December 10, 2016

After Trump Twitter Row, Boeing Donates $1 Million for Inaugural (Source: Think Progress)
President-elect Donald Trump’s social media attacks on Boeing sent its stock prices tumbling. Boeing has responded by pledging $1 million to help underwrite inaugural events, according to a company official who spoke with USA Today. News of the Boeing donation came mere days after Trump called on the government to cancel Boeing’s contract to build a brand new 747 Air Force One “for future presidents,” saying it would cost $4 billion. Boeing secured the contract in January to replace the current Air Force One jumbo jets within the next decade. (12/9)

China Launches Meteorological Satellite (Source:
China launched the first of a new generation geosynchronous meteorological satellites on Saturday. The launch of Fengyun-4A satellite took place at 16:11 UTC using the Long March-3B/G2 (Y42) – or Chang Zheng-3B/G2 per its Chinese name – from the LC3 Launch Complex at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. (12/10)

Japan Launches Cargo Ship to Space Station (Source: CBS)
A powerful rocket carrying a Japanese HTV cargo ship streaked into orbit Friday, kicking off a four-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver 4.3 tons of supplies and equipment, including a set of powerful new batteries for the lab’s solar power system.

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIB rocket’s hydrogen-fueled LE-7A main engine and four solid-fuel strap-on boosters ignited with a spectacular rush of flame at 8:26:47 a.m. EST (GMT-5; 10:26 p.m. local time), quickly pushing the 174-foot-tall booster away from its seaside launch pad at the picturesque Tanegashima Space Center. (12/9)

ULA Atlas to Launch EchoStar on Dec. 18 From Florida Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A state-of-the-art satellite to provide high-speed Internet connectivity across North America, specializing in areas where terrestrial networks are not available, will be mounted atop its booster rocket Saturday in preparation for launch next weekend. The EchoStar 19 spacecraft will be propelled into orbit atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on Sunday, Dec. 18. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral will be possible during a 120-minute window opening at 1:27 p.m. EST. (12/9)

Supersonic is Out. Hypersonic is In. (Source: Wall Street Pit)
Supersonic means traveling faster than the speed of sound. Hypersonic means traveng five times faster than the speed of sound. How will you benefit from travelling at hypersonic speed? At that rate, you can get from London to Sydney in as little as 2 hours. Or get from London to New York in just over 30 minutes. Exciting, right? But don’t go searching for hypersonic commercial flights just yet because there’s none available. For now that is.

Based on information coming from the Forum on American Aeronautics which took place at the Mojave Air and Space Port on October 27, however, that might change soon. According to aviation, aerospace and military experts from the U.S. Air Force, Mojave Air and Space Port, NASA, and Lockheed Martin, after almost 30 years of stagnant travel time growth, the world of aviation is about to be transformed as the advent of hypersonic planes is almost here. Click here. Editor's Note: Interested in hypersonic and supersonic transport? Join the FastForward LinkedIn Group here. (11/18)

Spaceport Plan Invites Public Comments Until Dec. 23 (Source: SPACErePORT)
Space Florida is updating its Cape Canaveral Spaceport Master Plan, which was last updated in 2013. This is a living document that attempts to stay ahead of trends and disruptions in the space transportation industry, allowing planners to maximize the spaceport's ability to serve commercial and government needs. The plan is being coordinated with NASA KSC and the Air Force 45th Space Wing, which have separate planning processes.

The state-level plan recognizes that non-federal investments (many facilitated by Space Florida) represent a rapidly growing percentage of the total funding for infrastructure at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. It also looks toward a near-term future where the Air Force and NASA have a diminished role in the spaceport's management, in favor of a spaceport authority would be motivated to serve as many users as possible.

Space Florida's spaceport planning is required by Florida Statute and is a key part of the state's process for integrating space transportation into a multi-modal investment plan for transportation infrastructure. Millions of dollars are committed every year by the Florida Department of Transportation to develop spaceport infrastructure. The Master Plan draft, incorporating associated public comments (accepted through Dec. 23), will be submitted to Space Florida's Board of Directors for approval. I will post charts from a Master Plan public workshop here next week. (12/9) 

Orbital ATK Pegasus Ready for Rare Florida Launch, Weather Permitting (Source: SPACErePORT)
Orbital ATK will launch NASA's CYGNSS climate monitoring satellite aboard a Pegasus XL rocket on Monday at 8:42 a.m. The rocket will be carried aloft for an air-launch by the company's L-1011 Stargazer aircraft. But the launch-day forecast now puts 40% odds that the weather conditions will be 'green' for the mission. Tuesday is a backup option, with an 80% chance that weather will be favorable. (12/10)

