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DARPA Selects Orbital ATK for Hypersonic Engine Research Project

DARPA’s new Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program seeks to develop and demonstrate a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate at subsonic through hypersonic speeds and lay the framework for routine, reusable hypersonic flight. (Credit: DARPA)

DULLES, Virginia 23 January 2018 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, has entered into a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to study potential integration of turbine and hypersonic engine technologies into a new aircraft propulsion system under DARPA’s Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program.


Kepler Communications Launches Demo Satellite for Ku-band Internet of Things Constellation

TORONTO, Jan. 22, 2018 (Kepler Communications PR) — A new era in space communications began on Friday, January 19 with the successful launch of an ultra-low-cost telecommunications satellite from Canada-based Kepler Communications. The mission serves as a technology demonstration for Kepler’s novel Ku-band telecommunications payload, and offers the best price per MHz of any communication satellite on the market.

With this launch, the Canadian start-up becomes the first commercial company ever to launch and successfully operate a LEO communications satellite in Ku-band. This highly valuable frequency band is ideal for telecommunication services, and is currently being sought for use by many companies planning on deploying mega-constellations of satellites. Kepler’s network of satellites will eventually enable in-space connectivity for other satellites, space stations, and transport vehicles.


EXOS Aerospace Prepares for Launch from Spaceport America

SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. and CADDO MILLS, Texas, Jan. 23, 2018 (Spaceport America PR) — Spaceport America, America’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, and EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of suborbital reusable space launch vehicles based in Caddo Mills, Texas, announce significant progress towards launch of their newest vehicle, the Suborbital Active Rocket with GuidancE, or SARGE.


X Prize Admits What Everyone Already Knew: Google Lunar Prize is Kaput

CULVER CITY, Calif. (X Prize PR) — “After close consultation with our five finalist Google Lunar XPRIZE teams over the past several months, we have concluded that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the March 31st, 2018 deadline. This literal “moonshot” is hard, and while we did expect a winner by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed.

We are extraordinarily grateful to Google for enabling this 10-year journey with us and for having the foresight and courage to support and catalyze the commercial space industry, which was the ultimate goal of this competition.


A Look Back at the Space Year That Was

Total solar eclipse photographed from NASA Armstrong’s Gulfstream III. (Credit: (NASA/Carla Thomas)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.

I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….

So, have at it!  Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!


This Week on The Space Show

This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Jan.22 , 2018: 2-3:30 PM PST (4-5:30 PM CST, 5-6:30 PM EST): No show today due to Space Show moving.

2. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PST, 10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST: No show today due to Space Show moving

3. Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, Jan. 26, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 PM PST, (12:30 -2 PM EST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST): No show due to Space Show move.

5. Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018: 12-1:30 PM PST; 2-4:30 PM EST; 2-3:30 PM CST.DR. GEORGE SOWERS is our guest. Now with The Colorado School of Mines, we will be talking about a variety of timely issues. .

United Launch Alliance Assumes Marketing and Sales for Atlas V from Lockheed Martin

Atlas V lifts off with NROL-52 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Centennial, Colo., Jan. 22, 2018 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that it has assumed responsibility for the marketing and sales of Atlas V, the world’s most reliable launch vehicle, from Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services. In addition to performing all of the operational activities related to Atlas V launch services, as ULA has done since its formation in 2006, ULA now has the full authority to market and sell Atlas V launch services to commercial customers.


Bill Would Create California Aerospace & Aviation Commission

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A bill now being considered in the Legislature would create a 17-member California Aerospace and Aviation Commission to promote the industries within the state.

“The purpose of the commission is to serve as a central point of contact for businesses engaged in the aerospace and aviation industries and to support the health and competitiveness of these industries in California,” the bill reads.


Lackey Introduces Tax Break for California Space Transportation Companies

Tom Lackey

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

California Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) has introduced a bill last week that would exempt space transportation companies within the state from a new income tax.

“Recently, the California Franchise Tax Board created a tax on all space travel that launches from California,” Lackey said. “This increased financial strain on space travel will put California space companies at a disadvantage….It’s imperative that we keep the California space industry thriving in our state because it holds a huge potential for jobs and economic growth.”

The measure defines space transportation activity as “the movement or attempted movement of people or property, including without limitation, launch vehicles, satellites, payloads, cargo, refuse, or any other property to space.” Space is defined as being 62 statute miles or higher.

A space transportation company is defined as making”more than 50 percent of its gross receipts from the provision of space transportation activities for compensation in a taxable year.”

Secondary Payloads Increasingly Take Center Stage

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On most launches, the small secondary satellites that ride along with the primary payloads garner little attention.

That has begun to change in recent years as CubeSats have become increasingly capable. The importance of these small satellites could be seen in the recent launch of an Indian PSLV rocket, which carried a CartoSat Earth observation satellite and 30 secondary spacecraft from India, Canada, Finland, France, Republic of Korea, UK and the United States.


Government Shutdown Delays Falcon Heavy Static Fire

The federal government shutdown that began on Saturday morning will postpone the Falcon Heavy static fire that SpaceX until there is an agreement between Congress and the White House to reopen the government. The impasse will result in the 45th Space Wing furloughing key civilian workers needed to support the static fire.

The shutdown will also prevent any launches until it is resolved. The next U.S. launch is scheduled for Jan. 30 from Cape Canaveral. A SpaceX Falcon 9 is set to launch a communications satellite for the Luxembourg government.

ABB Satellite-based Technologies Help Improve Weather Forecasts, Save Lives

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, spacecraft is checked out on Oct. 8, 2015, at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. The Launch Configuration Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) measures the electromagnetic emissions and subjects it to expected electromagnetic radiation that the satellite would experience at the launch site. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 15, 2018 (ABB Canada) – Successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the JPSS-1 satellite is joining the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting satellite in the same orbit to provide meteorologists with data on atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection. The data will improve weather forecasting, such as predicting a hurricane’s track, and will help agencies involved with post-storm recovery by visualizing storm damage and the geographic extent of power outages.


Lackey Bill Calls for California Institute for Aerospace in Antelope Valley

Tom Lackey

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A bill introduced by State Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) calls for the establishment of the California Institute of Aerospace in the Antelope Valley to promote the industry throughout the state.

Under the measure, the University of California would establish the institute on a satellite campus located within 20 miles of either Edwards Air Force Base or the United States Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale. The institute would be located within the 36th District that Lackey represents.


Second Rocket Lab Electron Flight Succeeds

Electron soars into orbit. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast screenshot)

Rocket Lab has successfully launched its Electron rocket from New Zealand, marking the first success of the small satellite booster.

The two-stage Electron roared off its launch pad on the Mahia Peninsula and appeared to have nominal flight. Commentary on the company’s webcast indicate the rocket successfully deployed three CubeSats from Planet and Spire.

Planet confirmed deployment of its satellite via Twitter. Spire also confirmed the successful deployment of two Lemur spacecraft.

The Electron booster’s second stage just prior to cutoff. (Credit: sRocket Lab webcast screenshot)

It marked only the second launch of the booster, which failed during its inaugural flight in May 2017. The ground lost telemetry from the rocket, which was blown up by range safety.

Electron is powered by Rutherford engines and is capable of placing payloads up to 225 kg (496 lb) into a 500-km (310-mile) sun synchronous orbit.