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Uwingu to Send Names to Mars on Friday

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BOULDER, Colorado, Nov. 24, 2014 (Uwingu PR) –
Uwingu will launch a radio transmission to Mars on Friday, November 28th, sending over 100,000 names, messages, and pictures from people on Earth. This is the first time messages from people on Earth have been transmitted to Mar by radio.

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Space Access Society Update #137

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Space Access Update #137
  11/24/14
Copyright 2014 by Space Access Society
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In this Issue:

         Maintaining An Even Strain

         Commercial Crew Followup

         Booster & Engine Developments

         Space Access ’15 Conference, April 2015

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Maintaining An Even Strain

Many times over the years, we’ve gotten feedback to the effect that “things are going so well for this new industry, don’t you think it’s time to declare victory and move on?”

Oddly enough, none of those times was during this last month. The spectacular loss of two different commercial space vehicles in quick succession now has some questioning the viability of the entire commercial space industry.

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Sierra Nevada Shuts Down Poway, Lays Off More Than 100

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Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sources report that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has shut down its rocket engine test facility in Poway, Calif., where the company has tested propulsion systems for the Dream Chaser space shuttle and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.

The company laid off more than 100 employees last week, including around 70 in Poway with the rest in Colorado, sources report.

Sierra Nevada lost out on two big contracts this year. In May, Virgin Galactic announced it was switching from SNC’s rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine developed by Scaled Composites to power SpaceShipTwo. The rubber hybrid had been tested down in Poway.

In September, SNC lost out on the next round of NASA Commercial Crew Program contracts when the space agency selected Boeing and SpaceX to develop vehicles to fly to the International Space Station. SNC’s Dream Chaser shuttle was not selected.

SNC has appealed the decision. The Government Accountability Office has until early January to make a decision on the appeal.

Busy End of the Year Launch Schedule Ahead

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NASA's Orion spacecraft passes into Space Launch Complex-37 SLC-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to complete its move from the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (Credit:  NASA/Kim Shiflett)

NASA’s Orion spacecraft passes into Space Launch Complex-37 SLC-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to complete its move from the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit:
NASA/Kim Shiflett)

As we enter the last five weeks of 2014, the world’s launch providers will be quite busy, with at least 14 more launches scheduled. In addition to the usual roster of communications and military satellites, there are a number of interesting missions on the books.

Nov. 30. Hayabusa 2: A Japanese H2A rocket will boost the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft on a six-year round trip mission to study Asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3. The objective is return a soil sample to Earth as its Hayabusa predecessor did. Tanegashima Space Center

Dec. 4. NASA Orion: An ULA Delta IV Heavy booster will launch NASA’s first Orion spacecraft on a test mission. The high apogee flight will test Orion’s systems and heat shield. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Dec. 15. SpaceX CRS-5:  SpaceX will send a Dragon freighter on the company’s fifth commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. The company will attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster for reuse by landing it on a barge. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Dec. 25. Angara 5: What’s Christmas Day without a rocket launch? Russia will conduct its first test of its new Angara 5 heavy-lift booster, which will send a dummy payload into orbit. The launch follows the suborbital flight of the smaller Angara 1.22, which tested the core stage for this new family of boosters. Plesetsk Cosmodrome

December. GSLV Mk.3: India will conduct the first test flight of its new medium-lift GSLV Mk. 3 launch vehicle. This will be a suborbital launch. Satish Dhawan Space Centre

December. CBERS-4: China will attempt to get a joint Earth observation program with Brazil back on track with the launch of CBERS-4 satellite. The identical CBERS-3 spacecraft was lost in a launch accident last December. Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre

The table below shows flights scheduled for the rest of the year. Schedule subject to change without notice. Source: Spaceflight Now

Date Launch Vehicle Payload Launch Site Nation
Nov. 27 Proton ASTRA 2G Baikonur Russia
Nov. 30 H-2A Hayabusa-2 Tanegashima Japan
Dec. 1 Soyuz Glonass K Plesetsk Russia
Dec. 4 Ariane 5 DirecTV & GSAT 16 Kourou Europe
Dec. 4 Delta IV Heavy Orion EFT-1 CCAFS USA
Dec. 10 Soyuz Resurs P2 Baikonur Russia
Dec. 11 Atlas V NROL-35 Vandenberg USA
Dec. 12 Proton Yamal 401 Baikonur Russia
Dec. 16 Falcon 9 CRS 5 CCAFS USA
Dec. 18 Soyuz O3b F3 Kourou Russia
Dec. 25 Angara 5 Dummy payload Plesetsk Russia
December Long March 4B CBERS-4 Taiyuan China
December GSLV Mk.3 Suborbital Test Flight Satish Dhawan India
December PSLV IRNSS 1D Satish Dhawan India

Branson Backs Virgin Galactic Boss George Whitesides

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Geroge Whitesides addresses the crowd during the dedication of Spaceport America's runway.

