May 7, 2014

Boeing's New Space Capsule Is Straight Out Of 'Star Trek' (Source: Business Insider)
Boeing recently revealed the interior design for its next-generation CST-100 manned space capsule, and it looks like something straight out of "Star Trek." Designed to take a crew of seven or cargo to destinations like the International Space Station, Boeing's space capsule began life as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiative.

The futuristic space capsule design, set to launch in 2017, is a natural progression for Boeing's aircraft engineers. Developed in partnership with Bigelow Aerospace, the commercial crew capsule's sleek, modern design is a stark departure from the cluttered switchgear-laden interiors of past spacecraft. In an attempt to reduce clutter, engineers have abandoned traditional spacecraft switchgear in favor of tablet-based control interfaces. (5/7)

USAF Defends Sole-Source EELV Strategy (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force is defending is sole-source buy of launches from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) as a “good deal” for the taxpayer amid a lawsuit from upstart SpaceX, who claims to have been unfairly excluded from competing and potentially providing a better price. “The only reason we have taken any of the actions we have goes back to the fact that we have one single mission, which is getting these payloads on orbit to defend the nation,” says Lt. Gen. CR Davis.

In order to be certified to compete against ULA s, SpaceX was required to execute three successful launches of its Falcon 9v1.1 and deliver required documentation to the Air Force for review. Davis says SpaceX has now met that requirement and is eligible to receive a request for proposals for forthcoming launch competitions. Though eligible to bid, the company cannot win a contract until the Air Force certifies it. Davis says the service expects that will be certified by March of 2015.
Editor's Note: The Air Force originally selected two EELV contractors to ensure there would be two separate vehicles, in case one became unavailable for technical or other reasons; and to encourage some level of competition to keep costs down. It was surprising to some that the Air Force allowed the two contractors to form the ULA joint venture. It was especially surprising that the Air Force allowed both vehicles to be manufactured at a single location (Decatur, Alabama), which put the availability of both vehicles at risk if that site were to become disabled. (5/7)

New Horizons Needs Hubble To Find A Kuiper Belt Target (Source: Aviation Week)
As the $700 million New Horizons probe approaches its July 2015 encounter with Pluto, scientists back on Earth are worried that a priceless chance to study a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) beyond it may be slipping away. Even with the most capable ground-based telescopes, a New Horizons search team has failed to find a KBO that New Horizons can reach as it hurtles toward interstellar space following its Pluto flyby.

The search continues, but with time running short the project is seeking time on the Hubble Space Telescope to improve the odds that a feasible target can be found. The New Horizons project needs to know where that target will be when the spacecraft passes through, so it needs some lead time to calculate the object’s orbit around the Sun. Otherwise, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study one of the mysterious bodies at the edge of the Solar System may be squandered. (5/7)

Our Planet Is Blind To Incoming Asteroids – Here’s How That Will Change (Source: Curiousmatic)
Evidence suggests that the lack of catastrophic asteroid collisions on Earth has been simply blind luck, and that random large-scale impacts pose risk to the planet... For perspective, the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 was 15 kilotons – the meteor that injured over a thousand in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 was over 20 kilotons – some calculations say equivalent to 30 Hiroshima sized bombs. Click here. (5/5)

JAXA to Give U.S. Space Debris Data (Source: Japan Times)
Japan has agreed to provide the U.S. with information related to space debris under a deal aimed at bolstering security cooperation, according to sources familiar with the matter. The U.S. government has been providing space debris information to Japan since the two countries reached an accord last year. The latest agreement will enable two-way transfer of data for the first time, the sources said Tuesday.

Under the agreement, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will give U.S. Strategic Command information about objects such as old satellite and rocket components that are circling the Earth at velocities of up to 8 km per second. JAXA monitors space debris and analyzes relevant data using an optical telescope and radar in Okinawa Prefecture. (5/7)

Wow, an Increase of $170 Million for Planetary Exploration (Source: Planetary Society)
As I reported last week, Congress is in the midst of budget season, with the House Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee pulling out the stops in their funding bill to increase NASA's budget in 2015. Tomorrow, this bill goes before the full House Appropriations committee and we've finally learned some more details about how the committee wants NASA to prioritize its budget, and the news is very good for planetary exploration.

