Monthly Archive for June, 2011

GLXP News: Moon Express Lunar Lander Takes First Flight


Silicon Valley, CA (June 30, 2011) – Moon Express, Inc. today announced a successful flight test of a prototype lunar lander system being developed in partnership with NASA.

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NASA IG Looks at Commercial Crew Challenges


The NASA Inspector General’s Office issued a report today titled, “NASA’s Challenges Certifying and Acquiring Commercial Crew Transportation Services,” looking at what obstacles lie ahead as NASA pursues its CCDev program. The challenges include:

  • modifying NASA’s existing safety and human-rating requirements for commercially developed systems
  • selecting an acquisition strategy for commercial crew transportation services
  • establishing the appropriate insight/oversight model for commercial partner vehicle development.
  • relying on an emerging industry and uncertain market conditions to achieve cost savings
  • managing the relationship among commercial partners, the FAA, and NASA.

I’ve reproduced the audit’s results and management action sections below. You can download the full report here.
Continue reading ‘NASA IG Looks at Commercial Crew Challenges’

Chart du Jour: The Amazing Collossal Cost of a Soyuz Seat


It just keeps going up up up up….

Source: NASA’s Challenges Certifying and Acquiring Commercial Crew Transportation Services, NASA Office of the Inspector General, June 30, 2011

Dextre to Get Work Out With Robotic Refueling Mission


This artistic representation shows Dextre (right) performing a robotic refueling task on RRM (center) task box, mounted to ELC4. (Image: NASA)


Satellites are designed to withstand a variety of challenges to ensure that the sensitive electronics on board can survive the effects of launch and perform for years in the harsh conditions of space. One of the major hurdles engineering teams face when designing a satellite is how much fuel it can carry to operate throughout its lifetime. Many satellites are left to die and then become space debris after they run out of fuel. But what if we were able to refuel them?

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Roscosmos-ESA to Cooperate on Human Launchers


ROSCOSMOS PR — On June 30, Roscosmos Head V. Popovkin and ESA DG J.J. Dordain met at ESA-ESTEC, the Netherlands, to discuss space cooperation issues.

The parties have signed the protocol which defines establishment of two bilateral working groups. The first one will deal with space science. It will investigate feasibility of common missions to Jupiter moon Europe, asteroids, LEO objects, exploration of the other galaxies, etc.

The other working group is to submit proposals on bilateral cooperation in development of space launchers for human missions. For both branches, the agencies will involve industry. Enhancement of cooperation under human spaceflight programs imply involvement in the multilateral working group which includes Roscosmos, ESA, NASA, ASI, DLR, France.

“The protocol confirms intention of Roscosmos and ESA to improve cooperation and represents the evidence of transition to real activities under space initiatives,” Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin stated.

Mojave Test Pilot School Owners Plead Guilty to Tax Evasion


Mojave’s small aerospace community has been rocked by a scandal involving two of its prominent members. The Bakersfield Californian reports:

A Tehachapi couple who owns a flight school in Mojave pleaded guilty Monday to filing a false tax return related to more than $1 million hidden in foreign bank accounts.

Sean Roberts and Nadia Roberts pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii of the Eastern District of California after they were caught maintaining numerous offshore bank accounts they failed to pay taxes on, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court Wednesday.

The Robertses own and operate the National Test Pilot School and Flight Research Inc. in Mojave. National Test Pilot School is a non-profit educational institute that trains test pilots from domestic and foreign aerospace industries and governments. Flight Research Inc. owns and maintains most of the aircraft used by the school.

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Elon Musk Picks Up Heinlein Award


A Twitter-based account of the Heinlein Prize Trust’s award ceremony in Washington, D.C. today from my colleague Jeff Foust.

Masten’s Xaero Rocket Cuts the Cord


A Busy Summer Looms for Masten


The Xaero vehicle during assembly November 2010. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

A couple of weeks back, I took an excursion down to Mojave to see what’s happening in that hotbed of rocket innovation. I had the pleasure of meeting with Masten Space Systems’ Nathan O’Konek, who filled me in on the latest developments with the company and gave me a tour of one of its test sites.

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CCDev 2 Partners Reach Early Milestones


NASA PR — WASHINGTON – NASA’s industry partners have met all their initial milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities to reduce the gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability.

NASA posted its first status report on the agency’s Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) program to its website. The report highlights the progress and accomplishments for the agency’s commercial spaceflight development efforts. Designed to be a bi-monthly report, it is targeted toward the interested layperson and other non-technical stakeholders in order to keep them informed of our achievements. Continue reading ‘CCDev 2 Partners Reach Early Milestones’