October 13, 2015

ULA Selects Atlas Launch Pads for New Vulcan Rocket (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
United Launch Alliance’s next-generation Vulcan rocket will lift off from the company’s existing Atlas 5 launch facilities in Florida and California, according to the company’s Vulcan program manager. The launch pads at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base will require modifications to accommodate the Vulcan booster, which is wider than the Atlas 5 rocket’s existing first stage, said Mark Peller, ULA’s Vulcan program manager.

ULA officials say they plan for the Atlas 5 and Vulcan launchers to fly concurrently for several years, with the maiden Vulcan launch expected in 2019 and retirement of the Atlas 5 in the early 2020s.

Launch pads in Florida and California designed for the Delta 4 rocket will remain operational until an upgraded upper stage is ready to fly around 2023, Peller said, allowing ULA to retire the triple-core Delta 4-Heavy rocket. The Delta 4’s single-core medium-lift variant will make its final flight around 2019, ULA officials said. (10/12)

Orbital ATK Ships Service Module for Next Cygnus Cargo Mission (Source: Space News)
Orbital ATK shipped the service module for a Cygnus cargo capsule to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, marking the start of final assembly on the first such vehicle bound for the International Space Station since the last one was destroyed in a launch failure nearly one year ago, the company announced Oct. 12.

The Orbital ATK-made service module now will be mated with its pressurized cargo vessel, manufactured by Europe’s Thales Alenia Space, in preparation for a scheduled Dec. 3 launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, Orbital ATK said in a press release. The service module provides propulsion, electrical power, avionics and communications for the cargo carrier.

This upgraded Cygnus will be the largest ever launched, carrying about 3.5 metric tons of cargo to ISS — nearly a ton more than the ill-fated Cygnus that was destroyed shortly after liftoff from Virginia last October. The latest Cygnus will also be the first to use Orbital ATK’s in-house Ultraflex solar arrays; the craft previously used arrays provided by Airbus. (10/12)

China Has Had a Telescope on the Moon for the Past Two Years (Source: New Scientist)
Point a telescope at the moon, and you might just see one looking back. Chinese researchers have reported that their robotic telescope, the first of its kind, has been operating flawlessly ever since it landed on the moon in 2013. The 15-centimeter telescope on the Chang’e 3 lander arrived on the moon in December 2013. Chang’e 3 carried the Yutu rover, which repeatedly struggled to survive the lunar night and ceased working in March this year – but the lander is still going strong. (10/12)

Editorial: ULA: Failure of Merger and Monopoly (Source: Space News)
ULA was created by DoD and reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission. It is time to use DoD’s inherent national security authority along with the commission’s market authority to order a division of ULA. The two programs could either rejoin their parent companies or form into separate independent companies. The individual companies offering Delta and Atlas would have radically different strategies and interests than those of the combined ULA.

The Delta company would want to try and pick up launches even if their cost structure is higher, but it could maintain capability using a cost-reimbursable contract and provide Delta 4 Medium to the U.S. Air Force as well as invest in cost-reduction approaches to increase competitiveness. The Atlas company would have an incentive to invest in re-engining by arguing to its parent that there is a market and business case, or it could be spun off by its parent.

Independent Atlas and Delta companies could conduct leveraged buyouts or equity sales to compete in the market. It seems more likely there is a business case for Atlas 5 to re-engine at $200 million (plus the cost of a new engine) than there is for ULA to build the Vulcan launcher, which could cost $2 billion or more (including a new engine). (10/12)

Raytheon-General Dynamics Venture Wins Range Contract (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force has awarded a Raytheon-General Dynamics joint venture dubbed Range Generation Next LLC of Sterling, Virginia, an $8.5 million contract modification for launch and test range support. Range Generation Next last November won a contract potentially worth $2 billion to support the service’s two main launch ranges.

The so-called Launch and Test Range System Integrated Support Contract, or LISC, consolidated three contracts that previously provided operations, logistics and maintenance support to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The new work, which includes the day-to-day operations, maintenance and sustainment of the ranges, is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2016. (10/12)

Prominent Exoplanet Researcher Found Guilty of Sexual Harassment
(Source: Gizmodo)
Once again, a prominent researcher is revealed to be complicit in creating a culture of oppressive harassment that alienates women from science. Can we hurry up with the cultural revolution to ditch this bullshit already?

