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GAO: FAA Faces Challenges With Commercial Space Oversight

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faa_logoCommercial Space:
Industry Developments and FAA Challenges
Government Accountability Office
Testimony (PDF)
GAO-16-765T
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

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

Government Accountability Office
GAO-16-661R
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

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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

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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

 

ESA Euronews: Canada’s Robot Masters

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Video Caption: Robots are an essential companion to mankind in space, and many of the modern-day masters of these robots are to be found in Montreal, home to the Canadian Space Agency.

Euronews Space has unique access to the team, among them operations engineer Mathieu Caron, who can steer the Canadarm 2 directly from his control room, or instruct astronauts piloting it in space.

This video is available in the following languages:

English https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VizQJ…
German https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2ES9…
French https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA110…
Italian https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NGg1…
spanish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzGZH…
Portuguese https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeFFC…
Hungarian https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKjQh…
Greek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUqP2…

20 New Countries to Invest in Space Programs by 2025

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euroconsultAround 130 satellites forecast to be launched by emerging space programs in next 10 years

PARIS, WASHINGTON D.C., MONTREAL, YOKOHAMA (Euroconsult PR) – According to Euroconsult’s latest report, Trends & Prospects for Emerging Space Programs, 24 countries are identified as emerging space programs (ESPs) in 2015 having launched a total of 69 satellites in the last 20 years. As satellite technology has become more accessible and affordable, the number of countries investing in their first satellite system has increased dramatically. 2015 set an all-time record with nine satellites launched, confirming the dynamism of this market.

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Mark Kelly to Speak at Democratic National Convention

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New ESA Lab Focuses on Advanced Manufacturing & Materials

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The ESA–RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory on Harwell Campus, UK, assesses new material processes, joining techniques and 3D printing technologies for application in space. (Credit: STFC–S. Kill)

The ESA–RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory on Harwell Campus, UK, assesses new material processes, joining techniques and 3D printing technologies for application in space. (Credit: STFC–S. Kill)

HARWELL, UK (ESA PR) — ESA’s latest technical laboratory, inaugurated by Director General Jan Woerner, will help to understand the capabilities of 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques for future space missions.

The Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory is at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Harwell, Oxfordshire, directly adjacent to ESA’s UK facility.

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New Horizons Pluto Stamp Earns Guinness World Record

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New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern celebrates a Guinness World Record certificate on July 19 at U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Dan Afzal, U.S. Postal Service)

New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern celebrates a Guinness World Record certificate on July 19 at U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Dan Afzal, U.S. Postal Service)

WASHINGTON (USPS PR) — A 1991 Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp traveled more than 3 billion miles on a spacecraft to the dwarf planet has earned the Guiness World Records achievement for the farthest distance traveled by a postage stamp. The stamp also served as NASA’s rallying cry to set the record straight for exploring Pluto.

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Space Systems Loral to Supply Robotic Arms for DARPA Satellite Servicing

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DARPA RSGS Robotic Servicing Vehicle utilizing MDA US Systems robotic arms to repair a satellite on orbit. (Source: DARPA)

DARPA RSGS Robotic Servicing Vehicle utilizing MDA US Systems robotic arms to repair a satellite on orbit. (Source: DARPA)

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 21, 2016 (SSL PR) — Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has received $20.7 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build robotic arm flight hardware for the first phase of the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. SSL is receiving the funds through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA managed by SSL, and is working with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is the prime contractor managing the program.

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Eileen Collins’ Speech at the Republican Convention

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Former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins spoke on Wednesday during the Republican Party Convention. Collins skipped a line at the end of the speech in which she was to say that Donald Trump would provide the leadership in space that America needs.

Commission Approves Airbus Safran Launchers Acquisition of Arianespace

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Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

BRUSSELS (EU PR) — Following an in-depth review, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Arianespace by Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), a joint venture between Airbus and Safran. This approval is subject to conditions.

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NASA Establishes Institute to Explore New Ways to Protect Astronauts

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NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano perform ultrasound eye imaging as part of the Fluid Shifts investigation during Expedition 37 on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano perform ultrasound eye imaging as part of the Fluid Shifts investigation during Expedition 37 on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is joining with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to operate a new institute charged with researching and developing innovative approaches to reduce risks to humans on long-duration exploration missions, including NASA’s Journey to Mars.

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SpaceX Eyes Reusing Dragons, Additional Landing Pads

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Cameras on the Canadarm2 show the SpaceX Dragon as it departs the vicinity of the space station just after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)

Cameras on the Canadarm2 show the SpaceX Dragon as it departs the vicinity of the space station just after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)

With SpaceX planning to relaunch a Falcon 9 first stage later this year, the age of reusing rockets is upon us. But, the company isn’t stopping there.

SpaceX is planning to launch a reused Dragon supply ship on a cargo mission next year. Officials discussed the planned flight during a post-launch press conference on Monday morning.

“I think we’re looking at SpaceX-11,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA’s deputy manager of ISS utilization, referring to the 11th resupply mission the company will fly with Dragon and the Falcon 9. (Monday’s launch kicked off SpaceX-9.)

“I thought it was 11 or 12 — something like that,” replied Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of flight reliability at SpaceX. “So, not too far from now.”

SpaceX-11 is currently scheduled to lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in February 2017, and SpaceX-12 is slated to launch two months later, according to Spaceflight Now.

The Orlando Sentinel also reports that SpaceX is requesting permission from the federal government to establish two additional first-stage landing facilities on Cape Canaveral. The pads would be for landing the three Falcon 9 first stages that are used on the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.

Bezos: New Shepard Fine After Parachute Test

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New Shepard crew capsule showing crushable ring after flight no. 4. (Credit: Blue Origin)

New Shepard crew capsule showing crushable ring after flight no. 4. (Credit: Blue Origin)

On our most recent flight, we performed a test to prove the Crew Capsule could safely land with only two of its three parachutes open. On a nominal flight with all three parachutes deployed, the capsule descends at about 16 mph before firing a retrorocket just a few feet above the ground. This retrorocket firing is what creates the large cloud of dust you see just before the capsule lands, and slows the capsule down to 3 mph before it touches the ground. This last bit of speed is absorbed by a ring shaped crushable bumper made of aluminum honeycomb material mounted on the bottom of the capsule. The ring is made of eight segments.

On this last mission, with one chute intentionally failed, the capsule was descending at 23 mph before firing its retrorocket. The retrorocket took out most of that velocity, and the crushable ring did the rest of the job. Below, you can see a couple of pictures of the crushable after the flight test. The first picture shows it mounted under the vehicle after we lifted it off the ground post-flight. The second picture shows a side view of the eight segments after we removed them from the vehicle. Even with one chute out, the crushable barely crushed. When new, the crushable is about 5.5 inches high and can crush down to less than one inch high, providing a constant deceleration force as it crushes. After the mission, the crushable was still over 5 inches high along nearly the entire circumference of the ring.

Sacrificial bumpers removed from CC after flight for inspection, barely crushed. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Sacrificial bumpers removed from CC after flight for inspection, barely crushed. (Credit: Blue Origin)

We’ve designed the capsule to ensure astronaut safety not just for a failure of one parachute, but even for a failure of two parachutes. In addition to the retrorocket system and the crushable ring, there is an energy absorbing mechanism mounted underneath each seat.

Gradatim Ferociter!

Jeff Bezos

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