NASA’s Day of Remembrance Pays Tribute to 3 Brave Crews

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks to NASA personnel and others during a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery.  The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.  Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks to NASA personnel and others during a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Message from the Administrator: Day of Remembrance

Today we pause in our normal routines and reflect on the contributions of those who lost their lives trying to take our nation farther into space. On our annual Day of Remembrance, please join me in giving thanks for the legacy of the STS-107 Columbia crew; the STS-51L Challenger crew; the Apollo 1 crew; and Mike Adams, the first in-flight fatality of the space program as he piloted the X-15 No. 3 on a research flight.

These men and women were our friends, family and colleagues, and we will never forget their lives and passion to push us farther and achieve more.  They have our everlasting love, respect and gratitude.


New Video Series on Commercial Space Activities

Video Caption: We follow certain entrepreneurs, public officials, and private citizens that are actively shaping a new kind of space race, and in the process, redefining what it means to explore the cosmos. This pilot episode of the new monthly web series Private Space, features an interview with California State Sen. Steve Knight, the lead author of California’s Space Flight Liability and Immunity Act.

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Generation Orbit Hires Financial Manager

Jordan Shulman
Jordan Shulman

ATLANTA, GA (GO PR) — Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) welcomes Jordan Shulman as Financial Manager.

Operating under GO’s CFO, David Horn, Mr. Shulman will develop and implement financial models and perform business operations tasks, including accounting, payroll, and contracting. He will also support business development tasks such as interfacing with investors, valuations, and program planning.  With GO’s continued growth and success, the need for a Financial Manager becomes imperative.


Sierra Nevada Completes Dream Chaser Incremental Critical Design Review

Dream Chaser (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., January 30, 2014 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the completion of the Dream Chaser® Incremental Critical Design Review (CDR) with the completion of Milestone 10a under its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with NASA.

Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems made the announcement at the Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium (RAMS®) during his keynote address. RAMS is the premier event in the reliability, availability, and maintainability engineering disciplines. The RAMS event attracted hundreds of safety and reliability practitioners and engineering leaders from around the world.


Plans for Spaceport America Visitors Center Scaled Back

Facing a tight budget and uncertain start-up schedule, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority has scaled back a $20 million plan to build a visitor’s center at Spaceport America and a welcome center in Truth or Consequences (TorC).

The new $7.5 million plan would include the $6 million welcome center in TorC  where tourists would gather to board buses for Spaceport America. The planned $13 million visitor’s center at the spaceport would be replaced with a $1.5 million hangar until the authority could afford to build something more elaborate.

NMSA Executive Director Christine Anderson said she would ask the Legislature for $1.5 million to fund the hangar. The authority would seek a $6 million loan for the welcome center in TorC.

Under the original plan, NMSA would have sought a $20 million private loan that was to be paid back from tourist revenues.

Although the spaceport is now complete, its anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, has suffered delays in launching is suborbital tourism service. The company is still testing SpaceShipTwo in California.

Read the full story.

Tax Intended to Fund Spaceport America Construction Now Funding Operations

Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America
Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America

The delay in the start of Virgin Galactic flights has forced the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to partially fund operations of Spaceport America from a gross receipts tax originally approved to pay for the facility’s construction. It’s a practice one state senator now wants to end but which the spaceport’s management says is essentially to keeping the lights on.


Proposed California Tax Break Would Benefit SpaceX, Space Companies

Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)

The California State Assembly passed a 10-year tax exemption on Wednesday that would exempt SpaceX and other commercial space companies in the state from paying property taxes on their spacecraft and properties.

“With this bill, California can incubate and grow this exciting new industry and create thousands of good paying manufacturing jobs right here in our state,” said state Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), who authored the bill.

“I introduced this bill to clarify the tax code as it relates to this new industry so that companies like SpaceX can have the legal certainty they need to make major infrastructure investment decisions and avoid unnecessary litigation,” he added.

The measure will now go to the State Senate.

Orbital Outfitters Moving to Midland

spacesuit_orbital_outfittersMIDLAND, Texas (MDC PR) – The Midland Development Corporation approved an agreement with Orbital Outfitters for the location of their Space Pressure Suit Manufacturing and Development business at the Midland International Airport (MAF).

The construction of the new building, on approx. 2 acres of land at MAF, will completed by December 2015. The building will include an altitude chamber complex to support the testing and qualification of space and pressure suits, small space systems and components testing and flight crew training operations and will be made available for use by UTPB.

Orbital Outfitters specializes in the design, development, and manufacturing of space and pressure suits, with a secondary line of business focusing on the production of full-scale space vehicle mockups. The company works closely with XCOR Aerospace, whose new R&D Center will be located on the flight line at MAF in a soon-to-be renovated ~60,000 sq. ft. hangar testing and office facility.


Black Sky Training Receives FAA Approval for 5 New Courses

black_sky_simOVIEDO, Fla. (BST PR) — On January 22, 2014, FAA/AST approved 5 courses for Black Sky Training. The addition of these courses to the BST’s first ever FAA approved space flight training course, High Altitude Physiology, given in BST’s Hypobaric Chamber, fulfills BST’s offering for the Space Flight Participant Series.

