April 6, 2017

RD Amross Hopes Trump will Continue U.S. Use of RD-180 Engines (Source: Sputnik)
Cocoa Beach-based US-Russian venture RD Amross is optimistic about the environment for the US-Russia cooperation on rocket engines under the Trump administration, CEO Michael Baker said. Baker pointed out that currently the partnership with his Russian counterparts was "extremely strong and everybody operates really well together."

"It’s really hard to say how President Trump will be. We were hoping for some clarification by now but it’s still not quite clear exactly what he will do," Baker said. "But we are very optimistic that it will be a better environment for our partnership." (4/5)

Scientific Advancement is Going to Require Heavy Lift (Source: Space News)
The next big leaps in scientific discovery and exploration, including Mars missions and large space telescopes, will require heavy-lift launch capability, a panel of experts said. With current rockets “we’re able to get one metric ton on the surface,” said John Grunsfeld, the former NASA associate administrator for science. “We really need to be able to get five or ten metric ton pieces to assemble the ability to get people on the surface of Mars.” (4/5)

Issues Layoff Notices at Vandenberg Spaceport (Source: NoozHawk)
ULA has issued layoff notices to 48 employees at Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to the company’s notice to the California Employment Development Department. The firm, which launches Atlas V and Delta IV rockets, alerted the state EDD in a March 29 letter about the layoffs. (4/5)

Andrew Allen to be Honored with Space Club's Debus Award (Source: NSCFL)
Andrew Allen will be presented with the 2017 Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award – the Sunshine State’s most prestigious space-related honor – by the National Space Club Florida Committee (NSCFL) during a formal dinner on April 22. Allen, a former Space Shuttle astronaut and Top Gun pilot, will be recognized for his many years of service as a senior program manager who has made significant contributions to the U.S. space program while based in Florida.
“Andy has proven himself to be an outstanding leader throughout a comprehensive career that has included substantial involvement in the space industry at Kennedy Space Center,” said Kevin Brown, NSCFL chairman. Today, as vice president and general manager of the Jacobs Test and Operations Support Contract at KSC, Allen leads the team responsible for implementation of ground systems capabilities, flight hardware processing, and launch operations for NASA and commercial entities. (4/5)

Bruno: Vulcan Engine Downselect is Blue’s to Lose (Source: Space News)
ULA is prepared to select Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine for its Vulcan rocket this year if the engine passes an upcoming series of tests, the company’s chief executive said. Tory Bruno said that tests of the BE-4 engine, scheduled to begin “very soon” at Blue Origin’s test site in West Texas, are the last major hurdle the engine must clear before ULA decides to use it on Vulcan. (4/5)

Air Force Space Reorg Too Timid for House Milspace Leaders (Source: Space News)
Following the U.S. Air Force announcement that the service will be creating a new three-star staff position focused on space, two key lawmakers said it doesn’t address the core problems.

“We appreciate the Air Force taking steps to place more attention on national security space; however the solution will not be to create additional organizational layers on the Air Staff and cannot be confined to a fix within the Air Force,” said a statement published Tuesday night from Representatives Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN).

“We continue to believe that an effective and comprehensive solution must holistically address national security space organization and management by removing bureaucracy, aligning accountability and authority, empowering and developing the space professionals, and putting space on par with the other warfighting domains,” the congressmen said in the statement. (4/5)

LockMart Hopes to Speed Satellite Production with New Design (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin wants to be able to build a satellite in 18 months using its modernized A2100 platform. Brian O’Connor, vice president of production operations for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said the company currently takes 36 to 40 months on average, but 3-D printing and robotics could greatly reduce that time. The new goal is on top of the technology refresh Lockheed Martin is close to finishing on the A2100 to make it more competitive in the commercial market. (4/5)

Another Russian-Made CommSat Fails In Orbit (Source: EurasiaNet)
Kazakhstan's second telecommunications satellite ceased communicating on March 31, reigniting fears that the country may lose another satellite from Russian manufacturer Khrunichev. KazCosmos, the national space agency of Kazakhstan, said traffic was switched from KazSat-2 to KazSat-3 (the latter satellite is a product of a different Russian manufacturer, ISS Reshetnev). KazCosmos' first satellite, KazSat-1, failed after just two years in orbit. (4/5)

Startup Picks SpaceX for 2018 Launch (Source: Space News)
A startup satellite operator has selected SpaceX to launch its first satellite. Global-IP Cayman, a Cayman Islands-based company, said Monday that it has signed a contract with SpaceX for the Falcon 9 launch of its GiSat-1 satellite in the fourth quarter of 2018. Global-IP Cayman ordered the high-throughput satellite last September from Boeing to provide broadband Internet services for sub-Saharan Africa. (4/5)