John Glenn Was the Last Surviving Mercury 7 Astronaut (Source: Wikipedia)
Members of the group flew on all classes of NASA manned orbital spacecraft of the 20th century — Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. Gus Grissom died in 1967, in the Apollo 1 fire. The others all survived past retirement from service. John Glenn went on to become a U.S. senator, and flew on the Shuttle 36 years later to become the oldest person to fly in space. He was the last living member of the class when he died in 2016. (12/9)

Japan Launching 'Space Junk' Collector (Source:
Japan launched a cargo ship Friday bound for the International Space Station, carrying a 'space junk' collector that was made with the help of a fishnet company. The vessel, dubbed "Kounotori", blasted off from Tanegashima attached to an H-IIB rocket. Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are experimenting with a tether to pull junk out of orbit around Earth, clearing up tonnes of space clutter including cast-off equipment from old satellites and pieces of rocket.

The launch was successful as "the satellite was removed from the rocket" and put into the planned orbit about 15 minutes after the liftoff, JAXA spokesman Nobuyoshi Fujimoto on Tanegashima told AFP. More than 50 years of human space exploration since the Soviet-launched Sputnik satellite in 1957 has produced this hazardous belt of orbiting debris. (12/9)

Teaching an Old Satellite New Tricks (Source: Space Daily)
XMM-Newton is one of Europe's longest-flying and most productive orbiting observatories, investigating the hot X-ray Universe. Thanks to teamwork and technical innovation, it's on track to keep flying for a long time yet. Launched 17 years ago, ESA's orbiting X-ray telescope has helped scientists around the world to understand some of our Universe's most mysterious events, from what happens in and around black holes to how galaxies formed.

At 3800 kg, the 10 m-long XMM-Newton is the biggest science satellite ever built in Europe and its telescope mirrors are the most sensitive ever developed. Expected to operate for as long as a decade, the hardy spacecraft has happily surprised everyone by lasting almost two decades - and it shows no signs of giving up. (12/9)

Investigation: No Evidence Pentagon Favored ULA (Source: Denver Post)
The Defense Department’s internal watchdog says it found no evidence to support an allegation that the Pentagon showed favoritism toward United Launch Alliance. The investigation began in March after Sen. John McCain cited comments former ULA VP Brett Tobey reportedly made to students at the University of Colorado. Tobey contradicted ULA's reason for skipping a competition against SpaceX to launch GPS satellites.

According to Reuters, Tobey said ULA did not want to get into a "price shootout" with SpaceX since its launches cost $125 million, or close to $200 million including the separate launch support contract, compared to around $60 million for SpaceX. He also said the Pentagon was trying to figure out "how do we silence McCain," who has urged the government to penalize ULA for failing to bid in the competition despite receiving $800 million in support funding for launch services every year.

The DOD inspector general said Tobey told investigators he was being dramatic to hold the students’ attention, and he had recanted the allegation and apologized. The company said it was pleased by the findings. (12/8)

Trump Adds Six More to NASA Transition Team (Source: Space News)
The transition team for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump added six more people to the NASA landing team, including senior Dynetics executive Steve Cook and former astronaut Sandy Magnus. Cook was in charge of the Ares 1 and Ares 5 rocket programs at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center until leaving the agency in 2009 for Dynetics. The Ares program was canceled under President Barack Obama, but elements of both rockets were folded into NASA’s design for the Space Launch System.

As a Dynetics corporate vice president, Cook has been closely involved in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s development of the AR-1 engine — a candidate to replace the Russian RD-180 on United Launch Alliance’s next-generation rocket. Magnus, who has been to space three times, left NASA in 2012 to become executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The other members announced Friday are: Greg Autry of the University of Southern California; Jack Burns of the University of Colorado; Rodney Liesveld, a former senior policy adviser at NASA; and Jeff Waksman, a former research fellow at the U.S. House of Representatives. The NASA landing team is lead by Chris Shank, who worked for House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) until last week. (12/9)

Orbital ATK Wins $29.2 Million Contract for NRO Launch (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force awarded Orbital ATK a $29.2 million fixed-price contract to launch a Minotaur 1 rocket on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) within the next 24 months. The contract is Orbital ATK’s first award under a contracting vehicle the Air Force established several years ago to broaden its pool of launch service providers qualified to launch small- and medium-sized satellites for the U.S. national security community.

In addition to Orbital ATK, the Air Force also picked SpaceX and Lockheed Martin for the  indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracting vehicle. The Air Force did not say where or when the launch, designated NRO-111, would occur. The Minotaur 1, a solid-fueled rocket assembled from decommissioned Peacekeeper missile stages, has launched from Alaska’s Kodiak Island, California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base and Virginia’s Wallops Island. Editor's Note: Space Florida's Launch Complex 46 is among those sites approved for Minotaur launches. (12/9)

CASIS Board of Directors to Meet in Orlando (Source: SpaceRef)
The board of directors and executive leadership for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) will hold a public meeting to present the organization’s annual report for fiscal year 2016. Additionally, this group will review its progress and future goals as managers of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory.

