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And Then There Were Six: UK Narrows Spaceport Field

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Short list of UK spaceport candidates (Credit: CAA)

Short list of UK spaceport candidates (Credit: CAA)

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) – Plans for Britain to be home of Europe’s first spaceport moved a step closer today, 3 March 2015.

Publishing the outcome of a 3 month consultation with a range of interested parties, the government confirmed widespread support for its plans. This paves the way towards making commercial spaceflight operations in the UK a reality.

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Bigelow Ready to Ship BEAM to Cape for Launch

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The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have scheduled a media availability next Thursday to mark the completion of all major milestones on the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

Reporters will have the opportunity to see and photograph the BEAM before it’s shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch to the International Space Station later this year. Robert Bigelow, president and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, and William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, will conduct a joint question and answer session with media.

The demonstration of expandable space habitat technology supports NASA’s long-term exploration goals on its journey to Mars, for which the agency will need to develop a deep space habitat for human missions beyond Earth orbit.

The BEAM is scheduled to launch in the second half of this year aboard the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the station and be installed on the aft port of the station’s Tranquility node.

For more information about Bigelow Aerospace, visit:

http://www.bigelowaerospace.com

For more information about the BEAM, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/news/beam_feature.html

NASA IG Sees Problems Ahead for SLS, Orion Programs

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Space Launch System in flight. (Credit: NASA)

Space Launch System in flight. (Credit: NASA)

The Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew vehicle programs are under short-term and long-term budget pressures that could cause significant schedule delays and limit NASA’s ability to conduct human deep-space exploration until the late 2030’s, the space agency’s watchdog said.

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Number of Billionaires Investing in Space Projects Grows

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Forbes has published its annual list of the planet’s billionaires. A small but growing number of them are either directly supporting major space projects or doing so through the companies that they run.

FORBES RANK NAME AGE
2015 NET WORTH (BILLIONS)
SOURCE(S) OF WEALTH
SPACE INVESTMENT(S)
 15 Jeff Bezos 51  $34.8 Amazon.com Blue Origin
16 Mark Zuckerberg 30
 $33.4 Facebook Global satellite network
19 Larry Page 41 $29.7  Google SpaceX, Planetary Resources, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
20 Sergey Brin  41  $29.2 Google SpaceX, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
43 Charles Ergen 62 $19.8 DISH Network DISH Network
51 Paul Allen 62  $17.5  Microsoft, investments Stratolaunch Systems, SETI, Mojave Aerospace Ventures (SpaceShipOne)
100 Elon Musk 43 $12 PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCity SpaceX
137 Eric Schmidt 59 $9.1 Google SpaceX, Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Ventures, Skybox
330 Richard Branson
64 $4.8 Virgin Group Virgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, OneWeb
1006 Kavitark Ram Shriram 58 $1.9 Google, venture capital Planetary Resources
1105 H. Ross Perot, Jr. 56 $1.8  Computer services, real estate Planetary Resources
1324 Charles Simonyi  67 $1.4 Microsoft Planetary Resources
1415 Peter Sperling 55 $1.3 University of Phoenix Ecliptic Enterprises

I’ve added Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to the list this year. His company is reportedly working on a global broadband network that would involve satellites, although details of the plan have not been made public.

I’ve left off Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberte, who came in at number 1006 with a net worth of $1.9 billion. Although he once took a trip to the International Space Station, he is not known to be funding any major space projects at the moment.

Update: I’ve added Charles Ergen and Peter Sperling to the list. Big shout out to Rex Ridenoure over at Ecliptic Enterprises.

Mikulski Decides 40 Years in Congress is Enough

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Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced on Monday that she would not be seeking a sixth term next year, bringing a 40-year Congressional career to an end and depriving NASA of one of its most powerful supporters.

Mikulski, 78, said she would rather spend the next two years working on behalf of her constituents rather than raising money and running for re-election. She has served in the Senate since 1987 following a 10-year stint representing Maryland’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mikulski is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) subcommittee, which oversees NASA’s budget. She headed the Appropriations Committee from December 2012 until January 2015.

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Space Dev Alliance Proposes National Cheap Access to Space Prize

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Earth_from_Orbit

The newly established Alliance for Space Development (ASD) wants to introduce a bill in Congress offering $3.5 billion in prize money for companies capable of flying fully reusable human spacecraft into orbit.

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Rocket Lab Closes Series B Funding Round, Receives Lockheed Martin Investment

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Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LOS ANGELES, March 2, 2015 (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab announced today that it has completed a Series B financing round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) with full participation from existing investors Khosla Ventures and K1W1 investment fund. In addition, Lockheed Martin will make a strategic investment in Rocket Lab to support the exploration of future aerospace technologies.

The company will use the funding to complete the Electron launch system and plans to begin operations as a commercial launch provider as early as 2016.

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This Week on The Space Show

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

1. Monday, March 2, 2015: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST; 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back Dr. James Dewar on nuclear propulsion. This program is co-hosted with Dr. John Jurist.

2. Tuesday, March 3,, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back Anatoly Zak for updates with the Russian space program.

3. Friday, March 6,, 2015; 9:30 -11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30-1 PM CST): No show today. ..

4. Sunday, 8, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): OPEN LINES. All space, STEM, and first time callers are welcome to call in. If you want to be a guest on The Space Show, call us.

OneWeb Partners With Honeywell on High-Speed Satellite Services

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honeywell_logoPHOENIX, March 2, 2015 (Honeywell PR) — Honeywell Aerospace (NYSE: HON) and OneWeb Ltd. have signed a memorandum of understanding under which Honeywell will provide aircraft equipment and airtime services to bring the benefits of OneWeb’s planned satellite constellation to business, commercial and military aircraft. OneWeb is building a constellation of more than 600 satellites, which will provide approximately 10 terabits per second of high-speed Internet access to billions of people around the world, even in the most remote areas.

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Boeing Receives Signals From First All-Electric Satellites

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Eutelsat 115 West B satellite (Credit: Eutelsat)

Eutelsat 115 West B satellite (Credit: Eutelsat)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Mar. 2, 2015 (Boeing PR) – Two Boeing [NYSE: BA] 702SP (small platform) satellites, the first all-electric propulsion satellites to launch, have sent initial signals from space, marking the first step toward ABS, based in Bermuda, and Eutelsat, based in Paris, being able to provide enhanced communication services to their customers. What’s more, the satellites were launched as a conjoined stack on a single SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, demonstrating a patented Boeing technology that promises to noticeably reduce launch costs.

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