The House would provide NASA with $1.45 billion for Planetary Science, which is $170 million above the White House request and an increase of $105 million over last year. This gets us to within spitting distance of The Planetary Society's recommended minimum of $1.5 billion per year for a healthy program, so we are quite pleased with this number! (5/7)

Heart Flies Experiment to Study Effects of Spaceflight on Heart (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Another winner of Space Florida’s ISS Research Competition, Project HEART FLIES (Heart Effect Analysis Research Team conducting Fly Investigations and Experiments in Spaceflight), was involved in the CRS-3 trip to the ISS, which launched on Friday, April 18 and berthed on Sunday, April 20.

Drosophila melanogaster —that is, fruit flies — are the payload, and the goal is to observe the effects of spaceflight on the structure, function and gene expression of fruit fly hearts. It is the first study of its kind. The project should help scientists understand the effects of spaceflight on the human cardiovascular system and to use that information to create appropriate precautions and treatments for future astronauts. (5/7)

Treasury, State Back Air Force, ULA in RD-180 Purchases (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. State and Treasury departments say there is no reason that U.S. dealings with a Russian rocket engine maker should be stopped because of the current U.S. sanctions regime. In letters submitted to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims May 6, the departments said that U.S. purchases from or payments to NPO Energomash do not violate an executive order issued by the Treasury Department in March sanctioning Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, a senior Kremlin official who oversees Russia's space and defense industries.

Backed by the letters, the U.S. government has asked the court to dissolve a preliminary injunction that bars it from buying RD-180 engines used to power the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket from Russia's NPO Energomash. The letters upend claims by SpaceX that the government should prove payments made by the U.S. Air Force through its primary launch services provider to NPO Energomash do not benefit Rogozin. (5/7)

House Panel Raises Concerns About Russian Satellite Monitoring Sites (Source: Defense News)
The US House Armed Services Committee called on US national security officials to report back on the threat posed by Russian satellite monitoring stations. The panel approved the amendment, pushed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-OK, which would require the defense secretary, secretary of state and director of national intelligence to inform lawmakers about whether any Russian global navigation satellite ground monitoring stations threaten US national security facilities. (5/7)

Russia's Persona-2 Fails in Orbit? (Source: Russian Space Web)
In July 2013, NII TP design bureau published a press-release stating that Persona No. 2 was undergoing flight testing. However shortly thereafter, the spacecraft was apparently lost, prompting Russian air and space defense forces, VKO, to take out of retirement a previous-generation Kobalt-M satellite and launch it on May 6, 2014. However, given the short life span of Kobalt-type spacecraft, it would be only a temporary solution to the problem of inadequate high-resolution imaging capabilities available to the Russian military in a midst of the Ukrainian crisis. (5/7)

Boeing's Big Bet on the Future of Space Travel (Source: Bloomberg)
Boeing is known for making airplanes, but they actually have a long history in space. They’ve been a contractor for NASA on every manned space mission ever flown. A new shuttle will soon take flight, but NASA won’t be making it, private companies will. Boeing hopes that the craft to carry humans back and forth to the International Space Station will be their “CST-100” capsule design. Click here. (5/7)

Fire Missiles at Mars to Dig for Signs of Life (Source: Space Daily)
Scientists have long hypothesized that evidence of life could be hiding deep below Mars' subsurface ice. But digging for such evidence is not currently in the cards for NASA and its Mars rover, as Curiosity's drill only extends an inch or so. That's why Massachusetts-based nonprofit group Explore Mars is urging a more aggressive strategy: launch missiles at the Martian planet to break up the upper crust and bore deep into the subsurface. (5/7)

Cocoa Beach's RD AMROSS in the Eye of the RD-180 Storm (Source: SPACErePORT)
From a small office in a Cocoa Beach timeshare resort, former KSC Director Bill Parsons quietly leads the RD AMROSS joint venture that supplies Russian RD-180 engines to ULA. RD AMROSS has had a bumpy year, starting with Aerojet's purchase of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR), 50% owner of RD AMROSS (Russia's Energomash owns the other 50%). RD AMROSS was initially going to be part of the acquisition, but that required separate Energomash approval. Instead, $55 million was held-back from the acquisition and PWR parent United Technologies Corp. (UTC) retained its stake in RD AMROSS.

A few months later, Orbital Sciences sued RD AMROSS to challenge their exclusive arrangement with ULA, seeking to gain access to the RD-180 engines for its Antares rockets. RD AMROSS fought for dismissal of the lawsuit, and Orbital ended up withdrawing it in advance of their merger with ATK. Now comes the company's biggest challenge, dealing with federal sanctions against Russia -- spurred on by SpaceX -- that could shut down the Energomash RD-180 pipeline and/or lead to U.S. based RD-180 production (as originally planned under the EELV program).

