Author: Doug Messier

SPACESHIPTWO EXPLODES, CRASHES; 1 DEAD, 1 SERIOUSLY INJURED

13 Comments

I saw the crash out in the desert this morning.

There was a serious problem with the engine, the ship broke up and pieces came down over the desert.

Reports indicate 1 pilot died, another was seriously injured. I can confirm the death.

Updates at www.twitter.com/spacecom

 

Major SpaceShipTwo Flight Test This Morning

57 Comments

Good morning, everyone.

Predawn here in Mojave, but there is much activity over at the spaceport. Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic preparing for a major flight test of SpaceShipTwo. My best guess is a powered flight test.

This would mark the first powered flight since early January and the first with the new nitrous oxide/nylon engine.

Look for updates throughout the morning @spacecom.

Apollo, Ansari and the Hobbling Effects of Giant Leaps

18 Comments
spaceshipone_first_spaceflight

The author films as WhiteKnight taxis with SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004. (Credit: John Criswick)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Oct. 4, the world marked the anniversaries of two very different space milestones. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik. And in 2004, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X Prize by becoming the first privately-built vehicle to fly to space twice within two weeks.

While Sputnik quickly led to Sputnik 2 and 3, the Ansari X Prize has been followed by a decade of frustration. SpaceShipOne never flew again, nor has anyone replicated its accomplishments since. The dream of a vibrant new industry that would routinely fly thousands of tourists into space has remained just out of reach.

So, why did Sputnik quickly help spark a revolution that would transform life on Earth, while the Ansari X Prize led to 10 years of extravagant promises and desultory results? And what does this tell us about the role of prizes in moving technology forward?

Continue reading ‘Apollo, Ansari and the Hobbling Effects of Giant Leaps’

Outernet Inc. Signs a Letter of Intent with MISHAAL Aerospace for Satellite Launches

Comments

MISHAAL_AerospaceMIAMI, Fla. (MISHAAL PR)  — MISHAAL Aerospace Corporation, the Miami-based launch vehicle provider for small satellites, is pleased to announce that Outernet Inc., a New York-based global broadcast data startup, signed a Letter of Intent for launch of their satellites once MISHAAL Aerospace’s  M-OV, Orbital Vehicle, is ready.

The Letter of Intent highlights Outernet’s satellites launch requirements and the minimum payload intended for launch. This letter of Intent also paves the way to enter into negotiations once the M-OV is ready for commercialization and launch.

Continue reading ‘Outernet Inc. Signs a Letter of Intent with MISHAAL Aerospace for Satellite Launches’

Arianespace Signs Contract With ELV for 10 Vega Launchers

Comments
Inaugural Vega flight. (Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2012)

Inaugural Vega flight. (Credits: ESA – S. Corvaja, 2012)

ROME (Arianespace PR) – Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, and Pierluigi Pirrelli, Chief Executive of ELV (European Launch Vehicle), signed a contract today, October 29, 2014, in Rome, confirming Arianespace’s order of ten Vega launch vehicles from the Italian manufacturer.

This contract follows the long-term procurement agreement concerning these ten launchers, signed in Rome on November 20, 2013 in a ceremony attended by French President François Hollande and Enrico Letta, Chairman of the Italian Council of Ministers.

Continue reading ‘Arianespace Signs Contract With ELV for 10 Vega Launchers’

Spectacular Video of Last Time American Rocket Exploded

11 Comments

The last time an operational American launch vehicle exploded was nearly 18 years ago when a Delta II rocket exploded at Cape Canaveral on January 17, 1997.

NASA, Moon Express to Host Project Update at KSC

Comments
moon_is_me_logoNews media representatives are invited to a project update to discuss planned Moon Express vehicle testing set to begin in November at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility. The event will occur at 2 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 3.

Moon Express Inc., headquartered at the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field, California, will perform vehicle testing at the facility as part of NASA’s Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown or CATALYST initiative. The purpose of the Lunar CATALYST is to encourage the development of U.S. private sector robotic lunar landers, and this initiative is being executed by means of no-funds-exchanged Space Act Agreements with U.S. private sector partners.

