Rob Coppinger: May 2008 Archives
JAXA has selected reference system two for further work and in the extended portion of this blog post has the timetable for its development
At the International Academy of Astronautics' symposium on private human access to space, on Thursday, Mark Hempsell of the University of Bristol, and a consultant to Culham, Oxfordshire based-Reaction Engines, which designed Skylon, set out a business plan for an orbital service. He also showed how orbital rescue could be conducted by Skylon vehicles and a detaile design for the passenger module, which could be swopped out for a payload module - see extended section for related images
According to Oleg Ventsokvsky in 2004 and 2005 Yuzhnoye Design Office "conjointly with RSC Energia carried out feasibility studies" to launch Kliper using Yuzhnoye's Zenit two-stage rocket
The Zenit was designed to be man rated and I understand that it was a derivative of the Energia booster for the Buran Space Shuttle. The Zenit's first-stage main engine has a "deep thrust" throttling capability to allow the reduction of longitudinal g-loads during ascent, to ensure the passenger does not experience anymore than 3g. This ascent g loading is similar to NASA's Space Shuttle and is "significantly less than Soyuz spacecraft," says Yuzhnoye.
click through to the extended section for more details about the next step in MHI's spaceplane work, a small reusable vehicle
Oleg Ventskovsky from Ukraine's Yuzhnoye Design Office told me today at the IAA symposium on private human access to space that "we have had some talks about this [using a Zenit for the ESA/Russian Crew Space Transportation System]." The Zenit launcher was originally designed to be man rated and was considered for an Energia six man capsule in the 1990s. More information soon
credit: Yuzhnoye design office
credit: EADS Astrium
Astrium has sent me these official images of its capsule concept mockup exhibited at the Berlin air show. We can now see that it is a three crew vehicle.
Click through to the extended entry to see more images
credit: Steve Nichols/Flight Daily
Our reach is great here at Flight and while I am typing on a French keyboard in a dingy internet "cafe" above a bar on the rue de la plage in rainy Arcachon I have found in my browser accessed email inbox this and other pictures of EADS Astrium's conical capsule proposal - seen below in an official Astrium image
credit: EADS Astrium
Click through to the extended entry for more pictures
After the long weekend that has been the UK's spring bank holiday and America's memorial day weekend I am off to the French town of Arcachon, located on that country's Atlantic coast south of Bordeaux, for the International Academy of Astronautics' symposium on private human access to space. So expect commercial human spaceflight news and blogs from me this week and probably next week too
The image above is of the Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association's (ARCA) Stabilo launch vehicle. I forgot to include ARCA in the list of European suborbital ventures in this posting. Having had an unmanned carrier balloon test of the Stabilo-1b vehicle ARCA now plans for an end of year manned flight
But more recently ARCA has become one of the teams competing for the Google lunar X Prize and announced last week that they intend to test fly a Stabilo vehicle with a prototype of the team's "European Lunar Lander" onboard in three months time - see the video of the ARCA announcement about that in the extended portion of the post
credit: Flight/Virgin Galactic / caption: White Knight II on runway without SpaceShipTwo
I have been getting emails from people asking when I am expecting to post more photos and video from Virgin Galactic
I have emailed Virgin public relations about new images, as I was told new construction pics could be available in a "few weeks" after speaking to the company about its Mission Galactic press release and related website that you can find in the extended portion of this post, but have had no answer so far
I may have an opportunity soon to obtain some pics but if that doesn't work out it is likely to be the July media day roll out of White Knight II before anything new emerges
credit: Starchaser Industries / caption: ESA has funded a study with Starchaser
The European Space Agency could provide human spaceflight services including astronaut training, engage in partnerships with European space tourism ventures and contribute to the development of the necessary pan-European related legal framework, according to its space tourism position paper published today
In my Ares V loiter skirt posting Tobi asked, "any news when the rollout of [White Knight II] will be?"
I will actually now reveal what I have known for months about the roll out plans for WK2 as the game has almost been given away by Branson himself...
And so, drum roll please, the amazing roll out date for WK2 is...
Thanks to Jeff Foust's link to the fiscal year 2009 authorisation bill for NASA, I found this interesting tidbit;
SEC. 406. EXPLORATION CREW RESCUE.
In order to maximize the ability to rescue astronauts whose space vehicles have become disabled, the Administrator shall enter into discussions with the appropriate representatives of spacefaring nations who have or plan to have crew transportation systems capable of orbital flight or flight beyond low Earth orbit for the purpose of agreeing on a common docking system standard.
