Russia to Establish “Super-holding” Company for Hypersonic Weapons Development

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

RIA Novosti has an update on Russia’s efforts to field a generation of hypersonic weapons in response to U.S. efforts to do to the same:

Russia will set up an aerospace “super-holding” company consisting of missile makers NPO Mashinostroyenie and Tactical Missiles Corporation to develop hypersonic weapon technology, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Wednesday….


AIAC Praises Appointment of Defense Procurement Special Advisor

OTTAWA, Ontario (AIAC PR) –
The Aerospace Industries of Canada (AIAC) released the following statement in response to the appointment of Mr. Tom Jenkins as Special Advisor to the Minister of Public Works:

The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada is very pleased with today’s announcement that Mr. Tom Jenkins has been appointed as the Special Advisor to the Minister of Public Works on matters related to the defence procurement process. Mr. Jenkins’ appointment demonstrates yet again that the Harper Government is truly committed to making a better use of military procurement in order to maximize high-value jobs for Canadians and drive innovation into the Canadian industry and economy.


SpaceX Conducts Falcon 9 Static Fire as Cargo Flight Looms

Video Caption: On September 29, 2012, SpaceX completed a successful static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines. During this test, SpaceX engineers ran through all countdown processes as if it were launch day. All nine engines fired at full power for two seconds while the rocket was held down to the pad. This is the last major all systems test in preparation for Falcon 9 and Dragon’s next mission to the space station, targeted for October 7.

Roscosmos Chief: Extreme Measures Needed to Save Russian Space Industry — UPDATED

Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin says “extreme measures” are required to prevent the Russian space industry from becoming competitive uncompetitive with Western nations where productivity is two to four times higher.

“If nothing changes, we won’t be able to sell [Russian space technology] in 2015, because Western equipment will be priced 33 to 50 percent lower,” Popovkin said.

In order to raise productivity, Roscosmos ought to be converted into a space industry holding company that is not under direct state control. The new structure would be able to optimize headcounts at enterprises in the sector and better compete to hire the best people, he said.

Popovkin suggested that the “lower stages” in the production chain should pass into private hands, and called for a fundamental shift in the state’s focus from producing a final product to providing conditions conducive to success.

Read the full story.

UPDATE:  James Oberg has written a much more detailed account of remarks that Popovkin gave at an engineering institute on Thursday as well as complaints by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who returned from the International Space Station on Sept. 17, about conditions aboard the Russian segment of the facility. The highlights:

  • Popovkin’s remarks on competitiveness were aimed squarely at Western commercial rocket efforts such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which he worries will make Russia’s launchers uncompetitive within three or four years. (Although Oberg doesn’t mention it, Musk has made a similar prediction.)
  • The launch industry, which is a legacy of the Soviet era, is one of the few segments where Russia is competitive and earns money. It’s collapse would have very severe consequences on the Russian space program.
  • Officials have little idea of what to do with the sprawling aerospace industrial base left over from the Soviet era. The industry has too much capacity and a workforce that is too large and too old, leading to inefficiency and a lack of competitiveness. The technology base also is completely outdated.
  • Russia must simultaneously reduce the number of space companies and workers while attracting new, younger talent that has avoided working in the industry over the past 20 years.
  • Padalka said conditions are so spartan on the Russian segment of the space station, especially compared with the U.S. segment, that he compared them to “khrushchevka,” the derisive nickname given to the massive and uncomfortable apartment buildings constructed in the 1960’s under Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
  • Padalka said that without improvements, the year-long missions that Russia wants to fly to the space station are completely unacceptable. These flights are designed to free up seats on Soyuz spacecraft for tourists who pay tens of millions of dollars for short stays aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Space Florida to Host General Contracting and Architectural Engineering Industry Day

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL., September 27, 2012 (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida – the State of Florida’s spaceport authority and aerospace economic development agency – will be hosting an industry day for architectural engineering and general contracting companies on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at the South Campus location of the organization, located just outside the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station gate on 100 Spaceport Way.


