January 10, 2015

SpaceX Launches Supplies to Space Station, Misses First-Stage Landing (Source: New Scientist)
Private spaceflight firm SpaceX launched its fifth cargo mission to the International Space Station – but its planned test landing of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a boat was unsuccessful. For this latest flight, SpaceX positioned an autonomous barge off the coast of Florida to attempt the first ever Falcon 9 landing on a solid surface, following the launch.

On its way down, the rocket successfully hit the barge, but came in too fast and was destroyed. "Close, but no cigar this time," tweeted Musk shortly after the attempted landing, which took place around ten minutes after take-off. Musk also said it was too dark and foggy to get video of the landing, but SpaceX now plans to analyse data from the flight and try again with a future launch. (1/10)

Why Reusable Rockets are So Hard to Make (Source: The Conversation)
The reality is that achieving orbit with a single vehicle and a pure rocket engine, whereby all of the fuel and oxidiser for combustion is stored on-board the vehicle, remains out of reach. Even with a propellant mass of 90% of the entire vehicle weight, expendable launch vehicles must tread an extremely fine line between the masses of the propellants, the supporting vehicle and the payload.

This means that the payload mass which achieves final orbit is typically no more than 2% to 4% of the initial weight of the launcher. The only way we can currently achieve orbit is by stripping away the needless mass of the supporting structure and fuel tanks as the launcher’s fuel begins to empty. This creates a multistage rocket. These stages may be in series, stacked one on top of the other, as in SpaceXs’ Falcon 9-R rocket, or in parallel as in NASA’s Space Shuttle. (1/9)

How Companies are Picking Up Where NASA Has Left Off (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
Despite the recent losses, space lures private industry on with frontiers to explore and money to earn. After all, NASA no longer has space shuttles, and its next-generation Space Launch System is underfunded by Congress. There’s money for rockets, but not for essentials such as the crew capsule. Humans have followed public exploration with private enterprise before, on other frontiers. Click here. (1/9)

Virgin Galactic To Resume SpaceShipTwo Test Flights in 2015 (Source: Space News)
Virgin Galactic is “turning the corner” from its October SpaceShipTwo accident and plans to complete and start testing a second vehicle this year, the company’s chief executive said Jan. 9. George Whitesides told an audience at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ SciTech 2015 conference in Kissimmee, Florida, that the company was rebounding from the accident. (1/9)

New Players in 'New Space' (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
Here are some of the big private players in what those in the business call “new space.” They include XCOR Aerospace, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Virgin Galactic, Orbital Outfitters, and Planetary Resources. Click here. (1/10)

ViaSat Cites Big Savings in Picking Falcon Heavy for 2016 Launch (Source: Space News)
ViaSat Inc. said its selection of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the ViaSat-2 Ka-band broadband satellite in mid-2016 was driven by Falcon Heavy’s “ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next-closest launch vehicle at only one-third the cost.” (1/9)

Unfazed by Customer Lawsuit, Eutelsat Prepares for Busy Launch Year (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat on Jan. 9 said a billion-dollar lawsuit filed by a customer in Brazil is without foundation and not expected to trouble the company’s business. Eutelsat also addressed what it acknowledged were crowded schedules of launch service providers in 2015, a year in which Eutelsat plans to launch a record five satellites, including two with SpaceX and two aboard Russia’s Proton. (1/9)

Japan's Space Program Ends Peaceful Policy with Military Focus (Source: E&T)
Japan will launch new spying and navigation satellites to serve military purposes over the next decade, announcing a major departure from its solely peaceful space policy. Hailed a "historic turning point" by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the shift in the country’s priorities is believed to be a response to growing capabilities of its Asian rivals China and India. (1/9)

Stennis Conducts SLS Engine Firing Marking RS-25 Return (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA’s Stennis Space Center has test fired the first RS-25 (unit E0525) of the Space Launch System (SLS) era on Friday, marking the beginning of a new career for the famous engine. Four of the former Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) are set to power each SLS during the ride to orbit, opening with Exploration Mission -1 (EM-1) in mid-2018. (1/9)

Why Should We Search For ET? (Source: NPR)
Will we find ET in the next 25 years? Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at SETI, says yes. He explains that new technologies and the laws of probability make the breakthrough likely. Click here. (1/9)

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