March 4, 2015

Russia Offers Startups ‘Space’ for Growth (Source: Space News)
Recent achievements of the Philae lander gained plenty of attention in Russia, not least because the comet on which it touched down was named after Soviet astronomers. This ESA project showed that government organizations are still among the most capable when it comes to groundbreaking achievements beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Furthermore, the lander reached the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet only a few weeks after a remarkably low-budget Indian satellite was launched into orbit around Mars, demonstrating that the industry is now a truly global race, not the old two-sided competition which was the norm during the Cold War years. The expertise and experience built up since the Soviet period has fed into a Russian industry that today remains a world leader.

The number of private players in the Russian market remains relatively small, but promising developments are afoot. Most significant so far has been the progress of Dauria Aerospace and Sputnix, two private companies affiliated with a new Space Technology and Telecommunications Cluster at Moscow’s Skolkovo innovation park. Click here. (3/3)

"Castle" Episode Focused on Mars Simulation Murder (Source: ABC)
Tom Richwood was an astronaut who was killed during a simulation for a mission to Mars. Castle is blown away by the mission control setup. This private venture is being funded by Internet billionaire Viggo Jansen. Operations Director Ed Redley says that anyone needing to approach the body needs to wear spacesuits to access the area. Castle decides this is the best case ever.

Castle, Beckett and Esposito head into the simulation area. The bioscience officer says the victim was stabbed and one of his tools, a screwdriver, is missing. The four other astronauts were inside the module when the murder occurred. Viggo Jansen refuses to shut down his program, but will give the police full access to his simulator.

Tom Richwood’s video diary reveals that he thought he saw someone out there with him on Mars. The simulator’s security system was hacked by Clint Granger, a pilot who believes Tom Richwood stole his spot on the mission. He was ticked, but didn’t kill anyone. Someone is setting him up. It could be George Reyes, a senior facilities engineer. Click here. (2/23)

Safran To Pay Airbus $1 Billion for Equal Stake in Joint Rocket Venture (Source: Space News)
Airbus and Safran said their joint venture to take over design and production of Europe’s Ariane 5 and future Ariane 6 rockets is expected to be in full operations by late 2015 following a Safran payment to Airbus of 800 million euros ($1 billion) in cash. The transfer, both companies said, will be necessary for French aerospace-engine builder Safran to maintain a 50 percent stake in the new company, which was created in January and is called Airbus Safran Launchers. (3/3)

Weather Sats Just a Blip on Senate Commerce Committee’s Radar (Source: Space News)
NOAA’s $2.4 billion weather satellite portfolio got only a fleeting, if supportive, mention from Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker in a March 3 hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The White House’s 2016 request for NOAA, part of the Commerce Department, will “fully fund the next generation of weather and environmental satellites,” Pritzker said in her opening statement. (3/3)

NASA Eyes Ion Engines for Mars Orbiter Launching in 2022 (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
NASA officials want the agency’s next Mars orbiter to pull double duty as a communications relay station for a fleet of surface landers and as a trailblazer for a future round-trip sample return mission and human expeditions to the red planet.

Worried its fleet of Mars orbiter is aging, NASA intends to dispatch the spacecraft to the red planet in September 2022 to link ground controllers with rovers and extend mapping capabilities expected to be lost when the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter stops functioning.

Engineers also want to add ion engines to the orbiter and fly the efficient electrically-powered thruster system to Mars for the first time, testing out a solar-electric propulsion package that officials say will be needed when astronauts visit the red planet. (3/3)

ULA Targets 2018 for Delta 4 Phase-Out, Seeks Relaxation of RD-180 Ban (Source: Space News)
United Launch Alliance intends to phase out all but the heavy-lift version of its Delta 4 rocket as early as 2018 as it seeks to sharpen its competitiveness in the face of a challenge by SpaceX. In a March 2 interview, Bruno, said both rockets ultimately will be replaced by a new launch vehicle currently known as the Next Generation Launch System, or NGLS. The NGLS will be powered by a new main engine now under development.

While pledging to produce Delta 4 Heavy rockets as long as the government wants, Tory Bruno said he expects the Defense Department to eventually adopt a comparable variant of the NGLS. “I’ve promised to the government we will retire the Delta Heavy only when they are ready because satellites are configured specifically for that launch vehicle,” he said. (3/3)

To Beat SpaceX at ‘Simon Says,’ Europe Must Change (Source: Space News)
If European space officials are tired of playing “Simon Says” with SpaceX, they can invest the money and intellectual capital needed to lead in space. The unfortunate fact is, they almost never do. What Europe has done is to do a better job of marketing the inventions of others — which may be a good way to make money, but does not buy you a leadership role. Click here. (3/3)

ISS Deploys Two Cubesats Following Repairs to Launcher (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Friday Feb. 27 two small Dove satellites belonging to Planet Labs were successfully  deployed into orbit from the International Space Space (ISS). This was the first deployment attempt since the recent completion of on-orbit repairs to the station's satellite deployment system. More Dove satellites will be deployed through March 15 when the deployment window closes. (3/3)

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