September 9, 2015

NASA: More Money Needed for SLS Upper Stage (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A NASA official says the agency needs more money in order to have a new upper stage ready in time for the Space Launch System's first crewed flight. NASA's goal is to use the new Exploration Upper Stage on the EM-2 launch in 2021 to avoid the expense of human-rating an interim upper stage flying on the first, uncrewed SLS launch in 2018. Bill Hill, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said the budget request for SLS was not enough to get the stage done in time for EM-2, although House and Senate appropriations bills each add several hundred million dollars to the request. (9/8)

China Races to Far Side of Moon (Source: Xinhua)
China wants to be the first nation to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. A scientist involved in the country's lunar exploration program said Chang'e-4, a backup to the Chang'e-3 spacecraft that landed in late 2013, will land somewhere on the lunar far side by 2020. That mission will likely come after Chang'e-5, a lunar sample return mission slated for launch in 2017. (9/8)

Virgin Galactic "Getting Closer" to Test Flights (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Virgin Galactic is "getting closer" to resuming test flights of SpaceShipTwo. Company CEO George Whitesides said Tuesday that the second SpaceShipTwo vehicle should be ready for tests "within months," but declined to give specific schedules "to not put pressure on our engineers." He added the company, which recently hired a sixth test pilot, will soon hire a seventh in preparation for SpaceShipTwo flight tests. (9/8)

NASA Releases Free Logo Style Guide (Source: NASA/Kickstarter)
You don't need to shell out $79 to relive the '70s at NASA. The agency posted on its website Tuesday a PDF version of a 1976 style guide the agency created to guide the use of the then-new "worm" logo. The move comes after a Kickstarter campaign to reprint the manual gained more than $670,000 in pledges, at $79 per book, but also some criticism that the designers had not obtained permission from NASA. (9/8)

Texas Spaceport Expects XCOR Flights Next Year (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
A Texas airport expects to start hosting launches of a suborbital spaceplane next year. Officials with the Midland Spaceport Development Corp. in Midland, Texas, said they believe XCOR Aerospace will start flying Lynx vehicles from Midland International Air and Space Port in the second quarter of 2016. XCOR is in the process of moving to Midland from Mojave, California, where a team is staying behind to complete work on the Lynx Mark 1 prototype vehicle. Midland is looking to bring at least two more companies to the Spaceport Development Park adjacent to the airport. (9/8)

Back From the Brink: Akatsuki Returns to Venus (Source: Space Review)
In December, the Japanese space agency JAXA will attempt to place its Akatsuki spacecraft into orbit around Venus, after a previous orbital insertion maneuver five years ago failed. Ralph Lorenz explains what went wrong the first time around for the spacecraft and why JAXA hopes this time will be different. Visit to view the article. (9/8)

Why There's No "Space Candidate" (Source: Space Review)
As the 2016 Presidential campaign ramps up, space advocates are trying to determine which candidate offers the best, or at least any, views regarding space policy. Jeff Foust argues that, right now, there's little to go on, and that it may not matter in the long run anyway. Visit to view the article. (9/8)

Phase Zero and the Unique Parallels of Space and Cyber (Source: Space Review)
Military forces, and society in general, is increasingly reliant on space and cyberspace capabilities, and thus increasingly vulnerable to attacks on those systems. Jamie Johnson discusses the parallels between space and cyber and how both play a key role in winning any future conflicts before they start. Visit to view the article. (9/8)

SpaceWorks Acquires Terminal Velocity Aerospace (Source: SpaceWorks)
SpaceWorks Enterprises has completed acquisition of Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC. Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) is an Atlanta-based aerospace design and hardware manufacturing organization focused on orbital reentry devices, heat shields, and thermal protection systems. TVA will become a wholly owned subsidiary of SpaceWorks and a member of the SpaceWorks family of companies.

TVA will retain its product-oriented focus on low cost reentry and payload recovery devices, while benefiting from the established engineering capabilities of SpaceWorks. Dr. John Olds will serve as TVA's new Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Jordan Shulman will serve as TVA's new Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Dominic DePasquale will continue to serve as Principal Investigator and Program Manager for the company's technical activities with NASA and commercial customers.

