June 15, 2015

Aerojet CEO Vows to Cut Overhead, Eyes 10 Percent Cut in Workforce (Source: Reuters)
Eileen Drake, the new chief executive of Aerojet Rocketdyne on Sunday vowed to keep a "huge focus" on cutting overhead costs in coming years, including a 10-percent workforce reduction and possible facility closings. Drake joined Aerojet Rocketdyne in March as its chief operating officer, just three days before the company announced a major cost-reduction drive and changed its name from GenCorp Inc.

The company plans to bid for Air Force funds to continue its work on a new U.S. rocket engine called AR-1. The company said it remained in dialogue with ULA about using that new engine to replace the Russian-built RD-180 engine that now powers ULA's Atlas 5 rocket. The U.S. Congress passed a law last year that bans use of the Russian engines for military and spy satellite launches after 2019.

Aerojet Rocketdyne has joined with several other players to ask the Pentagon to investigate obtaining the data rights to the rocket, but ULA has said it does not plan to sell the rights. (6/15)

State Could Land KSC Runway Monday (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center on Monday could take the most important step yet in its post-shuttle transformation if the state agrees to take over management of the center's three-mile concrete runway. Space Florida's board of directors is expected to review, and likely approve, a tentative deal Monday morning with NASA that would put the state in charge of the former Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, for at least the next 30 years.

Where shuttle orbiters touched down to end 78 missions, both parties envision a future in which space planes also take off from the runway — carrying tourists or satellites — and drones and other vehicles perform tests there. The state's ability to attract commercial activity to the runway will play a major part in determining whether KSC fulfills its potential as a "multi-user spaceport" for more than just government rocket launches.

Details of the agreement have not been released before its approval, but it essentially makes the state responsible for annual costs to operate and maintain the runway, which NASA no longer needs for its missions. Space Florida, which has been in negotiations with NASA for two years, also plans to spend about $5 million over the next two years to upgrade runway infrastructure. (6/15)

Airbus Picked to 900+ Build Internet-Satellites (Source: Airbus Group)
Airbus Defence and Space announced Monday it has won the contract to build OneWeb's satellites. Airbus said it will build more than 900 satellites for the planned constellation of low Earth orbit broadband satellites, with the first to be launched in 2018. Airbus will build an initial batch of ten satellites, each weighing less than 150 kilograms, in France, but most will be built at a "dedicated" plant in the United States. Airbus did not disclose the value of the contract. (6/15)

RD-180 Waiver Urgently Needed for ULA (Source: Space News)
An executive with one of ULA's parent companies said a waiver regarding the use of RD-180 engines is urgently needed. Lockheed Martin's Rick Ambrose said the company needs certainty about its ability to use the engines on the Atlas 5 as it weighs future investment in ULA's new vehicle, Vulcan. He said he is hoping the Pentagon will decide in the next month to grant ULA a waiver to use RD-180 engines included under an existing contract but not yet fully paid for. Ambrose said those concerns have led Lockheed and Boeing, the other ULA owner, to fund Vulcan development only on a quarter-by-quarter basis. (6/15)

75% of Russian Satellite Program Dependent on US Manufactured Components (Source: Iterpreter)
Much has been made of the fact that the US has become dependent on certain Russian rocket motors and Russian space vehicles to service the International Space Station, but Nikolay Testoyedov, a specialist on the Russian space program, says that the dependency is actually the other way around.

According to him, up to 75 percent of the electronic components for Russian satellites come from the US. Consequently, if it retaliates should Moscow refuse to sell RD-180 rocket motors to Washington – which Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has threatened – Russia’s satellite program would be frozen for at least two years. (6/12)

Canadian Satellite Launch Delayed Two Years Over Russian Embargo (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
The launch of a Canadian surveillance satellite has fallen two years behind schedule because the federal government won’t allow it to be put into orbit by a Russian rocket. By the time the Canadian defense satellite is in place next year, its technology could be out of date, warns a space analyst.

The Conservative government scuttled the June 2014 launch of the spacecraft known as M3MSat because of Russia’s support of separatists in Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimea. The satellite, designed to track ships, is now scheduled to be put into orbit in 2016 on board an Indian rocket. (6/15)

'Astronaut Wives Club' Shows the Real Story Behind the Supportive Spouses (Source: NY Daily News)
In an early scene from ABC’s “The Astronaut Wives Club,” the women married to the first seven American astronauts are summoned for a magazine photo shoot. Wear something wifely and demure, they’re told. Color? Nothing with any personality, please. A nice subdued pastel would be good.

That fairy tale, for the record, painted the astronaut wives — the original seven, then later some two dozen more — as proud helpmates who always wore a smile, devoted their lives to serving their heroic menfolk and happily shared them with an adoring world. The book on which this 10-part series is based, Lily Koppel’s “The Astronaut Wives Club,” makes it clear that reality was darker. (6/15)

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