Monthly Archive for April, 2014

Boeing, Bigelow Show Off Interior of CST-100, Commercial Space Habitat

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Commercial interior of the Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) next-generation manned space capsule, (Credit: Boeing)

Commercial interior of the Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) next-generation manned space capsule, (Credit: Boeing)

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev., April 30, 2014 (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE:BA] today unveiled a new commercial interior of its Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) next-generation manned space capsule, showing how people other than NASA astronauts may one day travel to space.

Boeing and partner Bigelow Aerospace highlighted the future commercial interior of the capsule it is developing for NASA, while Bigelow showcased a full-scale model of its BA 330 commercial space habitat.

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NASA to Partner With Astrobotic, Masten & Moon Express on Lunar Program

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The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced Wednesday the selection of three U.S. companies to negotiate no-funds exchanged partnership agreements with the agency to advance lander capabilities that will enable delivery of payloads to the surface of the moon, as well as new science and exploration missions of interest to NASA and scientific and academic communities.

The selected companies are:

  • Astrobotic Technology, Inc., Pittsburgh
  • Masten Space Systems, Inc., Mojave, Calif.
  • Moon Express, Inc., Moffett Field, Calif.

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Canadian Space Agency Supports Five Studies on Microsatellites

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CSALONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has awarded five contracts to Canadian industry to perform feasibility studies on five potential future microsatellite missions.

These proposed missions would address Canada’s domestic needs in security, health, forest fire surveillance, weather surveillance and water quality monitoring. As well, the missions would allow the Canadian space sector to advance industrial capabilities in microsatellite technology, especially in mission development, and advanced optical and communications payloads.

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Brown Signs Space Property Tax Exemption

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Credit: Steven Pavlov

California Capitol Building. Credit: Steven Pavlov

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a measure that will give SpaceX and other aerospace companies a decade-long exemption from property taxes for launch vehicle propulsion systems.

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), who sponsored the measure, said the new law will qualify rocket propulsion systems for an existing business inventory tax exemption. The goal is to help keep the growing entrepreneurial space sector in California.

“California’s aerospace industry is a vital part of our history and at the center of technological innovations shaping our future. I am pleased my colleagues from both sides of the aisle are united in their support of AB 777,” Muratsuchi said in a statement.

Falcon 9 First Stage Landing Video

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The repaired video from a camera aboard the Falcon 9 first stage as it landed on the ocean. SpaceX’s software team spent about a week producing this version.

In an effort to see if the video can be improved further, SpaceX has posted links to the original data file as well as the repaired source file on its website. The company is crowd sourcing the repair effort in hopes that someone out there can produce a better version.

First Image of Falcon 9 First Stage Landing in Ocean Released

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Details of SpaceX’s Appeal of Air Force’s ULA Bulk Buy

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Falcon 9 lifts off with the Thaicom-6 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 lifts off with the Thaicom-6 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has filed a 36-page appeal of the U.S. Air Force’s decision to award a 36-core launch vehicle contract to United Launch Alliance. The company is seeking to set aside the contract and open 22 single-core launches to competition for which it claims it is qualified to bid on.

You can download the full lawsuit: 1_14-cv-00354-SGB. I’ve excerpted key portions of the lawsuit below.

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A Tour of Spaceport America

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The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Mission Control at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Alex Heard, editorial director of Outside Magazine, went on a tour of Spaceport America in New Mexico on Monday. He visited SpaceShipTwo’s Mission Control room (above), which consisted of two big computer screens, two flat-screen TVs, some IKEA-looking furniture and red curtains in Virgin Galactic’s corporate color.

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ATK, Orbital Sciences Announce $5 Billion Merger

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ATK_LogoDULLES, VA, 29 April 2014 (OSC PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK), which will combine Orbital and ATK’s Aerospace and Defense (A&D) Groups to create a $4.5 billion (combined calendar year 2013 annual revenue), 13,000-person space, defense and aviation systems developer and manufacturer. The new company, to be called Orbital ATK, Inc., will serve U.S. and international customers with leading positions in the markets for space launch vehicles and propulsion systems, tactical missiles and defense electronics, satellites and space systems, armament systems and ammunition, and commercial and military aircraft structures and related components. As part of the transaction, ATK will spin off its Sporting Group, which focuses on commercial sporting equipment, to its shareholders.

