Author: Doug Messier

UK Space Agency Invests £1.15 Million in Launch Research


UK_space_agencySWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — We are investing £1.15 million to fund preparatory research about sub-orbital spaceflight and small satellite launches from the UK.

In 2015, the National Space Policy set out the government’s ambition to establish a spaceport in the UK. In February 2016, proposals were invited for industrial research projects to investigate the challenges associated with the introduction and operation of commercial viable services in the UK, and to identify the underpinning technological developments required to support these activities.

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One Year on Earth – Seen From 1 Million Miles


Video Caption: On July 20, 2015, NASA released to the world the first image of the sunlit side of Earth captured by the space agency’s EPIC camera on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite. The camera has now recorded a full year of life on Earth from its orbit at Lagrange point 1, approximately 1 million miles from Earth, where it is balanced between the gravity of our home planet and the sun.

EPIC takes a new picture every two hours, revealing how the planet would look to human eyes, capturing the ever-changing motion of clouds and weather systems and the fixed features of Earth such as deserts, forests and the distinct blues of different seas. EPIC will allow scientists to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth.

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

For more information about DSCOVR, visit:

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Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Kayvon Sharghi

Mouser Electronics Launches ISS Design Challenge


mouser_ISS_designDALLAS & FORT WORTH, Texas (Mouser Electronics PR) — Mouser Electronics Inc. today announced that celebrity engineer Grant Imahara and former commander of the International Space Station (ISS) Colonel Chris Hadfield are among the guest judges for the I.S.S. Design Challenge, the newest series in the exciting Empowering Innovation Together™ program. Mouser is accepting entries for this incredible competition now through Oct. 7, 2016.

The I.S.S. Design Challenge, co-sponsored by Mouser’s valued suppliers Amphenol and Intel®, is a call to college and university students, engineers, and makers, to create a 3D-printable project designed to help I.S.S. astronauts in space. Designs may include small electronics to be used with the object. All entries will be judged by Grant Imahara and Col. Chris Hadfield.

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Orbital ATK, ECAPS Sign Deal for Green Propulsion Technology


orbital_ATK_logoDULLES, Va., July 25, 2016 (Orbital ATK PR) — Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, announced today that it has signed an agreement with leading European green propulsion technology firm ECAPS to fully develop, demonstrate and market a high performance green propulsion (HPGP) system. The HPGP system, which offers significant cost advantages and dramatically reduces the environmental risks associated with traditional monopropellants, is aimed at both attitude control and main propulsion.

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NASA Seeks Commercial Ideas for Space Station

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is a resource unlike any other. Already designated a U.S. National Laboratory with more than 300 active research experiments on board, NASA is seeking creative input from industry for new uses of the space station’s one-of-a-kind capabilities.

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Silicon Valley Lingo: Donald Trump Disrupts the Disrupters


good vibrations cover2a
Part 2 of an occasional series on entrepreneurial buzz words

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Recently, 145 Silicon Valley tech executives wrote an open letter opposing the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for president. In the letter, they basically declared the billionaire to be a threat to America’s very future.

We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy—and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Tests Starliner Service Module Engines

Starliner engine hot fire (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Starliner engine hot fire (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — The small jets designed to steer Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in orbit were fired in a vacuum chamber recently at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. Testing continues for elements of the new Starliner spacecraft before components are installed into the first space-bound capsule. Aerojet Rocketyne built the reaction control engines and used a chamber to pulse fire three engines up to 4,000 times for a total of 1,600 seconds each. Both are record times for lightweight thrusters with composite chambers.

One of three Reaction Control System engines for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner recently completed hot-fire testing at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico.Aerojet Rocketdyne is testing and will provide the service module propulsion system production hardware, including launch abort engines, orbital maneuvering and attitude control engines and reaction control system engines. Boeing will assemble hardware kits into the service module section of the Starliner spacecraft at its Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Starliner is one of two spacecraft in development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. While Boeing develops and manufactures Starliners, SpaceX is doing the same with its own spacecraft, Crew Dragon. Both companies plan to launch astronauts from Florida’s Space Coast on missions to the International Space Station. With up to four astronauts at a time, plus more than 200 pounds of cargo, the new line of spacecraft will allow the station’s crew to grow to seven. That addition gives astronauts In orbit another 35 hours of research time to enhance the science conducted on the orbiting laboratory.

Sierra Nevada Completes Second Dream Chaser Milestone

Dream Chaser spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., June 25, 2016 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has passed the second Integration Certification Milestone under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. NASA assessed and fully approved SNC’s detailed approach for getting the Dream Chaser Cargo System to the International Space Station (ISS).

