Monthly Archive for December, 2015

Russia Led in Launch Successes and Failures in 2015

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Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

Russia continued its dominance of the global satellite launch industry in 2015, conducting 29 of 86 orbital launches over the past 12 months. It also maintained its lead in botched launches, suffering two failures and one partial failure.

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U.S. Post Office to Issue Pluto & Planetary Stamps

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Credit: USPS

Credit: USPS

WASHINGTON (USPS PR) — In 2006, NASA placed a 29-cent 1991 Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp in the New Horizons spacecraft. In 2015 the spacecraft carried the stamp on its history-making mission to Pluto and beyond.

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UAE Space Agency Signs MOU With China

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UAE_Space_Agency_LogoDUBAI, UAE (UAE Space Agency PR) — The UAE has signed a memorandum of understanding with the People’s Republic of China concerning defining a framework for collaboration in studies and development in space science, as well as the peaceful exploration of outer space. The signing came during the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to China. The visit aimed at exploring collaboration opportunities in various sectors, including energy, space, financial services, commerce, transportation and education.

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European Space Propulsion Completes Testing of Five-Kilowatt Hall Thruster with Thales Alenia Space

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European Space Propulsion successfully completed testing of a five-kilowatt Hall Thruster with a Power Processing Unit supplied by Thales Alenia Space Belgium. (Credit: European Space Propulsion)

European Space Propulsion successfully completed testing of a five-kilowatt Hall Thruster with a Power Processing Unit supplied by Thales Alenia Space Belgium. (Credit: European Space Propulsion)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Dec 23, 2015 – European Space Propulsion (ESP), a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), successfully completed testing of a five-kilowatt Hall Thruster with a Power Processing Unit (PPU) supplied by Thales Alenia Space (TAS) Belgium. The test programme was successfully conducted in the UK, and marks the first time a flight-proven five-kilowatt class Hall Thruster has been tested with a European-manufactured PPU. The achievement of this test being completed in less time than allocated was a reflection on the robustness of the design and the understanding and expertise of the team.

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Russia Narrows Choices of Names for New Spacecraft

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Crew Transportation Spacecraft (CTS). (Credit: RSC Energia)

Crew Transportation Spacecraft (CTS). (Credit: RSC Energia)

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — Wednesday, December 23, 2015, saw the completion of the public voting – one of the final stages of the competition for the best name for the new-generation Russian crew transportation spacecraft (CTS) that is being developed by RSC Energia.

Taking part in the public vote were 35105 who determined the three names which made it into the finals: Gagarin – 10389 votes, Vector – 4866 votes, Federatsia – 3604 votes.

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A Video Look Back at Europe’s Year in Space

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Video Caption: 2015 began and ended with two pioneering missions: IXV, the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, proving Europe’s ability to return autonomously from space, and LISA Pathfinder, which set out in December to test the technologies needed to detect gravitational waves and, with them, a new way to look at our Universe! But a lot has happened in between… More European astronauts have visited space and more satellites are beefing up Galileo and ESA’s Earth Observation programme!

Roscosmos is Dead — Long Live Roscosmos!

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Vladimir_PutinVladimir Putin signed Executive Order On Abolishing the Federal Space Agency

MOSCOW (Russian President’s Office PR) — In accordance with Federal Law of July 13, 2015 On State Corporation for Space Activities Roscosmos, the President resolved to abolish the Federal Space Agency.

The Russian Federation Government has been instructed to ensure continuity in carrying out the powers and functions being transferred to Roscosmos that had previously been performed by the abolished Federal Space Agency, and to resolve financial, support and other issues pertaining to implementation of the Executive Order.

Editor’s Note: Russia has transformed its space agency into a state-owned corporation that will now control virtually the entire space industry. Whether this change will help solve the industry’s many problems — which include graft, inefficiency, bloat, poor quality control, aging workforce, a shortage of replacement workers, low pay and a lack of innovation  — remains to be seen.  Given Putin’s tendency to centralize everything, it’s probably the only move he could make.

Reaction Engines Appoints BAE’s Chris Allam to Board of Directors

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reaction_engines_logoABINGTON, England (Reaction Engines PR) — The Board of Reaction Engines Ltd is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Allam, Engineering Director at BAE Systems, as a Director of the Company. His appointment is part of the strategic investment and working partner relationship BAE Systems has entered into with Reaction Engines and he will co-ordinate BAE Systems’ collaboration on Reaction Engines’ development of its SABRE™ engine.

