Rodent Research Mission on ISS National Lab Enables Investigators to Leverage Space-Flown Specimens

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), July 18, 2019 (ISS National Lab PR) – Onboard SpaceX’s 18th commercial resupply services mission contracted by NASA, the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory will send 40 female mice to the microgravity environment of the orbiting platform to evaluate their adaptation off Earth. Rodent spaceflight experiments provide a broad range of translational data pertinent to biomedical advancements in neurology, muscle and bone physiology, immunology, and cardiovascular and developmental biology.

(more…)

Virgin Orbit Announces Responsive Launch Campaign with Royal Air Force

Cosmic Girl performs first captive carry with LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

GLOUCESTERSHIRE, England, 19 July 2019 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit, Sir Richard Branson’s small satellite launch company, announced today that it has been selected by the U.K.’s Royal Air Force (RAF) to provide responsive launch capabilities for a small satellite constellation Operational Capability Demonstrator through a new RAF project named “ARTEMIS.”

First announced by Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt yesterday at the Air and Space Power Conference, the ultimate goal of ARTEMIS is to demonstrate the utility of small satellites and responsive launch to provide information to the RAF and allied personnel on operationally relevant timelines. Secretary Mordaunt confirmed that the department has already committed £30 million ($33.6 million) to fast-track the ARTEMIS program.

(more…)

America’s First Automated Space Bioprinter Launching to ISS National Lab on SpaceX CRS-18

The 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is the first 3D printer capable of manufacturing human tissue (including, someday, organs) in the microgravity condition of space. (Credit: Techshot)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., July 17, 2019 (ISS National Lab PR) – A new facility will be launching to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s 18th commercial resupply services (CRS-18) mission, seeking to enable cutting-edge biotechnology research onboard the orbiting research laboratory. Techshot, a commercial facility partner, has partnered with NASA and the ISS U.S. National Laboratory to launch the first American bioprinter, known as the 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF). The BFF is slated to launch to the space station no earlier than July 21, 7:35p.m. EDT aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft.

(more…)

Royal Air Force Plans to Loan Pilot to Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 performs its first captive carry of LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

UK Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt announced a plan on Thursday to loan a Royal Air Force test pilot to Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, apparently so the aviator can earn astronaut wings with Virgin Galactic.

(more…)

UK Defence Minister Praises Virgin Orbit, Vows to Strengthen Space Capabilities

Penny Mordaunt (Credit: Ministry of Defence)

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt Keynote Speech
Air and Space Power Conference 2019
July 18, 2019
Full Speech

Excerpts About Space

And we should be a leading player in space. It won’t just help strengthen our industries. It’ll also provide an incredible opportunity to capture the imagination of a new generation and encourage them to get involved in aerospace.

Fifty years on from the moon landings we’re seeing SpaceX and other private sector individuals and leaders coming into the sector and making use of the technology. From satellite launches to more ambitious projects. It’s no longer a matter of if, but when, the first humans will walk on Mars. And this year we might see the first routine tourist flights into space.

(more…)

Chandrayaan-2 Launch Rescheduled for Monday

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — Chandrayaan-2 launch scheduled on 15th July, 2019 at 2:51 hrs was called off due to a technical snag noticed at around one hour before launch. An expert committee was constituted to analyze the issue and suggest remedial action.

The expert committee identified the root cause of the technical snag and all corrective actions are implemented. Thereafter, the system performance is normal.

Chandrayaan – 2 launch is now rescheduled on 22nd July, 2019 at 14:43 hrs [5:43 am EDT/2:43 am PDT] from second launch pad of SDSC, Sriharikota.

NSR: Satellite Manufacturing & Launch Services Market to Generate $225 Billion in Next Decade

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 17, 2019 (NSR PR) — NSR’s Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Services, 9th Edition (SMLS9) report published today forecasts a $225 B market opportunity over the next decade, driven by Situational Awareness and Earth Observation markets.

Despite the hype created by smallsat LEO constellations, the traditional market is expected to remain the dominant source of revenue globally for building and launching satellites.  While it is not likely to return to heady levels of yesterday, new opportunities are emerging that the industry can grasp if it adapts to a nimbler state of affairs.

