July 1, 2014

Luxury Balloon Will Take Space Tourists 100,000 Feet Up (Source: WIRED)
Soon, it will be possible to buy a ticket to the Earth’s atmosphere. The space tourism industry is set to take off: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne launches next year; Elon Musk’s SpaceX program is ramping up funding. Lesser known but in the running is World View, a luxury flight capsule that, in an estimated four years, will start taking travelers on five-hour tours through our Earth’s atmosphere. Click here. (7/1)

First Stage of Vostochny Cosmodrome to be Put Into Operation in a Year (Source: Itar-Tass)
The first stage of the Vostochny (Eastern) spaceport in the Russian Far East will be put into operation in a year, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who is in charge of the construction of the facility and the Russian defense industry sector. Rogozin inspected the technical area, construction site of the first launch pad, saw the work of the student construction brigades engaged in the work for the construction of the “Tsiolkovsky city of space intelligentsia.”

“We note that the task to involve student construction brigades has been fulfilled,” the deputy prime minister said. “We have attracted the students of space universities. The guys have come to the place where they will be living, working and achieving their dreams of working in the Russian space industry,” the official said. At the moment, Rogozin stressed, one of the main tasks is the synchronisation of the actions of Russia’s Federal Special Construction Agency (Spetsstroy) and industry for the delivery of the needed equipment. (7/1)

Next Angara Launch Attempt Weeks Away (Source: Moscow Times)
Russia's new Angara rocket will not fly any time soon, as engineers continue to work on making sure the vehicle is in full working order following Friday's aborted launch, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday. "The next launch will not, of course, be in the coming days. I think that it will take weeks before the Angara booster will be returned to the launch complex," Rogozin said.

Russia's reputation as a big-hitter in the sphere of technology rests on the fate of Angara — the first new rocket designed by the Russian space industry in more than 20 years. Rogozin, who oversees the Russian space and defense industries, broke the official silence on Tuesday, telling the Angara project's detractors that they need to gain some perspective: "It has new engines, a new control system, and therefore it needs testing to polish it all off. It is necessary not to rush the work. Its not worth the risk. This rocket has been a long time in the making.

Editor's Note: Long time indeed. Russia first resolved to build the Angara in 1995 as Russia's answer to the U.S. EELV program. Like EELV, it was intended to use common core elements to make up several vehicle configurations. I suspect the years of delay had something to do with competition among the multiple state-controlled space corporations, Khrunichev, Energia, etc. Interesting that Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko this week said his agency "is not satisfied with the Angara rocket's potential as a carrier." (7/1)

Russia Sees No Progress in GLONASS Talks with US (Source: RIA Novosti)
The U.S. has shown no interest in negotiations on the deployment of GLONASS navigation stations in the US, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos Oleg Ostapenko said. “We see no active steps on [the American] side toward the deployment of our stations,” Ostapenko said. In response to the refusal to host Russia’s GLONASS stations, Russia earlier announced the possible suspension of US rival GPS stations within its borders. As of June 1, GPS stations in Russia cannot be used for military purposes and are fully controlled by Russian authorities. (6/30)

Entrepreneurs Smell Profits In Low Earth Orbit (Source: Aviation Week)
It has been three years since the International Space Station was completed and made available for full-time use, or as full-time as possible given the demands of keeping its crew and hardware functioning in the harsh environment above the atmosphere. Now the shakeout appears to be over, and ISS managers seem to have found their way to relatively efficient use of the unique facility.

More important, business types are starting to report early evidence that the terrestrial economy can indeed move into low Earth orbit—on the station and elsewhere. “I think we absolutely have a market,” says John Olson, who helped shape government attempts to push the off-planet economy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, before moving on to a job as vice president of space systems with Sierra Nevada. “We’re truly starting to see an explosive demand pull as well as a supply push.” Click here. (7/1)

Swedish Space Rock May be Piece of Early Life Puzzle (Source: New Scientist)
A fossil meteorite unlike anything seen before has been uncovered in a Swedish quarry. The mysterious rock may be the first known piece of the "bullet" that sparked an explosion of life on early Earth. Roughly 100 fossil meteorites have emerged from the limestone quarry west of Stockholm, which is being mined for flooring. All of the meteorites are part of an iron-poor class called the L chondrites.

