Another RM2 Test Firing Last Week

RocketMotorTwo test firing file photo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
RocketMotorTwo test firing file photo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

RocketMotorTwo Hot-Fire Test Summary
(Via Scaled Composites)

Date:24 Jan 13


Twenty-fourth 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.

Editor’s Note:  Once again, Scaled is not providing the length of the burn. Without knowing that, it’s difficult to determine precisely what was tested and why.

GLXP News: White Label Space Replaces Team Leader, Consolidates in Japan

WhiteLabelSpaceTokyo, Japan, January, 30 2013 (White Label Space PR) – White Label Space, an international team competing in the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, announced that it will now be run out of Japan. Previously, the team was operating out of both Japan and the Netherlands.  The team’s pivot to Japan is designed to maximize its chance of being on the winner’s podium. White Label Space is the only Google Lunar X PRIZE team currently active in Japan and has a unique network in that country’s media and space industry. The team will now focus its efforts on furthering the development of its Japanese moon rover, benefiting from the advice of its academic partner, the Space Robotics Laboratory at Tohoku University.

Takeshi Hakamada replaces Steve Allen as team leader. Mr Hakamada was a co-founder of the team’s Japan branch and has been manager for all White Label Space operations in Japan.


Astronauts4Hire and NASTAR Center Announce Partnership

A4H_logo_white_transparentTampa, Florida (A4H PR) – Astronauts4Hire and the National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR®) Center are proud to announce that they have signed a services agreement for NASTAR Center Space Training and to collaborate on developing new A4H-branded training programs for A4H’s commercial astronaut candidates.

A4H and the NASTAR Center will work together to develop A4H-specific training courses for astronaut candidates interested in aiding researchers, payload developers, and spaceflight providers with mission planning and operations support during spaceflight missions.


NASA Solicits Ideas for International Space Station Research

Astronaut Shannon Walker activates an experiment aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
Astronaut Shannon Walker activates an experiment aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA wants to know how you can improve the International Space Station as a technology test bed.

NASA’s International Space Station National Laboratory and Technology Demonstration offices are asking for proposals on how the space station may be used to develop advanced or improved exploration technologies. NASA also is seeking proposals about how new approaches, technologies and capabilities could improve the unique laboratory environment of the orbiting outpost.


My Space Show Appearance is Now Online

spaceshowlogoHey everyone.

I had a great conversation last night with David Livingston of The Space Show. We talked a lot about developments with Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic as well as several other topics.

If you missed the show, it’s easy to get caught up.

Listen at Scroll down to the archives in the lower half of the page. My show is currently at the top of that list.

Comment at I’ll be happy to respond to any questions you have there.

A hearty thank-you to David Livingston for having me on the show for a third time. I always enjoy being on it.

SpaceX Adds Another Comsat to Its Ever Lengthening Manifest

Hawthorne, CA / Ramat-Gan, Israel, January 29, 2013 (SpaceX PR) –
Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Space Communication Ltd. (Spacecom) announced an agreement to launch Spacecom’s AMOS-6 satellite on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Falcon 9 will insert the communications satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), further enhancing Spacecom’s existing satellite fleet.

The AMOS-6 agreement is the latest in a series of wins for SpaceX.  The company closed out 2012 having signed 14 launch contracts—maintaining the company’s position as the world’s fastest growing launch services provider.


SNC Hires Lockheed Martin for Dream Chaser Certification, Manufacturing Work

dream_chaser_liftoff_smSPARKS, Nev., January 30, 2013 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems is pleased to announce Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Littleton, Colo., is joining the SNC Dream Chaser® team. Lockheed Martin will be an exclusive partner to SNC on NASA’s Certification Products Contract (CPC) and has been competitively selected to build the composite structure for the Dream Chaser at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La. SNC was awarded $10 million for CPC Phase 1 to work with NASA towards government certification of the SNC Dream Chaser orbital crew transportation system.


New Mexico Senate Approves Informed Consent Law

The New Mexico Senate approved a measure that extends liability protections to spacecraft manufacturers and equipment suppliers by a 34-0 vote earlier today. The measure, which is supported by Gov. Susana Martinez, now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass.


Lockheed Martin Joins Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Program

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: Sierra Nevada)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

At a press conference this morning, Sierra Nevada Corporation announced that it has formed a partnership with Lockheed Martin to help certify and manufacture its Dream Chaser space shuttle.

“With today’s announcement we’ve added another best of the best to the team,” said SNC’s Mark Sirangelo in announcing the multi-million dollar deal, which will leverage Lockheed Martin’s expertise in building NASA’s Orion deep space vehicle, developing and manufacturing aircraft, and working with composite materials.


Officials to Unveil Mojave Revitalization Vision Plan on Thursday

On Thursday night, officials will be unveiling the Mojave Community Revitalization Vision Plan, a citizen created road map for improving the town.

