Author: Doug Messier

Dragon Released From ISS, Heads for Splashdown in Pacific

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SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Update: Dragon splashed down safely in the Pacific this afternoon.

NASA Mission Update

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 9:57 a.m. EDT. The capsule will begin a series of departure burns and maneuvers to move beyond the 656-foot (200-meter) “keep out sphere” around the station and begin its return trip to Earth. The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 3:39 p.m., about 265 miles west of the Baja peninsula.

Planetary Resources to Launch First Spacecraft on Monday

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Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources will launch its first satellite aboard the Cygnus spacecraft on Monday. Here is the company’s previous press release announcing the launch.

The A3 is the Arkyd 100’s technology demonstrator, and the mission will provide for early testing and serve to validate the spacecraft’s core technology and software in the development of the program.

Planetary Resources is under contract with NanoRacks, through its Space Act Agreement with NASA, to release the A3 from the International Space Station’s Kibo airlock.

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OECD Takes Look at Quarter Trillion Dollar Global Space Industry

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Earth_from_space_graphic
The Space Economy at a Glance 2014

Summary
Download Full Report

The global space sector is a high‑technology niche with a complex ecosystem, which employed at least 900 000 persons around the world in 2013, including public administrations (space agencies, space departments in civil and defence‑related organisations), the space manufacturing industry (building rockets, satellites, ground systems); direct suppliers to this industry (components), and the wider space services sector (mainly commercial satellite telecommunications). But these estimates do not take into account universities and research institutions, which also play a key role in R&D, as receivers of public contracts and initiators of much of the space sector’s innovation.

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World View Acquires Technology from Record Breaking Jump

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StratEx team prepares Alan Eustace for launch. (Credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation)

StratEx team prepares Alan Eustace for launch. (Credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation)

Roswell, NM – Oct. 24, 2014 – Following the record-breaking 135,908-foot space dive accomplished by Google’s Alan Eustace and the Paragon StratEx team, World View Enterprises, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, has acquired the technology from this history-making project. The acquisition will advance the company’s mission to pioneer a new frontier at the edge of space for travel and research.

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Sorry Felix! Google Exec Breaks Baumgartner’s Skydiving Record

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Alan Eustace is lifted by high-altitude balloon, the same technology used by World View. (Credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation)

Alan Eustace is lifted by high-altitude balloon, the same technology used by World View. (Credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation)

ROSWELL, NM, Oct. 24, 2014 (Paragon PR)  – Today, after 34 months of intense planning, development and training, Alan Eustace, supported by Paragon Space Development Corporation®  (Paragon) and its Stratospheric Explorer (StratEx) team, made history with a near-space dive from a high-altitude balloon at approximately 135,000 feet. Eustace broke several records, including national record for highest exit altitude; world and national record for free fall under a drogue chute; national record for vertical speed. Additionally, he became the second person to break the sound barrier outside an aircraft.

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NASA Sets Coverage for Cygnus Launch on Monday

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An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen as it launches from Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Thursday, January 9, 2014, Wallops Island, VA. Antares is carrying the Cygnus spacecraft on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Orbital-1 mission is Orbital Sciences' first contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. Cygnus is carrying science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and other hardware to the space station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen as it launches from Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Thursday, January 9, 2014, Wallops Island, VA.  (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Orbital’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 6:45 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Launch Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launch coverage begins at 5:45 p.m.

A prelaunch status briefing will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, followed at 2 p.m. by a briefing to preview the mission’s science cargo. A post-launch briefing will be held approximately 90 minutes after liftoff.

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Virgin Galactic Continues Engine Testing in Mojave

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mojave_tower_sunset_smI received a reliable report of another SpaceShipTwo engine test in Mojave on Thursday. It took place at the so-called Whittinghill test stand.

Judging from the dark plume of smoke, my source believes is it was a rubber/nitrous oxide that Virgin Galactic’s subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, is reportedly working on.

The source reports the engine ran pretty roughly toward the end, as tends to happen with rubber hybrid motors.

As you might recall, the rubber hybrid appears to be an alternative to the alternative nylon/nitrous oxide engine that Virgin Galactic switched to when Sierra Nevada’s rubber/nitrous oxide engine failed to perform as needed.

A second source says work on the rubber engine is continuing because Virgin Galactic has a great deal of money tied up in tooling for producing that type of engine. It would be expensive to switch over for another type of hybrid.

There are still plans to use the nylon/nitrous oxide engine for SpaceShipTwo flight tests, which are believed to restart soon. On Oct. 4, Virgin Galactic Vice President Mike Moses said powered flight were  “going to start imminently, literally very imminently.” That was three weeks ago.

SNC Unveils Dream Chaser Spacecraft Science Mission Variant

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Dream Chaser science mission mock-up (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser science mission mock-up (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (Oct. 23, 2014) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems presents the Dream Chaser Science Mission Mock-Up at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) conference in Pasadena, California, through Oct. 26. In addition to the primary function of transporting crew and cargo to and from low-Earth orbit (LEO), SNC’s Dream Chaser® program team has been developing a science mission variant which leverages the inherent capabilities of the vehicle to offer a free-flying microgravity science laboratory.

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Four NASA Sponsored Experiments Fly Aboard Spaceport America Sounding Rocket

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SL-9 launch (Credit: Spaceport America)

SL-9 launch (Credit: Spaceport America)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NASA PR) — Four NASA sponsored experiments were provided nearly four minutes of microgravity flight and testing after UP Aerospace’s SpaceLoft rocket SL-9 soared into suborbital space from Spaceport America outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico on Thursday.

While flying on suborbital launch vehicles in zero gravity, experimental technologies are briefly exposed to the space environment where they are expected to operate.

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Cygnus Launch to Space Station Set for Monday

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Cygnus and ISS robotic arm (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus and ISS robotic arm (Credit: NASA)

ISS Commercial Resupply Services Mission (Orb-3)
Launch Date: 6:45 p.m., Oct. 27, 2014
Launch Site: MARS Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA
Cygnus ISS Rendezvous: November 2, 2014

Following an inspection of the tracking station in Bermuda used for Antares launches after Hurricane Gonzalo, Orbital and NASA together have established October 27 as the launch date for the upcoming Orb-3 Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission will originate from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. Lift-off of the Antares rocket is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. (EDT), with rendezvous and berthing with the ISS early in the morning on November 2. Taking advantage of Cygnus’ operational capabilities, Orbital is launching the Orb-3 mission to orbit several days earlier than necessary to preserve schedule flexibility and time its arrival at the station to conform to other visiting vehicle operations.

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