They date back about 470 million years to the Ordovician period, when Earth experienced a mysterious burst of new species. Now miners working in the Swedish quarry have found a meteorite fragment that is not an L chondrite. Analysing its microscopic crystals, Birger Schmitz at Lund University and his colleagues found that the rock dates to the same time period but is of a kind completely unknown to science. Click here. (6/30)

Government Cuts Hurt Industrial Base, Security, Competitiveness (Source: Space Foundation)
One of the more disturbing bits of data in The Space Report 2014 concerns the continued slashing of federal space budgets by the United States. For the first time since the Space Foundation began tracking this data, global government spending on space declined in 2013 – and with most other countries either maintaining or increasing their space spending, the global decline can be laid entirely at the feet of the U.S. government.

This has huge negative implications for the vanishing U.S. space industrial base, U.S. national security and U.S. economic vitality and competitiveness. Of all the places where the feds could be trimming a little fat, it would be hard to pick one that is more harmful to the country overall. If you accept the idea that the best way to work ourselves out of this decade-long economic funk is to grow the economy, then space (and aero) is the one place we should be investing heavily to get the U.S. economy moving again. Click here. (7/1)

Air Force Engineer Developed Unique Method to Track Space Debris (Source: Washington Post)
Richard Rast, a senior engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, created an innovative way to track this space debris to help reduce the risk of potential collisions—a system that could become a cost-effective supplement to the current processes used by the Air Force and NASA that rely on expensive telescopes, radar systems and considerable manpower for analysis.

Rast’s invention uses a series of small telescopes developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory that capture the faint light signals entering the lens. Rast converts the camera photos into a movie, where he uses the human eye’s sensitivity to detect variations between frames to separate man-made objects from the star background and identify objects the size of just a few centimeters.

“Richard Rast demonstrated that his small telescope approach can find and track space objects at a much lower cost than traditional methods and provide a quality of data previously assumed impossible for a small telescope system to achieve,” said Maj. James Thomas, the chief of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Satellite Assessment Center. (7/1)

Airbus, Safran Surprise ESA with Last-minute Ariane 6 Design (Source: Space News)
A European Space Agency bid-evaluation team is expected to deliver its judgment by July 5 on two different designs for a next-generation Ariane 6 rocket — one it has been examining for about a year, and another it only discovered June 18. The ESA Tender Evaluation Board’s recommendation will weigh heavily in a debate among a half-dozen European governments most concerned with launch vehicle production.

An Ariane 6 depending mainly on identical solid-rocket boosters was the design these ministers decided in November 2012. It is this design that has been the object of multiple cost and production reviews at the 20-nation ESA since then. But when it came time for industry to deliver its final assessments of that vehicle’s development cost, operating cost and in-service schedule, Europe’s two largest rocket-component builders, Airbus and Safran, provided a completely different alternative.

The Airbus-Safran rocket uses more liquid propulsion, can lift heavier payloads and comes in two models — one for smaller satellites of the type built for governments for science and Earth observation, and a larger version for the commercial telecommunications satellite market. Airbus and Safran caught ESA by surprise with their proposal, which was announced at the same time as the two companies disclosed their intentions to form a joint venture to build the vehicle. (7/1)

Raytheon Declines to Protest Space Fence Award (Source: Defense News)
“Raytheon put forward the most affordable, lowest-risk solution which drew heavily on the company’s experience as the world leader in building large-phased array radars in austere parts of the world,” the company spokesman said, “but after reviewing the results of the debrief, we believe not protesting the Space Fence decision is the right thing to do for the Air Force, the Warfighter, and Raytheon.” (6/30)

CSF Continues to Press for Human Spaceflight Export Rule Changes (Source: Space Politics)
The mid-May publication of the “draft final” export control rule for satellites and related components largely brought the saga of export control reform to an end, with the exception of a few loose ends, such as aperture limits for remote sensing systems. The administration’s decision was a major, but not complete, victory for the space industry.

One area where they sought but did not win change was in human spaceflight: crewed vehicles, both suborbital and orbital, will remain on the US Munitions List (USML) and thus under the jurisdiction of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). “Spacecraft specially designed for human space flight that have integrated propulsion present another security concern, for such capabilities may be used for the purposes of weapons targeting from space,” the State Department noted.

