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NASA Flight Opportunities Selects Experiments for Flights

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A Stanford University technology, Caging System for Drag-free Satellites for use in autonomous precision orbit determination, was flown on Zero-G's parabolic aircraft.(Credits: NASA Photo/Lauren Harnet)

A Stanford University technology, Caging System for Drag-free Satellites for use in autonomous precision orbit determination, was flown on Zero-G’s parabolic aircraft.(Credits: NASA Photo/Lauren Harnet)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected seven space technology payloads for flights on commercial, parabolic or suborbital launch vehicles to demonstrate new space technologies. These flights provide a valuable platform to mature cutting-edge technologies, validating feasibility and reducing technical risks and costs before infusion into multiple future space missions.

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Virgin Galactic Astro Relations Guy Leaves for Uber

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Dave_Clark_Uber
Looks as if long-time Virgin Galactic Astronaut Relations guy Dave Clark has left the company for Uber.

CubeSat Developers Conference Coverage

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CubeSat

CubeSat

I’m at the CubeSat Developers Conference in San Luis Obispo, Calif., this week. The conference runs through Friday.

I’m Tweeting the conference live at www.twitter.com/spacecom. Links to the agenda and the live webcast are here.

SpaceX Hit With Another Class Action Labor Suit

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Marlin 1D engines undergoing checks. (Credit: SpaceX)

Marlin 1D engines undergoing checks. (Credit: SpaceX)

Another proposed class action labor suit against SpaceX over alleged wage and working violations:

A former clerical employee hit Space Exploration Technologies Corp. with a proposed class action in California court on Monday, accusing the company of shorting him overtime and minimum wage pay as well as proper break periods.

Plaintiff Sebring Whitaker alleged in his complaint that SpaceX didn’t adequately pay him and similar nonexempt employees for normal and overtime work and didn’t adequately provide required meal and rest breaks. Whitaker said that he believes there are at least 100 current and former nonexempt employees…

There were several lawsuits filed after a round of mass lay-offs that were done last summer.

Read more here.

In Lieu of an Actual Working Space Plane….

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Eleven years after SpaceShipOne makes history, Burt Rutan will finally produce a space plane you can actually fly (in a manner of speaking). If they can raise nearly a quarter million dollars.

This is just so sad. On just about every level….

News Briefs: CRS2 Delayed, Accident Updates, Blue Origin & Dream Chaser Flights

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SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Several agencies gave presentations yesterday before the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. Jeff Foust of SpaceNews reported on the following updates:

  • NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier said the agency has delayed a decision on its Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contracts from June to September to allow more time to evaluate bids. Known bidders include SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada Corporation.
  • Gerstenmaier said Sierra Nevada’s final funded commercial crew milestone — a second drop test of the Dream Chaser shuttle — is now scheduled for December.
  • FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) George Nield reported that Blue Origin will be flying its suborbital New Shepard spacecraft within weeks.
  • Nield said the NTSB will be providing FAA AST with a report on the SpaceShipTwo accident within a month or two. He expects a final report to be published sometime in the summer.
  • Nield said he expects an accident report from Orbital ATK on last October’s Antares failure within the next several weeks.

SpaceX Pad Abort Test Set for NET May 5

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SpaceX Dragon vehicle undergoes preparation for abort test. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon vehicle undergoes preparation for abort test. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Media accreditation is open for a pad abort test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft next month. The test will simulate an emergency abort from a test stand on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Northrop Grumman, Caltech Sign Space Solar Power Agreement

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Northrop_Grumman_logoPASADENA, Calif., April 20, 2015 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) has signed a sponsored research agreement with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). Under the terms of the agreement, Northrop Grumman will provide up to $17.5 million to the initiative over three years.

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Honeybee Robotics Selected for SBIR & STTR Phase II Awards

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honeybee_roboticsNASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards and a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award to continue development of new technologies to explore and sample planets, asteroids and comets.

The SBIR Phase II awards are focused on a comet sampler system and a high-temperature (HT) Venus drill and sample delivery system. The STTR Phase II project is for developing asteroid prospecting technologies.

“Samples from comets, asteroids and small moons hold great scientific interest,” according to the comet sampler project summary. “Near term missions that would benefit this technology include NF4 Comet Surface Sample Return and Cryogenic Comet Nucleus Sample Return (CCSNR) Mission. The sampler can also be used on NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission.

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Scientists Propose Space Laser to Zap Orbital Debris

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Space debris in orbit around Earth. (Credit: NASA)

Space debris in orbit around Earth. (Credit: NASA)

TOKYO (RIKEN PR) — An international team of scientists have put forward a blueprint for a purely space-based system to solve the growing problem of space debris. The proposal, published in Acta Astronautica, combines a super-wide field-of-view telescope, developed by RIKEN’s EUSO team, which will be used to detect objects, and a recently developed high-efficiency laser system, the CAN laser that was presented in Nature Photonics in 2013, that will be used to track space debris and remove it from orbit.

Space debris, which is continuously accumulating as a result of human space activities, consists of artificial objects orbiting the earth. The number of objects nearly doubled from 2000 to 2014 and they have become a major obstacle to space development. The total mass of space debris is calculated to be about 3,000 tons. It consists of derelict satellites, rocket bodies and parts, and small fragments produced by collisions between debris.

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