Aerojet Rocketdyne Adds 100 Jobs in Huntsville

AR1 engine (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 30, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), announced it is moving forward with plans to produce America’s newest advanced rocket engine, the AR1, in Huntsville, Alabama, resulting in the creation of 100 new jobs. AR1 is the latest engine in development by Aerojet Rocketdyne, America’s premier large liquid rocket engine manufacturer.

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Iridium Adds Eighth Launch With SpaceX for Satellite Rideshare with NASA/GFZ

Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

McLEAN, Va., Jan. 31, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that it has contracted with SpaceX for an eighth Falcon 9 launch. Along for the ride are the twin-satellites of the NASA/GFZ Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, which will be deployed into a separate low-Earth orbit, marking the first rideshare deal for Iridium. An agreement of this kind is economical for all parties, and affords Iridium the ability to launch five additional satellites for its next-generation global satellite network.   The rideshare is anticipated to launch out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by early 2018.

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A Tribute to the Ox Boost Pump by Jeff Bezos

BE-4 Ox Boost Pump prior to engine installation. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Robert Goddard’s first rockets used compressed gas to force the liquid propellants into the engine thrust chambers. While simple in design and a logical starting point, he quickly realized the limitations with this approach: it requires thick-walled heavy propellant tanks and limits the engine’s chamber pressure and performance, both of which limit payload capacity. The answer was turbopumps. Store the propellants in low-pressure light tanks, and then pump the propellants up to high pressure just ahead of injection into the main chamber.

For even more performance, you can add one or more boost pumps ahead of the main pumps. We’ve done that on the oxidizer side of our BE-4 engine. Our Ox Boost Pump (OBP) design leverages 3-D additive manufacturing to make many of the key components. The housing is a single printed aluminum part and all of the stages of the hydraulic turbine are printed from Monel, a nickel alloy. This manufacturing approach allows the integration of complex internal flow passages in the housing that would be much more difficult to make using conventional methods. The turbine nozzles and rotors are also 3-D printed and require minimum machining to achieve the required fits.

The OBP was first demonstrated last year in testing, where we validated its interaction with a main pump. The second iteration of the OBP for BE-4 is now in test. We’ve also just finished assembly of the unit that we’ll install for the first all-up BE-4 engine test.

We’ll keep you posted on how our BE-4 powerpack and engine testing progresses.

Gradatim Ferociter!

Jeff Bezos

First Look at Results from NASA Twin Study

Identical twins, Scott and Mark Kelly, are the subjects of NASA’s Twins Study. Scott (left) spent a year in space while Mark (right) stayed on Earth as a control subject. Researchers are looking at the effects of space travel on the human body. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Preliminary research results for the NASA Twins Study debuted at NASA’s Human Research Program’s annual Investigators’ Workshop in Galveston, Texas the week of January 23. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned home last March after nearly one year in space living on the International Space Station.  His identical twin brother, Mark, remained on Earth.

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Congressmen Call for Clear NASA Strategy for Putting Humans on Mars


Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) have filed bills calling for NASA to develop a clear strategy for placing astronauts on Mars.

The Mapping a New and Innovative Focus on our Exploration Strategy (MANIFEST) for Human Spaceflight Act of 2017 calls for the space agency to accomplish this goal “through a series of successive, sustainable, free-standing, but complementary missions making robust utilization of cis-lunar space and employing the Space Launch System, Orion crew capsule, and other capabilities.”

The cis-lunar elements include the expansion of human presence into lunar orbit, lunar surface, asteroids, the moons of Mars, and the martian surface. The plan must include opportunities for collaboration with international partners, private companies and other federal agencies.

The strategy would identify how the International Space Station could support the program, and include “a range of exploration mission architectures and approaches for the missions…including capabilities for the Orion crew capsule and the Space Launch System.”

This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, Jan. 30, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome DR. ERIC SEEDHOUSE to discuss his book about Mars One.

2. Tuesday, Jan. 31 2017: 7-8:30 PM PST, 10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST: We welcome back JOAN HORVATH AND RICH CAMERON to discuss what use is a consumer 3D printer. According to our guests, “At the moment there are a lot of overblown claims about 3D printing as well as people genuinely doing great stuff. What can you really do with a printer that is in the $1-3K range?”

3. Friday, Feb. 3, 2016: 9:30-11AM PST; (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CST) We welcome back REX RIDENOURE, .CEO Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

4. Sunday, Feb. 5,, 2017: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 5PM CST): We welcome BARRY LEVIN back to the show for a continuation of his Back To The Envelope programming and 4th Industrial Revolution mfg as applied to the space industries.

SpaceX to Launch Dragon Supply Ship from Historic Launch Pad 39A

SpaceX’s 300-foot long processing hangar, which stands at the base of Launch Pad 39A, and the upgraded launch infrastructure will support the needs of astronauts and ground support staff who will access SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as it stands on the pad for launch to the International Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A will see its first flight in nearly six years in mid-February when a SpaceX Falcon 9 launches a Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station.

The California-based company announced over the weekend that the launch of the EchoStar 23 communications satellite, set to be the first from the renovated pad, would be delayed until after the CRS-10 Dragon supply flight.

