May 3, 2014

Injunction on RD-180 Engines May Have Implications for US Rides to ISS (Source: Huffington Post)
The injunction halts any RD-180 engines sales until the US departments of Commerce, State, and Treasury confirm that the sales do not violate sanctions against several top Russian government leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. My assumption is that the injunction is temporary, because the sanctions against Mr. Rogozin apply to any personal business dealings with the man and not in his professional capacity as a representative of the Russian government.

But what if there is a glitch, and either Commerce, State, or Treasury drag their feet or determine that the RD-180 sales do, in fact, violate the March sanctions? Or what if all three departments agree that there is no violation, but Judge Braden remains unconvinced by the explanations provided? Well, then ULA suddenly finds itself with a big problem. It will have to make do with the supply of RD-180s is has, and it will eventually have to find a replacement for them within the next couple of years.

If Judge Braden's injunction holds and eventually turns into a prohibition, the real dilemma will be for NASA, because then the same logic used against further US buys of the RD-180 could also be used for US payments for rides of its astronauts aboard Soyuz. (5/3)

Antares Gets a New Launch Date from Wallops (Source: DelMarVa Now)
Another Antares rocket is set to blast off from Wallops to resupply the International Space Station, but most of Hampton Roads will likely sleep right through it. NASA announced Friday that the new launch date for Orbital Science Corp.'s second ISS mission from Virginia's Eastern Shore will be Tuesday, June 10 — at 2:07 in the morning. The launch window is five minutes. (5/2)

Sanctions Against Russia Bring Confusion, Caution Among Space Firms (Source: Space News)
Morocco’s decision to drop the European version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket as a backup launch option for two Moroccan reconnaissance satellites is the latest example of the ripple effects of the U.S. government’s sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine, industry officials said.

Morocco’s hypersensitivity to any possible licensing issues with the two satellites may be an extreme case of risk aversion. It remains unclear whether the European Soyuz — launched from French territory under French legal authority and sold by Europe’s Arianespace consortium — will ever be affected by the expanding sanctions imposed by the United States and other governments against Russia.

Even before the Ukrainian issue, officials in Morocco’s capital refused to acknowledge a contract with French manufacturers to build the satellites, which will be launched by Europe’s new Vega rocket. But Morocco’s prudence is reflective of the confusion that surrounds the U.S. government’s intentions as the Ukrainian crisis appears to worsen and the confrontation with Russia heats up, officials said. (5/2)

Utah Rep. Bemoans U.S. Space 'Trampoline' Predicament (Source: Standard-Examiner)
How big would a trampoline have to be to propel someone all the way into space? Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop says he hopes he never has to find out, but the United States' reliance on Russia to send its astronauts into space is proving to be a bad idea, and comments this week from a Russian official are proving his theory correct. Earlier this week, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin protested recent U.S. sanctions that will halt high-tech exports to Russia.

The United States imposed the sanctions, which prevent high-tech materials that could aid Russia's military, in response to Russia failing to defuse the crisis in Ukraine. In 2010, after President Obama announced plans to kill NASA's manned space flight program -- dubbed the Ares Rociket and Constellation Program -- in favor of private technologies for human transport to space, the U.S. became solely reliant on Russia to transport U.S. astronauts to the ISS via the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Editor's Note
: This is incomplete (or purposefully misleading) reporting on why we're now reliant on Russia for astronaut flights. No blame for President Bush's retirement of the Space Shuttle, or noting that Commercial Crew will likely result in U.S. human spaceflight before Ares-1 would have, and at a fraction of the cost. (5/2)

Shelby Rips NASA Over Space Launch System Funding (Source: Huntsville Times)
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) ripped NASA today for underfunding the Space Launch System (SLS) while "spending billions to help private companies develop a launch vehicle" with almost no financial oversight. "For the first time in recent memory, NASA has a strategic plan for space exploration that will utilize one platform to meet the needs of multiple exploration missions well into the future. That platform is SLS.... None of this will be possible if we short change this effort."

