Sierra Nevada and European Partners to Assess Dream Chaser for European Missions (Source: SNC)
The Dream Chaser for European Utilization (DC4EU) program kicked off
its pilot phase with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
Sierra Nevada, Telespazio, the European Space Agency and OHB System AG
will now assess the feasibility and commercial viability of the DC4EU
dedicated mission to provide affordable, independent European access to
low-Earth orbit via the Dream Chaser space utility vehicle (SUV).
Waiting for New Export-Control Rules
(Source: Space News)
A number of European nations, as well as Japan, Russia and India, view
the space market as a strategic commercial opportunity for growing
their economies — and so should the United States. Yet in the past, we
have consciously limited our own expansion with detrimental laws, a
lethargic interagency review process, and political apathy — all of
which seem to be continuing today even as new, global commercial space
opportunities are growing.
A classic example of this was the 1998 congressionally mandated
imposition of munitions-level export controls on satellites and related
technologies. Before 1998, U.S. companies had a 63-percent share in the
global commercial satellite market. Today, because of the restrictions,
U.S. market share has plummeted to 30 percent, resulting in the loss of
billions of dollars in export sales and thousands of potential
Thanks to the efforts of the Obama administration, a series of reforms
was put in place, removing most satellite technologies from the
Munitions Control List — modernizing most export controls for friendly
nations and giving U.S. companies a fair chance to compete for
international commercial satellite contracts. Unfortunately, while the
interagency process does not require congressional action to enact most
changes to export regulation, it does not appear to be much more
responsive to the commercial need for prompt action. Click here.
Pre-Launch Insurance Rates Could
Double (Source: Space News)
Insurers warn that the current low rates for space insurance cannot be
sustained. Rates for pre-launch insurance could double after the Sep. 1
Falcon 9 pad explosion destroyed the Amos 6 satellite prior to a
planned static-fire test. Launch insurance rates may also go up despite
a lack of recent claims because premiums are likely to be a multi-year
low this year. Insurers are cautious about a "nearly complete
changeout" of commercial launch vehicles as a new generation enters
service over the next several years. (10/10)
China to Launch Satellite for Pulsar
Navigation Test (Source: GB Times)
China plans to launch a spacecraft next month to test the ability to
use pulsars for navigation. The XPNAV-1 satellite will use X-ray
emissions from pulsars to triangulate its position relative to the sun.
Such a technique, proposed years ago but yet to be tested, could
improve deep space navigation for future spacecraft. (10/10)
Project Blue Seeks $50M for Earth-Like
Planet Search (Source: Ars Technica)
A group of nonprofit organizations is looking to raise money for a
space telescope that would look for Earth-like worlds around the
nearest star system. Project Blue is seeking to raise up to $50 million
to develop a small space telescope that would attempt to image any
Earth-like planets orbiting Alpha Centauri. The project hopes to raise
the money and launch the telescope by around the end of the decade.
Arctic Slope Files Protest Over Air
Force Contract for Spaceport Services (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Air Force was hit Thursday with a lawsuit in U.S. Federal
Claims Court alleging it improperly awarded noncompetitive contracts
for launch operations and infrastructure support at Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station. Maryland-based Arctic Slope claims the Air Force abruptly
canceled the solicitation. (10/7)
Boeing Delays CST-100, Still Targets
2018 ISS Mission (Source: Aviation Week)
Following supplier holdups, a key production problem on the second
CST-100 spacecraft and other issues, Boeing has opted to slide its
entire NASA commercial crew test and development program six months.
Despite the setback, which includes an added month of additional
margin, the company still hopes to fly the first NASA astronauts to the
International Space Station (ISS) in December 2018.
News of the delay confirms the prognosis of a Sep. 1 report by NASA’s
Office of Inspector General, which found issues that impeded
development of commercial crew vehicles at both Boeing and competing
NASA contractor SpaceX. The report said it was unlikely either would be
certified to carry NASA astronauts before late 2018, and noted this
will be more than three years after the space agency’s original 2015
Is There a Business Case for Mars?
(Source: Space Review)
SpaceX is the latest venture to propose sending humans to Mars as some
kind of private effort. Chris Carberry and Rick Zucker explore if there
is, in fact, a commercial case for human Mars missions. Click here.
