April 20, 2012

Scott Signs Spaceport Bill, Adding Cecil to Florida’s Master Plan (Source: Jacksonville Business Journal)
Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a space territory measure that will include Cecil Airport in the state’s master planning efforts. Part of the bill will make Cecil eligible for appropriate infrastructure improvement that the Jacksonville Aviation Authority says will strengthen the airports ability to compete as a commercial horizontal launch spaceport.

“Ensuring Florida remains a global leader in space-flight activity is a top priority for the Florida Chamber,” said Ryan West, director of talent and innovation policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, in a press release. “A vibrant space and aerospace industry are essential for generating re-employment opportunities for displaced shuttle program workers.” Cecil Airport, owned and operated by JAA, is one of eight commercial spaceports in the United States licensed for horizontal launch capabilities, and the only one in Florida. (4/20)

Bolden & Holdren: NASA Reaching for New Heights (Source: White House)
In his gloomy Washington Post commentary on the ceremony transferring ownership of the Space Shuttle Discovery from NASA to the Smithsonian, Charles Krauthammer urged readers to think of that transfer as the funeral for U.S. leadership in space. Nothing could be further from the truth. The U.S. remains far and away the world leader in space technology and exploration. As long as appropriate support continues to be forthcoming from Congress, this will remain the case indefinitely.

Krauthammer suggests that if China succeeds in putting astronauts on the Moon by 2025, as that country plans, they will have “overtaken” the U.S. How absurd! Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon in 1969. How does China managing this feat fifty-six years later, if this happens, amount to “overtaking” us? Obviously, the U.S. could repeat its lunar feats of the 1960s and 1970s if that were the next most important thing to do in space exploration for the money. But it isn’t! We may well return to the lunar surface again as one of many destinations in the future, but for now, our immediate, more scientifically rewarding goals include sending astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s, and Mars in the mid-2030s.

Krauthammer doesn’t even mention the International Space Station. The U.S. led the planning, design, and construction of this $53 billion marvel – an orbiting science and technology-development laboratory that has been continuously manned since 2000. Under the previous administration’s plan, it was underfunded after 2016, implying intent to abandon it long before its scientific and engineering potential had been realized. Under the new bipartisan space-exploration plans worked out between the Obama Administration and the Congress, we will continue to operate the Space Station until at least 2020 and perhaps beyond. (4/20)

Finding ET May Require Giant Robotic Leap (Source: Space Daily)
Autonomous, self-replicating robots - exobots - are the way to explore the universe, find and identify extraterrestrial life and perhaps clean up space debris in the process, according to a Penn State engineer, who notes that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence - SETI - is in its 50th year.

"The basic premise is that human space exploration must be highly efficient, cost effective, and autonomous as placing humans beyond low Earth orbit is fraught with political economic, and technical difficulties," John D. Mathews, professor of electrical engineering, reported in the current issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.

Mathews suggests that if human exploration is not possible, robots could go where many people do not want to go and do what many do not want to do, not only on Earth, but also in space. To minimize the cost, he suggests that the initial robots be manufactured on the moon to take advantage of the resources and the one-sixth gravity. He notes that we have the technology to create these exobots now, except for a compact power source. (4/20)

U.S. Air Force Readies for Launch of Communications Satellite in Florida (Source: Defense News)
The Air Force will launch a second Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 3. The satellite is meant to allow for secure communication for military and government, even in the advent of nuclear war. (4/20)

Mars Atmosphere Mission Pursues Propulsion (Source: Aviation Week)
Engineers at Lockheed Martin are edging ahead of schedule to complete assembly of the Maven spacecraft, which is designed to investigate why most of the atmosphere of Mars has largely disappeared. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (Maven) vehicle is being put together at Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Waterton site near Denver. Due to be launched in November 2013, Maven will travel through the upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere, gathering data that should help scientists reconstruct a climatic history of the planet. (4/20)

How to Destroy the Planet (Source: Bloomberg)
If you really want to save the Earth, first you must identify the best ways to destroy it. Many existential threats to the globe, real and imagined, haven't exactly been the end of the world. To help the planet thwart its next spot of trouble, we present this primer on planetary destruction -- past, present and future. Click here. (4/20)

Space Means More than Practicality (Source: SpaceRef)
The importance of space should be expressed in terms beyond everyday applications, according to a panel of science personalities. Bill Nye - the executive director of The Planetary Society - as well as Harvard University's Lisa Randall and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Amy Mainzer, each outlined their individual research or organizations at the last panel of the symposium.

