Space Access Update #82  5/12/99 
               Copyright 1999 by Space Access Society 

Just some quick notes this issue... 

 - Branson Tours Rotary Rocket's Mojave Facility 

 - Political Followup - Senate and House NASA Authorizations 

 - SA'99 New Site & Schedule Succeed, Space Access'00 Planned For 
   April 27-29 2000 

This just in: Richard Branson today toured Rotary Rocket Company's 
Mojave manufacturing and test facility.  Branson, an airline 
executive/owner (Virgin Atlantic Airways) and sportsman/adventurer 
(several around-the-world balloon flight attempts) recently 
announced he plans a space tourism company (Virgin Galactic 
Spaceways) once suitable transports are available, and went on to 
mention Rotary Rocket's Roton as the closest to being ready of those 
looked into.  This touched off a flurry of rumors about a Branson 
investment in Rotary, but Rotary representatives have been careful 
not to confirm or deny any such negotiations are underway.  

(Rotary's Gary Hudson did confirm at our recent Space Access'99 
conference that to date his company has raised $30 million of the 
$150 million their development plans call for.) 

It seems a pretty safe bet under the circumstances that Rotary is in 
fact negotiating with Branson over an investment, and that this will 
likely be public knowledge soon - a crew from CBS was in evidence 
today in Mojave. 

Meanwhile, back at the Congress, a progress report on the political 
alerts we've put out recently.  The Senate Commerce Committee marked 
up their NASA Authorization on schedule last week; the most 
noteworthy change was addition of $150 million "for future planning 
(space launch)" in FY'00.  We expected something like this and can't 
take credit - it looks likely to be for "Spaceliner 100"; we hope to 
convince key Senators to support our low-cost rocket ops demontrator 
program in addition to/instead of this.  Your contacts were a step 
forward in this effort.

The House Science Committee postponed their NASA Authorization 
markup for a week, to tomorrow, Thursday May 13th, to give them more 
time to work on various issues.  If you haven't yet contacted your 
member of the Committee (assuming you have one) tomorrow morning is 
the final deadline for this markup.  We're cautiously optimistic 
about some additional "Future-X" money here plus some language 
favorable to low-cost ops demos and the entrepreneurial startups.  

The Authorizations markups were the warmup, mind.  Now comes the 
main event, the NASA Appropriations markups, where the actual money 
is allocated.  We'll likely be asking for all-out efforts on these 
in the next week or two - stay tuned. 

Space Access'99 went well, from an organizational point of view.  
Attendance was down slightly from last year, about what we expected 
given the late start we got after losing our old hotel.  The new 
hotel worked out well, though - more modern and comfortable than the 
old Safari Resort, with a very helpful and friendly staff and a nice 
restaurant.  The local shopping and restaurants aren't quite as 
upscale as in downtown Scottsdale, but they're close by, they're 
decent, and the neighborhood is very relaxed and suburban.  Our 
experiment with a Thursday evening - Saturday night schedule went 
extremely well, with much less airline-schedule-induced attendance 
dropoff late in the conference than under the old Friday-Sunday 
setup - we'll be doing Thursday-Saturday next year too.  We're 
looking at April 27-29 2000 now - it was pointed out to us that the 
previous weekend is Easter next year, and we try to avoid conflicts 
with organizations larger than us.  We are talking to the same hotel 
again about a contract for that weekend; we hope to have the site 
and date for next year pinned down ASAP. 

More on the full program another time - for now, we'll just say that 
we've finally seen video of laser propulsion actually working, after 
twenty years of viewgraphs.  Time flies when you're having fun... 

To everybody who made SA'99 a success - thanks! 

Space Access Society's sole purpose is to promote near-term radical 
reductions in the cost of reaching space.  You may redistribute this 
Update in any medium you choose, as long as you do it unedited and 
in its entirety. 

 Space Access Society 

 "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System" 

                                        - Robert Anson Heinlein