February 8, 2015

Falcon-9 Launch Scrubbed Due to Range Radar Issue (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceX could not launch the DISCOVR satellite as planned on Sunday evening due to problems with an Eastern Range radar. The vehicle had another problem with a first-stage video transmitter but it was not needed for the launch. Another attempt is possible at 6:07 p.m. on Monday, but weather conditions are expected to be unfavorable (60% probability of weather constraint). (2/8)

Virginia Lawmakers Flirt with Sci-Fi Future at Wallops Island Spaceport (Source: Daily Press)
NASA astronauts blasting off from Virginia? Tourists cruising into space and back again from Wallops Island? Some state lawmakers took a baby step this week toward turning fiction into fact. Virginia's House of Delegates unanimously passed a resolution urging NASA to conduct an environmental impact study in hopes of one day launching and landing reusable rockets and spacecraft from the state-owned spaceport located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore.

Del. Terry Kilgore warns that the Air Force is already conducting such a study at Cape Canaveral in anticipation of landing SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets "in the near future." As private firms such as SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace expand even further into the commercial space business, the demand on U.S.-based space launch infrastructure will only increase, Kilgore said.

On Friday, the Senate version of the resolution died in committee, but the matter itself isn't dead. Later in the session, the House version will still move to the Senate for consideration. And Senate sponsor A. Benton "Ben" Chafin Jr., R-Lebanon, said in place of a resolution the Senate will send a letter requesting the environmental impact study. (2/8)

Virginia Bill Would Expand Funding for Spaceport (Source: Daily Press)
A bill working its way through Virginia's General Assembly would extend funding for the state's Space Flight Fund through fiscal 2021-22. That's five years longer than the current mandate, at $9.5 million per year. Yet another bill would extend through fiscal 2016 any income tax revenues from the sale of commercial human spaceflights or associated training to the state's space flight authority. (2/8)

Iran’s Space Program—Still Cancelled (Source: Medium)
On Jan. 9, the Iranian government passed a new law disbanding its main space agency, eliminating the agency’s budget line and dissolving four of its main sub-institutions … for cost-saving reasons, mostly. Other agencies absorbed many of the space program’s technology and staff.

At the time of announcement—first reported by Mehr News—we explained that Tehran would probably launch a few of the space agency’s remaining rockets, mostly for propaganda purposes. Sure enough, on Feb. 1 an old Safir-class rocket boosted an ultra-light, low-altitude Fajr satellite into orbit.

The launch doesn’t mean the Iranian space program is un-cancelled. Not too long ago, Tehran aimed to send Iranian astronauts into space and place one-ton satellites in high orbits. Those grand ambitions have faded with the space agency’s disbanding. (2/7)

NASA Glenn's Rising Budget Includes Cuts (Source: Crain's Cleveland Business)
Funding for NASA Glenn Research Center appears to be on the way up, and the center has secured a key solar power project it had been coveting. Even so, the center might have to eliminate the equivalent of 22 federal employees through attrition and buyouts.

The union that represents NASA Glenn scientists and engineers is trying to fight the proposed cuts, which would affect less than 1% of the 3,000-plus federal and contract positions at Glenn. The space agency is slated to give NASA Glenn a total of $581 million for fiscal year 2015, which ends on Sept. 30 of this year.

That's $14 million more than the $567 million the initial allotment Glenn received from NASA last year — which was not a great year for NASA Glenn's budget. The Greater Cleveland Partnership has been working with Ohio's congressional delegation to secure money for projects and Glenn as a whole. (2/8)

UAE, Russia Space Cooperation Reaching New Heights (Source: The National)
Russia and the UAE are taking space technology cooperation to new heights, according to the Russian ambassador. The country is now one of the UAE’s major partners in this field, primarily regarding the delivery of Emirati satellites to space.

“The establishment of the UAE Space Agency and the announcement of some ambitious projects like the Mars probe in 2021 for sure will contribute to bringing the cooperation in this field to a new height,” Alexander Efimov, the ambassador, said. “The bilateral relations between Russia and the UAE are witnessing dynamic growth and steady trend for diversification.” (2/8)

New Challenges for Latest SpaceX Landing Attempt (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The particulars of Sunday’s launch mean SpaceX has to forego one of the three braking burns employed on the Falcon 9’s usual descent profile. Instead of re-firing a subset of the first stage’s nine kerosene-fueled Merlin engines three times, there will be two ignitions on the way back to Earth on Sunday.

“There are a couple of differences in the trajectory,” Koenigsmann said. “We will perform an entry burn and a landing burn. The speed of the stage coming in to entry is actually higher, and that … makes it a little less likely to succeed.” The initial “boost-back” burn designed to drive the rocket back toward Florida has been omitted for Sunday’s mission. “We had an early burn originally,” Koenigsmann said. “That burn is what we can’t do this time because all the propellant goes to the primary mission."

Virgin Galactic Gears Up for Building Third SpaceShipTwo (Source: NBC)
Last October's fatal crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane is still under investigation — but the company's founder says that the second SpaceShipTwo is on track to go into flight testing and that engineers will start building a third SpaceShipTwo by the end of the year.

In addition to building spaceships, Virgin Galactic will "work on our fit-out of Spaceport America; astronaut training program; commercial operational readiness; LauncherOne program to launch small satellites; and much more," British billionaire Richard Branson said in a Thursday blog posting. (2/8)

Canada, Israel Plan Joint Satellite Technology Effort (Source: Commercial Space Blog)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will sponsor joint study in conjunction with the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) focused around the "innovation and commercial potential" of a variety of satellite technologies. Up to two contracts will be awarded worth up to $300,000 CDN. (2/4)

Virginia Resolution Seeks Study for Wallops Rocket Landing Site (Source: NASA Watch)
A House Joint Resolution offered by state legislator Terry Kilgore (R) encourages NASA to conduct an environmental impact study for landing SpaceX and Blue Origin rockets at the Wallops Island spaceport. Click here. (2/5)

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