(more…)

NASA iTech Winners Impress with Tech Ideas for Use in Space, on Earth

Three companies at the NASA iTech 2019 Cycle I forum were recognized by program executive Kira Blackwell during a ceremony in Mountain View, California, on July 12. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Water-fueled satellites, 3D medical scans and vibration resistant metal fasteners impressed judges at the NASA iTech competition this week in Mountain View, California. NASA iTech is an initiative to find and foster innovative solutions to challenges faced on Earth and in space.

(more…)

NASA, UK Space Agency to Cooperate on Future Moon Missions

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

LONDON (UKSA PR) — The UK and US space agencies have signed a statement of intent, which paves the way for UK commercial satellite communication and navigation services to be used by future NASA missions to the Moon.

The agreement was announced in a speech from Science Minister Chris Skidmore at the Policy Exchange in London on ‘Embracing the New Space Age’ on 16 July, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch.

(more…)

ULA Delays Atlas V, Delta IV Missions

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V551 rocket carrying the Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency 5 (AEHF-5) satellite for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is delayed, due to an anomaly during component testing at a supplier which has created a cross-over concern. 

Additional time is needed for the team to review the component anomaly and determine if any corrective action is required to the launch vehicle. Launch of the AEHF-5 mission is now targeted for no earlier than Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.

AEHF satellites provide highly-secure, jam-proof connectivity between U.S. national leadership and deployed military forces. Atlas V rockets successfully launched the first four AEHF satellites in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2018.

The AEHF-5 launch will mark the 80th Atlas V mission since the inaugural launch in 2002 and the 10th in the 551 configuration. The rocket features a kerosene-fueled common core booster, five solid rocket boosters, the hydrogen-fueled Centaur upper stage and a five-meter-diameter payload fairing.

The ULA Delta IV rocket carrying the GPS III SV02 mission for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is delayed, due to an anomaly during component testing at a supplier which has created a cross-over concern. 

Upon further evaluation, additional time is needed to replace and retest the component on the launch vehicle. Launch of the GPS III SV02 mission is now targeted for no earlier than Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019.

NASA Releases Pre-solicitation for LEO Commercial Free Flyer

Read Synopsis

NASA intends to release Appendix K to the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) entitled “Appendix K: Commercial Destination Development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Free Flyer.”

This appendix will request proposals from United States (U.S.) commercial entities to enter into a public-private partnership to develop and demonstrate commercial destination technologies and markets in LEO.

The primary objectives of Appendix K to the NextSTEP-2 BAA are (1) to successfully develop commercial markets through demonstration of products and services in LEO in habitable commercial destinations and (2) to provide a plan to establish a long-term, sustainable, commercial, human spaceflight enterprise in LEO where NASA is one of many customers.

Read Synopsis

Video: SpaceX Starhopper Fires Raptor Engine in Explosive Display

The test vehicle seemed to survive just fine. It looked worse than it was.

Momentus Announces $25.5 Million Series A Funding Round

Vigoride (Credit: Momentus)

SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 17, 2019 (Momentus PR) — Momentus (http://www.momentus.space), a provider of in-space shuttle services that move satellites between orbits, today announced a $25.5mm series A investment round led by Prime Movers Lab and featuring investment from Y Combinator, the Lerner Family, the University of Wyoming Foundation, Quiet Capital, Mountain Nazca, ACE & Company, Liquid 2 Ventures, Drake Management, and others.

This round has brought the total investment amount for Momentus to $34MM. The investment will be used to continue development and in-space testing for Momentus’ Vigoride and Vigoride Extended in-space shuttles. The company also plans to accelerate hiring and expand research/manufacturing facilities at Momentus’ Santa Clara, CA headquarters.

(more…)

My Appearance on The Space Show Now Online

My appearance on The Space Show is now online.

David and I had a nice talk about Virgin Galactic’s plan to go public and whether the passenger and financial numbers they’re aiming for are very realistic. We also talked about NASA’s Artemis program and what the odds are of a landing on the moon in 2024. Charles Lurio called in to chat about that. Other space subjects also came up.