Monthly Archive for April, 2011

This Week @ NASA Video: President Obama Visits the Cape

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Week in Review: Gliding Toward the Future With Russia’s Donald Trump

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Parabolic Arc’s Week in Review….

Space Tourism Turns Ten: The space community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first private spaceflight by Dennis Tito. Since that time, six other millionaires have followed on seven government space missions (Charles Simonyi flew twice).  Truly private sector spaceflight — using its own vehicles — is still waiting in the wings.

Two Steps Forward, One Back. In Mojave, SpaceShipTwo made its sixth glide flight – and second in five days – amid reports that engine development is also accelerating. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Virgin Galactic Vice President Will Pomerantz promoted development opportunities near Spaceport America as the Legislature slashed the project’s budget.

Plus ca change… On Thursday, officials from NASA and the CCDev winners held a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center to discuss the future of America’s space program as workers prepared Endeavour for the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program. More than 700,000 people – including President Barack Obama and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – gathered the next day only to have NASA cancel the launch because of a problem with an auxiliary power unit. Problems with APUs bedeviled STS-2 in 1981.

Putin Channels The Donald. Russia’s leader for life fired Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov after seven years on the job and replaced him with retired Army Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, who formerly served as director of Russia’s Space Forces. Putin said that Perminov was too old to serve, but the real reason was a series of embarrassing launch failures and program delays. Thus, Putin is no more honest when firing people than Trump has been about Obama’s birth certificate. Pray these two never face each other at a summit meeting.

The Next Great Leap. China unveiled details of a space station it will launch by 2020 that looks a lot like Mir circa 1996.It’s little wonder that efforts to create a new space race with China have fallen short. The country has launched six people into space over eight years; the most recent mission was over 2.5 years ago.

Space Adventures to Announce Circumlunar Flight News

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Space Adventures Hosts Tele-conference to Announce Circumlunar Mission Developments and Market Outlook for Orbital Spaceflight

WHAT: As we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Dennis Tito’s pioneering orbital spaceflight, please join Eric Anderson and Richard Garriott as they outline the future of private exploration and announce new developments regarding the company’s circumlunar mission.

Space Adventures, the only company that has provided human space missions to the global marketplace, became world renowned on April 28, 2001 with the launch of Dennis Tito, the first privately-funded spaceflight participant. Since then, the company has launched six other individuals to space.

WHO: Eric Anderson, Chairman of Space Adventures
Richard Garriott, Vice-Chairman of Space Adventures and 1st Second Generation American Astronaut

WHEN: Thurs., May 5, 2:30 p.m. (EDT)

RSVP: Please reply to this e-mail or contact Stacey Tearne at +1 202 256 7917 to request dial-in information.

A Note to Readers — PA Upgrades

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Parabolic Arc is undergoing some upgrades in order to deal with some performance issues. We are shifting it over to new server arrangement that should increase the site’s reliability.

The change has solved a problem readers were having in posting comments on the site. I apologize for the difficulties you all have been having over the last couple of weeks. It took longer than we expected to fix it.

The change over has resulted in a few issues, particularly with some of the text display. I’ll correct those as I have time.

Thank you for your patience.

Endeavour Launch Scrubbed, Reset for Monday

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NASA PR — Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach stated that Endeavour’s launch will be no earlier than Monday at 2:33 p.m. EDT. Engineers need that time to troubleshoot an issue that resulted in today’s launch scrub.

During today’s countdown, engineers detected a failure in one of two heater circuits associated with Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) 1. Heaters are required to keep the APUs’ hydrazine from freezing on orbit. Attempts to activate the heater were not successful and engineers now believe the problem might be associated with a Load Control Assembly, which is a switchbox, located in the aft end of Endeavour, or an electrical short in the wires leading into or out of the switchbox.
Continue reading ‘Endeavour Launch Scrubbed, Reset for Monday’

Putin to Perminov: You’re Fired!

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Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov

As expected, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has fired Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov, ending his seven-year reign as head of the Russian space program. The dismissal, officially because Perminov was about the exceed the 65 year age limit for government officials, came after an embarrassing series of failures and harsh criticism that Roscosmos was falling behind on key projects. His departure was announced earlier this month.

