January 27, 2016

Hawaii Governor Remains Committed to Telescope (Source: Big Island Now)
Governor David Ige reconfirmed his stance on the currently stalled Thirty Meter Telescope project during his State of the State address on Monday morning. The Hawaii governor compared the project to the failure of the SuperFerry, noting the state’s failure to justly follow the rules.

Governor Ige noted that when he visited Mauna Kea in April 2015, he felt that something wasn’t right, and that it was clear that despite his belief that the telescope needs to be built, that things had gone wrong along the way. (1/25)

McCain Assails Pentagon for Relying on Russian Rockets (Source: Washington Post)
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee assailed Pentagon officials for relying on Russian rocket engines to launch U.S. military satellites, arguing it enriches friends of Vladimir Putin and puts U.S. national security in jeopardy. McCain said the Pentagon has actively sought to undermine the committee’s direction to limit that risk and end the use of the Russian RD-180 engines by the end of this decade.

McCain also blamed ULA and two senators who support the company, Richard Shelby, R-AL, and Dick Durbin, D-IL, for thwarting the committee’s instructions. McCain and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, are introducing new legislation to repeal a provision in law that they say allows the unlimited acquisition and use of RD-180 engines.

Air Force Secretary Deborah James told the committee the department is working to end the use of the Russian engines as soon as possible. She said disengaging from use of the Russian engines is far more complicated than it appears. She recommended a stockpile of 18 of the RD-180s until an American-made rocket can be tested and fielded. (1/27)

SSPI to Develop Industry-Led Space Policy to Support Manx Government (Source: Isle of Man.com)
At the request of Government, the Isle of Man chapter of the Society of Satellite Professionals International is formulating an industry-led space policy for the Island to support the work of the Manx Government. This follows the ‘state of the industry’ survey conducted by the SSPI in 2015.

Open to SSPI members and non-members alike, the aim of the survey was to obtain a baseline of the present state of the Island’s space and satellite industry, and to gauge the willingness of the industry to contribute towards creating a space policy for the Government. (1/26)

Kelly's Complaint About President Captures What is Wrong with NASA (Source: Tech Insider)
"I would like the next president to support a budget that allows us to accomplish the mission that we are asked to perform, whatever that mission may be," Scott Kelly wrote. To Kelly's point, even though the Obama administration directed NASA to start working on a manned mission to Mars, many have criticized the administration and Congress for not adequately funding NASA, causing critical Mars projects to fall behind schedule.

And in 2010, lack of funding and new government priorities forced NASA to shut down its Constellation program which was working on a rocket designed to take us back to the moon and beyond. In fact, NASA has wasted over $20 billion on canceled projects between the early 90s and 2012. (1/26)

SLS Engines Prepare for Stennis Tests – AR Affordability Focus for New RS-25s (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
RS-25 Engine 2059 – a veteran of five Shuttle missions – is scheduled to begin static fire testing at the end of February, initiating a test series on the engines that will be tasked with launching the Space Launch System (SLS). Meanwhile, Aerojet Rocketdyne explained some of the cost saving processes for the new expendable RS-25s that will fly with SLS in the second half of the 2020s. Click here. (1/26)

Canadian Nanosatellites Command Each Other in Space (Source: Popular Science)
Deep Space Industries, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Institute Of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) Space Flight Laboratory, recently demonstrated the first-ever control of one small satellite by another, gently handing off a human task to a machine, and clearing the way for better small satellite swarms in the future. Click here. (1/26)

Virginia County Residents Worried About Spaceport Blast Zone (Source: Eastern Shore Post)
Change seems inevitable in Accomack. It’s a place where rockets explode, poultry houses multiply, planes fly low late at night and the beautiful Atlantic coastline is looking to off-shore oil drilling. County supervisors were told Wednesday that all of these could affect the economy, public health and property values.

The rocket that malfunctioned at Wallops Island in October 2014 showed a grim picture of what could happen to nearby landowners. NASA’s blast zone is worrying those who reside inside, people whose families have lived on the farms for generations. Some are scared of property damage while others are wondering just how the designation will shape their future.

Garnett Kellam, who lives just across Assawoman Creek from the launchpad, wonders about his family’s property. “We don’t see ourselves putting up a housing development … but whatever we decide we want to do, you all are starting to put restrictions on our land.” Supervisor Grayson Chesser pointed out that Kegotank Elementary School, which his granddaughter attends, is right at the border of the rocket zone. “That doesn’t make me feel good,” he said. (12/30/15)

Lockheed Martin Reports Quarterly Results (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin's space division reported lower sales but flat profits in 2015. The company, in its fourth quarter and full year financial statement released Tuesday, said its Space Systems division recorded an operating profit of $1.17 billion on $9.1 billion in net sales in 2015. The same division had a profit of $1.19 billion on $9.2 billion in sales in 2014.

