SpaceX Reschedules Falcon 9 Launch

Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX scrubbed the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Wednesday due to excessive high altitude winds. It has been rescheduled for Thursday at 6:17 a.m. PST (9:17 a.m. EST/1417 GMT).

The primary payload is Hisdesat’s Paz satellite, which will provide radar imaging as well as ship tracking and weather data. The spacecraft was built by Airbus Defence and Space.

Elon Musk’s company will also launch two of its own satellites, Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, that will demonstration technologies needed to provide global broadband services. The company plans to orbit 12,000 in two separate constellations for its Starlink broadband service.

 

Fast Company Selects Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space


Fast Company has released its annual list of the most innovative companies for 2018. The 10 top innovators in the space industry are shown above.

I’m a bit surprised by Stratolaunch landing at no. 10. The aircraft is impressive; I’ve seen it in person outside, and it’s positively Spruce Goosian in its size and ambition. And I’ve been on tarmacs walking around a 747 and an A380, which are also very large airplanes.

That being said, the reality is that the only rocket it available to launch is a Pegasus, whose primary launch aircraft is Orbital ATK’s 44-year old L-1011 that’s parked just down the flight line from the Stratolaunch hangar. They’re working on developing a larger booster for the giant aircraft, so maybe Stratolaunch will be as innovative as Fast Company believes it is at some point. Never say never.

It just seems that Burt Rutan got focused on building the coolest flying vehicle he could while the whole issue of the rocket was not as well thought through. A similar thing happened with SpaceShipTwo, contributing to years of delay.

The other thing is I heard last fall is the Stratolaunch aircraft might not fly until sometime well into next year. So, it could be a while before we see how well that thing actually performs in flight.

Planetary Resources Hits Bump in the Road

Arkyd-6 spacecraft (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Alan Boyle at GeekWire reports that asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has been forced to make some cutbacks.

A spokeswoman for Planetary Resources, Stacey Tearne, told GeekWire that financial challenges have forced the company to focus on leveraging the Arkyd-6 mission for near-term revenue — apparently by selling imagery and data.

“Planetary Resources missed a fundraising milestone,” Tearne explained in an email. “The company remains committed to utilizing the resources from space to further explore space, but is focusing on near-term revenue streams by maximizing the opportunity of having a spacecraft in orbit.”

Tearne said no further information was available, and did not address questions about employment cutbacks. However, reports from other sources in the space community suggest there have been notable job reductions. For what it’s worth, Planetary Resources had more than 70 employees at last report.

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Pence Names Candidates for National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group

Mike Pence

WASHINGTON (White House PR) — Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the National Space Council, today announced the candidates selected to serve on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Pending official appointment by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the selected members of the Users Advisory Group will serve to fulfill President Trump’s mandate to “foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange” across our nation’s space enterprise.

The announcement as made on the eve of the second meeting of the National Space Council. “Moon, Mars, and World Beyond: Winning the next Frontier” includes testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States’ space enterprise.

Selection to the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group:

  • Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut
  • Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
  • Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
  • Dean Cheng, Scholar at the Heritage Foundation
  • Eileen Collins, 4-time Shuttle astronaut, first female shuttle commander
  • Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
  • Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
  • Adm. Jim Ellis, Retired 4-star Admiral, former head of STRATCOM, and member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
  • Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space
  • Newt Gingrich, Author, former Speaker of the House
  • Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Homer Hickam, Author of the book “Rocket Boys” and former NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center engineer
  • Governor Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama
  • Fred Klipsch, Founder and Chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education
  • Les Lyles, Retired 4-star Air Force General and member of the NASA Advisory Council
  • Pam Melroy, 3-time Shuttle astronaut and former Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company
  • Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • G.P. Bud Peterson, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Jack Schmitt, Apollo 17 Astronaut and former Senator
  • Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
  • Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
  • Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
  • Pamela Vaughan,, Board Certified Science Teacher
  • Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company
  • Stu Witt, Founder of Mojave Air and Spaceport, former Navy pilot, former Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • David Wolf, 4-time Shuttle astronaut and physician
  • Pete Worden, Former Air Force General and NASA Ames Center Director.

Bigelow Space Operations Announces Partnership with CASIS to Fly Payloads to ISS

LAS VEGAS, NV, February 20, 2018 (BSO PR) – Bigelow Space Operations (BSO) is proud to announce a partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), manager of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. BSO is officially a user of the ISS National Lab, and will be facilitating the integration of payloads for commercial, academic and government customers.

In this capacity, BSO intends to contract with other payload integrating companies where we not only can help those companies to develop their dynamic futures for themselves and their successful clients extending beyond ISS operations, but to also offer ourselves as a customer and understand how to help CASIS. This may be important if CASIS is to someday enable usage of B330 stations.

