Rocket Lab Reaches Space But Not Orbit on First Flight

Electron lifts off on maiden flight from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab conducted the maiden flight of its new Electron small-satellite launcher on Thursday from New Zealand. The company reports the booster reached space, but it did not orbit its inert payload as planned.

It was the first of three flight tests of the launch vehicle for the New Zealand-American company from Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula. Despite failing to reach orbit, Rocket Lab officials were happy with the results.

(more…)

Moog Expands in Western New York

BUFFALO (Gov. Andrew Cuomo PR) — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday announced a $53 million expansion of Moog Inc. in Western New York, adding two high-tech facilities in Elma and Wheatfield, and creating up to 200 new jobs in the local space and defense industries.

Moog is one of the region’s largest employers and has more than 2,500 employees throughout New York. Cuomo said this investment from one of the world’s leading manufacturers of precision control components and systems further fuels the continued economic resurgence in Western New York.

(more…)

ESA Completes Inquiry into ExoMars Schiaparelli Failure

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imaged the ExoMars Schiaparelli module’s landing site on 25 October 2016, following the module’s arrival at Mars on 19 October. The zoomed insets provide close-up views of what are thought to be several different hardware components associated with the module’s descent to the martian surface. These are interpreted as the front heatshield, the parachute and the rear heatshield to which the parachute is still attached, and the impact site of the module itself. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.

The Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module separated from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, as planned on 16 October last year, and coasted towards Mars for three days.

(more…)

Cruz’s Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Outer Space Treaty

Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ted Cruz PR) – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today chaired the second of a series of planned hearings to explore the reopening of the American frontier in space. Today’s hearing titled ‘Reopening the American Frontier: Exploring How the Outer Space Treaty Will Impact American Commerce and Settlement in Space,’ examined the U.S. government obligations under the Outer Space Treaty on its 50th anniversary, specifically compliance with Article VI of the Treaty that requires governments to authorize and continually supervise the activities of non-government entities. This hearing also explored the Treaty’s potential impacts on expansion of our nation’s commerce and settlement in space.

(more…)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Selected as Main Propulsion Provider for XS-1 Vehicle

DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program seeks to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would break the cycle of escalating launch costs and make possible a host of critical national security options. As the next step toward a future of routine, responsive, and low-cost space access, DARPA has awarded Phases 2 and 3 of the program to The Boeing Company. (Credit: Boeing)

LOS ANGELES, May 24, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), was selected to provide the main propulsion for the Boeing and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) reusable Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1). Aerojet Rocketdyne is a member of the Boeing team that recently announced an agreement to collaborate with DARPA to design, build and test a technology demonstrator for the agency’s XS-1 program.

(more…)

Boeing XS-1 Video

Video Caption: DARPA has selected The Boeing Company to complete advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which aims to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would bolster national security by providing short-notice, low-cost access to space. The program aims to achieve a capability well out of reach today—launches to low Earth orbit in days, as compared to the months or years of preparation currently needed to get a single satellite on orbit. Success will depend upon significant advances in both technical capabilities and ground operations, but would revolutionize the Nation’s ability to recover from a catastrophic loss of military or commercial satellites, upon which the Nation today is critically dependent.

In its pursuit of aircraft-like operability, reliability, and cost-efficiency, DARPA and Boeing are planning to conduct a flight test demonstration of XS-1 technology, flying 10 times in 10 days, initially without an upper stage. If successful, the program could help enable a commercial service in the future that could operate with recurring costs of as little as $5 million or less per launch, including the cost of an expendable upper stage, assuming a recurring flight rate of at least ten flights per year—a small fraction of the cost of launch systems the U.S. military currently uses for similarly sized payloads. (Note that goal is for actual cost, not commercial price, which would be determined in part by market forces.)

DARPA Picks Boeing for XS-1 Program

DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program seeks to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would break the cycle of escalating launch costs and make possible a host of critical national security options. As the next step toward a future of routine, responsive, and low-cost space access, DARPA has awarded Phases 2 and 3 of the program to The Boeing Company. (Credit: Boeing)

WASHINGTON, DC (DARPA PR) — DARPA has selected The Boeing Company to complete advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which aims to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would bolster national security by providing short-notice, low-cost access to space.

The program aims to achieve a capability well out of reach today—launches to low Earth orbit in days, as compared to the months or years of preparation currently needed to get a single satellite on orbit.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Reschedules Flight Test for Thursday

First Electron rocket on launch pad. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab Press Release

Rocket Lab, an American-New Zealand aerospace company, has postponed the test launch of its Electron vehicle today due to weather conditions. The planned launch attempt will now take place on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

Peter Beck, CEO and founder of Rocket Lab, says poor weather is delaying the launch attempt of Rocket Lab’s first test rocket titled ‘It’s a Test’.

(more…)

NASA FY 2018 Budget Fact Sheet

The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
Maintains NASA’s world leadership in space and increases cooperation with industry.

NASA Fact Sheet

NASA’s budget ensures our nation remains the world’s leader in space exploration and technology, aeronautics research and discovery in space and Earth science. The budget supports developing the technologies that will make future space missions more capable and affordable, including partnerships with the private sector for a variety of activities, such as transportation of crew and cargo to the International Space Station. The budget also continues the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems that will send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit in the early 2020’s. The budget also keeps the Webb Telescope on track for a 2018 launch; builds on our scientific discoveries and achievements in space; and supports the Administration’s commitment to serve as a catalyst for the growth of a vibrant American commercial space industry.
(more…)

Trump Budget Would Cut NASA Funding, Cancel 5 Earth Science Missions & End Education Office

President Donald Trump released a proposed national budget today that would cut $561 million from NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2018, including closing NASA’s Education Office and canceling five Earth Science missions.

NASA would see its budget reduced from $19.6 billion this year to just below $19.1 billion. The space agency received just under $19.3 billion in fiscal year 2016.

The total budget is close to the $19.1 billion contained in a budget blueprint the Trump Administration released in March.

(more…)

SpaceX Dragon to Deliver Research to Space Station

Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology undergoes testing (Credits: Deployable Space Systems, Inc.)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft for its eleventh commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station June 1 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39A. Dragon will lift into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crewmembers living aboard the station.

The flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study neutron stars, osteoporosis, solar panels, tools for Earth-observation, and more. Here are some highlights of research that will be delivered to the orbiting laboratory:

(more…)

U.S. Air Force Awards Four Study Contracts for Weather Mission

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center recently awarded four study contracts worth approximately $500,000 each to EO Vista, Millennium Space Systems, Orbital ATK, and Raytheon Company – Space and Airborne Systems. These companies will provide concept reports to address space-based cloud characterization and theater weather imagery solutions by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Currently, the Air Force relies on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and other programs to provide cloud characterization, whereby satellites analyze cloud detection, cover and temperature, and, theater weather imagery, whereby satellites record visible satellite images of atmospheric conditions. Together, these missions are referred to as Space Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) Electro Optical Infrared (EO/IR) capabilities. The SBEM EO/IR mission has been performed by the DMSP satellite constellation for over 50 years and the Air Force is exploring new long-term solutions to continue this mission.

(more…)