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China Launches Lunar Sample Return Precursor Mission

4M payload (Credit: LuxSpace)

4M payload (Credit: LuxSpace)

China has launched a spacecraft to the moon designed to pave the way for a future lunar sample return mission.

The spacecraft, launched today aboard a Long March 3C rocket, will circle the moon and then re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere in a test of its navigation system and heat shield. It is a precursor for the Chang’e-5 sample return mission set to launch around 2017.

The Long March 3C upper stage, which will also loop around the moon, is carrying LuxSpace’s M4 payload. The payload includes an amateur radio beacon and a radiation sensor.

“This is the first ever privately funded mission to the moon and it happens 45 years after the first landing on the moon,” saide Jochen Harms, managing director of LuxSpace.

M4 stands for Manfred Memorial Moon Mission. The mission honors Manfred Fuchs, the founder of  LuxSpace’s parent company OHB, who died 0n April 26, 2014.

SpaceX Builds Enough Merlin 1D Engines for 10 Falcon 9 Flights

The 100th Merlin 1D engine to come off the assembly line. (Credit: SpaceX)

The 100th Merlin 1D engine to come off the assembly line. (Credit: SpaceX)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) – Less than two years after SpaceX began producing the Merlin 1D engines that power the Falcon 9 rocket, the 100th Merlin 1D engine is complete. SpaceX is currently the largest private producer of rocket engines in the world.

Continue reading ‘SpaceX Builds Enough Merlin 1D Engines for 10 Falcon 9 Flights’

Peter Thiel: Progress Ended After Apollo 11 Landed and the Hippies Took Over


Uber Silicon Valley libertarian VC Peter Thiel and uber nutcase Glenn Beck discuss how to fight the growing influence of uber commie Karl Marx on American society.


Apparently Marx more popular than Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson. Not George.

Thiel also think that progress stopped after Apollo 11 landed on the moon and the hippies took over at Woodstock the following month.

No, I’m not kidding. You can’t make stuff like this up.

Beck then complains that we’re all maxed out on virtual things. To Peter Thiel. The guy who helped make Facebook possible.

And Thiel agrees. Sort of.  Except for that whole Facebook thing.

Watch the whole thing.

MISHAAL Aerospace Receives Letter of Intent for Launch


MISHAAL_AerospaceMIAMI (MISHAAL Aerospace PR) – MISHAAL Aerospace Corporation, the Miami-based launch vehicle provider for small satellites, is pleased to announce that SpaceQuest Ltd., a Virginia based advanced satellite developer, signed a Letter of Intent for launch of their satellites once MISHAAL Aerospace’s  M-OV, Orbital Vehicle, is ready.

The Letter of Intent highlights SpaceQuest’s satellites launch requirements and the minimum payload intended for launch. This letter of Intent also paves the way to enter into negotiations once the M-OV is ready for commercialization and launch.

Continue reading ‘MISHAAL Aerospace Receives Letter of Intent for Launch’

Ukraine Dismisses Chairman of Space Agency as President Seeks to Revive Industry

Yuri Alexeev bids farewell to his staff. (Credit: State Space Agency of Ukraine)

Yuri Alexeev bids farewell to his staff. (Credit: State Space Agency of Ukraine)

KIEV, Ukraine, Oct. 22, 2014 (HCA PRs) – Yuri Alexeev, who headed the National Space Agency of Ukraine from 2005-2009 and the State Space Agency of Ukraine from 2010-2014, bid a warm goodbye to the central office of the space agency.

According to the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated 16 October 2014 №972-p, YS Alekseev was dismissed as Chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine.

Continue reading ‘Ukraine Dismisses Chairman of Space Agency as President Seeks to Revive Industry’

NASA Releases NextSTEP Broad Agency Announcement


NextStep_logoWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In an effort to stimulate deep space capability development across the aerospace industry, NASA plans to release the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement.

» View the synopsis here

The BAA will seek proposals for concept studies and technology development projects in three key areas: advanced propulsion, habitation, and small satellites.

NASA has increasingly embraced public-private partnerships to expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunities in space. The next step for human spaceflight is the development of deep space exploration capabilities to support more extensive missions in the proving ground — around and beyond cis-lunar space.

An important part of NASA’s strategy is to stimulate the commercial space industry while leveraging those same commercial capabilities through future contracts and public-private partnerships to deliver mission capabilities.

The BAA will be open to non-Government U.S. institutions (companies, universities, nonprofit organizations) and foreign institutions.

Anderson Outlines Plans for Spaceport America


Highlights of remarks byi New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces.

New Mexico Legislators Look into Spaceport America Finances

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

New Mexico legislators spent Monday down in Las Cruces reviewing the finances of Space America. Members of the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee discovered that more had stayed the same than had changed in recent months.

Here’s a summary of the key points:

  • Virgin Galactic will likely not begin flying paying passengers for at least another 8 months. It’s not really clear how realistic that goal is; much depends on how upcoming test flights using a brand new motor go in Mojave.
  • Local taxpayers are partially on the hook for helping to keep the $218.5 million, taxpayer-funded spaceport operational until Virgin Galactic begins commercial flights. Currently, the $218.5 million taxpayer-funded spaceport is being used to launch sounding rockets and shoot commercials for Land Rover.
  • Operations are being partially funded from excess tax revenues levied in Dona Ana and Sierra counties that could be otherwise spent paying off spaceport bonds or making infrastructure improvements such as paving a southern road to the spaceport.
  • The $14.5 million that authorities have put aside to pave the road isn’t remotely enough to do the do a full paving job.
  • Construction on the 24-mile road – which will provide more direct access from Las Cruces – is likely to begin next summer after the Bureau of Land Management completes its review of the project.
  • SpaceX is about five months from being able to conduct flight tests of its reusable Falcon 9 vehicle at the spaceport.
  • A new, unidentified tenant is expected to begin flights of whatever it flies sometime during fiscal year 2016.

Learn more below:

Judge Knocks Down SNC’s Motion for Commercial Crew Work Stoppage

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

A Federal Court of Claims judge has rejected a motion by the Sierra Nevada Corporation to re-impose a stop-work order on NASA’s commercial crew program, according to press reports. It is not immediately clear why Judge Marian Blank Horn rejected the motion.

NASA has initially ordered Boeing and SpaceX to stop work on commercial crew contracts the agency awarded the two companies while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed an appeal by Sierra Nevada, which did not receive an award.

However, NASA later lifted the order, saying any delay would imperil efforts to keep the commercial crew program on schedule and meet its commitments for operating the International Space Station. Sierra Nevada subsequently appealed that decision.

The GAO has until Jan. 5 to rule on Sierra Nevada’s appeal of the commercial crew awards.

Virgin Galactic Now Has More Land Rovers Than Spaceships

First Discovery Sport rolls off the assembly line. (Cedit: Land Rover)

First Discovery Sport rolls off the assembly line. (Cedit: Land Rover)

Virgin Galactic has received the first production vehicle of Land Rover’s Discovery Sport vehicle after it rolled off the assembly line in Halewood, England last week. The vehicle was sent to Virgin Galactic headquarters in London, Land Rover announced.

This brings to at least six the number of Land Rover vehicles Virgin Galactic has received under a partnership and promotional deal between the two companies that was announced earlier this year. Five Land Rovers have been seen at Virgin Galactic’s production and test center in Mojave, Calif.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Now Has More Land Rovers Than Spaceships’