October 22, 2015

Space Florida Board Approves Blue Origin Deal (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida's board of directors has approved deals giving Blue Origin the rights to Launch Complex 36 and land for a rocket manufacturing facility. Blue Origin will lease LC-36 from Space Florida, which controls the pad through November 2019. The company at some point is expected to lease the facility directly from the Air Force. Blue Origin will pay for all improvements to the launch complex and for its ongoing maintenance.

Blue Origin plans to build a large processing facility there and a stand for test-firing BE-4 rocket engines — powered by liquefied natural gas and producing 550,000 pounds of thrust — to be sure they are ready for launch. In addition, Blue Origin will sub-lease from Space Florida 139 acres of NASA property at Exploration Park for its rocket factory. That agreement initially runs through 2030, with renewal options available until 2065.

In total, Blue Origin is expected to invest between $205 million and $220 million in local infrastructure, eventually creating 330 jobs with average wages of about $89,000. The company will receive at least $18 million in state incentives, including $8 million from the North Brevard Economic Development Zone. (10/21)

Alternative Arrangement Approved for Spaceport Runway Management (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida's board approved agreements with two companies to operate the former space shuttle runway at KSC, which NASA turned over to the state this summer. The deals with The Washington Consulting Group and CSS-Dynamac were scrambled together after terms could not be reached with the incumbent runway operator, AECOM/URS.

Space Florida plans to convert the former Shuttle Landing Facility into a commercial spaceport for horizontal launches and landings in addition to supporting deliveries of spacecraft, astronaut training flights and other operations. (10/21)

UH Identifies Third Mauna Kea Telescope for Decommissioning (Source: Hawaii News Now)
As part of Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s plan to enhance stewardship of Mauna Kea, the University of Hawaii identified the third observatory that will be decommissioned and removed from the summit.

UH announced on Wednesday that detailed planning for removal of the UKIRT Observatory, formerly known as the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, will take place sometime after the decommissioning processes of two other observatories -- the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and Hoku Kea telescope -- occur. (10/21)

Landing Site Recommended for ESA Mars Lander (Source: ESA)
Oxia Planum has been recommended as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 mission. ExoMars 2018, comprising a rover and surface platform, is the second of two missions making up the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos. Launch is planned for May 2018, with touchdown on the Red Planet in January 2019. (10/21)

SpaceX DragonFly Arrives at Texas Site for Testing (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
SpaceX’s DragonFly test vehicle has arrived at the company’s test facility in McGregor, Texas. DragonFly will be attached to a large crane, ahead of a series of test firings of its SuperDraco thrusters to set the stage towards the eventual goal of propulsive landings. The first test is set to take place in the next few weeks to kick start around two years of incremental testing.

SpaceX’s aspiration towards fully reusable rocket systems is an ongoing process currently focused on the recovery and reuse of the first stage of its Falcon 9. Although plans to reuse the second stage are currently on the back burner, several attempts to land the core stage on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean have resulted in incremental refinements and improvements – although SpaceX is yet to nail a landing. (10/21)

Boeing Beats 3Q Forecasts (Source: AP)
Boeing reported third-quarter earnings of $1.7 billion. The results topped Wall Street expectations. The airplane builder posted revenue of $25.85 billion in the period, exceeding Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $24.74 billion. (10/21)

Commercial Space Industry Cautiously Optimistic Despite Setbacks (Source: Space News)
A series of setbacks for the entrepreneurial space industry in the last year, including several high-profile accidents, has left many in the field chastened but still optimistic about a future that has taken longer to develop than originally thought. Click here. (10/21)

Huge Asteroid to Zip by Earth on Halloween (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A giant asteroid, designated 2015 TB145, will zip by the Earth on Oct. 31 at a distance of around 1.3 lunar distances (LD) - approximately 310,000 miles. The space rock, nicknamed "Spooky" is about 1,542 feet (470 meters) in diameter and was recently spotted by NASA's Pan-STARRS I survey. The space research team expects the asteroid to fly by our planet with a speed of 78,000 mph (125,529 kph). 2015 TB145 is the biggest known asteroid to sweep near Earth until 2027. (10/21)

Lockheed Martin Sees Decline in Space Revenue (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin's space division reported a decline in revenue and earnings from the same quarter a year ago. The company, in its third quarter financial results released Tuesday, reported a drop of 5 percent in net sales and 17 percent in operating profit for its Space Systems division from the same quarter in 2014.

The company said a decline in sales for space transportation programs and government satellite programs explained the difference. The company also reported a decrease of $20 million in equity earnings for the quarter, primarily from its stake in United Launch Alliance. (10/20)

NASA Plans Competition for Heliophysics Mission (Source: Space News)
NASA plans to start the competition for its next heliophysics mission in the first half of next year. The agency said in a statement posted on its procurement site that it will release a request for proposals in the spring or summer of 2016 for the Heliophysics Small Explorer program, with proposals due 90 days later. NASA will select two or three proposals for additional study in early 2017, with a final decision coming in 2018. The cost cap for the mission is $115 million, excluding launch. (10/21)

Loral Wins Azerbaijan Satellite Contract (Source: Space News)
Space Systems/Loral (SSL) won a contract to build a communications satellite for the government of Azerbaijan. The Azerspace-2 spacecraft will launch in 2017. Part of the deal includes "knowledge transfer cooperation related to radar Earth observation" to Azercosmos from SSL's parent company, Canada's MDA. Orbital ATK said last month that it lost the Azerspace-2 contract to SSL because of a lack of export credit financing. (10/21)

APT Orders Chinese-Built Satellite (Source: Space News)
APT Satellite Holdings has ordered a Chinese satellite just after the launch of another such spacecraft. The Hong Kong-based satellite operator said China Great Wall Industry Corp. will build and launch the Apstar-6C satellite in a contract valued at $180 million. The contract comes just after the successful launch of APT's Apstar-9 satellite, also built and launched by China Great Wall. (10/21)

Estonia Joins ESA (Source: ESA)
The Estonian flag is now flying at ESA sites alongside those of ESA’s other Member States, after Estonia officially became ESA’s 21st Member State on 1 September. The Agreement on Estonia’s accession to the ESA Convention was signed on 4 February 2015 by Jean-Jacques Dordain, then ESA Director General, Anne Sulling, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications responsible for Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship, Ene Ergma, Member of Parliament and Head of Estonian Space Committee, and Sven J├╝rgenson, Estonian Ambassador in France. (10/21)

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