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DARPA Releases XS-1 Phase II/III Solicitation

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Credit: DARPA

Credit: DARPA

DARPA released a solicitation for bids for its XS-1 Phase II/III program on Monday. The private-public partnership includes $140 million in DARPA funding for the reusable booster. According to the solicitation:

“The overall objective of the XS 1 Phase II/III program is to design, build, and flight test a reusable booster system prototype to support an upper stage capable of inserting a minimum of 3,000 pounds to orbit, with a design goal of less than $5M cost per launch for an operational system. The program will demonstrate on-demand and routine flight operations by flying the booster ten times in ten days and launch a demonstration payload greater than 900 pounds to orbit.

“This program solicitation solicits proposals that either, 1) propose a system at a preliminary design review level of rigor tailored for a demonstration rather than an acquisition program, or 2) propose a preliminary design derived from vehicle hardware the proposer has developed and tested. Phase II includes the final design, fabrication, integration, assembly, and ground test of the XS-1 reusable booster system prototype. Phase III is the flight test campaign.”

The solicitation is open to all U.S. companies. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Masten Space Systems received contracts under Phase I.

The deadline is July 22.

House Appropriations Committee Sets NASA Spending at $19.5 Billion

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 NASA astronaut Suni Williams exits a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston. The testing is helping NASA identify the best ways to efficiently get astronauts out of the spacecraft after deep space missions. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Suni Williams exits a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston. The testing is helping NASA identify the best ways to efficiently get astronauts out of the spacecraft after deep space missions. (Credit: NASA)

The House Appropriations Committee is marking up a FY 2017 spending bill today that would boost NASA’s spending by $215 million to $19.5 billion dollars. The amount is roughly $500 million more than the $19 billion requested by the Obama Administration.

Appropriators have zeroed out money for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), instead instructing the space agency to focus on lumar missions applicable to sending astronauts to Mars.

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A Closer Look at Satellite Applications Catapult

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Video Caption: The UK space sector is worth £11.8bn and aims to create a £40bn industry by 2030. The Catapult is tasked with helping generate £5bn of this total. Discover how we’re doing so.

New Iridium Service Replaces and/or Augments GPS

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Iridium_logo

MCLEAN, Va., May 23, 2016 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announced today the official launch of Satellite Time and Location (STL), an alternative or companion to traditional location-based technologies, and declared it ready for use.

For the first time, end users now have access to accurate and resilient position, navigation and timing (PNT) technology that works anywhere on the planet, even indoors. Due to the unique architecture of its 66 cross-linked, low-earth orbit satellite constellation, Iridium® is the only network that has the global coverage and reliability needed to deliver this highly unique, robust and cost-effective solution to the market.

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India Launches RLV Technology Demonstrator

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RLV-TD lifts off (Credit: ISRO0

RLV-TD lifts off (Credit: ISRO0

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — Today, May 23, 2016 ISRO successfully flight tested India’s first winged body aerospace vehicle operating in hypersonic flight regime.

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FAA AST Budget: A Million Here, A Million There

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faa_logoUPDATE: The commmitttee approved an amendment bringing the budget up to $19.826, which is what the Administration requested.

The House Appropriations Committee has recommended $18.826 million for the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) for FY 2017, which is $1 million below the Obama Administration’s budget request.

The amount is $1 million above the enacted level for FY 2016.

“The recommended funding level will allow the Office of Commercial Space Transportation to add operational personnel to support an increased level of activity in its licensing, permitting and safety inspection functions,” the committee said in draft bill to be marked up on Tuesday.

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This Week on The Space Show

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

1. Monday, May 23, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back MICHAEL LISTNER, space attorney, to discuss his analysis of the American Space Renaissance Act. Check the upcoming show blog entry for this program for his three part Space Review series on the Act.

2. Tuesday, May 24, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT We welcome back DR. ELIGAR SADEH. Dr. Sadeh is just back from India and will be discussing Indian space policy, strategy & governance, plus public-private partnerships for space development.

3. Friday, May 27, ,2016: 2016; 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT. We welcome the return of Robert Walker from the UK. Please check the blog on this upcoming show for Robert’s program content information.

4. Sunday, May 29, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): No show today due to the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend.

Lockheed Martin Lays Out Deep Space Exploration Plans

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Humanity Becomes an Interplanetary Species: Artist’s rendition of the Mars Base Camp architecture in Martian orbit. By leveraging developed technologies and the taxpayers’ investment in SLS and Orion, Lockheed Martin believes a human science Mission to Mars is feasible by 2028. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Artist’s rendition of the Mars Base Camp architecture in Martian orbit. By leveraging developed technologies and the taxpayers’ investment in SLS and Orion, Lockheed Martin believes a human science Mission to Mars is feasible by 2028. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

At a House Space Subcommittee meeting on Capitol Hill last week, several companies laid out plans for deep space exploration. Lockheed Martin Vice President Wanda A. Sigur discussed the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle the company is building for NASA, proposed cis-lunar space operations, and a Mars base camp orbiting the Red Planet.

