Kennedy’s Transformation Paying Off in New Opportunities

Mural on Starliner assembly building. (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A transformation begun before the space shuttles retired six years ago set the stage at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the current development underway among commercial space companies and for the infrastructure needed to support deep space exploration, Bob Cabana, Kennedy’s director, told community leaders Tuesday afternoon.

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A Q&A With NASA’s Steve Jurczyk

Steve Jurczyk (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — For much of his quarter-century career in the nation’s space program, Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, has championed the use of cutting-edge technology to advance exploration and extend human knowledge. Whether executing some of NASA’s most prestigious exploration missions or leading the agency’s first field center, he’s been a staunch advocate for the application of well-developed, mature technology to answer any challenge, overcome any obstacle.

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NASA Completes Milestone Toward Quieter Supersonic X-Plane

This rendering shows the Lockheed Martin future supersonic advanced concept featuring two engines under the wings and one on top of the fuselage (not visible in this image).

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NASA PR) — NASA has achieved a significant milestone in its effort to make supersonic passenger jet travel over land a real possibility by completing the preliminary design review (PDR) of its Quiet Supersonic Transport or QueSST aircraft design. QueSST is the initial design stage of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.

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This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, June 26, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back BARRY LEVIN to continue our discussions on AI, 4th Industrial Revolution mfg. processes and how all of this applies to the space industry.

2. Tuesday, June 27 , 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: No show today as am at NewSpace Conference in San Francisco.

3. Wednesday, June 28, 2016:: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details.

4. Friday, June 30, 2017; 9:30-11AM PDT, 12:30-2 PM EDT, 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT: We welcome back author LORETTA HALL regarding her new book, “Miguel & Michelle Visit Spaceport America.” Loretta has additional discussion topics for us.

5. Sunday, July 2, 2017: 12-1:30 PM DST (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): MICHAEL LISTNER, ATTY., joins us for legal news and updates.

Blue Origin to Manufacture BE-4 Engines in Huntsville

BE-4 engines (Credit: Blue Origin)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce PR) — Blue Origin announced plans to manufacture its BE-4 engine in a state-of-the art production facility to be built in Huntsville, Alabama — the Rocket City.The new facility will be in Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second-largest research park, and construction can begin once an engine production contract with United Launch Alliance is awarded. The BE-4 is America’s next rocket engine and will power United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, once down-selected. The production of this engine would end the nation’s dependence on Russia for access to space for critical national security space systems.

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Spaceport America Economic Impact Claim Lacks Actual Data

Four big thumbs up from Richard Branson and then New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at the Spaceport America runway dedication in 2010. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

NewsChannel 9 in El Paso recently looked into officials’ claims that Spaceport America had a $20 million economic impact on New Mexico’s economy in fiscal year 2016 and found a lack of support data.

However, when asked for a copy of the economic impact study or documents supporting the claim, Spaceport America’s chief financial officer, Zach De Gregorio, told NewsChannel 9 he didn’t use any documents and sent NewsChannel 9 a PowerPoint presentation with five slides.

“It’s just the PowerPoint,” said De Gregorio.

When asked how he did an economic impact study without any documents, De Gregorio said, “I had a lot of conversations and I talked with local business owners, customers and with city officials. I talked with my teammates and I got a really good sense of what was the activity in FY16.”

….When asked about exaggerating their economic impact, [Spaceport America Executive Director Dan] Hicks said, “The chart was intended to show the economic value of the activities at Spaceport America compared the funding received from the NM General Fund. It was simply a comparison chart to convey value added. An Economic Impact Study was not needed to provide a qualitative assessment of our value per NM general fund spending. The focus of the discussion was for our CFO to explain the assumptions he used to compile the information in that impact chart.”

The PowerPoint presentation showed a $20 million return based on the $944,000 the state invested in the spaceport in FY 2016. NewsChannel 9 said the figures do not show millions in taxes paid during the same fiscal year by residents of Dona Ana and Sierra counties to pay off bonds used for spaceport construction.

NewsChannel 9 also reported problems in obtaining documentation from Spaceport America. The spaceport attempted to charge the channel for documents that should be free to inspect under New Mexico law.

