News

Shelton Calls for Innovation, Cost Savings Amid Tight Budgets

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Gen. William Shelton

Gen. William Shelton

by John Parker
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla., April 21, 2014 — Innovation and cost-saving ideas will help ensure the Air Force keeps its warfighting readiness despite significant, ongoing budget cuts, the commander of Air Force Space Command recently told a Tinker audience.

General William L. Shelton spoke April 15 in Bldg. 4029 to about 90 members of the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group.

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Orbital Narrows Choices for Antares Engine Provider

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Antares lifts off from Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

Antares lifts off from Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

Space News has an update on Orbital Sciences’ search for a new engine for its Antares launch vehicle:

The company also said it is evaluating three bids — two Russian, one U.S. — to produce main-stage engines for Orbital’s Antares rocket. The engines being offered include the Russian-built, U.S.-modified engine currently used for Antares.

In a conference call with investors, Orbital Chief Executive David W. Thompson said his company has a sufficient supply of the current Russian-built engines for three more years of Antares operations. Orbital has three Antares first-stage structures, built by a Ukrainian manufacturer, at an Orbital facility, with two more to be shipped soon.

Dulles, Va.-based Orbital has been hunting for an alternative engine supplier in part because the current Russian manufacturer, NK Engines,would need to restart long-ceased production activities to maintain a supply for Antares beyond the next few years. The engines are imported to the United States by Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, Calif., refurbished and sold to Orbital as the AJ26.

Thompson said it would take another two or three months to decide on a winning bidder, but that both the alternatives to the current supplier “may be preferable to continuing with our current engines.”

Once the decision is made, he said, Orbital will conclude a block purchase of engines to cover Antares launches between 2017 and 2020. Thompson said he has made clear to all three bidders that they will have to absorb any nonrecurring engineering costs associated with filling the order and then recover those costs over time through engine orders.

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Space Conferences, Engine Claims and Silly Putty

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SpaceShipTwo in powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo in powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Over the years, I’ve heard many speakers at various space conferences and events say all sorts of things that I felt…oh, comment on dit?…stretched the truth like Silly Putty. Yes, that’s a polite way to put it.

After a while, I’ve become quite numb to it all — the hype, promises, publicity stunts, optimistic schedules that get blown away like fallen leaves on a windy Mojave day. By this point, most of it just passes over me without meriting so much as a mention.

But, sometimes I hear something that stretches the rhetorical Silly Putty beyond the breaking point. I had just such an experience three weeks ago at the Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

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Russia Briefs: Vostochny, Angara, Super-Heavy & Asteroid Defense

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Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko tours Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko tours Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Some brief items on the Russian space program:

Vostochny Construction Accelerated: Work on Russia’s new Vostochny spaceport will now be done on a 24-hour basis with the addition of more workers. “The number of workers will be increased manifold at the spaceport regardless natural and weather conditions,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. The goal is to conduct the first rocket launch from Vostochny in 2015 and the first human mission in 2018. (ITAR-TASS: http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/728230)

Angara Launch Scheduled: After 19 years in development, the first launch of Russia’s new Angara 1.2 rocket will take place between June 25 and 30 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.  Angara is a family of modular launch vehicles designed to lift light to heavy payloads and to replace the Proton, Zenit, Rockot and Dnepr boosters. (ITAR-TASS: http://en.itar-tass.com/non-political/728637)

Russia Nears Decision on Super-Heavy Booster. Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko says the agency is nearing a decision on a design for a new super-heavy launch vehicle. The initial version of the launch vehicle would launch 80 metric tons to low-Earth orbit (LEO) with future variants lofting 160 tons or more to LEO. (ITAR-TASS: http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/717993)

Rogozin Wants Asteroid Defense. During a visit to Chelyabinsk, Deputy Prime Minster Dmitry Rogozin called for Russia’s best minds to develop anti-asteroid technologies to protect Earth. “This is a dangerous phenomenon. Those who think that we know everything about the far reaches of deep space and that no catastrophe will happen are seriously wrong,” Rogozin said. In February 2013, a meteorite exploded over Chelyabinsk, causing extensive damage and injuries. (ITAR-TASS: http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/727565)

Commercial Crew’s Kathy Lueders in Her Own Words

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Video Caption: NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation’s space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies.