Prominent exoplanet researcher Geoff Marcy was found guilty of violating his university’s sexual harassment policy for at least a decade. As a consequence, he offered up a semi-apology that he didn’t realize sticking his hands up skirts and shirts might not be welcome by all of his students. Somehow, his argument that he didn’t realize he was in a position of power and privilege rings hollow in the face of mandatory biannual sexual harassment trainings. (10/12)

UTMB Developing Guidelines for Commercial Space Travel
(Source: Space Daily)
People have dreamed of traveling to space and gazing back at earth since the dawn of time, but until recently space travel has been something reserved for a select few, mainly astronauts. Now with the advent of commercial suborbital space travel, that opportunity is closer than ever before for everyday citizens.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in collaboration with the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in Southampton, Pennsylvania, is conducting research into the safety training programs that will be used to train spaceflight passengers.

Devising these training programs is a key step in preparing for commercial suborbital space travel because it must first be determined what training and preparation private citizens will need for their trip. Researchers are currently seeking volunteer participants to experience a simulated suborbital spaceflight. The simulated flight will be produced using a high performance centrifuge. (10/12)

Hubble Telescope Spots Mysterious Space Objects (Source: Space Daily)
Scientists from the Paris Observatory have discovered mysterious undulating objects on space photos made with the Hubble space telescope and ESO's Very Large Telescope, scientific magazine Nature wrote.

A team of astronomers led by Anthony Boccaletti has been searching the gas-and-dust disc of a young star AU Microscopii for any signs of clumpy or warped features, as such signs might give away the location of possible planets. AU Mic is located in the Microscope constellation, 32 light years away from Earth. It is a small dim star, classified as a red dwarf and a flaring temporary star.

The scientists discovered five unknown wave-like formations, resembling ripples in water, within the planet-forming disc of the AU Mic. Nothing similar was ever seen before. The scientists haven't yet determined the nature of these "waves".  The researchers came to the conclusion that the unusual structures move with extreme speed - up to 40,000 km per hour. The features further away from the star appear to be moving faster than those closer to it. (10/12)

Delving Deeper Into KSC’s Transformation Into a Multi-User Spaceport (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The changing face of KSC has a primary focus of ensuring it remains the key destination for flagship launches into space. Those changes range from its multi-faceted role, through to physical alterations to its facilities. KSC also decided to offer its external partners spacecraft processing services and testing capabilities, such as manufacturing assistance, launch control systems sharing, vibro-acoustics testing, and cryogenic engineering. Click here. (10/12)

Why NASA's Charles Bolden Thinks Space Cooperation with China is Inevitable (Source: Examiner)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Israel that the current ban on space cooperation with China is “temporary.” The ban has been in place since 2011 as a result of that country’s human rights abuses, its aggression against its neighbors in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, and its campaign of cyber espionage against the United States.

Bolden’s reasoning did not involve Beijing changing its policy in any of these areas. He suggested that the United States will have no choice but to cooperate with China in space. "The reason I think that where we are today is temporary is because of a practical statement that we will find ourselves on the outside looking in, because everybody ... who has any hope of a human spaceflight program ... will go to whoever will fly their people.” (10/12)

Declassified Documents Offer a New Perspective on Yuri Gagarin's Flight (Source: Space Review)
More than half a century after Yuri Gagarin made history as the first human in space, we are still learning new things about his brief flight. Asif Siddiqi provides some new information about Gagarin's flight, and the problems he experienced, from old Soviet archives. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2844/1 to view the article. (10/12)

Under a Red Moon: LBJ, the President's Daily Brief, and the Soviet Super Rocket (Source: Space Review)
What information did President Johnson receive about the development of Soviet space capabilities? Dwayne Day examines newly released documents from his administration to see how he was kept informed on Soviet efforts in the race to the Moon. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2843/1 to view the article. (10/12)

Still Chasing the Moon (Source: Space Review)
More than eight years after it was first announced, a team competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE now has a verified launch contract for its spacecraft. Jeff Foust reports on those latest developments as well as another effort to use crowdfunding to start a lunar mission project. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2842/1 to view the article. (10/12)

An Alternate, Rocket-Free History of Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
World War II and the development of the V-2 rocket helped accelerate the start of the Space Age, one that continues to make use of rockets descended from that vehicle. John Hollaway ponders an alternative history of spaceflight where the V-2 and its successors were never developed. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2841/1 to view the article. (10/12)

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