The 1997 agreement for Energomash to supply RD-180s for the Atlas-3 and Atlas-5 called for 101 of the engines to be provided through 2018, each costing about $10 million. More than 70 have been delivered thus far through RD AMROSS (incorporated in 1997). The U.S. resolve to find a U.S.-made alternative to Russian-made RD-180s could eliminate RD AMROSS's middle-man role. But although the U.S. House seeks to authorize $220 million toward developing a "domestic alternative," UTC claims it would need $1 billion over five years to begin U.S. RD-180 production, and per-engine costs would probably rise above the current ~$10 million Russian price tag. (5/7)

SpaceX Says ULA Must Prove RD-180 Money Doesn’t Go to Rogozin (Source: Space News)
A key issue in the lawsuit filed by rocket maker SpaceX challenging a U.S. Air Force contract with rival United Launch Alliance appears to be whether money associated with the contract winds up in the hands of a high-ranking Russian government official who has been hit with U.S. sanctions. SpaceX did not request the injunction against ULA purchases of RD-180 engines, but Judge Susan Braden cited sanctions against Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees that country’s space industry, in issuing the ban.

Rogozin was one of 11 Russian government officials sanctioned by the U.S. government following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continued meddling elsewhere in Ukraine. The sanctions bar defense and other high technology trade with entities associated with these officials. The Air Force contends that its funds don't go to Rogozin. SpaceX submitted its own filing May 4, saying the burden is on the Air Force and ULA to prove their assertion that some of the money used to purchase RD-180s does not ultimately wind up in Rogozin’s hands.

“SpaceX opportunistically seeks to expand the scope of this Court’s injunction far beyond its plain language in order to prohibit all payments by the United States Air Force to” ULA, the Denver-based launch company wrote in a motion May 5. “SpaceX’s response is rife with speculation about the manner in which [United Launch Alliance] acquires the RD-180 engines and how money is transferred from the United States to [ULA] to RD AMROSS to NPO Energomash.” (5/5)

House Appropriators Propose Small Cut to FAA's Commercial Space Office (Source: Space Policy Online)
The House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) will markup the FY2015 Transportation-HUD bill this week. The committee released the draft bill, which shows they are proposing a small cut to AST's budget request. The FY2015 request for AST is $16.605 million. The subcommittee proposal is $16.000 million. (5/6)

Northrop Expansion is 'Mystery' Project Seeking State/Local Incentive (Source: Florida Today)
State and local officials are expected to announce Wednesday that Northrop Grumman is the company behind "Project Magellan," which has been billed as one of the Space Coast's biggest economic development projects ever. The identity of the company has been kept confidential. But multiple sources with direct knowledge of the project have said that Northrop Grumman is the company behind the project that could bring 1,800 jobs to Melbourne International Airport paying an average of $100,000 a year.

The project also involves a $500 million capital investment. Work on attracting the project to Melbourne was spearheaded by the Economic Development Commission, and various incentives had to be approved by state legislative leaders. Space Florida would be involved in the project financing. The project would be exempt from county, city and school taxes, as part of an agreement with Space Florida.

Editor's Note: This would likely be enabled through a Space Florida lease-back arrangement, where the state agency finances and owns the facility (making it exempt from local taxes) and Northrop Grumman leases it until the state's debt is retired, when ownership could transfer to the company. This lease-back approach has been used by Space Florida and its predecessor agencies for projects like Launch Complex 41 for the Atlas-5 launch vehicle. (5/7)

Mars One Downselects to 705 Prospective Settlers (19 Floridians) (Source: NBC News)
Mars One has trimmed its list of prospects for one-way trips to Mars by a third, going from a pool of 1,058 candidates to 705. More than 350 hopefuls were eliminated due to medical or personal reasons, the Dutch-based venture said Monday in a news release.

