March 22, 2014

Airbus to Cooperate with Snecma on Electric Propulsion (Source: ADS)
Airbus Defence and Space has signed a cooperation agreement with Snecma for the use of Snecma’s PPS5000 engine in Airbus Defence and Space’s Eurostar satellites, for missions in which electric propulsion is required for positioning maneuvers. Snecma – Safran Group’s aerospace engine manufacturer – will develop and qualify the new PPS5000 plasma propulsion engine for its use onboard the Eurostar E3000 platform. Airbus Defence and Space will adapt its platform to house the new engine. (3/21)

Divers Resume Work at Chelyabinsk Meteorite Fall Site (Source: Itar-Tass)
Work of divers has resumed on Lake Chebarkul at the Chelyabinsk meteorite fall site. The operation was suspended last Tuesday because of a strong wind, frost of 15 degrees and silt in the water that made search below the depth of nine meters practically impossible. Divers worked very intensively last weekend, the director-general of the Aleut service for special works said. Divers together with scientists completed mapping of anomalies on the bottom. (3/22)

How Astronauts Survive Diplomatic Tensions Aboard the ISS (Source: Japan Times)
Talking politics isn't taboo aboard the International Space Station, where Americans and Russians share close quarters, orbiting at an altitude of 400 km (248 miles) over the Earth. “We could talk about anything. We’d talk about politics,” said retired U.S. astronaut Leroy Chiao, who commanded the ISS for six months in 2004 and 2005. “With something like this going on, I am sure the crew is talking about it, you know, in a friendly way.”

American astronaut Mike Hopkins, upon returning from the ISS earlier this month after a half-year stay, said he considered his Russian counterparts “close friends” and described cooperation as “very strong.” Howard McCurdy, an expert on space policy at American University, said it was not all marital bliss at the ISS. “It is like a divorced couple trying to live in the same house,” he said. “You can do it, it is just not very easy. They both own the house. They both operate the house.” (3/21)

Rocketship Debris Found in Manzanilla (Source: Trinidad Express)
Part of a rocket was found on Manzanilla Beach yesterday. The object was taken away for examination by the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority. Police were informed of the sighting of an object at around 6 p.m. on Monday by a bather at a beach along Manzanilla/Mayaro Road.

Senior Superintendent Othneil Williams and  ASP Sankar led a party of police officers to the scene in the vicinity of Cocal Estate. Police said that it was too dark to search so they cordoned off the area and returned yesterday to find that the object had washed ashore. Last May, debris from a rocket or satellite was discovered on a beach near Morne Diablo. The debris likely came from a spacecraft that lifted off in French Guiana. (3/18)

Stott Appointed to Head SSPI (Source: Energy News)
A Isle of Man man has been appointed as president of the satellite industry’s largest global professional association. Chairman and chief executive of ManSat Chris Stott has been a member of the Society of Satellite Professionals International for more than 20 years. SSPI is a non-profit organization working to promote the development of, and access to, high-quality education in the industry. (3/21)

Next Atlas 5 Rocket Cleared for Rollout and Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The Launch Readiness Review was held Friday and reported all systems are "go" for liftoff of the Atlas 5 rocket on Tuesday. The rocket will be rolled from its assembly building to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 on Monday morning. The mission is known as NROL-67, a classified deployment flight for the National Reconnaissance Office. The launch window opens at 2:05 p.m. (EDT). (3/21)

NOAA Seeks Boost for Sat Programs Great and Small in 2015 Budget (Source: Space News)
NOAA requested a $165 million increase for its satellite division in 2015 to buy spare instruments for its polar-orbiting weather satellite program, speed up the launch of an international ocean topography mission and study whether to fly a climate sensor left over from a canceled civil-military program as a hosted payload.In all, NOAA is seeking $2.25 billion for its National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service next year.

The biggest chunk of the proposed increase would go toward instrument spares for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) program, which is designed to provide global coverage from polar orbit through 2025 at an estimated life-cycle cost of about $11.3 billion. NOAA wants $916 million for JPSS in 2015, about $95 million more than Congress appropriated in 2014, according to budget documents released March 13.

With the extra funding, NOAA would purchase copies of the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder and Cross-track Infrared Sounder instruments for the planned JPSS-2 satellite. Those sensors, a subset of the JPSS-2 instrument package, are built by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems and Exelis Geospatial Systems, respectively. (3/21)

DARPA Space Budget Increase Includes $27M for Spaceplane (Source: Space News)
DARPA expects to spend some $800 million on space programs from 2015 through 2018, an increase of $130 million over what was projected at this time last year, budget documents show. Nearly all of the targeted increase for DARPA’s Space Programs and Technology Office is backloaded into the outyears, the documents show. For 2015, the office is seeking nearly $180 million, only $7.5 million more than this year’s funding level.

The 2015 request includes $27 million for XS-1, a concept for a reusable spaceplane that could ultimately fly 10 times in 10 days and boost payloads into low Earth orbit for less than $5 million per launch. The program received $10 million in 2014. The agency hopes to select a single vendor next year for the final design and development of the vehicle, which cold make its initial test flight in 2018. (3/21)

Private Space Taxis on Track for 2017 Launch, NASA Says (Source:
The U.S. should be able to launch its astronauts to space using homegrown commercial spacecraft by 2017, NASA officials say. The four private companies NASA is counting on to develop manned spaceships — Boeing, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and SpaceX — are notching the many milestones set by the space agency's commercial crew program (CCP), officials said.

