August 5, 2015

Time to Rename the Shuttle Landing Facility? (Source: SPACErePORT)
Now that Space Florida has officially assumed control of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, it seems fitting that the agency rename the facility for a new era of post-Shuttle opeations. Maybe rename it to honor a political benefactor or a historical figure. Maybe Obama Field, Nelson Field, Scott Field, or whatever. Maybe the time is right for a public renaming campaign. (8/5)

Lockheed Martin Awarded Commercial Atlas Launch Contract for EchoStar Satellite (Source: SpaceRef)
Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services has been selected by EchoStar Corporation to provide commercial launch services for the EchoStar XIX communications satellite. The satellite is scheduled to launch in late 2016 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (8/5)

Senate Passes Commercial Space Bill (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Senate approved a bill Aug. 4 that extends two key provisions of commercial launch law as well as authorizes operations of the International Space Station beyond 2020, but the bill will have to be reconciled with a House bill that is more generous to industry. The Senate passed S. 1297, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, by unanimous consent.

The bill extends an existing provision of federal law that limits the ability of the FAA to regulate the safety of people flying on commercial spacecraft. That limitation, often called the “learning period” by industry, is scheduled to expire Oct. 1 but would be extended by five years in the Senate bill. The bill also extends through 2020 the commercial launch indemnification regime, where the government is responsible for any third-party losses from launches in excess of a level the company must insure against. Launch indemnification is currently in place through the end of 2016.

The bill makes several other tweaks to commercial launch law, including defining “government astronaut” for NASA and other agencies’ astronauts, who would be treated differently on commercial spacecraft than private individuals. It also allows companies to concurrently hold an experimental permit and launch license for the same vehicle, using the license for commercial missions and the less-restrictive permit for test flights. (8/5)

Remote Sensing Startups Don't Worry Established Players (Source: Space News)
Existing commercial remote sensing companies are unfazed by the emergence of many startups in the field. DigitalGlobe, which operates satellites that provide very high resolution images, said it didn't believe planned constellations of satellites providing lower resolution imagery would eat into the company's business with the U.S. government. MDA, which operates Radarsat 2 and owns satellite manufacturer Space Systems/Loral, is bidding on some planned imaging constellations, but company executives believe many of those planned systems will not be developed because of a lack of funding. (8/5)

India to Launch U.S. Satellites (Source: The Hindu)
India plans to launch nine American small satellites through 2016. An Indian Space Research Organisation spokesman said Tuesday that nine "nano/micro" satellites will launch as secondary payloads on PSLV rockets in the 2015-2016 timeframe. ISRO did not identify those satellites or their developers other than they are not affiliated with NASA. One U.S. company, PlanetiQ, said in June it was in discussions with ISRO's commercial arm, Antrix, for the launch of two of its satellites in 2016. (8/5)

Recovered Saturn 5 Engines Ready for Display (Source: CollectSpace)
Saturn 5 engines recovered from the ocean floor more than two years ago are ready for display. Conservators at the Cosmosphere International SciEd Center and Space Museum in Kanasas have wrapped up work restoring the F-1 engine components from at least four Apollo missions, including Apollo 11. The components were recovered by a private expedition funded by founder Jeff Bezos. The Cosmosphere is working with NASA, still the owner of the items, to determine where they will go on display. (8/4)

Space Florida Promotes Video Gaming Event to Boost Space Industry (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
A video game development event in Florida is attracting interest from NASA and SpaceX. The Indie Galactic Space Jam, planned for mid-August in Orlando, is expected to bring in more than 100 game developers who will spend the weekend working in teams to create video games. Also in attendance will be representatives of NASA, SpaceX, and other aerospace companies, looking for talented software developers to hire. Editor's Note: This is similar to NASA's Space Apps Challenge. (8/4)

Would Proper Commercial Crew Funding Have Prevented Falcon-9 Failure? (Source: SPACErePORT)
During a space industry advisory committee meeting in Florida last week, one member suggested that reduced funding for NASA's Commercial Crew program could be among the culprits for SpaceX's recent Falcon-9 launch failure. With less funding available, the argument goes, SpaceX may have had to limit its qualification testing for vehicle components. Sufficient funding would allow the company's quality control efforts to reach deeper into its supplier base, rather than rely on random lot testing after delivery. (8/5)

Mars 2020 Mulls Sample Preservation Strategies (Source: Aviation Week)
While it sizes up high-value landing site candidates for its next Mars rover, NASA is developing strategies for protecting dozens of potential rock and soil samples cached on the red planet for harvest and return to Earth at some time in the future. The Mars 2020 science objectives are to reach a landing site with ancient astrobiological potential and geological diversity, look for rocks with high potential for biosignatures, and acquire and preserve samples of rocks and return them to Earth for analysis. (8/4)

Generation Orbit Wins SBIR Phase Two Grant for Air-Launch System Development (Source: Generation Orbit)
Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ) for continued development of the GOLauncher 1, a single-stage air launched liquid rocket vehicle designed to fly suppressed trajectories for hypersonic flight research applications.