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PLD Space Receives Additional $1.1 Million From Spanish Government

Engine hot fire (Credit: PDL Space)

Engine hot fire (Credit: PDL Space)

ELCHE, Spain, July 21, 2016 (PLD Space, PR) — The European rocket company PLD Space has received another $1.1M contract to foster its liquid rocket engine propulsion program. This new economic support has been provided by the regional investment fund of the Aragón area, called SUMA Teruel. PLD Space had already received the $1.56M TEPREL contract in April 2016 to upgrade for flight its 25 KN Liquid Oxygen – Kerosene rocket engine.

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Democrats on Space: We Like It


NASA LOGOThe Democratic Party has added a paragraph to its platform about NASA:

“Pushing beyond the boundaries of what we know is core to who we are as Americans. Democrats are immensely proud of all that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has done — through its achievements in science, technology and exploration — to better understand our place in the universe and inspire and educate generations of young people in this country to pursue careers in science. Space exploration is a reminder that our capacity for curiosity is limitless, and may be matched only by our ability to achieve great things if we work together. Democrats believe in continuing the spirit of discovery that has animated NASA’s exploration of space over the last half century. We will strengthen support for NASA and work in partnership with the international scientific community to launch new missions to space.”


This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, July25 , 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. RISHABH MAHARAJA to the program to discuss the Hermes Project.

2. Tuesday, July 26, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) We welcome back DR. PAT PATTERSON to discuss the SmallSat Conference for this year. Visit

3. Friday, July 29, 2016: 2016; 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT) We welcome back DR. ERIK SEEDHOUSE with some of his students for a special Space Show program.

4. Sunday, July 31, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. First time callers are welcome. All topics regarding space and STEM issues are welcome.


GAO: FAA Faces Challenges With Commercial Space Oversight


faa_logoCommercial Space:
Industry Developments and FAA Challenges
Government Accountability Office
Testimony (PDF)
Published: Jun 22, 2016

Why GAO Did This Study

The U.S. commercial space launch industry has changed considerably since the enactment of the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004. FAA is required to license or permit commercial space launches; however, to allow space tourism to develop, the act prohibited FAA from regulating crew and spaceflight participant safety before 2012—a moratorium that was extended to 2023. The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, enacted in November 2015, addressed other aspects of the commercial space launch industry.

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DOD Assessing Worldwide Launch Market to Inform New Acquisition Strategy


DOD_logoEvolved Expendable Launch Vehicle:
DOD Is Assessing Data on Worldwide Launch Market to Inform New Acquisition Strategy
Full Report (PDF)

Government Accountability Office
Published: Jul 22, 2016

What GAO Found

Five countries outside of the United States have operational space launch capabilities: the European Union, Russia, India, Japan, and China. Most of these countries each primarily depend on a single launch provider for launches of a specific capability within their country to meet their civil government and military launch requirements. The United States is unique in that it relies on more than two launch providers–including United Launch Alliance, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), and Orbital ATK — with some overlapping capabilities to meet its own civil and military needs.

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Marvel Creates Rocket and Groot Mission Patch for ISS National Lab


Rocket_Groot_National_LabKENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced the unveiling of its latest mission patch, designed by Marvel and its Marvel Custom Solutions Group. The mission patch developed by Marvel represents all payloads intended for the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in calendar year 2016. CASIS is the organization responsible for overseeing research to benefit life on Earth using the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. The announcement was made at Comic-Con in San Diego, CA.

Marvel Custom Solutions works with a variety of partners to bring its characters to life in products outside of Marvel comic books, and through its partnership with CASIS, Rocket and Groot from the popular series Guardians of the Galaxy will now adorn a mission patch for the ISS National Lab.

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FAA Oversight of Commercial Space Transportation Hearing Video


The House Subcommittee on Aviation held its first hearing in seven years on the FAA’s oversight of commercial space last month. Members heard from a heavily industry-centric panel of experts who largely praised the moratorium on regulations that is in place until 2023.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s scathing criticism of the FAA’s oversight role on SpaceShipTwo prior to the accident was briefly discussed on a couple of occasions, as were the potential conflicts between FAA’s dual roles of oversight and promotion.

Taber MacCallum of World View Enterprises dismissed the criticism of FAA Associate Administrator George Nield and the FAA’s performance prior to the crash as Monday morning quarterbacking. He also called for a permanent extension of the moratorium on regulations.

Michael López-Alegría also claimed that the FAA had done its job properly. He dismissed the idea that regulating the industry would make it any safer.

Witness List:

  • Dr. George C. Nield, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration | Written Testimony
  • Dr. Gerald L. Dillingham, Director of Civil Aviation Issues, Government Accountability Office | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael Gold, Chair, Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Michael López-Alegría, Vice Chair, Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Taber MacCallum, Chief Technology Officer, World View Enterprises | Written Testimony