NASA requested $848 million for commercial crew in the White House's 2015 budget proposal. That figure is enough to keep competition going, the agency says, but historically Congress grants the agency less than it asks for. Click here. (3/21)

SpaceX Launch to the International Space Station Reset for March 30 (Source: NASA)
SpaceX has confirmed it will target its next cargo mission launch to the International Space Station from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, for 10:50 p.m. EDT, March 30. A post-launch news conference will follow at approximately 90 minutes after liftoff. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is 9:39 p.m. Wednesday, April 2. (3/21)

Thales Alenia Space Exec Identifies Ways To Save on Next Cygnus Order (Source: Space News)
The builder of the pressurized cargo modules launched aboard Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket to carry supplies to the space station says it would need a follow-on contract this year to provide maximum cost advantage to Orbital and its customer, NASA. Thales Alenia’s 2009 contract with Orbital, valued at $247 million, called for the delivery of nine Cygnus cargo modules by 2015.

Two of these have been launch successfully, and two more are scheduled for launch this year. Three more launches in 2015 and two in 2016 will complete the $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract Orbital has with NASA, assuming that the flights carry the contracted amount of payload. Thales said there are multiple avenues to pursue to squeeze efficiencies from the current CRS production line for a second order, but that the scale of economies depends on the timing and size of the order. (3/21)

Report Rekindles Suspicions About Chinese Rocket Launch (Source: Space News)
The May 2013 launch of a Chinese rocket on what Beijing described as a scientific mission may have been a test of an anti-satellite (ASAT) system, according to a new academic paper. “While there is no conclusive proof, the available evidence strongly suggests that China’s May 2013 launch was the test of the rocket component of a new direct ascent ASAT weapons system derived from a road-mobile ballistic missile,” the paper says.

According to a press release from the Chinese Academy of the Sciences’ National Space Science Center, the rocket was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on a suborbital mission to study the high-energy particles in the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space.

But the Pentagon seemed to question that characterization. “The launch appeared to be on a ballistic trajectory nearly to geosynchronous Earth orbit,” Air Force Lt. Col. Monica Matoush, a Pentagon spokeswoman, wrote in a May 16 email. “We tracked several objects during the flight but did not observe the insertion of any objects into orbit and no objects associated with this launch remain in space.” (3/21)

Meteorite From Ontario Fireball Described as 'Rosetta Stone' (Source: CBC)
Canadian and NASA researchers believe one or more fragments of a rare and valuable meteorite may have landed near St. Thomas, Ont., after a fireball streaked across the sky in southern Ontario Tuesday night. "This is very exciting for us," said Western University meteor physicist Peter Brown at a news conference Friday, where he appealed to the public for help in finding the meteorite fragment or fragments. (3/21)

U.S. RD-180 Coproduction Would Cost $1 Billion (Source: Aviation Week)
“We hold a license to manufacture and deliver RD-180 engines,” says Matthew Bates of Pratt & Whitney, which formed a joint venture with Russian engine manufacturer NPO Energomash in 1997 called RD Amross. The sole purpose of RD Amross is to provide the engines to the U.S. “A deviation from the contracted, agreed-upon delivery amount would represent a contractual breech,” says Maureen Schumann, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

If Russia were to hold the RD-180 hostage, DOD estimates it would need $1 billion over five years to establish production on U.S. soil. The RD-180 sourcing plan was established over years of regulatory review once Lockheed Martin selected the engine as its propulsion system. To mitigate concerns about supply, the Air Force maintains a stockpile of roughly two years' worth of engines. The stockpile was approved as a change to the U.S. policy with regard to foreign sourcing in 2000.

The policy today is three-pronged. In addition to the stockpile, the Pentagon also has a plan to “gracefully” transition to U.S. production if needed. And, finally, should the supply be interrupted, Pentagon officials can prioritize what missions would use Atlas V while a production facility is being established stateside. Missions could be offloaded to the Delta IV. The Pentagon has long held to a strategy of “assured access” to space by operating two distinct rocket systems. (3/21)

Kentucky Has Seat at Space Exploration Table (Source: Courier-Journal)
As a child with a big imagination growing up on a farm in Bardstown, I never dreamed that by my 20s I would have the opportunity (let alone in Kentucky!) to design and build cutting-edge, small satellites and other space technology. But here I am, a recent University of Kentucky engineering graduate working in the middle of Kentucky Space LLC, a dynamic new global space company in the commonwealth.

In recent months, Kentucky Space successfully launched three experimental satellites from two different continents (the U.S. and Russia, on converted nuclear missiles that were, not long ago, pointed at each other). When we say small we mean it. The largest satellite is the size of a tissue box, and all are orbiting about 380 miles above the Earth at 5 miles per second, sending data to ground stations in Kentucky. (3/21)

NASA Glenn Will Help in Developing New Batteries for Space (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
NASA Glenn Research Center will help search for a new generation of space batteries. Glenn Director James Free of the Brook Park center this week signed an agreement with the Lemont, Ill., Joint Center for Energy Storage Research to design new space batteries. The batteries can be used to power rovers, spacewalk suits and more. (3/21)

Europe's Home-Grown Space Shuttle Gears Up for Launch (Source: New Scientist)
Three, two, one, lift-off! The countdown has immortalised launches as the most exciting part of space travel, but reaching orbit is only half the challenge. Re-entering Earth's atmosphere is just as difficult, and can be deadly, as it proved for the unfortunate crew of the doomed space shuttle Columbia. Now the European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to try re-entry for the first time in 16 years, using a novel spacecraft. Click here. (3/21)

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