October 1, 2014

For Upcoming ESA Missions, Rockot To Meet Debris-mitigation Guidelines (Source: Space News)
German-Russian commercial launch provider Eurockot said it has guaranteed ESA, that the three upcoming Eurockot launches will end with the rocket upper stages being placed into an orbit that assures their atmospheric re-entry within 25 years. The company also said demand for its Rockot launcher, a converted ballistic missile, from the Russian government is almost certain to continue through the end of the decade despite occasional statements from Russian officials saying they want to move to a new version of Russia’s Soyuz vehicle, and to the all-new Angara rocket family. (10/1)

Curiosity Finds Strange Features on Mars (Source: Spaceflight Insider)
Last week, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity was approaching the flat rock outcrop called “Pahrump Hills”, which is a section of the mountain’s basal geological unit, called the Murray formation. The rover spotted there are a few strange looking and interesting features in this area. This includes an odd-shaped vertical protrusion of rock with round “lobes” on it, resembling a “traffic signal”, and a small round spherical stone. Click here. (10/1)

Sierra Nevada Turns To International Market For Dream Chaser (Source: Aviation Week)
Sierra Nevada Corp. is taking advantage of the 65th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) to push its Dream Chaser lifting-body spaceplane to offshore customers, now that NASA has rejected its bid to fly crews to the International Space Station. The company’s legal challenge to the selection of Boeing and SpaceX for Commercial Crew has thrown a blanket over the technical reasons for the choice.

SNC's business-development team was out in force, with presentations planned on the company’s “Global Project” to market spaceflight services to customers worldwide “without the time, resources and financial burden of developing the necessary capabilities or infrastructure to support a mature human spaceflight program.”

Sirangelo also announced a collaboration with Stratolaunch, the startup launch company bankrolled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, to air-launch a scaled-down version of Dream Chaser on the huge flying launch pad that Stratolaunch is developing behind closed doors in a massive new hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (10/1)

NASA Support Key to Glacier Mapping Efforts (Source: Space Daily)
Thanks in part to support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, scientists have produced the first-ever detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This new data will help researchers better project future changes to glaciers and ice sheets, and ultimately, sea level. Researchers at the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, or CReSIS, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, recently built detailed maps of the terrain beneath Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier and Byrd Glacier in Antarctica. (9/30)

Air Force to Recommend Plan for Alternative to Russian Rocket Engines (Source: Reuters)
The U.S. Air Force expects to make recommendations in early November on how to end U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines for launching key U.S. military and spy satellites, a senior Air Force general said. The Air Force is evaluating a range of options ranging from seeking a replacement engine to use of different rocket and will develop an acquisition strategy.

Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski, the service's top military acquisition official, said U.S. weapons makers were excited about the chance to work on a new program. Pawlikowski said many companies responded to an Air Force request for information, and service officials held 19 separate meetings with companies over three days in Los Angeles last week. (9/30)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Responds to USAF Request for Rocket Engine Solution (Source: SpaceRef)
Aerojet Rocketdyne has submitted a formal response to the Air Force’s Request for Information on options for future booster propulsion and launch systems that could be used as alternatives to foreign-supplied RD-180 engines. The written response and subsequent interview with Air Force officials recommended steps to minimize the total lifecycle costs of National Security Space launches while ensuring a commercially competitive U.S. space launch enterprise that is no longer reliant on foreign suppliers.

The engine technology proposed to fulfill the U. S. Government’s requirements is Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new AR1, a 500,000 lbf thrust-class liquid oxygen/kerosene booster engine currently in development within the company’s Advanced Development Business Unit. The AR1 employs advanced, highly-efficient oxygen-rich staged combustion engine technology that Aerojet Rocketdyne has continuously evolved for more than 20 years through multiple contracted and internal technology maturation efforts and advanced design concept programs. (10/1)

What’s Inside an Astronaut? (Source: MacLean's)
A genetic study of twin NASA astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly may teach us as much about the human body as about space. Scott and Mark Kelly, whose parents were police officers, are about to become subjects in a unique and groundbreaking study. In March, Scott—a former International Space Station­ commander and veteran of the space program—departs on a one-year mission to the ISS, alongside Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Meanwhile, Mark, who is now retired from NASA, will stay on the ground, at home in Arizona.

