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XCOR Aerospace Announces Latest Milestone in ULA Program

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XCOR’s XR-5H25 engine during its successful hot fire. The plume is clear because the propellant used is liquid hydrogen. (Credit: XCOR/Mike Massee)

XCOR’s XR-5H25 engine during its successful hot fire. The plume is clear because the propellant used is liquid hydrogen. (Credit: XCOR/Mike Massee)

Mojave, CA, November 20, 2014 (XCOR PR) — XCOR Aerospace today announced it has completed the latest test series for the liquid hydrogen engine it is developing for United Launch Alliance (ULA). This is an important milestone in the long-running LH2 (liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen) program. It is also a step toward running the engine in a fully closed cycle mode.

In its most recent milestone, XCOR successfully performed hot fire testing of the XR-5H25 engine’s regeneratively cooled thrust chamber,with both liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants supplied inpump-fed mode, using XCOR’s proprietary piston pump technology.

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CASIS Awards 3 Materials Science Research Grants

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casis_new_logoKENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., November 19, 2014 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has announced grant awards for three projects focused on materials science from the International Space Station (ISS), totaling approximately $800,000 in funding. These awards stem from the CASIS Request for Proposals (RFP) “Materials Science in Space.” CASIS is the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

The purpose of this RFP was to seek flight research investigations that develop new or improve existing materials that will have direct terrestrial benefit. Awardees include:

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Lunar Mission One Crowdsourcing to Moon’s South Pole

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Lunar Mission One lander (Credit: Lunar Missions)

Lunar Mission One lander (Credit: Lunar Missions)

LONDON (Lunar Missions PR) — Lunar Mission One, an ambitious and pioneering lunar mission, has been announced today. The mission is raising initial development funding through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform, giving people from around the world the opportunity to support and be a part of the mission.

As overall technical advisors for the first stage of the project, Lunar Mission One has engaged RAL Space, which has been involved in developing more than 200 space missions and has supported NASA and European Space Agency missions.

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Branson’s Jaw Dropping Press Conference in Mojave

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By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sonic booms are a way of life in Mojave. With Edwards Air Force Base just down the highway and an overland supersonic corridor overhead, we’re used to the Boom BOOMS that rattle our windows and shake our walls on an almost daily basis.

These can be unnerving events for newbies. I remember sitting in the Voyager restaurant years ago, before I even moved here, and almost jumping out of my booth when a sonic boom hit. The guys sitting in the booth – a pair of local pilots, I guessed – barely notice. A fighter jet out of Edwards, they said. Nothing to worry about. Just another Friday afternoon in Mojave.

On Nov. 1, a series of different booms hit the airport. They had nothing to do with flying faster than the speed of sound. Instead, they were the Thuds of peoples’ jaws simultaneously hitting the floor, followed by the THUNKS of these folks falling off their chairs. This happened five times in less than eight minutes.

The cause? Sir Richard Branson.

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Go Slow Approach Urged in Wake of SpaceShipTwo Accident

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Part of SpaceShipTwo's fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Space News has an editorial on the SpaceShipTwo accident that I think is spot on:

Clearly the AST needs to wait until the NTSB presents the results of its investigation before drafting any such safety rules.

In the same vein, it was surprising to hear that Virgin Galactic intends to continue with construction of a second SpaceShipTwo vehicle with an eye toward resuming test flights in six months. Although the NTSB has raised the possibility that human error played a role in the mishap, it has not ruled out a design or mechanical issue with SpaceShipTwo.

Virgin Galactic is understandably eager to minimize additional delays to the introduction of commercial service and to demonstrate its resolve, but pressing ahead with construction — and perhaps even flight tests — while the investigation is still underway could prove problematic. One could argue that if Virgin Galactic wants to bet on SpaceShipTwo’s exoneration that’s its own business. But in doing so the company risks fueling doubts about the commercial spaceflight industry’s commitment to safety, which could invite the types of regulations it has sought to avoid, or at least defer.

That said, the AST should tread lightly in recognition of the industry’s novelty and fragility. While it can never compromise when it comes to protecting uninvolved third parties, the office also must recognize that those who are willing to pay for the thrill of going to the edge of space are risk takers by both nature and choice — this is not commercial aviation.

It’s not clear to me that Virgin Galactic is in a financial position to slow down. They’re spending an enormous amount on this program, and they don’t really have any solid revenues yet.