While the State Department appears to have no immediate plans to revisit this decision, the organization representing many developers of such spacecraft is keeping the agency aware of the issue. “As commercial space companies continue to test and develop their vehicles, it is vital to have an export control regime that will not illegitimately inhibit the potential of this growing industry,” wrote the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) in a June 27 letter to the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls in the State Department. Click here. (7/1)

Event Explores Evolving role of Satellites in Aviation Safety (Source: Space Safety)
Given the prominent role satellites have played in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, on May 8, 2014, the Secure World Foundation (SWF) hosted “Beyond Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: The Evolving Role of Satellites in Aviation Safety,” a panel discussion in Washington D.C. The event, held two months after the start of the search for the missing aircraft, focused on examining the technical, operational and political challenges of this disaster, while examining how space assets play an increasing role in aviation safety. Click here. (7/1)

New Measurements Confirm That the Universe Is Boring (Source: Motherboard)
The universe, all evidence suggests, is a very plain place. At universal scales, two properties are preserved in the universe: homogeneity and isotropy. The first of those means that the universe is about the same at any point. Isotropy means that if we were to look in different directions from any point, what we'd see would be about the same. No special places, no special directions.

Existence is distinctly not special, at cosmological scales. And this lack of being special is something subject to regular experiment and observation, with the most recent results coming from the University of Colorado's Jeremy Darling, who found that everything contained within everything is indeed flying outward into the True Void (not a technical term) with startling isotropic uniformity. (6/30)

America Trying to Make a National Park on the Moon Because America (Source: Independent)
Perhaps in fear of foreigners coming and messing up the dirt or stealing the jobs of regular hard-working rocks, legislation has been proposed in the House of Representatives that would establish a national park on the landing sites on the Moon used by the Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972.

Representatives Donna Edwards (Maryland) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) brought a bill before the House that would create The Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park and preserve any artefacts left on the Moon's surface during Apollo 11 through 17.

The "historical park" would be set up one year after the bill passes and run jointly by NASA and the Department of the Interior. It would allow the government to accept donations from private companies to "provide visitor services and administrative facilities within reasonable proximity to the Historical Park," though it is not clear whether this would be enforced with white picket fences or a really surly security guard astronaut with a yardstick. (7/1)

Launch of Angara Rocket Postponed Indefinitely (Source: Moscow Times)
Russian space officials have not yet identified the cause of Friday's last-minute postponement of the Angara rocket launch, and won't set a new launch date until the vehicle has been fixed, a space industry spokesperson said. The rocket's flight computer automatically canceled the launch just 15 seconds before liftoff on Friday.

A spokesman added that engineers are now checking a problem with the first stage propulsion system. Earlier on Monday, RIA Novosti cited an unidentified Russian space industry source as saying that Angara's flight computer detected a leak in an oxidizer valve — a critical element in the rocket's propulsion system. (7/1)

Embry-Riddle Plans Space Traffic Management Conference in November (Source:ERAU)
The November 5 and 6 STM conference offers academia and leaders of government and industry a forum for discussing the complex, diverse, and timely issues of aviation and space traffic coordination, space launch, space weather, and space debris. The conference’s plenary sessions will bring together for discourse multiple disciplines and different aspects of the space traffic management world. This is your opportunity to help set the agenda for the future of commercial space flight. Click here. (7/1)

Two New Programs to Listen for Aliens (Source: Space.com)
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program recently announced two new methods to search for signals that could come from life on other planets. In the Panchromatic SETI project, multiple telescopes will scan a variety of wavelengths from 30 stars near the sun; the project will look for powerful signals beamed into space, potentially by intelligent extraterrestrials. SETI is also launching an interplanetary eavesdropping program that is expected to search for messages beamed between planets in a single system. (6/30)

Suborbital Launch at Virginia Spaceport Postponed (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
A rocket launch scheduled this morning from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility has been postponed. The launch of the SubTec-6 was scrubbed because of boats in the hazard area offshore, a NASA news release says. The launch was postponed Monday because of boats and science issues. Scientists will try again on Wednesday about 4:35 a.m. (7/1)

Western Town is Ground Zero for Private Space Travel (Source: The Verge)
Truth or Consequences has kept its distinctive name, and gained something similarly rare: the world's first commercial spaceport. Truth or Consequences is the closest town to Spaceport America, a facility that commercial spaceflight companies such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX plan to use to fire paying passengers past our atmosphere.

