SpaceX Might Build BFR in Los Angeles

BFR servicing the International Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is looking to expand its footprint at the Port of Los Angeles in a move possibly related the manufacturing of its BFR booster.

SpaceX has entered into preliminary negotiations with the Port of Los Angeles for a lease that would expand the Hawthorne space company’s port facilities to manufacture “large commercial transportation vehicles.”

Port and company officials would not comment on what exactly would be built on the 18-acre site on Terminal Island, but public documents suggest that it will involve rockets or spacecraft.

SpaceX, which currently makes its rockets in Hawthorne, has plans to make a huge next-generation spaceship and rocket system known as BFR. The reusable spaceship and booster, which will measure more than 340 feet tall when stacked, is intended to eventually replace SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket and its new Falcon Heavy heavy-lift rocket, which flew for the first time last month.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, which oversees port management and operations, voted last week to approve California Environmental Quality Act regulations necessary for the board to later vote on a lease for the proposed project.

Japan Offers $940 Million Fund for Space Startups

The Japanese government is setting up a $940 million fund to support space startups.

The funds will be made available through investments and loans over the next five years, as part of a government-led initiative to double Japan’s more than $11 billion space industry. With less than 20 Japanese space start-ups currently operating, many see this as critical to helping new companies cover costs such as research or applying for patents….

Ispace has received government backing in the past, including during a recent $90.2 million round of funding that included Suzuki Motor and Japan Airlines. Founded seven years ago, ispace is stepping beyond the Google-backed Lunar XPRIZE competition to fund two exploration missions to the moon, with the first by the end of 2019 and the second by the end of 2020.

The Japanese government is setting up an agency to manage the funds and connect start-ups with local talent from organizations such as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or the rocket-building arm of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Initially, start-ups will be eligible to each receive about $100,000 in aid to help present concepts to investors. Promising ventures and more mature companies will be able to tap into the rest of the $940 million fund to further development.

Japan also announced it is considering new laws and policies that would allow businesses to own plots of land developed on the moon, in a similar manner to the laws passed by the United States and Luxembourg.

NASA to Discuss New Planet Hunting Spacecraft

TESS exoplanet satellite (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Join NASA at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, March 28, as astrophysics experts discuss the upcoming launch of NASA’s next planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Reporters can attend the event in person at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington or participate by phone.

The briefing will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.


Congressmen Urge Senators to Confirm Bridenstine as NASA Administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A group of 61 House members has sent a letter to the Senate urging the body to approve the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as the next administrator of NASA.

“As the Congressman from the 1st District of Oklahoma, Jim has been an active member of the House Space Subcommittee, distinguishing himself as one of the most engaged, passionate, and knowledgeable members of the Subcommittee,” the letter states. “In 2015, SpaceNews named him one of “five space leaders in the world making a difference in space.” He authored several provisions in the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act and co-authored the bipartisan American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act.”


Review of Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight

Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight
by Joe Pappalardo
The Overlook Press
240 pages

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Most travel books promote exciting locales such as Paris, Machu Pichu or Bali that people actually want to visit to relax and escape the pressures of life in the 21st century.

Joe Pappalardo had a different idea for his travelogue. The contributing editor for Popular Mechanics decided to visit various spaceports and rocket test sites to gauge how commercial space is transforming the industry.

Pappalardo’s travels take him from the sandy beaches of Florida and Virginia to the desolate deserts of the American Southwest and steaming jungles of French Guiana. Along the way, we meet everyone from Elon Musk to the crew at Masten Space Systems and the local gentry in the various towns adjoining these facilities.


New Mexico Pours $17 Million More into Spaceport America

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

The New Mexico Legislature was generous to Spaceport America this year, providing nearly $17 million to pay for operating expenses and a series of upgrades designed to allow the struggling facility to attract more tenants.

The funding includes $10 million for a new satellite testing and development hangar, $5 million for a fuel farm, $500,000 for a launch vehicle payload integration facility, and $500,000 to repair and upgrade “electrical, fire suppression, water, sewer, security, mission control, heating, ventilation and air conditioning and building systems.”

The appropriation for the new hangar is contingent on the New Mexico Spaceport Authority contracting with a tenant that specializes in advanced aerospace products and technologies.

The spaceport also received $975,900 from the state’s general fund to fund its operations.

Spaceport America has struggled due to more than a decades of delays that have plagued anchor tenant Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson’s suborbital space tourism company is continuing to test SpaceShipTwo Unity at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The company has not set a date for the start of commercial operations in New Mexico.


