Saturday, May 31, 2014

BlackBridge Secures $22 Million for New Satellite Constellation

          by Chuck Black

It's hard to believe that Lethbridge, Alberta based BlackBridge already controls one of the larger privately owned satellite constellations in the world. But the firm, which currently owns five identical Earth imaging satellites through its Berlin based RapidEye subsidiary, has just secured additional funding to expand its network.

The five, original RapidEye satellites lined up for testing in 2008. All were launched into orbit on August 29, 2008, using a DNEPR-1 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo c/o SSTL

As outlined in the May 15th, 2014 press release "BlackBridge Secures $22 Million for New Satellite Constellation," the new funding was provided from the Bank of Montreal (BMO) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to begin the development of a new satellite constellation and for the renewal of existing credit facilities.

Details of the new constellation concept, which BlackBridge calls the "RapidEye+" were unveiled during a recent public presentation, according to the May 27th, 2014 Spatial Source article "BlackBridge unveils new mission, secures $22M."

According to the article, the new constellation will be "composed of five satellites with an imaging capacity that will far exceed the current RapidEye constellation’s capacity of 5 million km2 per day." It will be capable of measurements across fourteen different electromagnetic bands "strategically placed for applications in agriculture, vegetation monitoring, land cover discrimination, water quality, and many others," plus include a panchromatic channel, sensitive to all the colors of the visible spectrum, with a resolution of better than one metre.

Firms like Blackbridge, UrtheCast and others make Earth images taken under different electromagnetic frequencies and conditions to provide geographic and/or spatially referenced images which can be used by various industries for planning and resource management. The industry tools and methodologies were highlighted in the June 13th, 2010 post on "Understanding and Profiting from Geomatics." Image c/o MDA and CSA.

The RapidEye+ constellation is expected to launch in 2019, which would allow for a significant overlap with the operation of the current RapidEye constellation.

The original RapidEye constellation was built by Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) after funding was secured through the European Union, the State of Brandenburg (Germany) and a banking consortium consisting of Commerzbank, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the KfW Banking Group. BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) acted as prime contractor for the project under a contract issued by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) in 2004.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Take That Robonaut 2 & Kirobo! DEXTRE Repairs ISS & Itself!

          by Sarah Ansari-Manea

The most sophisticated space robot ever built will be performing maintenance on itself and the rest of the International Space Station (ISS) throughout the coming week.

As outlined in the May 22nd, 2014 Canadian Space Agency (CSA) press release "Canada's Dextre Becomes the First Robot to Repair Itself in Space," Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM), will be the first robot to repair itself in space, performing a series of tasks from changing batteries to replacing camera’s for Canada’s Mobile Servicing System (MSS).

This Canadian built and programmed “handyman” has significantly reduced the need for dangerous and lengthy space walks, saving the ISS crew’s time for their scientific experiments and studies.

The countless maintenance jobs done by Dextre to date involve anything from detailed maintenance work, to performing the first refueling of a mock satellite in space, a mission known as the Robotic Refueling Mission technology demonstration (RRM).

Space robotic self-repair and maintenance is promising and necessary for the advancement and continuation of humankind’s exploration of space. As discussed in the January 20th, 2014 post "Space Tethers as an Orbital Debris Removal Technique," the space debris issue could be dealt with more effectively through the use of on-orbit robotic servicing technologies, and RRM showed how promising this next step would be.

The CSA is currently working towards a Next Generation Canadarm (NGC), whose technology will allow us to continue in our exploration of the solar system and beyond. The vast number of satellites used in our daily lives, as well as any other devices orbiting our planet, will be greatly reduced through the ability to maintain, refuel and reposition existing technologies, and the new Canadarm fleet will be redesigned with these goals in mind.

Sarah Ansari-Manea.
The world is working towards the Moon and Mars as destinations, and Canada’s incredible reputation with Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre, will only lead to a more technologically advanced Next-Generation Canadarm.

Sarah Ansari-Manea is an aspiring astrophysicist, currently completing a specialist in physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Low Cost Nuclear Reactor Turns to Crowd-Sourcing for Funding

          by Brian Orlotti

A private team of researchers has turned to crowd-funding to help build a proof-of-concept for a new kind of nuclear fusion reactor. If successful, the technology will have far-reaching effects both on Earth and in space.

Overview of the theories and methodologies surrounding the LLP approach to building what is technically known as an aneutronic fusion reactor. It's generally conceded by scientists that a successful aneutronic fusion reactor would greatly reduce problems associated with neutron radiation such as ionizing damage, neutron activation, and requirements for biological shielding, remote handling, and safety. Graphic c/o the Focus Fusion Society.

As outlined in the May 18th, 2014 Gizmag article. "Can crowdfunding give us safe fusion power by 2020?," New Jersey-based LawrenceVille Plasma Physics (LPP) began a campaign on crowd-funding website Indiegogo on May 6th, 2014 under the title "Focus Fusion: emPOWERtheWORLD" with the objective of raising $200,000 USD for the purchase components for a new type of nuclear fusion reactor which utilizes a technology called "focus fusion."

