Astrobotic, Surrey Satellite & Goonhilly Agreed to Expand Lunar Communications Opportunities

A mission concept to enter and explore a skylight on the Moon using Tyrobot. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. & CORNWALL/GUILDFORD, UK (Surrey Satellite/Astrobotic/GES PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) and Astrobotic today announce an agreement to collaborate on delivering a roadmap of innovations that support organisations carrying out operations on and around the Moon.

The trio jointly announced their landmark partnership at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. The agreement formalises a long-term close working relationship between the three organisations with the aim of deploying leading edge in-space communication relay services.

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Stratolaunch Plans for First Flight This Summer

Credit: Stratolaunch Systems Corp.

Stratolaunch delivered some good news this week in an very odd manner.

During a briefing for reporters at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Stratolaunch officials said they planned to conduct the first flight of the company’s massive air-launch plane this summer at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Which company officials made these claims? Nobody outside the briefing knows. Reporters who attended were barred from quoting any of them by name.

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NanoRacks’ Commercial ISS Airlock Completes CDR, Moves to Fabrication

Commercial airlock on International Space Station. (Credit: NanoRacks)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NanoRacks PR) – The NanoRacks Space Station Airlock Module “Bishop” met another major milestone with completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR) on March 20 and 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  This milestone begins the transition from the engineering design phase to the fabrication phase.  Detailed design drawings such as those for the critical pressure shell will be signed and released to NanoRacks fabrication partner, Thales Alenia Space, in order for them to continue their fabrication efforts.

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Deep Space Industries Raises $3.5 Million

SAN JOSE, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries (DSI), a leading space technology company, announced today the closing of the first tranche of its Series A funding round. The company raised just over $3.5M from private investors. The funding will be used to develop MeteorTM, the company’s new launch-safe bipropellant rocket engine, and continue the ongoing development of the XplorerTM spacecraft, the company’s deep space exploration platform scheduled for launch in 2020.

“Deep Space Industries has rapidly developed a leadership position in the space technology market”, said Eric Uhrhane, one of several private investors in this round. “The propulsion and spacecraft technologies this team have developed over the last few years will dramatically lower the cost of access to deep space, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

The company recently announced two significant contracts for its water-based Comet propulsion systems for small satellites, and plans to release Meteor, its second-generation propulsion system, later in 2018.

“With the growing interest in our green propulsion systems, this funding round ensures that we’ll be able to meet customer demand, while also moving forward with our more advanced systems and spacecraft,” said Bill Miller, chief executive of DSI. “Our continued investor support is appreciated as we work to lower the cost of high performance missions in Earth orbit, and beyond.”

Deep Space Industries plans to launch the first private deep space mission in 2020, using its Xplorer spacecraft. This funding round allows the company to accelerate the development of this compact, affordable, and versatile exploration spacecraft that can be used for a wide range of scientific and commercial missions in Earth orbit, and throughout the inner solar system.

About Deep Space Industries

Deep Space Industries (DSI) is a Silicon Valley-based space technology company dedicated to making space resources available to fuel humankind’s expansion into space. DSI is developing a suite of technologies intended to dramatically lower the cost of undertaking high-performance missions in both Earth orbit and deep space. Its first commercial offerings have been low-cost, launch-safe propulsion systems, which are a key missing piece for a wide range of low-cost missions. DSI is headquartered in San Jose, California, with offices in Florida and Luxembourg. For more information, visit: www.DeepSpaceIndustries.com

First Quarter Commercial Space Investment Reached Nearly $1 Billion

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX received $500 million of the nearly $1 billion in investment raised by commercial space companies during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Space Investment Quarterly report from Space Angels.

“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing down—after the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, the company secured $500 million from Fidelity Investments to drive development of their satellite communications network, Starlink,” the report added.

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SpaceX to Build BFR at Port of Los Angeles

BFR servicing the International Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have confirmed the company plans to build its BFR rocket at the Port of Los Angeles.

The city Board of Harbor Commissioners will vote Thursday on whether to lease 19 acres to SpaceX for the manufacturing site. The commission’s staff has recommended approval of an initial 10-year term, with two 10-year options, at an annual rent of approximately $1.38 million….

SpaceX, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, already uses the Port of Los Angeles for missions that recover Falcon 9 first-stage boosters on a floating platform in the Pacific and when it recovers supply capsules that parachute into the ocean after missions to the international space station.

“SpaceX has called the Port of Los Angeles home to our west coast recovery operations since 2012 and we truly appreciate the City of Los Angeles’ continued partnership,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and COO, said in a statement.

“As announced today by Mayor Garcetti, the Port will play an increasingly important role in our mission to help make humanity multi-planetary as SpaceX begins production development of BFR — our next generation rocket and spaceship system capable of carrying crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

Read the full story.

Florida Governor to Challenge Bill Nelson for Senate Seat

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Three-term Florida Sen. Bill Nelson — a major supporter of NASA and the space program — will face a challenge in November from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, The Hill reports.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced on Monday that he’ll challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D), setting up a marquee battle that could help decide which party controls the Senate.

