Monday, February 16, 2009

NewSpace Angel Investors Remain Engaged Amid Economic Crisis

Edward Ellegood, Cocoa Beach

Ken Murphy at Out of the Cradle has an interesting Q&A interview with attorney James E. Dunstan, who is a partner with Garvey, Schubert and Barer in Washington D.C. Dunstan, whose practice focuses on space law and entrepreneurial companies, had some interesting things to say about angel investors who fund start-ups: "Here’s the funny thing about Angels: The very best ones stay way below the radar, otherwise they’re swamped with more requests for funding than they can possibly wade through. And the space community is really hard on Angels, I’ve found. Once someone finds an Angel, and the Angel’s identity gets out, it’s like chum to the sharks."

Satellite Collision 'More Powerful Than China's ASAT Test (Source: New Scientist)

Space weapons are dangerous - but out-of-control, defunct satellites can do just as much damage, if not more. So says a leading space scientist who has calculated that Tuesday's collision between an Iridium communications satellite and the defunct Soviet-era Cosmos 2251 spacecraft expended a great deal more destructive energy than China's infamous anti-satellite missile test did in January 2007. (2/13)

NASA Considers Altair Descent Stage Cargo Return Role (Source: Flight Global)

NASA is considering launching Moon rock samples into low lunar orbit using refuelled Altair lunar lander descent stages to overcome the cargo return limitations of its Constellation program vehicles. After each of the lunar missions, expected to start in 2020, scientists want hundreds of kilograms of lunar rock brought back for analysis. But the space agency’s transportation system can only deliver 100kg (242lb) while the Apollo program could bring back 110kg. The 100kg limit is due to the Altair lunar lander and Orion crew exploration vehicle’s capabilities. So NASA has set a goal of increasing its sample return capabilty to 250kg. Conceivably, once in orbit the reused descent stage would be met by Orion and its rock samples transferred by astronaut extra-vehicular activity.