Rocket Lab Unveils New High-volume Production Facility

Rocket Lab production facility in Aukland, New Zealand. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

AUKLAND (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab has expanded its global footprint with the unveiling of a new production facility that rethinks the way orbital rockets are built. The new 7,500 sq/m (80,700 sq/ft) rocket development and production facility in Auckland, is designed for rapid mass production of the Electron rocket. Adding to Rocket Lab’s existing production facility and headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, the new facility brings Rocket Lab’s manufacturing footprint to more than 4.5 acres and enables the company to build an Electron rocket every week.

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Rocket Lab Selects Wallops Island for U.S. Launch Site

Electron launch (Credit: Rocket Lab)

RICHMOND, Va. (Virginia Governor’s Office PR)—Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Rocket Lab, a California-based company, has chosen Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport as the location for Launch Complex-2 (LC-2), Rocket Lab’s first launch facility located in the United States.

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Kepler Raises $16M to Deliver Nanosatellite Data Services in Low Earth Orbit and Grow Global Reach

Toronto, CANADA 15 October 2018 (Kepler Communications PR) – Kepler Communications, a Canadian satellite telecommunications company with a mission of providing in-space connectivity services, today announced that it has raised $16M USD in a Series A round of financing led by Costanoa Ventures, with participation by Deutsche Bahn’s (DB) Digital Ventures as a strategic investor. The round also included a number of returning investors, such as IA Ventures who led their Series Seed. This brings the cumulative total raised to over $21M USD.

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Moon Express Expands Into Canada With The Establishment Of Moon Express Canada And New Partnerships

LONGUEUIL, QuebecOct. 16, 2018 (Moon Express PR) — Moon Express, Inc. has announced the creation of Moon Express Canada to leverage Canadian space science and technology in the exploration of the Moon and its resources. The announcement follows quickly after the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Moon Express on October 3rd, enabling Canadian firms and researchers to offer their expertise and capabilities to Moon Express. Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards made the announcement today at the CSA Fall 2018 Industry Days, a three-day event hosted at its headquarters in Longueuil, Quebec to promote Canadian space capabilities and expertise.

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Harris Corp., L3 Technologies to Merge to Create Mega Defense Contractor

MELBOURNE, Fla. & NEW YORK–(Harris Corporation/L3 PR) –Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) and L3 Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:LLL) have agreed to combine in an all stock merger of equals to create a global defense technology leader, focused on developing differentiated and mission critical solutions for customers around the world.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, L3 shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 1.30 shares of Harris common stock for each share of L3 common stock, consistent with the 60-trading day average exchange ratio of the two companies.

Upon completion of the merger, Harris shareholders will own approximately 54 percent and L3 shareholders will own approximately 46 percent of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

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ULA Atlas V AEHF-4 Mission Set to Launch on Wednesday

Atlas V launches the AFSPC-11 mission. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the AEHF-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force. The mission is set to lift off on Wednesday, Oct. 17 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s forecast shows an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The two hour launch window begins at 12:15 a.m. ET.

Launch Forecast Summary

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 20%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 30%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds, Anvil Cloud Rule

Launch Updates & Webcast

Live launch updates and webcast available at: www.ulalaunch.com

Webcast available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Paul Allen Passes Away From Cancer at 65

Paul G. Allen (By Miles Harris – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26491255)

Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen — who funded private spaceships, one of the largest aircraft in the world, and the search for life elsewhere in the Universe – has died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 65.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of @PaulGAllen, our founder and noted technologist, philanthropist, community builder, conservationist, musician and supporter of the arts, All of us who worked with Paul feel an inexpressible loss today,” Allen’s company, Vulcan, Inc., announced in a tweet.

Allen poured the billions he made from Microsoft into a number of business and philanthropic ventures, including three space projects. He spent $28 million to back Burt Rutan’s entry in the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million competition for the first privately-built crewed vehicle to reach space twice within a two-week period.