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Bigelow Aerospace Announces the Creation of Bigelow Space Operations

LAS VEGAS, NV, February 20, 2018 (Bigelow Aerospace PR) – Bigelow Aerospace is excited to introduce Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), a new commercial space company that is the sales, operational and customer service company that manages and operates space stations developed by Bigelow Aerospace.

With the two launches of B330-1 and B330-2 expected in 2021, the time is now in 2018 to begin BSO activity. These single structures that house humans on a permanent basis will be the largest, most complex structures ever known as stations for human use in space.

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Gilmour Space Signs Space Act Agreement with NASA

SINGAPORE, February 13, 2018 (Gilmour Space PR) – Australia and Singapore-based rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, has entered into a Space Act Agreement with the US National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) to collaborate on various research, technology development and educational initiatives.

“NASA is a world leader in space exploration efforts, and we’re privileged to be able to work with them to develop and test some of our innovative new space technologies,” said its CEO & Founder, Adam Gilmour.

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Long-Lived Mars Rover Opportunity Keeps Finding Surprises

Textured rows on the ground in this portion of “Perseverance Valley” are under investigation by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which used its Navigation Camera to take the component images of this downhill-looking scene. The rover reaches its 5,000th Martian day, or sol, on Feb. 16, 2018. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity keeps providing surprises about the Red Planet, most recently with observations of possible “rock stripes.”

The ground texture seen in recent images from the rover resembles a smudged version of very distinctive stone stripes on some mountain slopes on Earth that result from repeated cycles of freezing and thawing of wet soil. But it might also be due to wind, downhill transport, other processes or a combination.

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Croatia Signs Cooperation Agreement with ESA

ZAGREB, Croatia, 19 February 2018 (ESA PR) — The Republic of Croatia signed a Cooperation Agreement with ESA on 19 February 2018. This agreement will allow Croatia and ESA to create the framework for a more intensive and concrete cooperation related to ESA programmes and activities.

Ms Blaženka Divjak, Croatian Minister of Science and Education, and Mr Frédéric Nordlund, Head of External Relations Department, on behalf of the ESA Director General, signed the agreement during an official ceremony in Zagreb, Croatia.

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This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, Feb. 19 , 2018: 2-3:30 PM PST (4-5:30 PM CST, 5-6:30 PM EST): No show today due to President’s Day national holiday.

2. Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PST; 9-10:30 PM CST; 10-11:30 PM EST: We welcome the return of MARK WHITTINGTON to discuss the great Moon debate in Utah.

3. Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, Feb. 23, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 AM PST, (12:30 -2 PM EST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST): No show, non-Space Show work day for me.

5. Sunday, Feb.25, 2018: 12-1:30 PM PST; 2-4:30 PM EST; 2-3:30 PM CST. We welcome back DWIGHT STEVEN-BONIECKI re his new Apollo-Soyuz Test Project book.

Mike Pence to Lead National Space Council Meeting on Wednesday

Mike Pence

WASHINGTON, DC (White House PR) — On Tuesday, February 20, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There, he will tour the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch facilities and participate in a commercial spaceflight federal reception.

On Wednesday, February 21, Vice President Pence will lead the second meeting of the National Space Council at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. “Moon, Mars, and  Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier,” will include testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial and national security sectors about the importance of the United States’ space enterprise. The Vice President will conclude his visit with a tour of the Kennedy Space Center.

UPDATE: NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the meeting beginning at 10 a.m. EST.

Opportunity Hits 5,000 Days on Mars

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover’s 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on Feb. 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ./Texas A&M)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The Sun rose on NASA’s solar-powered Mars rover Opportunity for the 5,000th time on Saturday, sending rays of energy to a golf-cart-size robotic field geologist that continues to provide revelations about the Red Planet.

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OHB Expands With Creation of Blue Horizon Deutschland

Bremen, Germany (OHB PR) – With the founding of Blue Horizon Germany, Bremen-based space and technology group OHB SE is broadening its activities in the New Space sector. In April 2017, the listed company founded the start-up Blue Horizon in Luxembourg – as a company intended to substantiate the vision of enabling sustainable living in outer space and revitalising desolated landscapes on Earth. Both are enabled by technologies and processes from the field of “life sciences”.

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SpaceX to Launch Global Satellite Broadband Test Spacecraft on Wednesday

Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX is set to launch two spacecraft next week that will demonstration technologies for providing fast global broadband services through a constellation of 12,000 satellites.

Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b spacecraft will hitch a ride aboard a Falcon 9 booster whose primary payload is the Paz synthetic aperture radar satellite. The launch has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6:17 a.m. PST ( 9:17 a.m. EST; 1417 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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