September 7, 2014

SpaceX Launches AsiaSat 6 From Florida Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 has launched the AsiaSat 6 telecommunications spacecraft from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch came after multiple delays, most recently after the loss of a Falcon-9 Reusable test article in Texas. AsiaSat reportedly paid $52 million for the launch, as part of a two-launch package worth $104 million. (9/7)

3 Meteorites from 2013 Space Rock Explosion Over Russia for Sale (Source:
When a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15, 2013, many of world's most avid meteorite collectors were gathered on the other side of the world, in Arizona, at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. "A lot of the meteorite guys were scrambling to leave the show early to go to Russia," said Craig Kissick of Heritage Auctions.

Chunks of the meteorite that lay scattered in the snow in central Russia made it to the commercial market just months after the blast. A few fragments were even incorporated into some gold medals given out at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. This month, Heritage Auctions is selling three pieces of the Chelyabinsk space rock as part of its latest natural history sale. (9/6)

A  'Space Corvette' in Every Garage (Source: Daily Beast)
There’s no such thing as a small rocket ship. The first rocket to reach space, the Nazi V-2 (which transported people only in the sense of transporting them to the next life) was 45 feet high and weighed 27,600 pounds. The 363-foot Saturn V used for the Apollo moon landing was 52 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty and almost 15 times her weight. And Lady L, tipping the scales at 225 tons, is no Mary-Kate Olsen. Now NASA is building a new Space Launch System (SLS) that’s even bigger.

All my rocket ship disappointments are the result of there not being enough private companies like XCOR Aerospace. I learned this at the Space Foundation’s annual Colorado Springs Space Symposium exhibit hall, where there was a full-scale mock-up of XCOR’s Lynx that I sat in. The Lynx’s 30-foot fuselage and 24-foot wingspan would fit in a McMansion garage.  And it’s as prettier than anything a rich car collector has in there now. Click here. (9/5)

Virgin Galactic's Changing Timeline for Spaceflight (Source: Private Eye)
September is upon us, so presumably Richard Branson is now aboard his rocket, preparing to slip the surly bonds of earth with a cry of “To infinity and beyond!” Or, on past form, perhaps not. Click here. (9/5)

Private Space Taking Shape, Virgin Galactic Delays Not Fatal (Source: Las Cruces Bulletin)
Although Virgin Galactic isn’t the only company to use Spaceport America, once regular flights get started, area businesses and workers will have a wide variety of opportunities for providing services, said New Mexico Space Grant Consortium Director Pat Hynes. In a talk to the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) Tuesday, Sept. 2, Hynes acknowledged a concern about how the community can ramp up its capacity to take advantage of those opportunities.

Part of the concern stems from Sir Richard Branson’s adamant goal of taking the first passenger flight to suborbital space by the end of the year. But that will require the FAA signing off on Virgin Galactic’s spaceliner carrying six passengers and two pilots, Hynes said. Getting FAA approval, she said, will require more than just a few successful flights, as envisioned by Branson, but could be done without a multitude of test flights, as originally envisioned by Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. (9/5)

South Korea, U.S. Sign Space Information Sharing Agreement (Source: Yonhap)
South Korea and the United States have signed an agreement to share information on satellites and other orbital objects around Earth so as to prevent accidental collisions. Under the memorandum of understanding on sharing "space situational awareness" (SSA) data, South Korea's Air Force will receive higher quality and more timely space information tailored for its specific purposes in exchange for satellite-positional and radio-frequency information it will provide to the U.S. Strategic Command, the Pentagon said. (9/5)

Miami Beach Billionaire Invests in Tethered Drone Firm (Source: South Florida Business Journal)
Phillip Frost, a Miami Beach billionaire who is chairman and CEO of biotech and pharmaceutical company Opko Health, is investing in a company that uses tethered drones to perform surveillance for government and private companies. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based Drone Aviation Holding Corp.'s drones don't require FAA approval because they are connected to the ground. (9/2)

NASA is Researching a Way to Manage Drone Traffic (Source: Tech Times)
NASA is developing a system that would serve as a traffic cop for drones, helping ensure safety and governing the zone at 400 to 500 feet up, where most drones fly. "One at a time, you can make them work and keep them safe," said NASA principal investigator Parimal Kopardekar, who leads the program's development and management. "But when you have a number of them in operation in the same airspace, there is no infrastructure to support it." (9/2)

Cost, Sequester Delay FAA Adoption of NextGen (Source: The Hill)
The Federal Aviation Administration plans to move to a satellite-based system air traffic control system meant to ease congestion and increase safety, but the switch from radar to the satellite-based NextGen has been plagued with delays. The culprits: both the new system's $40 billion cost and the way appropriations have been doled out. (9/2)

California Bill Nearly Torpedoed Northrop Grumman Bomber Bid (Source: Aviation Week)
Each single program is increasingly viewed as a must-win for top Pentagon contractors, driving them to be more creative in their push for a competitive advantage. So much so that bids don’t only center on a design’s technical prowess, system engineering and program management attributes. More and more, in a quest to get any edge possible, contractors are beefing up their lobbying efforts. And, some are proving better at this than others.

A case in point is how Northrop Grumman was politically outfoxed by rivals Boeing and Lockheed Martin, who temporarily scored a tax-incentive leg up in the duel to build stealthy, new bombers for the Air Force. Lockheed Martin nearly scored a half-billion in economic incentives from the California legislature, which could have translated to a commensurate discount in its team’s bid for the program. Such an advantage could have tipped the scales in favor of the Boeing/Lockheed Martin design on price alone, sending Northrop Grumman into panic mode this summer.

At issue was California law AB 2389, which Lockheed Martin’s lobbyists quietly campaigned for for a year. The law offered $420 million of incentives specifically to a “subcontractor” providing jobs for work on a special access program, clearly referring to the secretive bomber project. Lockheed is the subcontractor to Boeing on the bomber bid. Northrop is proposing a design as a prime contractor, excluding it from the potential tax advantages. This put Northrop in an embarrassing pickle, as the company was blindsided by legislators from its own back yard. (9/1)

ESA's Spaceplane Undergoes Final Tests Before Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
If everything goes according to schedule a European VEGA rocket will lift off from Europe’s Spaceport located in Kourou, French Guiana at 9 a.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) on Nov. 18. Its payload will be the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle or “IXV.”  The  IXV vehicle is developed by the European Space Agency (ESA )for flight testing the technologies and critical systems required for future autonomous controlled reentry for return missions from low-Earth-orbit as well as planetary sample return missions. Click here. (9/5)

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