Virgin Galactic to Conduct Google Hangout from Mojave on Friday

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A majority of Virgin Galactic's future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. AT side is the WhiteKnight2 mated with SpaceShip2. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

A majority of Virgin Galactic’s future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. AT side is the WhiteKnight2 mated with SpaceShip2. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Google Science Fair
Galactic Hangout Virtual Field Trip
Friday, April 25, 10 AM PT/1 PM ET/1800 GMT

Join a “Galactic Hangout” with four members of the Virgin Galactic team: “What’s it like to work in a spaceship factory?”

What would it be like to work in the world’s first commercial spaceship factory? What kinds of jobs do people actually do there? What are their backgrounds, and how do they get hired?

You’ll see that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work in commercial space – although rocket scientists are always welcome!

We will be joined by space design guru Adam Wells, spaceship builder Joe Brennan, astronaut relations supremo Lauren De Niro Pipher – oh, and rocket scientist, Marissa Good! They’ll all be live from Virgin Galactic’s factory in Mojave, California. You’ll find out what it takes to build the Earth’s first spaceline –  scheduled to begin taking people up to space by the end of this year.

Sign up to attend, post your questions using the Q&A app, then come hear your questions answered live!

This session will be produced in collaboration with Google Connected Classrooms. If you’re an educator with a High School classroom who wants to actually join the Hangout, sign up on the Connected Classrooms form at http://goo.gl/z9gHfV

NASA Selects Lueders as Commercial Crew Program Manager

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Kathryn Lueders

Kathryn Lueders

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation’s space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies.

“This is a particularly critical time for NASA’s human spaceflight endeavors as the Commercial Crew Program enters into contract implementation,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kathy’s experience and leadership skills developed during the ISS commercial resupply contract activity will be critical to safely and effectively leading commercial crew transportation activities for NASA.”

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This Week on The Space Show

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

Monday, Tuesday and Friday: NO SHOWS TODAY DUE TO MEDICAL LEAVE OF ABSENCE. I suggest listening to an archived oldie of your choice and share your perspective on the subject with us during our special Open Lines program on Sunday, April 27. For details, see the Sunday, April 27 program description.

Sunday, April 27, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). A special OPEN LINES program is planned for today. During the week, listen to golden oldies programs of your choice and see if you can compare what we were doing in space at the time of the oldie show to today. Call our OL show and tell us what archived program(s) you listened to and share your perspectives with us.

In addition, Al Jazeera America ran a 30 minute quasi documentary on space development and exploration Easter weekend. They may archive the video from their series Faultline. Many well known space experts and advocated were interviewed. If you see it, please call and give us your take on program. I will hold my comments until air time. Check the website newsletter www.thespaceshow.com/newsletterfinal.htm Sunday entry for more details on this program and confirmation that I will be able to do it as planned. I will post a status report about this program on Friday, April 25.

CASIS Experiments Delivered to International Space Station

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The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., April 21, 2014 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is proud to announce its research payloads berthed with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, April 20. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Dragon capsule successfully berthed with the ISS, marking the completion of its launch to resupply the ISS with cargo and research. CASIS is tasked with managing and promoting research onboard the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

Research onboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule included a range of experiments from life sciences. This is the second mission that has been responsible for launching CASIS-sponsored investigations to the ISS. In January, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus capsule sent the first CASIS-sponsored investigations to the ISS. Below is an overview of the major payloads now onboard the ISS sponsored by CASIS:

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XCOR, John Corbett Raise Nearly Quarter Million at Celebrity Fight Night

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Actor and musician John Corbett and XCOR Chief Test Pilot Richard Searfoss climb aboard the Lynx replica at Celebrity Fight Night XX on Saturday, April 12th in Phoenix, Ariz. (Credit: XCOR)

Actor and musician John Corbett and XCOR Chief Test Pilot Richard Searfoss climb aboard the Lynx replica at Celebrity Fight Night XX on Saturday, April 12th in Phoenix, Ariz. (Credit: XCOR)

MOJAVE, Calif. and PHOENIX, Ariz. (XCOR PR)  — Actor John Corbett is better known for his roles in movies and popular TV shows such as Northern Exposure, Sex in The City and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but last Saturday, he was shooting for the stars to help knock out Parkinson’s disease by auctioning off a space flight with XCOR Aerospace to benefit Mohammed Ali’s Parkinson’s Research Center.

At the 20th Anniversary of Celebrity Fight Night’s gala fundraiser, Mr. Corbett joined other entertainment industry luminaries such as Robert DeNiro, Billy Crystal, Michael Bublé, Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers to raise $8+ Million for Mohammed Ali’s Parkinson’s Research Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute, Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona and other deserving charities.

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