Ms. Mainzer drew a distinction between the practical and personal reasons of space. "Personal reasons are pretty obvious. Humanity has always wanted to know what's over the next hill," she said. "One of the most important things to realize is the things we discover in space, sometimes they don't come home to roost in the next generation of iPhone or a faster processor in a computer. Sometimes it takes time."

For example, she said, the principles of quantum mechanics were developed between the 1900s and 1930s. The first computer using those principles wasn't ready until the 1950s, and it took until the 1990s to make applications such as laptops and laser surgery ubiquitous. But she did say there are some applications that are useful right away, such as comparative planetology, particularly with regard to climate change. Click here. (4/20)

Responsive Access to Space Event Planned in Florida in Early 2013 (Source: CRASTE)
The 2013 CRASTE (Commercial & Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange) will be held in Florida in early 2013. Specific dates and official program information will be available soon. The 2013 CRASTE promises to be a fresh forum for open exchange between key members of the commercial space community. Please join key researchers and leadership from NASA, the Air Force and the FAA as well as representatives from the system integrator community to learn about and discuss current research and development efforts, technology gaps and technology solutions in commercial space efforts. Click here. (4/20)

Mining a $20 Trillion Asteroid? New Clues Emerge About Startup (Source: GeekWire)
We’ve been digging up details this week about a Seattle-area startup that is developing robots to explore space, led by the former flight director for NASA’s Mars Rover missions, along with some of the biggest names in commercial spaceflight, and backed by investors and advisers including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, along with filmmaker James Cameron. What exactly is this venture going to do? We won’t know for sure until Tuesday, when the company will hold a news conference to unveil its plans.

But for some big clues, check out these remarks by Peter Diamandis, who is listed in Washington state records as chairman of Planetary Resources Inc., the startup behind the space robot venture: "We have these huge rocks, killer sized rocks in the hundreds of thousands or millions out there. … If you think about these other asteroids, there’s a class of them, nickel-iron, which in platinum group metal markets alone are worth something like $20 trillion if you can go out and grab one of these rocks. My plan is to actually buy puts on the precious metal market and then actually claim that I’m going to go out and get one, and then that will fund the actual mission, to go out and get one." (4/19)

SLS Main Stage Will Have Four Engines (Source: Aviation Week)
The main stage of NASA’s planned heavy-lift Space Launch System exploration rocket will carry four surplus RD-25D space shuttle main engines, as NASA and main-stage prime contractor Boeing move toward preliminary design review (PDR) on the big new rocket by the end of the year. With the first flight scheduled in 2017, Boeing's Jim Chilton calls the development schedule “sporty.” But selection of the basic four-engine configuration is a significant step in developing the launch vehicle NASA plans to use for exploration beyond low Earth orbit in the 2020s and beyond.

Engineers considered three- and five-engine versions of the main stage, and settled on four for “money, time and performance” reasons. After the supply of RD-25Ds is used up, plans call for a throwaway version of the reusable shuttle engine designated the RD-25E. “A five-engine version takes another engine, so it costs more; it drives mass into the vehicle, so you end up flying a little higher, you carry a little more prop,” Chilton said at the National Space Symposium here. “A three-engine version, for some of the later missions, might have had to be upgraded too soon.” (4/20)

NASA 2013 Budget Looks Similar in Early Senate, House Action (Source: Huntsville Times)
If the U.S. House and Senate are going to fight over federal spending for 2013, it doesn't look like NASA will be the reason. Budgets for fiscal year 2013 proposed this week on both sides of the Capitol are close on NASA, and both sides seem poised to spend more on the new rocket being developed at Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center than the White House proposed.