Booster systems capable of flying suppressed trajectories increase flexibility for experimental payloads requiring high Mach number, high dynamic pressure flight environments. The effort will focus on preliminary design of GOLauncher 1, as well as design, build, and test of an integrated, hardware-in-the-loop Engineering Development Unit for the rocket vehicle. Partners on the program include Calspan Corporation, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc., and Ventions, LLC. (8/4)

Lawmakers Question If SpaceX Should Lead Blast Probe (Source: Law360)
U.S. lawmakers questioned Thursday whether it was appropriate for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to personally head up the investigation into the June 28 explosion that destroyed SpaceX's unmanned Falcon 9 resupply rocket bound for the International Space Station. (8/3)

Space Collectibles Show and Sale at Air Force Space Museum (Source: NSCFL)
The Air Force Space & Missile Museum Foundation is hosting a space collectible show and sale on Saturday, Aug. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT to celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of the opening of the Air Force Space & Missile History Center outside the south gate of Cape Canaveral AFS. Tables are available for those interested in displaying or selling their collectibles. For more information call 321-777-5907. (8/3)

NASA 3D Prints Parts for Future Space Drones — May Explore Volcanoes on Mars or Asteroids (Source: 3Dprint)
When one typically envisions a drone, images of either a tiny notebook-size, multi-prop machine, or one of those giant unmanned military aircraft fill their head. Drone technology has been improving considerably over the past 4-5 years, even to a point where companies like Amazon are considering their use for home delivery. What one usually doesn’t envision when they hear the word ‘drone’ is an alien type spacecraft buzzing around volcanoes on Mars, but that’s just what a team at NASA is currently working to produce.

Particularly over the last couple of years there has been a convergence between 3D printing and drone technology. 3D printing enables the rapid production of custom, lightweight parts and sometimes even electronic components, making designing and fabricating a drone much quicker and the end product much more reliable. At the same time, NASA has been exploring both technologies looking for ways to further their reach out into space, exploring other planets and eventually sending human beings to Mars.

As the space agency looks at ways to better explore other planets and asteroids, it’s been revealed this past week that new research is being conducted at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to send robots into places where traditional rover-like vehicles would not be able to access. These robots, referred to as ‘Extreme Access Flyers,’ which are being designed and fabricated as drone-like vehicles, would be able to navigate the atmosphere (or lack thereof) on other planets using cold-gas jets rather than propellers. (8/3)

Shuttle Wreckage Makes Display Debut at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
NASA is displaying wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles for public view after hiding it from the world for decades. A new exhibit at Kennedy Space Center features two pieces of debris, one from each lost shuttle, and personal reminders of the 14 astronauts killed in flight. It is an unprecedented collection of artifacts — the first time, in fact, that any Challenger or Columbia remains have been openly displayed. (8/2)

Change of Command at 45th Space Wing (Source: Florida Today)
With a loud “good morning” in unison, airmen at the 45th Space Wing and others welcomed the new top commander at the base. Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith assumed command of the 45th Space Wing on Tuesday morning in a ceremony steeped in military tradition in which the guidon — or unit flag — is passed from the outgoing commander to the new. Monteith took command of the wing that launched rockets within days of each other last month and has plenty more to come. (8/4)

Space Coast College Grads Set Sights on Mars (Source: EFSC)
Five graduates from Eastern Florida State College’s Aerospace Technology program are helping take future astronauts to Mars as the first apprentices to help construct NASA’s new Orion spacecraft. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building Orion, with ASRC Federal Space & Defense providing engineering and project management services. The spacecraft is the centerpiece of the agency’s plan to eventually send crews into deep space to explore asteroids, the moon and Mars starting in the 2020s and beyond. (7/7)

Airbus Patented a Hypersonic Passenger Jet (Source: Business Insider)
Last month, the US Patent and Trademark Office approved an application from Airbus' Marco Prampolini and Yohann Coraboeuf for an "ultra-rapid air vehicle and related method of aerial locomotion." In other words, Airbus just patented a hypersonic jet. Airbus expects the jet to reach speeds as high as Mach 4.5 — or 4 1/2 times the speed of sound. (8/3)

Northrop Grumman Reports Earnings (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman reported 2nd quarter 2015 net earnings increased by 4% to $531 million, from $511 million in the 2nd quarter of 2014. Total backlog as of June 30, 2015, was $37.0 billion. Second quarter 2015 new awards totaled $4.6 billion, and new awards for the first six months totaled $10.7 billion. (8/4)