The meeting is to be held on January 23, 2017 at the Marriott Lakeside in Orlando, FL from 9:30am-12pm Eastern Standard Time and is open to the public. Click here. (12/9)

a.i. Solutions Wins NASA KSC ELVIS-3 Launch Support Contract (Source: Florida Politics)
NASA has awarded a potential long-term contract to a.i. solutions that could be worth up to $388 million to provide end-to-end launch preparation services for payloads the space agency intends to blast into space on commercial rockets from Kennedy Space Center and from California.

The space agency announced Wednesday evening it is awarding a.i. solutions the Expendable Launch Vehicle Integrated Support 3 [ELVIS 3] contract. The company is finishing up a similar $138 million contact awarded in 2012. The new one has a base minimum of 18 months starting in April and a base minimum payment of $48 million. But various contract incentives and options could extend it for nine and a half years and $388 million.

The company is to provide rocket system engineering and mission analysis, launch site engineering support, mission planning, and spacecraft ground preparations, among others. In addition it is to oversee a number of upgrades of launch pad and launch support systems at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (12/8)

Indian Mars Instrument's Flaw Nixes Methane Search (Source: Seeker)
An instrument on India's first Mars orbiter, designed to look for methane in the planet's atmosphere, can't do its job because of a design flaw. The methane sensor was designed to detect traces of methane in the atmosphere that could be created by either biological or geological processes. However, NASA scientists reviewing the design of the instrument concluded that it cannot differentiate between methane and other gases, like carbon dioxide. The instrument is now being called an "albedo mapper" measuring reflected sunlight. (12/8)

Malaysian Team Races to Meet Lunar X Prize Launch Requirement (Source: CNBC)
A Malaysian team competing in the Google Lunar X Prize hopes to have a launch contract soon. Independence-X has built an 850-kilogram lander called "Henry" and is finalizing a launch contract for the spacecraft. Four teams, of 16 currently participating in the competition, have launch contracts verified by the X Prize Foundation, with the rest facing a deadline of the end of this month to have contracts in place. (12/8)

NASA Sets Up GIPHY Account (Source: NASA)
NASA is pioneering new frontiers — in social media. The agency announced Thursday that it has an official presence on GIPHY, a database and search engine for animated GIF files. NASA is also on Pinterest, a social network for sharing images and videos, adding some of its catalog of new and historic imagery there. The agency said its presence there and on other social media platform is designed "to offer the public a comprehensive view of NASA’s missions, facilities and people." (12/8)

Ancient Space Dust Washes Up in Rooftop Gutters (Source: Seeker)
Through dogged determination, Jon Larsen has become driven to find space particles, which date back to when our sun was a baby, in the urban sediment that collects in the guttering of building rooftops. And, after he convinced a British planetary scientist to study his findings, years of work have finally paid off.

In 2011, Larsen reached out to Matthew Genge, of Imperial College London, with his plan to find dust particles in this seemingly unlikely place. Though distinguishing space particles from the zoo of man-made dust particles in a city environment was considered too difficult, the hurdle didn't deter Larsen. Click here. (12/8)

NASA Launches Idea To Award High-Performing Contractors (Source: Law360)
NASA on Thursday unveiled a proposed rule aimed at incentivizing contractors by tacking on additional periods of performance to a contract, providing that certain conditions are met, including “superior” work from the contractor and an ongoing need from the government. (12/8)

One of John Glenn’s Last Acts Was to Praise Reusable Rockets (Source: Ars Technica)
On Thursday night, just hours after John Glenn died, the Smithsonian Institution's held its 2016 American Ingenuity Awards banquet. This year the magazine honored Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, and as part of the ceremony former astronaut Mae Jemison read a rather extraordinary letter John Glenn had written less than two weeks before, on Nov. 28.

The letter commended Bezos for his achievements with Blue Origin, which mark critical steps toward developing a low-cost, reusable launch system. Blue Origin plans to offer suborbital tourism flights in 2018 aboard its New Shepard vehicle, and it has announced plans for ambitious orbital and deep space flights soon thereafter. Bezos wants to enable millions of people to live and work in space. (12/9)

Aerojet Stock Falls After Announcement of $260 Million Financing (Source: Sacramento Business Journal)
Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings shares fell 11 percent on Thursday after the aerospace company, with major operations in Rancho Cordova, announced a $200 million financing. That amount was increased Thursday evening to $260 million, offering 2.25 percent interest to investors.

The company said in a news release Wednesday that it will make a private offering of convertible senior notes, raising the money for purposes including the repayment of other debt. (12/9)

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