ULA Atlas V Orbits TDRS-M Satellite

ULA Atlas V lifts off with TDRS-M satellite. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Aug. 18, 2017 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NASA’s Tracking Data and Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 Aug. 18 at 8:29 a.m. EDT. The TDRS-M is the third and final mission in the series of these third generation space communication satellites to orbit, as part of the follow-on fleet being developed to replenish NASA’s space Network.

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U.S. Air Force Names Space Operations Officials

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force selected the senior civilian and mobilization assistant for the deputy chief of staff for Space Operations directorate, or “AF/A11,” Aug. 17, 2017. Mr. Shawn Barnes will serve as the assistant deputy chief of staff for Space Operations, and Maj. Gen. Pamela Lincoln has been named as the Mobilization assistant to the deputy chief of staff for Space Operations.

“Mr. Barnes and Maj. Gen. Lincoln are experienced leaders who will provide the vision and direction for our new Space Operations Directorate,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “This is one more element of the plan to ensure our space forces are organized, trained, and equipped to prevail in any conflict.”

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What a Ride to Space Costs These Days

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

Just in time for your late summer beach reading needs, the Government Accountability Office has released a new report, “Surplus Missile Motors: Sale Price Drives Potential Effects on DOD and Commercial Launch Providers.”

The report looks at the costs associated with using surplus rocket motors in Orbital ATK’s Minotaur launchers, which cannot be used for commercial missions.

Yes, it’s about as exciting as it sounds.

Anyway, the report does contain a couple of interesting tables showing what a ride into space costs these days.

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NASA Acting Deputy Administrator Departs for Academic Post

Lesa Roe

DALLAS, August 17, 2017 (University of North Texas System PR) — The University of North Texas System Board of Regents has selected Lesa B. Roe, Acting Deputy Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as the sole finalist for the position of Chancellor. Ms. Roe’s selection was announced August 17 during the UNT System Board of Regents meeting at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

“The UNT System is very proud to present Lesa Roe as the sole finalist for our Chancellor position – she is a results-oriented, decisive leader with proven success in operating in a high-risk, high-visibility environment,” said G. Brint Ryan, Chairman for the UNT System Board of Regents. “Lesa has more than 30 years of experience in corporate-level strategic positioning and execution for a multi-billion dollar federal agency and her track record of driving efficient productivity, combined with a wealth of experience working with federal and state-level legislators, makes her an ideal fit to lead the UNT System into a new era.”

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Op-Ed in The Hill: NASA is Playing Favorites With SpaceX

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Well, this is interesting.

There’s an opinion piece in The Hill concerning the CRS-7 accident:

Time for NASA to stop playing favorites with Elon Musk’s SpaceX

The op-ed deals with the handling of the investigation in the June 2015 loss of a Dragon spacecraft by NASA and SpaceX. It supports a provision in the Senate appropriations bill that requires the FAA to produce a public summary.

After promising to produce a public summary last year, NASA reversed itself last month. The agency said it was not required to produce one and said the responsibility lies with the FAA.  So, Senators are telling the FAA to produce one.

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Google Lunar X Prize Extends Deadline Again

LOS ANGELES, August 16, 2017 (XPRIZE PR) – Today, XPRIZE and Google announce that $4.75M in additional Milestone Prize money will be available to Google Lunar XPRIZE finalist teams for achieving technological milestones along the way to the Moon.

Additionally, XPRIZE established a mission completion deadline of March 31, 2018, regardless of the initiation date, in order for teams to win the Grand or Second-Place Prizes.

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NASA TV to Air Launch of ULA Atlas V

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M is the latest spacecraft destined for the agency’s constellation of communications satellites that allows nearly continuous contact with orbiting spacecraft ranging from the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope to the array of scientific observatories. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting 8:03 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 18, for the launch of its next Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) mission atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch, and related activities that begin Thursday, Aug. 17, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. (more…)

Space Rodents Help NASA Plan for Deep Space Missions

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson collects images of the back of the eye during a routine check into astronaut eyesight. Crew members’ bodies change in a variety of ways during space flight, and some experience impaired vision. (Credits: NASA)
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s future deep space exploration – including to Mars – is an unprecedented venture in spaceflight, requiring us to tackle challenges we’ve never faced before. For instance, we know the human body changes significantly while in space, and we’ll need to find ways to address those effects. NASA is conducting research to learn more about the long-term impact of extended human spaceflight. One experiment that just launched, Rodent Research-9, is contributing to this goal by sending rodents to the International Space Station, to study how a lack of gravity in space affects blood vessels, eyes and joints.

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Animation of Astrobotic’s Planned Lunar Flight

Video Caption: Astrobotic and United Launch Alliance (ULA) proudly announce today that Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander will be onboard a ULA launch vehicle in 2019, during the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

And the New NASA Administrator is Probably….Wait for it….

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

This guy.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

That’s what a couple of websites (here and here) are reporting this evening, with the caveat that — this being “Trump world” — anything could happen between now and the formal announcement planned for September or perhaps earlier.

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be.

During his three terms Congress, Bridenstine has made himself an expert in space policy, with a particular focus on promoting commercial space. He’s also been campaigning for the job since Trump was elected (and probably before). Bridenstine will also be in need of a new job soon. He promised voters he would serve a maximum of six years in the House, which means he won’t be standing for re-election next November.

The Trump Administration has also settled on a deputy administrator. That guy’s name is…

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UrtheCast Signs $100 Million CAD Contract for SAR Satellite

VANCOUVER, Aug. 14, 2017 (UrtheCast PR) — UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR) (the “Company”) announced today that it has entered into a contract with a confidential customer for the development and delivery of a dual-frequency stand-alone Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operational-class satellite as an “accelerator” for the OptiSARTM Constellation.

The exact amount of the contract is not being disclosed at this time for confidentiality and competitive reasons, but the Company can confirm that it is a substantial contract worth in excess of one hundred million Canadian dollars.

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It’s Baaack! Sea Launch to Rise From Watery Grave Again

Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)

It seems you can’t keep a mediocre rocket down.

Sea Launch is coming back. After weathering a bankruptcy and a period of involuntary hibernation, new owners are bringing the troubled launch provider back to life for the third time.

“Work is underway to end the conservation of the complex and to restore launch activities with the use of Zenit carrier rockets in the current configuration until 2023,” S7 told Sputnik International.

Since making its first launch in 1999, Sea Launch has compiled a record of 32 successes, 3 failures and 1 partial failure. The company’s most recent flight was conducted on May 26, 2014.

Work on SHIVER Tank for Deep Space Propellant Storage Advances

SHIIVER, a cryogenic test tank developed to evaluate heat intercept concepts, arrived at Marshall on Aug. 10. The tank will receive heat sensors and spray-on foam insulation at Marshall before making its way to Plum Brook Station for further insulation and testing. (Credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — A technical challenge that NASA is working to solve is how to maintain very cold liquid propellants to be used as fuel for deep space missions. Heat intercept concepts such as advanced insulation blankets, foam insulation and vapor-based cooling will be evaluated with the Structural Heat Intercept Insulation Vibration Evaluation Rig or SHIIVER, which arrived Aug. 10 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for application of its first round of insulation.

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