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Air Force Awards New Rocket Propulsion Contracts

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RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)

RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)

Christmas came early last week for Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman and Orbital ATK as the U.S. Air Force awarded rocket propulsion contracts worth a combined $14.5 million to the companies on Dec. 23.

The contracts support “technology maturation and risk reduction” in the areas of material manufacturing and development and advanced technologies. The work supports the effort to transition away from the use of Russian-built RD-180 engines in United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V booster.

The Air Force has awarded a total of seven contracts totaling just under $17 million. A list of the contracts is below.

AWARDEE AMOUNT
Aerojet Rocketdyne  $ 6,003,668
Northrop Grumman $ 5,465,705
ATK Launch Systems Inc.  $ 3,125,810
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering $    935,696
Tanner Research  $    902,507
Moog Inc. $    728,337
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering  $    545,860
TOTAL:  $16,979,246

This Week on The Space Show

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spaceshowlogo
This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, Dec. 28, 2015: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST; 4-5:30 PM CST): No show today due to my back physical therapy appointment..

2. Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back TOM OLSON for his annual year in review program. Don’t miss it as this is a very long standing Space Show end of the year tradition with Tom.

3. Friday, January 1, 2016; 9:30 -11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30-1 PM CST) No Show in honor of New Years. HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE FROM THE SPACE SHOW.

4. Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): We start the New Year off with our traditional OPEN LINES SHOW. Let’s see if it sets some kind of an agenda for space 2016.

NASA Year in Review

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2015, NASA explored the expanse of our solar system and beyond, and the complex processes of our home planet, while also advancing the technologies for our journey to Mars, and new aviation systems as the agency reached new milestones aboard the International Space Station.

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NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Moves Closer to Flight in 2015

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Dragon abort test with SuperDraco engines.  (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon abort test with SuperDraco engines. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and its partners are on track to launch astronauts from Florida’s Space Coast to the International Space Station as soon as 2017, thanks to critical progress made in 2015. Through partnerships with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Boeing and SpaceX are developing a new generation of American rockets and spacecraft to open low-Earth orbit like never before.

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Merry Christmas!

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"Washington Crossing the Delaware," Emanuel Leutze, 1851

“Washington Crossing the Delaware,” Emanuel Leutze, 1851

139 years ago today near my hometown on the New Jersey side

A very merry Christmas and happy holidays to all you Parabolic Archers out there!

I want to take the opportunity to say thank you for all your support over the past year. I really appreciate your readership and enthusiastic participation in the discussions. And a very special thank you to all those who contributed to the annual fund-raising campaign. It’s been a great year for space, and a great one for Parabolic Arc.

So, my best for a happy and safe holiday season for everyone out there. And best of luck in the new year.

UK Report Recommends Deeper Involvement in Space Exploration

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UK_space_agencyA new advisory report recommends the United Kingdom maximize its engagement in an on-going international effort to explore space that includes robotic missions to the moon and Mars.

“The UK Space Exploration Working Group recommends that the United Kingdom takes maximum advantage of the unique opportunities presented by the Global Exploration Strategy. It should play a full and active role in these programmes and the endeavours that will define space exploration in this century.

“Involvement in both robotic and human elements of space exploration should be strategically targeted to develop new capabilities by building on existing UK strengths. Such activities will generate scientific knowledge and return value to the UK economy through technological challenges, innovations and new commercial ventures. Furthermore they will engage British society in the full excitement of space exploration and help to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.
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Colorado School of Mines Receives $2.5 Million for 3D Metal Printing Consortium

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This rocket engine fuel pump has hundreds of parts including a turbine that spins at over 90,000 rpms. This turbopump was made with additive manufacturing and had 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made with traditional manufacturing. It completed testing under flight-like conditions at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA/MSFC)

This rocket engine fuel pump has hundreds of parts including a turbine that spins at over 90,000 rpms. This turbopump was made with additive manufacturing and had 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made with traditional manufacturing. It completed testing under flight-like conditions at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA/MSFC)

GOLDEN, Colo., Dec. 14, 2015 – Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professors Aaron Stebner and Douglas Van Bossuyt were awarded a $2.5 million Advanced Industries Accelerator grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to establish a 3D metal printing research consortium.

Mines is building out 2200 sq. ft. of dedicated laboratory space in the new Coorstek Center for Applied Science and Engineering for the consortium, while industry members Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, Fauston Tool and Manufacturer’s Edge, are providing more than $4.5M of initial investment in the program. The combination of funds will help position Colorado as the leader in the advancement of standardization, qualification, and intelligent digitization of 3D metal printing.

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