On commercial space, Shelby said NASA has "little or no access to the books and records associated with its investment." None of the companies competing to build private space taxis "will publicly disclose its investment in this so-called 'public private partnership,'" Shelby said. "Is the federal government a majority investor or a minority investor?" (5/2)

SpaceX Grasshopper Successor Flies Again in McGregor (Source: Waco Tribune)
SpaceX’s F9R Dev test vehicle takes flight Thursday over the company’s McGregor development site. The rocket — larger brother to the Grasshopper that flew earlier at McGregor — is part of the company’s effort to develop a first stage that can return to the launch site for reuse. (5/2)

Stennis Space Center Welcomes SpaceX to Test Site (Source: Mississippi Business Journal)
Stennis Space Center traces its beginnings back in the 1960s and the Apollo manned lunar missions. Now the Hancock County propulsion facility is on the verge of testing rocket engine technology to propel humans to other planets through a new partnership between NASA and SpaceX.

SpaceX announced in 2013 that it would bring the initial testing of its Raptor methane rocket engine components to Stennis, where NASA, the Department of Defense and others in the private sector test rocket propulsion systems on a variety of structures. SpaceX is developing the Raptor as a reusable engine for a heavy-lift launch vehicle.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Stennis director Rick Gilbrech said, “This is a great partnership between NASA and SpaceX. These types of activities are opening new doors of commercial space exploration for companies. SpaceX is another example of the outstanding progress America’s commercial space industry is making, and we are happy to welcome them as our newest commercial test customer.” (5/2)

NASA Plans to Raze Structures at Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Source: Ventura County Star)
NASA announced Thursday that it plans to demolish structures at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) that were contaminated by a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959. SSFL is a 2,850 acre site located in Ventura County, California. The site is divided into four areas which are under different ownership. Boeing owns Areas I, III and IV. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) owns and administers Area II and owns 42 acres of Area I. (5/2)

New Mexico Senator Criticizes Spaceport Spending (Source: KRWG)
Republican Sen. Lee Cotter from Las Cruces says he wants the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to stay grounded when it comes to how it uses taxpayer funds. “Government might not be telling the truth and for me, that’s alarming,” said Sen. Cotter. He is re-introducing a bill next legislative session that would redirect where the Spaceport’s funds come from.

He says his concern goes back to April 3, 2007. That’s when voters in Dona Ana County raised the Gross Receipts tax to pay for the Spaceport. “Nowhere in the original information did it say to operate it,” said Cotter. (5/2)

DigitalGlobe Looks at Moving up GeoEye-2 Launch (Source: Space News)
Geospatial imagery and services provider DigitalGlobe on May 1 said demand for imagery of sharper resolution than what the U.S. government now allows for commercial sale appears so strong that the company could move up the launch date for its GeoEye-2 satellite.

DigitalGlobe appears to have won the argument with the U.S. intelligence community about whether imagery with a ground sampling distance of 30 centimeters should be available for open commercial sales. The current maximum sharpness is 50 centimeters. U.S. intelligence officials in April indicated they had no problem with the idea. It is now up to the Obama administration, and specifically the U.S. secretary of commerce, to authorize the commercial sale of sharper imagery. (5/2)

Loral Chasing Satellite Orders Unaffected by ViaSat Patent Case (Source: Space News)
MDA Corp. of Canada said 90 percent of the bids for commercial telecommunications satellites that its Space Systems/Loral (SSL) division is chasing are unaffected by the patent-infringement litigation between SSL and its former customer, ViaSat Inc. The 10 percent that may be affected because of their relevance to the three patents ViaSat said SSL has misappropriated are being “worked with design solutions that eliminate any potential issues,” MDA Chief Executive Daniel E. Friedmann said. (5/2)

Two Indonesian Satellites Call Dibs on the Same Orbital Slot (Source: Space News)
Indonesia’s Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) has set itself on a collision course with Indonesia’s Indosat satellite operator by ordering a satellite to be placed into the same orbital slot as a satellite ordered by Indosat a year ago, industry officials said. BRI announced April 28 that Space Systems/Loral (SSL) will build the C- and Ku-band BRISat spacecraft, which will be launched in 2016 aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has backed the BRI project, attended the contract signing ceremony in Jakarta. The announcement comes after PT Indosat ordered the Palapa E satellite from Orbital Sciences Corp. in mid-2013, citing license approval from the Indonesian Communications Ministry. Both satellites are intended to operate from Indonesia’s 150.5 degrees east orbital slot, where the aging Palapa C2, in inclined orbit, continues to provide service but is no longer able to furnish much of its original television offering.

