Sierra Nevada, Lockheed Martin Unveil First Dream Chaser Orbital Structure

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SNC's Dream Chaser® orbital structural airframe at Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

SNC’s Dream Chaser® orbital structural airframe at Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

SPARKS, Nev., Aug 1, 2014 – In a joint press conference, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems and Dream Chaser® program partner, Lockheed Martin unveiled the Dream Chaser orbital spacecraft composite airframe. This structure will be used to conduct the first orbital launch of the Dream Chaser spacecraft due to launch in November, 2016, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

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Celestis Offers Space Pet Burials

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celestis_petsHOUSTON (Celestis PR) — Celestis announces the opportunity to honor your special animal companion with a final journey among the stars on board the world’s first pet memorial spaceflight service.

Celestis Pets places a symbolic portion of cremated remains into Earth orbit, deep space, and onto the lunar surface. Missions that return the cremated remains to Earth are available as part of our Earth Rise service.

Your best friend will venture into space as part of a real mission, riding alongside selected commercial and scientific satellites. Choose from the options below.

  • Earth Rise (suborbital) starting at $995
  • Earth Orbit starting at $4,995
  • Luna (moon) starting at $12,500
  • Voyager (deep space) starting at $12,500.

A Closer Look at Rocket Labs’ Technical Development

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Earlier this week, Rocket Lab announced plans for a small satellite launcher capable of placing small payloads into orbit for less than $5 million. Although the U.S.-New Zealand company has largely flown under the radar, it does have a series of updates on its website chronicling its technical progress and funding sources.

I’ve reproduced those updates below to provide an overview of what the company has been doing over the past four years. This is an easy way to get caught up.

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NASA Seeks Information About Commercial Mars Communications Satellites

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Artist rendering of commercial Mars satellites providing communications back to Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist rendering of commercial Mars satellites providing communications back to Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the possibility of using commercial Mars-orbiting satellites to provide telecommunications capabilities for future robotic missions to the Red Planet.

“We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars.”

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Readers Say: U.S. Space Program Not Nominal

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Nominal PollParabolic Arc readers have pronounced the U.S. space program as being far from nominal in our latest poll.

A mere 13 percent of readers selected Nominal when asked how they thought the American program is going. Another 48 percent said Subnominal, while another 36 percent selected Subbasement Nominal.

A very small minority of voters thought the program is going Super Nominal (2 percent) and Superdupernominal (1 percent).

The poll did not have any options for readers to vote on why they think the program is going so poorly. Our current poll corrects that problem by providing the most likely reasons.

Thank you all for voting. And please vote in our new poll. Remember: vote early, vote often, just vote, dammit! Vote!

Generation Orbit Completes First Captive Carry Flight

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Captive carry flight (Credit: Generation Orbit)

Captive carry flight (Credit: Generation Orbit)

ATLANTA, GA, JULY 31, 2014 – Yesterday, Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) completed the initial captive carry flight of the Flight Experiment Testbed (GO-FET). Operating out of Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, FL, the three hour test flight served as an demonstration of air launch operations both on the ground and in flight.

The flight configuration consisted of a Learjet 35 carrier aircraft with a standardized pod integrated to a wing hardpoint. The set of payloads carried within the pod were designed to gather environmental and dynamics data on propellant management, payload integration, and wireless communications.

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Ukraine Conflict Could Cost Russia Nearly $1 Billion

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Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for the military conflict in eastern Ukraine are having a ripple effect on the nation’s military-industrial complex, which remains heavily dependent on imports of components from abroad.

Faced with impending EU sanctions on Russia’s defense industry, President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged the Defense Ministry to redouble its efforts to wean the defense sector off foreign suppliers, Interfax reported.

Russian firms currently make their own versions of just 58 of the 206 types of defense products that the country imports, but state development programs should add another 40 to their repertoire by 2020, said Alexander Shilov, deputy head of the Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos.

The defense industry has already been waylaid by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s June decision to prohibit military-industrial cooperation with Russia amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine, blocking Russia from importing the Ukrainian equipment that its defense industry sorely needs.

Roscosmos, which operates several spacecraft that rely on Ukrainian components, last week estimated that Russia needs to spend about $940 million through 2018 to offset losses from the cutting of Ukrainian ties, with most of the cash to be drawn from federal investment programs in the space and defense industries.

President Putin is urging defense and space officials to wean themselves off foreign suppliers as soon as possible regardless of cost.

Read the full story.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Gets New President

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csf_logo_newestSpace News reports that Eric Stallmer will replace outgoing Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria in September.

Stallmer has served as vice president government affairs at Analytical Graphics since 2001. Previous to that position, Stallmer had served as president of the Space Transportation Association.

UPDATE: Here’s the Federation’s press release:

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that Eric Stallmer has been named as its next President. Stallmer will join CSF staff in September and will assume the position of President following the departure of Michael Lopez-Alegria.
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NASA to Launch First Science CubeSat Mission

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Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has chosen a team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to build its first Earth science-related CubeSat mission.

The tiny payload, known as IceCube or Earth-1, will demonstrate and validate a new 874-gigahertz submillimeter-wave receiver that could help advance scientists’ understanding of ice clouds and their role in climate change.

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A Look at Rocket Lab Funding Sources

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Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Small-satellite launch provider Rocket Lab has received funding over the past four years from the United States and New Zealand governments as well as Silicon Valley-based Khosla Ventures.

Rocket Lab announced in January 2011 that it had completed the first phase of a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA).

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