June 3, 2015

Air Force Launches Competition to Replace Russian Rocket Engines (Source: Sputnik)
The US Air Force formally kicked off a contest for the development of new rocket propulsion systems which would replace Russian-built RD-180 engines, Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Chief of the Air Force's Space and Missiles Systems Center, said on Wednesday.

The RD-180 engine used for powering the Atlas 5 rocket has no US-made analogues so far. According to the general, the program will be implemented using a public-private partnership. The government hopes do divide $160 million in contracts between four bidders by September 2015. The bidders are required to use their own funds to cover at least a third of the prototypes. Initial proposals are due by June 23. (6/3)

NASA Looks to Cut Travel Time to Mars in Half with Superfast Propulsion (Source: Sputnik)
The California-based Aerojet Rocketdyne has teamed up with NASA several times in the past, starting in 1976 when it helped the space agency deliver the Mars Viking landers. Now it seems the company’s groundbreaking work on propulsion systems will forward NASA’s mission of sending humans to Mars.

During a visit to the company’s facilities in Canoga Park, California, NASA administrator Charlie Bolden stressed the need for the latest and most advanced propulsion technologies in getting astronauts to Mars. He also reiterated NASA’s hope to slash the future mission’s travel time. (6/3)

Air Force Space Modernization Funding Takes a Hit in House Bill (Source: Space News)
The House Appropriations Committee voted June 2 to strip about $191 million from an Air Force initiative to foster next-generation satellite technologies and blaze a trail for smaller, less complicated satellites. House appropriators, during a markup of a $579 billion Pentagon spending bill that now awaits a vote by the full House, removed the $191 million from the Air Force’s Space Modernization Initiative (SMI).

This furthers a long-standing disagreement between lawmakers and the Air Force about how the service should transition to new satellite programs. Lawmakers stripped the 2016 funding from two programs — one involving missile warning and one focused on protected communications — that are intended to test the merits of performing these missions with smaller, less sophisticated satellites than the Air Force uses today. (6/3)

NASA Issues Announcement for Kennedy Space Center Land Use Proposals (Source: NASA)
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has released an announcement for proposals (AFP) for private companies interested in developing commercial vertical launch sites at the multi-user spaceport. The announcement is part of Kennedy’s continued transformation to a multi-user spaceport based on effectively utilizing land assets identified in the center’s 20-year Master Plan.

“We strongly encourage companies to provide proposals for developing space launch services and capabilities at the Kennedy Space Center,” said Scott Colloredo, director of Kennedy’s Center Planning and Development. As a separate activity, Kennedy also will release a notice of availability for undeveloped land not suitable for launch operations to potentially support vertical landings, launch assembly, testing and processing support activities. (6/2)

Russia Could Accelerate Angara to Phase-Out Proton (Source: Space News)
Russian officials want to accelerate the transition from the Proton to the new Angara launch vehicle. Igor Komarov, head of Roscosmos, said recent failures of the Proton demonstrated that Russia needed to move more quickly to switch to the Angara-5 rocket. He didn't give a suggested timetable. Officials with Khrunichev, the company that builds both vehicles, said production costs of the Angara will drop below those of the Proton in 2021, when "batch production" of Angara is scheduled to begin. (6/3)

Man Arrested for Embezzlement of Vostochny Spaceport Funds (Source: Siberian Times)
Belarus police arrested a man wanted on charges of embezzling funds from Russia's Vostochny spaceport. The 45-year-old man allegedly accepted a $75,000 contract for spaceport construction work, then took the money for personal use. He was, in retrospect, not hard to find: police in Minsk found him Monday in his diamond-encrusted Mercedes. (6/3)

Is North Korea Gearing Up for Another Space Launch? (Source: 38 North)
On May 8, KCNA carried a typically vituperative essay by North Korea’s national space authority stating that “No matter who dares grumble and no matter how all hostile forces challenge the launch, satellites of Juche Korea will soar into the space one after another at the time and place designated and decided by the supreme leadership of the Korean revolution.”

The new statement follows extensive coverage in recent months of North Korea’s space ambitions. On May 4, North Korean state media showed Kim Jong Un visiting “the newly-built General Satellite Control Centre of the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA).” The new center looks like something out of the Jetson’s but with a monumental oil painting of Kim Jong Il contemplating a rocket dominating the entrance to remind you this is still North Korea. (6/2)

Spaceport Alabama? State "Spaceport Bill" Aims to Create One (source: WAAY)
Alabama is famous for building spacecraft and rockets, so why shouldn't the state have a place to launch them as well? Alabama Senate Bill 17, or as the bill's sponsor Senator Gerald Dial calls it, the "Spaceport Bill," would put the state on the path to create just that.