Iridium Battles With Ligado Over Spectrum Interference (Source: Via Satellite)
Iridium is continuing to battle with Ligado over interference, telling the FCC that Ligado's proposed modifications to its spectrum would create interference with Iridium satellites. Ligado wants to use its satellite spectrum for terrestrial and satellite telecommunications. Iridium told the FCC that Ligado's latest proposal is akin to “the Greeks entering Troy in the Trojan Horse.” Previously known as LightSquared, Ligado has a long history of spectrum disputes. The company operates a Boeing-built satellite called SkyTerra-1, and is pursuing markets in 5G and Internet of Things connectivity. (4/5)

SpaceX Gaining Substantial Cost Savings From Reused Falcon 9 (Source: Space News)
SpaceX saw significant cost savings by reusing a Falcon 9 first stage in a launch last week, a key factor for the economic viability of reusable launch vehicles. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company expects to see greater cost savings on future launches of reused Falcon 9 vehicles as the company reduces the amount of refurbishment work it does on the recovered stages.

“It was substantially less than half” the cost of new first stage, she said. That cost savings, she said, came even though SpaceX did extensive work to examine and refurbish the stage. “We did way more on this one than we’re doing on future ones, of course,” she said. The company’s long-term goal for first stage refurbishment is to turn the stage around within 24 hours for another launch. (4/5)

Student Teams to Gather in North Alabama for NASA's Student Launch (Source: NASA)
60 student teams will compete in NASA's 17th annual Student Launch, near the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville on April 8. The high school, college and university teams from 23 states, will launch their student-built rockets from Bragg Farms in Toney, Alabama. Each rocket is designed to fly to an altitude of 5,280 feet, or 1 mile, deploy an automated parachute system, and safely land and recover to be eligible for prizes and awards in various divisions.

Seven Florida teams are competing, including from Florida Tech, Florida International University, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, Plantation High School, and Western High School in Davie FL. (4/5)

Russia’s Angara Rocket Celebrates (?) 25th Birthday (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Back in 1992, the Russian government had a problem. Or rather, lots and lots of problems. Some of them related to space. Many of the components for the nation’s launch vehicles and space systems were made in the newly independent Ukraine. Its main spaceport was the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the new nation of Kazakhstan. Russia’s independence in space was at risk.

Russia’s leaders decided that was the nation needed was a brand new launch vehicle, one designed and built in country and launched from the domestic Plestsk military spaceport. With a new rocket, Russia would be completely free of dependence on foreigners for access to space. And so, Angara was born.

Khrunichev actually developed and flight tested variants of Angara’s first stage as part of South Korea’s Naro-1 booster, which flew three times between 2009 and 2013. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) supplied the upper stages for the boosters. It was not until July 9, 2014 — 22 years after the rocket was first conceived — that the first Angara booster launched from Plesetsk. (4/5)

Latest Test Shows How North Korea Is Hiding Its Missiles (Source: Daily Beast)
This is a new and important technology advancement for North Korea. Once North Korea realized it had a successful solid-fuel nuclear-capable SLBM (called the KN-11 or Pukguksong), it became very valuable to them. First, SLBMs are harder for most ballistic-missile defense systems to detect. South Korea’s shiny new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system has a 120-degree directional radar. North Korea could move a submarine behind the radar’s field of view and launch a missile, defeating the entire purpose of the system.

Second, the missile is solid-fueled, making it very useful for land-based systems. Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute (and my boss), predicted North Korea would move the SLBM to a road mobile system last year. North Korea routinely moves missiles around the country on trucks to keep outsiders guessing and increase the survivability of their missiles. In between rotations, they hide their road-mobile missiles in bunkers, warehouses, caves, and highway tunnels. (4/5)

Bezos Discusses Blue Origin Funding (Source: GeekWire)
My business model right now for Blue Origin is, I sell about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock, and I use it to invest in Blue Origin," he told reporters here at the 33rd Space Symposium. "So the business model for Blue Origin is very robust." Bezos threw out the figure half-jokingly, after noting that he typically doesn't reveal how much he's spending. But he made clear that his in-house space effort takes a noticeable chunk out of his estimated $78 billion fortune. He said the development cost for Blue Origin's New Glenn orbital launch system, which should be taking off from a Florida launch facility by 2020 or so, is likely to be on the order of $2.5 billion. (4/5)

Russia May Abandon International Space Station to Join Forces with China (Source: Pravda)
The Russian segment of the International Space Station may separate from the station. Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos is also currently looking into the need for the presence of people in orbit. Do people still have to live on board the ISS or is it possible to entrust space exploration to robots?