The 705 candidates are aged 18 to 81, with 313 hailing from the Americas. These candidates are to be interviewed by Mars One's selection committee. Several teams of four will be chosen to undergo training for one-way missions to Mars, with the first launch set for as early as 2024. The plan calls for successive crews to set up a permanent colony on Mars. Editor's Note: Nineteen of the 705 candidates are from Florida. Click here to see the list, including their profile videos. (5/6)

U.S. Climate Report Says Global Warming Impact Already Severe (Source: Washington Post)
The government’s newest national assessment of climate change declares that increased global warming is affecting every part of the United States. The report released Tuesday cites wide and severe impacts: more sea-level rise, flooding, storm surges, precipitation and heat waves in the Northeast; frequent water shortages and hurricanes in the Southeast and the Caribbean; and more drought and wildfires in the Southwest.

The federal climate assessment — the third since 2000 — brought together hundreds of experts in academia and government to guide U.S. policy based on the best available climate science. The authors of the more-than-800-page report said it aims to present “actionable science” and a road map for local leaders and average citizens to mitigate carbon and other gas emissions that warm the planet. (5/6)

Defense Space Funding Drops From Previous Projections (Source: Defense News)
Pentagon funding for space programs is projected to fall 37 percent over the next four years when compared to last year’s projected spending over the same time period. The combination of fewer US satellite purchases — and thus fewer spacecraft launches — is the main driver for this shift, according to data provided from the Virginia-based analytical firm VisualDoD.

But the lower dollar amounts do not necessarily mean the US Defense Department is reducing its capabilities, experts say. During the past decade, military requirements for immature technologies have contributed to cost overruns and schedule slippage on satellite programs, like the Transformational Satellite Communications System. (5/7)

Air Force to Award ‘Space Fence’ Contract to Track Orbital Debris (Source: Washington Post)
Space: so vast, so open. And yet, so littered with junk. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of man-made debris are floating around out there, the detritus of more than 50 years of spaceflight. There have been chunks of dead satellites and spent rocket boosters — even a glove that an astronaut dropped in 1965 and a spatula that escaped from a space shuttle in 2006.

Until last year, the Pentagon used what was called a “Space Fence” to track the junk and warn of potential collisions that make owners scramble to move their satellites out of the way. But that system managed to keep up with only a fraction of it all, and it went out of commission last year. Now the Air Force is poised to take a more modern crack at the problem with a new Space Fence.

With a contract expected to be awarded in the next few weeks, the program is designed to be mankind’s best effort yet at tracking space pollution. After an intense competition that has gone on for several years and has already resulted in the awards of millions of dollars for prototypes, the high-stakes bidding has been whittled down to two competitors: defense giants Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. (5/7)

Garriott: Time for the U.S. to Push for Human Spaceflight Independence (Source:
While no one has ever doubted the importance of an independent U.S. capability to put its own astronauts in space, NASA's budget could not keep the space shuttle flying while simultaneously allowing for the development of new systems. So, the United States has been living through an expected gap of about five years from the retirement of the space shuttle, waiting until multiple, new U.S. human spaceflight capabilities become available.

Those developments are going quite well, and the nation should soon have several ways to send American astronauts on American vehicles to the International Space Station , and even to points far beyond any previous human missions. However, Americans are now seeing just how critical an independent capability is. With the United States ratcheting up sanctions on Russia, now including their aerospace sector, it is all too obvious how much this country's space program depends on Russia.

After more than two decades of development, it is essential that the United States keeps the ability to visit, work and return from the ISS within its national capabilities. Yet, it is surprising to see how little discussion, much less pressure, is being applied to accelerating plans to regain an independent capability for human spaceflight. Now seems to be the time for Congress, NASA and the general public to all push hard, and get one or more of these U.S. systems in space as soon as possible. (5/7)

Planetary Resources Selected for SBIR Phase I Contracts (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected asteroid mining company Planetary Resources for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards for the development of a propulsion module and advanced imaging technology for CubeSats. One project involves the production of a standard propulsion module that could be used for CubeSats ranging from 6 to 12 units. The second award would fund the development of the compact yyperspectral aberration-corrected platform (CHAP). (5/7)

NASA Selects Astrobotic for SBIR Phase I Award (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to develop an auto-landing system for sample return missions. “The proposed research innovates safe, precise navigation for autolanding for sample return missions to a distant asteroid, planet, or moon,” the proposal summary reads. “The technology suite developed will be packaged as a commercial product." (5/7)

Inmarsat Chief Blasts Iridium Plans in Maritime Safety, Air Navigation (Source: Space News)
Inmarsat said competitor Iridium’s renewed attempt to become certified as a maritime distress signal provider is “utterly inappropriate” and that allowing Iridium to offer such a service would put lives at risk. In unusually stark, even violent, terms, Inmarsat’s usually measured CEO, Rupert Pearce, said Iridium’s current network is incapable of providing the minimum reliability required by the International Maritime Organization, and that Iridium has yet to demonstrate it can fully finance and deploy its second-generation constellation.