Scott sought to paint himself as an outsider and vowed to “shake up Washington” if elected in November, without naming Nelson during his speech….

Scott’s long-awaited announcement ends months of speculation and sets up what is expected to be the costliest race of the cycle against Nelson, a three-term incumbent.

It will also serve as a test for President Trump given the White House’s efforts to recruit Scott for the race. Trump won Florida in 2016’s presidential contest by a little more than a percentage point.

Scott, who because of term limits cannot run for a third term as governor, is a close ally of Trump. While Trump carried the state, Democrats and even some Republican believe that his closeness to Trump could be a liability if the president’s approval numbers don’t improve.

Earth-i Releases Full-color Video of Earth Taken From Space

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Earth-i PR) — ‘New Space’ pioneer Earth-i today released the first video taken by VividX2, the technology prototype for its Vivid-i Constellation.

Launched on 12 January 2018, VividX2 is the world’s first commercial satellite able to provide full-colour video of life on Earth.

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Senate to Vote on Bridenstine’s Nomination to Lead NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has filed a motion to bring the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to become the next administrator of NASA to a vote on the Senate floor.

News of the cloture motion was tweeted by Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) on Monday. The account is operated by the Senate Republican Cloakroom staff.

Bridenstine was nominated for the position by President Donald Trump in September. The Senate Commerce Committee approved by a narrow party-line vote, with all the Democratic members voting against it.

Democrats have said that Bridenstine lacks the requisite scientific and technical background to lead the nation’s space agency. They have also questioned his past statements that global warming was not occurring. NASA spends $1.9 million on Earth science programs.

The vote on Bridenstine could be very close. It is believed that all 49 Democrats will vote against it. That would leave a narrow margin of 51 Republicans to vote for Bridenstine.

However, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has questioned  the wisdom of appointing a partisan politician to run an agency that has broad bipartisan support.

Vice President Mike Pence could break a 50-50 tie. However, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been absent from the Senate undergoing cancer treatments.

Orbital ATK Unveils OmegA Rocket

OmegA rocket (Credit: Orbital ATK)

DULLES, Virginia, 16 April 2018 (Orbital ATK PR) — During the 34th annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today provided a detailed update on the important progress being made on its Next Generation Launch System.

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SpaceX Scrubs, Pence Announces Stuff

TESS exoplanet satellite (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX has scrubbed the launch of NASA’s TESS exo-planet hunting satellite, which had been planned for Monday evening.

“Standing down today to conduct additional GNC analysis, and teams are now working towards a targeted launch of on Wednesday, April 18,” the company tweeted.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs earlier today. He made the following announcements:

  • Ret. Adm. Jim Ellis has been named to lead the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group; and,
  • The space council has come up with a set of guidelines on space traffic management that will be signed by President Donald Trump and implemented by the Commerce Department.  A key goal of the new guidelines is to deal with the threat of orbital debris.

That’s all, folks!

This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, April 16, 2018; 2-3:30 PM PDT (4-5:30 PM CDT, 5-6:30 PM EDT): We welcome DR. KRISTEN HOWLEY of the Lawrence Liverrmore Lab to discuss Project Hammer and more with us.

2. Tuesday, April 17, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PDT; 9-10:30 PM CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT: We welcome back DR. SETH SHOSTAK of SETI in Mountain View, CA.

3. Wednesday, April 18, 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, April 20, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 AM PDT, (12:30 -2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT): We welcome back JOSE OCASIO-CHRISTIAN to the show.

5. Sunday, April 22, 2018: 12-1:30 PM PDT; 2-3:30 PM CDT; 3-4:30 PM EDT. Welcome to our OPEN LINES program. All callers welcome, especially first time callers. Space and Science topics welcome.

Video of Atlas V Launch on Saturday

Video Caption: A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the AFSPC-11 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on April 14, 2018. AFSPC-11 is a multi-manifested mission. The forward spacecraft is referred to as CBAS (Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM) and the aft spacecraft is EAGLE (ESPA Augmented GEO Laboratory Experiment).

Orbital ATK-Designed Satellites Demonstrate Affordable Access to Space for U.S. Air Force

Atlas V launches Orbital ATK-designed satellites for the U.S. Air Force. (Credit: ULA)

DULLES, Va.(Orbital ATK PR) — Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, designed the EAGLE (ESPA Augmented Geostationary Laboratory Experiment) experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force’s AFSPC-11 mission that successfully launched on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V vehicle April 14 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The AFSCPC-11 mission included a second company designed satellite, Mycroft, which is among several Department of Defense experiments hosted on the EAGLE platform as separate payloads.

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World’s Smallest Satellite Laser Communication Terminal Passes CDR

CubeL (Credit: Tesat)

BACKNANG, Germany 12.04.2018 Tesat PR) — Tesat’s Laser Communication Terminal for CubeSats, CubeL, is on track after recently the Critical Design Review (CDR) was successfully held at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen. This was an important milestone for the development program on the way to its demonstration mission, which is planned to launch later this year.

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