VP Pence to Visit NASA Marshall on Monday

Mike Pence

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Vice President Mike Pence will visit NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Monday, Sept. 25. The Vice President will tour Marshall to get an update on the progress of the Space Launch System rocket and International Space Station science operations as the agency prepares for missions to deep space, around the Moon and ultimately to Mars.

The Vice President will tour Marshall’s Payload Operations Integration Facility, where all scientific research aboard the station is managed around-the-clock, 365 days a year. This research is helping people learn how to live and work in space for long periods. The Vice President will see a test with the engine section of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage –the largest rocket stage ever built for the world’s most powerful rocket. The four RS-25 engines and the two solid rocket boosters that attach to the engine section will produce more than 8 million pounds of thrust to help send the Orion crew vehicle farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever travelled before.

While at Redstone Arsenal, where Marshall is located, Vice President Pence will visit the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center for briefs from Army leaders on current missile defense projects and Army initiatives. Redstone Arsenal is an Army installation with a workforce of around 41,000 active duty military, government civilians and contractors. The arsenal is a Federal Center of Excellence, hosting components of more than 70 government organizations, including NASA, Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, FBI, and Department of Justice.

Get more information about Redstone Arsenal at:


Get more information about how Marshall Space Flight Center is hard at work building the SLS rocket and the technologies and systems needed to send astronauts into deep space at:


ATLAS Space Operations & NASA Partner to Advance Commercial Space Technology

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (ATLAS Space Operations PR) — ATLAS Space Operations, Inc. announced today that it has entered a collaborative partnership with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This partnership, as a part of the Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO), will work to support the development of advanced commercial space telecommunications capabilities, industry wide.

ATLAS is revolutionizing space-to-ground communications with their proprietary data management platform – ATLAS Freedom and a scalable satellite ground station technology, ATLAS LINKS Electronically Steered Array.


SSL to Help U.S. Air Force Test & Validate Hosted Payloads Scenarios

PALO ALTO, Calif. SSL, a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it was selected by Innoflight, Inc., a veteran-owned business specializing in electronics systems for Defense & Aerospace, to provide a high fidelity simulation environment for testing the security of hosted payloads on commercial satellites.  The capability, which is being developed for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) as part of its Secure IP Payload Accommodation Demonstration Project, will enable SMC to demonstrate cybersecure payload hosting scenarios, concepts of operation, and cybersecurity controls.


ULA Atlas V Launch Reset for Saturday Evening

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Sept. 22, 2017 (ULA PR) – The ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-42 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office is confirmed on the Western Range for Saturday, Sept. 23. The launch time is 10:30 p.m. Pacific. The battery replacement is on schedule and the ULA and customer teams are ready to support this new launch date.

The mission, for the National Reconnaissance Office, is set to lift off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Atlas V NROL-42 mission profile located here: https://youtu.be/4UjeoySzxPo

Webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com  and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Space Commanders Address Operations, Importance at AFA

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) — Several of the Air Force’s space commanders spoke on a panel about the significance of Air Force space operations and its undeniable importance to national defense during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 19, 2017.

The Air Force is the lead service for space and has the vast majority of the Defense Department’s space systems, personnel and budget with 36,000 Airmen at 134 different locations.

ESA Looking for Commercial Ride for ISRU Lunar Mission

Lunar base made with 3D printing (Credit: ESA/Foster + Partners)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In the first act of lunar exploration, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were major characters. In setting its sights on the Moon, ESA hopes to bring many more actors to this off-world stage.

By testing the market for transport services to the Moon, ESA aims to push the limits of technology and create new models of space business.


X-plane Preliminary Design Model Tests Quiet Supersonic Technology

Samantha O’Flaherty finalizes the set-up of the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) Preliminary Design Model. (Credit: NASA/Chris Giersch)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Samantha O’Flaherty, Test Engineer for Jacobs Technology Inc., finalizes the set-up of the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) Preliminary Design Model inside the 14- by- 22 Foot Subsonic Tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center. Over the next several weeks, engineers will conduct aerodynamic tests on the 15% scale model and the data collected from the wind tunnel test will be used to predict how the vehicle will perform and fly in low-speed flight.

The QueSST Preliminary Design is the initial design stage of NASA’s planned Low-Boom Flight Demonstration experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.  This future X-plane is one of a series of X-planes envisioned in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, which aims to reduce fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design that depart from the conventional tube-and-wing aircraft shape.

HIAD Heat Shield Material Feels the Burn During Arc Jet Testing

Small cutouts of the Flexible Thermal Protection System for NASA’s Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD, were exposed to temperatures up to approximately 2,700 F during testing at Boeing’s Large Core Arc Tunnel in St. Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Boeing)

ST. LOUIS (NASA PR) — NASA heat shield material that could one day be used on an inflatable aeroshell during atmospheric entry on Mars recently underwent testing at Boeing’s Large Core Arc Tunnel in St. Louis, Missouri.