These revolutionary courses allow BST to offer FAA approved courses to train as commercial astronauts for not only Space Flight Participants, but to those wanting to become pilots of rocket powered RLV spacecraft and to any licensed pilot wanting to hone or advance their skills.


NASA, CSA Plan Lunar Water Extraction Mission

Resource Prospector Mission field test in Hawaii. (Credit: NASA)
Resource Prospector Mission field test in Hawaii. (Credit: NASA)

This would be a really cool mission:

Following a series of reconnaissance missions that found hydrogen and then water on the Moon, NASA is laying the groundwork for a lunar rover that would scout for subsurface volatiles and extract them for processing.

The heart of the proposed  (RPM) is the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen & Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) payload, a technology development initiative that predates its official start two years ago in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division.


Virgin Galactic Suddenly Very Chatty About Engine Progress

Newton engine (Credi: Virgin Galactic)
Newton engine (Credi: Virgin Galactic)

The exclusive, multi-platform partnership that Virgin Galactic has forged with NBCUniversal has begun to bear fruit over the past two months. The media giant has signed on to chronicle Sir Richard Branson’s flight aboard SpaceShipTwo and all the events leading up to it.

In November, Sir Richard Branson phoned into CNBC from his Necker Island retreat in the Caribbean to announce that Virgin Galactic would begin accepting the virtual currency Bitcoin for SpaceShipTwo reservations.

A month later, NBC News got into the act, with Science Editor Alan Boyle and a film crew trekking out to Mojave for a powered flight of SpaceShipTwo. They went away disappointed when the test was scrubbed due to a rare patch of bad weather in the High Desert.


Congressional Cuts Force NASA to Send More Money to Russia

Soyuz TMA-22 crew in space. (Credit: NASA TV)
Soyuz TMA-22 crew in space. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA’s bill for crew transportation services to the International Space Station is expected to rise to more than $2 billion with the space agency’s latest decision to extend an agreement with the Russian space agency Roscosmos through the spring of 2018.

NASA plans to purchase six additional seats aboard Russian Soyuz transports for 2017 plus emergency crew rescue services through the spring of 2018. A similar deal the space agency signed last May for 2016 and 2017 cost $424 million, or roughly $70 million per seat. How much the new agreement will cost is unknown, but costs have risen sharply over the past several years.


Waypoint 2 Space Earns FAA Safety Approval for Spaceflight Training Programs

waypoint_2_space_logoHOUSTON – Jan. 28, 2014 (Waypoint 2 Space PR) – Waypoint 2 Space, a leading provider of spaceflight training for the commercial space industry, today announced it has received FAA safety approval for its highly anticipated training services that will begin late spring of 2014. The FAA safety approval solidifies Waypoint 2 Space’s commitment to establishing the safest and highest training standards for the industry.

Waypoint 2 Space is the only domestic company that will be providing fully comprehensive and immersive spaceflight training programs for both suborbital and orbital space. The company is offering future and prospective crew and spaceflight participants the opportunity to receive innovative training techniques and have access to the most advanced equipment in the world.


CNES Figures Out What SpaceX Got Right, But Can Europe Respond?

Jean-Yves Le Gall
Jean-Yves Le Gall

Below is a rough translation of a key portion via Google Translate:

If we compare the launcher SpaceX to its competitors, it differs in three major points. First, its perfect adaptation to launch useful governmental charges: these are the satellites from NASA and the Department of Defense who are an important part of its backlog and more of its income to the extent the government U.S. agrees to pay its own more expensive than what is charged to commercial customers launches.

Then its smaller size and ease of implementation, which lead to very low operating costs and de facto make it terribly competitive to launch commercial satellites: the last two launches of the Falcon 9 has achieved a return United States in this market, they were absent for several years, given the lack of competitiveness and availability of conventional launchers.

Finally, the technical definition and its industrial organization, from the beginning, have been designed with the aim of to minimize development costs and operating: instead of being a launcher at the forefront of technology, the Falcon 9 uses engines proven, easy to technology development and especially inexpensive to industrialize, and the launcher is made ​​by a very limited number of subcontractors, which limits the production costs.

Le Gall says that Europe need to adapt to this changing world as it develops the Ariane 6 launch vehicle to replace the Ariane 5.

Conrad Foundation Launches Brain Trust

conrad_foundationHOUSTON, Jan. 28, 2014 (Conrad Foundation PR) – As part of the Conrad Foundation’s ongoing commitment to developing the conscientious  leaders of tomorrow, the international not-for-profit launched its latest initiative, Brain Trust. The program was established to provide motivated young innovators with the opportunity to further develop products and services created as part of the Foundation’s Spirit of Innovation Challenge.

Services provided to Brain Trust participants include assistance with intellectual property protection, consultations with business and technical experts, and access to grants and other funding opportunities. Teams also are eligible for exclusive speaking and networking opportunities offered by the Conrad Foundation and its partners. Funding for the Brain Trust grants and services was made possible through a 2013 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which raised more than $40,000 to launch the new program.