June 22, 2014

Technical Problem Scrubs Falcon 9 Launch (Source: SpaceToday)
A pressurization problem with the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket forced SpaceX to scrub the planned launch of six communications satellites Friday evening from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. SpaceX had planned to launch the six ORBCOMM OG2 satellites Friday, but delayed the launch after reporting a drop in pressure in the second stage's propulsion system. SpaceX could not resolve the problem before the launch window closed. The launch, originally scheduled for mid-May, has been postponed by both issues with the Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket as well as the satellite payload. (6/21)

Editorial: SpaceX 'Routinely' Fails to Launch. Media Blackout Causing Firestorm (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
SpaceX failed for a tenth time to get the Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket off of the launch pad at SLC-40 on the evening of Saturday June 21. Nothing unusual about that, point of fact SpaceX has had little luck launching Orbcomm satellites accurately or on a regular basis for that matter. What was unusual (at least for some) was the lengths, inaccurate statements and sad historical record surrounding the media blackout imposed by the company during this most recent attempt.

Don’t allow TrollSpace to dissuade you (TrollSpace refers to those who attack the messenger rather than address the problem), not hosting a webcast, not having any company representatives on hand to speak to the media and abandoning the media altogether – is not “routine.” Yet that’s precisely what SpaceX did. The excuse offered by the company would be laughable if not for the fact it was so insulting and that the company has strongly asserted its desire to fly national defense payloads.

Media arrived as instructed outside Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to find that SpaceX had recalled the lone public relations practitioner that had been available (SpaceX has a hard time keeping PR representatives, no fewer than four of them have joined and then left the Hawthorne, California-based firm since 2010) to California. In essence SpaceX abandoned the media to the 45th Space Wing, a fact lamented by one USAF representative as: “A complete mess.” (6/22)

Five Groups Making Private Spaceflight a Reality (Source: CSM)
Space exploration has changed rapidly in recent years. NASA has long struggled to receive the congressional funding and positive political sentiment it requires, evidenced by the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011. Still, there is a vibrant future in space and it relies heavily on private enterprise. Many of the same companies that dominate the arenas of technology, media, and travel are now playing a major role in a new, commercial space industry. Click here. (6/19)

First Angara Launch Delayed for 2 Days (Source: Itar-Tass)
The state committee has delayed a maiden launch of light rocket Angara from June 25 to June 27 at Russian northern spaceport Plesetsk, Defense Ministry’s spokesman for Aerospace Defense Troops Col Alexei Zolotukhin told ITAR-TASS on Friday. “The first trial launch of light rocket Angara-1.2PP is to be made from spaceport Plesetsk on June 27,” he said. (6/20)

ULS, Boeing Seeking Government Documents for Lawsuit (Source: Valley Morning Star)
United Launch Services and Boeing are claiming the federal government is taking too long to turn over more than a million pages of documents they have requested in their lawsuit against the U.S. Government. United Launch Services, a subsidiary of United Launch Alliance, and Boeing say they need the documents so their lawsuit can move forward, and to expedite the process went to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Wednesday seeking a status conference with the court.

The lawsuit has been pending for two years, with ULS and Boeing seeking to recover some $400 million from the U.S. Air Force in deferred costs for launch services. ULS and Boeing say the Air Force reneged on its commitment to allow recovery of deferred production costs and deferred support costs for launch services, and thereby violated the Air Force’s duties of “good faith, fair dealing, and cooperation.” (6/21)

NASA to Send Astronauts One Million Miles Into Space to Build Telescope (Source: Independent)
Scientists have announced plans to build a telescope that may give us clues to whether alien life exists on planets millions of miles away. The Atlast, or Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope, will be the most powerful telescope in the world and will be able to analyse atmospheres of planets and solar systems up to 30 light years away. To be able to analyse these planets, the telescope will have to be the largest of its kind ever to be built and up to four times bigger than the 44ft Hubble Space Telescope.

Inside will be a mirror with a diameter of 52ft, the largest man-made mirror ever.  Due to the size of the telescope, no rocket will be capable of transporting it up to space and instead, a team of astronaut construction workers will be ferried by NASA’s Orion rocket to assemble the telescope situated one million miles from the earth’s surface. The details of the project will be revealed at this week’s National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth by the president for the Royal Astronomical Society, Martin Barstow. (6/22)

Probing Satellite Imagery for Lost Ark (Source: Space.com)
Porcher Taylor has led the search into the Mt. Ararat anomaly. Taylor's quest began long ago, he said. "The cognitive genesis of my journey began in 1973, some 41 years ago, in my junior year as a cadet at West Point," he told Space.com. Back then, Taylor came across "credible rumors" ricocheting off the walls of the academy that a CIA spy satellite had accidentally imaged "what appeared to be the bow of a ship sticking up out of the ice cap on Mt. Ararat," Taylor said.

A couple of decades later, Taylor launched his own satellite declassification initiative investigating the Mt. Ararat anomaly imagery. Drawing on his  21 years of arm-chair sleuthing, Taylor has given unclassified presentations at the Pentagon and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center. Click here. (6/21)

Space is Filling Up With Our Garbage (Source: Vocativ)
From pieces of old spacecrafts to long-defunct sputniks, 50 years’ worth of space-faring detritus is currently orbiting Earth, creating a risk for catastrophic collisions with rocket ships and satellites. Space programs around the globe have been monitoring the debris for years, and so far NASA has identified 20,000 pieces larger than a softball, 500,000 pieces the size of a marble or larger and tens of millions of other fragments too small to track.

Keep in mind that this garbage is traveling at 18,000 miles per hour (seven times faster than a speeding bullet), so even a penny-sized fleck of paint from an old rocket could cause serious damage, smashing into a ship’s fuel tanks or solar panels. In case you’re not sure what that would mean for a space tourist caught in the wrong place at the wrong time in outer space, click here. (6/20)

Space Tourism: Will it Take Off in Britain? (Source: The Telegraph)
We’ve shunned impressive flag-mounting and outer-space displays of patriotism in the past, but Britain has no plans to sit out of the tourism space race. When the state-funded space race began we had already passed on our superpower crown and, with no plans to spend billions on figurative leaps for mankind, we let other nations battle for the title. While the Americans and Russians fought for their place on the moon, we kept the Union Jack planted firmly on Earth.

And after a decade or so out of the race, Britain would have struggled to become a major player in space even if we wanted to. Expertise and equipment remained largely within national boundaries, and catching up on the years of research would have required massive state investment. But the space tourism race—driven by private companies, angel investors and individual entrepreneurship—has levelled the playing field. Click here. (6/21)

India to Launch Five Foreign Satellites (Source: Times of India)
The Indian Space Research Organization ( ISRO) will launch five foreign satellites onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) on June 30, the agency said on Friday. "The lift-off time is scheduled at 09:49 am. PSLV-C23 will carry a 714-kg French Earth Observation Satellite SPOT-7 as the main payload," an official press note from the space agency said on Friday. The rocket will also put into space the 14-kg AISAT of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) & NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada each weighing 15 kg, and the 7-kg VELOX-1 of Singapore. (6/21)

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