March 17, 2016

Georgia Locals Think Spaceport Analysis is Flawed (Source: SPACErePORT)
Homeowners downrange of the proposed spaceport in Camden County, Georgia, are watching with concern as a launch hazard analysis nears completion with what they fear may be incomplete information. Former XCOR executive Andrew Nelson told a Georgia State Senate Committee that Aerospace Corporation is developing the analysis. The county has hired Nelson to lead the spaceport development process.
At that same hearing, Nelson and Rep. Jason Spencer used census data to indicate that there are only one or two occupied residences in the downrange area, allowing an easy mitigation of potential launch failure hazards. However, county tax maps show 30 homes within the proposed six-mile-wide launch hazard zone. Here is a map showing the launch site's downrange hazard area laid over the county tax map. (3/17)

NASA Selects SBIR Small Business Projects, Four From Florida (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA has selected 137 research and technology proposals from 117 American small businesses and research institutions that will enable NASA's future missions into deep space, while also benefiting the U.S. economy right here on Earth.

The agency received 323 proposals in response to its 2015 solicitation for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. From those, NASA selected 134 SBIR Phase II General proposals, with a total value of approximately $100.5 million, and three Phase II Select proposals, valued at approximately $3.8 million, for contract negotiations under Phase II of the SBIR program.

The four Florida projects are by Accelogic of Weston FL; Interdisciplinary Consulting Corp. of Gainseville FL; Mainstream Engineering Corp. of Rockledge FL; and Semplastics EHC of Oviedo FL. Click here for details on their projects. (3/16)

ULA Intends to Lower its Costs, Raise its Cool, to Compete with SpaceX (Source: Space News)
A senior ULA official gave a candid assessment of his company’s attempt to reinvent itself at a time when competitor SpaceX has almost single-handedly caused a rebirth of the cool in U.S. rocketry that has all but bypassed ULA.

In a presentation by turns admiring and resentful of SpaceX – not the first time a ULA official has expressed these sentiments — ULA Engineering Vice President Brett Tobey said his company accepts the fact that SpaceX has forced the U.S. government, and thus ULA, to change the way rockets are made and sold.

It still views SpaceX’s Falcon 9 reusability design – returning the full first stage – as “dumb” given the huge amount of fuel needed to bring the stage back. ULA’s plan for its future Vulcan rocket is to separate the Vulcan’s main-stage engines, cover them in a package that deploys a parachute and then scoop them up in midair with a helicopter. (3/15)

ULA President Differs on Aerojet Remarks (Source: Space News)
United Launch Alliance sought to distance itself Wednesday from remarks its vice president of engineering made Tuesday implying the Denver-based rocket builder has all but decided to use Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine instead of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 to power its next-generation launcher. “These ill-advised statements do not reflect ULA’s views or our relationship with our valuable suppliers,” ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno said. “We welcome competition.”

ULA Engineering Vice President Brett Tobey, highlighted the financial advantage Blue Origin has over Aerojet Rocketdyne. “Compare it to having two fiancĂ©es, two possible brides,” Tobey said. “Blue Origin is a super-rich girl, and then there is this poor girl over here, Aerojet Rocketdyne... We’re doing all the work on both, and the chance of Aerojet Rocketdyne beating the billionaire is pretty low. Basically we’re putting a whole lot more energy into BE-4 for Blue Origin.”

ULA expects to wait until Blue Origin does a full-scale BE-4 static fire test later this year before making a decision on which engine to use for Vulcan. “Aerojet is also doing great by the way,” Bruno told the magazine. “They’re a little but further behind but they’re also doing very, very well in their testing. Once we down select, obviously we want to stop investing in the engine we’re not going to use.” (3/16)

OA-6 Mission Set to Conduct Array of Science and Technology Demonstrations (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
When the S.S. Rick Husband Cygnus spacecraft launches next week it will not only deliver an estimated 7,756 lbs (3,518 kg) of cargo, crew supplies and experiments to the International Space Station. The OA-6 mission will also see the Cygnus spacecraft used to conduct a scientific experiment of its own.

Perhaps one of the more unique experiments that will be carried out on (or after as the case may be) as part of OA-6 is Saffire. The Spacecraft Fire Experiment-I or “Saffire“, as it is more commonly known – will see a large-scale fire set inside the empty Cygnus cargo freighter after it has completed its stay at the ISS. Instruments, including two cameras, will monitor the progression of the fire as it consumes a piece of material.

As Cygnus is automated there is no risk to crew. This experiment is being fielded to provide a better understanding of large fires in the microgravity environment. It will monitor the flame’s growth, oxygen use and other aspects of how fires behave in zero gravity. Cygnus is designed to burn up as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere, some eight days after its 55-day stay at the orbiting lab is complete. (3/16)

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