July 10, 2015

Russia is the "Biggest Threat" to U.S. Security, Air Force Secretary Says (Source: Reuters)
Air Force Secretary Deborah James says Russia is the "biggest threat" to U.S. security currently. "This is no time to in any way signal a lack of resolve in the face of these Russian actions," she said, noting her disappointment that most NATO countries were failing to meet defense spending targets. (7/8)

Eutelsat, ESA Taking a ‘Quantum’ Leap Toward Fully Software-defined Satellite (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat and the European Space Agency on July 9 signed a contract to build a new-generation satellite payload, called Eutelsat Quantum, that takes what they said is a further step toward a fully software-defined spacecraft, which has long been a Holy Grail for commercial fleet operators. The contract, valued at 180 million euros ($198 million), will lead to a further contract with Airbus Defence and Space UK as prime contractor for the first satellite.

The ability to reshuffle a satelilte’s coverage and on-board power as a function of how the business develops over 15 years has long been an ambition of commercial fleet operators. They have often complained that terrestrial telecommunications technologies make generational leaps in a couple of years, while geostationary telecommunications satellites’ designs, frozen two or three years before launch, must remain relevant for 15 years in orbit. Quantum is designed to change all that. (7/9)

NASA Names Commercial Crew Test Pilots (Source: Florida Today)
NASA on Thursday named four astronauts who will train for test flights of new Boeing and SpaceX capsules, likely becoming the first crews to launch from the Space Coast since the final shuttle mission four years ago. Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams are veteran test pilots who have flown on the shuttle and the International Space Station.

The orbital test flights to the station, which could launch in 2017, hope to pave the way for regular trips by the new commercial crew vehicles, ending reliance on Russia for access to and from the outpost. SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket — which suffered a failure on its last flight that is now under investigation — and Dragon capsules from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A. Boeing will launch CST-100 capsules on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (7/9)

Roscosmos: Can New Company Modernize Russian Space Industry? (Source: RBTH)
Details about Roscosmos, Russia’s new state space corporation, were revealed on July 7. A law adopted on July 1 is intended to help with the space industry’s reform. However, experts fear that the corporation may be inefficient in the long run. The State Duma adopted a law establishing it on July 1, but industry representatives declined to comment until the law is approved by the president.

According to Komarov Russian space enterprises should become joint-stock companies over the next five years. “To achieve this result, decisions have been made concerning the decentralization and the empowerment of Roscosmos with the authority to carry out effective reforms,” Komarov said. (7/9)

Despite Failure, Keep Reaching for Stars (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
No inventor, scientist or business owner likes to see failure. But we know from history that failure is a precursor to success. As President Kennedy said at Rice University in 1962, “We choose to go to the moon and to do other things not because they are easy — but because they are hard.”

Space exploration and an expansion of the aerospace industry are not easy, nor will they ever be easy. The most rewarding things in our lives are challenging. They do not fall into our laps. We work hard to achieve them. (7/9)

Brevard OKs $3.5 Million Tax Break for Lockheed Martin (Source: Florida Today)
Brevard County commissioners approved $3.49 million in property tax breaks for Lockheed Martin, which plans to create up to 300 jobs in Titusville. Lockheed Martin also plans to make an $80 million capital investment at an aerospace manufacturing plant formerly used by Astrotech for payload processing. That includes $52 million in new construction, and $28 million on machinery and equipment. The company plans to use the facility for its Space Systems operations. (7/8)

Congress Considers Easing Ban on Russian Engines (Source: Arizona Republic)
Lawmakers are weighing whether to give the Defense Department more leeway to buy Russian engines that deliver the Pentagon's military and spy satellites into space. The issue has resurfaced only months after Congress voted in December to require a firm phase-out of the engines amid rising tensions with Moscow over Ukraine.

The House and Senate recently passed competing versions of the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which lays out the Pentagon's mission for the coming year. Lawmakers hope to hammer out a compromise on the bill before they recess in August. (7/8)

Vandenberg Brings in Private Experts (Source: Santa Maria Sun)
Vandenberg Air Force Base is bringing private companies into its Joint Space Operations Center. The program is the first of its kind and it’s aimed at fostering cooperation between the military and private sector as spaceflight slowly becomes privatized. It’s the first time commercial operators will be physically integrated into the command center.

“The reason we want to do this is that it will allow for rapid identification, diagnosis, and resolution,” said Capt. Nick Mercurio, adding that the operators were chosen based on the scope of their existing operations with the U.S. Department of Defense. The six companies selected are Intelsat, SES Government Solutions, Eutelsat, DigitalGlobe, Iridium Communications, and InMarSat. They will participate in the program for a six-month trial period.

Experts brought in from these companies will be helping to run the satellites that they designed: They will participate in training exercises alongside military staff at Vandenberg and assist with the launching and operations of those satellites. The satellites do everything from communications to imaging. The private sector employees will work eight to 12 hours a day in the operations center, according to Aviation Week, and could move to a round-the-clock trial if successful. (7/9)

SpaceX Delays Next Crew Dragon Abort Test (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The next test of a critical safety system on SpaceX’s human-rated Dragon spaceship will be delayed, likely until at least late next year, as the company adjusts the development schedule for the new commercial crew capsule designed to take astronauts to the International Space Station.

The in-flight abort demonstration, which is designed to prove the Dragon’s escape rockets can carry a crew away from an exploding rocket, will occur from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to an update posted July 1 on NASA’s website. The abort test was previously expected to go from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (7/8)

Despite Blast, USAF Says SpaceX Has Time to Show Readiness for Missions (Source: Reuters)
A Falcon 9 rocket accident last month should not eliminate SpaceX from the competition to launch a new GPS satellite, U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah James said on Wednesday, since there would be "plenty of time" to test the rocket before any future launch. James said that SpaceX remained certified to participate in the competition, expected to kick off in coming weeks. She noted that any future launch would not occur for about two years. (7/9)

Air Force’s ORS-5 Satellite to Launch on Minotaur 4 at Space Florida Pad (Source: Space News)
Orbital ATK has won a $23.6 million contract to launch a small space-surveillance satellite for the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office aboard a Minotaur 4 rocket in 2017. Orbital ATK will launch the satellite from Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, according to a spokeswoman at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.

The launch will mark the first for a Minotaur rocket, a vehicle based in part on excess missile hardware, from Cape Canaveral and the first from that particular pad since 1999. Launch Complex 46 was licensed as a commercial launch facility in 2010 by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The last launch from the facility was of Lockheed Martin’s solid-fueled Athena 1 rocket, which carried Taiwan’s Rocsat-1 Earth observation satellite.

Last year, Space Florida selected Orbital ATK to upgrade communications systems at Space Launch Complex 46, hoping that the improvements would attract commercial and government business. In a February request for qualification to improve the pad, Space Florida said it had identified a potential tenant, a prime contractor for launch systems, for the site. (7/9)

Six Space Questions the Senate Asked Gen. James Dunford (Source: Space News)
As part of his Senate confirmation process to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford said the protection of the military’s satellites should be a higher national security priority. Dunford submitted 75 pages of answers to questions submitted by lawmakers in advance of his July 9 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The responses were posted on the committee’s website as the hearing got underway. Click here. (7/9)

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