Mojave Spaceport Moves Forward With Fitness Center Project

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Interior of the Stuart O. Witt Event Center. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Interior of the Stuart O. Witt Event Center. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

A fitness center could open inside the Mojave Air and Space Port’s Stuart O. Witt Event Center in November if all goes well, officials said on Tuesday.

The spaceport’s Board of Directors approved spending up to $60,000 on improvements required to prepare an unfinished portion of the building to host a fitness center. The improvements will include heating, air conditioning, electrical work, lighting, flooring and ceiling insulation.

Mojave CEO and General Manager Stu Witt said a fitness company has signed a letter of intent to lease the space once it is set for occupancy.

Deputy General Manager Karina Drees said the fitness center would be open to employees at the airport as well as members of the general public. The company is taking some risk coming up to Mojave, so it wants as many members as possible.

The unnamed company is looking to sign a five-year lease to rent the space.

The event center and the fitness club are part of the airport’s tenant retention program. The event center has been used to host special events and company all-hands meetings.

Orbital ATK Wins USAF Launch Contract

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USAF_Space_Missile_Systems_CenterThe U.S. Air Force has awarded a $23.6 million contract to Orbital ATK for the launch of its ORS-5 mission. The launch vehicle was not identified in the procurement announcement.

“The ORS-5 program will task Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Lincoln Laboratory to design and build an operational demonstration of the SensorSat satellite, which continuously scans the GEO belt from a low earth orbit,” the USAF said in a press release last year. “The ORS-5 program will demonstrate a low-cost small satellite launch capability and aspects of autonomous operations via the existing Multi-Mission Space Operations Center ground architecture.

“In addition, ORS-5 provides risk reduction for cutting-edge technologies to be transitioned to the Space-Based Space Surveillance system follow-on baseline program of record. With a projected start in 2016, the SBSS follow-on program will execute a technology transfer strategy, seeking opportunities for early industry involvement through requests for information and a near-term industry day.

“ORS-5 is expected to launch in 2017.”

The project is being done by the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office in partnership with SMC’s Space Superiority Systems Directorate and Advanced Systems and Development Directorate.

Orbital ATK Signs $98 Million Contract for Orion Abort Motor

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orbital_atk_logoMAGNA, Utah, July 7, 2015 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that is has signed a $98 million agreement with Lockheed Martin to provide the launch abort motor for the Orion human spaceflight capsule’s Launch Abort System (LAS). The Orion spacecraft will launch aboard NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), enabling humans to explore new deep space destinations.

The launch abort motor, manufactured at Orbital ATK facilities in Magna, Promontory and Clearfield, Utah, is a powerful solid rocket motor designed to ensure crew safety. Orion’s LAS is a unique safety feature, similar to an ejection seat found in a fighter jet. If an emergency were to occur at the launch pad, or during lift-off and ascent, the abort system would rapidly lift the capsule and crew away from the rocket.
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Musk: Preliminary Results of Falcon 9 Investigation Expected Soon

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Companies Offer Insurance for Smallsats

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CubeSat

CubeSat

Irvine, CA, July 7, 2015 (Terran Orbital PR) – Terran Orbital announced a new launch and satellite replacement insurance service for customers of Terran Orbital’s launch services and satellite. The risk management and mitigation service provides insurance on major U.S. and international launch vehicles.

Terran Orbital, the industry leader in turnkey nanosatellite systems and solutions, has partnered with Aon Risk Solutions’ International Space Brokers, the world’s only insurance broker dedicated exclusively to the space industry. The partnership will provide customers in the growing, small-satellite community with insurance solutions with minimal paperwork at an affordable price.
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Latest Images of Pluto from New Horizons

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Pluto (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

Pluto (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

These are the most recent high-resolution views of Pluto sent by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, including one showing the four mysterious dark spots on Pluto that have captured the imagination of the world. The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) obtained these three images between July 1 and 3 of 2015, prior to the July 4 anomaly that sent New Horizons into safe mode.

The left image shows, on the right side of the disk, a large bright area on the hemisphere of Pluto that will be seen in close-up by New Horizons on July 14. The three images together show the full extent of a continuous swath of dark terrain that wraps around much of Pluto’s equatorial region. The western end of the swath (right image) breaks up into a series of striking dark regularly-spaced spots, each hundreds of miles in size, which were first detected in New Horizons images taken in late June. Intriguing details are beginning to emerge in the bright material north of the dark region, in particular a series of bright and dark patches that are conspicuous just below the center of the disk in the right image. In all three black-and-white views, the apparent jagged bottom edge of Pluto is the result of image processing. The inset shows Pluto’s orientation, illustrating its north pole, equator, and central meridian running from pole to pole.

Pluto (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

Pluto (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

The color version of the July 3 LORRI image was created by adding color data from the Ralph instrument gathered earlier in the mission.

NASA Funds 7 NIAC Phase II Proposals

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niac_2015_montage
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected seven technology proposals for continued study under Phase II of the agency’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The selections are based on the potential to transform future aerospace missions, introduce new capabilities or significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

The selected proposals address a range of visionary concepts, including metallic lithium combustion for long-term robotics operations, submarines that explore the oceans of icy moons of the outer planets, and a swarm of tiny satellites that map gravity fields and characterize the properties of small moons and asteroids.

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Southern Road Hits Snag as Spaceport America Seeks More Tenants

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The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

A couple of updates on Spaceport America.

Southern Road Project Delayed:  A project aimed at turning a 24-mile dirt road to Spaceport America into a “quasi-paved surface” has hit a snag that will delay the project by two to three months. There has been a mismatch between the corridor proposed for the southern road and an environmental review conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Bill Childress, regional BLM director, said the study examined a route originally specified by the county for the proposed road upgrades. But “when we got the final engineering documents from the county, it didn’t match the documents,” Childress said. “We had to inform the county of that.”

Childress said the route distance that didn’t align was “less than a mile,” mainly in one particular location. The route in the engineering plans was offset from that examined in the environmental study by a distance of about “20 to 30 feet.”

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GLXP Update: Team Synergy Moon Moves Forward

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VIRUS-1 thruster test (Credit: Team Synergy Moon)

VIRUS-1 thruster test (Credit: Team Synergy Moon)

SAN FRANCISCO (Team Synergy Moon PR) — 2015 started with a BANG! as the Google Lunar X PRIZE awarded $6Million in Milestone Prizes.  Team Synergy Moon has also been busy, with lots of development work happening at Interorbital Systems for our launch infrastructure, launch vehicle and lunar lander.

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New Horizons Set to Return to Normal Operations on Tuesday

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In NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the New Horizons probe is moved toward a work stand for a checkout on Sept. 25, 2005. The 1,054-pound, piano-sized spacecraft is topped by a high-gain dish antenna to transmit data across three billion miles back to Earth. (Credit: NASA)

In NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the New Horizons probe is moved toward a work stand for a checkout on Sept. 25, 2005. The 1,054-pound, piano-sized spacecraft is topped by a high-gain dish antenna to transmit data across three billion miles back to Earth. (Credit: NASA)

LAUREL, MD (NASA PR) — NASA’s New Horizons mission is returning to normal science operations after a July 4 anomaly and remains on track for its July 14 flyby of Pluto.

The investigation into the anomaly that caused New Horizons to enter “safe mode” on July 4 has concluded that no hardware or software fault occurred on the spacecraft. The underlying cause of the incident was a hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence that occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby. No similar operations are planned for the remainder of the Pluto encounter.

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