Eutelsat Reports Financial Results (Source: Eutelsat)
Eutelsat reported financial results for 2014-2015 full-year. Revenues grew by 9.5% from 1.348 billion EUR in 2013-2014 to 1.476 billion in 2014-2015 fiscal year. Meanwhile, the company said revenue for the coming year would slow due to launch delays, payment difficulties among some of Russian customers and continued soft demand in government use of the company's fleet. (8/4)

Telsat Reports Financial Results (Source: Via Satellite)
Telesat announced results for the 2nd quarter and first half-year of 2015. 2nd quarter's revenue amounted to $173 million, a slight increase compared to the same period in 2014. For the first half-year revenue was $347 million, a decrease of 3% ($9 million) - Press-release (PDF). It was also reported that Telesat will order previously announced replacement satellite (to replace Telstar 18) by the end of 2015. (8/4)

SpeedCast to Purchase SAIT (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite communications services provider SpeedCast International said it is purchasing SAIT Communications of Greece and Cyprus, a maritime communications provider with a 2,500-ship customer base. (8/4)

Iridium Reports Financial Results (Source: Space News)
Iridium reported results for the 2nd quarter of 2015. Net income was $26.0 million, as compared to $15.0 million for the 2nd quarter of 2014, and the total revenue amounted to $101.9 million - Press-release. It was also reported that launch of its first two Iridium Next second-generation satellites on Dnepr rocket would be delayed by 2 months, to December, because of a problem with the satellites' Ka-band feeder links. (8/4)

MDA Reports Financial Results (Source: MDA)
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) reported results for the 2nd quarter ended June 30, 2015. The Company posted revenues of $524 million and operating earnings of $57 million. MDA's backlog as at June 30, 2015 was $2.6 billion. Also it announced that Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA in 2009-2013, joined MDA's Board of Directors. (8/4)

Boeing Loses Large Satellite Deal Due to Ex-Im Bank Woes (Source: Reuters)
Boeing is scrambling to find alternate financing for a satellite contract worth "several hundred million dollars" that was scuttled by privately held commercial satellite provider ABS due to uncertainty about the future of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, three sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

ABS, based in Bermuda and Hong Kong, terminated its order for the satellite in mid-July, citing the expiration of the trade bank's charter on June 30, according to the sources, who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the issue. The termination marks the first known casualty of the ongoing congressional debate over the future of the trade bank, which lends money to U.S. exporters and their foreign customers.

ABS told Boeing, the largest U.S. exporter, that it would have to consider non-U.S.-based producers to build ABS-8, given the absence of U.S. export credit financing, the sources said. (8/4)

Senate Approves U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (Source: US Senate)
The U.S. Senate, today, unanimously approved S. 1297, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, introduced by Commerce Committee Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee chairman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), full committee ranking member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee ranking member Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), and subcommittee members Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

The legislation, which the full Commerce Committee approved by voice vote with an amendment on May 20, 2015, extends the operational use of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, a regulatory moratorium on commercial space activity through FY 2020, and ensures stability for the continued development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector and other space initiatives. (8/4)

NOAA Digs In on Polar Follow-on Plan Despite Cloudy Funding Outlook (Source: Space News)
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does not intend to rework its plan for developing and deploying the three polar-orbiting weather satellites Congress is refusing to fund at the level the White House requested for 2016, the agency’s top satellite official said here July 28.

In February, the administration of President Barack Obama asked Congress for $380 million to start work on NOAA’s final three Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) spacecraft, which the agency says are needed to maintain global coverage through 2038. But in separate appropriations bills crafted in June, the Senate provided less than half of that while the House provided nothing. (8/4)

Why You Won’t Find DigitalGlobe’s Best Imagery on Google Maps (Source: Space News)
Satellite geospatial services provider DigitalGlobe will not sell its highest-resolution imagery to map providers that distribute it free of charge, preferring to pay a revenue penalty in exchange for maintaining the value of data that, for now, only it can offer, company officials said.

In a July 30 conference call with investors, DigitalGlobe said its 30-centimeter-resolution imagery, available commercially since earlier this year following a U.S. government policy decision, has too much value to be thrown into the commodity mix along with other images used by Google Maps, Microsoft Bing and others. (8/4)

Russia Delivers First Two RD-181 rocket Engines to U.S. (Source: RBTH)
Russia has supplied the first two RD-181 rocket engines for the Antares rocket to the U.S. under the previously signed contract. “On July 15, the first two RD-181 engines were shipped from Russia and delivered to the USA on 16 July,” the Energia corporation said. Before shipment to the United States the engines underwent technological and hot fire tests. (8/4)

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