September 3, 2016

Falcon 9 Pad Explosion Highlights Unique Aspect of SpaceX Launch Campaigns (Source: Space News)
The explosion that destroyed the Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite payload took place not during a launch attempt but instead in a pre-launch test that is all but unique to SpaceX. The static-fire tests have been a standard part of pre-launch preparations for Falcon 9 launches throughout the vehicle’s history. They are intended to serve as full dress rehearsals for launches and also verify the performance of the first stage engine.

An effort to save time may have also contributed to the loss of the payload on this Falcon 9. Falcon 9 static fire tests in the past have not always included the satellite payload, waiting instead to install the satellite after the test, but now payloads are more commonly installed on the rocket prior to the test. Doing so, industry sources say, cuts a day from launch processing schedules.

For ULA, part of the reason for ending the practice of wet dress rehearsals for all Atlas missions was to save time and money. In 2012, when ULA stopped doing those rehearsals for all Atlas launches, the Aerospace Corporation found that skipping the rehearsal would save five days and about $500,000 during a launch campaign. (9/2)

SpaceX's Other Launch Pads Will Support Rapid Return to Flight (Source: SPACErePORT)
As SpaceX figures out the cause of its Falcon-9 explosion and the extent of damage to its primary launch pad (LC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, a return-to-flight could be several months away. With a second Florida launch pad (LC-39A) under development nearby for crewed Dragon and Falcon Heavy missions, the company is considering its options. (A third pad is being upgraded at Vandenberg AFB in California for polar and high-inclination missions.)

"Both pads are capable of supporting Falcon-9 and Falcon Heavy launches," according to Elon Musk. "We are confident the two launch pads can support our return to flight and fulfill our upcoming manifest needs." Musk added that LC-39A development "remains on schedule to be operational in November," so if LC-40's damage is extensive, some of SpaceX's upcoming missions could be launched from the other pad. (9/2)

We Love You SpaceX, and We Hope You Reach Mars. But We Need You to Focus (Source: Ars Technica)
SpaceX is an amazing company, doing amazing things. But right now there’s really just one thing the company should focus on, and that’s meeting the needs of its biggest customer. That is not a satellite company. It is not Red Dragon. It is not the hordes of adoring fans eager to hear about the Mars Colonial Transporter. It is, rather, NASA, America’s stodgy space agency that has stood by the company for the better part of a decade.

The extent of NASA's financial support is not particularly well-recognized because SpaceX does not have to publicly release its financial information, nor does NASA go out of its way to advertise it. However, SpaceX receives the majority of its funding from NASA, and according to one internal NASA document, as much as 85 percent of the company’s revenues to date have come from the space agency through its multibillion dollar commercial crew and cargo contracts. Put simply, if not for NASA, SpaceX would probably be flying the Falcon 1 or 5 rocket today or might not exist at all.

There is precisely one thing NASA wants right now, more than anything, in human spaceflight: commercial crew capabilities. White House and top NASA officials want to nurture the commercial space industry and simultaneously break the dependence of NASA on Russia for launches that has existed since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011. Click here. (9/2)

First Look at Jupiter’s North Pole—Bluer and “Hardly Recognizable” (Source: Ars Technica)
This week, scientists got their first look at images and data from the Juno spacecraft's initial flyby of Jupiter's polar regions, and they were thrilled to find an entirely different world than the familiar one which exists around the equator. Click here. (9/2)

Rocket Lab Launch Site Not Damaged in New Zealand Earthquake (Source: Space News)
A launch site nearing completion in New Zealand for use by a new small launch vehicle survived a major earthquake there unscathed, according to the company building it. A magnitude 7.1 earthquake took place off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island at 12:37 p.m. EDT Sep. 1. The earthquake had its epicenter 166 kilometers northeast of the city of Gisborne, which is about 100 kilometers north of a launch pad being built by Rocket Lab on the island’s Mahia Peninsula. (9/2)

InSight Delay Adds $150 Million to Mission’s Cost (Source: Space News)
NASA announced Sept. 2 that it has approved plans to launch a delayed Mars lander mission in 2018, although at an additional cost that could affect plans for later planetary missions. The InSight Mars lander, originally scheduled for launch in March, will now launch no earlier than May 5, 2018, after NASA’s Science Mission Directorate formally approved the revised mission plan this week. That launch will allow a landing on Mars in November 2018. (9/2)

Spaceport America’s Marketing Goes Global (Source: Las Cruces Bulletin)
After living in Switzerland, England, and Hong Kong, helping technology companies develop their brands and their businesses, Tammara Anderton looked for her next frontier. She found it in her home state, as vice president of business development at Spaceport America.

“It’s all his fault,” Anderton said, laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of her husband, a native of Great Britain. He was planning to retire from his global career and suggested, “Why don’t we live in your country?” Anderton’s first step was to check out Silicon Valley, but her brother called and told her Spaceport America was looking for “someone like you.”

“I flew in and presented a marketing strategy,” she said. She reported for work in March 2015. Anderton said she could see the potential for the spaceport — what it could mean to “the future of New Mexico and young people able to work in a future-based industry" ... “Our core business is commercial space — the first thing I did was solidify the brand and build our strategic value proposition,” Anderton said. (9/2)

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