November 14, 2013

Scaled Conducts 9 RocketMotorTwo Ground Tests in 3 Months (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Engineers have been busy over the last three months conducting 9 ground tests of SpaceShipTwo’s hybrid engines. At least one of these tests was of an alternative to rubber/nitrous oxide engine design that SpaceShipTwo has been using to conduct powered test flights. (11/14)

NASA Seeks SBIR & STTR Proposals (Source: NASA)
To enable future space exploration while helping to seed viable commercial products and services here in America, NASA is seeking proposals for the agency's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

The SBIR and STTR Programs provide small businesses and nonprofit research institutions with opportunities to address specific technology gaps in NASA missions, while stimulating opportunities for the commercialization of new technologies developed through federal research and development. Program results have benefited many NASA efforts, such as modern air traffic control systems, Earth and sun observing spacecraft, the International Space Station, and others. (11/14)

United Launch Alliance Under Pressure To Find More Savings (Source: Aviation Week)
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is looking at options to restructure its workforce in an effort to save money as the company nears completion of negotiations for a first-ever multiyear deal for the sale of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle cores to the U.S. Air Force. “We are signing up for significant year-over-year savings that we honestly don’t have plans today to [realize],” says Dan Collins. “We are sticking our head out and our neck out.”

The company is in the final throes of negotiating a deal for the sale of 36 rocket cores to the U.S. Air Force with priced options for up to 14 more. This is expected to provide launch services for the next five years for the Pentagon and intelligence community. Air Force Program Executive Officer for Launch Scott Correll is retiring from his post in the middle of next month; he says he hopes to have the deal inked by then.

“We are now overpaying for the time engineers are drafting,” Collins said. Those engineers would largely prefer to dedicate more time toward more specific engineering tasks, he added. Shifting non-engineering tasks to non-engineer employees could save millions of dollars annually, he said. ULA is reviewing whether some of its work could be automated, for example, without compromising mission assurance. Editor's Note: I hear that ULA layoffs are expected in January at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (11/14)

Reforming Cold War-Era Export Controls (Source: Bloomberg)
The Obama Administration has implemented the first of a critically important set of long overdue changes to the government’s control over the export of arms and other strategic commodities. The U.S.’s export-control system, created during the Cold War, hasn’t kept pace with the advent of new technologies and the globalization of the supply chain. Nor does it adequately improve our allies’ capacity to meet current and emerging U.S. national security challenges and foreign policy concerns such as nonproliferation and human rights.

Moving less sensitive items to the Commerce Control List allows us to be more flexible when authorizing licenses to U.S. allies, even as we maintain strict prohibitions on exporting without a license to countries subject to U.S. and United Nations arms embargoes and to destinations other than our allies and partners. Click here. (11/14)

Inside a NASA Meetup, Where Science Fans Become Space Ambassadors (Source: WIRED)
It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning, and a crowd has started to gather at the gates of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In a few minutes, the doors will open, and we’ll get a coveted glimpse into one of the hearts of the United States space program. The crowd is filled with educators and engineers, artists, programmers, parents, students from three countries and 22 U.S. states. We’re linked by two common factors: We all use social media, and we’re all really, really into space. Click here. (11/14)

SLS Upper Stage Proposals Reveal Increasing Payload-to-Destination Options (Source:
With less than a year to go before the inaugural flight of NASA’s Orion crew capsule and just over four years until the debut of the SLS rocket in 2017, work on the massive Heavy Lift Vehicle continues with ongoing proposals and studies targeting the vehicle’s upper stage.

As the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket continues to track toward its debut launch in December 2017, engineers responsible for the rocket’s design upgrades beyond its initial test-vehicle configuration are turning their eyes toward the rocket’s proposed multi-use capabilities.