These issues were put on the agenda of the meeting of the Military Industrial Commission for the development of Roscosmos until 2030. According to Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, the industry needs customers interested in the result. He referred to the International Space Station, where scientific experiments had been prepared ten years ago, and it can hardly be possible to find those who started the work. Rogozin is certain that one needs to understand whether the presence of people in space is necessary as space exploration objectives can be entrusted to robotic devices. Russia also needs to increase the reliability of its carrier rockets that has decreased in recent years.
"The key question here is not about the size of the station or its location in space - whether it is going to orbit the Earth or the Moon. The key question is about international cooperation. We need to understand who our partners are. All other questions are secondary. Clearly, Russia and China can build such stations, but this is not a question of technologies or finance. Russia solves secondary questions related to modules and their functions. I believe that Russia and China can be very good partners at this point." (4/5)

So, You Want to Be a Space Lawyer (Source: Paste)
Imagine this Hollywood pitch: It’s a TV show like Ally McBeal … but in space! This might seem far-fetched at first, but “space law” is poised to become a very big deal. Why not be your own Space Matlock? Space law could be a great career opportunity for legal eagles who want to “slip the surly bonds” of Earthly law.

Space law is not even a brand-new field. Space legislation has been an official global concern since the 1950s. Laws governing airspace date back to the early 20th century, but those laws were not sufficient in covering outer space issues. Click here. (4/3)

Boeing Unveils 'Deep Space Gateway' Stepping Stones to Mars (Source: Huntsville Times)
Boeing unveiled preliminary design concepts this week for a deep space station that would orbit the moon as a base for humans to safely explore space from the moon to Mars. The concept drawings and details were released at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. At the same time, Boeing also unveiled a first look at a transport system that could ferry astronauts from the deep space station to Mars.

Boeing was one of six companies NASA selected in 2016 to develop prototypes and concepts for deep space habitats and transport vehicles. The others are Bigelow Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada and NanoRacks. (4/4)

Vector Test Flight Planned at Georgia Spaceport Site (Source: Golden Isles News)
Vector Space Systems has announced plans to conduct a sub-orbital test flight from the proposed Camden spaceport site as early as this summer. According to the company’s website, the near-term test flight is part of a series of “incremental launches which will enable Vector to validate technology, mature launch vehicle design and operations and evaluate candidate launch sites for the future.”

James Cantrell, chief executive officer for Vector, sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal to urge his signing of H.B. 1, legislation that will help protect companies from frivolous lawsuits from employees and passengers on rockets.

Camden County Administrator Steve Howard said Vector is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to arrange for the test. “We’re evaluating a potential operation here,” he said. “We’re going to work with the FAA to accomplish this.” Cantrell said his company will continue to support the safety analysis currently underway at the site. (4/5)

Kourou Spaceport Occupied by Strikers (Source: Advanced Television)
The strike at Arianespace’s Kourou spaceport in French Guiana has become even more bitter. Demonstrators gained access to a – normally – highly secure suite of offices and occupied the space centre’s main conference room, and refused to quit.

Moreover, the space center’s director Guillaume Faure could not muster up enough police to evict the 30 or so protesters. Local images show riot ‘police’ protecting the main gate. The French authorities also have units of the Foreign Legion standing by in French Guiana. (4/5)

Spaceport America Relay Race Honors Centuries of Change in Transportation (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
From the travelers on the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro to today’s pioneers of spaceflight, there’s been a long history of movement in southern New Mexico. This weekend, that history will be the focus of the inaugural Spaceport America Relay Race. Some 24 teams of six or 12 runners each will make the 180-mile run from El Paso to the spaceport in southeastern Sierra County. (4/4)

Spaceport America Chief Refutes Loss of Vector to Georgia Spaceport (Source: KRWG)
Readers should always use discretion when believing a commentary or opinion. Such is the case this past Friday with a commentary titled Spaceport America Loses Potential Client To Spaceport That Hasn't Been Built. The commentary asserts that Spaceport America lost Vector Space's business to the Camden Georgia spaceport site.

The reality is that Vector intends to build rocket systems that cannot be supported at Spaceport America. These type of launch systems must be launched over a broad ocean area for safety reasons. Camden Georgia may turn out to be a very viable spaceport for Vector and Spaceport America is very supportive of their arrangement. Spaceport America staff has actually had several discussions with Vector leadership to understand their capability and confirm their technology was not suitable for an inland spaceport. (4/4)

China Develops Spaceship Capable of Moon Landing (Source: Space Daily)
Chinese state media is reporting that the country’s space program has developed a craft capable of both landing on the moon and flying in low-Earth orbit. The new spacecraft is claimed to be able to accommodate multiple astronauts, according to spaceship engineer Zhang Bainian, who Science and Technology Daily cited as comparing the forthcoming ship to the Orion craft currently in development by the European Space Agency and NASA. (4/4)

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