August 7, 2015

EchoStar Picks Atlas Over Ariane for Orbital Accuracy (Source: Space News)
EchoStar switched launch vehicles for its broadband satellite because of scheduling issues. The company said Thursday that Arianespace had no openings in its Ariane 5 launch schedule for the second half of 2016 for the EchoStar 19 satellite, which will be ready for launch no earlier than July. EchoStar, seeking to get the satellite launched as soon as possible to provide additional capacity, elected to purchase an Atlas 5 launch for late 2016. The company said the Atlas launch will cost more than the Ariane, but the schedule and a longer in-orbit life, given a more favorable orbit insertion by the dedicated Atlas launch, made it worthwhile. (8/7)

ViaSat Sticks with SpaceX Despite Launch Delay (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune)
ViaSat says it is sticking with SpaceX – for now – to launch its latest broadband satellite. The ViaSat-2 satellite is scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of 2016 on a Falcon Heavy rocket, but that vehicle's schedule is uncertain as SpaceX focuses on returning the Falcon 9 to flight, pushing back the first Falcon Heavy launch into 2016. ViaSat still expects to launch on the Falcon Heavy, but is keeping its options open. (8/7)

Stratolaunch to Choose Second-Stage Vehicle(s) Soon (Source: Space News)
Stratolaunch expects to make a decision this fall on the launch vehicle, or vehicles, it will use for the air launch of small satellites. Vulcan Aerospace president Chuck Beames said the company was examining dozens of options for rockets that would be deployed from a giant aircraft the company is building in California. The company is focusing on the growing smallsat market after earlier versions of its rocket, by SpaceX and later Orbital, were designed for heavier payloads. Test flights of the plane, the largest in the world by wingspan, will begin in the middle of next year and take up to two years. (8/7)

China Progresses with Next-Generation Rocket Development (Source: Aviation Week)
China has passed a milestone in the development of its next-generation Long March 5 rocket. The propulsion system of the rocket has passed a series of hot-fire tests of its new engines, which use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants. The tests appear to put the vehicle on track for a first launch in 2016. Long March 5 will be China's largest rocket to date, capable of placing up to 14 metric tons into geostationary transfer orbit. (8/7)

How to Build a City on the Moon (Source: The Atlantic)
Humans haven’t set foot on the moon since 1972. That hasn’t stopped Johann-Dietrich Woerner, the new director general of the Paris-based European Space Agency, from pushing mankind toward more of a giant lunar leap than another small step. Woerner kicked off his tenure by telling BBC he not only wants to go back to the moon but hopes to build a village there—on the far side, no less.

The very idea of a moon city ignites a constellation of questions about what it would look like and how we would build it. So CityLab called Woerner to find out. With the International Space Station potentially coming offline around 2024, he says, it’s time to envision the next era of human presence beyond Earth. The moon-city project would be a prime driver of technological advancement as well as basic scientific research.

“Why not have a moon village?” says Woerner. “A moon village not meaning a few houses, the town hall, and a church—the moon village would consist of a settlement using the capabilities of different space-faring nations in the fields of robotic as well as human activities.” Click here. (8/4)

Launch Pad 39C Ready For Small Class Rockets At Kennedy Space Center (Source: Space Coast Daily)
NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, or GSDO, developed Launch Pad 39C to serve as a multi-purpose site and proving ground for commercial companies to test and launch their small class vehicles. As part of this capability, NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program also developed a Universal Propellant Servicing System (UPSS), which can provide liquid oxygen and liquid methane fueling capabilities for a variety of small class rockets.

Additionally, KSC offers various other resources such as, but not limited to, vehicle and payload processing facilities, command and control capabilities, and payload testing and processing. Click here. (8/6)

Cygnus Set for December Atlas V Ride to Space Station (Source:
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is set to return to International Space Station (ISS) resupply duties in December, hitching a ride on an Atlas V, prior to resuming operations with the modified Antares rocket in 2016. Cygnus has been out of action since the CRS-3/OrB-3 failure that occurred in October 2014 – with the full investigation results yet to be released to the public.

Key processing milestones are expected to pick up the pace this month, with the OrB-4 Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) – built by Thales Alenia Space in Italy – set to arrive in the United States as soon as this weekend. It is then scheduled to be trucked to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) early next week. (8/7)

SpaceX Completes Road to Launch Pad 39A (Source: NASA)
Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, continues to take shape as SpaceX has completed the road from its processing hangar to the top of the launch stand. A transporter-erector will move the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to position them above the flame trench for liftoff on flights carrying astronauts to the International Space Station and other launches. (8/7)

Globalstar Satellite Company Denies Hacking Claims (CNN)
This week, a security researcher claimed Globalstar's satellite network doesn't properly guard its communication. The potential danger? GPS signals could be spoofed to make shipping and rescue operations run off course. Colby Moore, a researcher with cybersecurity firm Synack, presented his findings at this week's Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas. But on Wednesday, Globalstar (GSAT) issued a statement blasting the research. The company said it actually does use encryption to prevent the hack that Moore described.