Putin appointed former First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin to replace Perminov. Popovkin, 53, previously served as commander of Russia’s Space Forces. He retired from the Army with the rank of general in March 2009.

Perminov’s downfall began in December when a Proton rocket failed, sending three valuable navigational satellites crashing into the Pacific. The failure, caused by a fueling error, infuriated Russia’s political leadership because the satellites would have completed the nation’s high-profile GLONASS navigational constellation. An angry Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired the deputy heads of Roscosmos and Energia and reprimanded Perminov for the accident.

Matters grew worse in February when a launch stranded a military satellite in a useless orbit. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov ripped into Roscosmos, accusing the agency of making silly mistakes and falling behind in the production of spacecraft.

The final straw seems to have been a brief delay in the much-hyped launch of a Soyuz flight intended to mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic spaceflight. Following the delay, which caused top Russian leaders to alter their travel plans, Ivanov said that Perminov would have to retire due the government’s age limit.

Video: Morpheus’ Wild Ride

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Video Caption: Today the Morpheus team attempted a hover test under tether. This test was the next incremental step in a series of planned tests leading to free flight. Among previous tests were component tests, subsystem tests, integrated vehicle tests, and in the last week successful strap down engine ignition and firing tests. The particular test today was intended to demonstrate a 40 second engine firing while maintaining altitude of five feet above the tether point. Shortly after ignition the vehicle pitched over and control authority was lost. The multiple redundant thrust termination system (a precursor to the flight termination system) executed and aborted the test. The test team then executed all nominal and contingency procedures required to safe the vehicle. All ground crew had been evacuated to 1000ft well before the test, per procedure.

The team is examining the on-board data and the vehicle hardware to assess the issue or issues as well as reviewing ground procedures. There are a number of ideas and theories but first reports are usually wrong so we won’t speculate yet. The vehicle appears to be in good condition and only minor damage to some ground wire and hardware was experienced.

Why NASA Selected the CCDev 2 Winners

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Illustration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
I’ve done a deep dive into NASA’s selection process for its CCDev 2 awards. NASA chose eight finalists for due diligence and made four awards totaling $269.3 million, all largely focused on human vehicles. Today, I’ll be examining the six finalists that applied for funding to build commercial crew spacecraft. The information below comes from the Selection Statement signed by Philip McAlister, acting director of Commercial Spaceflight Development, which provides an in-depth description of the evaluation and award processes.

CCDev 2 Applications Selected for Due Diligence and Awards

Company

Project

CCDev 2 Technical Approach Rating

CCDev2 Business Information Rating

CCDev 1 Awards

CCDev 2 Awards

Total CCDev Awards
The Boeing Company

CST-100 Crew Vehicle

$18 million

$92.3 million

$110.3 million

SpaceX

Human-rated Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft

0

$75 million

$75 million

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Dream Chaser Spacecraft

$20 million

$80 million

$100 million

Blue Origin

Orbital Crew Vehicle

$3.7 million

$22 million

$25.7 million

Orbital Sciences Corporation

Prometheus Spacecraft

0

0

0

Excalibur Almaz

Orbital Crew Vehicle

0

0

0

TOTAL:

$311 million

 

Ratings Key
Very High Level of Confidence
High Level of Confidence
Moderate Level of Confidence
Low Level of Confidence
Very Low Level of Confidence

Continue reading ‘Why NASA Selected the CCDev 2 Winners’

Space Shuttle in Twilight as New Commercial Era Dawns

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Officials from NASA and the four CCDev 2 winners held at press conference at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday morning to discuss the awards and where the companies are heading with their programs over the next year. The event had a fascinating mood to it as NASA and its partners looked forward while soon-to-be-laid-off workers prepared Endeavour for the penultimate flight of the space shuttle program set for the following day.

Continue reading ‘Space Shuttle in Twilight as New Commercial Era Dawns’

Video: Space Tourism Turns 10

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Miles O’Brien looks at the 10th anniversary of space tourism.