The Gizmag article quoted LPP president and independent plasma Eric Lerner as saying that his team can obtain a berylium electrode for $200,000 USD, demonstrate net power gain (when a fusion reaction produces more energy than it needed to start) with $1Mln USD and deliver a working fusion reactor with $50Mln USD in funding. Assuming their funding efforts succeed, The LPP team says their reactor would cost $500,000 USD (far less than nuclear fission reactors), be safe and small enough to fit in a garage or shipping container, have an output of 5 MW, and produce electricity for as little as 0.06 cents per kWh. The LPP team aims to build a commercial-ready reactor by 2016.

LPP president and independent plasma researcher Eric Lerner. His current work derived from earlier NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory funded studies in 1994 and 2001 to explore whether the dense plasma focus could be an effective ion thruster to propel spacecraft. Lerner is also a popular science writer who stirred up much controversy with his 1991 book "The Big Bang Never Happened: A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe," which rejected mainstream "Big Bang" cosmology in favor of non-standard plasma cosmology theories originally proposed by Hannes Alfvén in the 1960s. Photo c/o CrowdFund Insider

LPP's effort contrasts greatly with government-funded fusion research programs, most notably the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), now being constructed in southern France. ITER, a joint effort of seven nations, has been marred by over a decade of delays as well as doubts  over its long-term economic viability. ITER's cost is expected to exceed the $13.7Bln USD mark and won't begin operations until as least 2027.

The traditional technical approach to developing nuclear fusion is centered around the idea of containing super-hot gas (called plasma) and stabilizing it, which is both technically challenging and expensive. The focus fusion approach is not to fight a plasma's instabilities, but instead harness them to concentrate the plasma in a very small area.

Focus fusion relies on a device called a plasma focus. The heart of the fusion reactor, it can be as small as a few inches in diameter. A plasma focus consists of a central hollow cylinder made of copper, the anode, surrounded by an insulator, and an outer electrode, the cathode, a circle of copper rods. The device is enclosed in a vacuum chamber filled with the fusion fuel (hydrogen and boron gas) and attached to a bank of capacitors.

In a microsecond, the capacitor bank pulses a current of over a million amps from the cathode to the anode. This ionizes the gas, turning it into a plasma. At this point, parallel currents run along each other inside the plasma, generating a magnetic field that forces dense plasma filaments to attract and twist around each other, concentrating the plasma over a small area.

A plasma focus device from the 1970's. Invented in the early 1960s by J.W. Mather and also independently by N.V. Filippov in 1954, they fell out of favor in the 1970's and have only recently been rediscovered for research into fusion power.

The magnetic fields focus the plasma filaments into a donut-shape plasmoid that is only millimeters across and quickly compressing. When the plasmoid gets dense enough, radiation from the center of the plasmoid starts to escape, and that causes a sudden fall in the magnetic field, accelerating a beam of electrons on one end and a beam of ions on the other end. As they leave, the electrons in the beam interact with the electrons in the plasmoid and heat up the area to over 1.8 billion degrees Celsius, which triggers fusion reactions.

Unlike other fusion methods, the hydrogen-boron reaction generates little or no neutrons, so no dangerous radioactive waste is produced. In fact, the end products have a half-life of just over 20 minutes, so the reactor's interior would be radiation-free in only nine hours.

On Earth, focus fusion technology could potentially offer cheap, clean energy free from control by any single nation or group of nations. Viable fusion power would not only enrich the developed world, but help lift the undeveloped world out of poverty. In space, fusion power would enable far faster spacecraft propulsion than chemical rockets, enabling easy access to any planet in our solar system. Fusion power could allow travel times to Mars measured in days instead of weeks.

Brian Orlotti.
Should LPP's crowdfunding initiative succeed, it will be a powerful statement of what the public and  skillful small business can achieve together. Focus Fusion's success will give the phrase 'people power' a whole new meaning.

Brian Orlotti is a Toronto-based IT professional and the treasurer of the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Asteroid Experience at the 2014 Int'l Space Development Conference

          by Melissa K. Force

Partial speakers list. Graphic c/o ISDC2014.
The annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) sponsored by the National Space Society (NSS) was held last week in Los Angeles, California.

The ISDC provides space enthusiasts with five days of presentations and panels by experts, astronauts and entrepreneurs on a vast array of current issues in space exploration and innovation. The content is so immense that sessions run on sixteen simultaneous tracks and sub-tracks so that it is often impossible to see every presentation of interest.

For example, morning and afternoon sessions were split among program tracks devoted to living in space, NASA/exploration (with lunar, asteroid and emerging science sub tracks), space & media, space engagement, space enterprise, space policy, space solar power, the space experience (with an astronomy sub track), Mars, space settlement and trans-humanism tracks – each of which were often comprised of presentations on subject matter covered in other, competing, tracks.

The ISDC offered something for everyone, from standard interests like lunar settlement, Mars exploration and sub-orbital space tourism to more progressive subjects like space fashion, space music, transhumanism and suspended animation.

