September 2, 2015

ULA Launches Navy Satellite from Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
 An Atlas 5 launched early this morning carrying a Navy mobile communications spacecraft. The Atlas 5 551 lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 6:18 a.m. Eastern time, delayed by nearly 20 minutes due to a ground issue. Release of the MUOS-4 satellite is scheduled for nearly three hours after liftoff, after completion of a final burn by the Centaur upper stage. (9/2)

Russia Launches Crew to Space Station from Kazakhstan Spaceport (Source: CBS)
A Soyuz spacecraft with three people on board is on its way to the ISS. A Soyuz rocket took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 12:37 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday and placed the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft into orbit less than ten minutes later. Docking of the Soyuz with the station is scheduled for early Friday morning. The spacecraft is carrying Russian, Danish, and Kazakh crewmembers for the ISS. (9/2)

Orbital ATK's Re-Engined Antares Flight Will Await Missions (Source: Space News)
The re-engined version of Orbital ATK's Antares rocket may have to wait for its first launch. Company officials said that the rocket is on schedule to be ready for its return to flight in March. However, that launch may be postponed because of other missions to the ISS, including an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle scheduled to launch on an Atlas 5 in March. Orbital is replacing the AJ-26 engines, implicated in the October 2014 Antares launch failure, with Russian-built RD-181 engines that also offer higher performance. (9/2)

NOAA Seeks Flexibility for Sharing Weather Data, Commercial Providers Concerned (Source: Space News)
A draft commercial weather policy may provide some flexibility in sharing data purchased commercially. The draft NOAA Commercial Space Policy, released Tuesday for public comment, emphasizes the importance of freely sharing data collected by weather satellites with other nations in order to improve weather forecasts.

However, the policy states that NOAA will evaluate the use of data from space-based commercial weather systems "on a case-by-case basis." Companies planning satellite systems to provide commercial weather data have expressed concern that if NOAA shared data it purchased from those companies, it would be more difficult for companies to sell that data to other customers. (9/2)

Russia’s Space Plans More Fantasy Than Fact (Source: Commercial Space Blog)
When is a space announcement not worth a plugged kopek? When it’s about Russia’s space plans. The 2014 blog post “Roscosmos is Assessing its Future Programs,” outlined some of Russia’s ambitious space plans: a low-orbit space station, a high-orbit space station, a super heavy-lift Moon rocket, nuclear space tugs and a Moon base.

Ah yes, the Moon base, Russia’s pet fixation. Back in 2012 Russia wanted to team up with the United States and Europe to build a research colony on the Moon. Earlier this year the Russians wanted to buddy up with the Chinese on the Moon base idea. It seems that the only country Russia hasn’t yet considered as a Moon base partner is the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

Russia released its newest space plan for 2016-2025 last April 23rd. As reported in the May 2nd, 2015 SpaceFlight Insider post “Russia’s new space program: Search for extraterrestrial life amid budget cuts,” the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, wants to search for extraterrestrial life and send satellites to the Moon and Mars. Those Moon landing plans are still in there, too. Roscosmos has one small problem—their budget has been cut by 35%, which will affect some of those projects including that Moon rocket. (8/30)

How to Get Rid of a Satellite After its Retirement (Source: Space Daily)
Researchers at University of La Rioja (Spain) have developed a new method to eliminate artificial satellites in Highly Elliptical Orbits when they finish their mission. The methodology, which allows for a reduction of both cost and risk, has been tested with the European Space Agency INTEGRAL mission, which will re-enter into the Earth's atmosphere in order to disintegrate in 2029.

The problem of space debris is one of the main challenges that aerospace engineers have to face, due to the danger it poses to satellites. In this context, members of the Scientific Computing Group (GRUCACI) at University of La Rioja have developed a method to eliminate satellites in Highly Elliptical Orbits (HEO) when they finish their mission. (9/2)

ARCA Plans UAS, Launch Vehicle Operations at Spaceport America (Source: Spaceport America)
Spaceport America – the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport announced today ARCA Space Corporation has selected Spaceport America as the site for its space launch vehicle and high altitude autonomous aircraft testing. ARCA Space Corporation was founded in the United States in July 2014 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

ARCA will engineer, manufacture, test and bring to market innovative and affordable aerospace products such as the AirStrato UAS and Haas rocket series from its new global headquarters. ARCA was originally established in 1999 as a non-profit organization in Romania. In 2004, as part of the Ansari X Prize Competition, ARCA successfully launched its first rocket – Demonstrator 2B – followed by a number of additional space launch milestones.