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Video: Roll-Out Solar Array Experiment (ROSA) Deploys on ISS

Video Caption: The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) was deployed from the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm Sunday, June 18 outside the International Space Station. ROSA is an experiment to test a new type of solar array that rolls open in space like a party favor and is more compact than current rigid panel designs.

The ROSA investigation tests deployment and retraction,characterizes changes when the Earth blocks the sun, vibration and other physical challenges to determine the array’s strength and durability.

ROSA has the potential to replace solar arrays on future satellites, making them more compact and lighter weight. Satellite radio and television, weather forecasting, GPS and other services used on Earth would all benefit from high-performance solar arrays. The payload will remain deployed for seven days before retracting and will be stowed back inside the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle.

Note: footage of deploy is sped up 300%.

Spaceport America Tax: The Levy that Keeps on Taking

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Residents of New Mexico’s Dona Ana and Sierra counties will continue to subsidize Spaceport America’s operating budget for at least another year.

The New Mexico Finance Authority agreed to let the spaceport for one year use extra money from the taxes that shoppers pay in two Southern New Mexico counties. But the spaceport wanted the excess tax money in perpetuity, a proposal that the finance authority declined to grant as its chairman raised questions about the facility’s financial strength.

Though some politicians have supported the spaceport’s proposal, others have argued the tax money was only intended to help build the facility, not cover its day-to-day expenses.

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ESA Signs Contracts to Improve Ariane 5, Vega Boosters

Vega launch vehicle (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director of Space Transportation, Daniel Neuenschwander, signed five contracts with industry at the Paris Air and Space show in France this week.

“Five contracts, one goal: to consolidate space transportation services and capacities for the benefit of Europe’s competitiveness,” he commented.

Contracts signed with ELV SpA and Airbus Safran Launchers will improve launch performance and flexibility, and maintain the competitiveness of Europe’s current and future space transportation systems.

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Investigative Journalism Report Coming on Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic President George Whitesides, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, Richard Branson, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at the dedication of Spaceport America’s runway in October 2010. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Well, this ought to be interesting…

What NMPolitics.net is working on

By Heath Haussamen, NMPolitics.net
June 19, 2017

I’ve been working for months on an investigative project into the status of Spaceport America. The question of whether the spaceport is providing an economic benefit to the state is front-and-center, but I’m also exploring transparency and other issues. I’ve visited the spaceport, interviewed Virgin Galactic employees, dug deep into documents and researched what’s happening in other states that have spaceports. I’ve obtained information the public has never seen and am excited to publish this series. Look for it sometime in July.

NmPolitics.net

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SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite With Reused First Stage

Screenshot of Bulgaria 1 satellite launch. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX successfully launched the BulgariaSat 1 spacecraft on Friday using a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage. The stage landed on a drone ship off the coast of Florida. The launch occurred from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Falcon 9 first stage on drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s next launch is on Sunday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch 10 Iridium Next satellites at 4:25 p.m. EDT.

ESA Gives Go Ahead for Low-cost Prometheus LOX-Methane Rocket Engine

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has given Airbus Safran Launchers the go-ahead to start working on a full-scale prototype of an ultra-low cost engine demonstrator, Prometheus, using liquid oxygen–methane propellants.

The methane reusable engine precursor in the thrust class 1000 kN will be ground tested in 2020 for use on future versions of the European launcher family, after Ariane 6 and Vega-C. Next-generation launch vehicles require a factor 10 reduction in recurrent costs of propulsion systems compared to current cryogenic engines. New propellants, the systematic application of design-to-cost approach and innovative manufacturing technologies will also be applied.

The project can derive and provide significant synergies with other propulsion demonstration projects within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme, national agencies and industry.

SpaceX Plans Two Launches in Two Days

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has planned two Falcon 9 launches this weekend, one from each coast.

A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. The two-hour launch window opens at 2:10 p.m. EDT. The flight marks the second reuse of a first stage.

The second Falcon 9 flight is scheduled for Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The booster will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites.

SpaceX will webcast both flights at www.spacex.com.

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ISRO Launches Cartosat-2, 30 Secondary Payloads

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C38 successfully launched the 712 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites today (June 23, 2017) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty ninth consecutively successful mission of PSLV.

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