Archive for the ‘Space – General’ Category

Has the phrase ‘what does that even mean?’ become a cliché yet?

If so, apologies in advance because ‘what does that even mean?’ is what comes to mind when I read the Space Posture Review is undergoing rich debate over issues like “we need a management structure for how we do business out there.”

Does that mean we don’t have a management structure now?  Or does it mean the management structure we have now is unsatisfactory?  Or does it mean something else?

Anyone? Anyone? The Space Posture Review?


The apparent failure of a DARPA hypersonic vehicle shouldn’t be a set back for a prompt global strike capability, should it?

Well actually, yes.  I’d expect a maneuvering vehicle to be a requirement for prompt global strike as there might be a need to depart from a ballistic trajectory to be able to (for example) turn around 180 degrees.

Why is this capability important?  Because your kill vehicle needs to be aligned with its target.  If Bin Laden is in a concrete reinforced cave (think Iron Man) with a west-facing opening and we launch a prompt global strike vehicle on a westerly azimuth from California, the kill vehicle would need to fly beyond its target and then maneuver around to come back and align itself with the cave’s opening.

Hitting the right mountain does little good it the target is on the opposite side.

Posted by John B. Sheldon, Director of the National Space Studies Center

Mark has kindly (perhaps even foolishly!) allowed me to guest blog on Songs of Space & Nuclear War while I am attending both the National Security Space Office (NSSO) sponsored Space Professional Development Conference (SPDC) and the Space Foundation’s 26th National Space Symposium, both at the lovely Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

I can’t promise Mark’s great popular cultural allusions and references, nor his elegant and engaging writing style, but I do hope to provide some insights to some of the goings on at these two events for the rest of this week.

Today I am at the Air Force Association’s Global Warfare Symposium, which is being held at the Beverly Hills Hilton.  It’s good work if you can find it.

The event has an unusual format in that it starts on a Thursday after lunch then runs Friday in the morning only.  Friday evening is the AFA Ball.

Speakers this afternoon included Lt Gen Larry James, 14th AF/CC, Lt Gen Frank Klotz, Global Strike Command/CC, Maj Gen Dick Webber, 24th Air Force Commander, and General Kevin Chilton, Commander of USSTRATCOM.  This was followed by an industry panel focusing on space and cyberspace, which was moderated by Lt Gen Tom Sheridan, the Space and Missile Systems Center Commander, and included a distinguished list of panelists including Brian Arnold, Charles Croom, Craig Cooning, Alan Paller, and Dr,. Richard Raines.

Yesterday was a visit with three very smart men from Microcosm in Hawthorne.  They are very focused on reducing the cost to get to space and have an outstanding combination of innovative ideas and beneficial and simplified technologies.  These include significant innovations in fiber-based tank systems for fuels and oxidizers.  They also include highly simplified rocket engines (no turbopump) and nozzle systems.  Additionally, their systems are as environmentally benign as they come.

The follow-up was a tour of the Space X facility, also in Hawthorne, this time with two very smart guys.  Space X manufactures about 70+percent of the booster there in their own facility to include making their own rocket engines.  As the cost of the EELV family of vehicles continue to rise above all expectations, Space X appears to be very well poised to move beyond their current commercial model of supporting/demonstrating capability for NASA and into the traditional launch hardware and launch services needed by DoD users. 

Couldn’t take any pictures, but two really excellent tours.

Ex-astronaut pleads guilty.

Here’s my you-gotta-be-kidding line (emphasis added) :  “Nowak, 46, is a married mother of three. She flew on the space shuttle in 2006, but was dismissed from the astronaut corps after her arrest and has since been on active duty at a Navy base in Corpus Christi, Texas.”

In a profoundly optimistic and interesting set of prognostications, Spaceflight Now reports on the outlook for the space industry.  In short, most of it looks mighty fine.  Here are some of the highlights forecast for the world-wide space industry.

Regarding meteorological and terrestrial observation satellites:

  • Revenues at $1B in 2009 and could quadruple in a few years
  • About 260 new satellites launched in the next decade, about double the 128 launched between 1998 and 2008
  • Growth to $27.4B in the next decade versus $20.4 in the last decade
  • Profits derived from space-based capabilities increasing at 16% per year for the next decade
  • Thirty-four nations involved in satellite observation programs by 2018 versus eight in 1997

Regarding communications satellites:

  • Average revenue growth of about five percent in the next five years
  • More than 30 large new satcoms being produced with a value around $7.5B
  • Twenty new satellites launched in the last 18 months for terrestrial digital TV
  • 2800 new satellite TV channels appeared in 2008 bringing the total to 24000
  • Satellite data transmission grew 10 percent in 2008

Regarding launch:

  • 10-year forecast for launch vehicles at $48B–totals 636 launch vehicles
  • The split: U.S 161; Russia, Ukraine, and China 306; Europe 92; India, Japan, and Israel 73

The bad news:

  • U.S. Atlas 5 and Delta 4 launch vehicles largely priced out of the commercial market