Monthly Archive for May, 2016

Orbital ATK Conducts Successful Antares Test Firing

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DULLES, Va., 31 May 2016 (Orbital ATK PR) -– Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it conducted a full-power “hot fire” test of the upgraded first stage propulsion system of its Antares medium-class rocket using new RD-181 main engines.

The 30-second test took place at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on May 31, 2016 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A. Initial indications are that the test was fully successful.

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BEAM Expansion Time Lapse

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Video Caption: This short time-lapse video shows the complete Bigelow Aerospace BEAM expansion from start to finish to its full expanded, pressurized volume on Saturday, April 28. BEAM was installed April 16 on the Tranquility module after being delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

UrtheCast Receives $5 Million Government Grant

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urthecast-logoVANCOUVER, May 26, 2016 (UrtheCast PR) — UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR) (“UrtheCast” or the “Company”) today announces that it will receive $5.0 million in Government of Canada Technology Development Program (“TDP”) funding, as part of a $54 million contribution program for the development of new satellite technologies, as administered by the Government of Canada. The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced this award on May 5, 2016. UrtheCast’s contract for the $5.0 million portion of the TDP award is scheduled to be paid out evenly over five years.

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Planetary Resources, Bayer Sign MOU on Space Data

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Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)

MONHEIM, Germany, May 31, 2016 (Bayer/Planetary Resources PR) – Bayer and the aerospace technology company Planetary Resources, based in Redmond, Washington, USA, have signed a memorandum of understanding about the development of applications and products based on satellite images. Bayer intends to purchase these data from Planetary Resources to create new agricultural products and improve existing ones. The collaboration will be part of the Digital Farming Initiative at Bayer (www.digitalfarming.bayer.com). Financial details were not disclosed.

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Rogozin Bemoans Uncompetitive Russian Space Industry Amid Continued Anomalies

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Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has bluntly declared that the Russian space industry is uncompetitive with its American counterparts except in the crucial area of rocket engine development.

The harsh comments by Rogozin, who oversees the space and defense sectors, come amid continued quality control problems that affected two recent launches and a review of Roscosmos ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Rogozin was unusually candid in his negative assessment of his nation’s space program.

“Our space industry has fallen behind the Americans ninefold. All of our ambitious projects require us to up productivity 150 percent – and even if we manage that, we will still never catch up with them,” Rogozin originally said to Interfax Friday.
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Researchers to Test How Solids Dissolve in Space

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The experiment module provides a field of view of six mixing vials at a time. (Credit: Zin Technologies)

The experiment module provides a field of view of six mixing vials at a time. (Credit: Zin Technologies)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Anyone who has been sick before knows you want relief as quickly as possible. An investigation soon taking place aboard the International Space Station could help bring that relief by improving design of tablets used to deliver medicine into the human body. The Hard to Wet Surfaces research looks at liquid-solid interactions and how certain pharmaceuticals dissolve, which may lead to more potent and effective medicines in space and on Earth.

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This Week on The Space Show

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space_show_logo
This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, May 30, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): NO SHOW TODAY DUE TO THE MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND.

2. Tuesday, May 31, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) We welcome retired astronaut Wood Spring to the show. You do not want to miss what he has to say and talk about.

3. Friday, June 3, 2016: 2016; 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT) TBD. Please check the website newsletter and the Upcoming Show menu on our home page later in the week for program details.

4. Sunday, June 5, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. All space and STEM topics welcome. First time callers are wanted so do call in and talk with us.

Scientists See the Details with High-Resolution Crystals

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Multi-chamber crystallization plate with porous plastic inserts placed in the precipitant reservoirs to reduce wicking. (Credit: Kristofer Gonzalez-DeWhitt)

Multi-chamber crystallization plate with porous plastic inserts placed in the precipitant reservoirs to reduce wicking. (Credit: Kristofer Gonzalez-DeWhitt)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Protein crystals tend to grow larger and more perfectly in space than on Earth, where gravity and other forces interfere. For scientists studying protein crystal structures, the difference is like watching high-definition television on a large screen versus standard-definition on a tiny screen.