Lockheed said lower volume on government satellite programs was the primary reason for the overall decline in sales. The company also noted "performance matters" on some commercial programs cut into profits, but were largely offset by improvements in government programs. Lockheed reported total equity earnings, primarily from its stake in ULA, of $245 million in 2015, compared to $280 million in 2014. (1/27)

Atlas Launch From Florida Delayed One Day (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The launch of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket and its payload of the last Block IIF Global Positioning Satellite - has been delayed by at least 24 hours. The launch, from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, is now slated to take place no-earlier-than Feb. 4, 2016. According to ULA, the cause for this slip was, "concerns over the integrity of electrical connectors on the Atlas V booster." (1/26)

Losing Bidders Won’t Protest NASA Commercial Cargo Awards (Source: Space News)
Two major aerospace companies that failed to win multibillion-dollar contracts from NASA earlier this month to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station said they have no plans to protest the agency’s decision with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Representatives of Boeing and Lockheed Martin told SpaceNews that they have been debriefed by NASA about the agency’s selection of Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX for Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 contracts awarded Jan. 14, and are satisfied with the agency’s explanations. (1/26)

School Proximity to NASA Has Unique Impact on Education (Source: Florida Today)
Growing up in Brevard County seems like it would be pretty unique, right? There aren’t too many places in the world where rockets launch, or where astronauts shop at the local Publix. On launch day, classroom windows rattle and contrails hang over the playground sky. But what happens inside the classroom? How does space seep into education here? Click here.

Editor's Note: Over the past couple decades, schools in two Florida counties consistently achieved the state's highest K-12 scores in math and science. One is Brevard County and the other is Okaloosa County, home to Eglin Air Force Base, the nation's largest military installation. Both counties have among the state's highest concentrations of aerospace jobs and employers. I think there's a link between this and the test scores. (1/26)

Blue Origin Moves Toward Larger Rocket (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal)
Likening the process to balancing a pencil on one’s finger, Bezos said, in a rare email to staff and followers Friday, that “the vertical landing architecture scales extraordinarily well ... since New Shepard is the smallest booster we will ever build, this carefully choreographed dance atop our plume will just get easier from here."

Basically, the larger the object, the greater the inertia, so it will have more resistance it will have to sudden movements. That's good when you're trying to keep a rocket upright. “Try balancing a pencil on the tip of your finger. Now try it with a broomstick," Bezos wrote. “The broomstick is simpler because its greater moment of inertia makes it easier to balance."

New software also makes it easier for the rocket to land, by letting it land at a “position of convenience” on the launch pad, not exactly on the center, which could free it from having to make possibly disorienting and quick adjustments at the last moment. “This new strategy increases margins," he said, "improving the vehicle’s ability to reject disturbances created by low-altitude winds." (1/26)

SpaceX Ready for Ambitious Year of Construction at Texas Launch Site (Source: America Space)
Sixteen months after ground was initially broken at Boca Chica—located about 20 miles (32 km) east of Brownsville, Texas, just northwest of the mouth of the Rio Grande—SpaceX is ready for an ambitious year of construction work at the place which will form its fourth active orbital launch facility, reportedly capable of 12 commercial missions per annum by 2025. Click here.

Editor's Note: The beachfront launch complex, as depicted in the article, looks to be extremely vulnerable to damage from hurricane winds and storm surges. (1/26)

Boeing, ASRC Win Latest U.S. Air Force Rocket Technology Research Contracts (Source: Space News)
Boeing and engineering services firm Arctic Slope Regional Corp. are the latest companies to win U.S. Air Force research contracts to study rocket technology. The contracts are part of a broader effort to help end reliance on a Russian rocket engine used for launching national security satellites. The Air Force will give $6.1 million to Boeing and $3.6 million to ASRC to perform rocket technology research not specified in the contract announcement. (1/26)

Airbus: Rocket Joint Venture with Safran Awaits French Tax Ruling (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Airbus Safran Launchers joint venture company, which is leading development of the next-generation Ariane 6 rocket, has fallen behind its development schedule as it awaits a ruling by French tax officials on an expected cash payment from Safran to Airbus. French tax authorities were asked to provide their input “a little late in the process” and that it is this delay that has stalled full implementation of the joint venture. (1/26)

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