A group of researchers will track Scott in space, and his genetic doppelgänger on Earth, to get a fuller picture of the myriad effects of long-term space travel—crucial information if we hope to send astronauts to Mars and beyond. The twins study brings NASA into a new realm of science, what Craig Kundrot, at NASA’s human research program, calls “21st-century omics research.” This includes genomics (the study of the Kellys’ DNA), metabolomics (their metabolism), microbiomics (the bacteria in their guts), and more. Click here. (10/1)

India and NASA to Collaborate on Mars Exploration (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
India and United States, after sending their own respective spacecraft into Mars' orbit, have now agreed to cooperate on future explorations of the Red Planet, which America said will yield "tangible benefits" to both the countries and the world at large. The agreement in this regard was signed by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Toronto on Tuesday on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress. (10/1)

Wallops Island Rocket Launch Postponed (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
A rocket launch scheduled this morning for the Department of Defense from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility has been postponed. The launch of the Terrier-Lynx suborbital rocket is expected between midnight and 2 a.m. on Oct. 12, a NASA news release says. Residents in the Chesapeake Bay area may see the rocket but the space agency plans no real time launch updates at the request of the DOD. (10/1)

SLS Engine Testing Delayed Due to Test Stand Contamination (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The return of RS-25 engine testing at the Stennis Space Center has been delayed, following the discovery of a contamination issue involving cloth fibers inside the A-1 test stand duct system. Engine 0525 – which will be the first RS-25 to be test fired since the end of the Shuttle Program – has to be removed from the test stand in order for the ducts to be reworked. (9/29)

JAXA Addresses Debris Issue with Epsilon Small-Satellite Launcher (Source: Space News)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on Sept. 29 said that for the next launch of its new Epsilon small-satellite rocket, its upper stage will be discarded in an orbit low enough to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in keeping with international debris-mitigation guidelines, avoiding the problem following the vehicle’s September 2013 inaugural flight. (10/1)

Scaled Version of Dream Chaser Could Launch from Stratolaunch Aircraft (Source: SNC)
Sierra Nevada Corp. announced a design for an integrated system for human spaceflight that can be launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) using Stratolaunch System’s air launch architecture and a scale version of SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft.

As designed, the Dream Chaser-Stratolauncher human spaceflight system can carry a crew of three astronauts to LEO destinations. This versatile system can also be tailored for un-crewed space missions, including science missions, light cargo transportation or suborbital point-to-point transportation. The scaled crewed spacecraft design is based on SNC’s full-scale Dream Chaser vehicle which, for the past four years, has undergone development and flight tests as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

In addition to supporting development of human spaceflight capability, SNC studied satellite launch options and mechanisms, as well as point-to-point transportation options using the Stratolaunch launch system with a Dream Chaser spacecraft derivative. The Stratolaunch system is uniquely designed to allow for maximum operational flexibility and payload delivery from several possible operational sites, while minimizing mission constraints such as range availability and weather. (9/30)

Proton Failure Review Board Concludes Investigation (Source: Space Daily)
The ILS Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) has concluded its work, after a detailed review of the findings, conclusions and identified corrective action plans from the Russian State Inter-agency Commission (IAC) and Khrunichev (KhSC) investigations into the probable cause of the May 16 failure of the Russian Federal Proton mission carrying the Express AM4R satellite.

Based on the data presented, it was agreed by the FROB that the probable cause of the failure was the loss of structural integrity of a bolted interface that attaches the Stage III steering engine turbopump to the main engine structural frame. The loss of integrity led to an excessive steering engine turbo pump vibration environment that damaged a fuel inlet line to the oxidizer gas generator, resulting in a fuel leak. The loss of fuel led to the premature shutdown of the turbopump and loss of stage control authority and ultimately loss of mission approximately 545 seconds into the flight. (9/30)

Fregat Workmanship Blamed for Soyuz Failure that Stranded Galileo Satellites in Wrong Orbit (Source: Space News)
A Europeanized version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket placed two European navigation satellites into the wrong orbit in August because of faulty installation of helium and hydrazine fuel lines on its Fregat upper stage. The failure was as simple as clamping together a cold helium line with the hydrazine fuel line, causing the hydrazine to freeze long enough to upset the Fregat stage’s orientation and cause the two satellites’ release into an orbit that is both too low and in the wrong inclination, officials said. (9/30)

NOAA Launches new Tool To Improve Weather Forecasts (Source: Space News)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s began nationwide use of a new weather model Sept. 30. NOAA says the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model will help weather forecasters to pinpoint neighborhoods under threat  from severe weather and warn residents hours before a storm hits. It will also help forecasters provide more information to air traffic managers and pilots about hazards such as air turbulence and thunderstorms. (9/30)

Orbital To Make Decision on New Antares Engine by November (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. will make a decision on replacing the engine used in the first stage of its Antares rocket before submitting a proposal to NASA in November for a follow-on international space station cargo contract, a company official said Sept. 30. The engine decision is linked to the company’s proposal for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS)2 competition. NASA issued the request for proposals for CRS2 on Sep. 26, with responses due Nov. 14. (9/30)

No Canadian Visas for Russian Space Agency Delegates for IAC Event (Source: Itar-Tass)
The delegates from Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday they applied for Canadian visas in advance to attend an international space event in Toronto, but only two out of eight people have been issued visas. “Eight people from Roscosmos were scheduled to participate in the congress. Everyone submitted the documents for the visas in advance. However, only two people - representatives of intercompany and international departments - were issued visas on time,” the space agency's press service said. (9/30)

Getting Off the Planet (Source: Space Daily)
A few months ago, famed British cosmologist Stephen Hawking presented a lecture on the survival of the human race. According to him there is only one way for humanity to survive the next thousand years. We must get off the planet and colonize space. Earth is fragile. Our environment is delicately balanced. Small changes in temperature, chemical makeup of the atmosphere and variations in the geomagnetic field could change life as we know it.

