August 3, 2016

China's Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover Dies in Blaze of Oonline Glory (Source: Space Daily)
China's troubled but beloved Jade Rabbit lunar rover has whirred its last, state media said Wednesday, after it bid humanity farewell on social media. The device, designed for a lifespan of a mere three months, surveyed the moon's surface for 31 months, the official Xinhua new service said, overcoming numerous technical problems and design flaws to become a national icon. (8/3)

Boeing Wants To Restart $200M Claim Against Sea Launch Partner (Source: Law360)
Boeing urged a California federal judge Tuesday to lift a stay to allow the aerospace giant to pursue a $200 million judgment against Ukrainian rocket and satellite maker Yuzhnoye over their failed Sea Launch joint venture, saying Yuzhnoye isn’t a party to ongoing settlement negotiations. Boeing asked a judge to lift a July 22 order granting an emergency motion to stay the case, saying the purpose of its stay request was to hammer out a settlement with co-defendant RSC Energia. (8/2)

SpaceX to Build New Ground Stations in Texas (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
In addition to building a commercial spaceport for orbital launches along Boca Chica Beach in south Texas, SpaceX is also adding a couple of NASA-heritage ground tracking radars to track the Dragon spacecraft. A local Texas television station reported that the antennas will be shipped to SpaceX’s ground tracking facility from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The $100 million, 49-acre Boca Chica property, located adjacent to Boca Chica State Park, has been a work in progress since SpaceX first discussed their plans with the Texas state government in 2011. Groundbreaking on the facility began in 2014. With the dirt continuing to be moved, the Brownsville Herald reports that company plans to conduct its first launch in September 2018. (8/3)

Does Clinton vs. Trump Matter For Defense? (Source: Aviation Week)
Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has been specific regarding their plans for U.S. defense spending if they win the Nov. 8 election. Defense stocks generally fare well in presidential election years because candidates are supportive of national security but vague on precise plans. So far, 2016 is conforming to this pattern.

Now that the two major nominating conventions are out of the way and running mates have been chosen, there should be a bit more detail on who is planning what. One traditional window on this has been the American Legion’s annual convention in late August and early September. However, in past election campaigns, candidates made speeches articulating their national security vision during September or October, and national security is bound to come up during one of the three presidential debates.

Consensus now is that a Trump win could be more bullish for defense than a Clinton win. Trump has only promised to make the U.S. military the strongest in the world. He has made some disparaging comments about the F-35 program and, while promising to bomb the so-called Islamic State group, he has not said he will commit ground forces in significant quantity. (8/3)

Moon Express Gets FAA's First Approval for Commercial Lunar Payload (Source: FAA)
On April 8, 2016, Moon Express submitted a request to FAA for a Payload Review and Determination on the MX-1E spacecraft. On April 21, 2016, the FAA accepted this application and proceeded with review. The MX-1E is a spacecraft/lander capable of transfer from Earth orbit to the Moon, making a soft landing on the lunar surface, and performing post-landing relocations through propulsive “hops.”

On July 20, 2016, the FAA made a favorable payload determination for the Moon Express MX-1E mission. The FAA has determined that the launch of the payload does not jeopardize public health and safety, safety of property, U.S. national security or foreign policy interests, or U.S. international obligations. As long as none of the information provided to the FAA changes in a material manner and the FAA does not become aware of any issues the review did not consider that could affect the determination, the FAA considers this determination final.

Editor's Note: I guess this has triggered Moon Express to proceed with plans to hire engineering staff in Florida. They are advertising for several positions. Click here. (8/3)

Nat Geo's 'Mars' Series Takes Viewers on Journey to Red Planet (Source:
Humans have long been fascinated with Mars, and a new TV special on the National Geographic Channel will combine real-world stories with a scripted narrative to take viewers on a journey to the Red Planet. Called "Mars," the six-part series will tell the story of a fictional astronaut crew on the very first human Mars mission in 2033. In the TV special, the crew of the Daedalus, led by American Mission Commander Ben Sawyer (played by Ben Cotton) lands on Mars and sets up a preliminary base. (8/3)

Hydros Thruster Developed for Microsatellites (Source: GeekWire)
A Seattle-area company has won more than $2 million in contracts for a new kind of satellite thruster. The Hydros thruster, developed by Tethers Unlimited, electrolyzes water into hydrogen and oxygen, which are then ignited to create thrust. The company said it has a public-private partnership with NASA to provide a Hydros thruster for a NASA cubesat mission, and a separate contract with Millennium Space Systems for three of its Altair microsatellites. (8/2)

Navy Looks for Plan B to Salvage MUOS Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The U.S. Navy has declared the primary orbit-raising system aboard its new MUOS No. 5 communications satellite failed, leaving controllers scrambling to design a rescue plan. The final Mobile User Objective System satellite was launched into a geosynchronous transfer orbit on June 24 by a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft was supposed to perform 7 burns of its main engine to raise and circularize the orbit to geosynchronous altitude 22,300 miles over the equator in view of Hawaii. After completing an unspecified number of maneuvers, an “anomaly” struck June 29 that has rendered the main propulsion system failed.

The satellite was launched into a customized high-perigee geosynchronous transfer orbit as planned, stretching from 2,379 by 22,219 miles at an inclination of 19.1 degrees. With some maneuvering already accomplished, MUOS 5 lifted its perigee to around 9,471 miles and reduced inclination to 9.8 degrees, hobbyist observers tracking the satellite reported in early July. They were the first to notice and publicly reveal that the craft has suddenly stopped maneuvering. (8/2)

Boeing Nears Fix for CST-100 Starliner Design Hitch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Boeing says engineers are resolving concerns with the mass and aerodynamic shape of the company’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew carrier, and officials are optimistic the spaceship will be ready to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station in early 2018.

