Space Access Update #104  9/29/04 
                 Copyright 2004 by Space Access Society 

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These last few years, we've gone from our spring Space Access conference 
straight to working hard for a living.  This year it's been harder work 
than ever, because we're finally rearranging things to spread the load 
out so we'll no longer have to vanish from the scene for months at a 
time.  We still have a couple months to go in this year's (hopefully 
final) marathon - but sometimes history calls too loudly to ignore.  
Forgive the haste of what follows... 

Contents this issue:

 - X-Prize Half-Won, Orbital Prize, Tourism Company In The Works

 - HR 3752 In Senatorial Limbo - License To Fly - Call or Fax!

 - SAS Runs "Alt Space Access" Sessions Friday Oct 8th At Upcoming 
   Space Frontier Foundation Conference, Oct 8-10 in Long Beach CA 


      X-Prize Half-Won, Orbital Prize, Tourism Company In The Works

When the world changes, sometimes it changes fast.

The Scaled Composites SpaceShip One today succeeded in making 
the first of the two official flights required to win the X-Prize.
The flight was not uneventful - SS1 got into a high-rate roll partway 
through the rocket burn and did not stabilize again till after the motor 
was shut down, but the altitude goal was achieved and the reentry and
glide landing went smoothly.  Mike Melville, the pilot, has said the 
roll might have been his fault; we expect it'll be a while before 
definitive word on what the problem was comes out.  We will say that 
finishing the flight successfully speaks well for both the robustness of 
the system and the skill of the pilot.

SS1's second offical X-Prize flight was tentatively scheduled for Monday 
October 4th before today - we understand more definite word on the 
second flight should be out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Aviation Week & Space Technology reports that Robert Bigelow, 
founder of the orbital inflatable habitat builder Bigelow Aerospace, 
plans to announce a new $50 million prize for the first private 
passenger-carrying orbital ship.  Bigelow reportedly will provide $25 
million of the prize funding to get things rolling, and will be seeking 
a co-sponsor or sponsors for the new prize.  (Part of the huge amount of 
news from this summer we need to write about Real Soon Now is that 
Bigelow Aerospace will be doing a series of flight tests of their 
habitat modules over the next few years, component tests, then subscale, 
then full scale.) 

And finally, Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic Airlines has announced 
he will be licensing SpaceShip One technology in order to start a 
suborbital tourism spaceline within three years.  The really amazing 
thing here is that the cable business show report on this we caught 
today took it seriously, with a minimum of boggling and only a couple 
bad jokes. 

The times, they are a-changing.  Fast.

There is far more going on than just these three things, but we have no 
more time to report on them tonight.  RSN, sigh...  Or come out to the 
Queen Mary in Long Beach a week from Friday!  (See our last news item 
for details.)

       HR 3752 In Senatorial Limbo - License To Fly - Call or Fax!

See our Update #102 ( for 
details of HR 3752, The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 - 
in brief, it's a new law that allows the FAA to license low-cost 
reusable commercial space vehicles on a basis that gives the new 
industry a chance to grow, rather than strangling it in the cradle. 

HR 3752 passed the House by a vote of 402-1.  It is neither partisan nor 
controversial.  It is currently stuck in the Senate Commerce Committee 
for no good reason anyone can tell us, and may well die there when the 
108th Congress ends later this year.  If that happens, all the hard work 
and progress to date is wiped out, and it has to start all over again 
next year. 

We apologize for not doing a really detailed piece on how to affect 
this, but time is tight, both for us tonight and for this bill.

Please, check and see 
if a Senator from your state is on the list.  If so, phone their office 
(the numbers are there) or fax a short note (you'll have to dig for fax 
numbers, but faxes are considered more effective) and ask them to report 
HR 3752 favorably out of committee, so the Senate can pass this 
beneficial and non-controversial bill and the US private space industry 
can get rolling.   (No paper letters - word is those currently are 
backed up for months, and this session of Congress has only days to run 
before they recess pre-election.)  (There will probably be a "lame duck" 
session post-election, which will be the final chance to pass this bill 
this year, so keep working this over the election recess if HR 3752 
doesn't move before then.)  

     SAS Runs "Alt Space Access" Sessions Friday Oct 8th At Upcoming 
     Space Frontier Foundation Conference, Oct 8-10 in Long Beach CA 

Our friends at the SFF asked us if we'd put together a "mini-Space 
Access Conference" to run Friday of their upcoming annual Space Frontier 
Conference, and we failed to say no.  Friday October 8th, 9 am to noon, 
2 pm to 5, get a taste of what we do for two and a half days every 
spring.  Confirmed presentations: AirLaunch LLC, Andrews Space & 
Technology, Armadillo Aerospace, JP Aerospace, Rocketplane Ltd, XCOR 
Aerospace, plus FAA AST Regs Discussion and A Special Surprise 
Presentation.  Catch a cross-section of the players in this exciting new 
low-cost launch industry! 

The conference will be on the Queen Mary hotel in Long Beach California.  
See for details on hotel 
rooms and conference rates.  See you there!  (If we live through this 
next week's work...) 

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in the cost of reaching space.  You may redistribute this Update in 
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 Space Access Society 

 "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System" 
                                        - Robert A. Heinlein