Geroge Whitesides addresses the crowd during the dedication of Spaceport America’s runway.

In an opinion piece, Richard Branson heaps great praise upon the leadership of Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. [Richard Branson | Solidarity in a time of crisis]

We are fortunate at Galactic to have an extraordinary leader in chief executive officer George Whitesides. His calm, compassion and determination should be a model for any aspiring chief executive; Virgin Galactic’s unwavering focus and culture of teamwork, which George has helped to foster, are the foundations of any strong business.

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Recovery Plans Emerge as Assessment of Wallops Island Pad Damage Continues

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An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

Officials are estimating that it could cost $13 million to $20 million to repair the launch pad at Wallops Island following last month’s explosion of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket, according to media reports. It’s not clear who will cover what repairs at the Virginia-owned launch facility.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Gov. Terry McAuliffe is seeking federal funds to cover some of the repairs. Virginia’s two Democratic Senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, released a statement last week saying they would work to identify federal monies that could help with the recovery.

The Democratic governor is also considering renegotiating its agreements with Orbital Sciences Corporation to ensure a more equitable cost sharing arrangement between the state, Orbital and NASA in the event of future accidents at the pad.

Orbital Sciences was launching a Cygnus freighter to the International Space Station under contract with NASA when the Antares failed shortly after liftoff. Investigators say they believe a turbo pump failure on one of the two first stage engines is the most likely cause of the accident.

 

NASA Announces New Opportunities for Public Participation in Asteroid Grand Challenge

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NASA LOGOWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Ten new projects are providing opportunities for the public to participate in NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, which accelerates the agency’s asteroid initiative work through innovative partnerships and collaborations.

The 10 new projects developed by SpaceGAMBIT were done in partnership with Maui Makers – a group that provides the space and tools to make new things on the island of Maui in Hawaii.

“SpaceGAMBIT and their partners have created an incredibly wide variety of projects that speak to the strong interest in asteroids and passion of the public to participate in space-related activities,” said Jason Kessler, program executive for the Asteroid Grand Challenge. “These projects will inspire NASA audiences and the broader community to learn and get involved.”

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Elon Musk Released Details, Pictures of Upcoming Barge Landing Attempt

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Rutan: Pilot Error Most Likely Cause of SpaceShipTwo Crash

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Sir Richard Branson hugs designer Burt Rutan as they are surrounded by employee's of Virgin Galactic, The SpaceShip Company and Scaled Composites watch as Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip2 streaks across the sky under rocket power, its first ever since the program began in 2005. Burt's wife Tonya Rutan is at right taking their photo. The spacecraft was dropped from its "mothership", WhiteKnightTwo over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Mark Greenberg)

Sir Richard Branson hugs designer Burt Rutan as they are surrounded by employee’s of Virgin Galactic, The SpaceShip Company and Scaled Composites watch as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip2 streaks across the sky under rocket power, its first ever since the program began in 2005. Burt’s wife Tonya Rutan is at right taking their photo. The spacecraft was dropped from its “mothership”, WhiteKnightTwo over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Mark Greenberg)

The Tribune talks to Burt Rutan about the fatal crash of SpaceShipTwo:

Investigators reportedly believe that the test pilot who died in the crash, 39-year-old Mike Alsbury, may have committed an error by unlocking a lever on the craft’s “feathering system” too early. The system is designed to create drag as the space ship descends. Pilot Peter Siebold, 43, parachuted down and suffered injuries.

“We had a fatal accident with a manned spaceship where there was nothing wrong with the spaceship,” Rutan said. “I hope it doesn’t put a damper on things. … This is a blossoming industry.”Rutan said the only thing that makes sense to him about the accident is that during an anxious period, Alsbury may have distractedly performed the task.

“During moments of stress combined with fear, pilots can have a kind of unconscious muscle memory,” Rutan said. “They can do tasks before they’re supposed to. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.”

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Virgin Galactic Produces New Website, Videos

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WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic’s media and PR people have been busy since the accident.