Monthly Archive for September, 2012

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

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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….

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AIAC Praises Appointment of Defense Procurement Special Advisor

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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.

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SpaceX Conducts Falcon 9 Static Fire as Cargo Flight Looms

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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

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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

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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.

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ORBITEC Tests New Vision Rocket Engine

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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.

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SXC Signs up California Reseller for Lynx Tickets

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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.

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JAXA Privatizes H-IIB Launch Services

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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

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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.

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CASIS Takes Over ISS National Lab Facebook, Twitter Accounts

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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.

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