In the House, the Appropriations Committee released a proposed $17.6 billion NASA budget Wednesday, which is $226 million below this year's budget and $138 million below what the White House requested. In the Senate, the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $19.4 billion NASA appropriations bill Tuesday, but $1.6 billion of that was to fund the transfer of weather satellite procurement from NOAA to NASA. Without that appropriation, the Senate panel funds NASA at $17.8 billion next year, very close to the House figure of $17.6 billion. (4/20)

Pioneer Anomaly Solved! (Source: Planetary Society)
With the latest piece of the puzzle just published in a scientific journal, a solar system mystery that has perplexed people for more than 20 years has been solved, truly thanks to the support of Planetary Society members. That mystery is the "Pioneer Anomaly," an anomalous acceleration that affected the two Pioneer spacecraft as they left the solar system.

Pioneers 10 and 11 were launched in the early 1970's. As they traveled away from the Sun, they slowed down. Most of this slowing was expected, a result of the gravitational pull of the Sun and other massive objects in the solar system. But even when everything in the solar system whose mass could have any effect on the Pioneers was accounted for, both spacecraft were found to be slowing more than expected. The excess slowing was very tiny, but measurable.

In the end, anisotropic (big word for not-symmetric-in-all-directions) thermal radiation (big words for heat) can explain the mystery. This solution had already been suggested, and examination of the problem over time had made it seem increasingly likely, but only careful analyses could check whether anisitropic radiation could explain the anomaly. The latest piece of this analysis appears in a new scientific article by Slava Turyshev and colleagues. (4/19)

2012 Tampa Small Business Defense Procurement Summit (Source: FLDC)
This May 4 Summit, which the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is hosting in partnership with the City of Tampa and the office of U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, is intended to: 1) provide Tampa metro area and all Florida based small businesses with a greater understanding of how to do business with the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal contracting agencies; and 2) facilitate small business networking opportunities and matchmaking sessions with major prime contractors and government contracting officials. Click here. (4/20)

House Subcommittee Wants NRC Blessing on New Mars Mission or Money Goes to Europa (Source: Space Policy Online)
The bill that the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee approved last week would allocate $150 million to "Mars Next Decade." However, the bill also requires the National Research Council (NRC) to certify that the new Mars program will lead to accomplishment of a Mars sample return mission as dictated by the recent NRC Decadal Survey for planetary science or the money will be reallocated to study Jupiter's moon Europa. (4/18)

Orbital Sciences Posts Higher Profit (Source: Reuters)
Aerospace company Orbital Sciences Corp reported a higher quarterly profit, helped by growth at its launch vehicle segment and affirmed its full-year outlook. First-quarter net income rose to $13 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with earnings of $12.3 million, or 21 cents per share, a year ago. (4/20)

Russia Launches Cargo Ship (Source: AFP)
The Russian cargo ship Progress M-15M was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and successfully put into orbit on Friday, the mission control center said. Progress that aims to deliver fuel, food and water to the International Space Station was launched Friday and was put into orbit shortly afterward. It is due to dock with the ISS on Sunday. (4/20)

A Military and Intelligence Clash Over Spy Satellites (Source: New York Times)
The nation’s spies and its military commanders are at odds over the future of America’s spy satellites, a divide that could determine whether the United States government will increasingly rely on its own eyes in the sky or on less costly commercial technology. The fight is shaping up into the intelligence world’s version of the United States Postal Service versus FedEx — a traditional government institution that must provide comprehensive services versus a more nimble private sector that is cherry-picking the most lucrative business opportunities.

In recent years, advances in commercially available technology have allowed private companies to develop satellites carrying high-resolution sensors and perform many of the surveillance tasks that were once the sole preserve of classified satellites owned and operated by the intelligence community. Two private companies already provide some of America’s spy satellite imagery, at far lower costs than government-owned satellites, according to current and former government and industry officials and outside analysts. (4/20)

There's Another Way to Explore the Solar System (Source: Foreign Policy)
President Barack Obama's proposed NASA budget of $17.7 billion would boost research into a new generation of manned spacecraft, but it still leaves us decades away from a manned Mars expedition. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich can dream of a $35 billion moon base, but it seems just as likely that the first small step on Martian soil will be made by Chinese boots. The innovative and pioneering can-do spirit of exploration burns within private spacefarers such as Richard Branson and SpaceX, but commercial enterprises are more likely to concentrate on profitable near-Earth projects than expensive interplanetary exploration.