“Only in New Mexico did we find the perfect combination of aerospace assets, airspace and affordability,” emphasized ARCA's Dumitru Popescu. “Proximity to Spaceport America and the expansive access to airspace were crucial factors in our decision to locate our global headquarters to Las Cruces." Beginning later this year, ARCA expects to be operating autonomous aircraft testing activities at Spaceport America with space launch activity beginning in 2016. (9/1)

Aerojet's New Engine Could Take Us to Deep Space (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal)
A pioneering Seattle-area outer space company has developed a new kind of deep space rocket engine that is 50 percent more fuel efficient than current designs. And as a bonus, the fuel the new Aerojet Rocketdyne engine uses isn’t toxic. Aerojet Rocketdyne has for decades in Redmond built small rocket engines to guide satellites and deep space probes, but most of those have been fueled by hydrazine. This fuel is so toxic that people handling it must wear full environmental suits.

Now, in building new engines that can accommodate "green" rocket fuel, the 400-person Redmond unit of $1.6 billion Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings is in a strong position to build many of the new engines in the future. At least at first, the engines are likely to be used by companies, such as Tukwila-based SpaceFlight Industries and Redmond-based Planetary Resources, on the guidance systems for smaller satellites that get sent to space. (9/1)

Is a Trip to Mars Ethical? (Source: Cosmos)
Some years ago, I was among a group of bioethicists asked to ponder the morality of sending humans to space for several months or years. At the time, NASA was considering the idea of sending astronauts to Mars -- with no real way of organizing a flight home. Click here. (9/1)

Right Now Buzz Aldrin May Be Our Best Hope of Colonizing Mars (Source: Tech Insider)
Buzz Aldrin just announced plans for the most realistic private pathway to Mars we've ever heard: opening a research program at a university. It's called the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute, and it will open at the Florida Institute of Technology this fall. Its student body is charged with figuring out how to build a successful colony on the red planet. Click here. (9/1)

Penn Alum Wants to be the First Openly Gay Man in Space (Source: Daily Pennsylvanian)
For Sayid Abdullaev, it’s not what he can do for space, it’s what space can do to amplify his message. Recently shortlisted for Kruger Crowne’s Rising Star Program, Abdullaev is 1 of 30 applicants shortlisted to travel into space. But the trip into space is just the beginning, and the winner will also be offered mentorship and a good amount of fame. If he wins the competition, he will be the first gay man to travel into space.

As a himself, Abdullaev has a unique perspective on the world and the causes he supports because of his upbringing and experiences. Born in Krygzstan, he is currently a U.S. resident having sought political asylum, and is on track to becoming a U.S. citizen in two years. As a LGBTQ refugee and someone who comes from an economically disadvantaged background, he could have easily been discouraged to pursue his dreams, but his optimism is unstoppable. (9/1)

Blue Origin’s Rocket-Landing Patent Canceled in Victory for SpaceX (Source: Geek Wire)
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture has capitulated to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in a dispute over a Blue Origin patent covering the landing of rockets at sea. In an order made public today, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board granted a motion to cancel the remaining 13 of 15 claims in the Blue Origin rocket-landing patent. Blue Origin itself had made the motion to cancel those claims, effectively acknowledging that its case was lost.

Blue Origin, based in Kent, Wash., has separately filed a “reissue” patent application covering the same general area. However, SpaceX has already attempted multiple rocket landings at sea and would likely be grandfathered in, allowing it to continue the practice, even if Blue Origin were to ultimately succeed in securing a valid patent. SpaceX had already won a key early round in March in its attempt to invalidate the Blue Origin patent. (9/1)

India-US Space Cooperation Set to Reach New Heights (Source: Hindustan Times)
Indian rockets will soon propel India-US space cooperation to new heights. Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, recently signed a deal with Google’s Sky Box Imaging to launch nine micro satellites (each weighing around 100 kg) using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), over a year.

A couple of these micro-satellites are expected to be launched along with India’s Astrosat from Sriharikota later this year: The first time an Indian booster launches American satellites from an Indian spaceport. Coming close on the heels of ISRO and NASA setting up a joint working group for Mars exploration, this adds a new dimension to their partnership. (9/1)

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