July 16, 2016

SpaceX in 2016: Moving Toward Launches Every Two Weeks (Source: Ars Technica)
One of the most persistent criticisms of SpaceX has been the rocket company's inability to meet its launch commitments. Talk to any of Elon Musk's competitors in the rocket and spacecraft business, and they will all say the same thing—SpaceX isn't meeting the demands of its customers. Too much pizzazz, too little substance, and so on.

To some extent, this jealousy-tinged criticism is valid. In 2014, the company had about a dozen missions on its books, and it launched six times. Last year the company had as many as 17 launches planned, but an accident on June 28, 2015 forced it to stand down for nearly the entire second half of the year. SpaceX ended up making six successful launches in 2015.

However, this year the company is off to a good start with six successful missions completed so far and a seventh launch planned for Monday. A successful launch Monday would give SpaceX seven completed missions this year, setting a new record for the company with still nearly half of the year remaining. It is possible the company will make 12 or more flights of its Falcon 9 rocket in 2016, and it may come close to reaching its stated goal of a launch cadence of once every other week by the end of 2016. (7/15)

TAG Heuer Claims Active Role in S3 Microgravity Flight Program (Source: S3)
It's official. The Airbus A340-300 owned by the S3 program, a subsidiary of the Swiss Space Systems aerospace company, will bear the TAG Heuer livery when it starts marketing its S3 ZeroG flights around the world. Remember that TAG Heuer was the first Swiss watch company to go into space. That was back in 1962, when John Glenn wore a Heuer watch aboard the FriendShip 7 rocket.

Today we celebrate a new, unique experience open to all: the S3 programme will give the public a chance to experience Zero Gravity at an accessible price, from over 15 destinations worldwide. The first flights will take place in Switzerland in September, before being inaugurated in the United Arab Emirates. This unprecedented experience will then be launched in Asia and North America.

A different kind of partnership: TAG Heuer will not limit itself to a presence on the program's advertising media. The Swiss watch brand will be fully engaged alongside the S3 team, for a different kind of partnership. First stage: the design and production of exclusive TAG Heuer S3 watches, which will serve as boarding passes to access the plane. Click here. (7/5)

CSF Rebrand is “Unique, Sexy & Ownable”; Website Buggy & Irritating (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has rebranded itself with a fancy new website. [But] the site needed a bit more beta testing before it was launched. The “News” pull down menu doesn’t take you to the news, it rather defaults to the main landing page (which has the image above). That’s in Firefox; in Chrome, it defaults to the main landing page and adds a # sign that prevents you from scrolling down. The same thing happens when you scroll down to the News section and try to read any of the articles. Click here. (7/15)

SpaceX Pressure Tests Crew Dragon Spacecraft (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Pressure vessels built by SpaceX to test its Crew Dragon designs are going through structural testing so engineers can analyze the spacecraft’s ability to withstand the harsh conditions of launch and spaceflight. A pressure vessel is the area of the spacecraft where astronauts will sit during their ride into orbit. It makes up the majority of the Crew Dragon’s structure but does not include the outer shell, heat shield, thrusters or other systems.

Even without those systems in place, however, the company and NASA can learn enormous amounts about the design’s strength by placing the pressure vessel in special fixtures that stress the structure. SpaceX completed two pressure vessels that will be used for ground tests and two more are in manufacturing right now to fly in space during demonstration missions for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (7/15)

Terminal Velocity Aerospace Win NASA Phase III SBIR for Reentry Devices (Source: TVA)
Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) was awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract from NASA entitled "Low-Cost Small Reentry Devices to Enhance Space Commerce and ISS Utilization." The Phase III effort, administered by Johnson Space Center, builds on Phase I and II results and TVA's reentry device (RED) development to date.

Objectives of the Phase III SBIR include development of the RED-Data2 reentry data recorder flight units and certifying them for use onboard the Cygnus and ISS. RED-Data2 mission applications include hypersonic flight testing of next-generation thermal protection materials and onboard data collection during spacecraft reentry breakup events. (7/15)

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