In an unrelated jab at Iridium’s planned Aireon air-navigation service, Pearce said Inmarsat stands ready, immediately, to offer global airlines a minute-by-minute positioning service that will permit fuel savings in addition to helping avoid another incident such as the disappearance, presumably in mid-ocean, of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Iridium’s Aireon subsidiary is developing a business based on providing Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) terminals on all 72 second-generation Iridium satellites.

Aireon’s business model calls for the airlines to pay Aireon a fee that would come from the potentially large savings in aviation fuel costs that would flow from the Aireon service. Pearce said ADS-B is not good enough, and that a two-way service, ADS-C — the C stands for Communications — is where the world’s commercial airlines should be headed. “When the dot disappears from your [ADS-B] network, you have absolutely no intel,” Pearce said, adding that in addition to enhanced safety, the ADS-C solution would offer fuel savings that ultimately should reduce passenger ticket prices. (5/7)

Warning Issued on Contacting ET (Source: Inside Outer Space)
A new study suggests that we Earthlings are not ready for dropping a line to an extraterrestrial civilization. The study results are published in the journal Acta Astronautica, suggesting that, as a species, humanity is still not ready for trying to actively contact any ETs out there. This dialogue regarding issues related to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is being prompted by renewed interest to not only search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence – but also aggressively send messages from Earth, dubbed “Active SETI.”

The ethical and sociological implications of this proposal have been analyzed by the neuro-psychologist, Gabriel G. de la Torre, a professor at the University of Cádiz in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain. De la Torre wonders: Can such Active SETI decisions be taken on behalf of the whole planet? What would happen if they are successful and “someone” received our signal? Indeed, are we prepared for this type of contact? (5/6)

NASA, NSBRI Select 26 Proposals To Support Crew Health (Source: NASA)
NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will fund 26 proposals to help investigate questions about astronaut health and performance on future deep space exploration missions. This research may help protect astronauts as they venture farther into the solar system than ever before to explore an asteroid and, eventually, Mars.

Editor's Note: Two of the projects were proposed by researchers at the University of Central Florida, including Eduardo Salas studying Dynamic Team Role Allocation in Long Duration, Exploration Missions: Identification of Roles, Triggers, and Measurement Tools; and Shawn Burke studying Leadership-Followership: Moving Beyond Traditional Leadership to Build Highly Functioning Autonomous Teams. (5/6)

House Defense Bill Funds Satcom Pilot Projects, Denies New Weather Satellite (Source: Space News)
Defense authorization legislation drafted by the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee directs the Pentagon to spend up to $300 million over six years on pilot projects to explore new ways to procure commercial satellite bandwidth. It also would upend Air Force plans to begin work next year on a low-cost weather satellite.

In a markup of the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2015, the committee leadership recommends that the Defense Department “examine the feasibility of expanding the use of working capital funds to acquire commercial satellite communications services” to meet the military’s needs. The bill language would limit annual funding on commercial satellite telecom pilot projects to $50 million. (5/6)

Replacing Antares' Russian Engines with ATK Solid Motors (Source: SPACErePORT)
Orbital ATK's CEO David Thompson has hinted that the company may opt for an ATK solid rocket motor to replace the first stage of Orbital's Antares launch vehicle, which uses Russian rocket engines. The Russian first-stage produces 734,000 pounds of thrust for 230 seconds, with a stage diameter of 3.9 meters. So what ATK product could replace this?

The Castor-120 produces only 430,000 pounds of thrust for 83 seconds and is slimmer at 2.4 meters. This might work if Castor-4 strap-on boosters were added. The other alternative is to use the first stage proposed for the Athena-3, which is two and a half segments of ATK's Reusable Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters. These have a diameter of 3.7 meters. I can't find a thrust figure for them, but they may be powerful enough to replace the current Antares engines. Such a switch would probably require significant launch infrastructure changes. (5/6)

Groundbreaking Mini-Satellite Project May Be Doomed (Source: The Atlantic)
The plan was to launch a cloud of tiny satellites into space, each one no bigger than a quarter, and scatter them like spare change in the orbital dusk. But two weeks after a successful launch, there are concerns that the larger satellite carrying all those tiny ones — known as sprites — will burn up before the sprites are deployed.

