SpaceShipTwo: Lessons Learned on the Commercial Space Frontier

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SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo had exploded.

At least that’s what it looked like from our vantage point at Jawbone Station on that fateful Halloween morning ten months ago. And that’s what it looked like in Ken Brown’s photos. Ken had been standing next to me, training his telephoto lens on the small spacecraft nine miles overhead.

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Consortium to Lead Machrihanish Spaceport Bid

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MACC_logoCAMPBELTOWN AIRPORT, Scotland (MACC PR) — Ahead of the next stage of bidding to become the UK’s first Spaceport, Argyll and Bute Council has entered a formal partnership with Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC). The newly formed consortium will be led by MACC subsidiary company, Discover Space UK, which was launched earlier this year.
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NASA’s New Horizons Team Selects Potential Kuiper Belt Flyby Target

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Artist's impression of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Pluto-like object in the distant Kuiper Belt. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker)

Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Pluto-like object in the distant Kuiper Belt. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker)

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.

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NASA Tech: Rocket Fuel Pump Tests Pave Way for 3-D Printed Engine

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Engineers prepare a 3-D printed turbopump for a test at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The turbopump was tested at full power, pumping 1,200 gallons of liquid hydrogen per minute, enough to power an upper stage rocket engine capable of generating 35,000 pounds of thrust. (Credits: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)

Engineers prepare a 3-D printed turbopump for a test at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The turbopump was tested at full power, pumping 1,200 gallons of liquid hydrogen per minute, enough to power an upper stage rocket engine capable of generating 35,000 pounds of thrust. (Credits: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — One of the most complex, 3-D printed rocket engine parts ever made, a turbopump, got its “heartbeat” racing at more than 90,000 revolutions per minute (rpms) during a successful series of tests with liquid hydrogen propellant at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. These tests along with manufacturing and testing of injectors and other rocket engine parts are paving the way for advancements in 3-D printing of complex rocket engines and more efficient production of future spacecraft.

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CSCA Expands Membership With 2 New Companies

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TORONTO (CSCA PR)
– The Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA), Canada’s national space industry association, is pleased to announce the addition of two new corporate members.

Joining the CSCA as new corporate members are Ontario Drive & Gear Ltd. (ODG) and Open Space Orbital Inc.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson in Video for “The Martian”

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Video Caption: Our adventure is just beginning. Neil deGrasse Tyson examines the upcoming Ares 3 mission and their #JourneyToMars in this special episode of StarTalk.

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, THE MARTIAN features a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.

In Theaters – October, 2015

RSC Energia Holds Contest to Name Soyuz Spacecraft Successor

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Mockup of Russia's next generation crew vehicle.

Mockup of Russia’s next generation crew vehicle.

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — Rocket and Space Corporation Energia announces creativity competition for the best name of the new-generation crew transportation spacecraft, which is planned to be used for missions to the Moon.

The competition time frame: August 30 through November 2, 2015. Its results will be announced on January 15, 2016.

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NASA Tech: Gecko Grippers Moving On Up

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This artist's concept shows how a future robot called LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) could inspect and maintain installations on the International Space Station. The robot would stick to the outside using a gecko-inspired gripping system. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows how a future robot called LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) could inspect and maintain installations on the International Space Station. The robot would stick to the outside using a gecko-inspired gripping system. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A piece of tape can only be used a few times before the adhesion wears off and it can no longer hold two surfaces together. But researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working on the ultimate system of stickiness, inspired by geckos.

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EU Provides $77 Million for SABRE Engine R&D

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Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)

Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)

BRUSSELS, Belgium (EC PR) — The European Commission has found that a £50 million (around €71 million) grant that the UK authorities intend to provide for designing a SABRE space launcher engine is in line with EU state aid rules.

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ASU CubeSat to Explore Moon

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An ASU-built CubeSat about the size of a shoebox will be used to produce a map of the water resources on the moon for future space exploration. It is the first ASU-led interplanetary mission. (Credit: Sean Amidan/ASU/SpaceTREx)

An ASU-built CubeSat about the size of a shoebox will be used to produce a map of the water resources on the moon for future space exploration. It is the first ASU-led interplanetary mission. (Credit: Sean Amidan/ASU/SpaceTREx)

ASU PR — A spacecraft the size of a shoebox with Arizona origins will soon be orbiting our nearest neighbor to create a map of water-ice on the moon.

The NASA-selected CubeSat will be designed, built and operated at Arizona State University and is one piece of the agency’s larger mission to fully characterize the water content at the lunar South Pole in preparation for exploration, resource utilization and improved understanding of the moon’s geologic history.

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India Makes It Two in a Row with Successful GSLV Launch

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GSLV Mk.II rocket lifts off with GSAT-6 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

GSLV Mk.II rocket lifts off with GSAT-6 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

Another success for the Indian space program. On Thursday, ISRO successfully launched the GSAT-6 communications satellite into orbit aboard a GSLV Mk. II rocket.

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