Generation Orbit Wins NASA Contract for Dedicated CubeSat Launch

GO Launcher. (Credit: Generation Orbit)
GOLauncher 2. (Credit: Generation Orbit)

ATLANTA, September 30 2013 (GO PR) — Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) has been selected to launch a group of three 3U CubeSats to a 425 km orbit under NASA’s Enabling eXploration and Technology (NEXT) contract.

Under this competitively awarded, $2.1M commercial procurement, NASA will become the inaugural customer for the company’s new GOLauncher 2 vehicle, currently in development. The NEXT flight is scheduled to take place in 2016. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center will be responsible for program management.


Swiss Space Systems Forms Partnership with Russian University

SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)
SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)

PAYERNE, Switzerland (S3 PR) — Aerospace company Swiss Space Systems – S3 and Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU) have announced today the signing of their partnership.

The most prestigious Russian engineering institute joins the very selective group of international technical advisors to S3. This new partnership between the Russian university and the aerospace company will enable BMSTU students to have on-site training at S3 within the scope of their collocation at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, and to pursue their research work in relations to S3 propulsion systems, one of the key elements for the SOAR shuttle and its expendable upper stage.


First CASIS Funded Experiments Reach ISS

casis_new_logoKENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, congratulates Orbital Sciences on a successful launch of the Antares rocket and on the berthing of the Cygnus cargo vehicle to the International Space Station.

Orbital’s successful mission also represents a milestone for CASIS: The first-ever CASIS-funded payloads have now arrived at the ISS. Orbital’s Cygnus cargo capsule berthed with the station Sunday morning.


This Week on The Space Show

This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome CHARLES MILLER to the back to the program. Charles Miller is the President of NexGen Space LLC, which provides client-based services at the intersection of commercial, civil, and national security space and public policy. He is also a strong advocate of public/private partnerships to achieve low cost space access.

2. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. JAMES HANSEN to discuss his book of Astronaut John Young, “Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space.”

3. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 9:30-11 AM PDT (11:30- 1 PM CDT, 12:30PM-2:00 PM EDT): We welcome ROBERT WALKER from the UK. He is an inventor and the author of several interesting Mars and space papers. You can find his papers at I urge listeners to review his Mars articles prior to our program as we will be talking about them.

4. Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). We welcome ADAM CROWL from Australia regarding his chapter in “Starship Century,” Starship Pioneers.

1-for-1: Proton Back Among the Living (and Launching)

Well, this time was different. The rocket didn’t nose dive into the ground, its upper stage didn’t crap out midway through its burn, and the payload didn’t end up in the Pacific because someone overfilled the fuel tank.

Three months after a spectacular crash at the Baikonur Cosmodrome destroyed three satellites, Russia’s venerable and (in recent years) failure-prone Proton launch vehicle flew successfully last night, sending the ASTRA 2E satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) for SES of Luxembourg in a spectacular nighttime launch.


USAF Looks at Leasing Commercial Satellite Services

USAFSpace News reports on efforts by the U.S. Air Force to lease commercial satellite services:

The U.S. Air Force is contemplating a procurement of commercial satellite capacity covering western Africa in a demonstration that industry officials hope is an indication of the Defense Department’s willingness to break buying habits that they say are outmoded and inefficient.


Upcoming SXC Events and Founders Program

sxc_logoSXC Activities & Events

Please let us know if you are interested in attending one or more events/training missions, and we will provide you with more details:

  • October 16th – October 19th: Zero-G Training Mission in Moscow, Russia
  • October 25th: Zero-G training in Bordeaux, France
  • November 5th: Desdemona Training Mission at TNO Soesterberg, the Netherlands
  • November 6th: L-39 Training Mission at KLS Flight Academy Eelde, the Netherlands
  • December: SXC ’s Annual Christmas Party date to be announced.

Join today! Please contact our Astronaut Relations Manager.

Founder Program

Don’t miss out, there are still tickets left for our Founder program!

If you want to go to outer space (above 103 km altitude, real astronaut) there is still some place left in our FOUNDER program (first 100 to above 100); and for the others we have our FUTURE ASTRONAUT program (101st and up to above 100 km). Join today please contact Rogier Kroymans.

Astronauts Begin Simulations for 2021 Orion Mission

Astronauts Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman try out a prototype display and control system inside an Orion spacecraft mockup at Johnson Space Center during the first ascent and abort simulations for the program. (Credit:  NASA)
Astronauts Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman try out a prototype display and control system inside an Orion spacecraft mockup at Johnson Space Center during the first ascent and abort simulations for the program. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts recently experienced what it will be like to launch into space aboard the new Orion spacecraft during the first ascent simulations since the space shuttles and their simulators were retired.

