Space Access Society bulletin, 2/12/02

We have a hotel, repeat, we have a hotel.  We just got back from finally
inking contracts for Space Access '02 to be at the Quality Inn South
Mountain (same place as SA '99 three years ago) in Ahwatukee, an
affluent suburban southeastern corner of Phoenix, eight miles from the
main Phoenix airport.  Nice area, lots of restaurants and shopping
within walking distance, and a clean comfortable hotel.

That's Space Access '02, Thursday evening April 25th 2002, all day and
evening Friday the 26th, all day and evening Saturday the 27th.  Our
conference hotel room rate is $65 single or double, plus ~12% local tax,
book your rooms now, call (800) 562-3332 or (480) 893-3900 and ask for
the "Space Access" rate.  Also, we've noticed that Southwest currently
has some pretty good internet-only fares bookable through February 28th
- that's at

SA'02 conference registration is $100 in advance, $120 at the door,
student rate $30 at the door only.  Mail checks to:

Space Access Society (SA'02)
4855 E Warner Rd #24-150
Phoenix AZ 85044.

In other news, NASA SLI seems currently determined to spend all their
billions on advanced technologies and none on flight vehicles -
moreover, the lion's share is going to technologies that fit into their
vision of a massive one-size-fits-all direct Shuttle replacement.  It
has been said of SLI that they are setting capacity for a river bridge
by counting the number of people currently swimming across...

USAF, meanwhile, has decided that radically cheaper short-leadtime space
access is a Good Thing - but alas, their current main effort to chart a
path, the joint USAF-NASA "One Team" 120-day study, shows every sign of
buying into NASA's preferred approach.

The good news is, a year into this new White House and a month into the
new NASA Administrator's tenure, many of the preconditions are falling
into place for fundamental reform of the hidebound NASA and DOD
space-launch bureaucracies.

The bad news is, said bureaucracies for the moment lumber on largely
unchanged.  We're hoping to see some significant changes in direction,
but it may take a while before the new top leadership gets past their
more immediate priorities.

Meanwhile, over in the startup commercial reusable launch sector (the
established aerospace majors seem content to follow NASA's lead to
nowhere as long as NASA keeps paying) a consensus has grown up over the
last year that keeping the time and money required to reach revenue
operations down to practical levels - on the very rough order of five to
fifteen million dollars and two to three years - means going first for
various suborbital launch markets, not least of these the potential
large new tourism market.  Dennis Tito's flight last spring helped
hugely - now there's both a space-tourism market existance-proof and an
established initial price-point.  

In further good news, at least one of the startups, XCOR Aerospace, has
been generating significant positive publicity (Time Magazine, CNN) with
the reusable relightable rocket engines they've developed on their
initial shoestring funding.  They've done this by installing the engines
in a light aircraft (The "EZ-Rocket", based on a "Long-EZ" airframe) and
doing extensive ongoing flight operations testing.  

The bad news is that, as far as we know (things are moving fast), none
of the startup reusable launch companies have yet connected with
sufficient funding to carry them through to suborbital revenue
operations.  But the good news is, you can come to Space Access '02 a
bit over two months from now (April 25th-27th) and hear directly from a
cross-section of the startups what they're up to and how they're doing.

All for now...

Henry Vanderbilt
Executive Director
Space Access Society