With the wide-range of proposed mission running the gamut from trips to the International Space Station in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to crewed missions to asteroids in the inner solar, a key determiner in exactly how much payload SLS will be capable of delivering to these targets is its upper stage. Click here. (11/14)

Air Force Crafting Plan for Financial Future (Source: The Hill)
The Air Force is making long-range financial plans, outlining a number of scenarios of what may happen as a result of sequestration budget cuts, according to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welch. Called Air Force 2023, the plan reflects the service's need to take "a real honest look in the mirror," he said. (11/13)

FAA: Privacy Will Be Purview of Test Sites for Drones (Source: Federal Computer Week)
The Federal Aviation Administration said it will leave privacy concerns up to sites for drone testing. The agency plans to select six sites by the end of 2013. "The test sites will provide invaluable information that will help us develop policies and procedures to ensure safe, responsible and transparent integration," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement. (11/13)

UAS Integration Plan Signals Major Step Forward (Source: AIA)
The Aerospace Industries Association today lauded the Federal Aviation Administration's announcement of the agency's Roadmap for "Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System (NAS)." FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta addressed the roadmap — which outlines the concrete actions needed to enable UAS integration into the NAS — at a Civil UAS Forum Thursday hosted by AIA's President and Chief Executive Officer Marion C. Blakey. (11/14)

NASA's Broad Political Support One of its Biggest Problems (Source: Houston Chronicle)
When NASA was going great guns back in the 1960s, when it was capturing nearly 5 percent of the federal budget, it could afford to spread the love. By that I mean the space agency had contracts in every state for the Apollo program. It built 10 field centers in states from Florida to Texas to California. This made political sense for NASA at it ensured widespread, continuing support in Congress as the pork flowed into every senator’s backyard.

NASA has maintained this mode of spreading its business around in the decades since even as its share of the federal budget has declined from just under 5 percent to 0.5 percent. Today NASA also still has 10 field centers sprinkled across the country, when it was apparent in the 1970s that the space agency didn’t need that many.

According to Chris Craft: "We knew we had five or six too many centers. We didn’t need that many. Let the Jet Propulsion Laboratory do the unmanned stuff, and have two or three other centers do manned spaceflight. That’s all NASA needed then, and needs now. But politics wouldn’t let us do that. The centers are still going today, and some are getting bigger." (11/14)

Tight Money May Keep America Reliant on Russian Space Rides (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA already plans to pay Russia $1.7 billion to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station between now and 2017, but a new report says it may be paying Russia even longer if America can't get its "commercial crew" carriers launching by then. And there are reasons - starting with tight money in Washington - to fear it won't be able to do that.

NASA Inspector General Paul Martin issued his findings on NASA's effort to develop a "commercial crew" capability Wednesday. The space agency is currently working with three companies to provide those space taxis - Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp. - and Martin found "steady progress" by all three, according to an OIG office press release.

But the program is at a "critical stage of development" and there are obstacles ahead. Specifically, he cited "unstable funding," getting cost estimates aligned with schedules, certifying the designs on time, and coordinating with the FAA and Air Force. Failing to solve these problems could "significantly delay" commercial crew capability, Martin said. (11/14)

How NASA Can be Innovative on Reduced Budgets (Source: Universe Today)
Reduced budgets have helped NASA make use of reduced resources before, said Bill Gerstenmaier. It encouraged the agency to tender out to commercial companies (such as SpaceX) for cargo flights to the space station, even though development would occur on the fly. Gerstenmaier, however, did not address concerns that the new budget could cut back commercial crew budgets even further. (11/14)

CASIS Plans Educational Academy at KSC (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) will host the inaugural education event, “CASIS Academy Live” at the Space Life Sciences Lab and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Nov. 15. Local high school students will spend the day interacting with CASIS Senior Research Pathway Manager Dr. Mike Roberts and former NASA astronaut Wendy B. Lawrence, touring research facilities and conducting a laboratory experiment focused on microbes in space. (11/14)

South Korea Reveals Moon-Lander Plans (Source: Nature)
South Korea has unveiled designs for its planned Moon lander, a key part of President Park Geun-hye’s pledge to revitalize the country’s aerospace industry and space program. The uncrewed module will travel on board a Korea Space Launch Vehicle-2 rocket and is designed to carry a lunar rover weighing 10–20 kilograms, which will look for signs of rare minerals on the Moon’s surface. A robotic orbiter will also circle above the lunar landscape for more than a year at an altitude of about 100 km. (11/13)