“If you’re watching a hockey game on a small screen at low resolution, you can see the players and hockey sticks and maybe, just maybe, the puck moving around,” said Kristofer Gonzalez-DeWhitt, a scientist at Eli Lilly and Company. “But in high resolution on a large screen, you can see sweat on a player’s face.”

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International Partners Contribute CubeSats for First SLS Flight

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EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft) will measure the distribution of plasma that surrounds the Earth to help scientists understand the radiation environment in the region of space around Earth. It will also demonstrate low-energy trajectory control techniques, such as multiple lunar flybys, within the Earth-Moon region. (Credit: JAXA/University of Tokyo)

EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft) will measure the distribution of plasma that surrounds the Earth to help scientists understand the radiation environment in the region of space around Earth. It will also demonstrate low-energy trajectory control techniques, such as multiple lunar flybys, within the Earth-Moon region. (Credit: JAXA/University of Tokyo)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) will launch America into a new era of exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit. On its first flight, NASA will demonstrate the rocket’s heavy-lift capability and send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft into deep space. The agency will also take advantage of additional available mass and space to provide the rare opportunity to send more than a dozen small satellites, called CubeSats, to conduct experiments beyond low-Earth orbit. In addition to the 10 CubeSats announced earlier this year, the agency will be sending three from international partners.

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XCOR Layoffs Primarily Impacted Lynx Team

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Engine hot fire (Credit: XCOR)

Engine hot fire (Credit: XCOR)

An update on the XCOR layoffs….

The layoffs primarily affected the team working on the Lynx suborbital space plane. Some employees involved in the program remain. However, work on building the spacecraft has been suspended for the time being.

Engineers working on XCOR’s rocket engines have been retained. Their main work will involve an engine for United Launch Alliance’s ACES upper stage. Some work will continue on Lynx’s engine and control thrusters.

Sources are indicating that XCOR laid off about 25 employees on Friday, which they say was just under half of the company. The exact head count before the staff reductions is unclear. Sources say around 50; however, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported in January that XCOR had 63 employees at the time.

Staff remain employed at XCOR’s main headquarters in Mojave, Calif., and at its hangar in Midland, Texas.

Schafer Corporation Forms Commercial Space Situational Awareness Unit

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Schafer_logoARLINGTON, Va. (Schafer Corp. PR) — Schafer Corporation (“Schafer”), a leading provider of scientific, engineering, and technical services and products applied to defeating national security threats, today announced that it has formed a Commercial Space Situational Awareness (CSSA) business unit to meet the growing need for technically accurate, timely and relevant information on the location of natural and manmade objects in orbit around the Earth. Schafer has appointed U.S Air Force Colonel (Ret) Donald Greiman as Vice President and General Manager to lead this new segment.

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BEAM Fully Expanded & Pressurized

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BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams successfully expanded and pressurized Bigelow Aerospace’s BEAM module today. It was a long procedure that took more than 7.5 hours. The module will now go through an 80-hour leak check and other tests before astronauts enter it for the first time in about a week.

 

XCOR Layoffs Update

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Chine panels being fitted to the side of the Lynx. (Credit: XCOR)

Chine panels being fitted to the side of the Lynx. (Credit: XCOR)

From what I’m hearing, the layoffs are part of a retrenchment to focus on projects that are bringing in revenue, such as the upper stage engine XCOR is developing for ULA. It appears that many people working on the Lynx suborbital space plane were laid off.

The company’s burn rate — what it was spending every month — was just too high, especially as it is maintaining facilities in Mojave, Calif., and Midland, Texas. It’s also been a while since XCOR has made any announcements about new fundraising rounds.

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BEAM Expansion Underway

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Credit: NASA TV

Credit: NASA TV

Bigelow’s BEAM module is being expanded this morning on the International Space Station. It’s an extremely slow process that’s now been going on for about 3.5 hours, but it seems to be progressing well.

BEAM is being expanded using air from the space station. It will then be pressurized using tanks on board the module.

Watch Falcon 9 First Stage Landing From On Board Camera

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