Although the plenary sessions, luncheons and dinners are available to all comers (and feature space superstars like Elon Musk and Buzz Aldrin), the multi-track structure of the conference results in a competition of simultaneous attractions in different areas of the building. Some hard choices must be made.

A quick review of the master program reveals that, for some reason, asteroids – their mining, mapping, capture or redirection – are especially important this year and presentations on these aspects are numerous.

Almost literally first up is a presentation by Michael Buet, an engineering expert at Kepler Energy & Space Engineering (KESE) who provides answers to the “Why? How?” of asteroid mining in the Living in Space track (In order to hear him, I will have to miss a presentation on asteroid flyby missions, but that just shows how enchanted I am to learn the elementary whys and hows of asteroid mining).

Like most of the registrants in the ISDC, I do not arrive unarmed with preconceptions. For example, it is my belief that space advocates often over-hype the potential wealth in asteroids, especially harvesting platinum group metals for sale on Earth and volatiles, which can be mined to provide on-orbit servicing of satellites to extend their station-keeping life.  Mining the resources of asteroids could reshape the economics of spaceflight but harnessing those resources using current space technology is a challenge and for this reason I am intrigued.

From Mr. Buet’s presentation I learn the distinction between the approach taken by his company, and that of its two billionaire-backed rivals, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. The latter companies plan to send armies of small reconnaissance cube-sats to prospect, land on and then tow asteroids to lunar orbit for later exploitation (similar to current NASA plans).

But unlike them, KESE has designed its own robotic asteroid mining system – Cornucopia – to avoid having to develop and test new space-tug and propulsion technologies required for manned expeditions to the Moon.  Cornucopia would use space technology already developed and proven by the Dawn mission, which demonstrated long-term space operation of ion rockets; the Hyabusa mission to the asteroid Itokawa, which demonstrated the basic capabilities for asteroid mining; and the ESA Rosetta comet exploration mission.

Cornucopia’s mission is to select and mine asteroid regolith robotically and return it to low Earth orbit where those raw materials would be transformed into useful forms needed for space manufacturing, using solar power, additive manufacturing and 3D printing to produce building materials, propellants, radiation shielding, and other structural components required for space-dwelling.

A synergistic accomplice to this in-orbit ore-processing system is active debris removal. It is no accident that Buet has collaborated with Jerome Pearson (inventor of the space elevator) and his colleagues to use debris removal techniques to supply raw material for re-manufacturing in space. Pearson is an early developer of the ElectroDynamic Debris Eliminator (EDDE), a solar-powered roving space vehicle that captures debris using lightweight nets to passively stabilize and de-orbit even the largest of objects like Zenit upper stages. Cornucopia can use such waste products to recycle the thousand tons of high-grade aluminum in upper stage space debris for other on-orbit uses, such as refurbishing aging satellites.

Cornucopia’s ultimate goal is to return several tons of marketable asteroid regolith to LEO by the end of the decade. In the process it will need to perfect and adapt some important technologies. Anchoring techniques (to secure the mining component to the asteroid – which will have little or no gravity) include impact-driven augers and pyrotechnic harpoons.  Earth-mining techniques may be as basic as a “post-hole-digger” approach. An auger screw transport system would move the ore up into the mining body, transferred into the return vehicle and compacted for return to Earth.

Though the amount of precious metals found in asteroids may be relatively small, one initial return expedition by 2020 could be sufficient to fund the asteroid mining enterprise and kick off the success of the mission.

In the ensuing sessions, I hear other asteroid presentations, including those from NASA and JPL engineers that describe proposed asteroid redirect missions to capture a small asteroid (or, alternatively, a boulder from its surface) with robotic spacecraft and tow it to a lunar orbit where astronauts can the hone their skills and operational techniques by revisiting the asteroid in 2025 using the Orion space capsule and Space Launch System rocket.

These presentations highlight the daunting process of finding and characterizing suitable asteroid targets; in comparison to the KESE Cornucopia mission which plays down those features, they feel more conservative and less optimistic.  But any damping of enthusiasm for asteroids is soon rekindled by further presentations on technologies enabling colonization of near-Earth asteroids, “getting to know” asteroids and comets, asteroid threats, challenges of asteroid resource extraction and a plenary panel session on “Asteroids for Life, Then and Now.”

Space fashion c/o Madison Magazine.
Though asteroids are only one of an extremely broad offering of space-related subjects at ISDC 2014, those presentations alone were enough to engross attendees.  As if it needed any further appeal, the ISDC week of space culminated in an extravagant evening highlighted by a “Space is Sexy” party.

After the Dinner & Space Renaissance Celebration, next year’s ISDC was officially handed off to the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA), which will be hosting the 2015 International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2015) next May in Toronto.

Melissa K. Force.
This appears to be the year of space for Canada (and specifically, Toronto), which is also the venue of the 2014 International Astronautical Congress (IAC2014), to be held later this year in September.  As a world leader in terrestrial mining, Canada’s hosting of international space conferences may be an obvious platform for its future leadership in the asteroid mining industry.