During the event, members of the media also will have the opportunity to tour the Morpheus hangar and visit the autonomous landing and hazard avoidance technology, or ALHAT, hazard field. In addition, engineers and technicians with NASA’s Swamp Works laboratory will provide a robotics demonstration adjacent to the hazard field.

For more information about Lunar CATALYST, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/lunarcatalyst

For more information about Moon Express, visit:

http://www.moonexpress.com

Lockheed Martin Opens Commercial Space Headquarters in Denver

11 Comments
Commercial Space Headquarters (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Commercial Space Headquarters (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Denver, Colo., Oct. 29, 2014  (Lockheed Martin PR) – Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper today celebrated a growing aerospace presence in Colorado by cutting the ribbon for the company’s Commercial Space headquarters and announcing an economic incentive program designed to bring jobs to the state.

“The aerospace technology created in Colorado – from GPS to communications and scientific exploration – improves our lives every day, and the economic incentives announced today encourage job growth in this extremely high-tech, high-value sector,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “It’s a winning proposal for the state because each job created benefits Colorado businesses and our economy.”

“Colorado has been a leader in space exploration and innovation since the founding of our industry, and it continues to be a place where space-based business thrives,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “By basing this important segment of our business in Colorado, alongside our world-class test and manufacturing facilities, we’ll be able to accelerate innovation and lower costs for commercial and government customers worldwide.”

“The consolidation into our new headquarters and the technical refresh of our workhorse A2100 satellite platform will position Lockheed Martin to be a leader in the global commercial space market for years to come,” said Mike Hamel, vice president and general manager of Commercial Space at Lockheed Martin. “Multiple A2100-based programs, including GPS-III and GOES-R, are produced here in Denver today and this site will be the center of excellence for design and production of the most capable and affordable satellites in the industry.”

Continue reading ‘Lockheed Martin Opens Commercial Space Headquarters in Denver’

Orbital Sciences Does Launch Pad Assessment, Begins Accident Investigation

Comments
The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

Orbital Sciences Antares Update – October 29

Early this morning, range officials performed an aerial survey of the launch facilities and surrounding areas at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility where yesterday’s failure of the Antares rocket occurred after it lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A.  Shortly after, a team of representatives from NASA, MARS and Orbital entered the launch site to perform a preliminary assessment of the launch complex and related facilities.  The overall findings indicate the major elements of the launch complex infrastructure, such as the pad and fuel tanks, avoided serious damage, although some repairs will be necessary.  However, until the facility is inspected in greater detail in the coming days, the full extent of necessary repairs or how long they will take to accomplish will not be known.

NASA has posted aerial views of the launch pad taken earlier today here.

Also today, Orbital made progress forming a permanent Accident Investigation Board (AIB) comprised of company officials, along with representatives from NASA and the NTSB, with the FAA providing overall oversight of the process.  Initially, Mr. Rich Straka, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Manager of Orbital’s Launch Systems Group, served as the interim chairman to begin the investigation process immediately after the launch mishap.  Today, Orbital appointed Mr. Dave Steffy, Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer of the company’s Advanced Programs Group, a highly experienced engineer well-versed in launch vehicle engineering and operations, to serve as the permanent chairman of the AIB.

No follow-on press conferences are planned at this time. Further updates on the situation and the progress of the ongoing investigation will be provided as they are available.

Assessment Team Completes Initial Evaluation of Antares Launch Complex Damage

17 Comments
An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Virg. (NASA PR) — The Wallops Incident Response Team completed today an initial assessment of Wallops Island, Virginia, following the catastrophic failure of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

“I want to praise the launch team, range safety, all of our emergency responders and those who provided mutual aid and support on a highly-professional response that ensured the safety of our most important resource — our people,” said Bill Wrobel, Wallops director. “In the coming days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue to assess the damage on the island and begin the process of moving forward to restore our space launch capabilities. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will rebound stronger than ever.”

Continue reading ‘Assessment Team Completes Initial Evaluation of Antares Launch Complex Damage’