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Statement on Midland Airport Spaceport License

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Lynx cockpit view. (Credit: XCOR)

Lynx cockpit view. (Credit: XCOR)

MIDLAND, Texas (Press Release)—In a joint release today, the Midland International Airport, Midland Development Corporation, XCOR Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval of a Commercial Space Launch Site License (Spaceport) for the Midland International Airport (MAF). Midland International Airport is the first primary commercial service airport to be certified by the FAA under the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 420 as a spaceport and will furthermore be referred to as the Midland International Air & Space Port.

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Midland International Airport Gets Spaceport License

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry flanked by XCOR officials in front of a full-scale mockup of the Lynx space plane in Midland. (Credit: Gov. Rick Perry's Office)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry flanked by XCOR officials in front of a full-scale mockup of the Lynx space plane in Midland. (Credit: Gov. Rick Perry’s Office)

FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation George Nield announced today the agency has awarded a spaceport license to Midland International Airport, paving the way for XCOR Aerospace to move its research and development operations there next year.

Nield made the announcement this morning at the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) meeting in Washington, D.C. Midland Airport Director Marvin Esterly was present to receive the license.

XCOR signed an agreement to move to Midland from Mojave, Calif., in July 2012. That move was contingent upon the Midland airport receiving a spaceport license that will allow XCOR to fly its Lynx suborbital spacecraft.

XCOR plans to move to Midland next year after conducting initial flight tests in Mojave.

Will Congress Get Sticker Shock on Commercial Crew Awards?

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SpaceX: “Deeply Honored” to be Selected for Commercial Crew

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Dragon V2 spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon V2 spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk issued the following statement earlier today after SpaceX was awarded a Commercial Crew Program contract:

“SpaceX is deeply honored by the trust NASA has placed in us.  We welcome today’s decision and the mission it advances with gratitude and seriousness of purpose. It is a vital step in a journey that will ultimately take us to the stars and make humanity a multi-planet species.”

NASA Selects Boeing, SpaceX to Launch Americans to Space Station

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts NASA announced Tuesday. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

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Boeing CST-100 Selected for Final Round of Commercial Crew Program

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

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

HOUSTON, Sept. 16, 2014 (Boeing PR) – Boeing [NYSE: BA] will receive an award of $4.2 billion from NASA to build and fly the United States’ next passenger spacecraft.

Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 is being developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to resume U.S.-based flights to space by 2017. The CST-100 will transport up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and other low-Earth orbit destinations.

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NASA Awards Commercial Crew Deals to Boeing, SpaceX

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Bolden announced that Boeing and SpaceX will share contracts worth up to $6.8 billion. Details to follow.

Early reports indicate Boeing gets $4.2 billion with SpaceX getting $2.6 billion.

Statement by Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello in Response to NASA’s Commercial Crew Award Announcement 9/16/2014:
“First and foremost, congratulations to Boeing and SpaceX for being selected by NASA to provide commercial crew transport of U.S. astronauts to Low Earth Orbit.
“Today’s announcement is continued good news for Florida and for the nation. It advances a new era in space transportation and is the next major step toward restoring U.S. capability to fly astronauts to the ISS and beyond. Both Boeing and SpaceX have already invested significant time and resources into establishing commercial crew operations here in Florida and we look forward to working hand-in-hand with both companies to make their upcoming missions successful.”

Reports: ULA to Partner With Blue Origin for LOX-Methane Engine

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At Blue Origin’s West Texas facility, the BE-3 engine demonstrated a full simulated suborbital mission profile, igniting, throttling, and restarting on command. (Credit: NASA)

At Blue Origin’s West Texas facility, the BE-3 engine demonstrated a full simulated suborbital mission profile, igniting, throttling, and restarting on command. (Credit: NASA)

Media reports indicate that United Launch Alliance (ULA) has decided to partner with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company to produce a liquid-oxygen/methane engine to power the first stage of the Atlas V booster. An announcement is expected on Wednesday.

[Update: ULA and Blue Origin will have a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at 1 p.m.]

In June, ULA announced it had signed multiple study contracts with American rocket manufacturers for a replacement for the Russian-supplied RD-180 engine. The company said it planned to make a decision by the fourth quarter of this year.

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Falcon 9 Certification for Military Launches Could Come in December

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Falcon 9 lifts off with the Thaicom-6 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 lifts off with the Thaicom-6 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Some good news for SpaceX about certification of the Falcon 9 to carry defense payloads:

The U.S. Air Force may in December certify the start-up rocket-maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to compete to launch military and spy satellites, a general said.

“I root for SpaceX to come into the competition,” Gen. John Hyten, head of Air Force Space Command, said during a speech Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. But he warned that the company may not be ready in time.

“The most important thing for this nation is assured access to space that works all the time,” he said. “That’s why the certification for SpaceX, hopefully by Dec. 1, is a big event. But if they’re not ready on Dec. 1, we have to stand up and say that, and that’s going to be difficult because I want competition.”

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NASA to Announce Commercial Crew Decision Today

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nasa_commercial_crew_spacesuitNASA will make the announcement of the final phase of the Commercial Crew Program today at 4 p.m. EDT. The announcement will be carried live on NASA TV and on the space agency’s website.

The competitors include Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX. NASA is expected to eliminate at least one of the companies.