Industry officials offered no consensus view on which project ultimately will be given approval by Indonesian regulators and ultimately registered at the International Telecommunication Union, the Geneva-based United Nations affiliate that regulates satellite orbital slots and broadcast frequencies. (5/2)

Could Newquay Airport Become Britain's First Spaceport? (Source: Cornish Guardian)
Britain's first spaceport could be up and running within five years – and Newquay Airport could be the perfect venue. Science minister David Willetts announced yesterday that experts in space, defense, business and transport are busy trying to identify a suitable base for the launch site, which could also be used to send satellites into space. (5/2)

Britain Ploughs £40 Billion Into the Space Industry (Source: Voice of Russia)
The British Government says it will back plans for an expansion of the UK space industry - increasing their input to £40 billion by 2030. The government has said they are also considering developing legal framework so that a spaceport could be built in the UK. The space industry in the UK already generates 9.1 billion pounds a year for the economy and saw a 7 per cent growth every year throughout the recession. (5/2)

Author Sues Over "Gravity" Movie Funding (Source: CNS)
In a $10 million lawsuit, novelist Tess Gerritsen claims that Warner Bros. based its "Gravity" movie on her space novel of the same name, and owes her a share of profits from the Oscar-winning blockbuster. Terry Gerritsen, known as Tess, claims that in 1999 a New Line Cinema subsidiary purchased the film rights to her "Gravity" novel. New Line is a defendant, as is Warner Bros. subsidiary Katja Motion Picture Corp.

Katja paid Gerritsen $1 million for rights to the book, which, like the movie, features a heroine medical doctor-cum-astronaut who is stranded in space, the author says in the federal lawsuit. Gerritsen claims that her contract promised her a $500,000 production bonus, a 2.5 percent cut of net profits and the screen credit "based on the book by Terry Gerritsen." (5/2)

Agreement Formalizes French, U.S. Roles on Ocean-Mapping Mission (Source: Space News)
The French space agency, CNES, signed with NASA a formal work-share agreement on the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) altimetry satellite to be launched in 2020. The agreement calls for CNES to provide the satellite’s platform, a radio-frequency unit for the U.S.-built Ka-band Radar Interferometer, a Doppler positioning instrument and an altimeter. In addition, France will provide the SWOT mission’s satellite command-and-control center, a network of data-reception stations and the French ground segment. (5/2)

Taking Out The Space Trash; A Model For Space Cooperation (Source: Breaking Defense)
From the Cold War space race to the Apollo-Soyuz handshake in space, to holding China at arms length from International Space Station involvement, domestic politics have determined the tone and extent of our international space cooperation. That is both disheartening and frightening. Disheartening because space is an inherently international domain which hosts assets providing and transmitting information key to personal, corporate and national well being in a globalized world, and it doesn’t work well without cooperation for the sustainable use of all.

Frightening because of the willingness of some politicians to sacrifice space cooperation as a whipping boy for other issues, from personal religious views to disapproval regarding types of government or geostrategic land grabs, or to ignore the need for cooperation altogether. The US is not the only country that politicizes space, with some countries still unwilling to engage in the kind of transparency needed as a prerequisite for space cooperation. Click here. (5/2)

UAS Demonstration Planned on May 11 at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida, the State of Florida’s spaceport authority and aerospace development organization, presents an outdoor demonstration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology at KSC Visitor Complex and Exploration Park – an R&D complex located just outside the gates of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) – on Sunday, May 11, just prior to the start of the AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2014 tradeshow and conference in Orlando on May 12 -15. Click here. (5/3)

Rep. Smith Wants Military Bases Closed (Source: The Hill)
Rep. Adam Smith, D-WA, wants his colleagues to consider closing extra military bases as the Department of Defense has suggested. Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, says despite lawmakers' reluctance, the closures are necessary. "If we don't take those steps that the DOD puts out, we are creating a completely untenable situation down the road," Smith said this week. (5/1)

NASA Seeks Partners for Technology Development Projects (Source: NASA)
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is seeking proposals to participate in the technology advancing partnerships challenge, a new initiative managed by Kennedy’s chief technologist to enhance the development of new technologies to meet specific agency mission objectives.