Globalstar called Synack's research merely a ploy for money, "like an auto mechanic who discloses a minute problem in a car that he proposes to repair for a substantial price." Moore's research set off alarm bells, particularly when it comes to airline safety. Lots of planes transmit their location using Globalstar's system. Lockheed Martin Flight Service, which collects pilots' flight plans, signed a deal with the satellite company in June. (8/7)

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Realigns (Source: SpaceRef)
Northrop Grumman Corp. announced an organizational realignment to improve performance and drive profitable growth across the company's Aerospace Systems portfolio. Chris Hernandez has been appointed vice president of the newly formed research, technology and advanced design organization. He will integrate resources to drive basic and advanced research; technology development; and advanced design, including the rapid prototyping expertise of the company's business unit, Scaled Composites, to continue delivering unparalleled solutions to customers. (8/6)

US, Russia, China to Explore Benefits of Outer Space for ASEAN (Source: Sputnik)
The United States will co-chair a workshop together with Russia, China and Laos to review the outer space benefits and security for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, US State Department said in a statement on Thursday. The workshop will also address “current issues facing the space environment, and assess approaches to space security to ensure the benefits for future generations,” according to the State Department. (8/6)

You Can Talk to the ISS With Nothing But a Ham Radio (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Adrian Lane​ of Gloucestershire​, England, got in touch with the International Space Station the other day. Thanks to impeccable timing and a prime location under the ISS's path above the Earth, Lane was able to have a brief conversation with space station's crew via ham radio. It must be surreal to have a casual chat with humans who are floating up there in the void, but technologically, it's really not even that hard. 

The use of amateur-grade ham radio as a means to talk to Earth from spaces goes back decades to when astronaut Owen Garriott​ brought a handheld ham radio with him as part of the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment ​(SAREX) and used it to chat with students and other amateur radio while careening around the Earth at 17,000 mph. (8/7)

Lawmakers Question NASA's Handling of Failed SpaceX Launch (Source: Reuters)
Members of Congress are questioning NASA's decision not to conduct an independent investigation into the failed launch of a SpaceX rocket on June 28, especially given NASA's investigation of an Orbital ATK failure last year. "The discrepancy between the approaches taken by NASA in response to these two similar events raises questions about not only the equity and fairness of NASA's process for initiating independent accident investigations, but also the fidelity of the investigations themselves," said House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith. (8/6)

Diminutive Lunar IceCube Satellite to Scan Moon for Water and Other Resources (Source: Gizmag)
Recently, NASA has been looking at CubeSats as a way of carrying out economical deep space missions. One of the first of these may be shoebox-sized satellite called the Lunar IceCube, which is designed to look for water ice and other resources on the Moon. Tentatively aimed to launch on the first Orion mission scheduled to fly by 2018, it is intended to not only uncover materials for future deep-space missions and lunar colonization, but also as a technology demonstrator for a new class of interplanetary probes.

Probes like Lunar Prospector, Clementine, Chandrayaan-1, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have been very successful at finding traces of ice, but, according to NASA, they lacked instruments operating in the infrared wavelength bands, which are most suitable for detecting water molecules.

Developed by a team led by Morehead State University in Kentucky and including members from Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Busek Company in Massachusetts, IceCube is one of the projects in NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program. NASA describes IceCube as a six-unit CubeSat. That is, it's a rectangular satellite made up of six standard CubeSat units, each measuring 10 cm (4 in) on a side. It was built by MSU, which will also use its 21-m (69-ft) ground station antenna for tracking and communications during the mission. (8/6)

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)

L.A.-based Rocket Lab to Build a Satellite Launch Site in New Zealand (Source: LA Times)
A small Los Angeles aerospace firm has ambitious plans to become the first commercial company to build and operate its own satellite launch site — in New Zealand. Currently, most rocket launch sites in the United States are government owned and regulated. That puts restrictions on when satellites can be launched into orbit and drives up cost, experts say.

To bring down costs and improve the frequency of launches, Rocket Lab intends to finish construction by the end of the year at a private launch pad near Christchurch in southern New Zealand. Rocket Lab estimates each launch will cost nearly $5 million — a fraction of the average price that aerospace firms pay today to blast a satellite to orbit.

Founded in 2007, Rocket Lab began as a start-up investment led by Chief Executive Peter Beck and other entrepreneurs. The company now has 60 employees between its New Zealand and Los Angeles locations and hopes to expand. A satellite industry analyst sees potential. "It could have a huge impact on the market because right now we see a lot of growth in demand for small satellites," said Carolyn Belle at Northern Sky Research. "The Rocket Lab system provides a lot more flexibility to operators in terms of where they can put their satellites and also flexibility in terms of when they can actually launch them." (8/6)

India to Launch 9 US Satellites in 2015, 2016 (Source: Space Daily)
India will launch nine U.S. satellites in 2015 and 2016. "Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will launch nine nano and micro satellites for the U.S. this year and next year from the southern spaceport of Sriharikota," an official said. The commercial arm of ISRO, Antrix Corporation Ltd, has already inked pacts with the U.S. for the launch of the satellites into space, the official said. India has so far successfully launched 45 foreign satellites, belonging to nearly 20 countries, into space. (8/7)

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. "We are blessed to have the opportunity," he said. "I can't think of a job that is more exciting." Monteith, who served as the senior military assistant to the secretary of the Air Force before coming to the Space Coast, told airmen he was ready to get to work with them in what he said was a great assignment. "We have rockets to launch," he told airmen at the conclusion of this speech. (8/6)

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