“If everything goes well, we’ll meet schedule,” said Chris Ferguson, a former space shuttle astronaut and deputy program manager for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, in a recent interview with Spaceflight Now. “It’s the unknown unknowns (we’re concerned about), but we’re optimistic.” According to Ferguson, Boeing engineers are wrapping up analyses of two design concerns that combined to trigger a delay in the first CST-100 crewed test flight from late 2017 until February 2018. (8/2)

2017 NDAA Skirts Base Closures, But Congress Shows Interest (Source: Law360)
The Pentagon's threat to go it alone on base realignment and closure is more likely rhetorical than realistic as lawmakers work to finalize the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, but recent moves by senior lawmakers show that Congress may be growing more willing to consider a new BRAC round. The Depart. of Defense has been clamoring for five years for Congress to allow a reduction in its infrastructure through a new BRAC round, which would include several years of lead time and planning. (8/1)

Opportunity Surpasses 43 Kilometers on the Odometer (Source: Space Daily)
Opportunity is wrapping up the exploration 'Marathon Valley' on the rim of Endeavour crater. The rover did experience an unexpected drive termination caused by the right-front wheel. Total odometry is 26.75 miles (43.05 kilometers). (8/2)

NASA Visits Comic-Con, Science Fiction Meets Space Inspirations (Source:
From "Star Trek" to science fiction to real-life space, NASA employees paid tribute to the role of inspiration at the Comic-Con International in San Diego last weekend. In a new video, NASA highlighted a series of interviews and panel discussion clips from the convention on how several NASA employees got to where they are today. Click here. (8/2)

Commercial Crew Delays Could Lead to Gap in ISS Access (Source: Space News)
Although Boeing and SpaceX remain on schedule to have their commercial crew vehicles completed by 2018, an advisory group is worried about a potential gap in access to the International Space Station should they experience delays. At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, members discussed the possibility NASA may have no means to send crews to the station should both companies fail to have their vehicles certified by the end of 2018, when NASA’s current agreement with Russia for seats on Soyuz spacecraft expires.

Schedules presented at a July 26 committee meeting showed Boeing completing its certification review, the final milestone before operational flights, in May 2018. That comes after an uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in December 2017 and a crewed test flight in February 2018. SpaceX currently has its certification review scheduled for October 2017. It has an uncrewed test flight of its Crew Dragon vehicle scheduled for May 2017, followed by a crewed test flight in August 2017. (8/2)

Harris Corporation Stock Price Increases as Company Reports Quarter (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Melbourne-based Harris Corporation reported a strong quarter, as the military equipment manufacturer saw revenue jump at three of its four major divisions, including space, electronics and critical networks. Overall, the company saw revenue eclipse $1.9 billion, up from about $1.5 billion during the same time period last year. Net income for the company in the quarter was $160 million, one year after the company reported a $56 million loss, partially because of a major acquisition. (8/2)

The Space Wait Continues for Oklahoma Town (Source: NewsOK)
When Bill Khourie stands on the concrete under the midday sun and squints toward the end of the runway three miles to the south, invisible behind the curving earth and dancing mirages, he believes he's looking at the future. Khourie is the director of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, which has been trying since 1999 to lure space companies to Oklahoma. For years, the authority's leadership has preached patience, saying the future will come.

Now, Khourie believes the future is so close he can almost see it. The commercial space industry is showing signs of growth as companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance have successfully blasted their spacecraft into the sky in recent months. (8/2)

Tiny Rocket Company Aims for 100 Launches a Year (Source: Ars Technica)
Alone in the Mojave desert, the tiny rocket stood barely as tall as a basketball goal backboard. Launch control was a laptop inside a nearby bunker, and the small gathering of aerospace engineers and investors seemed almost like a rocket hobby club as it watched the vehicle soar to about 5,000 feet before parachuting back to Earth. But this scene may have represented something much more than that.

With its small-scale test Saturday, the company Vector Space Systems took another step toward upending the rapidly expanding small satellite launch market. Not since the Germans and their V-2 rockets during World War II has anyone launched more than a few dozen of the same rockets per year. Now, within about five years Vector intends to launch as many as 100 of its 13-meter-tall Wolverine vehicles annually, with a capability to put a 50kg satellite into low-Earth orbit.

The company aims to fill a niche below the current generation of launchers being developed by companies such as RocketLab and Virgin Galactic, with rockets capable of delivering 200 to 250kg satellites to low-Earth orbit. So far, it seems like a good bet. On Tuesday morning, Vector announced that it has acquired its first customer, Finnish-based Iceye, to conduct 21 launches of the company’s commercial synthetic aperture radar satellite constellation. (8/2)

FAA Seeks New Tools to Track Spacecraft (Source: Wall Street Journal)
After wrestling for months over how to allow unmanned aircraft to begin flying in U.S. skies, the Federal Aviation Administration is now grappling with a loftier challenge: keeping conventional aircraft safe amid an expected boom in commercial space launches. Having played catch-up with the proliferation of drones, FAA officials are taking preliminary steps toward enhanced monitoring of space missions. They hope to eventually expand their management of the nation’s airspace to include real-time tracking of rockets. (8/2)

4 Aerospace Startups That Will Take You 'To Infinity And Beyond' (Source: Entrepreneur)
Elon Musk's SpaceX has set a new horizon of expectations for the space industry since its inception in 2010. The young billionaire wants to make space available to everyone, and send people to Mars and moon. The new space race has been taken over by the startup world led by entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Click here. (8/1)

No comments: