August 21, 2016

Exit Interview: Christine Anderson (Source: Space News)
Q: The number of commercial spaceports is growing, with proposals for even more. Do you talk with each other? Are there too many? A: We do talk some. We’re all so busy and we’re all very different in our business models and so forth. Eventually there will be many spaceports. Right now there’s only 10. Is 10 too many? I don’t know. That’s why each one has to look at their business model and see what is their strength.

Each one has to find its niche, but hopefully they will have some diversification. Again, you can’t count on one customer and you can’t count on one industry, even. You have to have a really good business model based on where you are, who you are, what your business offerings are to the community. I think we’ve really now found ours, both on the aerospace side and on the non-aerospace, and it’s paying off. That’s my advice to any future spaceports as well. Click here. (8/20)

Chinese Scientists Study Viability of Manned Radar Station on the Moon (Source: South China Morning Post)
China has commissioned a group of scientists to study the feasibility of building a manned radar station on the moon, but many experts on the mainland have questioned the potentially massive cost of the project and the usefulness of building such a base. The government project was launched earlier this year and received kick-start funding of 16 million yuan (HK$18.7 million) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, according to its website. (8/21)

Orbital Access Interested in Midland TX Spaceport (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
There’s a formal relationship brewing between Midland and Scotland, and it could mean a new tenant at the city’s upstart spaceport. Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Spaceport Business Development Director Mike Stewart visited Midland last week to meet with its new partner XCOR Aerospace, and to express interest in a Midland/Prestwick relationship.

McIntyre is the owner of Orbital Access, a Prestwick-based aerospace company that is pursuing the business of launching satellites. The company’s Orbital 500 project has a rocket payload carrying a satellite beneath a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Stewart said. The plane launches horizontally, climbs to 35,000 feet and the rocket separates while the plane is banking. The rocket heads to space, and a new satellite adds to the constellation of devices supporting the world’s technological demands.

Orbital and XCOR already have a relationship. They work together on development technology, Stewart said, and, as previously reported in the Reporter-Telegram in July, Orbital will oversee XCOR’s forthcoming Lynx launches from Prestwick. The Lynx is a two-passenger suborbital spaceplane under development. (8/21)

Another Falcon 9 Rocket Returns to Perch in Port Canaveral (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The sixth Falcon 9 rocket booster recovered by SpaceX has returned to Port Canaveral after an up-and-down flight Aug. 14 that sent a commercial Japanese broadcasting satellite toward orbit. The 15-story first stage of the Falcon 9 launcher touched down on SpaceX’s landing vessel nearly 400 miles east of Cape Canaveral less than nine minutes after blastoff.

After detaching from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, the booster flipped around and ignited three of its nine Merlin engines for a re-entry burn, then fired its center engine just before landing to slow down before reaching the football field-sized barge. Ground crews are expected to soon rotate the rocket horizontal, lower it onto a trailer, and truck it back through the gate to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for further inspections and potential use on another mission.

SpaceX is now 6-for-11 in Falcon 9 rocket landing attempts since the company began experiments with propulsive braking and landing maneuvers targeting a ship or landing pad in January 2015. The record for landings at sea is now 4-for-9. (8/21)

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