Author: Doug Messier

U.S. Air Force Certifies SpaceX Falcon 9 for Military Missions

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The series of images shows the journey of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from its launch at 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, to solar array deployment. (Credit:  NASA TV)

The series of images shows the journey of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from its launch at 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, to solar array deployment. (Credit: NASA TV)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. (USAF PR) — Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 Launch System for national security space missions.

SpaceX is now eligible for award of qualified national security space launch missions as one of two currently certified launch providers. The first upcoming opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services is projected to be in June when the Air Force releases a Request for Proposal for GPS III launch services.
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Report: Haiyin Capital Invested $5 Million in XCOR

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The Lynx cockpit, fuselage and strakes are shown at XCOR headquarters in Mojave, CA. (Credit: XCOR)

The Lynx cockpit, fuselage and strakes are shown at XCOR headquarters in Mojave, CA. (Credit: XCOR)

Forbes has a story on Haiyin Capital’s investment in XCOR:

A person with knowledge of the deal has told FORBES that Haiyin’s total investment in the company is $5 million at a valuation of $140 million. When contacted, XCOR declined to comment on this figure or investment.

Haiyin Capital makes an attractive offer to its investment partners, founding partner Yuquan Wang told me: the ability to leverage Chinese manufacturing to help them get their products to market faster, and the opportunity to make inroads into the growing Chinese market while they pursue the U.S. market was well. Things are different for XCOR, though. The company won’t be doing any manufacturing in China, but Wang says that the reason for investing in them is much simpler than that.

“XCOR is a different story. We just like the time. They’re dedicated to something that’s really cool,” he said. “We’re not sinking money in looking for a large capital return. We wanted something encouraging and exciting in our portfolio.”

Andrew Nelson, XCOR’s former COO who still works with the company on a consulting basis, told me that the influx of money will be helpful for XCOR as it gears up to conduct test flights of its Lynx spacecraft later this year.

“This round allows us to finish Lynx and build out a bigger marketing and sales program,” he told me. “It will also let us get through our test program and allow our wing design to mature. It’s a challenging wing to build. Six years ago we couldn’t build it, but now we can thanks to 3D printing of titanium parts and advances in composite materials.”

Google Doodle Celebrates Sally Ride’s Birthday

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NASA TV to Cover ISS Module Reconfiguration

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This illustration shows the current location (blue) of the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) on the International Space Station and the location to which it will be repositioned (green) during the May 27 move. (Credit: NASA)

This illustration shows the current location (blue) of the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) on the International Space Station and the location to which it will be repositioned (green) during the May 27 move. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — The International Space Station Program will take the next step in expanding a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit when work continues Wednesday, May 27, to prepare the orbiting laboratory for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew and cargo vehicles. NASA Television will provide live coverage of the activity beginning at 8 a.m. EDT.

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An Overview of UAE Space Agency

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UAE_Space_Agency_LogoThe following is an official backgrounder on the UAE Space Agency issued by the UAE government. It includes information about the agency’s strategic objecvtives, its leadership, and the structure and components of the nation’s space industry.

Establishment

The UAE Space Agency was established in 2014 following a decree for federal law No.1 of 2014 issued by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. The agency was announced in July 2014.

Vision

Our vision is to proudly craft the future of the United Arab Emirates as a leader in space exploration and inspire the next generations for the benefit of the nation and mankind.

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UAE Space Agency Unveils Strategy, Signs Education Agreement With Orbital ATK

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UAE_Space_Agency_LogoHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, presided over the launch of the UAE Space Agency’s strategic plan on Monday. Emirates News Agency reports:

“The establishment of a fully-fledged space sector in the UAE, with all necessary human resources, infrastructure and scientific research, is a primary national objective. It requires everyone involved to work as one team to establish the UAE’s leadership in this sector and to build advanced scientific capabilities in the space domain,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.
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Google Lunar X Prize Extends Deadline Again

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The Google Lunar X Prize has once again extended its deadline, this time to Dec. 31, 2017. The announcement comes six months after the $30 million competition extended its deadline from Dec. 31, 2015 to 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:

1. Monday, May 25, 2015: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT; 4-5:30 PM CDT): No show today due to the Memorial Day Holiday.

2. Tuesday, May 26, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. MATTHEW MOYNIHAN regarding Polywell and fusion energy.

3. Friday, May 29, 2015; 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT):We welcome DR. IAN CRAWFORD from the UK, Dr. Haym Benaroya, and Dr. John Jurist to discuss Dr. Crawford’s recent paper on lunar resources, “Lunar Resources: A Review.” I will upload a copy of this paper to The Space Show blog on Thursday in advance of this program. .

4. Sunday, May 31, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. All space, STEM topics welcome as are first time callers.

Russian Audit Committee Finds Mind Boggling Financial Violations at Roscosmos

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Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

More bad news for Russia’s struggling space program:

Russia’s Audit Chamber has discovered $1.8 billion of financial violations in the Roscosmos space agency. According to Chamber head Tatyana Golikova, this included accounting violations, misuse of budget funds and inefficient spending on construction.

“At first I didn’t believe the inspectors,” Golikova said, Interfax reported.

The Audit Chamber has observed a sharp rise in violations at Roscosmos since last year, she said. “It was an absolute surprise for me. I conducted a budget inspection last year, and now in 2014, the number of violations has grown sharply.”

Earlier, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin blamed corruption in the space industry for the recent high accident rate of Russian spacecraft. Speaking in the State Duma on Tuesday, he said Roscosmos’ partner, the state company producing Proton rockets, is facing eight criminal cases.

One of the projects apparently seething with violations is the new Vostochny (Eastern) Cosmodrome. According to Golikova, its construction saw an overspending of about 13 billion rubles ($260 million). She says this resulted from overpricing and use of fraud schemes. The numbers are being looked into by the Russian Investigative Committee.

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Flashback: Virgin Galactic Announces Switch From Rubber to Nylon Engine

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RocketMotorTwo firing. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

RocketMotorTwo firing. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Parabolic Arc Flashback: One year ago, Virgin Galactic announced it changing SpaceShipTwo’s propulsion system from a rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine due to demonstrated better performance. The news was announced on a Friday at the start of long holiday weekends in the U.S. and Britain, a perfect time to dump news when neither reporters nor the public are paying much attention. Sierra Nevada, by the way, was blindsided that their rubber engine was being dropped and their lucrative agreement was going away.

Today, the nylon engine decision is being re-evaluated due to performance. The company recently revealed it is testing both hybid engines again, and it might go back to using the rubber one. That means the company still doesn’t know how its going to power its spacecraft despite being nearly 11 years into the SpaceShipTwo program. That explains why it is taking as long as it is.

MOJAVE, Calif., May 23, 2014 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline which is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, has selected a polyamide-based fuel grain to power its hybrid rocket motor for the remainder of the test flight program and start of commercial operations. This decision follows numerous ground test firings and is supported by data collected over an extensive development program.

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