ORBITEC Tests New Vision Rocket Engine

ORBITEC Vision rocket engine. (Credit: ORBITEC)

Madison, Wisc. (ORBITEC PR) — Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC™) recently conducted several key rocket engine technology demonstrations at its large engine test facility in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Under observation by representatives from both NASA and the US Air Force, ORBITEC successfully completed a series of tests on its Vision flight rocket engine that enhances the maturation of ORBITEC’s advanced technology acoustic igniter , vortex/cold wall combustion chamber, and carbon-carbon lightweight nozzle extension technologies. The Vision engine will be flight-demonstrated later this year launched out of Mojave, CA.


SXC Signs up California Reseller for Lynx Tickets

Benicia, CA (SXC PR) — Juliet Vercelli-CTC, LS in Benicia, CA recently signed an agreement as a Certified Reseller for Space Expedition Corporation. Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) , a Netherlands company general sales agent for XCOR Aerospace, Inc.

This is an exciting adventure as SXC will begin commercial flights in 2014. The operations will take place in a special spaceport both on the Dutch island of Curacao and the Mojave Desert, CA.


JAXA Privatizes H-IIB Launch Services

H-IIB rocket (Credit: Narita Masahiro)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — As a result of the successful launch of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 3, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries LTD. (MHI) have agreed to privatize the H-IIB launch service today according to the “Basic Agreement on Development and Launch Service of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle.”

With today’s agreement, JAXA will procure launch and transportation services from MHI when a payload is launched by the H-IIB Launch Vehicle. However, JAXA will continue to take responsibility of safety operations including overall safety confirmation, ground safety assurance, and flight safety and flight data acquisition in the same framework as when an H-IIA Launch Vehicle is launched.

Through the privatization, we can expect to secure Japan’s international competitiveness both for the H-IIA and H-IIB by reducing costs, improving quality and energizing activities via efficient and swift management methods of the private sector. Meanwhile, JAXA would like to engage in enhancing reliability as well as maintaining and operating Japan’s launch facilities for Japan’s flagship launch vehicle series in order to provide reliable launch means to broader demands.

Two Launches Scheduled from Spaceport America in October

UP Aerospace Spaceloft XL rocket

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Spaceport America will host suborbital launches by Armadillo Aerospace and UP Aerospace, each of which will mark a “first” for the desert launch base. New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson outlined the missions in a PowerPoint presentation to the NMSA board on Monday.


CASIS Takes Over ISS National Lab Facebook, Twitter Accounts

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (September 26, 2012) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization now managing research on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, announced today that it is assuming management responsibility for the Facebook and Twitter social media accounts previously operated by NASA, starting October 1, 2012.


New Mexico Expects First Operational SpaceShipTwo Flights in February 2014

SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo circle over the Mojave Air and Space Port during a successful glide flight on July 18, 2012. (Credit: Bill Deaver)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Officials at Spaceport America estimate that Virgin Galactic will make its first operational SpaceShipTwo flights from the New Mexico facility in February 2014.

That estimate is included in a PowerPoint presentation given by New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson on Monday to the NMSA board.


Mojave Spaceport Receives FAA Grant for Advanced Fire-fighting Equipment

PyroLance firefighting system. (Credit: PyroLance)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The Mojave Air and Space Port has received $23,750 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration toward the purchase of equipment that will allow firefighters to rapidly bore a hole through the side of a composite vehicle and put out a fire inside of it.


Sarah Brightman Appears Headed for Space

Sarah Brightman. (Credit: Eckhard Pecher)

It appears that British recording artist Sarah Brightman will become the world’s next millionaut space tourist.

Space Adventures has announced an Oct. 10 press conference with Brightman in Moscow where the soprano will make a “groundbreaking” announcement. Brightman has been in negotiations with the Virginia-based company for a trip into space.

Space Adventures has booked eight trips to the International Space Station for seven wealthy adventurers aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The company is also trying to fill a second seat for a circum-lunar flight, for which tickets costs $150 million apiece. The moon flight is set to take place by early 2017.

Details of the press conference follow after the break.