Spaceport America officially opened in 2011. Twenty suborbital missions have already been launched from the spaceport, and commercial spaceflight companies SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have deals that allow them to use the desert facility for test flights and planned launches  — but the center is not quite ready to be a bustling spaceport just yet. Click here. (7/1)

Editorial: Space Meets Silicon Valley (Source: Space News)
Google’s planned $500 million acquisition of satellite startup Skybox Imaging, coupled with the search engine giant’s previously disclosed backing of the WorldVu satellite broadband venture, is part of a growing nexus between space and the entrepreneurial technology community.

The tech sector’s interest in space is not new: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bankrolled Scaled Composites’ development of the piloted SpaceShipOne vehicle, which won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize by flying to space and back twice within a week back in 2004, for example. And of course SpaceX was founded by tech billionaire Elon Musk in 2002.

But the new breed of entrepreneurs is different: Rather than attempting things in large part because they are difficult — space, especially launch, is the business world’s equivalent of scaling Mount Everest — these individuals and companies are leveraging space as just another means of gathering and distributing information. For them, it’s about applications, not hardware. Click here. (6/30)

Editorial: U.S. Needs To Get Real about Russia (Source: Space News)
The response to Russia’s seizure of Crimea has been disbelief, denial or condemnation. The reality is that the Russians are a nationalistic power whose leader sees the post-Soviet order as illegitimate, much as many Germans saw the Treaty of Versailles settlement. Clearly, Russian President Vladimir Putin understands that both cooperation and competition are essential in the 21st century, but he is focused on maximizing Russian resources — natural and technological — to shape a more powerful position for Russia in the period ahead.

As Putin rewrites the map and inserts his interpretation of Russian interests into the Western calculus, Western states need to rethink and rework a number of core agenda items to ensure that Putin and like-minded Russians understand that aggression has a significant cost. Simply generating sanctions as a substitute for more fundamental shifts in policy will be seen as a short-term and short-sighted solution that will go away as vested interests in the West succeed in their rollback. Click here. (6/30)

Focusing on Priorities in Human Access to LEO (Source: Space News)
Interest groups are coming out of the woodwork in the never-ending struggle over NASA’s commercial crew programs. While the battles are usually over funding and debates about the balance between commercial crew program and the Space Launch System, this time the fight concerns the government’s role and responsibilities when it comes to NASA’s stewardship of taxpayer resources.

The U.S. does not apply the cost and pricing provisions of the FAR (among others) to its procurement of human launch services from Russia. There were compelling reasons of national interest, having much to do with foreign policy and then our dependence upon Russia, not to. All this means is that the need for FAR-compliant cost and pricing data is not absolute, required above all other things. There are such interests at stake in the development of crewed services to LEO now.

First, the added layers of bureaucracy and oversight associated with the additional bookkeeping requirements could delay the development of a useful vehicle, reducing its utility in two areas, but not its necessity. U.S. dependence on Russia for human spaceflight services is a critical vulnerability in the U.S. space program; it gives Moscow leverage over one of the crown jewels of American soft power at a time of poor relations, to put it mildly. (6/30)

SpaceX Land Purchases Grow (Source: Valley Morning Star)
As the FAA’s decision looms on allowing SpaceX to launch rockets from south Texas, Elon Musk’s space exploration firm has again purchased land at the proposed Boca Chica Beach site. The most recent purchases were made from three private landowners. In another transaction, SpaceX’s Director of Business Affairs Lauren Dreyer transferred ownership of one lot in Mars Crossing Subdivision to Dogleg Park LLC.