Read the full editorial.

DSI Appoint PR & Communications Manager

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Meagan Crawford

Meagan Crawford

Houston, TX, Nov. 18, 2014 (DSI PR) – Deep Space Industries is pleased to announce the appointment of Meagan Crawford as the company’s PR and Communications Manager.  Meagan is a corporate communications and public relations expert with significant experience in marketing and business development.

“Meagan is a rare talent in the space field. She not only ‘gets it’ but she can write about it, talk about it, package it and send it out in a press release – linked to an awesome website,” said Deep Space Chair Rick Tumlinson. “She brings us a level of understanding and professionalism that will greatly enhance our ability to share the message that Deep Space is on the move!”

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Philae Lander Returns Wealth of Comet Data

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Philae landing sequence (Credit: DLR)

Philae landing sequence (Credit: DLR)

DLR PR – Before going into hibernation at 01:36 CET on 15 November 2014, the Philae lander was able to conduct some work using power supplied by its primary battery. With its 10 instruments, the mini laboratory sniffed the atmosphere, drilled, hammered and studied Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko while over 500 million kilometres from Earth. After a triple landing, positioning it in a new, unplanned location, conditions were not optimal, but Philae was able to work for more than 60 hours and send the resulting data back to Earth. It was controlled and monitored from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC). Now, the complicated data analysis begins. DLR’s Scientific Director for the project, Ekkehard Kührt, is very pleased with the results so far. “We have collected a great deal of valuable data, which could only have been acquired through direct contact with the comet. Together with the measurements performed by the Rosetta orbiter, we are well on our way to achieving a greater understanding of comets. Their surface properties appear to be quite different than was previously thought.”

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Made in Space 3D Printer Installed on Space Station

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NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore installs a 3-D Printer in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA-TV)

NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore installs a 3-D Printer in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA-TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Today, NASA took a big step toward changing the way we plan for long-duration space voyages when astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore successfully installed and prepared the first 3-D printer for upcoming manufacturing operations on the International Space Station.

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ESA to Abandon Ariane 5 Upgrade, Move Directly to Ariane 6

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Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Space News reports on Europe’s plans for a new launch vehicle to replace Ariane 5:

The German government has agreed to drop its demand that Europe develop a long-planned upgrade of today’s Ariane 5 rocket and instead proceed with a new-generation Ariane 6 that borrows heavily on Ariane 5 technology, Germany’s space minister said.

The decision ends an impasse that has bedeviled the European Space Agency for more than two years as it prepares for a Dec. 2 conference of its governments.

While noting that certain funding details and a clarification of industry’s risk-taking guarantee remain to be ironed out, Brigitte Zypries said Germany and France now agree to back Ariane 6 and to scrap the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (ME) rocket that European governments have been developing for several years.

“We have found a compromise that is OK for both countries, for the other participating states and also for industry,” Zypries said in a Nov. 15 emailed response to SpaceNews questions. “The important elements are the joint intention to develop a new launcher as part of a concept based mainly on Ariane 5 ME technology and Vega, and a new launcher governance.”

Read the full story.

ATK, Orbital Sciences Going Forward With Merger Despite Antares Accident

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ATK_LogoARLINGTON, Va. (ATK/Orbital Sciences PR) – Alliant Techsystems Inc. (“ATK”) (ATK) and Orbital Sciences Corporation (“Orbital”) (ORB) announced today that the two companies have set January 27, 2015 as the new date for their separate, special stockholder meetings in connection with the proposed transaction to spin off ATK’s Sporting Group business and immediately thereafter, merge ATK’s Aerospace and Defense Groups with Orbital. On October 28, 2014, both companies communicated they would hold separate, special stockholder meetings on December 9, 2014 for ATK stockholders to vote on the issuance of shares to stockholders of Orbital and for Orbital stockholders to vote on the proposed transaction. Following this announcement on October 28, 2014, a failure occurred during Orbital’s Antares launch.  Since the incident, the companies have conducted a thorough review and analysis of the launch failure and Orbital’s proposed recovery plan and long-term competitive position.  Following this review, ATK’s board of directors continues to support the strategic merits of the transaction and recommends that ATK stockholders vote to approve the issuance of shares to Orbital stockholders. Orbital’s board of directors also continues to recommend that Orbital stockholders vote to approve the proposed transaction.

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