Melissa K. Force is an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School and Webster University teaching air and space law and a legal consultant and Principal of MK Force Consulting in Los Angeles who advises commercial entities, government agencies and international organizations on legal, regulatory and policy issues concerning space activities. She has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, a J.D. degree and an LLM in Air and Space Law.

Monday, May 19, 2014

CDN "SkyWatch" wins "Best Use of Data" at Int'l Space Apps Challenge

          by Sarah Ansari-Manea

A Toronto team has impressed the world with its dedication and ingenuity, to take home the top prize from the recent NASA International Space Apps Challenge.

Posing with NASA app competition judges are the Canadian "SkyWatch" team members including Dexter Jagula (third from left), James Slifierz (fourth), Roland Sing (fifth), Ryan Ovas (far right) and Stefan Sing (front). In the front right is NASA open innovation program manager Beth Beck, who was interviewed for the April 14th, 2014 post "Commercializing the Winners of the Space Apps Challenge."

The Canadian team behind the clever software application called “SkyWatch,” was awarded the Best Use of Data award, making them the first Canadian team to win at an international level.

As outlined in the May 15th, 2014 Toronto Space Apps Challenge press release "NASA Awards Toronto Team SkyWatch with Best Use of Data in International Space Apps Challenge," the application takes worldwide observatory data dedicated for use by scientists, and combines it in an easy to understand, twitter-like set up to plot the data on on Google Sky. The goal was to allow the general public to keep up with all the new discoveries being seen and recorded in space, and take advantage of the vast amounts of data collected daily by international observatories.

Its also worth noting that, as outlined in the May 16th, 2014 Toronto Star article "Canadian team wins NASA space apps challenge," at least one of the SkyWatch team members has a connection to the early Canadian space program. Decades ago, team member Roland Singh (who is also the father of team member Stefan Singh) worked on the Canadian built Canadarm program.

The winning team was only one of the fourteen Canadian teams that gathered last month, to compete in the Toronto Space Apps Challenge, which was held at the Ontario Science Center (OSC) from April 12th - 13th.

According to Dr. Hooley McLaughlin, the OSC chief science officer, “we’re thrilled to be hosting the NASA International Space Apps Challenge Toronto. The participants produce amazing prototypes in just 48 hours that change how we see, view and learn about space and life on Earth.”

And Toronto wasn't alone. As described in the April 11th, 2014 Toronto Space Apps Challenge press release "Toronto, Waterloo, Winnipeg and Montreal Take on NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge," many others assisted with contributing 8,000 participants worldwide of all ages, who worked on 653 projects from 95 cities all weekend.

To learn more about the SkyWatch application, please click on the graphic chabove. Graphic c/o SkyWatch.

In essence, the NASA International Space Apps Challenge is a global hackathon dedicated to publicizing space data, and finding clever and ingenious solutions to NASA designed problems and uses for the close to 1GB of data the space agency collects about the Universe every second. The challenge themes consisted of technology in space, human space flight, asteroids, Earth watch, and robotics.

SkyWatch was one of three Toronto teams nominated for global judging. The "Belt It Out" application was nominated for the best mission concept and the "Curious Bot" application was nominated in the peoples choice category, where it came in fifth.

Local winners included the "Enterprise SSB" application, which won the Ontario Science Centre Multimedia Display award along with the "Weather Mesh," the "Insight," the "Earthy" and the Astro" applications which each won honorable mentions.

Sarah Ansari-Manea.
The full presentations and app descriptions can be viewed on the Official Toronto NASA Space Apps Challenge You-Tube channel. A children’s version of the adult hackaton, The Youth Space Challenge, also proved to be very successful, and allowed young girls and boys to try their hands at app design.

Sarah Ansari-Manea is an aspiring astrophysicist, currently completing a specialist in physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto.

Speeding Up Commercial Crew to Access the ISS

          by Brian Orlotti

SAS founder Henry Vanderbilt in 2011. Photo c/o SpaceNews.
In the May 13th, 2014 edition of its "Space Access Update" house newsletter, the Phoenix, AZ based Space Access Society (SAS) put forth insightful commentary on Russia, Soyuz, International Space Station (ISS) access and possession, the Russian RD-180 rocket engine, and the Space Launch System (SLS), all within the context of the current Crimean crisis.

The newsletter even put forward strategies for dealing with Russia's recent retaliation against Western sanctions arising from the Crimean crisis, which are well worth taking a close look at.

The first portion of the newsletter discussed the need for contingency plans for ISS access in the event of Russia cutting off the use of Soyuz vehicles or physically "annexing" the rest of the station. Three rationales for contingencies were offered:
  • The Crimean crisis may persist for several years, since reversing its recent policies would likely damage the current Russian government's domestic support base.
  • By preparing a visible, effective contingency should access to Soyuz be cut off, further escalation could be prevented.  A US spacecraft on standby to carry crew and supplies up to the ISS would greatly weaken the leverage of a Soyuz cutoff and thus reduce the likelihood of it being done. 
  • Should the US allow a situation to arise where other ISS partners are forced to renegotiate station access with Russia or lose it entirely, doubts could be cast on other US commitments to allies.
For a Soyuz cutoff contingency plan, the SAS felt that NASA should immediately ask its third round commercial crew contractors (the Boeing Company, which is developing the the CST-100 spacecraft/Atlas V system; Sierra Nevada Corporation, which is developing the Dream Chaser spaceplane/Atlas V system; and Space Exploration Technologies, which is developing the Dragon spacecraft/Falcon 9 system.) to specify how quickly they could each accelerate their first crewed ISS flight and what would be required to do so.