Ascent simulations are precise rehearsals of the steps a spacecraft’s crew will be responsible for – including things that could go wrong – during their climb into space. They can be generic and apply to any future deep space mission, or very specific to a launch that’s been planned down to the second. For now, Orion’s simulations fall into the first category, but practicing now helps ensure the team will have the systems perfected for the astronauts in any future mission scenario.


Gerard Depardieu: ‘I’m Too Fat to Fly into Space’

Giving new meaning to the term bear hug, French tax refugee Gerard Depardieu greets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia in January 2013. (Credit:

French actor and current tax exile/Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu paid a visit to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last week to view the launch of a new crew to the International Space Station and to declare himself ineligible for spaceflight.

“I’d really like to, but I’m probably too big for that,” Depardieu is quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.


This was the first trip to Baikonur for Depardieu, who earlier this year fled France’s high taxes and became a Russian citizen. He was welcomed by a pleased — and in all likelihood, startled — Russian President Vladimir Putin, who doesn’t get many refugees seeking asylum in his kleptocratic autocracy.

Falcon 9 Launches Payloads into Orbit From Vandenberg

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 version 1.1 rocket into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this morning. The upgraded rocket took off on time at 9 a.m. PDT, sending the Canadian CASSIOPE spacecraft and five nano-sats into orbit.

The SpaceX webcast of the launch ended with the Falcon 9 second stage in orbit and the payloads still attached. There is no word as yet as to whether the spacecraft have separated successfully. We will update this as we get more information.

UPDATE NO. 1: CASSIOPE separation confirmed and spacecraft is healthy!

UPDATE NO. 2: All five secondary payloads have separated successfully.

Engines on the first stage re-fired in an attempt to bring the lower part of the rocket in for a controlled descent to the ocean. Three of the engines were set to fire at high altitude, and then one engine would fire just prior to reaching the Pacific Ocean. There is no word on how this experiment went. The goal is to eventually fly the Falcon 9 first stage back to a landing at the launch site.

UPDATE NO. 3:  Musk says the first burn of three engines worked well and the first stage re-entered safely. However, the second single-engine burn did not work as planned. The stage began to roll and the engine shut down. SpaceX has fished out debris from the first stage from the ocean.

In addition, there was an anomaly in the restart of the second stage that Musk said would be addressed before the next launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 launcher.

Musk said the next attempt to recovery the Falcon 9 first stage will be on the fourth flight of the upgraded rocket.  This would be third commercial Dragon cargo flight to ISS, which is scheduled for next year. That stage might have landing legs.

Musk says that if things go super well, SpaceX would be able to fly a reused Falcon 9 first stage by the end of 2014. He describes this as the company’s “aspiration”

Praise for Success of Cygnus Mission

csf_logo_newestCommercial Spaceflight Federation

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds the hard work of the teams at NASA, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Aerojet Rocketdyne and all of the many contractors involved on the success of their second COTS demonstration mission. On September 18, an Aerojet Rocketdyne dual AJ26 engine system successfully boosted Orbital’s Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus spacecraft. Today, Cygnus successfully berthed with the International Space Station and delivered approximately 1,300 lb. of cargo.


Cygnus Berthed at International Space Station

Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Dulles, VA 29 September 2013 (OSC PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that its Cygnus™ cargo logistics spacecraft successfully completed its rendezvous and approach maneuvers with the International Space Station (ISS) and was grappled and berthed with the station by the Expedition 37 astronaut crew earlier this morning.


Pad 39-A Dispute Gets Personal

Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)
Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)

A cranky Elon Musk has lashed out at Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin and ULA for getting in the way of his plans to lease Pad 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

In an email to Space News, the SpaceX CEO accused Bezos of using a “phony blocking tactic” in a rival bid to control the former space shuttle launch complex.

Blue Origin, which is backed by ULA, wants to convert the pad into a multi-use complex that can accommodate multiple launch vehicles while SpaceX wants the facility for its own use but has agreed to share it if Blue Origin can come up with an actual rocket to launch from it. (more…)

Lockheed Martin Submits Proposal for USAF Hosted Payload Initiative

lockheedmartinlogWASHINGTON, D.C. (Lockheed Martin PR) – Lockheed Martin submitted its competitive proposal for the U.S. Air Force’s Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) initiative aimed at leveraging commercial satellites for some government missions.

According to the August 1 government solicitation, HoPS will provide the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and other U.S. government organizations with “a capability for hosting Government payloads on commercial spacecraft to meet mission objectives.”  The HoPS contract will procure a fully functioning on-orbit hosted payload system and integrated ground system equipment and interfaces that deliver payload data to the government end user.  SMC’s Developmental Planning Directorate is the acquisition office for HoPS.