The continuous threat of a catastrophic near-earth object (NEO) event that could end all life on the planet, worldwide nuclear war, the natural aging of our sun, a viral pandemic or a series of large volcanic eruptions could end humanity on Earth. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that at least one of these events will occur sometime in the next decade, century, millennium ... no one knows when, but it will happen. (9/30)

CASIS Supports Maritime Tracking Research Using Space Station (Source: CASIS)
CASIS announced an agreement with JAMSS America, Inc. (JAI)—in collaboration with the University of Hawaii, the Greater Houston Port Bureau, Mare Liberum Consulting L.P., and Shine Micro, Inc.—on a project intended to improve maritime vessel tracking from onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

Vessels broadcast their position and other information using ship-based Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders, whose signals are normally received by antennas on the ground. Reception of ship AIS signals using these traditional ground-based methods is limited by line-of-sight requirements between the vessel and the ground antenna. JAI’s project, named Global AIS on Space Station (GLASS), will demonstrate the benefits of using the ISS National Lab as a reliable and maintainable platform to acquire and rebroadcast extended-range AIS signals. (9/30)

ULA Gets DOD $127 Million in Contact Funding for Atlas Mission (Source: DOD)
United Launch Services LLC (a subsidiary of United Launch Alliance), has been awarded a $126,966,232 firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for backlog transportation and order launch vehicle production services. This will execute a requirement for the fiscal 2014 launch vehicle configuration of one Air Force Atlas V531 and the exercise of an option for backlog transportation. Work will be performed at Centennial, Colorado, and the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and is expected to be completed by Aug. 15, 2015. (9/29)

Exelis Gets Air Force Range Safety Contract (Source: DOD)
Exelis, Inc. at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, has been awarded a $44,987,032 fixed-price incentive firm target, cost-plus-incentive-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for modernization of the command destruct system at the Eastern Range. Contractor will provide positive control flight termination capability of a space launch vehicle on the Eastern Range necessary to meet range safety requirements. Work will be performed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida; Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida; and Johnathan Dickinson Missile Tracking Annex, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Feb. 27, 2019. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. (9/25)

Space Coast Launch Services Gets Air Force Launch Support Contract (Source: DOD)
Space Coast Launch Services at Patrick Air Force Base has been awarded a $36,328,456 modification to a previously awarded contract for operations, maintenance and engineering support to critical launch, spacecraft and ordnance facilities and support systems owned by the 45th Space Wing. These facilities and systems are vital to the support of Department of Defense, civil and commercial space launch processing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The Launch Operations Support Contract contractor is responsible for planning and executing all preventive and corrective maintenance and performing configuration changes to LOSC facilities and systems necessary to achieve the greatest operational availability for mission support. Work will be performed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2015. (9/3)

Firefly Space Systems Moves to Texas, Musing Launch Site Prospects (Source: Via Satellite)
Firefly Space Systems, a launch company dedicated to small satellites, is moving from Hawthorne, Calif. to Cedar Park, Texas following a commitment of $1.225 million from the City of Cedar Park Economic Development Corporation. The new office will be close to the company’s test site in Briggs, Texas, which has more than 200 acres of land.

During the 10-year relocation agreement, Firefly intends to invest $7.5 million in infrastructure. The company also expects to grow to 200 employees by 2019 with a payroll of roughly $12 million annually. Firefly is currently evaluating potential launch sites in several states, but has a strong interest in conducting launches from Texas. More specifically, the company is looking at Brownsville, Texas, where SpaceX recently committed to building a commercial spaceport of its own.

“We absolutely want to build a launch site here in Texas,” said PJ King, chief operating officer for Firefly. “Having our launch site in Texas would be a triple whammy bringing together design and engineering, testing and a launch site all in one state.” Editor's Note: SpaceX has a very limited range of launch options from its Texas site, which is intended only for equatorial insertions. Firefly might want a wider range of inclinations, or else it might require multiple launch sites like SpaceX. (9/29)

Waypoint 2 Space Partners with Final Frontier Design (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Waypoint 2 Space announced a partnership with Final Frontier Design (FFD) that will integrate FFD space suit designs with Waypoint’s innovative EVA training systems in support of Waypoint’s FAA safety approved commercial space training programs. Waypoint recently began a Kickstarter campaign entitled, “Spacewalking on Earth,” to crowdfund one of the company’s training systems. (9/30)

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