SpaceX is leasing the historic launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center under a 20-year agreement with NASA. The company has been modifying the launch complex for launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters.

SpaceX’s main launch complex at the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been out of action since September when a Falcon 9 caught fire and exploded as it was being fueled for a pre-flight engine test. Repairs are still under way.

Pad 39A last saw a launch in July 2011 with the 135th and final space shuttle mission. Atlantis flew a nearly 13-day logistics flight to the space station. Prior to the start of the shuttle program in 1981, the complex hosted Saturn V launches for the Apollo program.

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Members of Congress Urge DARPA to Reconsider Satellite Servicing Program

Four members of Congress have sent letters to DARPA asking the defense agency to review a satellite servicing program they believe duplicates other efforts by a commercial company and NASA.

“We are concerned that DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellite (RSGS) program is duplicating commercial investment and capability in violation of National Space Policy and contrary to the best interests of taxpayers,” reads one letter signed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA).

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NASA Simulates Orion Spacecraft Launch Conditions for Crew

Orion simulation Credit: NASA/Rad Sinyak

In a lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, engineers simulated conditions that astronauts in space suits would experience when the Orion spacecraft is vibrating during launch atop the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket on its way to deep space destinations. A series of tests occurring this month at Johnson will help human factors engineers assess how well the crew can interact with the displays and controls they will use to monitor Orion’s systems and operate the spacecraft when necessary.

Test subjects wore modified advanced crew escape suits that are being developed for astronauts in Orion, and sat in the latest design of the seat atop the crew impact attenuation system. This was the first time this key hardware was brought together to evaluate how launch vibrations may impact the astronaut’s ability to view the displays and controls. While Orion’s late 2018 mission will be uncrewed, engineers are hard at work performing all the necessary evaluations to make sure the spacecraft is ready for crewed missions beginning as early as 2021.

White House, SpaceX Veteran Phil Larson Joining CU Boulder

Phil Larson

BOULDER, Colo. (CU Boulder PR) — The University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Bobby Braun is announcing the appointment of Phil Larson as assistant dean for communications, strategy, and planning, where he will lead strategic relations for the college.

Larson – who was senior advisor for space and innovation at the White House, where he served from 2009 to 2014 – will join CU Boulder in February. Most recently, Larson was part of Elon Musk’s SpaceX team, supporting communications efforts as well as managing corporate projects.

Larson’s appointment concludes a national search carried out by a College of Engineering and Applied Science search committee.

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Major Review Completed for New SLS Exploration Upper Stage

Space Launch System in flight. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA has successfully completed the exploration upper stage (EUS) preliminary design review for the powerful Space Launch System rocket. The detailed assessment is a big step forward in being ready for more capable human and robotic missions to deep space, including the first crewed flight of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft in 2021.

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Dream Chaser to Undergo Tests at NASA Armstrong

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s space vehicle suspends in a hangar at NASA’s Armstrong to undergo testing. (Credit: NASA/Ken Ulbrich)

Sierra Nevada Corporation delivered its Dream Chaser spacecraft Wednesday to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, located on Edwards Air Force Base. The spacecraft will undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its approach and landing flight on the base’s 22L runway.

The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The upcoming test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser.

SNC delivers Dream Chaser to NASA Armstrong posing it with the HL-10 lifting body flown the 1960s. (Credit: NASA /Ken Ulbrich)

The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024.

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NASA Honors Fallen Astronauts on Day of Remembrance

Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins, served as keynote speaker for the Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Day of Remembrance ceremony which took place in the Astronauts Memorial Foundation’s Center for Space Education at Kennedy’s visitor complex. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

On Jan. 26, 2017, Kennedy Space Center employees and guests paid their respects to astronauts who have perished in the conquest of space. The annual Kennedy Day of Remembrance activities included a ceremony in the Center for Space Education at Kennedy’s visitor complex. The observance was hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), paying tribute to those who acknowledged space is an unforgiving environment, but believed exploration is worth the risk.

The following day, Jan. 27, marks the 50th anniversary of the loss of the crew of Apollo 1. The ceremony also honored the astronauts of the STS-51L Challenger crew who perished in 1986, the STS-107 crew of Columbia who died in 2003, along with other astronauts who were lost in the line of duty.

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Report: More Delays Likely for Commercial Crew

A suit technician fits the communications carrier on an astronaut stand-in before pressurizing the spacesuit inside Crew Quarters at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Cory Huston)

Ars Technica is reporting today that further delays are likely on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program as Boeing and SpaceX work through technical issues on the Starliner and Crew Dragon, respectively.

Ars spoke to a handful of sources familiar with the commercial crew program this week, and all expressed pessimism about the public timelines the companies have for reaching the launch pad. According to this unofficial analysis, even a single crewed test flight in 2018 by either company now appears unlikely, as teams from both Boeing and SpaceX continue to work through significant technical issues.

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The Resistance Will Be Tweeted


Alarmed by efforts of the Trump Administration to control communications out of federal agencies, users have created a number of new alternative Twitter accounts has sprung up to give what they say is the true story about climate change, the environment and other topics.


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