The satellites were designed by scientists at Cornell who want to replicate the success of Sputnik, the beach-ball-sized Soviet satellite that launched in 1957 and officially set off the space race. These sprites are each less than one ten-millionth Sputnik's size, but with all the functionality of the original. (5/6)

New Satellite Launch Center to Conduct Joint Drill (Source: Xinhua)
China's new satellite launch center, located in south China's Hainan Province, will conduct a joint drill in the second half of this year. The drill at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center aims to comprehensively test the center's functionality, a necessary step for future launch programs, according to a senior official in charge of the program. The Wenchang Satellite Launch Center is the fourth satellite launch center in China. (5/6)

Judge Won't Expand on Ban on Lockheed-Boeing Rocket Business (Source: Reuters)
A U.S. judge on Tuesday declined to expand on her order last week that barred United Launch Alliance from buying Russian-made rocket engines used to launch U.S. military satellites. The original injunction, issued on Wednesday, stemmed from a lawsuit by rival SpaceX in protest of the U.S. Air Force's award of a multibillion-dollar, non-compete contract for 36 core rocket boosters to ULA.

The ruling by Federal Claims Court Judge Susan Braden temporarily prohibits the U.S. Air Force and United Launch Alliance "from making any purchases from or payment of money to NPO Energomash," the preliminary injunction states. The injunction, however, does not impact purchases made before the April 30 ruling, Braden's law clerk Chris McCall wrote in an email on Friday to the Justice Department, which had asked for a clarification of the order.

ULA and its affiliate filed responses to the Justice Department's request that Braden clarify her order. On Tuesday, Braden declined the request for clarification, clearing the government to continue doing business with ULA. The Department of Justice is working to obtain letters showing that the purchase of RD-180 rocket engines does not fall under the U.S. government sanctions against Russia, a ULA spokesperson said. (5/6)

Space: the Hostile Frontier (Source: ABC Science)
In the tv series Star Trek they refer to space as "the final frontier". Now, that series was set way in the future, but today, with just over 500 humans having gone into the microgravity of space, we have already learned that space is really the hostile frontier. On one hand, the environment inside the Space Station as it zips around the Earth once every one-and-a-half hours seems perfectly benign. But strange things happen in space. Click here. (5/6)

NASA Plans SLS Test Stands in Huntsville (Source: Huntsville Times)
Brasfield & Gorrie construction company of Birmingham has won a $45 million contract to build two large stands at Marshall Space Flight Center to test the fuel tanks and other key hardware for NASA’s new Space Launch System. Engineers will use hydraulic cylinders at each stand to twist, push and bend five separate parts of the rocket’s core stage to make sure they can survive launch pressures. (5/6)

Garvey Spacecraft Selected for STTR Grant for Small Launch Vehicle (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected Garvey Spacecraft Corp. and UCSD for a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) project to use 3D additive machining to produce a nanosat launch vehicle. “The technical innovation proposed here expands upon early research into the viability of additive machining (AM) for liquid rocket engine components and other emerging capabilities to initiate TRL 6 flight test evaluations of candidate applications that could enhance the affordability of a small launch vehicle (SLV) booster stage,” the proposal summary states. (5/6)

Russia Launches Military Satellite Into Orbit (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia on Tuesday launched a carrier rocket from its northern Plesetsk space center to put a military satellite in orbit, the Defense Ministry said. A Soyuz-2.1a rocket carrying a classified military satellite lifted off on schedule. It was the second launch of a Soyuz-2 rocket from Plesetsk this year. The first launch on March 24 delivered a Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit, Zolotukhin said. (5/6)

Government Files Motion to Lift RD-180 Injunction (Source: Space Politics)
Late Tuesday the US Government, the defendant in SpaceX’s EELV lawsuit, formally filed a motion with the US Court of Federal Claims to lift the injunction the court issued last week blocking the government from purchasing RD-180 rocket engines from Russian company Energomash.

The government provided letters from the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and State that demonstrate “purchases from or payments to NPO Energomash would not directly or indirectly contravene Executive Order 13,661,” the order that levied sanctions against several officials, including Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

The letters from Treasury and State argue that while there may be a “potential basis” for sanctions to be triggered, the order requires the departments to “make an affirmative determination to trigger blocking under the ‘controlled by’ provisions of the [court] order,” in the words of the State Department letter. (5/6)

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