May 14, 2017

KSC Visitor Complex Offers Free Admission for 5th Graders (Source: KSCVC)
Calling all future explorers! Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering a front row seat to NASA’s Journey to Mars for free to fifth graders nationwide this summer, with an invitation for a full-day of adventure and fun. The offer is part of the Summer of Mars campaign designed to highlight the myriad experiences and activities available to guests that focus on the future of space exploration and Mars missions to inspire the next generation of space explorers at the place where it will launch. (5/11)

Masten Achieves First Hot-Fire of Broadsword Rocket Engine (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Masten Space Systems recently completed a 13-month design, build, and test period of its first development Broadsword 25 rocket engine. The new engine is currently being developed for DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. Powered by liquid oxygen and liquid methane, the Broadsword 25 is capable of generating an estimated 25,000 pounds-force (111 kilonewtons) at sea level.

The engine, designed to be a reusable engine suitable for use in boost and upper stage applications, has been in development since August 2015. With the ignition and startup goals of the first development unit being met, Masten has already begun the design and build of its second development unit which should result in a main stage hot-fire test. Continued development of the engine will continue through 2018 collaborating with NASA under the Tipping Point Program. Flight qualification of the new engine should take place sometime afterward. (5/13)

North Korea Launches a New Unidentified Missile as Tensions with US Fester (Source: CNBC)
North Korea fired on Sunday an unidentified missile from a region near its west coast, South Korea's military said, a development that was confirmed by U.S. officials. The launch, if it is confirmed to be test-firing of a ballistic missile, is the first in two weeks since the last attempt to fire a missile ended in a failure just minutes into flight.

President Donald Trump warned in an interview with Reuters in late April that a "major, major conflict" with the North was possible, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute over its nuclear and missile programs. The launch is the first since a new liberal president took office in South Korea on Wednesday saying dialogue as well as pressure must be used to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and stop the North's weapons pursuit. (5/13)

Top SpaceX Employee Throws Shade at Just About All of His Competitors (Source: Ars Technica)
About 10 days ago, a founding employee of SpaceX, Tom Mueller, made a Skype call to a group of "fans" of the company with the New York University Astronomy Society. The call was recorded and posted to It garnered little attention until Saturday, when a user on the SpaceX subreddit called attention to it.

Although the provenance of the 54-minute call is not entirely clear, there is no question it is Mueller speaking, and he is doing so in a rare, unfiltered way. The 15-year employee of SpaceX, who is now the company's Propulsion Chief Technology Officer, says things that many of SpaceX's employees probably feel, but which are nonetheless impolitic. In other words, Mueller throws shade at just about everyone. For example, of the company's most immediate rival, ULA, Mueller has this to say: "The cost that the government cost-plus programs charge for their rockets is just ridiculous."

Now, Mueller says, SpaceX is having the last laugh. "We were ridiculed by the other big companies in the launch-vehicle business," he says. "At first they ignored us, and then they fought us, and then they found out they really couldn't win in a fair fight because we were successful and were factors of two, three, or even five lower cost than what they could do. So then it becomes an unfair fight where they try to destroy you politically or use other means. And then, at some point, they figure out that they’ve got to do what you’re doing." Click here. (5/13)

Saalex Honored by NASA for Small Business Contributions (Source: Florida Today)
Saalex Solutions was honored by Kennedy Space Center for its contributions to NASA’s Small Business Program. The award was made as part of Small Business Week. KSC Small Business Specialist Joyce C. McDowell presented the award to Saalex President and CEO, Travis Mack, at the company’s Rockledge location. The presentation also included a tour of the facility and its Network Operation Center. (5/13)

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