October 29, 2016

SpaceX Narrows Down Cause of Falcon-9 Explosion (Source: Space News)
SpaceX said it is able to replicate the failure of a helium tank that is suspected, but yet to be confirmed, as the cause of Falcon 9 pad explosion nearly two months ago. The company said it is focusing its investigation on tanks made of fiber composite materials used to store helium within the liquid oxygen propellant tank of the Falcon 9’s second stage.

“The root cause of the breach has not yet been confirmed, but attention has continued to narrow to one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the [liquid oxygen] tank,” SpaceX said. The company said it’s able to replicate the failure of a helium tank based on the condition of the helium being loaded into it. “These conditions are mainly affected by the temperature and pressure of the helium being loaded,” SpaceX said. (10/28)

Vector Space Systems Eyeing Big Move in Tucson (Source: Inside Tucson Business)
Pima County and Tucson-based Vector Space Systems have been negotiating plans to relocate to the county’s Aerospace, Defense and Technology Business & Research Park. Vector has agreed to add 200 jobs over three years at an average $70,000 annual salary over the first three years of operations.

An economic impact analysis conducted by Applied Economics at the request of Sun Corridor Inc. showed that the company’s expansion is expected to have an estimated $290 million total economic impact over five years, according to a county press release. Vector Space will move to a new manufacturing and headquarters facility on leased-land in the aerospace park south of Raytheon and the Aerospace Parkway. (10/28)

Blue Origin is the New Leader in Suborbital Space Race (Source: Bloomberg)
Virgin Galactic has been king of the suborbital space tourism field ever since it acquired the technology and team behind SpaceShipOne, which carried out suborbital flights in 2004. Besides the 2014 crash, though, the company had trouble bulking up SpaceShipOne’s relatively low-power engine for use in the larger SpaceShipTwo. “Scaling this motor has been really challenging,” Whitesides says. “But we feel really good about our team now and the motor itself.”

Blue Origin said in October that it’ll fly test astronauts next year and paying passengers the year after. Whitesides declined to set any dates for Virgin. Barring further production delays, Branson’s company should still be able to start commercial flights around the same time Blue Origin does, says Phil Smith, senior space analyst at the Tauri Group. Click here. (10/28)

Pence to Talk Space Policy with Space Coast EDC Monday (Source: Florida Politics)
Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence will talk space policy Monday in Cocoa at a special meeting of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. Pence becomes a late replacement for an appearance that had been scheduled for Donald Trump earlier this week. Trump’s schedule got difficult and he never firmed up the appearance, leaving the EDC until the day before until it knew it would be canceled.

But Trump is sending Pence. That makes the Indiana governor the first and potentially only national candidate to take up the Space Coast EDC’s invitation to come talk space policy this year. In past years, the Space Coast EDC forums have provided opportunities for presidential candidates to roll out their space visions.

Pence has agreed to meet with the EDC’s Aerospace, Aviation, and National Security Council, a group that includes such space, aerospace, and defense heavyweights as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, SpaceX, and Blue Origin. The meeting is slated for 3 p.m. Monday at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Cocoa. (10/28)

Trips to Mars Won't Make Quick Money, but Venture Capitalists are Jumping on Other Space Projects (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In 2010, Bessemer Venture Partners decided to invest in an intriguing start-up that would build and launch a network of small satellites for a fraction of the typical cost. Four years later, that small satellite and remote imaging company, Skybox Imaging, was acquired by Google for $500 million in cash. The company, now known as Terra Bella, has launched seven satellites into orbit.

In 2015, more than 50 venture capital firms invested in space or space-related companies — the highest number in the 15 years that consultant Tauri Group has been tracking the data. The $1.8 billion invested in space companies last year also was a high, although that mostly reflects two big investments: a $1-billion stake in SpaceX by Google and Fidelity Investments, and $500 million in satellite constellation firm OneWeb by a group of investors. Click here. (10/29)

Administrator Bolden Thanks Student for 'Nickels for NASA' Project (Source: NASA)
Massachusetts sixth-grader Stephen Cooley can’t wait for NASA to send humans to Mars, and he decided to do something about it, one nickel at a time. During his fifth grade year at Academy Hill School in Springfield, Massachusetts, Stephen launched a “Nickels for NASA” fundraising project. The school community responded in a big way, and in June he sent a check for more than $100 to the agency. (10/28)

Singapore Well Placed for Satellite-Launching Business (Source: Straits Times)
As locally made satellite TeLEOS-1 orbits Earth, it raises the question of why we had to use a foreign booster rocket and are not in the satellite-launching business ourselves. Skills are readily available and accessible, but not many countries have an ecosystem of world-class universities, top-notch researchers, high-tech industries and a First World economy such as ours.