The purchases bring the total number of lots SpaceX owns here — through its companies Dogleg Park LLC and The Flats at Mars Crossing LLC — to 110, for a total of almost 43 acres. The purchases are in addition to 56.5 acres SpaceX has under lease. Through Dogleg, SpaceX now controls approximately 100 acres in ownership and leaseholds combined. (6/30)

Orbital’s New Mission? Monitoring Global Warming (Source: Washington Business Journal)
Orbital Sciences Corp.'s new satellite for NASA is designed to measure atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. This will be NASA’s first satellite to make space-based measurements of carbon dioxide and should help scientists understand the sources of carbon dioxide emissions and the natural process that removes them from the atmosphere. (6/30)

Lockheed Expands its Space Division with Purchase of Zeta (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Lockheed Martin is buying software firm Zeta Associates of Fairfax, Va., expanding its space systems division in the process. Zeta, which helps collect and protect defense and intelligence information, will become part of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, bolstering Lockheed's ability to "deliver vital ground, air and space-based intelligence in support of our customers' most essential missions," said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin's chairman, president and CEO. (6/30)

Chris Hadfield Named to Order of Canada (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
Chris Hadfield will become an officer of the Order of Canada, according to an official announcement from Rideau Hall. The Canadian astronaut says he’s thrilled, and in an interview with the Citizen explained how he hasn’t slowed down since he left orbit just over one year ago. (6/30)

Russia Mulls Building Super-Heavy Space Rockets (Source: Xinhua)
Russia was designing a carrier rocket of the super-heavy class capable to deliver spacecraft for missions to the Moon and Mars, Roscosmos said Monday. "We'll hold a meeting in August to discuss the plans to design the rocket carrier," Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko said, adding that the draft proposals were sent to leading Russian space enterprises.

According to Ostapenko, the super-heavy 120-to-190-ton rocket will be designed as a separate rocket carrier, not as a modernization of the Angara rocket. "Roscosmos initiates the creation of a new super-heavy carrier, as the space agency is not satisfied with the Angara rocket's potential as a carrier," Ostapenko said.

The workload of the Angara-5 heavy rocket is within 25 tons, which is not enough for the travel to the Moon, Mars and to build Lunar bases, he said, adding that Russia has the capacity to create super-heavy rockets as the United States and China do. (7/1)

Commercial Space Supporter McCarthy Opposes Tool that Supports Commercial Space (Source: Space News)
House Republicans on June 19 elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as their new majority leader, replacing Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). This should be welcome news for the commercial space industry, as McCarthy has expressed support for the industry in recent years, including sponsoring legislation to “streamline” commercial spaceflight regulations. That interest is, at least in part, because his district includes the Mojave Air and Space Port, a hotbed of commercial spaceflight activity.

One day later, though, McCarthy expressed his opposition to a financial institution that has supported some commercial space companies in the U.S. in recent years. In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” McCarthy said he would vote against reauthorization of Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States, which supports financing of exports of products and services created by U.S. companies.

The Ex-Im Bank has been increasingly used by domestic satellite manufacturers and launch services providers in recent years to provide favorable financing terms for the sale of commercial satellites and launches. It backed financing of satellites built by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Orbital Sciences to customers in Australia and Mexico. It financed the sale of satellites built by Boeing and Loral to a Hong Kong-based company; the deal also covered the launch of two of those satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (6/30)

Masten Wins $3 Million Contract for DARPA XS-1 Reusable Vehicle (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif. has won a $3 million contract for work on DARPA’s XS-1 program, according to an award announcement at www.FedBizOpps.gov. The objective of the XS-1 program “is to demonstrate a reusable first stage launch vehicle capable of carrying and deploying an upper stage that inserts 3,000 to 5,000 lb. payloads into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), designed for less than $5M per launch for an operational system.”

The system has to be able to perform with aircraft-like operations. And demonstrate the ability to fly 10 times in 10 days. It needs to reach Mach 10 at least once. And provide the basis for next-generation launch services and “global reach hypersonic and space access aircraft.” (6/30)

Astronaut Health Check with Single Drop of Blood (Source: Space Daily)
ESA is building a prototype tester for crews on the International Space Station to provide diagnoses within a few minutes from a pinprick of blood. The ultimate device will offer rapid health checks and results for scientific research. The droplet is placed on a portable device built around a disc like a mini-DVD. The disc is set spinning to separate the sample into plasma and serum for a whole range of simultaneous tests. (7/1)

Distant Comet 'Sweats' Two Glasses of Water Per Second (Source: Space Daily)
Unprecedented measurement of a deep-space comet has found the icy body to be losing about two small glasses of water every second, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Monday. ESA's probe, Rosetta, made the measurements on June 6, when it aimed a microwave sensor at Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, on which it will land a probe in August after a 10-year space trek.