This would be especially important in the case of the Boeing Company and Sierra Nevada Corporation, which are dependent on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V common core booster, which is itself dependent on the Russian built RD-180 rocket engine to power its first stage. As outlined in the April 15th, 2014 Defense News article "Reports: Russia Blocks RD-180 Engine Sales for Pentagon Programs," Russian officials have considered blocking future RD-180 engines sales.

To accomplish the mission and obtain ISS access in a timely manner, the SAS recommended that NASA instruct its commercial crew contractors to factor an increased level of acceptable risk into their proposals. NASA should then select the proposal with the best chance of earliest emergency access capability and expedite its implementation, with at least one other competitor kept moving forward at a resource-reduced level.

For an 'ISS annexation' contingency plan, the SAS advocated building and launching a new space station as soon as possible. To avoid a repeat of the $100Bln USD needed to build the ISS (an utter non-starter in the current economy), and to bypass the considerable risks of relying on the SLS, the SAS advised that NASA utilize existing surplus ISS hardware while drawing more on the services of US commercial space firms already participating in the commercial cargo and commercial crew programs.

Specifically, SAS advised that NASA should utilize commercial space habitat modules in the new station, while retaining and expanding the program management structures that have worked so well in the existing commercial cargo and crew programs.

Brian Orlotti.
The SAS' plan of action offers the prospect of not only de-escalating the Crimean crisis (from a space perspective, at least), but of providing the nascent commercial space industry an opportunity to shine. A vibrant, thriving private space industry would not only help alleviate a current crisis, but also have effects far beyond it.

Long after the rhetoric and posturing is forgotten, the energy, creativity and opportunity of a new age will remain.

Brian Orlotti is a Toronto-based IT professional and the treasurer of the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Avoiding the Business "Plan 9 From Outer Space!"

          by Chuck Black

Poster c/o Wikipedia.
As first noted in the July 7th, 2013 post "Resources for the Canadian Space Entrepreneur," US investors have known for the last few years of the money to be made from space technology. But now, even their slow moving Canadian companions are picking up on the potential.

Of course, there's always a learning curve when it comes to getting up to speed on any new business venture - and the potential for commercial disaster is always a possibility, no matter how good the original idea might seem.

Here's a few of the more interesting places to begin the research and build your plan.

The Alberta Space Program - A listing of Alberta space imaging, science and business activities "attracting international investment" at the University of Alberta Institute for Space Science, Exploration and Technology (ISSET). Contains links to the Alberta government website on the provincial aerospace and defense industry which "contributes $1.3 billion in revenue annually to the provincial economy, is home to 170 aerospace and aviation companies, and employs over 6,000 highly skilled Albertans."

The Canadian Aerospace Industries Capability Database - A comprehensive listing of 60,000 Canadian aerospace businesses tracked by capabilities and expertise begun about ten years ago with input from a variety of provincial and federal aerospace associations in cooperation with Industry Canada. The database was endorsed by the 2005 Canadian Aerospace Partnership (CAP) which led almost immediately to the National Aerospace and Defence Framework and was eventually superseded by the 2012 Aerospace Review, although the database remains.

The Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI) – Dedicated to the development of new enterprises and supporting the growth of new and emerging businesses, this organization has access to over 60+ Canadian business incubators and accelerators with a broad range of expertise. 

The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) – Established in 1946, the CCC is a federal Crown corporation mandated to promote and facilitate international trade on behalf of Canadian industry, particularly within government markets. The Corporation’s two business lines are structured to support Canadian companies contracting into the defense sector, primarily with the United States, and Canadian exporters contracting into emerging and developing country markets.

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation – Set up by the Government of Canada in 1997 to build Canada’s capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development to benefit Canadians. The infrastructure funded by the CFI includes the state-of-the-art equipment, laboratories, databases, specimens, scientific collections, computer hardware and software, communications linkages and buildings necessary to conduct leading-edge research.

The Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) – A registered Canadian not-for-profit industry organization existing to advance the economic, legal and political environment for space and aerospace focused companies. Organizes and publicizes intimate bi-monthly meetings and larger national events for entrepreneurs.

The Canadian Start-up Financing Landscape – An annual assessment from start-up marketer Marc Evans, on where to go to get funding and support for your Canadian start-up. The list is divided up into angel investors, business incubators and accelerators, plus seed, series A and series B funding sources. 

The Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) – With over 2000 members with over $105 billion in capital under management, the CVCA represents the majority of private equity companies in Canada. Focused on venture capital (investment in early stage, mostly technology based companies), mezzanine financing (subordinated debt or preferred stock with an equity kicker) and buyout funding (risk investment in established private or publicly listed firms that are undergoing a fundamental change in operations or strategy).