Mojave Visioning Unveiling
Thursday, JANUARY 31, 2013
5:30 – 8:00 P.M.
Veteran’s Building
15580 ‘O’ Street
(Next to Mojave Park)

The plan is a result of a two-day visioning session held in September during which Mojave residents, county officials and planning experts worked together to brainstorm a long-range vision for reviving the town. The results of that session have been put together in a plan that will be unveiled for public comment on Thursday evening.

After comments are received, a final plan will be produced that will provide the basis for the revitalization effort, which is being lead by the Mojave Chamber of Commerce. Once the plan is finalized, Mojave will be eligible for county funds to begin to implement it.

Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner, whose office has been helping guide the Revitalize Mojave effort, will be on hand for the vision plan unveiling on Thursday. Officials from the Kern County Planning and Community Development Department also will  answer questions and to hear public comments.

South Korea Launches Satellite into Space

The third time was a charm for South Korea’s KSLV-1 rocket.

The launch vehicle blasted off from the Naro Space Center at 4 p.m. local time and placed a climate satellite into its correct orbit, according to media reports. Officials said that the satellite is set to make contact with ground control on Thursday.

KSLV-1 featured a first stage built by Russia’s Khrunichev and a second stage and satellite constructed in South Korea. It represents the first successful rocket launch by South Korea.

Two earlier launch attempts ended in failure in 2009 and 2010.


Virgin Galactic Again Threatens New Mexico Pullout

The Associated Press reports that Virgin Galactic is once again threatening to pull out New Mexico, this time over unfinished work at the $209 million, taxpayer-funded Spaceport America:

Virgin Galactic has agreed to start paying New Mexico rent on the nearly quarter-billion-dollar spaceport the state built for British businessman Richard Branson’s space tourism business, but it says it is doing so under protest and without waiving its right to walk away from the project, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

In a Jan. 16 email to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, Virgin Galactic said it does not believe the state has finished the work necessary to trigger activation of its $1 million annual rent obligation, and said if the work is not complete to its satisfaction by March 31, it “may either stop paying rent, pay reduced rent or give notice to terminate” its lease.

This is the second rationale Virgin Galactic has advanced for potentially pulling out of the deal in recent months. It had previously suggested that it would abandon the state if legislators did not extend limited liability protections against lawsuits to spacecraft manufacturers and suppliers. A compromise measure is now speeding through the Legislature.


Commercial Crew Certification Effort Kicks Off


By Bob Granath
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

On Jan. 22, NASA took a crucial next step toward launching astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States. Beginning the first phase of the Commercial Crew Program’s (CCP) certification efforts, three companies now are conducting activities that will confirm commercial spacecraft are safe to carry crews to the station.

This landmark comes as the agency celebrates the 45th anniversary of an essential stage in sending Americans to the moon.


Parabolic Arc Drops By The Space Show on Tuesday Evening

Hi all.

I’m going to be chatting with David Livingston on The Space Show on Tuesday, Jan. 29, from 7-8:30 PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST). We’ll be talking about the latest news about Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic and Mojave. Please tune in live and ask questions, or listen to the podcast once it is archived.

The full schedule for this week:

1. Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome DR. ALBERT CARNESALE to the program to discuss the recent National Research Council’s study, “NASA’s Strategic Direction And The Need For A National Consensus.” Dr. Carnesale of UCLA was the Chair of the Committee On NASA’s Strategic Direction.

2. Tuesday, January 29, 2013 7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back DOUG MESSIER of Parabolic Arc. Doug will be discussing recent news about Spaceport America in New Mexico as well as Parabolic Arc and many of the stories covered by this fine blog.

3. Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 9:30-11 AM PST (11:30- 1 PM CST, 12:30PM-2:00 PM EST): We welcome ALAN STEINBERG to the program to discuss his recent AstroPolitics article, “Weapons in Space: The need to Protect Space Assets” and more.

4. Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). We welcome back NINO POLIZZI to talk about “Rocket Science Tutors” which is an all-volunteer after school STEM organization staffed by engineers/scientists (

Meet Japan’s New Epsilon Rocket

Epsilon rocket (Credit: JAXA)

JAXA has spent the last six years developing a new small satellite launch vehicle designed to be launched much quicker and significantly cheaper than its retired predecessor, the M-V rocket. The solid-fuel Epsilon launch vehicle, which will be capable of placing up to 1.2 metric tons into low Earth orbit, is set for its maiden flight in August or September of this year.

The following information is taken from the JAXA website.

The Epsilon Launch Vehicle is a solid propellant rocket suitable for a new age, delivering both high performance and low cost. Based on the M-V Launch Vehicle, a multistage solid propellant rocket with the best performance in the world (discontinued in 2006), we try to achieve improved performance with the Epsilon Launch Vehicle, and build a system which will allow the frequent launch of launch vehicles by largely-reducing operational costs through enhancing aspects of operational efficiency, such as assembly and inspection.

Through increased launch opportunities, we anticipate that space development activity will increase. The biggest goal of the Epsilon Launch Vehicle is to make space more accessible as rocket launches are made easier.