University Research Teams Validate Payload Performance on ZERO-G Parabolic Flights

University of Florida students work on revolutionary approach for efficient microgravity transfer line chilldown experiment. (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Several payload proposals selected from NASA’s Research Announcement: Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion (REDDI) 2016 solicitation flew as part of a Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) parabolic flight campaign during two weeks in March 2017.


NASA’s Asteroid-Bound Spacecraft to Slingshot Past Earth

This artist’s concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth.
(Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer), will pass about 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers) above Earth just before 12:52 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 22. Using Earth as a slingshot, the spacecraft will receive an assist to complete its journey to the asteroid Bennu.


Lockheed Martin Introduces New Satellite Lineup

Lockheed Martin’s family of solutions all now featuring common components include four series of satellites from nanosatellites to powerful geostationary platforms. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Sept. 19, 2017 (Lockheed Martin PR) — Today Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) debuted a new family of satellite buses that form the core of nearly every space mission. From nanosats to high-powered satellites, the versatile lineup incorporates dozens of major enhancements and hundreds of common components that speed production and reduce cost. The company announced the lineup at the Air Force Association Air, Space & Cyber Conference.


ULA to Conduct Atlas V Night Launch From Vandenberg Tonight

The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA’s most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

UPDATE: The launch has been postponed to no earlier than Saturday, Sept. 23. They need to replace a valve in the booster.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (ULA PR) — The ULA launch readiness review was completed today everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V NROL-42 launch in support of national security.

The mission, for the National Reconnaissance Office, is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Thursday, Sept. 21 from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Today’s L-1 weather forecast continues to show 60% favorable conditions for launch. The launch time is 10:38 p.m. PDT.

Atlas V NROL-42 mission profile located here: https://youtu.be/4UjeoySzxPo

Webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com  and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Launch Day Forecast

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 40%
Areas of concern: Launch Visibility, Ground Winds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 Hour Delay: 10%
Areas of concern: Ground Winds


Astroscale, JAXA Sign Research Agreement on Orbital Debris

TOKYO (Jaxa PR) — ASTROSCALE Japan Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “ASTROSCALE”) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency signed a joint research agreement (“the agreement”) regarding the removal of space debris.

Under the terms of the agreement, ASTROSCALE will have access to JAXA’s technologies that examine the methods to approach and capture space debris. The technologies will facilitate ASTROSCALE’s development of ELSA-d, a technology demonstration satellite scheduled to be launched in the first half of 2019. ASTROSCALE and JAXA will also work together to validate the imagery of simulated debris obtained through the ELSA-d on-orbit mission. JAXA will not take direct part in the development, launch, or operation of ELSA-d, but will be involved in the research and development of relevant component technologies.

It is estimated that more than 750,000 pieces of space debris over a centimeter in size are currently in orbit, some of which are the result of breakups and collisions of spacecraft. As the continuously rising debris population poses an immediate threat to the orbital environment, taking countermeasures is urgently needed.

JAXA, in cooperation with universities and the private sector, will further establish the technology to eliminate space debris. Through this endeavor, JAXA hopes to protect the space environment and realize sustainable utilization of space.

Musk to Present Mars 2.0 Next Week in Adelaide

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

ADELAIDE, Australia (IAC PR) — Elon Musk will attend IAC2017 and deliver a short address to delegates on Friday 29 September in the afternoon.  He plans to provide delegates with an update on his plans for settling Mars. His talk will also be live-streamed globally.

The Friday programme will also feature two interesting Late Breaking News on the Mars Base Camp, presented by Lockheed Martin and the Juno mission to Jupiter, presented by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Make sure not to miss these interesting events!

Editor’s Note: I’m hoping this plan is a bit more realistic than the one he presented last year. I thought it to be too ambitious technically. His time and cost estimates were utterly unrealistic (even more so than usual). As to what a settlement on Mars would cost and what it would do was largely missing from the presentation. It was, “well, I can get you there. The rest is up to you.’ Ummm….yeah. Which is to say, no.

The weakest part of the presentation was probably the rationale he put forward. Well, it would certainly be an adventure for humanity. And yes, we’d become a multi-planet species. The former is a given for anything we do beyond LEO. As for the latter….absent an existential threat to life on Earth, there’s no real urgency to it. And not much of a return on investment.

If Musk hoped the presentation last year would influence whoever won the U.S. presidential election, the effort seems to have been a failure. If anything, the Trump Administration seems to be leaning toward a return to the moon as an interim step to Mars. It’s no co-incidence that Musk has been saying nice things about a moon base in recent months.

I’m really curious as to whether Comic Book Guy (aka, Dick Rocket) and the Toilet Bowl Kid (name unknown) will show up again. They were completely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. (Mr. Rocket seems even more cuckoo these days; of which, more in a future post.) Maybe Morgana the Kissing Bandit will appear as well.

It should be interesting to see what Mr. Musk comes up with.