Author: Doug Messier

GAO: NASA Needs Executable Business Case for SLS

Comment
Artist rendering of the RS-25 engines powering the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity configuration SLS from the pad. (Credit: NASA)

Artist rendering of the RS-25 engines powering the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity configuration SLS from the pad. (Credit: NASA)

Space Launch System: Resources Need to be Matched to Requirements to Decrease Risk and Support Long Term Affordability
Government Accountability Office
Published: Jul 23, 2014

What GAO Found

The Space Launch System (SLS) program is making solid progress on the SLS design. However, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has not developed an executable business case based on matching the program’s cost and schedule resources with the requirement to develop the vehicle and conduct the first flight test in December 2017 at the required confidence level of 70 percent. NASA uses a calculation referred to as the “joint cost and schedule confidence level” to estimate the probable success of a program meeting its cost and schedule targets. NASA policy usually requires a 70 percent confidence level for a program to proceed with final design and fabrication.

Continue reading ‘GAO: NASA Needs Executable Business Case for SLS’

CubeCab Wins $20K in NewSpace Conference Pitch Competition

Comments
The CubeCab team with their over sized novelty check. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The CubeCab team with their over sized novelty check. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

A Mountain View, Calif., company called CubeCab that is focused on launching CubeSat into space inexpensively won the $20,000 grand prize in the “Lightning Pitch” competition at the NewSpace Conference on Thursday.

Continue reading ‘CubeCab Wins $20K in NewSpace Conference Pitch Competition’

Space Angels Network Forms Partnership With Space Foundation

Comments

space_angels_networkSeattle, Washington, 24 July 2014 (Space Angels PR) – Space Angels Network, a global network of seed- and early‐stage investors focused on aerospace‐related ventures, and Space Foundation, a global non-profit organization advancing space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity, are proud to announce their new partnership. Through this partnership both organizations will work together to accelerate the growth of the emerging space ecosystem, by promoting entrepreneurial activity and encouraging private investment in commercial space ventures.

Continue reading ‘Space Angels Network Forms Partnership With Space Foundation’

Virgin Galactic Hires USAF Pilot

Comments
Todd Ericson (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Todd Ericson (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

MOJAVE, Calif., July 24th, 2014 (VG PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, announced today that Todd ‘Leif’ Ericson, former Operations and Maintenance Group Commander for the United States Air Force (USAF) has joined the company’s cadre of space pilots.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Hires USAF Pilot’

Layoffs Reported at SpaceX

15 Comments

spacex_logo_smA reliable source reports SpaceX fired 200 to 300 people over the past week, reportedly for poor performance.

However, speculation focuses on the possibility that the company is experiencing a cash-flow crunch. The company has added thousands of employees in recent years despite a launch rate that is low compared with its main rival, United Launch Alliance.

I’ve asked SpaceX for a comment, but the company has not responded yet.

Virgin Galactic Gears Up for Resumption of Flight Tests

Comments
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

After a six-month gap in flights, it looks as if SpaceShipTwo will once again fly in the Mojave sky, possibly as early as Friday morning.

On Wednesday, SpaceShipTwo was outside on the tarmac underneath its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship for what Virgin Galactic described as a “dry run” for upcoming test flights. There is a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) indicating that the Mojave Air and Space Port’s tower will be open early on Friday morning. It’s possible this is being done to accommodate a SpaceShipTwo test flight, although sometimes the tower opens early for other reasons.

If there is a flight tomorrow, my best guess is it will involve a captive carry or un-powered drop test to evaluate modifications that have been made to SpaceShipTwo. But, perhaps they will surprise us with something more ambitious.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Gears Up for Resumption of Flight Tests’

ATV Ready for its Re-entry Close-up

Comments
Artist’s view of ATV-5’s destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: ESA–D. Ducros, 2014)

Artist’s view of ATV-5’s destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: ESA–D. Ducros, 2014)

PARIS (ESA PR) — As ESA’s remaining supply ferry to the International Space Station burns up in the atmosphere, its final moments as its hull disintegrates will be recorded from the inside by a unique infrared camera.

An ESA-led team designed and developed the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Break-Up Camera in just nine months in order to make it on board in time.

Continue reading ‘ATV Ready for its Re-entry Close-up’

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Adds 3 Members

Comments

csf_logo_newestWashington, D.C. (CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the addition of three new organizations to its membership. BRPH, The Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust, and Swiss Space Systems’ S3 USA Holdings have each joined as Associate Members.

“The addition of these three members is a testament to the diversity, continued growth and development of the commercial spaceflight sector,” stated CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “Each new member represents a unique area within our industry; I look forward to having their expertise as a part of our membership.”

Continue reading ‘Commercial Spaceflight Federation Adds 3 Members’

SpaceShipTwo Outside on Tarmac Again

Comments

 

Editor’s Note: SpaceShipTwo hasn’t been seen outside for months now. Its last powered flight was on Jan. 10. A week later, it made a glide flight. That was the last time it was seen in the skies over Mojave.

Sources tell Parabolic Arc that the suborbital ship has been modified with wing tanks. One tank will hold methane that will be used along with nitrous oxide to burn the plastic fuel. The other tank will include helium used to smooth out the end of the motor’s burn.

Company officials have said they expect to conduct a series of powered flights over the summer leading up to the first commercial flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico at the end of the year. That flight will carry Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson and his children.

Masten Releases Artist’s Conception of XS-1 Vehicle

Comments
XS-1 concept vehicle (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

XS-1 concept vehicle (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, CA, July 23, 2014 (Masten PR) — Masten Space Systems, Inc. (Masten) announced today that the company has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of Phase 1 of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program to develop a reusable launch vehicle.

Over the last decade, Masten has built three highly operable, vertical takeoff/vertical landing, reusable rockets which are flown by small teams of five to seven people. Masten’s experience with vertical takeoff/vertical landing rockets has shown that the company’s flight vehicles can offer greater flexibility than reusable launch vehicles that require runways to land. Masten has logged well over 300 flights to date with its Xoie, Xombie and Xaero reusable rockets.

Continue reading ‘Masten Releases Artist’s Conception of XS-1 Vehicle’