Author: Doug Messier

Russian Duma Unanimously Approves Space Industry Consolidation Plan

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Roscosmos_logoMOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On July 1, 2015, a draft federal law “On the State Corporation for Space Roskosmos” and amendments to some legislative acts in connection with the creation of the Civil Code “Roskosmos” in the third reading the deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

The draft federal law the deputies of the State Duma voted unanimously.

Further, according to the procedure of negotiation, the bill within three working days will be sent to the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for consideration at the plenary session. If approved by the Federation Council, the document will be submitted for approval to the President of the Russian Federation.

Law is aimed at improving the management of space activities, preservation and development of scientific and production potential of the Russian space industry.

SpaceX, NASA Agree to Delay Dragon In-Flight Abort Test

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Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

By Stephanie Martin,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Following the successful pad abort test in May, SpaceX began developing a plan that would move its in-flight abort test to provide higher fidelity data and reduce risk to future crews launched to the International Space Station in the Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA and SpaceX agreed to consider this proposed change prior to the mishap of SpaceX’s seventh commercial resupply services mission.

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New Horizons Finds Methane on Pluto

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The location of the New Horizons Ralph instrument, which detected methane on Pluto, is shown. The inset is a false color image of Pluto and Charon in infrared light; pink indicates methane on Pluto’s surface. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

The location of the New Horizons Ralph instrument, which detected methane on Pluto, is shown. The inset is a false color image of Pluto and Charon in infrared light; pink indicates methane on Pluto’s surface. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (NASA PR) — Yes, there is methane on Pluto, and, no, it doesn’t come from cows. The infrared spectrometer on NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft has detected frozen methane on Pluto’s surface; Earth-based astronomers first observed the chemical compound on Pluto in 1976.

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CSF Praises Modest Increase in FAA AST Budget

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faa_logoWASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) — Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill. The Bill provides $17.425 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, $2 million for Commercial Space Transportation Safety, and $2 million for Facilities and Equipment to better integrate Commercial Space Traffic with the National Airspace System.

The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) ensures that commercial launch and reentry activities are conducted without additional risk to the public or adjacent property, and that the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States are protected. While the Senate’s THUD Appropriations Bill doesn’t fund all of the requested increase in AST funding, it should ensure that AST can diligently process commercial space licenses and permits in a timely manner, without having to prioritize some applications over others, and thereby potentially delay some launches.

There were nine licensed or permitted Commercial Launches in FY 2015, and five Commercial Reentries. Each launch and reentry requires careful analysis of systems and trajectories, and coordination with air traffic to ensure public safety. Research into improved safety methods, and funding to improve facilities and equipment will streamline some activities and automate others. These are critical improvements as both space and air traffic volume increase. In addition to the FAA AST’s licensing and permit responsibilities, the Office also has oversight support responsibilities related to launch accident investigations.

“CSF applauds the Senate Appropriations Committee, and especially subcommittee leaders Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) for supporting the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation in a time of unprecedented activity,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “We also want to especially thank Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) for helping ensure that the FAA has the resources necessary to be a reliable and responsible partner in the economic development of space. CSF looks forward to continuing to work with Senate and House Appropriators to maintain the Senate’s number or even achieve the full budget request as they complete the FY 2016 appropriations process.”

Rocket Lab Settles on Launch Site

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Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab seems to have settled upon a launch site in New Zealand:

New Zealand firm Rocket Lab plans to launch its battery powered rockets from Birdlings Flat in Canterbury.

The company has lodged resource consent applications to build a launch pad – about half the size of a tennis court – and hopes to launch a test vehicle late this year.

The company’s chief executive, Peter Beck said the area met all the firm’s requirements; a sparse population, a launch path over the ocean and proximity to a city where the 18m tall Electron Rockets can be built.

And there have been rockets launched before from Birdlings Flat about 44km southeast of Christchurch.

Spire Closes $40 Million Series B Funding Round

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Satellite bus (Credit: Spire)

Satellite bus (Credit: Spire)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Jun 30, 2015 (Spire PR) — Spire, a satellite-powered data company, today announced it closed a $40 million Series B round of funding led by Promus Ventures with participation from new investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Jump Capital, as well as existing investors RRE Ventures and Lemnos Labs, among others. To date, Spire has secured just over $80 million through three rounds of funding. With the new funds, the company will support further growth and expand its constellation from 20 satellites in 2015 to more than 100 by the end of 2017.

The latest round of financing comes at a time when the need for advancements in weather and maritime data is at an all-time high. With the potentially catastrophic 2016 Weather Gap right around the corner, Spire offers a solution to the $2.4 trillion dollar global problem. Emerging as a leader in the ‘Space Race 2.0,’ Spire is the only commercial weather data provider with scheduled launches in 2015. The company will begin deploying its satellites on a near monthly basis beginning September 2015.

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Ellington Airport Becomes 10th FAA Licensed Spaceport

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Artist's rendition of Ellington Spaceport includes two Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combinations, Orbital ATK's Stargazer air-launch plane, and a futuristic looking point-to-point aircraft. (Credit: Houston Airport System)

Artist’s rendition of Ellington Spaceport includes two Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combinations, Orbital ATK’s Stargazer air-launch plane, and a futuristic looking point-to-point aircraft. (Credit: Houston Airport System)

HOUSTON, June 30, 2015 (HAS PR) — The Houston Airport System (HAS) has been granted a Launch Site License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that enables Ellington Airport (EFD) to establish itself as a launch site for Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV), making it the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States.

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Satellite Applications Catapult Signs MOU for Houston Spaceport

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EllingtonAirportHoustonHARWELL, England (Satellite Applications Catapult PR) — The Satellite Applications Catapult signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with the City of Houston Airport System and the Houston Spaceport to become the first international partner for the city’s commercial spaceport. The MOU states a partnership between the two organisations and the intention to work together in the future.

The announcement was made today as part of a public event where Houston Mayor Annise Parker also announced the creation of a new commercial spaceport in Houston. Representatives from the UK Satellite Applications Catapult, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA Johnson Space Center, and the Rice Space Institute were all present during the event.

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Houston to Announce Ellington Spaceport Designation

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“The Martian” Author Andy Wier Wins SFF Award

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the_martian_movie_posterSILICON VALLEY, CA, June 30, 2015 (SFF PR) — The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) will host its 10th annual NewSpace conference in San Jose, CA, this July, where author Andy Weir will accept the “Best Presentation of Space” award for his bestselling book, “The Martian”, published by Broadway Books.

The movie adaption of Weir’s book, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels, is scheduled to debut on October 2, 2015. Weir will be presented with the award at the NewSpace Awards Gala taking place on the evening of July 18th.

“It truly is the best thing a writer could hope for,” said Andy Weir, “The Martian” author. “And it’s especially great to be able to bring excitement around space exploration to the general public. This is a defining decade in the U.S. Space Program’s history, where commercialization is being nurtured and great strides are being made to get humans back into space. Mars is hard, space is hard, but we can make it work with the unwavering determination to explore that humanity is known for.”

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