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Starliner STA Arrives in California for Testing

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Boeing's CST-100 Structural Test Article ready for shipment from C3PF to Boeing's facility in Huntington Beach, California. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing’s CST-100 Structural Test Article ready for shipment from C3PF to Boeing’s facility in Huntington Beach, California. (Credit: Boeing)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (NASA PR) — Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft will experience a variety of tremendous internal and external forces during missions to and from the International Space Station.  When the Starliner launches in 2018, it won’t be the first time the spacecraft has encountered these forces. That is because Boeing built a Structural Test Article that will experience the rigors of spaceflight in a test facility in an effort to prove the design of the spacecraft. The module was built inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida before it was shipped it across the country to Huntington Beach, California, for testing.

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NASA Moves to Secure Commercial Crew as Obama Administration Exits

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Weldment Structure (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX Crew Dragon Weldment Structure (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA had made a couple of major moves relating to human spaceflight this month as the Obama Administration would down toward its exit at noon on Friday.

On Jan. 3, the space agency announced it had awarded four additional flights apiece to Boeing and SpaceX to carry crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Each company now has six flights for their Starliner and Crew Dragon vehicles, respectively.

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The Growing Cost of Not Having Direct Access to ISS

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At the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 49 crewmembers Shane Kimbrough of NASA (left) and Sergey Ryzhikov (center) and Andrey Borisenko (right) of Roscosmos pose for pictures Sept. 9 in front of their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft during a pre-launch training fit check. Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko will launch Sept. 24, Kazakh time on the Soyuz MS-02 vehicle for a five-month mission on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

Expedition 49 crewmembers Shane Kimbrough of NASA (left) and Sergey Ryzhikov (center) and Andrey Borisenko (right) of Roscosmos pose for pictures Sept. 9 in front of their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft during a pre-launch training fit check. (Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

Bloomberg Government reports that delays in fielding replacements for the retired space shuttle has forced NASA to send billions of dollars to Russia over the past six years.

NASA has spent $897 million with state-controlled Roscosmos since fiscal 2015 and $2.1 billion since the U.S. retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011, Bloomberg Government data show….

NASA must rely on Russia to transport astronauts and equipment for at least two more years. Roscosmos will receive another $950 million in 2017 and 2018 for 12 more round trips on Soyuz ISS flights, according a September report by NASA’s Office of Inspector General.

Congressional budget cuts to NASA’s Commercial Crew Program forced the agency to extend its contract with Roscosmos to keep sending American astronauts to the ISS, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s August 2015 letter to Congress.

Putin consolidated the Russian space industry into Roscosmos in 2015, placing several close advisers in senior positions, according to Senator John McCain. Among them are Chairman Dmitry Rogozin and board member Sergei Chemezov, who are listed as Specially Designated Nationals on the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control SDN Sanctions List. Their names were added to the list following President Obama’s March 2014 emergency Executive Order 13660, issued in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Treasury denies that sanctions on Russia apply to the space industry. So while NASA isn’t in violation, it’s in an awkward position of paying billions of agency dollars directly to Russian government coffers to maintain a presence on the ISS.

The figures do not include the cost of additional Soyuz seats that NASA might end up buying for 2019 if commercial crew efforts by SpaceX and Boeing are delayed beyond 2018. NASA could purchase up to three seats through Boeing, which received them as part of a legal settlement of a lawsuit against Soyuz manufacturer RSC Energia.

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Virgin Galactic Selects OneStrand LLC To Provide S1000D Technical Documentation Software And Services

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SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

PORTLAND, January 18, 2017 (OneStrand PR) — After an extensive technical evaluation, Virgin Galactic has selected OneStrand LLC as their preferred supplier of S1000D technical publishing software, services and support. The R4i S1000D product suite will provide the technology required to create, manage and leverage technical information vital to the operation and maintenance of Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight systems.

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EUTELSAT 117 West B All-electric Satellite Fully Charged, in Commercial Service

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PARIS, 16 January 2017 (Eutelsat PR)
– Eutelsat Communications (NYSE Euronext Paris: ETL) announces that its EUTELSAT 117 West B satellite has entered into full commercial service and is now ready to support customers across Latin America.

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NASA Looks to Purchase Additional Soyuz Seats — From Boeing!

