September 15, 2016

Cautious Optimisim for Reviving Israeli Spy Satellite (Source: Globes)
Engineers are making progress in recovering a malfunctioning Israeli spy satellite launched Tuesday. The 400-kilogram Ofek-11 satellite experienced problems immediately after its launch, although Israeli officials have not provided details about the specific issues affecting the spacecraft. Sources in the Israeli military said they had "cautious optimism" about efforts to recover the satellite, but that it would take several days. (9/14)

Capacitor Issue Delays GPS Satellite Completion (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin has delayed the delivery of the first GPS 3 satellite by four months. The satellite, due to be handed over to the U.S. Air Force in August, will now be ready in December after engineers found that the satellite's navigation payload used a capacitor that had not been properly qualified. The launch of the satellite, once planned for 2017, could be delayed until 2018 because of other problems with development of its ground system. (9/14)

Bezos Donates Heinlein Prize Money to SEDS (Source: Space News)
Jeff Bezos is donating a $250,000 space prize to a student group. Bezos, who formally accepted the Heinlein Prize for commercial space achievements Wednesday night in Washington, said the prize would go to Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), a group Bezos was a member of when attending Princeton University. Bezos is the third person to win the prize, after Peter Diamandis and Elon Musk. (9/14)

ULA Has an Uncommitted Atlas 5 Available for 2017 Launch (Source: Space News)
United Launch Alliance has one open Atlas 5 slot on its manifest in 2017. The company is offering the slot to potential commercial customers as part of its RapidLaunch initiative announced this week to provide launches to customers as soon as three months after contract signing. The 2017 launch opportunity would use an Atlas 5 ULA has been building without a specific customer in hand. (9/14)

Babin Wants Regulatory Rethink for Commercial Space (Source: Space Policy Online)
Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) wants a complete rethinking of the government's role in regulating new commercial space ventures like asteroid mining. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has been championing an expansion of the regulatory authority of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), an approach also endorsed by the Obama Administration.

Offering historical examples of where government attempts to regulate new technologies were "ill-conceived," Babin contended that other ways should be found to satisfy U.S. obligations "without stifling innovation or smothering the embers of creativity." ... "We should have a regime in which the private sector activities are presumed authorized and only after the government has met certain conditions can it place restrictions on an activity."

Editor's Note: Here's one reader's a rebuttal comment: "Something as simple as a driver's license requires that; we are not 'presumed authorized' in wanting one; we have to show, through simple tests, that we won't hurt anyone else. I'm not sure other countries, or possibly even our own courts, would consider that we are meeting the 'authorize and continually supervise' requirement, by looking the other way until we know for a fact something is 'wrong' with an applicant; after all, that encourages applicants to find ways to withhold information, when we want the exact opposite." (9/13)

Commercial Crew Companies Emphasize Safety Over Schedule (Source: Space News)
In the wake of a launch accident and a critical report, the two companies with NASA commercial crew contracts say they’re committed to maintaining their development schedules, but not at the expense of safety. Officials with Boeing, SpaceX and NASA are going to great lengths to emphasize they would not rush the development and test flights of crewed vehicles despite a desire to have at least one company’s system ready to start ferrying astronauts to and from the ISS before the end of 2018.

Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX, declined to give estimated dates for those missions. “Our focus is getting able to fly again soon from our overall fleet perspective,” he said of returning the Falcon 9 to flight. That investigation is not affecting various commercial crew activities, he added. “We’re full steam ahead on crew, while we listen to the data and understand what’s going on.”