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MDA Selected to Define Robotic Concepts for Deep-Space Missions

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mda_logoRICHMOND, BC (MDA PR) — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA” or the “Company”) (TSX: MDA), a global communications and information company, today announced that it has received two contracts from the Canadian Space Agency to define critical technologies and assess potential contributions that Canada could make to future space exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

MDA will assess application of Canadian robotic technologies to potential missions such as the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), subject of the recently announced Broad Agency Announcement issued by NASA, and the Deep-Space Habitat Mission at EML-2 (Earth-moon libration point 2) proposed in the Global Exploration Roadmap.

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ULA Responds to SpaceX’s Lawsuit Over Bulk Buy

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Delta IV lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (Credit: Ben Cooper, United Launch Alliance)

Delta IV lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (Credit: Ben Cooper, United Launch Alliance)

United Launce Alliance (ULA) Statement in Response to SpaceX Lawsuit
April 28, 2014

“ULA is the only government certified launch provider that meets all of the unique EELV requirements that are critical to supporting our troops and keeping our country safe. That is the case today, when the acquisition process started in 2012 and at the time of the contract award in December 2013.

“The recent 5-year block buy contract was the result of a best practice acquisition process that enabled the government to negotiate a block of launches in advance that enabled significant operations efficiency and created the needed stability and predictability in the supplier and industrial base, while meeting national security space requirements.

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Sierra Nevada Named Manufacturing Brand Builder of the Year

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

LOUISVILLE, Colo., April 28, 2014 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is pleased to announce it was selected by ColoradoBiz, a leading media publication in the state, to receive the “2014 Colorado Manufacturing Brand Builder of the Year” award. ColoradoBiz selected SNC from a pool of more than 250 top Colorado manufacturers based on the national recognition that the company has generated for the state of Colorado through its many programs. Specifically, SNC was recognized for the innovation that it has brought to the state, most notably its efforts to involve all levels of Colorado organizations in its Dream Chaser® Orbital Spacecraft Program.

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NASA Seeks to Evolve Space Station for New Commercial Opportunities

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The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As part of NASA’s continuing effort to open low-Earth orbit to commercial space opportunities, the agency is seeking feedback on ways it can help create greater access to and use of the International Space Station for research and commercial activities.

Through a Request for Information (RFI), NASA is soliciting ideas from companies interested in using the space station and the low-Earth orbit environment in innovative ways that will develop a strong commercial market and assist the agency in achieving its exploration goals.

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CASIS Seeks Materials Science Research Proposals

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iss_ams
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., April 28, 2014 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today issued a solicitation for proposals for materials science onboard the International Space Station (ISS). CASIS is the nonprofit organization responsible for managing research onboard the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks flight research investigations that develop new or improve existing materials that will have direct terrestrial benefit. CASIS is targeting proposals for materials science in the areas of microstructure study, crystallization, and other phase transitions. Both internal and external hardware platforms are available for use to further understand the synthesis and properties of new and existing materials.

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ULA Speeds Up Engine Deliveries as House Mulls Ban on Russian Motor Use

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Capitol Building
As tensions over Ukraine continue to simmer, United Launch Alliance has taken steps to speed up the delivery of Russian RD-180 engines that power its Atlas V launch vehicle. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, draft legislation being circulated in the House would prohibit the company from using those engines to launch any of the Defense Department’s crucial payloads.

These moves come as SpaceX is filing an appeal to a U.S. Air Force decision to award ULA a contract for 36 rocket cores for its Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. The company, which is seeking to open certain launches to competitive bidding, has attacked the sole-source deal as unfair, and criticized continued U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines for the launch of defense spacecraft.

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