SpaceX’s 1st Commercial Comsat Launch Slips Three Days (Source: Space News)
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s (SpaceX) first launch of a commercial telecommunications satellite will be delayed to Nov. 25 from Nov. 22, SpaceX President and Chief Operations Officer Gwynne Shotwell said Nov. 13. "We wanted a little bit more time to make sure the launch site was ready for us, and we wanted to give the [launch vehicle] crew a little more rest,” Shotwell said. (11/14)

Russia’s United Rocket and Space Corporation May be Created After Year-End (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia may create a United Rocket and Space Corporation after the end of the year, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach, who is also a member of the Military-Industrial Commission, said. “It will take one month and a half or two months to create a United Rocket and Space Corporation as a joint stock company. In this case this process will be slightly postponed,” he said. “But there are also options how to speed up this process. I hope that until the end of the year everything will be finalized. At least, this process will linger through January.” (11/14)

Contractors Pitch SLS as Everybody’s Rocket (Source: Space News)
Major contractors for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket NASA is building for astronaut missions beyond Earth orbit joined the agency’s top human-spaceflight official here to pitch the multibillion-dollar launcher as a jack-of-all trades system suitable for everything from science missions to national security launches.

Initial versions of the Space Launch System will be capable of sending 70 metric tons to low Earth orbit. Like the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets that loft most big national security and NASA science payloads today, the first SLS will feature a fairing five meters in diameter. Upgraded SLS variants would be capable of lifting as many as 130 metric tons to low Earth orbit and feature a 10-meter fairing.

As an example, Elbon said that SLS could, in a 70-metric-ton configuration, send NASA’s proposed Europa Clipper probe to the Jupiter system early next decade in two years, substantially shortening the seven-year cruise the Clipper planning team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., envision if the mission launches on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5. (11/14)

Disruptive Space Technologies, Laws and Policies Featured at Symposium (Source: IISL)
The 8th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law will take place on 5 December 2013 in Washington DC. The title will be "Disruptive (Game Changing) Space Technologies, Laws and Policies" and the programme includes key speakers representing "disruptive" and established industries, government, regulators, legal practitioners and academia.

There is a rich and complelling agenda this year and the event includes a keynote from Richard DalBello, Assistant Director of the US Space and Aeronautics Office of Science and Technology Policy and sessions on Disruptive Industry Initiatives, Initiatives of and Consequences for the Governments and Regulators, Initiatives of and Consequences for Established Industries and The Views of Legal Practitioners. Click here.

Editor's Note: The agenda for this event includes Diane Howard, a new space law faculty member at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (11/13)

NSS Takes Position in European Space Solar Energy (Source: NSS)
The Economist Magazine has conducted an open, on-line forum on the topic, "Can Solar Energy Save the World." The National Space Society (NSS) has voted "YES" in this debate. NSS urges that the European Union (EU) allow Space Solar Power to be given equal treatment with other sources of renewable energy as part of the European system of feed-in tariffs, which have worked for ground-based solar power to create a viable new market for energy.

Feed-in tariffs are a guaranteed offer of a price and a market to generators of renewable electricity and not a tax on imported goods. Dr. Paul Werbos, Chair of the NSS Policy Committee, said "What are some good strategies to really help develop space resources? The best strategy is one which tries to 'kill two or three birds with one stone.' And so, at, you will see a new position paper aimed at three goals. (11/13)

Bolden: Commercial Space Keeps Flame of Exploration Burning (Source: NASA)
Today, we have more evidence of [U.S. space] leadership. After more than 10 years of hard work, milestones and successes, NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program is passing the torch. These achievements did not happen by chance. They are the result of strong, bipartisan leadership by the Obama and Bush Administrations, and extraordinary execution by the men and women at NASA and our partners in the private sector.

This is a great example of continuity across Administrations when the good of the nation takes front and center. Building on this public-private partnership model, President Obama has invested in an even more ambitious plan to have American companies transport our astronauts to the ISS on spacecraft launched from U.S. soil, ending the outsourcing of this work overseas.