Chris Ferguson, deputy program manager for commercial crew at Boeing, restated a schedule for development of the CST-100 Starliner that the company has been reporting for several months. That plan includes an uncrewed flight test in late 2017 and a crewed flight test in February 2018. That schedule, he said, would allow the CST-100 to be certified in time for an operational mission in June 2018. (9/14)

Orbital ATK Plans Antares Launch in Early October (Source: Space News)
Orbital ATK is planning to return its Antares launch vehicle to flight in early October. A company executive said at the AIAA Space 2016 conference Tuesday that it was targeting an early October launch of the Antares, carrying a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS. Orbital is working with NASA to select a launch date for the mission. The launch will be the first since an October 2014 failure of an Antares shortly after launch from Wallops Island, Virginia, and will also be the first of a new version of the Antares with RD-181 first stage engines. (9/14)

Russia Wil Shrink ISS Crew Size (Source: Tass)
Russia is moving ahead with plans to temporarily cut the size of its ISS crew from three to two. Industry sources said Russia will reduce its crew in March and keep its crew complement at two until the launch and commissioning of the new Multipurpose Laboratory Module, scheduled for late 2017. Russian officials say reducing its crew will allow it to cut the number of Progress cargo missions launched from four to three, saving money. A final decision may be announced next week, when the next ISS crew is launched. (9/14)

Financing for Florida-Developed OneWeb Satellites Could Require Ex-Im Fix (Source: Space News)
It's unclear whether American or French export credit agencies will help finance OneWeb's satellite constellation. An official with France's Coface said any deal to guarantee financing for OneWeb's system will depend on how many people in France are working on the project; most of OneWeb's satellites will be built at a new factory in Florida. Funding from the U.S. Export-Import Bank requires a legislative change to allow the bank to fund large deals when a quorum of the board is not present. Click here. (9/14)

ULA Cuts Time From Contract to Launch (Source: Denver Business Journal)
United Launch Alliance says a new program could allow it to launch customers' satellites just three months after signing a contract. The RapidLaunch program offers rapid launch options for commercial customers by making use of additional launch vehicle hardware and by moving vehicle customization to the final three months of the production process. In the past, ULA has usually taken 18 months or more to go from contract signing to launch. (9/14)

ESA Gives Final Approval for Ariane 6 Development (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency has given its final approval to the development of the Ariane 6. ESA's ruling council voted Tuesday to release the second and final round of funding for the vehicle to Airbus Safran Launchers, the vehicle's prime contractor. ESA provided an initial round of funding, covering about one quarter of Ariane 6's development costs, after signing a contract with Airbus Safran Launchers last August. (9/14)

Scott Kelly's Yearlong Mission Inspires Movie (Source: Hollywood Reporter)
Scott Kelly's nearly one year in space will become the subject of both a book and a movie. Sony Pictures has acquired the movie rights to Kelly's upcoming book, Endurance: My Year in Space. The book, due out in November 2017 and co-authored by Margaret Lazarus Dean, will cover his life leading up to his 340-day mission on the ISS that ended earlier this year. Scott Kelly and his twin brother Mark will serve as executive producers of the movie. (9/14)

Rocket Crafters Shoots for Weekly Launches (Source: Florida Today)
Two-time shuttle astronaut Sid Gutierrez has always been a skeptic. As a test pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Gutierrez made a living poking holes in the ideas contractors offered to the military. “I’m used to debunking solutions people propose,” he said. “Every now and again, someone has an excellent piece of equipment, but I’m always very skeptical.”

So far, the company has successfully tested its hybrid engine more than two dozen times in Utah working together with Utah State University. However, now they want to test closer to Cape Canaveral, where they plan to launch their rockets, possibly within the next two to three years. At Florida Tech, the tests will take place at the university’s aerodynamics lab located on campus, as well as their outdoor rocket motor test stand.

“We are going to help them do some independent testing of the performance of this new rocket propulsion concept they have come up with,” said Dan Kirk, Florida Tech professor and associate dean for research in the College of Engineering. Click here. (9/14)

Israeli Spy Satellite 'Not Working as Expected' (Source: Jerusalem Post)
Amnon Harari, head of the space administration in the Defense Ministry, and Ofer Doron, head of IAI’s MBT Space Division, said the satellite entered its orbit correctly and began circling the Earth every 90 minutes, but it remained unclear if all onboard systems were working. Officials say ground control was trying to stabilize the Ofek 11 satellite as they communicate with it. (9/14)

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