Yet regardless of who takes the lead, I still believe that humans will someday colonize Mars and the solar system. They will be propelled by some combination of economic greed, popular enthusiasm, and fear of losing a space race against rival countries for control of the heavens. And though we lack launch vehicles, we still have our imaginations -- and even games that can give us a taste of the challenges that await us. Click here. (4/20)

US Eyes Combined Space Operations with Allies (Source: Reuters)
The United States is examining the possibility of carrying out certain military space operations with allied countries, in much the same way as it conducts joint air and naval operations, a senior U.S. Air Force general said on Thursday. "What we know from looking at every military operation that we undertake is that there is value in combined and coalition operations. It's time for us to bring those concepts to space," General Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told industry executives at a conference in Colorado. (4/20)

Indiana Home Schools Space Day September 29, 2012 (Source: Spaceport Indiana)
Spaceport Indiana is hosting the Inaugural Indiana Home Schools Space Day at Spaceport Indiana in Columbus Indiana in recognition of Indiana Home Schools and STEM/PBL education. This event will be one of the largest Space Days in Indiana with rocket launches, exhibits, special speakers, break out sessions and much more. It will also be the first opportunity for home schooled students and their families to engage in a larger project to break the world record for the most rockets launched at one time. During the 2nd annual Home School Space Day in 2013 we will launch more than 3500 rockets simultaneously. (4/20)

U.S. Blocked China’s Attempt To Buy Bankrupt Satellite Imaging Firm (Source: Space News)
The U.S. State Department recently blocked an attempt by China to buy a fully functional European satellite imaging constellation because the spacecraft contained U.S. technology, according to a newly released government report. The report did not identify the constellation, but a very likely suspect is the RapidEye system operated by a German venture that went bankrupt last year and eventually was purchased by a Canadian company. The RapidEye constellation consists of five medium-resolution Earth imaging satellites built by an industry team led by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates of Canada and Surrey Satellite Technology of the UK. (4/20)

Boeing, NASA Sign Agreement on Mission Support for CST-100 (Source: SpaceRef)
Boeing has signed an agreement with NASA's Mission Operations Directorate (MOD) at Johnson Space Center to collaborate on mission planning, training and flight operations for the company's Commercial Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft. Under the new arrangement, which Boeing negotiated under its current Phase 2 NASA Space Act Agreement for Commercial Crew Development, Boeing will begin discussions with the MOD on integrating launch operations and the company's own mission control facility at Kennedy Space Center, with training and real-time operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston. (4/20)

Orbital Sciences Updates COTS and CRS Schedules (Source: Orbital)
Orbital Sciences Corp. has updated its COTS and CRS operational schedules, with plans to achieve four major milestones over the next year. In the third quarter of 2012, Orbital will conduct an Antares first-stage static fire test and the first Antares test flight at Wallops Island. In the fourth quarter of 2012, Antares will be launched on a COTS demonstration mission to the ISS. In the first quarter of 2013, Orbital will conduct its first Antares CRS mission to the ISS. (4/20)

Krauthammer: Farewell to the New Frontier (Source: Mercury News)
Discovery's retirement. Is there a better symbol of willed American decline? The pity is not Discovery's retirement -- beautiful as it was, the shuttle proved too expensive and risky to operate -- but that it died without a successor. The planned follow-on -- the Constellation rocket-capsule program to take humans back into orbit and from there to the moon -- was canceled in 2010. And with that, control of manned spaceflight was ceded to Russia and China.

Russia went for the cash, doubling its price for carrying an astronaut into orbit to $55.8 million. China goes for the glory. Having already mastered launch and rendezvous, the Chinese plan to land on the moon by 2025. Who cares, you say? What is national greatness, scientific prestige or inspiring the young -- legacies of NASA -- when we are in economic distress? OK. But if we're talking jobs and growth, science and technology, R&D and innovation -- what President Barack Obama insists are the keys to "an economy built to last" -- why on earth cancel an incomparably sophisticated, uniquely American technological enterprise?

