ATK Completes Software TIM for Liberty

ARLINGTON, Va., June 28, 2012 (ATK PR) — ATK completed its Liberty software technical interface meeting (TIM), which was held to support further development of the Liberty space transportation system under  the company’s Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA for the Commercial Crew Development Program.

The software TIM was conducted to evaluate Liberty’s software development plan with the NASA Liberty team. The plan governs the software process used by Liberty and its subcontractors throughout development, integration, test and flight.

“Understanding how your system will work together throughout the mission is critical in reducing risk and schedule delays,” said Kent Rominger, ATK Vice President and Program Manager for Liberty. “Holding this TIM provides us valuable insight into expertise provided by the NASA team and ensures there are no issues we are overlooking.”

The development of software is critical for understanding the entire system to support Liberty’s test flights. Unmanned test flights are scheduled for 2014 and 2015, followed by the first crewed flights in 2015 with Liberty astronauts.


Russia to Create Own “DARPASKI”

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

As I first reported back in February,  Russia is moving forward with the development of its own DARPA. Ruler-for-Life Vladimir Putin has sent a bill to the Duma to establish the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defense Industry, which Wired has dubbed DARPASKI.

The establishment of the foundation will be overseen by hardline Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, whom Putin appointed last December as defense czar with the goal of cleaning up the corruption-prone defense and error-prone space sectors.


Space Propulsion Group Tests Advanced Hybrid Motor

BUTTE, Mont. — Space Propulsion Group, Inc. (SPG) today successfully completed a major technology development test of its 22-inch-diameter, Liquid Oxygen/paraffin-based advanced hybrid rocket motor. This cutting-edge hybrid propulsion technology has practical applications for numerous space-related industries, including transportation, defense, suborbital research and tourism.


RocketMotorTwo Test Summary

RocketMotorTwo test firing still taken from video. (File Photo -- Credit: Virgin Galactic)

RocketMotorTwo Test Summary

(Via Scaled Composites)

Fire: 13
Date: 26 Jun 12


Thirteenth full scale flight design RM2 hot-fire.
Continued evaluation of all systems and components:
– Pressurization
– Valve/Injector
– Fuel formulation and geometry
– Nozzle
– Structure
– Performance


All objectives completed. Performed targeted 55 second hot fire as planned. Duration of burn chosen to allow examination of internal geometry.

SpaceShipTwo Glides for Second Time this Week

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing during a test flight on June 26. (Credit: Virgin Galactic/Chris Van Pelt)

There was another glide test of the SpaceShipTwo vehicle today at the Mojave Air and Space Port. A source says that WhiteKnightTwo took off with the spacecraft beneath it at about 6:50 a.m. PDT. SpaceShipTwo landed about an hour later and both vehicles were back in the hangar by 8 a.m.

Writing about the flight on his blog, Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson said this was the first test flight with Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot Dave Mackay at the controls.

It was the second glide flight of SS2 this week. An earlier one took place on Tuesday. There are no flight summaries on the Scaled Composites website for today’s test, but they have posted summaries for the flight earlier in the week. Below is a combined version.

WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo Flight Summary
June 26, 2012

Flight: 87 / GF17
Date:26 Jun 12
WK2 Flight Time:1.8 hr
SS2 Flight Time:11 min, 22 sec
WK2 Pilot:StuckyWK2 CoPilot:MackayWK2 FTE: Morgan
SS2 Pilot:SieboldSS2 CoPilot:Alsbury
GS Crew:Tighe, Bassett, Knupp, Bourgeois, Glaser, Jaster, Bozarth, Cassebeer, M. Fuchs, Verderame, Nichols

WK2 Objectives:
SS2 release mission
GF crew mission practice


All objectives achieved.

SS Objectives:
SS2 control surface flutter data collection
SS2 aero stability and control validation
RCS airborne functional test
Speed brake check
Frequency sweeps without dampers

All objectives achieved. Great return to flight!

Cleveland Has More to Worry About From Romney than Obama

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney unveiled his space advisory group at the end of January, one might reasonably have expected that the group would have gone to work producing some sort of plan for the candidate to run on in relatively short order.

Five months later, there is no sign of such a document. However, two members of that body — former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and his former deputy, Scott Pace — showed up in Cleveland this week to scare people with allegations that the  Obama Administration plans to cut back staff at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

They failed to mention, however, that Romney’s budget proposals would cut NASA’s spending plan even more.


