Author: Doug Messier

Starliner Crew Access Tower Takes Shape at the Cape

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CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (Boeing PR) — Amid a busy launch pad within a site with a celebrated space heritage, a sign of a new era in human spaceflight is climbing upward in the Cape Canaveral skyline.

The Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft crew access tower is in the midst of construction at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Crews are building a seven-tiered metal latticework structure at Space Launch Complex 41 and will begin stacking once complete, between ULA’s busy launch schedule. The tower, which is more than 200-feet tall, will take astronauts to the top of an Atlas V rocket equipped with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.

Boeing's Commercial Crew Access Tower will have seven metal latticework tiers and will stand over 200ft tall once complete. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing’s Commercial Crew Access Tower will have seven metal latticework tiers and will stand over 200ft tall once complete. (Credit: Boeing)

“In the end, we are going to have a very safe, very effective and very cost efficient way of getting astronauts back and forth to low earth orbit,” said Chris Ferguson, director of Boeing Crew and Mission Operations. The overall effort is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that will transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Boeing Revamps Production Facility for Starliner Flights

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By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Meet the CST-100 Starliner, the newly unveiled name of Boeing’s commercial crew transportation spacecraft. It’s been designed with a focus on automated flight, reliable operation and frequent flights carrying NASA astronauts to the space station. It also may take paying customers to the awe-inspiring heights of low-Earth orbit and the unique sensation of sustained weightlessness.

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Planet Labs Adds Pixar Vet to Board of Directors

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planet_labs_logoPlanet Labs has added Ann Mather as the first independent member of its Board of Directors. Will Marshall wrote on the company’s website:

Ann brings to Planet a wealth of experience and knowledge from decades spent with some of the world’s most dynamic companies. She currently serves on the boards of Google, Netflix , MGM, Shutterfly, and Arista Networks, and formerly served as CFO at Pixar.

“The breadth and scope of Planet’s mission is staggering, and the humanitarian and commercial impact of daily, global imaging is ground-breaking. I absolutely believe in the vision of Will and his team and I couldn’t be more excited to join them for this unprecedented journey,” Mather said.

Prior to Pixar, Ann held executive positions at production studio Village Roadshow Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, and Buena Vista Theatrical Division.

Long Delayed Falcon Heavy Flight Set for Spring 2016

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Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

After a three-year delay, SpaceX plans to fly its Falcon Heavy launch vehicle for the first time next spring, followed quickly by three additional flights of the 28-engine rocket by the end of 2016.

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This Week on The Space Show

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

Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, 9:30-11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT, 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT): Taped interviews from the AIAA Space 2015 Conference.

Sunday, Sept. 6:,12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). We welcome back MARK WHITTINGTON to discuss his new book, “Why Is It So Hard To Go Back To The Moon?”

NASA Cube Quest Challenge Reaches First Milestone

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CubeSat

CubeSat

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The first milestone of NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge has been reached, as teams competed in the first of four ground tournaments in August. The five highest-scoring competitors will each be awarded $20,000.

Cube Quest is a competition to build flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced communication and propulsion near and beyond the moon. Teams that achieve top performance at high-speed data communications, navigation and survival after achieving lunar orbit or a minimum long-distance range from Earth compete for an unprecedented $5.5 million prize purse in NASA’s first ever in-space challenge. Cube Quest is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, which accelerates technology by engaging non-traditional sources in competition.

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Boeing to Open Processing Facility at KSC

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Concept of the floor of the CST-100 assembly facility that Boeing envisions at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: Boeing)

Concept of the floor of the CST-100 assembly facility that Boeing envisions at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will participate in the grand opening of The Boeing Company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, Sept. 4. The event will air live on NASA Television beginning at 10 a.m. EDT.

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Musk Wins Round in Landing Barge Patent Battle

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Score one for SpaceX in its battle with Blue Origin about landing a rocket stage on a floating ocean platform:

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has backed down under a legal challenge from rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX, over the validity of a prior Blue Origin patent the covered the process of landing a rocket on a raft.

In a document made available this week, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board accepted Blue Origin’s motion to drop 13 claims in what had been a protracted dispute between the two companies.

At issue was whether Blue Origin’s 2014 patent on the concept of landing a spent booster on a raft at sea could prevent SpaceX, or anyone else, from doing so.

Blue Origin filed for the patent in 2010, but SpaceX challenged the patent soon after it was granted, arguing that the concept had earlier been developed by other scientists, and that it wasn’t Blue Origin’s to patent.

Read the full story.

ULA Atlas V Launches Navy Mobile User Satellite

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ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., (Sept. 2, 2015) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the fourth Mobile User Objective System satellite for the U. S. Navy launched from Space Launch Complex-41 at 6:18 a.m. EDT today.

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Brevard County Commissioners Approve $8 Million Blue Origin Incentives

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New Shepard flight test (Credit: Blue Origin)

New Shepard flight test (Credit: Blue Origin)

Some good news for Blue Origin about its plan to build rockets in Florida:

Brevard County commissioners this morning approved incentive packages totaling $10.5 million for space company Blue Origin and aviation company Embraer.

Both companies will receive grants from the North Brevard Economic Development Zone — $8 million for Blue Origin for a project at Exploration Park just south of Kennedy Space Center, and $2.5 million for Embraer for a project at the Spaceport Commerce Park in south Titusville, near Space Coast Regional Airport.

Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos is set to make his plans clear on Sept. 15 during an appears on the Space Coast.

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