The Center for Space Entrepreneurship (eSpace) – A Boulder, CO based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports the creation and development of entrepreneurial space companies, the commercialization of the technologies they create, and the workforce to fuel their growth.

The Commercial SpaceFlight Federation (CSF) – Although not a Canadian example, the 40 businesses and organizations who are members of the CSF are a comprehensive snapshot of the emerging international NewSpace industry. Canadian members include MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA). 

The Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC) – It doesn't yet have a website or a lot of documentation to back up the April 17th, 2014 press release "The Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC) Launches Today," but CARIC, a joint initiative of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) and the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec (CRIAQ), has been pitched as "a national research and technology network that unites stakeholders from industry, universities, colleges and research institutions" across Canada. The organization, should it ever become more than a press release, is expected to use the CRIAQ, funding and collaborative model. 

Deltion Innovations – Billed as "Sudbury's first aerospace company" and focused on the design and fabrication of terrestrial and space mining systems, the organization also helps to organize the annual Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium. Originally part of the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT).

The various European Space Agency (ESA) Business Incubation Centres (ESI) and the European Space Incubators Network (ESINET) – The work done by the ESA through these two organizations is useful and well worth looking at for lessons learned. 

The Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPEC) – A national association comprised of over 1,700 members from Canada and abroad composed of patent agents, trade-mark agents and lawyers specializing in intellectual property.

Kentucky Space – Ambitious, US based non-profit consortium between the University of KentuckyMorehead State University; the NASA Kentucky Space Grant Consortium and EPSCoR Programs and Belcan Corporation focused on research and development of small entrepreneurial and commercial space solutions. Managed by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.

The MaRS Discovery District – A Toronto business incubator focused on the medical and IT industries but open to new ideas. Maintains the MaRS Funding Sources Directory, a listing of provincial, national and international funding sources suitable for Ontario companies in both the public and private sectors.

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) – An organization of Canadian angel capital investors.

NewSpace Global – Provides accurate and critical information on international NewSpace opportunities. Subscribers include Fortune 500s, universities, government agencies, small and large corporations, and investors. NSG publishes a variety of items including the always up to date NewSpace Watch online news service, the Thruster monthly market tracking report (which includes the Point-to-Point Canada column, written by Commercial Space blog editor Chuck Black) and the Observer company database tracking the top 400 international NewSpace companies. 

The Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) – Part of the Ontario Centres of Excellence, ONE is a collaborative network of organizations across Ontario, designed to help entrepreneurs, businesses and researchers commercialize their ideas by providing useful programs and services across the full commercialization continuum from idea to market. One of the better provincial government offerings in this area.

The Space Angels Network – an American based network of angel investors that also accepts investors and clients from Canada and Europe. Sponsored by Spaceflight Services (a one stop shop for manifests, certification and integration of small satellites into a network of established and emerging launch and space transportation vehicles), the Morrison Foerster and Jones Day law firms, the Wills and Associates public relations firm and the Habif, Arogetti and Wynne accounting firm. The network is also a member of the Angel Capital Association (ACA).

The Space Business Blog – Useful case studies of the economics of space based businesses, written by a Lockheed Martin financial analyst.

Space Canada – A not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of solar energy from space. Organized the 2009 Symposium on Solar Energy from Space. Space Canada president and CEO George Dietrich has a long history of supporting US and Canadian NewSpace activities.  

The International Space Directory – Compiled by Space News, this publication bills itself as "the only publication that space professionals throughout the world turn to first for the news that affects their jobs." The site lists most of the major international space manufacturers, products and services.

Space Works Commercial – A US based aerospace engineering and design incubator focused on next-generation space transportation systems, future technologies, human and robotic exploration of space, emerging space markets and their applications.

Start-Up Canada – Entrepreneur led, national movement to enhance the nation’s competitiveness and prosperity by supporting and celebrating Canadian entrepreneurship. – An online community of over 17,000 CEOs, Founders and entrepreneurs to discuss fundraising, review investors and compare strategies to grow a start-up business.

The United States Office of Space Commercialization – Documentation from the US Department of Commerce relating to commercial space activities, including general policy activities affecting all areas of space commerce and documents related to the US National Space Policy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The 2014 Edition of Summer Reading for Space Geeks

          by Chuck Black

For the man who has everything, but would prefer lying on the beach reading about space, here is the latest in our annual spring listing of articles, websites and publications which provide a bit of context to the current space debates happening here and elsewhere.

Aerospace Projects Review - The classic "journal of unbuilt aircraft and spacecraft projects" including detailed schematics for aircraft and spacecraft designs such as Saturn V S-IC derived flyback boosters, the Helios nuclear-pulse propulsion program, the incredible Project Orion interplanetary battleship along with various predecessors of the X-20 Dyna Soar, the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS) and many others.

