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DLR Chairman Woerner to Become Next ESA Director General

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Johann-Dietrich Wörner (Credit: DLR, CC-BY)

Johann-Dietrich Wörner (Credit: DLR, CC-BY)

PARIS (ESA/DLR PR) — Today, the Council of the European Space Agency announced the appointment of Johann-Dietrich Woerner as the next Director General of ESA, for a period of four years starting on 1 July 2015.

He will succeed Jean-Jacques Dordain, whose term of office ends on 30 June 2015.

Mr Woerner is currently Chairman of the Executive Board of DLR, the German Aerospace Center. Born in Kassel in 1954, Woerner has been Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since 1 March 2007.

He studied civil engineering at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1982, as part of his studies, he spent two years in Japan, investigating earthquake safety. Until 1990 Wörner worked for the consulting civil engineers König und Heunisch. In 1990 he returned to Darmstadt University, where he was appointed to a professorship in Civil Engineering and took over as Head of the Testing and Research Institute. Before being elected President of the Technische Universität Darmstadt in 1995, he held the position of Dean of the Civil Engineering Faculty.

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Falcon 9 Launch Delayed Until January

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SpaceX first stage recovery drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX first stage recovery drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has delayed the CRS 5 cargo flight to the International Space Station scheduled for Friday to no earlier than Jan. 6 with Jan. 7 as a backup date.

A SpaceX spokesman said a static fire of the engine did not go as long as planned. He cited the need to conduct a second static fire, the upcoming holidays, and lighting conditions at the International Space Station as reasons for the delay.

In addition to sending a Dragon cargo ship to the space station, the flight was to attempt to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a barge for eventual reuse.

According to SpaceflightNow.com, the flight had already been delayed from Oct. 3, Dec. 1, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16.

With this latest delay, SpaceX will finish 2014 with six launches, which is double its launch rate for 2013 but about half the number planned for this year.

UPDATE: Here’s the official NASA announcement on the delay:

NASA, SpaceX Update Launch of Fifth SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6.

The new launch date will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further issues that arose from a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year.

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CASIS to Launch Immune Research Experiment to ISS

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Video Caption: This video provides an overview of a CASIS/NASA/NIH investigation focused on immune suppression for aging adults by former astronaut Dr. Millie Hughes-Fulford. It will launch to the International Space Station on SpaceX-5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, no earlier than December 19, 2014.

ISRO Launches First GSLV Mark III Rocket

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ISRO has launched its first GSLV Mark III booster on a suborbital flight test, apparently successfully. However, details are rather sparse at this hour about how exactly how well things went. The only thing the on the ISRO website is:

GSLV Mk-III X successfully launches the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment – CARE on Dec 18, 2014

There are Twitter reports that CARE splashed down successfully.

More details as they become available.

NASA Ames to Launch Four Experiments to ISS Aboard Dragon

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SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will launch four life science experiments to the International Space Station aboard NASA’s next commercial cargo resupply flight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The research missions include validation of a new capability for model organism study in space, an infection process investigation in the unique conditions of space, the first step in a multi-part study to track microbes on the space station, and an examination of immune system changes that curiously happen in both elderly people and people exposed to spaceflight.

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Dick Rutan to Talk About Historic Voyager Flight on Saturday

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Voyager aircraft (Credit: NASA)

Voyager aircraft (Credit: NASA)

Aviator Dick Rutan will mark the 28th anniversary of his non-stop round-the-world flight with a talk on Saturday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The event begins at 11 a.m. in the board room of the Mojave airport administration building. Get there early; seats are limited.

Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew the Voyager aircraft on a 9-day flight around the world, landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Dec. 23, 1986. The airplane was designed and built by Dick Rutan’s brother, Burt.

Boeing Bids for Commercial Cargo II Contract

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Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)

SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation have competition for the next phase of NASA’s commercial cargo program:

Company officials said in a Dec. 9 interview here that they submitted a proposal earlier this month for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 competition, a follow-on to the existing CRS contracts held by Orbital Sciences Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to ferry cargo to and from the station.

The cargo version of Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft will be based on the crewed version the company is developing for NASA, said John Mulholland, Boeing commercial crew program manager. Boeing will remove spacecraft components not needed for crew missions, like its launch abort system and environmental controls, to free up room in the spacecraft for cargo.

The cargo version of CST-100 would, like the crewed version, launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. The cargo version will also be able to return cargo to Earth, landing in the western United States like the crewed version.

That similarity between the two CST-100 versions is intended to improve the spacecraft’s overall economics. “It gives us a chance to use the launch vehicle and capsule that are being integrated for crew and get more missions out of it to help with affordability,” said John Elbon, vice president and general manager for space exploration at Boeing.

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Waco City Council Approves SpaceX Incentives

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Merlin 1D test firing (Credit: SpaceX)

Merlin 1D test firing (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX will receive million in incentives to help defray the cost of the expansion of its engine test site in McGregor, Texas:

Waco City Council pledged its share of $3.3 million of city-county incentives Tuesday that will allow SpaceX to expand its rocket testing facility and bring two new businesses to the city.

SpaceX is in line for $3 million in incentives from the Waco- McLennan County Economic Development Corp. in exchange for adding 300 jobs and making $46.3 million in capital improvements to the McGregor facility. McLennan County would provide half the funding, and commissioners are set to vote on the package next week.

Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. said the expansion will create high-paying jobs that will benefit Waco residents, and he sees a bright future for the fast-growing rocket company here.

The expansion would more than double the full-time employment at the McGregor site, which is now 261.

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SpaceX to Attempt to Land Falcon 9 First Stage on Barge

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SpaceX first stage recovery drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX first stage recovery drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt the precision landing of a Falcon 9 first stage for the first time, on a custom-built ocean platform known as the autonomous spaceport drone ship. While SpaceX has already demonstrated two successful soft water landings, executing a precision landing on an unanchored ocean platform is significantly more challenging.

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NASA to Discuss Asteroid Redirect Mission Today

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In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2014 (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EST today during which agency officials will discuss and answer questions on the selection of an Asteroid Redirect Mission concept.

The mission is to retrieve an asteroid mass and redirect it into lunar orbit, where astronauts will explore it in the 2020s. The mission will test a number of new capabilities needed for future human deep space expeditions, including to Mars.

Participants for the media teleconference are:

  • Robert Lightfoot, NASA associate administrator
  • Michele Gates, program director, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission
  • Lindley Johnson, program executive, NASA’s Near Earth Object Program

Audio of the media teleconference will stream live on NASA’s website at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio 

Find more information about the Asteroid Redirect Mission at:

www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative