both suborbital and orbital) are of most interest to industry. The full details of the effort are in his slide presentation, posted here by popular request. The goal, he said, is to have an interim roadmap ready to present at the NewSpace 2010 conference in July at NASA Ames; the final version will be out in September.
One interesting note from the presentation: Rasky said that NASA Dryden recently acquired the two airframes from the canceled X-34 program. They had been in storage since the programÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cancellation when a Dryden employee bought them for $1 each from Orbital Sciences, but when he retired the airframes were dragged out to the bombing range at Edwards AFB. Fortunately the airframes were recovered intact, although several crates of other X-34 parts were lost. Rasky said his office is trying to get some funding to study the airframes and determine their potential viability for future integrated flight tests, something the road-mapping study has found considerable interest for so far.