The synopsis from the text of the bill reads, "This bill would create the Alabama Space Authority within the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to promote the research and development of new space exploration and spaceport technologies, sponsor conferences, and business roundtables, within the aerospace, aviation, and related industries, and promote activities and industries related to space exploration, including the securing of a license for and development of a spaceport in Alabama." The full text of the bill can be accessed here. (6/2)

California Space Measure Stalls in Committee (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A measure that would establish a space enterprise development program and California spaceport authority has stalled in the state Senate Appropriations Committee. SB-506, which is sponsored by state Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), has been held in committee and under suspension. Held in committee means it failed to receive sufficient votes to pass. Held under submission indicates the bill’s “author and the committee members want to work on or discuss the bill further….This does not preclude the bill from being set for another hearing.”

The measure would require the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to establish a space enterprise development program to promote the state’s industry. The bill would likely lead to the establishment of a California Spaceport Authority to oversee the efforts. The bill gives the Governor’s Office the authority to contract with a non-profit group to provide technical assistance and support and to serve as the state’s spaceport authority. There has not been a state-wide organization to promote its aerospace interests since the non-profit California Space Authority dissolved in June 2011 after it ran out of funds. (6/1)

ULA Trims its Leadership 30% as it Readies for SpaceX Competition (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Colorado's United Launch Alliance is getting leaner to compete against SpaceX for U.S. government space launches, accepting the resignations of 12 executives to cut its leadership positions by 30 percent. A dozen executives at Centennial-based ULA volunteered to leave the company Dec. 31 in response to an offer extended to company executives nationwide. The voluntary layoffs are part of an overall ULA reorganization taking shape.

ULA CEO Tory Bruno has said ULA must shrink to remain successful under reduced U.S. military budgets and with Elon Musk’s SpaceX being certified to compete against ULA for national security mission launches. It’s not yet known which ULA leaders are leaving or whether the level of leadership cuts reflects the amount of staff reduction elsewhere in the company. (6/2)

Canadian City Launches Space Week and More Details on Zero Gravity Flights (Source: Bay Today)
The city of North Bay will be one of 1400 communities that will be hosting what North Bay is calling the Inaugural YYB North Bay World Space Week coming up this October. The city, Canadore College and a representative from S3 were on hand at Canadore College’s Aviation Campus to unveil some of the exciting out of this world initiatives that will take place that week.

The 3-day event and will include an Industry Day, an Education Day and a Space Day available to the general public. There will be a dual purpose - the official launch of the on-line sales site for Swiss Space Systems‟ S3 ZeroG (Zero Gravity) Experience, which will provide the public with their first opportunity to purchase flight seat on this unique aircraft. (6/2)

Getting Down to Earth, Through Space (Source: Wall Street Journal)
If the World Science Festival that just wrapped up in the city accomplished nothing else—and I’m confident it accomplished a whole lot more—it was responsible for the cool, new, free app my phone now boasts. More about the app in a moment, both to mine the drama and because, like most of the others on my cellphone, I’m in doubt what, if any, useful purpose it serves.

But the app, Earth Now, came to my attention Thursday on a visit to the festival’s NASA Orbit Pavilion. Located on New York University’s Gould Plaza, the pavilion looked like an oversize sterling silver nautilus shell. The sculpture’s purpose—besides looking amazing and perhaps distracting students entering NYU Stern School of Business from the all-consuming business of commerce—was to instruct visitors, through a sound show, about NASA’s Earth science satellites, which monitor the planet’s pulse 24/7. (6/1)

NASA's Exploration Plans Include Living Off the Land (Source: NASA)
When early explorers crossed vast oceans to reach new worlds, they traveled with only what they needed to get there. After arriving at their destination, the pioneers planned to live off the land. NASA engineers and scientists now are developing capabilities needed once astronauts reach destinations such as an asteroid, the moon or Mars.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, researchers are studying how to best practice in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), that is, harvesting and relying on available raw materials as astronauts visit deep-space destinations. Click here. (6/1)

Space Club Seeks Nominations for Awards (Source: NSCFL)
Each year the National Space Club Florida Committee recognizes deserving individuals who make significant contributions to the U.S. space program. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors those with lifelong service, while the Rising Star Award seeks to honor someone who is very early in his or her career. Nominees for either award can come from government, military, commercial, or government contractor organizations and be submitted by individuals or organizations. 

The deadline for nominations is June 19. The official criteria for each award is on the nomination form. You do not have to be a member of the NSCFL to make a nomination or to be a nominee. Click here to submit a nomination for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and here to submit for the Rising Star Award. (6/2)

Indian Space Research Organization to Test its Reusable Spacecraft (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO ) plans the first test of its homegrown fully Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). The RLV- TD (Technology Demonstrator) mission is currently scheduled to be sent aloft in late July or early August. (6/2)

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