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Credit: NASA

Soyuz and Progress vehicles docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

After months of saying it had no plans to purchase any additional Russian Soyuz seats to take U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA is looking to do exactly that.

Only there’s a twist: NASA won’t be purchasing the seats directly from the Russians. They will be buying them from Boeing, which has obtained already purchased five seats from Soyuz manufacturer RSC Energia.

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UrtheCast Enters into $180 Million Agreement to Sell and Operate Two Satellites

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urthecast-logoVANCOUVER, January 17, 2017 (UrtheCast PR) — UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR) (“UrtheCast” or the “Company”), the geospatial and geo-analytics company developing two Earth Observation (EO) satellite constellations, known as OptiSARTM and UrtheDailyTM, today announces that it has entered into a binding agreement with a confidential government customer for the sale and shared operation of the first two satellites in the OptiSARTM Constellation, the world’s first commercial EO constellation with integrated optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors, for US$180 million.

The customer has also agreed to pay an additional US$30 million for other products and services related to the sale of the satellites, contingent on the parties reaching mutual agreement on the final scope of these deliverables.
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Rocket Crafters Receives Patent for Printed Hybrid Fuel Grain

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rocket_craftersTITUSVILLE, Fla. (RCI PR) – Rocket Crafters, Inc. (RCI) announced today a U.S. patent was granted to co-founder, President & CTO Ronald Jones for a method for designing and fabricating flawless, high-performance, safer handling fuel grains for hybrid rocket engines using additive manufacturing technology (also known as 3D printing) which will allow the fabrication of an inherently safe and less expensive launch vehicle with only two moving parts. Jones stated that 3D printing of the rocket combustion chamber allows RCI’s expendable motors to deliver small satellites to orbits at as low as half current launch costs.

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Next Cygnus Resupply Mission Set for March

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The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Orbital ATK has completed a significant mission milestone for NASA’s next International Space Station cargo mission.

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With Cernan’s Passing, America Has Lost Half its Moon Walkers

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With the passing of Eugene Cernan on Monday, America has lost half of the 12 Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon between 1969 and 1972. All the surviving astronauts from the Apollo lunar program are in their 80’s.

Cernan, 82, was the last man to step off the moon during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. He and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt spent three days on the lunar surface while command module pilot Ronald Evans orbited overhead.

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NASA Administrator Reflects on Legacy of Gene Cernan

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Gene Cernan in t he lunar module Challenger during Apollo 17. (Credit: NASA)

Gene Cernan in t he lunar module Challenger during Apollo 17. (Credit: NASA)

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of Gemini and Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan:

“Gene Cernan, Apollo astronaut and the last man to walk on the moon, has passed from our sphere, and we mourn his loss. Leaving the moon in 1972, Cernan said, ‘As I take these last steps from the surface for some time into the future to come, I’d just like to record that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow.’ Truly, America has lost a patriot and pioneer who helped shape our country’s bold ambitions to do things that humankind had never before achieved.

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Last Man on the Moon Gene Cernan Passes Away

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Gene Cernan on the moon. (Credit: NASA)

Gene Cernan on the moon. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died Monday, Jan. 16, surrounded by his family.

Cernan, a Captain in the U.S. Navy, left his mark on the history of exploration by flying three times in space, twice to the moon. He also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last human to leave his footprints on the lunar surface.

Photo gallery of Eugene Cernan

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Iridium Announces Successful First Launch of Iridium NEXT Satellites

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Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 14, 2017 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today the successful launch of its first ten Iridium NEXT satellites. The satellites were delivered into low-Earth orbit approximately one hour after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:54:39 a.m. PST. Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of low-Earth orbit satellites spanning the entire globe — the largest commercial satellite constellation in space.

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ULA Postpones NROL-79 Launch From Vandenberg

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A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (Jan. 16, 2017) – The launch date for a United Launch Alliance Atlas V carrying NROL-79 for the National Reconnaissance Office is under review.

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exactEarth Launches Four Hosted Payloads on Iridium Satellite

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exactEarth_solid_colorCAMBRIDGE, ON, Jan 16, 2017 (exactEarth PR) — exactEarth Ltd. (TSX: XCT), the leading provider of Satellite AIS data services, announced the successful launch of four hosted payloads for its next generation constellation, exactView™ RT powered by Harris.

Launched aboard an Iridium NEXT satellite on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, these hosted maritime payloads are now being commissioned and are expected to be brought into service within the next four months.

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