June 26, 2017

Festus Youths Win International Rocketry Competition (Source: KMOX)
“I’m still not sure I believe it, to be honest with you. It’s just incredible.” That was the reaction from Festus High School Rocket Club advisor Devin Lorenz to KMOX News on Friday, after his students won the gold medal at the International Rocketry Challenge in Paris, France. They defeated teams from Great Britain, France and Japan in the finals. (6/25)

House Lawmakers Want Space-Based Missile Defense Strategy (Source: Defense News)
House lawmakers want the Pentagon to quickly produce a space-based missile defense strategy, according to the Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee’s mark of the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill released this week.

The strategy would lay out the plans of the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Air Force and other agencies “to develop a space-based sensor layer for ballistic missile defense that provides precision tracking data of missiles beginning in the boost phase and continuing throughout subsequent flight regimes; serves other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements; and achieves an operational prototype payload at the earliest practicable opportunity,” the subcommittee mark reads.

The lawmakers would require the Defense Department to provide the strategy one year following passage of the legislation to include how it would develop the sensor layer and the estimated costs including development, acquisition and operations and sustainment across its life cycle, according to the document. (6/23)

Falcon 9 Launches from Vandenberg Using New Automated Safety System (Source: Lompoc Record)
A Falcon 9 rocket soared through a mostly clear sky over the Lompoc Valley early Sunday afternoon following a launch that marked a pair of firsts for Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch was the first under new 30th Space Wing Commander Michael Hough and it was also the first from the base — and just the second ever — to use an Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS), which relies on computer systems rather than humans for rocket safety tracking. (6/26)

NASA Delays Virginia Launch for 10th Time (Source: Washington Post)
A rocket launch scheduled for the NASA site on Virginia’s Eastern Shore has been postponed 10 times this month, hinting at the hazards and hardships involved in rocket science.

The latest delay was reported Friday, when the space agency said the launch of its Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket, which had been scheduled for Saturday, was again put off. NASA said it was because of expected cloud cover.

The rocket was to be sent up from the Wallops Flight Facility to support ionospheric research by creating luminescent chemical clouds at that lofty level of the atmosphere, 46 or more miles above the earth. The clouds would be visible along much of the Eastern Seaboard. (6/26)

Florida Minotaur IV Launch Postponed 6 Weeks (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A Minotaur IV rocket scheduled to lift off from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in mid-July has been delayed to late August, according to the U.S. Air Force. The entirely solid-fueled Minotaur IV was scheduled to fly out of Launch Complex 46 at CCAFS in mid-July.

The press office at Patrick Air Force Base, which handles press affairs for CCAFS, told SpaceFlight Insider the launch will take place around the last week of August but declined to be more specific. No reason for the delay was given.

The rocket is slated to carry a small satellite called SensorSat for the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office. The spacecraft is officially designated ORS-5, as it is the fifth launch of the ORS program. (6/26)

SpaceX is 'Critical' to Iridium's Future, Says CEO Matt Desch (Source: CNBC)
SpaceX achieved history on Sunday with a rocket launch—an act that the CEO of Iridium Communications said was "critical" to his company's commercial success. SpaceX carried 10 communications satellites into orbit from California, merely two days after the company successfully launched a satellite from Florida.

"SpaceX has been a disruptor of the long-time status quo of the commercial space industry," Iridium chief Matt Desch said. "They are redefining the 'cost to get to space,' and all the other launch providers have had to take note and adjust their plans."

Iridium is SpaceX's largest commercial customer, and the launch from Vandenberg was the second Iridium mission for the commercial space company—part of a contract to deliver 75 Iridium satellites by mid-2018. However, that timetable is two years behind what SpaceX agreed upon with Iridium in 2010. (6/26)

Blue Origin Picks Huntsville as Site for Rocket Manufacture (Source: Huntsville Chamber)
Blue Origin announced plans to manufacture its BE-4 engine in a state-of-the art production facility to be built in Huntsville, Alabama -- the Rocket City. The new facility will be in Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second-largest research park, and construction can begin once an engine production contract with United Launch Alliance is awarded.

The BE-4 is America’s next rocket engine and will power United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, once down-selected. The production of this engine would end the nation’s dependence on Russia for access to space for critical national security space systems.