It is now critically important to get full funding from Congress, to keep us on track to begin these launches in 2017. Safe, reliable and affordable commercial access to low-Earth orbit is a critical component of NASA’s parallel path for human exploration. To that end, we are passing the torch of innovation to our partners in our Commercial Crew Program. (11/13)

India Taps Ariane 5 for Pair of Satellite Launches (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch consortium on Nov. 14 said it had signed contracts to launch two Indian telecommunications satellites on Ariane 5 heavy-lift rockets. Evry, France-based Arianespace said it had contracted with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to launch the GSAT-15 and GSAT-16 satellites on separate Ariane 5 vehicles. No launch dates were given. (11/14)

Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ Newtown Facility Closing by 2015 (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin is closing its Space Systems division’s operation in Newtown, Pa., and shuttering four other buildings at the division’s Sunnyvale, Calif., facility by 2015 as part of a corporate-wide cost reduction that will result in a workforce reduction of 4,000. Lockheed Martin said 2,000 of the 4,000 job losses would be in the Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS); Missile System and Training; and Space Systems divisions.

Over the next 1-2 years, Lockheed will create improved manufacturing, assembly and test operations in Denver. The initial move date is targeted for the end of 2014, with a goal of fully qualified production capabilities in 2015. Their goal is to be fully transitioned from Newtown, and fully functioning in Denver by the end of 2015. Impact: We plan to make approximately 200,000 square feet of facility modifications in Denver and we expect to relocate or hire approximately 350 employees. (11/14)

Arianespace Flight VA216: Launch Postponed (Source: Arianespace)
Hispasat has informed Arianespace that its Amazonas 4A satellite, one of the two payloads being carried by Arianespace flight VA216, originally scheduled for December 6, requires additional verifications. The Ariane 5 launch is therefore postponed and a new launch date will be announced as soon as possible. (11/13)

Defense Firms See Space as the Next Commercial Frontier (Source: Politico)
For defense contractors looking for growth markets as Pentagon spending slows, the “final frontier” is looking more and more attractive. “People really don’t understand how big a business space is. I mean, the commercial satellite market is enormous. It far dwarfs anything that’s going on in exploration,” said James Crocker, vice president of civil space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “There’s a lot of money to be made.”

The aerospace industry is hungry for a piece of space exploration and commercial development. Not only does it want to continue building today’s rockets and satellites — if humans were one day to go to Mars, the top firms want to be in on the mission. “There’s a cool factor that attracts people to space across the industry,” said Virginia Barnes, vice president at Boeing’s Space Launch System program. “It’s absolutely a recruitment tool.”

Crocker compared the industry’s work on space launch vehicles and the like to the advent of the GPS. When it was first developed, no one knew how many applications it would have one day. With that lesson in mind, the industry is betting that the technology it could develop for spacefaring will someday be worth the effort. “From the commercial perspective, who knows?” Crocker said. “You really can’t predict what technology’s going to do 20 years in the future.” (11/14)

NASA's Next Virginia Rocket Launch Planned for Nov. 19 (Source: DelMarVa Now)
A military satellite will be launched into orbit from NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Nov. 19 aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation Minotaur I rocket, one of two upcoming higher-profile launches. The launch window is from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Office’s ORS-3 Enabler mission will demonstrate launch and range improvements for NASA and the military, including automated trajectory targeting, range safety planning and flight termination systems, according to NASA. (11/14)

Orbital Sciences to Launch Satellite Designed, Built by High School Students (Source: Forbes)
Next week Orbital Sciences is scheduled to launch a new satellite that has been designed and built by high school students. The satellite, TJCubeSat, was developed and built by high school students at Alexandria, Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Staff from Orbital Sciences volunteered their time to mentor the students on the project, and Orbital also provided financial support.

Editor's Note: Students at Merritt Island High School on Florida's Space Coast -- with support from NASA and industry -- are also developing a cubesat that will be launched from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (11/14)

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