Mars Lodging and Ground Transportation
(Source: Space Review)
One key element missing from Elon Musk’s announcement of his Mars
settlement plans is how people will live once they get to the planet.
Sam Dinkin looks at some options for those considering buying a ticket
to the Red Planet. Click here.
Mega-Constellations and Mega-Debris
(Source: Space Review)
Companies are proposing the deploy networks of hundreds or even
thousands of satellites in the next several years. Jeff Foust reports
that these systems pose new concerns about the growing orbital debris
environment in low Earth orbit. Click here. (10/10)
Blockchains and the Emerging Space
Economy (Source: Space Review)
A technology called the blockchain promises to revolutionize electronic
commerce on Earth. Vidvuds Beldavs describes how the blockchain and
related technologies can advance the development of a true space
economy. Click here.
Air Force's X-37B Space Plane Mystery
Mission Wings by 500 Days in Orbit (Source: Space.com)
The latest secretive mission of the United States Air Force's X-37B
space plane has cruised beyond 500 days in Earth orbit since its launch
last year. The U.S. military launched the robotic X-37B space plane on
May 20, 2015, marking the fourth flight for the Air Force program.
Is El Paso the Next Aerospace Hub?
(Source: El Paso Inc.)
On Wednesday morning, at a private test site less than two hours east
of El Paso, a rocket owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos began a
dramatic test flight. At least nine El Pasoans work at the launch
facility operated by Blue Origin, the secretive space company that
intends to take tourists to the edge of space in 2018. Most are
graduates of the University of Texas at El Paso, which has been quietly
elbowing its way into the commercial space industry, building
relationships with companies like Blue Origin.
“Maybe for the first time ever, these engineering grads are graduating
with exciting job prospects in the region,” said El Pasoan Eddie
Seyffert, 25, a test engineer at Blue Origin. Blue Origin has been
perfecting its rockets near Van Horn for a few years, but even as the
company edges closer to space, it continues to fly under the radar.
The desert surrounding El Paso is valuable to space companies because
it, and the skies above, are empty. For that reason, the U.S. Defense
Department has tested rockets and operated labs in southern New Mexico
and West Texas since at least World War II. But more recently the
wide-open spaces have attracted private space companies. Entrepreneur
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic intends to take tourists to
suborbital space from Spaceport America, located 100 miles north of El
Paso, near Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. (10/10)
Barack Obama: America Will tTake the
Giant Leap to Mars (Source: CNN)
One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather's shoulders,
waving a flag as our astronauts returned to Hawaii. This was years
before we'd set foot on the moon. Decades before we'd land a rover on
Mars. A generation before photos from the International Space Station
would show up in our social media feeds.
I still have the same sense of wonder about our space program that I
did as a child. It represents an essential part of our character --
curiosity and exploration, innovation and ingenuity, pushing the
boundaries of what's possible and doing it before anybody else. The
space race we won not only contributed immeasurably important
technological and medical advances, but it also inspired a new
generation of scientists and engineers with the right stuff to keep
America on the cutting edge.
That's one of the reasons why, in my first address as President to the
American people, I vowed to return science to its rightful place. In
our first few months, my administration made the largest single
investment in basic research in our history, and I went to the Kennedy
Space Center to call for reimagining and reinvigorating our space
program to explore more of our solar system and look deeper into the
universe than ever. Click here.
Making Human Settlement of Space a
Reality (Source: White House OSTP)
Today, President Obama outlined a vision to CNN for the future of space
exploration. Echoing what he said in the 2015 State of the Union
address, the President wrote, “We have set a clear goal vital to the
next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the
2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to
one day remain there for an extended time.”
Later this week, many of the Nation’s top innovators will come together
in Pittsburgh at the White House Frontiers Conference, where they will
further explore, among other things, how American investments in
science and technology will help us settle “the final frontier” –
space. But today, we’re excited to announce two new NASA
initiatives that build on the President’s vision and utilize
public-private partnerships to enable humans to live and work in space
in a sustainable way.
In April 2010, the President challenged the country – and NASA – to
send American astronauts on a Journey to Mars in the 2030s. By
reaching out further into the solar system and expanding the frontiers
of exploration, the President outlined a vision for pushing the bounds
of human discovery, while also revitalizing the space industry and
creating jobs here at home. Click here.