|NewSpace 2006 Media Coverage
||August 9, 2006 HobbySpace.com...Space Transport News Special Edition: NewSpace 2006 + Media Tour of Bigelow Aerospace Facilities. A great round-up by Clark Lindsey, with links to blogs, news reports, photos, and miscellaneous resources related to the meeting and much, much more!
||July 27, 2006 NewSpace 2006's Sex in Space session was very popular in the world press. Here are several links to press coverage of this event:
||July 24, 2006 NewSpace 2006's Sex in Space session is covered by Alan Boyle in his MSNBC.com article: Outer-space sex carries complications, Experts say new devices and data would be needed to hit the zero-G-spot.
||Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 21, 2006
||Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Final Frontier
Attendees at LV conferences see no boundaries for commerce, exploration
By Chris Jones
Lunar mining colonies, space cruise ships and orbiting solar power plants remain futuristic dreams, but they'll soon be money-making realities. Just ask the rocket scientists meeting this week in Las Vegas.
Naysayers need only look back 20 years, supporters say, to find evidence of other technologies once dismissed as too far-fetched for everyday use.
But consumer demand rapidly pulled the Internet out of university backrooms and military bunkers, and today nearly 70 percent of U.S. homes pay for broadband service.
Likewise, the makers of pocket-sized wireless communication devices and Global Positioning System gadgets discovered vast consumer audiences that until recently didn't exist.
Those successes help explain why some of the world's best-known businesses are examining different ways to earn cash outside the atmosphere.
The Flamingo Las Vegas has become the unlikely epicenter of space-based commerce by hosting the third Lunar Commerce Executive Roundtable.
The three-day event brought together 75 or so aerospace leaders, bankers and academics in a cooperative effort to develop new commercial applications and activities in space.
Businesses now make money in space primarily from satellite services or by operating the vehicles that put such equipment into orbit.
Future industrial markets could include space-based power plants, whose collected solar energy would be beamed down to Earth, as well as the construction and operation of orbiting platforms housing research, entertainment or manufacturing.
Revenue also could come from industrial activities on the lunar surface; enhanced transportation methods between the Earth and space; and improved communication and navigation technologies, participants said.
"Surprisingly enough, a lot of these things can be done near-term," said Paul Eckert, who develops space business strategies for Boeing Co. "You've heard of Mr. Bigelow."
That would be Robert Bigelow, who has used riches earned from his Budget Suites of America motel chain to fund Bigelow Aerospace, a North Las Vegas-based venture that last week launched the unmanned Genesis I spacecraft.
The company's spacecraft soon could house for-profit human activities including lodging, laboratory work and astronaut training.
Government has historically financed space exploration, a practice President Bush reaffirmed with his January 2004 announcement of a $12 billion, five-year plan to boost NASA's short-term operations.
But an influx of private capital must follow for the new space race to truly fly, participants said.
"The technology exists today. The investment is lacking," said Randy Lovell, space systems business and strategy development manager for Northrop Grumman Corp.
It will require hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, in investment before some space-based businesses become profitable. Nonetheless, space tourism, advertising and branding efforts already have occurred and could become space's next viable industries, Lovell said.
Examples include Pasadena, Calif.-based Ecliptic Enterprises Corp., which sells photos taken by its RocketCam to media outlets and educational institutions.
Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites collects advertising revenue by placing logos for 7UP soda and M&M's candy on SpaceShipOne, a privately funded manned space program based in Mojave, Calif.
Looking forward, Bigelow Aerospace is accepting reservations to place mementos within the Genesis II spacecraft scheduled to launch later this year.
Those who pay $295 will see their trinkets float in zero gravity via onboard Internet cameras.
If all goes well, accessible space vacations will follow.
"Long-term we're talking cruise ships to the Moon," said Lovell, who expects 5 million passengers to travel in space before 2030.
Linda Karanian, space exploration director for Lockheed Martin, said environmental issues will drive orbiting power plants and mineral mining on the Moon.
"We're starting to overuse our own planet," she said. "I think there will be a demand for it."
Should business in space become profitable for investors, Karanian believes interest in math and science would surge among U.S. students because those skills are required to work in the space industry.
NASA's efforts have made it easier for the commercial sector to reach for the stars, though Karanian and Eckert each stressed the importance of continued international cooperation.
"One country cannot take sole ownership of (space exploration) and assume that the rest will follow," Karanian said.
Interest in space isn't confined to industry. The Flamingo is also hosting NewSpace 2006, a separate-but-similar event organized by the Nyack, N.Y-based Space Frontier Foundation.
Attendees of that five-day gathering will brush up on topics such as personal risks associated with space travel, lunar exploration and "Star Trek" geeks, listen up how to have sex in space. Seriously.
Scheduled speakers include Bigelow; Buzz Aldrin, the lunar module pilot from 1969's famed Apollo 11 mission; and George Nield, a deputy administrator from the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
NewSpace 2006, which ends Sunday, is open to anyone willing to pay the $370 registration.
The Executive Roundtable, which ended Wednesday, was an invitation-only summit for academics and professionals from around the world.