Technological areas of emphasis for the challenge include: robotics, telerobotics and autonomous systems; human health, life support and habitation systems; human exploration destination systems; ground and launch systems processing; modeling, simulation, information technology and processing; thermal management systems; and communication and navigation. Click here. (4/28)

Spaceflight Inc. Announces SHERPA Launch Service Agreement (Source: SpaceFlight)
Spaceflight Inc., the company reinventing the model for launching small satellites into space, today announced it has secured a launch service agreement to orbit its “SHERPA” hosted payload and in-space transportation system. Spaceflight’s inaugural SHERPA mission will deploy up to 1,200 kilograms of customer satellite payloads into low Earth orbit during the second half of 2015 on an undisclosed launch vehicle.

Spaceflight’s SHERPA is a free-flying platform that ferries up to 1,500 kg of rideshare spacecraft and provides a hosted payload solution. The SHERPA has a custom ring as its primary structure and includes a propulsion system and other spacecraft subsystems to deploy payloads in a range of orbits including low Earth, geosynchronous, low lunar and beyond. (4/30)

Sea Launch Resumes EUTELSAT 3B Launch Operations (Source: Sea Launch)
Following suspension on 31 March of the launch campaign activities of the EUTELSAT 3B satellite, Sea Launch announced that its prime contractor, Energia Logistics, Ltd., will this week restart testing in preparation for the rollout of the Payload Unit and its integration with the Zenit-3SL launch vehicle before departing to the launch site in mid-May. The launch of the EUTELSAT 3B satellite is now scheduled for May 26. (5/1)

Ganymede's Complex Ocean Could Host Life (Source: SEN)
Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an undergound sea that constantly spouts geysers of salty water that have been imaged by the international Cassini space probe. Scientists have been pressing for a special mission to go there and to check out one on Saturn’s biggest moon Titan too. They have also been keen to investigate Europa, one of the four big Galilean moons of Jupiter because it too appears to have a reservoir of liquid water beneath its surface.

But it is not just Europa in the Jovian system that has an underground salty ocean. Since NASA’s Voyager missions of the 1970s, it was suspected that one exists on Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System, too. The existence of Ganymede’s sea was confirmed when NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter followed in the 1990s and found it extended to a depth of hundreds of kilometers. It was discovered that Callisto also probably had an ocean beneath its surface. (5/3)

ISS Research Shows Hardy Little Space Travelers Could Colonize Mars (Source: NASA)
Three recent scientific papers examined the risks of interplanetary exchange of organisms using research from the International Space Station. Organisms hitching a ride on a spacecraft have the potential to contaminate other celestial bodies, making it difficult for scientists to determine whether a life form existed on another planet or was introduced there by explorers. So it's important to know what types of micro-organisms from Earth can survive on a spacecraft or landing vehicle. Click here. (5/2)

What if There IS Life on Mars? (Source: Space Safety)
As prospects of a Mars sample return mission or even a manned mission to Mars are becoming increasingly realistic, the danger of biological invasions from space or, on the other hand, the danger of contaminating other celestial bodies with terrestrial microbes attracts more of the scientific community’s attention. There are obviously reasons to worry. There are many examples from the past when a microbe, plant, or animal virtually harmless in its original habitat caused havoc when transferred to another continent. Click here. (5/2)

Corkscrew-Shaped Light Unleashed by Universe's Most Powerful Explosions (Source:
Gamma-ray bursts, the brightest flashes in the universe, may give off an afterglow full of light waves that move in corkscrew-shaped spirals, sort of like the filtered light that makes watching 3D movies possible, scientists say. The discovery contradicts what theoretical models have always predicted about so-called circularly polarized light in gamma-ray bursts and has at least one scientist completely "gobsmacked." (5/2)

Exelis Reports First-Quarter Results (Source: Exelis)
Exelis reported first-quarter revenue was $1 billion, a 12 percent decrease from the first quarter of 2013. First-quarter earnings were $52 million, a 17 percent increase from the first quarter of 2013. (5/2)

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