Two BE-4s would be used on the Vulcan booster rocket. The BE-4 will also power Blue Origin’s New Glenn reusable launch system with seven BE-4s on the reusable first stage and a vacuum-optimized BE-4U on New Glenn’s second stage. Blue Origin awaits the final public approval processes of the local package by the City and County governments during their respective July meetings. (6/26)

Rideshare Demand Grows Despite Development of Small Launch Vehicles (Source: Space News)
Despite the ongoing development of a fleet of small launch vehicles, both launch providers and customers continue to see demand for flying small satellites as secondary payloads on larger rockets.

The latest example of rideshare launch services took place early June 23, with the launch of an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). That rocket, in addition to its primary payload of a Cartosat-2 imaging satellite, carried 30 small satellites from 15 countries as secondary payloads.

PSLV has emerged as a leading provider of rideshare services for smallsats, but it is not the only player. During a panel discussion at the annual Small Payload Rideshare Symposium at the Applied Physics Laboratory here June 14, representatives of several launch providers discussed ongoing plans to provide accommodations for secondary payloads. (6/26)

Mars Bus Experience at KSC Seeks to Inspire Next Generation of Astronauts (Source: WESH)
A new bus at the Kennedy Space Center allows a person to go on a virtual mission to Mars. The bus is called the Mars Experience and was created by Lockheed Martin, a global aerospace and defense company. Lockheed Martin engineer Theresa Brown says, "It drives you through a simulation such as if you were driving on Mars and seeing what life would be like if you were there."

The attraction is part of the Space Center's "Summer of Mars," which is centered around NASA's aim to send humans to the Red Planet in the early 2030s. The bus is also a part of Lockheed Martin's Generation Beyond initiative. This initiative aims to boost education in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math.

Kennedy Space Center senior sales director Lisa Hultquist says "Kennedy Space Center visitor complex believes like Lockheed Martin that the space explorers who are going to go to Mars are already born and probably in grade school." That is why the bus is free for all fifth-graders for the entirety of the summer. (6/26)

Before SpaceX, McGregor TX Facility Produced Bombs and Lots of Them (Source: KWTX)
Today it’s home to a rocket testing facility, but as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, the small McLennan County farming community of McGregor played a major part in the Allied war effort as workers there built about one quarter of the bombs dropped during the conflict.

Then through the years different companies and agencies used the same land, and sometimes even the same buildings, to make and test everything from furniture and kitchenware to rocket motors that can carry a human to Mars. It all began after Pearl Harbor when U.S. industrial production went on a fast track to support the war effort overseas and many cities and towns in Central Texas went all out to support the cause, but none had the impact of the material that came out of McGregor, where they made bombs.

The Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant was the first of four such facilities built nationwide starting in 1942, and the first to supply ordnance to the battlefield. (6/23)

Five New Human Physiology Projects Selected for ISS Research (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced five grants have been awarded in response to a funding opportunity focused on human physiology and disease onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Data from this research — which will feature “tissue chips” (or “organs-on-chips”) — will help scientists develop and advance novel technologies to improve human health here on Earth.

These initial five projects are part of a four-year collaboration through which NCATS will provide two-years of initial funding of approximately $6 million, to use tissue chip technology for translational research onboard the ISS National Laboratory. Awardees will be eligible for a subsequent two years of funding, pending availability of funds, based upon performance and achieving milestones for each project. Click here. (6/20)

New Canadian Space Strategy Delayed (Source: SpaceQ)
Canada’s new space strategy will not be unveiled this month as previously expected, but will be delayed until later this summer or early fall, multiple sources tell SpaceQ. There are two primary reasons for the delay.

First, the Space Advisory Board was not announced until mid-April providing it little time to consult with stakeholders and to formulate a report for the government to analyze with feedback incorporated into a new space strategy. As well, there was a greater response to the consultation process than was expected including numerous written submissions. What this all means is the government has a lot input to digest. (6/21)

Public Libraries are Centers for Eclipse Education (Source: Starnet Libraries)
More than two million pairs of eclipse glasses are being distributed free through public libraries in the U.S. for the eclipse of the Sun taking place on August 21, 2017. About 4,800 organizations, including public library branches, bookmobiles, tribal libraries, library consortia, and state libraries, have received a package of free safe-viewing glasses, plus a 24-page information booklet on how best to do public outreach programs about the eclipse.

The project is supported, in part, by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with additional help from Google, National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA. Dr. Robert Kirshner, Chief Program Officer, Science, at the Moore Foundation, adds “The Moore Foundation is pleased to help two million eyes enjoy and understand this astronomical spectacle with astronomical spectacles." (6/21)

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