We lament the decline of American manufacturing, yet we stop production of the most complex machine ever made by man -- and cancel the successor meant to return us to orbit. The result? Abolition of thousands of the most highly advanced aerospace jobs anywhere. (4/20)

Editorial: Let FAA Develop 'Smart' Rules for Commercial Vehicles (Source: Florida Today)
Flashback to the early 1920s, when barnstorming entrepreneurs took to the skies in an unregulated aviation environment. Accidents and fatalities were not uncommon, and few people expected this daredevil circus to become a credible transportation industry. It took passage of the Air Commerce Act in 1926 to introduce government safety standards that were necessary to promote confidence among the industry’s customers, and to protect the uninvolved public.

Today, a new crop of barnstormers is developing and testing commercial vehicles for orbital and suborbital human spaceflight. There have been no in-flight fatalities, but the ventures are undoubtedly risky, and the FAA is congressionally prohibited until 2015 from imposing new regulations, giving the industry time to develop before potentially smothering it with too much oversight.

To maintain global leadership in this emerging industry, we must allow the FAA to establish a smart regulatory regime that will become a worldwide standard, rather than having to adopt a regulatory approach developed in Europe or Asia. Since NASA is not a regulatory agency, this responsibility must fall upon the FAA. Click here. (4/20)

PWR Sale Would Affect Rocket Engine Manufacturing in Florida (Source: Aviation Week)
In preparation for the sale of its rocket manufacturing operations, Work is going on to “disentangle” Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's operations from other activities of its parent company UTC. The challenge is hardest in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the rocket maker shares production and test facilities with those of main engine maker Pratt & Whitney, and helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky. PWR is understood to be exploring separate entrances to the swampland site as part of the process. (4/19)

Will StratoLaunch Buy PWR? (Source: Aviation Week)
United Technologies Corp. (UTC) is expected to complete the sale of its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne rocket propulsion arm within the next two weeks as part of efforts to raise $3 billion to help finance its acquisition of Goodrich Corp. Aviation Week understands final paperwork is in the process of being signed for the company’s sale to a private investment group. UTC originally put Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne up for sale in 2011, and revived its offer in March following shareholder approval for the takeover of Goodrich on March 13.

Fellow U.S. rocket manufacturers Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and GenCorp’s Aerojet were originally thought to be the most likely potential bidders for PWR, which UTC bought from Boeing for $700 million in 2005. However, sources at the 28th National Space Symposium being held here tell Aviation Week that unnamed investors are in the process of clinching the deal. The group believed to be most strongly linked to the acquisition is thought to involve Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, former Scaled Composites CEO Burt Rutan and former NASA administrator Mike Griffin. The three are behind Stratolaunch Systems. (4/19)

Dynetics and PWR Team for SLS Bid (Source: Aviation Week)
Dynetics and PWR announced at the National Space Symposium a long-term partnership to compete for the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) procurement. Under this agreement, Dynetics and PWR will have exclusive rights to the use of the Saturn V F-1 rocket engine technology. (4/19)

Galileo Payload Milestone Reached (Source: BBC)
Another important milestone has been reached in the development of Europe's Galileo satellite-navigation system. The British manufacturer SSTL has completed the first of 22 spacecraft payloads for the orbiting network. The payload is really the "brains" of the satellite and incorporates the atomic clocks that lie at the heart of space-borne timing and positioning. SSTL has shipped the unit to its partner on the Galileo project - OHB System - for final preparation. (4/19)

A Greener Alternative to Hydrazine (Source: SpaceRef)
Hydrazine, a mainstay fuel of the space program since the early days, now has a competitor that is easier to store and - when taking all costs into account - is the same price. A subsidiary of the Swedish Space Corp., called ECAPS, has been developing a High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) fuel that is based on ammonium dinitrimide. Its exhaust gases are benign: water, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide. It's so safe to store that it has a rating in both the European Union and the United States to carry in the cargo area of commercial aircraft, greatly lessening the cost of transportation. (4/19)

If Not Dark Matter, Then What? (Source: Space.com)
Astronomers mapped the motions of hundreds of stars in the Milky Way in order to deduce the amount of dark matter that must be tugging on them from the vicinity of our sun. Their surprising conclusion? There's no dark matter around here. As the researchers write in a forthcoming paper in the Astrophysical Journal, the stellar motion implies that the stars, all within 13,000 light-years of Earth, are gravitationally attracted by the visible material in our solar system — the sun, planets and surrounding gas and dust — and not by any unseen matter. (4/19)

Russian Military Orders Missile Early Warning Satellites (Source: RIA Novosti)
The Russian Defense Ministry has signed contracts on the development and construction of satellites capable of detecting launches of ballistic missiles, First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov said on Thursday. The new missile early warning satellites will be part of a unified aerospace defense network being formed in Russia.