Do you think that includes China?
Last week I was surprised to see a ring shape structure with solar panels detach from the Ares V's Earth departure stage just before trans-lunar injection, while relaxing watching another Constellation architecture video at the AIAA/ESA/Eumetsat Space Operations 2008 conference in the beautiful Heidelberg
So surprised I fired off an email to the helpful PR folks at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center asking if the skirt was a recent change and this was the reply from Ares projects manager Steve Cook - see extended entry
Woo! It's the NASA Ares project office May 2008 report, or eighth video to you followers of NASA Ares videos. Dig that groovy music...
Find the previous videos in this posting's extended section
The above image was created by one of our artists here at Flight
So there you go, you can read the Google translation of the Russian Federal Space Agency aka Roscosmos statement here about this conical capsule choice (or read the text in the extended entry to this posting) but is anyone surprised?
My first thought is, is it this conical capsule from the CIRA presentation I saw in Ohio?
Well it has been a while since I did the ol' news bites, as you may have noticed there has been plenty of material to focus on anyway. Last couple of days I have been on training and the blog software has been updated - just to explain the lack of new posts from myself and the rest of the Flight blogging team I guess the surprising news today is the BBC's scoop on this EADS Astrium manned capsule, based on the Automated Transfer Vehicle technology
caption: SpaceShipOne in SpaceShipTwo's Virgin Galactic livery
credit: Scaled Composites/Flight
A while ago Sir Richard Branson's special projects guru Alex Tai, then Virgin Galactic chief operating officer, was talking to me about the whole space tourism enterprise's development and Tai suddenly mentioned an interesting what-if; that in 2004 he and others at Galactic had considered flying SpaceShipOne commercially
source: a NASA/United Space Alliance internal briefing obtained by Flight
Checking with my ISS programme sources I have got confirmation that the Soyuz TMA-11 descent module did indeed incorrectly separate from its equipment module and been informed about the engineering changes Energia is making to try to solve the problem
source: a NASA/United Space Alliance internal briefing obtained by Flight
Earlier this week I asked by email those nice people at Zvezda (whom I visited in 2005) whether or not they had ever sold an Orlan suit to the Chinese government. This is the reply.
We are not in the position to confirm or disprove this information.
We congratulate you and your colleagues with the Victory Day!
Boris A. Ivanov
Foreign Business Relations
"RD&PE Zvezda" JSC"
Victory day, by the way, for the Russians, is 9 May, the day in 1945 when apparently the Allies signed Germany's unconditional surrender, so I am told
This video was shown at the 23 January Virgin Galactic unveil of SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and White Knight II (WK2) and has since emerged on Youtube so here it is at last in full on Flightglobal-o-vision
There appears to be growing evidence that TMA-11 suffered a repeat of an incident known to have occured in 1969 with the descent of Soyuz 5
Former Flight International contributor James Oberg has had an article published on IEEE Spectrum online that has information from an internal NASA report that indicates a fault with the separation of TMA-11's descent and equipment modules
Flight is also investigating sources that suggest that TMA-11 is not the only recent repeat of the Soyuz 5 equipment module problem
This is an image of a proposed robotic lunar sample return mission from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Its return vehicle design (seen in the centre of the lunar vehicles' stack) is based on a sharp edge configuration that is a development of the DLR's planned Micro-g Free Flyer (pictured below). And that is a proposed follow on to the current SHEFEX missions
Click through to the extended section of this posting for the CIRA Hopper graphics and text
The following pictures are from a brief video report broadcast on China's CCTV7 state run channel (CCTV9 is that government's English language channel) that has found its way onto Youtube - see the video embedded in the extended section of this blog posting along with older related videos
Below is what appears to be the first picture of the Chinese EVA spacesuit, albeit modified for underwater operation, and unsurprisingly, like this video obtained by Flight in 2007, it looks very much like a Russian Zvezda Orlan suit
While this image shows the orbital module model in the bottom of the tank it also looks very similar to the shape and design of the module shown in the aforementioned video
The following two images appear to be pictures of the two astronauts to undergo water tank training and perhaps they are candidates to carry out the mission?
Click on for the water tank training video
credit: Virgin Galactic
These two images are taken from a presentation given by the Italian Aerospace research centre's (CIRA) head of space programmes at the AIAA space planes, hypersonic systems and technologies conference here in Dayton, Ohio. The ARIES was developed in collaboration with Thales Alenia Space and the image below shows a variant of the ARIES that is a concept for hypersonic travel