March 11, 2015

Spaceflight Raises $19M to Help Launch Micro-Satellites with ‘Ride Share’ Program (Source: GeekWire)
Spaceflight Industries, which helps the U.S. government, Planet Labs and other customers launch small satellites on larger space transportation vehicles, has snagged $19.2 million in financing, according to a SEC filing. Backers of the company include Chugach Alaska Corp. and RRE Ventures. Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures also participated, along with Razor’s Edge Ventures. (3/10)

Virgin Galactic Spaceflights Not Expected in 2015 (Source: KOAT)
Spaceport officials believe that Virgin Galactic won’t launch commercial spaceflights from southern New Mexico this year. The first commercial space flight to take off from the facility is delayed until 2016, which is resulting in major financial troubles.

Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, said Virgin flights may resume in 2016. A proposed bill in the Legislature is asking for more money from the state to make up the shortfall. Despite the setback, Anderson said 50 percent of the Spaceport’s operating budget is being paid for through tenant and user fees. She is hopeful the Spaceport will be self-sufficient in two to three years. (3/10)

Boeing Would Pull Seats, Life Support, Engines For Cargo-Carrying CST-100 (Source: Aviation Week)
Boeing Space Exploration is offering a stripped-down version of the CST-100 commercial crew vehicle as a candidate for the second round of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) space station cargo contract, proposing a largely reusable vehicle that swaps seats and other crew hardware for station supplies. (3/11)

SpaceX Expands McGregor Test Facility (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
We recently reported on a rather loud engine test by SpaceX at its McGregor, TX, facility. The test was a full-up test of a Falcon 9 first stage and its nine Merlin 1D engines. Atmospheric conditions may have contributed to the noise carrying farther than usual - as far as Rogers, some forty miles away. It now appears that SpaceX is taking action to limit the noise coming out of the facility.

Historically, SpaceX has performed engine testing on an above-ground tripod that sits atop a former World War II bomb factory. However, recent aerial photos reflect the construction of a new “test stand” with a below-ground-level flame trench. It’s doubtful if the new stand is being built solely for sound suppression, but its recessed construction, along with the direction of the trench, should significantly reduce noise levels in McGregor. Speculation is that the stand is needed for testing the new three-core, 27 engine, Falcon Heavy rocket. (3/10)

How NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab is Branding Deep Space Missions (Source: Fast Company)
While NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory innovates space technology, its media relations department applies a similar inventiveness to its social media strategies. Veronica McGregor — creator of the NASA Social and Mars rover Twitter accounts — discusses how its branding this year's deep space missions, and the lessons learned by staying authentic and listening to followers in past social media campaigns. Click here. (3/10)

ISRO Races to Fix Glitch in Navigational Satellite for On-Time Launch (Source: Space Daily)
The Indian space agency is deliberating the ways and means of setting right a glitch in its fourth regional navigation satellite with minimum effort so that it can be launched early, said an official. The 1,425kg satellite - Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System-IRNSS-1D - was supposed to be launched on the evening of 9 March by an Indian rocket called Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL). (3/10)

Com Dev Gears Up for Mega-constellation Opportunity (Source: Space News)
Satellite component maker Com Dev of Canada on March 9 said it had created a separate “Skunk Works”-type engineering team to prepare the company for bids on one or more of the mega-constellations offering satellite Internet services. Com Dev specifically said it was working with prospective prime contractors for the proposed 650-satellite OneWeb system. The OneWeb company is expected to create a joint venture this year with the builder of its constellation. (3/10)

Musk and Bruno Spar on Capitol Hill (Source: Space News)
The U.S. launch industry’s two biggest rivals — SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk and his counterpart at United Launch Alliance, Tory Bruno — could face off at a U.S. House subcommittee hearing March 17. Musk, whose company is challenging ULA’s monopoly in the U.S. national security launch business, has been invited to testify alongside Bruno before the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee as part of an industry panel on “Assured Access to Space.” Click here. (3/10)

Proposed LeoSat Constellation Aimed at ‘Top 3,000’ (Source: Space News)
As of early March, Vern Fotheringham’s endeavor is running LeoSat LLC of Arlington, Virginia, whose ambition is to launch 120-140 high-power Ka-band satellites into low Earth orbit for global data transfer, a project likely to cost $2.5 billion to $3 billion. Internet for the multitudes it is not. “You hear talk about serving the other 3 billion unconnected — a wonderful thing for Google or Facebook. We are a commercial company. We’ll stick with the top 3,000 rather than the other 3 billion.” (3/10)

ORS Director: “We’re Not Here To Build Neat Toys” (Source: Space News)
For three consecutive years, the U.S. Air Force tried to shutter its rapid-response space development shop known as the Operationally Responsive Space Office, only to be rebuffed by Congress. The Air Force finally appears to have thrown in the towel, requesting $6 million for the office next year. Click here. (3/10)

Boeing Still Tinkering with Giant Welder for SLS Stages (Source: Space News)
Boeing Space Exploration of Houston is about three months behind schedule on a giant welding tool to be used in the assembly of NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, but the first flight of the massive vehicle remains on track for 2018, a senior company official said.

Construction of the roughly 50-meter-tall Vertical Assembly Center, which will weld together the 8.4-meter-diameter structural components of SLS stages at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, was completed in September. Shortly thereafter, however, Boeing discovered a problem with the machine during final alignment testing, said Virginia Barnes. (3/10)

Edwards To Run for Mikulski’s Senate Seat (Source: Space News)
The top Democrat on the House Science space subcommittee announced March 10 she will run for the Senate seat currently held by the retiring Barbara Mikulski, further altering the space policy landscape on Capitol Hill. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) announced her plan to run for the Senate in a two-minute video released March 10. (3/10)

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