Russia, which reportedly operates a constellation of 60 to 70 military satellites, is planning to launch at least 100 new military satellites in the next 10 years to boost its reconnaissance and missile detection capabilities.
The expansion of the military satellite cluster will also boost global positioning and mapping capabilities of the Russian military, which is necessary to guide advanced high-precision weapons being developed in Russia. (4/19)

InSpace 21: Launch Range Tool Has Saved $6 Million (Source: SpaceRef)
There was a time when voice communications was the only way that controllers on one U.S. launch range could convey status information on missions. They found this was difficult during the more hectic parts of the launch, because they would need to memorize a lot of information quickly. Enter InSpace 21 on the stage some 12 years ago. It began evaluating how to streamline these launch operations at the Eastern Range. In 2005, it implemented a system to display launch update information visually.

Now, critical alerts and status reports are displayed on computer screens at controller workstations, allowing them to view information even before voice status reports come through. Although the computers do not replace the voice systems - voice is still how decisions are made - it provides more information to improve the quality of the conversations. Today, executives estimate that they have saved some $6 million in launch costs - all for the price of a couple of hundred thousand dollars total, which includes development and ongoing upgrades. (4/19)

Cryobots Could Drill Into Icy Moons With Remote Fiber-Optic Laser Power (Source: WIRED)
Future extraterrestrial rovers may be powered remotely by high-energy laser beams shot through miles of thin fiber-optic cables. This new technology could allow robotic probes to penetrate thick layers of ice to explore Antarctic lakes or the subterranean oceans on icy moons like Europa or Enceladus, and even power a new kind of rocket into space. Click here. (4/19)

Israel’s Spacecom Eyes Loral for Amos-6 (Source: Space News)
Israel’s Spacecom, owners and operators of the Amos communications satellite fleet, is likely to select Loral over state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) to build its newest Amos-6 satellite, industry sources say. Loral and IAI, Israel’s sole satellite producer, are in final negotiations with Tel Aviv-based Spacecom after beating out bids from European Astrium and Russia’s Reshetnev Information Satellite Services (ISS), producers of the Amos-5. The 4.5-ton satellite is tentatively planned for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket by 2015. (4/19)

Loral Countersues Viasat Over Patent Infringements (Source: Flight Global)
After the US satellite operator ViaSat sued US satellite manufacturer Loral in February for patent infringement and breach of contract related to the unauthorized use of Viasat-1’s broadband communications satellite technology on other spacecraft, Loral has fired back with litigation of its own. Loral’s countersuit filings allege that Viasat had itself been trying to lay claim to Loral technology and patents with respect to its ground terminal and satellite technology, and that it was trying to claim copyright on the fundamental laws of physics. (4/19)

Arianespace Confirms 2011 Small Profit, Expectations for Improvement (Source: Flight Global)
At Arianespace’s annual shareholder meeting, the European launch provider revealed that its net profit for 2011 was €1.6 million. This small profit on revenues of €1.012 billion was set against the backdrop of cash bailouts by the European Space Agency during the year and a relatively low flight rate. (4/19)

US Air Force Orders (Virginia) Minotaur 1 Launch for ORS-3 (Source: Flight Global)
The US rocket and satellite manufacturer Orbital Sciences announced that the US Air Force has exercised an option order for a Minotaur I launch for the ORS-3 “Enabler” mission for the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office of the Department of Defense. The launch will take place during 2013 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) facility at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The Minotaur I is a four-stage solid fuel space launch vehicle utilizing Minuteman ballistic missile rocket motors from decommissioned rockets for its first and second stages. (4/19)

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