Liberty Second Stage a Step Closer to Production

ARLINGTON, Va., June 28, 2012 (Astrium PR) — Astrium, the number one company in Europe for space technologies and systems, has successfully completed a set of tests on tank structures proving that key design and manufacturing processes used for Ariane launchers are ready for production of the Liberty commercial launch vehicle second stage with ATK.

The tests covering load-carrying cryogenic tanks demonstrate that existing Astrium processes can be leveraged to confirm the overall Liberty schedule and enable a speedy entry into service – and into orbit. Astrium is also working on leaner production processes for the second stage to bring best value to the Liberty launch vehicle.


Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority Hires New Executive Director

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

Wallops Island, Virg. (VirginiAviation PR) –- The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) Board of Directors today announced the selection of Dale K. Nash to serve as the Authority’s new Executive Director beginning July 31, 2012. Mr. Nash will replace Dr. Billie Reed, who has served as Executive Director since the VCSFA was established in July 1995.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said, “We are very excited to have Dale join the VCSFA team. His years of experience in the aerospace industry will be a tremendous boost to the Authority as it works to become the number one commercial space port in the U.S. With his leadership, the Commonwealth can seize upon the tremendous advantages we have in the aerospace industry to grow the VCSFA and create much needed economic development and jobs.”


Paragon SDC Appoints Alan Stern, Two Others to Board of Director

Dr. Alan Stern
Dr. Alan Stern

TUCSON, Arizona (Paragon SDC PR) — Paragon Space Development Corporation®, a premier provider of environmental controls for extreme and hazardous environments, announces the addition of Alan Stern, Donald Tringali and Kenneth Dorushka to its Board of Directors.

Dr. Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive and aerospace consultant who has authored over 200 technical papers and 40 popular articles. He is the Associate Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute and is the Principal Investigator on several of NASA’s space mission programs.

“We are honored to have Alan join our team. He has an exemplary record in the space industry having served as NASA’s chief of all space and Earth science programs, directing a $4.4B organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of over 3,000 research grants. Alan now supports private sector, in providing reliable cost effective services that can increase the value and leverage of government space budgets.” said Taber MacCallum, CEO.


SpaceShipTwo Completes Glide Test, RocketMotorTwo Fired Twice in One Week

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing during a test flight on June 26. (Credit: Virgin Galactic/Chris Van Pelt)

MOJAVE, Calif. (VG PR) – Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, today announced that its passenger-carrying suborbital space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2), successfully completed its first glide flight test on June 26 since a recent integration period for rocket motor systems and maintenance. Also, on June 26, the spaceship’s engine, RocketMotorTwo (RM2), underwent another successful full duration test fire, marking the first time the company and its partners have undertaken test flight and test firing on the same day. Both milestones prime Virgin Galactic to reach powered flight by the end of the year.


Exclusive SpaceShipTwo Photos

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo during a June 26 glide flight. (Credit: Bill Deaver)

A couple of photos of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo during and after the latter’s 17th glide flight on June 26 at the Mojave Air and Space Port. A big shout out to my friend Bill Deaver!

SpaceShipTwo after its 17th glide flight. (Credit: Bill Deaver)

ATK, NanoRacks Sign Liberty Marketing Deal

ATK and Astrium North America have signed a teaming agreement with NanoRacks, LLC, for NanoRacks to market opportunities for both astronaut explorers and the experiments they plan to carry into space on board the Liberty Transportation Service.

Sentinel Overview and Specifications

Sentinel Overview

Sentinel is a space-based infrared (IR) survey mission to discover and catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the solar system. The mission should also discover a significant number of smaller asteroids down to a diameter of 30 meters. Sentinel will be launched into a Venus-like orbit about the sun which significantly improves the efficiency of asteroid discovery during its 5.5 year mission.


B612’s Sentinel Telescope to Scan Heavens for Earth Crossing Asteroids

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (B612 PR) – In a press conference at the California Academy of Sciences Thursday morning, the B612 Foundation unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission – SENTINEL – a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun, ranging up to 170 million miles from Earth, for a mission of discovery and mapping. The Foundation leadership and technical team include some of the most experienced professionals in the world to lead this effort.