Herein lies our comparative advantage. Being near the equator also makes Singapore an ideal location for a spaceport. A southern island can be developed for this. What is needed is the courage to break into new frontiers of achievement, such as making Singapore a key satellite-launching hub. (10/27)

Space Ambitions Can Propel Singapore Further (Source: Straits Times)
I agree with Mr Tan Yip Meng that as a First World country and with our strategic location, Singapore is well placed to be a space port or key satellite-launching hub. As we have no such facilities here, we have to rely on India's rockets to send our satellites into orbit. But why restrict methods of propulsion to rockets only? A space lift, however futuristic sounding, is the answer to some problems faced by countries contemplating their own space exploration programs. (10/28)

Industry Committee to Start Work on Human Spaceflight Safety Standards (Source: Space News)
With the FAA restricted from developing safety regulations for people flying on commercial human spacecraft, an industry standards organization is moving ahead with plans to establish a committee to develop a voluntary set of standards. ASTM International, an organization founded in 1898 that develops voluntary consensus standards for a wide range of industries, agreed to move ahead with the creation of a committee that will work on creating such standards for commercial launch vehicles, spacecraft and spaceports.

“It will allow industry to use a 110-year-old process to produce consensus standards,” said Oscar Garcia, chairman of the standards working group of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), during a meeting of that working group here Oct. 25. The new committee, he said, “will develop standards and related roadmaps to address activities such as human spaceflight occupant safety standards, spaceports and space traffic management.” (10/28)

Army Major General Commits Suicide Before Assuming Space & Missile Command (Source: AP)
The Army said Friday it has determined that suicide was the cause of death of a two-star general who was found dead in his home on a military base in Alabama. Maj. Gen. John Rossi was found dead July 31 at Redstone Arsenal, two days before he was to assume command of Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

He is the first Army general to commit suicide on active duty since record-keeping began in 2000, according to the Army. Military suicides soared earlier this decade and remain a major source of concern; they typically have affected lower-ranking military members. Rossi, a West Point academy graduate and an air defense artillery officer by training, had just moved onto Redstone Arsenal and was scheduled to be promoted to lieutenant general when he took command of Space and Missile Defense Command. (10/28)

Jury Clears SpaceX Of Welder's Sex Harassment Claims (Source: Law360)
A California jury on Friday rejected a former SpaceX welder's allegations that the aerospace company ignored a months-long campaign of sexual harrassment by a more senior welder and then retaliated when she complained, clearing SpaceX on all claims after a five-day trial in Los Angeles. (10/28)

Pence Plans Space Coast Rally Monday (Source: Florida Today)
After Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump passed on the opportunity this week, running mate Mike Pence is scheduled to hold a rally on the Space Coast on Monday afternoon and to meet with aerospace industry leaders. According to the Trump campaign's official schedule, the Indiana governor plans to lead in a noon rally at the Space Coast Convention Center near the Holiday Inn Express at Interstate 95 and State Road 520 in Cocoa.

Pence also was expected to participate in a roundtable discussion with local aerospace industry representatives organized by the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast and Space Florida, which have invited the presidential candidates to space program briefings. Pence at one point was expected to kick off his Brevard County stop with a tour of Kennedy Space Center, but NASA said no tour had been requested as of Friday evening. (10/28)

How Settling Mars Could Create a New Human Species (Source: Nautilus)
In the upcoming Hollywood movie, The Space Between Us, a child is born to an American astronaut on Mars. The mother dies in childbirth, but the baby survives, and is raised by a small colony of astronauts on Mars. In the trailer, a somber voice-over intones the central conceit of the film: “His heart will simply not have the strength for the Earth’s gravity; his bones will be too brittle.” In other words, there is no turning back. It’s a question worth pondering—if we choose to leave Earth, will our descendants ever be able to return? Click here. (10/27)

Potential Mach 2.2 Airliner Market Pegged At $260 Billion (Source: Aviation Week)
More than half a century after development of the Concorde was launched, progress toward economically viable supersonic airliners has proved elusive. But now a Silicon Valley-backed startup says the ingredients for a successful, small, faster-than-sound airliner are in place, thanks to a new wave of enabling technology and a market primed with the need for speed.

Since first unveiling plans earlier this year for a 40-seat, twin-engine, supersonic transport, Denver-based Boom Technology has revised and fine-tuned the design that will cruise at Mach 2.2 for the same ticket price as subsonic business class. The aircraft has since been stretched to seat up to 50 and is now reconfigured as a trijet to permit immediate use on long overwater routes. (10/12)

No comments: