October 9, 2014

KSC Provides Shuttle Hangars as Home for Military Spaceplanes (Source: NASA)
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Program for use of the center’s Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) Bays 1 and 2 to process the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle for launch. The OPF bays were last used during NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. This agreement ensures the facilities will again be used for their originally-intended purpose — processing spacecraft.

In addition to vehicle preparation for launch, the X-37B Program conducted testing at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility to demonstrate that landing the vehicle at the former shuttle runway is a technically feasible option. Boeing is performing construction upgrades in the OPFs on behalf of the X-37B Program. These upgrades are targeted to be complete in December. (10/8)

MIT Analysis Paints Bleak Outcome for Mars One (Source: Space Policy Online)
An analysis by a team of MIT students of the Mars One concept to send people to Mars on one-way missions to establish a settlement there offers a bleak picture of the outcome. The analysis, “An Independent Assessment of the Technical Feasibility of the Mars One Mission Plan,” was supported by grants from NASA and the Josephine de Karman Fellowship Trust.

The team looked at the Mars One plan as outlined in public sources, especially its assertions that a sustainable society on Mars can be established beginning in the 2020s using existing technology. A “pre-deployment” phase between 2018 and 2023 would send robotic precursors and establish a crew “habitat” on the surface to await the first crew, which would be launched in 2024. Additional four-person crews and habitats would be launched at every 26-month opportunity thereafter.

Because many details of the Mars One plan are not available, the MIT team made a number of assumptions that are comprehensively explained in order to conduct their analysis. MarsOne co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp responded that while he welcomed the students' analysis, his company does not have time to respond to all the questions it receives from students and "the lack of time for support from us combined with their limited experience results in incorrect conclusions." Click here. (10/7)

XPrize Space Race Story Gets Book Deal (Source: Hollywood Reporter)
Journalist Julian Guthrie, who wrote The Billionaire and the Mechanic, the best-selling account of Larry Ellison’s unlikely partnership with a car mechanic during his pursuit of the America’s Cup, is tackling the XPrize for her next book. Penguin Press has acquired Beyond: Peter Diamandis and the Adventure of Space in a preemptive bid. Publication is expected in fall 2016.

Diamandis, a medical doctor and space entrepreneur who was inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, founded the $10 million XPrize in 1994 to encourage civilian space travel. It was won in 2004 by a team headed by Microsoft founder Paul Allen and aviation legend Burt Rutan. SpaceShipOne sits in the Smithsonian. (10/7)

Jacobs Awarded Contract Option at NASA Kennedy Space Center (Source: Jacobs)
Jacobs Engineering Group has been awarded a modification to extend the Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The cost-plus-award-fee option for the baseline work extends the contract for a period of two years and is valued at $172.8 million. The contract’s indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity ordering provision, with a maximum order limit of $500 million for the life of the contract, was also extended for a concurrent two-year period.

Under the terms of the TOSC contract, Jacobs provides ground processing for launch vehicles, spacecraft, and payloads in support of emerging programs, commercial entities, and other government agencies at KSC. Services include advanced planning and studies; development of ground systems; operational support for the design and development of flight hardware and ground systems; spacecraft, payload and launch vehicle servicing and processing; ground systems services; and logistics. (10/7)

China to Launch Maritime Surveillance Satellites in 2019 (Source: Itar-Tass)
China plans the 2019 launch of a series of maritime surveillance satellites to monitor ships, drilling platforms, coastal and sea resources and natural disasters, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday. The Haiyang-3 satellites will use radar technology to allow monitoring at any time of the day and through any weather conditions, deputy director with the national satellite ocean application service Lin Mingsen said. They will be able to see meter-long objects from space and generate high-definition images of land and sea. (10/8)

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