What’s Going On Around The World In Space

The Friday post-dinner panel consists of Clark Lindsey, Henry Spencer and Dave Salt, talking about what’s going on in NewSpace outside of the US.

Clark starts by defining it as innovative small ventures with an emphasis on lowering costs of space access. Most of them are private.

Europe/UK’s most prominent one is Virgin Galactic. Anchor tenant for Spaceport America and trying to operate out of other spaceports.

Dave Salt notes that they may be teaming with Surrey satellite to use WK2 as a first stage to get to orbit. They have propulsion systems but could use a launch platform. Notes that Surrey is owned by EADS.

Now talking about Star Chaser, who haven’t launched much lately but had some launches a few years ago and are doing engine testing. Dave notes that ESA has been looking at Star Chaser, and is interested in space tourism, but is very cautious about it, and there’s nothing significant going on at the moment.

Next company discussed is Reaction Engines. Henry Spencer says that for those of a certain age, Skylon looks like Fireball XL-5.

Talking about the STERN project, which is collaboration between a university and Reaction Engines on an altitude-compensating nozzle.

Notes that Surrey Satellite is an example of how a small company can outdo a big company. Henry says that ESA and others behind Galileo came to the realization that their frequency reservations were about to expire because they hadn’t gotten anything into the sky. They put out an RFP for a placeholder/satellite, and expected only one response from the Galileo Industries consortium, but they got a second bid from Surrey that was a whole lot cheaper. They compromised by giving both bidders money. Surrey got its modest request to build JOVI A, and the other company got three times as much to build JOVI B, and GI said that it was a waste of time because they would launch first anyway. Surrey came in on time and within budget, while GI overran and ran behind. Surrey got a second contract as a backup in case GI’s launch failed. GI collapsed from embarrassment, to the amusement of the observing NewSpacers. Unfortunately, Surrey has since been absorbed into EADS.

Discussing Project Enterprise, a continental NewSpace company that is going to be talking tomorrow.

Dave Salt suggesting that we shouldn’t include the EADS space tourism venture because it’s so much larger (even though there’s no rational business case for it). He’s talked to one of the principals who is still behind it, but Dave’s not sure whether it’s alive or really dead, or just resting.

[Update after discussion]

I got distracted and waylaid just after they finished up the UK, so I missed the rest of the globe. But I expect that Henry Cate will pick up the slack. He’s been putting me to shame this weekend.