America's Space Futures: Defining Goals for Space Exploration by Eric R. Sterner - Focused on "the ongoing debate about space policy, the American space program and the human destiny in space." With a plethora of knowledgeable contributors including James Vedda, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Space Policy & Strategy, Scott Pace, a professor of international affairs at the George Washington University and many others, there's no better place to learn why the American space program is adrift, uncertain about the future and unclear about the purpose it serves.

The Archimedes Institute - An international not-for-profit organization focused on issues of private property claims in space, which was active from 1997 to the early 2000's, a period during which many early legal claims in this area began to flow through the court system. The site was organized and maintained by Professor Lawrence D. Roberts, a legal academic specializing in science and technology policy, and David Kantymir.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield's guide to becoming an astronaut and the fun of living off planet.  Along the way, he shares exhilarating experiences and challenges, from his 144 days on the ISS, and provides an unforgettable answer to his most-asked question: What's it really like in outer space?

The Atomic Rockets of the Space Patrol website - Inspired by Heinlein, Clarke and Pournelle to provide everything you need to know about building spaceships. The site is especially useful for its discussions on engines, realistic spacecraft designs and a standalone section on "Rocketpunk and MacGuffinite."

Becoming Spacefarers: Rescuing America's Space Program by James A. Vedda - All you ever wanted to know about the US space program with extra political intrigue, historical analogies and ideas that challenge conventional wisdom added for seasoning. It's written to respond to the debate on what we should be doing next in space exploration and development.

The Canadian Science Writers Association - A national alliance of professional science communicators who "cultivate excellence in science writing and science journalism" in an effort to increase public awareness of science in Canadian culture.

Canadian Space Flight History by Chris Gainor – A short history of Canadian exciting on and off-planet adventures in space by the author of Arrows to the Moon and Canada in Space.

Canada’s 50 Years in Space: The COSPAR Anniversary by Gordon Shepherd and Agnes Kruchio – Provides a thorough description of the parallel growth of the Canadian space science program and the international activities of the Paris based Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) from 1958 up until the 50th Anniversary of COSPAR in 2008. For those who think we need to know more about our history in order not to make the same mistakes.

Canadian Space Directory – The Canadian Space Agency’s listing of private and public organizations engaging in space related activities in Canada.

The Chapman Report – Canada is today an international leader in the fields of communications and remote sensing because of John Chapman (1921-1979) who was senior author of a report entitled “Upper Atmosphere and Space Programs in Canada.” The document, written in 1967 and now known simply as the “Chapman Report,” recommended using Canadian satellite and space technology for commercial activities such as communications and resource management instead of focusing only on scientific research. Over time, the report became “Canada’s Original Blueprint” for space activities.

Creating A Robust Canadian Space Research Exploration & Development Industry - The Canadian Mineral Industry Flow-Though Share Analog - A paper originally presented by Frank Teti at the 2008 Canadian Space Summit which suggested that private capital would flow into the space industry if the government gave the space industry the same tax breaks as the mining industry. Became the basis for one of the three 2012 Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) submissions to the Canadian Aerospace review under the title "Creating an Indigenous Canadian Launch Capability."

Several presentations on space mining including the Importance of Mineral Exploration and Mining to Humans in their Space Development Activities by John A. Chapman (presented to the BC Geophysical Society in February 2013); A Lunar Geosciences Database – The Earth’s Map Place Analog by Gerald G. Carlson, John A. Chapman and Ward E. Kilby (presented at the 2007 European Geosciences Union General Assembly); and Development and Operation of a Surface Mine in a Remote Location - South Polar Region of the Moon by John A. Chapman and Marc Schulte (presented at the 8th International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) Conference on Exploration and Utilization of the Moon in July 2006).

Proposed L1 Station from the FISO working group.
Archived presentations from the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group - These are archived and peer reviewed studies (some with audio visual and power-points) for a variety of NASA approved concepts related to future in-space operations and activities.This site includes Dan King's presentation on the MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) on-orbit satellite servicing proposal (under the title, Space Servicing: The Future is Now) and a variety of presentations on asteroid mining techniques and tools. The site provide a fascinating overview of what could be accomplished today with the proper budget.

The Futron Space Competitiveness Index - This annual report provides statistical benchmarks, analysis, and business intelligence into national space activities and the underlying drivers of aerospace competitiveness, government, human capital and industry factors, which offer intelligence and perspective useful to any space decision-maker.

Historical Investment Financing of Exploration for New Worlds, Current Analogies to Other Industries, and Ideas for the Future - Essential reading for understanding the essentials of how explorers have always been financed, written by a Canadian banking executive.

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts - By Andrew Chaikin. Based on in-depth interviews with twenty-three of the twenty-four moon voyagers, as well as those who struggled to get the program moving, the book conveys every aspect of the Apollo missions with breathtaking immediacy and stunning detail. Includes an introduction by Tom Hanks, an actor who has played an astronaut in movies and is therefore assumed to know what he's talking about.