TVA was originally founded in 2012 as a joint partnership between SpaceWorks and Dr. Bobby Braun and has been actively researching and testing small reentry system technologies. Under SpaceWorks, TVA will emphasize commercialization of its products for a broader range of applications and markets. (9/1)

Aerojet makes $2 Billion Offer for United Launch Alliance (Source: Reuters)
Aerojet Rocketdyne has submitted a $2 billion offer to buy United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, according to sources familiar with the matter. Aerojet Rocketdyne board member Warren Lichtenstein, the chairman and chief executive of Steel Partners LLC, approached ULA President Tory Bruno and senior Lockheed and Boeing executives about the bid in early August, the sources said.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Lockheed declined comment. No immediate comment was available from Boeing. The U.S. Air Force, eager to reintroduce competition to the market, has worked hard in recent years to certify a new competitor, SpaceX, to launch certain military and spy satellites. The Air Force also plans to end certain launch support of about $1 billion a year that it had provided to ULA for years, now that another competitor is available.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, which makes rocket engines, had hoped to adapt its new AR-1 engine for use on ULA's Atlas 5 rocket, replacing the Russian-built RD-180 engine it now uses. But ULA's current plan is to use a new engine being developed by Blue Origin, owned by founder Jeff Bezos. One of the sources said the ULA's owners might welcome the unsolicited bid, given increased competition from SpaceX. (9/8)

Will Boeing and Lockheed Martin Consider Aerojet's Offer? (Source: Reuters)
One of the sources said the ULA's owners might welcome the unsolicited bid, given increased competition from SpaceX that is likely to cut into ULA's revenues and earnings in coming years. Lockheed and Boeing, wary of declining revenue prospects, have funded ULA's work on a new rocket only on a quarterly basis, given concerns about ULA's ability to use existing RD-180 engines for military and spy satellite launches. (9/8)

World View Offers Cost-Sharing Balloon Flights to Stratosphere (Source:
The cost of sending a scientific experiment to the stratosphere aboard a balloon just went down. Arizona-based World View Enterprises is introducing a cost-sharing system that will let researchers and educators loft payloads to near space, about 130,000 feet (39,600 meters) above Earth, via a balloon for as little as $20,000. (Typical "full flight" contracts, by contrast, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, company representatives said.) (9/8)

Decision Looms on When to Introduce New SLS upper Stage (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
NASA officials are waiting to see if Congress adds funding to the agency’s budget next year to kick-start development of a new four-engine upper stage for the Space Launch System, an upgrade that would allow the mega-rocket to loft heavier cargoes into deep space.

The new rocket component, called the Exploration Upper Stage, could be developed in time for the Space Launch System’s second flight in 2021, which will be the first time the launcher will carry a crew inside an Orion capsule. The 2021 flight is named Exploration Mission-2 and would take astronauts around the moon on the farthest flight by humans in history.

Hill said the White House’s proposed budget for the behemoth booster next year is not sufficient to start full-scale work on the larger rocket stage, raising concerns the 2021 launch may require human-rating the Delta 4-based interim single-engine upper stage, an effort NASA officials previously said will cost about $150 million. The Obama administration requested $1.356 billion for the Space Launch System in fiscal year 2016, which begins Oct. 1. (9/8)

Consumers Win in a Competitive Space-based Broadband Race (Source: Space News)
Right now, several companies are working to launch massive satellite constellations into space to provide super-fast Internet virtually anywhere on Earth. Two of the leading firms advancing this plan, OneWeb of Great Britain and U.S.-based SpaceX, share the same goal — to bring broadband Internet to the billions of people who currently lack access. But it remains a question whether the path to the new era of space-based connectivity will be spurred by healthy commercial competition or regulatory turf wars over satellite spectrum.

Over the past six months, Greg Wyler’s OneWeb has acquired the support of satellite makers like Airbus, would-be launch providers like Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, as well as several major corporations and telecommunication providers. The startup, based in Britain’s Channel Islands, plans to launch some 600-700 satellites by 2019. (9/8)

Why NASA Wants Microsoft’s HoloLens in Space (Source: MIT Technology Review)
The explosion in June of the SpaceX rocket that was headed to the International Space Station felt like “a punch in the gut” to Jeff Norris, the project manager for two HoloLens projects that NASA is working on at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Among the items on board were two HoloLens headsets—Microsoft’s forthcoming augmented reality gadgets.

But within a couple of weeks, Norris says, his team at NASA and his counterparts at Microsoft had new HoloLens hardware that they were certifying for launch into space. That’s now scheduled to happen December 3 as part of a commercial cargo launch by the aerospace company Orbital Sciences to resupply the space station.

Here on earth, augmented-reality devices may eventually be used for a range of things like playing games that mix digital 3-D creatures with reality or talking with remote friends as if they’re in your living room. But NASA sees a number of practical—and possibly time-saving—uses for the technology in space. Click here. (9/8)

China Aims to Land Chang'e-4 Probe on Far Side of Moon (Source: Xinhua)
China is planning to be the first country to land a lunar probe on the far side of the moon, a Chinese lunar probe scientist said Tuesday. The mission will be carried out by Chang'e-4, a backup probe for Chang'e-3, and is slated to be launched before 2020, said Zou Yongliao from the moon exploration department under the Chinese Academy of Sciences at a deep-space exploration forum Tuesday.

Zou said government organs have ordered experts to assess the plan over the past 12 plus months. "China will be the first to complete the task if it is successful." The State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense announced earlier this year that Chang'e-4 will be launched before 2020. (9/8)

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