Though it lacks the celestial associations of a Houston or Cape Canaveral, Fla., Las Vegas was selected because it's a showcase for the power of commerce, Eckert said.
"There wouldn't be anything in the middle of the desert if it weren't for high-value activities, mostly entertainment and associated kinds of things that brought people here initially," Eckert said. "That's a lot like what we might do on the Moon or in space."
photo caption: Eric Haakonstad, right, program manager for the valley-based Bigelow Aerospace Genesis 1 inflatable spacecraft, talks Thursday to Alan Boyle, second from right, science editor for MSNBC, during a tour of the mission control facility. Robert Bigelow, the founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, invited the media to tour his North Las Vegas facility as part of the NewSpace 2006 conference.
Photo by K.M. Cannon.
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin on Thursday tours the Atomic Testing Museum during a break from the NewSpace 2006 conference. Aldrin, who was the second man to step onto the moon, said he is bullish about the possibilities of commercial space tourism. Thursday was the 37th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Aldrin went to the museum at the invitation of Dr. Lonnie Hammargen, who knows Aldrin from when he was a NASA flight surgeon. Hammargren, running for lieutenant governor, said advocating for a commercial space launch facility at the Nevada Test Site is part of his campaign platform.
Photo by John Gurzinski.
||Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 23, 2006
||Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Editorial: The private exploration of space
Entrepreneurs seek 'New Frontier' in Southern Nevada
Is it just a coincidence that Southern Nevada started to look like the epicenter of the burgeoning private space industry this week?
Yes, after 30 years of effort, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne finally launched from California's nearby Mojave Spaceport a facility into which the California Legislature recently agreed to invest another $11 million late last year.
But there seemed to be something other than the availability of desert real estate resonating at the NewSpace 2006 conference, which wound up today at the Flamingo Las Vegas.
Lonnie Hammargren, seeking to become Nevada's once and future lieutenant governor, showed up to announce he's included in his campaign platform a call to establish a commercial space launch facility at the Nevada Test Site.
And it was hard to miss the North Las Vegas connection of Bigelow Aerospace, whose Genesis I spacecraft inflated as planned and successfully deployed its solar power arrays after being launched atop a Russian SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile on July 12.
Although such a premise was considered little more than science fiction only a few years ago (see Victor Koman's "Kings of the Wild Frontier"), few would now deny as NASA struggles to keep in operation a lumbering shuttle fleet that's never flown as high, as often or as inexpensively as promised that the most exciting prospects for the exploration and utilization of space are coming from the private sector.
Few developments make this clearer than the willingness of NASA to place its Ames Research Center GeneBox experiment (testing the impact of near-weightlessness on genes in microscopic cells) aboard Genesis I as a "courtesy payload."
The collaboration between NASA and Bigelow Aerospace an outfit funded by Robert Bigelow with profits from his Budget Suites of America hotel chain "reflects the emerging focus on government and commercial partnerships in entrepreneurial space endeavors," comments Genebox project manager John Hines.
Sounds fine. But who would ever have imagined that "government-business partnership," in 2006, would mean private business developing the spacecraft, and government hitching the ride?
The Flamingo Las Vegas simultaneously hosted the three-day third Lunar Commerce Executive Roundtable, at which 75 or so aerospace leaders, bankers and academicians discussed the development of new commercial applications and activities in space. Attendees spoke of the potential for space-based solar power plants, as well as space- or lunar-based manufacturing.
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, told attendees at the NewSpace 2006 conference he's bullish about the possibilities of commercial space tourism.
Randy Lovell, space systems business and strategy development manager for the Northrop Grumman Corp., agreed predicting there could be 5 million passengers in space before 2030. "Long-term we're talking cruise ships to the Moon," he said. Serving something a little more appetizing than Tang in the banquet room, hopefully.
Many of these promised technologies will take a lot longer to reach commercial viability than advertised, of course as anyone reviewing a "portrait of the future" magazine article from the 1930s or '40s, with its confident depiction of a private helicopter parked next to every home, can attest. On the other hand, as little as 40 years ago even computer experts (accustomed to card-sorting machines that occupied entire rooms) scoffed at the idea that it would ever be possible let alone that there would be sufficient consumer demand to place "personal computers" in every home. Nor were there many visionaries, as little as 25 years ago, predicting how commonplace pocket-size wireless communicators, Global Positioning Satellite gadgets, and Internet access would become within a single generation.
In years past, one could have envisioned the government stepping in and attempting to block such healthy private entrepreneurship, arguing space is "too risky" and "too important" to allow access by any but government bureaucrats.
Today, that would be as absurd as announcing that henceforth government agencies alone would be responsible for all new technological development in aviation and computer science private firms need not apply.
When flexibility and innovation are called for, nothing has ever succeeded like the profit-seeking free market.
The current scramble by entrepreneurs to find profit opportunities in space is to be celebrated, not only because it will inevitably lead to the most progress at the fastest rate, but also because it opens, quite literally, a "new frontier" for the generation of wealth and human progress.
Is it just a coincidence of geography and climate that Southern Nevada, long a land that encouraged just such risk-taking entrepreneurial activity, now starts to show promise as an epicenter for this industry?
We don't think so.