How NASA Builds Teams - By Charles J. Pellein and focused on "mission critical soft skills for scientists, engineers, and project teams." This book outlines team building techniques used to improve communication, performance and morale among NASA’s technical teams using only a fraction of the time and resources of traditional training methods. A book for those who don't believe the US space program is adrift, uncertain about the future and unclear about the purpose it serves. 
ISRU Info: The Home of the Space Resources Roundtable - A non-profit corporation promoting the development of space resources. Recent meetings have been held in conjunction with the Planetary & Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS), which bills itself as "the future of space mining."

LEO on the Cheap - By Lt. Col. John R. London III. A fascinating read on methods to achieve drastic reductions in launch costs. It's a part of the Dunn Engineering website and serves as a useful companion piece to the 1993 John Walker article "a Rocket a Day Keeps the High Costs Away."
    The Microsat Way in Canada – A paper written by Peter Stibrany and Kieran A. Carroll discussing how micro-satellite manufacturing methodologies will change the economics of space applications and reduce the barriers to entry for new companies. This is the basis for the methodologies in use today at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) Space Flight Laboratory (SFL).

    The Online Journal of Space Communication - Since 2001, this scholarly publication has bridged the world of the professional and the world of the academic, two worlds in desperate need of bridging. The publication examines a broad range of issues and events in space and satellite communication, including their historical, technological, economic, policy, cultural and social dimensions.

    The Orbital Express Project of Bristol Aerospace and Microsat Launch Systems - An important case study for those wishing to study the technology and business development issues surrounding a small satellite launch vehicle. 

    The Plundering of NASA: An Expose by Rickey D Boozer - An interesting expose which attempts to lift the veil of Congressional politics which force NASA to do the bidding of regional interests that cripple the nation’s capabilities in both exploring outer space and exploiting its enormous economic potential.

    Reaching for the High Frontier: The American Pro-Space Movement, 1972-1984 by Michael A. G. Michaud - Exceptional reading for background on the various space advocacy groups which grew out of the 1972–1984 period of stagnant space activities. Provides many useful lessons and is even available free online.

    Safe is Not an Option: Overcoming the Futile Obsession with Getting Everyone Back Alive that is Killing our Expansion into Space by Rand Simberg - Since the end of Apollo, US space operations have ostensibly emphasized safety first. Simberg argues that this has been a mistake, and we must change if we are to continue to "boldly go" back to the Moon and Mars. Simberg makes a cogent argument that our focus on safety doesn't really increase safety but instead acts as a "barrier to entry" for new companies and protects the profits of large, politically connected "dyno-space" companies.

    Short History of Private Space Development - Useful historical context from Clark S. Lindsey, who edits the long-running HobbySpace blog and the NewSpace Watch commercial site.

    Small Satellites and their Regulation - This short interdisciplinary book, covers the legal challenges relating to small-sats including technical standards, removal techniques or other methods that might help to address current problems and the regulatory issues and procedures to ameliorate problems associated with small satellites, especially mounting levels of orbital debris and noncompliance with radio frequency and national licensing requirements, liabilities and export controls.

    Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson - One of our foremost thinkers on all things space, illuminates the past, present, and future of exploration and reminds us why NASA matters now as much as ever.

    Thirteen power point presentations on Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law - From various public conferences held at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and including presentations from top lawyers, international experts, FAA representatives and lobbyists.

    The Spaceflight Now listing of Worldwide Launch Schedules - A regularly updated, comprehensive listing of planned missions and rocket launches around the globe. Dates and times are given in Greenwich Mean Time.

    Proceedings of the Princeton Conferences on Space Manufacturing - Abstracts from thirteen conferences from 1975 until 2001, which focused on the challenges and opportunities of space based manufacturing.

    Space Mission Analysis and Design (SMAD) - By James R Wertz and Wiley Larson - A textbook quality publication for engineering and space activities providing what you need to speak the language of space.

    SpaceRef Canada – Space news, as it happens from SpaceRef Interactive Chief Architect and CSCA Director Marc Boucher. Part of the larger SpaceRef Interactive Group which includes SpaceRef USA and NASA Watch

    The Space Report – The “authoritative guide to international space activities” published by the Space Foundation, one of the world’s premier nonprofit organizations supporting space activities, space professionals and education.

    The Space Review - An online publication devoted to in-depth articles, commentary, and reviews regarding all aspects of space exploration: science, technology, policy, business, and more. Edited by Jeff Foust, an aerospace analyst with Futron Corporation (which also produces the Futron Space Competitiveness Index) and the writer of the Space Politics blog.

    Universe Today -  A well respected, BC based, for profit website focused on worldwide space science and astronomy activities. Also organizes the weekly "Carnival of Space" showcasing blog articles focusing on space topics.

    Vision Restoration - Fascinating reading on NASA, ESA and America's past and future in space focused around the February 2004 NASA Vision for Space Exploration but full of lessons related to the current Space Launch System (SLS) debate and large, government funded space programs in general. 

    Who Owns the Moon?: Extraterrestrial Aspects of Land and Mineral Resources Ownership – by Virgiliu Pop. An investigation into the viability of property rights on the celestial bodies, particularly the extraterrestrial aspects of land and mineral resources ownership. In lay terms, it aims to find an answer to the question “Who owns the Moon?”

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