NASA Marshall Advances 3-D Printed Rocket Engine Nozzle Technology

Through hot-fire testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, engineers put this nozzle through its paces, accumulating more than 1,040 seconds at high combustion chamber pressures and temperatures. Now, this technology is being licensed and considered in commercial applications across the industry. (Credits: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Rocket engine nozzles operate in extreme temperatures and pressures from the combustion process and are complex and expensive to manufacture. That is why a team of engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, developed and proved out a new additive manufacturing technique for nozzle fabrication that can greatly reduce costs and development time.


ESA Testing the Detection of Plastic Litter From Orbit

Testing detection of ocean plastic from space. (Credit: ESA–J. Veiga)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The millions of tonnes of plastic ending up in the oceans every year are a global challenge. ESA is responding by looking at the detection of marine plastic litter from space, potentially charting its highest concentrations and understanding the gigantic scale of the problem.

We dump around 10 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans annually. Though most conspicuous along coastlines, plastic litter is also found out in the open ocean and from the equator to the pole – even frozen in polar ice.


Updated Global Launch Schedule Through April

Expedition 55 crew members Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. (Credit: NASA)

Below is the updated launch schedule through the end of April. The 17 scheduled launches include:

  • 7 USA (6 Falcon 9, 1 Atlas V)
  • 4 Russia (1 Soyuz, 1 Soyuz-2.1, 1 Proton, 1 Rockot)
  • 3 India (2 GSLV Mk.2, 1 PSLV)
  • 2 China (2 Long March 3B)
  • 1 Europe (1 Ariane 5).


Aerojet Rocketdyne Ships Starliner Re-entry Thrusters

Artist’s conception of CST-100 Starliner docking at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

REDMOND, Wash., March 15, 2018 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed delivery of all of the crew module engines for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft. Boeing will integrate the engines into the Starliner crew module at its Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


This Week on The Space Show

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

1. SPECIAL TIME: Monday, March 19, 2018: 7-8:03 PM PDT; 9-10:30 PM CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT We welcome back BOB ZIMMERMAN for multiple timely space news reporting. Also, Happy Birthday to Moonwards Kim.

2. Tuesday, March 20, , 2018: 7-8:30 PM PDT; 9-10:30 PM CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT: We welcome back DR. HAYMM BENAROYA for his new book, “Building Habitats On The Moon: Engineering Approaches to Lunar Settlements.”

3. Wednesday, March 21, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, March 23, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 AM PDT, (12:30 -2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT): We welcome back DEREK WEBBER for his new book, “Afterglow: Reflections On The Golden Age Of Moon Explorers.”

5. Sunday, March 25, 2018: 12-1:30 PM PDT; 2-3:30 PM CDT; 3-4:30 PM EDT. OPEN LINES. All space, STEM, STEAM, & science topics welcome. First time callers are welcome.

NASA Seeks Ideas to Advance Toward Human-Class Lunar Landers

Astronaut John Young salutes the flag on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is leading a renewed effort to explore areas near and on the Moon to increase our knowledge about Earth’s nearest neighbor, and prepare for human missions deeper into the solar system. The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will open opportunities for science, exploration and commercial industry from lunar orbit. In addition, access to the lunar surface will be a key component of this effort, requiring a plan to incrementally increase the size of payloads that can be delivered to the surface.


NASA Science Heading to Space Ranges from the Upper Atmosphere to Microbes

Dragon spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A Dragon spacecraft scheduled to launch into orbit no earlier than April 2, carries the 14th SpaceX commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Lifted into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Dragon takes supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station.


Video of Firefly’s Lightning Engine Hot Fire

Video Caption: In a demo for a crowd of people from Austin’s South by Southwest festival, Firefly Aerospace fired its “Lightning” engine at 10 percent thrust for about a minute. The engine design will propel the second stage of the company’s “Firefly Alpha” rocket into space as early as 2019. The full vehicle will be capable of sending some 2,200 pounds into orbit for about $10 million.

Plastics, Pollution & Pirates: Satellite Vu Prepares to Tackle Humanity’s Global Challenges

Credit: Satellite Vu

LONDON and WASHINGTON, DC (Satellite Vu PR) — Pioneering NewSpace company, Satellite Vu, is preparing to provide a disruptive service to those who tackle critical global issues. Earth observation has become a key part of environmental monitoring, delivering a wealth of information using combinations of sensor data and high resolution imagery. Satellite Vu is poised to transform this market through the launch of unique and ground-breaking satellites that will deliver infrared imaging and hourly re-visit times, both day and night.