Lockheed Martin of a number of companies working with NASA under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, which is a private-public partnership that focuses on advance concept studies and technology development projects for deep space exploration.

Relevant excerpt’s from Sigur’s prepared testimony follow.

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NASA’s Nodes CubeSats Deployed From Space Station

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Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)

Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — After a five-month stay aboard the International Space Station, NASA’s two Nodes satellites were deployed on May 16 from the NanoRacks platform and into low-Earth orbit to begin their much anticipated technology demonstration. These tiny satellites have dimensions of only four by four by six inches. The ground controllers for the Nodes mission received confirmation that both satellites are transmitting and are in good health when they passed over the tracking station for the first time, soon after deployment. The first transmission of science data is expected by May 18.

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I Will Launch America: Launch Site Integrator Misty Snopkowski

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i_will_launch_misty_snopkowskiBy Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Misty Snopkowski has worked on human spaceflight initiatives since 2003, building up expertise with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs and now standing on the precipice of the new era in human spaceflight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“I got to work up until the very last shuttle launch in 2011, which was a pretty amazing period in time,” Snopkowski said. “Then I joined commercial crew. You flip the script and go into a brand new program. I was this young person who got to start at the very beginning of a new program and most people don’t ever get that opportunity.”

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NIAC Focus: In-Space Construction of 1g Growable Habitat

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TENSOR construction of habitat, cross-sectional view of growth TENSOR. (Credit: R. Skelton)

TENSOR construction of habitat, cross-sectional view of growth TENSOR. (Credit: R. Skelton)

Tensegrity Approaches to In-Space Construction of a 1g Growable Habitat
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Robert Skelton
Texas Engineering Experiment

This proposal seeks to design a rotating habitat with a robotic system that constructs the structure and provides a habitat growth capability. The tensegrity technology allows minimum mass of both the habitat and the robotic system. This proposal solves three unsolved space travel problems: a) growth, b) radiation protection, and c) gravity.

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Report: UK Spaceport Competition Scrapped

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UK_spaceport_candidates_shorterlistThe Herald reports the UK Department for Transport (DfT) has scrapped a competition to select a single spaceport in favor of a licensing process that would enable multiple locations to apply to host launches. The newspaper obtained a copy of a letter sent to spaceport competitors.

The letter, dated May 20 and signed by Michael Clark, DfT head of international aviation, safety and environment, and Catherine Mealing-Jones, director of growth at the UK Space Agency, states that the move will help create “viable business models at a range of locations”.

The letter states: “To avoid restricting the development of the UK market, the Government will create the regulatory conditions for any suitable location that wishes to become a spaceport, to take the opportunity to develop and attract commercial space business…

“The Government recognises the importance of industry working with operators to start spaceflight operations and we will work with operators to develop viable business models at a range of locations across the UK, rather than at any one single location.”

Five locations around the UK were in competition to become the location of the kingdom’s first spaceport.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has a licensing process for spaceports.

Air Launch Company Sets Up in Glasgow

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Orbital Access DC-10 air launch system. (Credit: Orbital Access)

Orbital Access DC-10 air launch system. (Credit: Orbital Access)

A space plane design and operating startup has set up operations at Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland.

Orbital Access Ltd has been established by Stuart McIntyre, grandson of David McIntyre, the founder of Scottish Aviation, and is backed by Scottish Enterprise….

Mr McIntyre said: “While a spaceport in the UK is a key piece of required infrastructure it will be of marginal value if we do not also have the industrial and technical launch systems in the UK capable of exploiting it.”

“The industrial, economic and employment dividend from the spaceport cannot be realised if all we do is host occasional US designed, built and operated systems. We have an aerospace and space industry with an enormous legacy of capability.”

Read the full story.

Orion Passes Pressure Test

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Lockheed Martin engineers and technicians prepare the Orion pressure vessel for a series of tests inside the proof pressure cell in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Lockheed Martin engineers and technicians prepare the Orion pressure vessel for a series of tests inside the proof pressure cell in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Engineers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently conducted a series of pressure tests of the Orion pressure vessel. Orion is the NASA spacecraft that will send astronauts to deep space destinations, including on the journey to Mars. The tests confirmed that the weld points of the underlying structure will contain and protect astronauts during the launch, in-space, re-entry and landing phases on the Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), when the spacecraft performs its first uncrewed test flight atop the Space Launch System rocket.

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NIAC Focus: Cryogenic Selective Surfaces

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Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Cryogenic Selective Surfaces
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Robert Youngquist
NASA Kennedy Space Center

During our Phase 1 NIAC study we discovered a novel coating we call “Solar White” that, when used in deep space, is predicted to reflect more than 99.9% of the sun’s energy. We have shown analytically that a sphere covered with a 10 mm thick coating of Solar White and located far from the Earth and at 1 Astronomical Unit from the Sun can achieve a steady state temperature below 50 K, the freezing point of oxygen.

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