It found the comet lost 300 milliliters (10.5 fluid ounces) of water in vapor every second, even though it was still 583 million kilometers (364 million miles) from the Sun, which it orbits. The measurement is a technical feat, carried out when Rosetta was still 350,000 km from the comet. (6/30)

Hawaii Hosts Lunar Conference in November (Source: Hawaii Office of Aerospace Dev.)
The State of Hawaii will be hosting a multinational conference on the Big Island of Hawaii this fall to explore options for developing near-term, sustainable pathways to space, with an emphasis on leveraging our Moon’s strategic assets (e.g., near-Earth location, geological composition, gravitational field) in ways that can help minimize the risks of space exploration, development, and utilization while maximizing returns on investment.

The primary goal will be to highlight cost-effective initiatives that (1) embrace a broad range of applications and outputs (involving both robots and humans) that can rapidly advance space science, education, and commerce; and (2) test, validate, and deploy new technologies that can economically extract and utilize in-situ resources to enable long-term human settlements beyond low-Earth orbit. Click here. (6/30)

Caribbean Space Summit Planned in October (Source: CSS2014)
CSS2014​ is a summit about commercial space travel, to be held in the Caribbean, which will have special speakers as well as interactive discussions and programs with attendees. We will talk about space exploration, discuss space travel and its benefits to our society. Click here. (7/1)

UK Sees Aerospace Jobs Returning Home (Source: Wall Street Journal)
British aerospace companies plan to repatriate jobs as companies look to boost investments next year in preparation for a boost in exports. Jobs are being brought back from other European countries, the U.S., China, and Latin America, the U.K.'s aerospace industry group ADS said Monday citing a new survey.

"Companies are looking strategically at how the work they are doing is distributed," Paul Everitt, chief executive of the trade organization said. Wage inflation is running higher in many low-cost countries such as those in eastern Europe and China than in the U.K., reducing the benefits of locating work overseas, he said. (6/29)

Indian Prime Minister Pitches Regional Satellite (Source: Economic Times)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi to honored the austere traditions of Indian space scientists and also urged them to gift a satellite to the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries in the neighborhood. Such a satellite will be helpful in Saarc nations' fight against poverty and illiteracy, the challenge to progress in scientific field, and will open up avenues to provide opportunities to the youth of Saarc countries," Modi said. (6/30)

Ancient Worlds Could Be Kept 'Alive' by Gravitational Nudges (Source: Space Daily)
A new study considers life's geophysical collapse on planets outside our solar system. Specifically, the paper looks at exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars, which are smaller, cooler and less massive than our Sun. These dim red stars host the easiest planets for our telescopes to observe in the "habitable zone," the orbital band in which surface water neither permanently freezes away nor boils off. Click here. (7/1)

How Big is Uranus? (Source: Space.com)
The seventh planet from the sun, Uranus is the smallest of the gas giants. The blue body contains an icy atmosphere that, like Neptune, differs dramatically from the other large planets. The mean radius of Uranus is 15,792 miles (25,362 kilometers), giving a diameter four times that of Earth. But like many other bodies in the solar system, the rapid spin of Uranus causes a slight bulge around the center. At the poles, Uranus has a radius of 15,517 miles (24,973 km), but at the equator, it expands to 15,882 miles (25,559 km). This bulge gives Uranus a shape known as an oblate spheroid. (7/1)

Bad Valve Blamed for Angara Delay (Source: Space Policy Online)
Russia has not announced a date to retry the launch of its new Angara booster, but officials said today (June 30) that the rocket was rolled back from the launch pad to its assembly and test facility. The launch was scrubbed on June 27 and a Russian official said at the time they would try again the next day, but fixing the problem apparently is more involved than initially thought. This suborbital test of the smallest version of Angara is to take place from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome near the Arctic Circle. The approximately 25 minute flight carrying a dummy payload will terminate at Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. (6/30)

SpaceX To Launch Orbcomm On Falcon 9 July 14 (Source: Aviation Week)
After two months of delays, SpaceX says it will launch six second-generation Orbcomm communications satellites July 14 atop a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida. “July 14 and 15, I think, are the dates we requested from the range,” Gwynne Shotwell said, adding that the U.S. Air Force's eastern range had not confirmed the dates. (6/30)

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