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Space Impulse B2B Platform Envisions Online Space Industry Ecosystem

Leveraging blockchain technology & smart contracts
for lower costs, faster times to orbit

TALLINN, Estonia, October 15, 2018 (Space Impulse PR) — Space industry startup, Space Impulse, has assembled a team of veteran technologists and orbital-class aerospace leaders with a mission to lower costs and accelerate times to orbit by streamlining supply chain integration on a comprehensive, global B2B platform. The platform is designed specifically to address the challenges of complex, high-stakes sourcing, procurement, and fulfillment processes that ensure the movement of people and cargo safely along the path connecting Earth and space. By taking advantage of blockchain and smart contract technologies, the platform solves key issues of security, verification, coordination, trust, and privacy that bind the highly interdependent exchanges of value along that path.

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This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, Oct. 15, 2018; 2-3:30 PM PDT (4-5:30 PM CDT, 5-6:30 PM EDT): We welcome back DR. RYAN KOBRICK TO DISCUSS THE #dearMoon project.

2. Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PDT; 9-10:30 PM CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT: We welcome back MICHELLE EVANS to discus the movie “First Man” which is about Neil Armstrong and being the first man on the Moon.

3. Wednesday, Oct. 17 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, Oct. 19, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 AM PDT, (12:30 -2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT. This program is in the process of being developed as a two part program. Please check both the website newsletter and the Upcoming Show Menu from time to time this week for details. Program details and guest names for both parts will be made available on the website newsletter as well as the Upcoming Show Menu on the far right of our home page. In addition, as the programs are in the development stage, there may be changes so again, please check the two website sources from time to time during the week. Thank you.

5. The Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 program from 12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): We welcome back JIM MUNCY for a review and discussion of recent commercial space activities and policies.

Astrobotic Wins NASA Research Contract to Target Landings on Icy, Outer Planet Moons

Astrobotic will develop software to help spacecraft on possible future missions land near unmapped or dynamic scientific targets in the solar system, including close the south pole of Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus. The Cassini spacecraft captured images showing plumes erupting from the moon’s surface (left) during multiple fly-bys of the moon. Scientists believe these plumes are the result of active thermal processes occurring in a salty, subsurface, global ocean (artist’s concept, right). (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Today Astrobotic announced a program to study advanced navigation techniques that could allow the next generation of spacecraft to target landings at some of the most interesting scientific destinations in the solar system.

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Mars Virtual Reality Software Wins NASA Award

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, right, and Erisa Hines of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, try out the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality headset during a preview of “Destination: Mars” at Kennedy Space Center visitor complex in Florida. Based on OnSight, a tool created by JPL, “Destination: Mars” lets guests experience Mars with holographic versions of Aldrin and Hines as guides. (Credits: NASA/Charles Babir)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — A mixed-reality software that allows scientists and engineers to virtually walk on Mars recently received NASA’s 2018 Software of the Year Award.

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Recycling in Space: Waste Handling in a Microgravity Environment Challenge

NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Expedition 30 flight engineer, is pictured among stowage bags in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. The bags, containing trash and excessed equipment, will be transferred to the docked Progress 45 spacecraft for disposal. The unpiloted ISS Progress 45 supply vehicle is scheduled to undock from the space station on Jan. 24, 2011. (Credit: NASA)

By Leejay Lockhart
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA, in partnership with NineSigma, is seeking new ideas to facilitate recycling in space, through a crowdsourcing challenge as part of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL). The Recycling in Space Challenge is an opportunity for the public to submit proposals for components capable of storing and transferring trash to a thermal processing unit.

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Still No Word From NASA’s Opportunity Rover on Mars

Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam) took the component images for this view from a position outside Endeavor Crater during the span of June 7 to June 19, 2017. Toward the right side of this scene is a broad notch in the crest of the western rim of crater. (Credits: NASA/JPL (Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

NASA Mission Update
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, Calif.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. PDT on Oct. 11, 2018

One month since increasing their commanding frequency, engineers have yet to hear from NASA’s Opportunity rover.

NASA hasn’t set any deadlines for the mission but will be briefed later this month on the progress and prospects for the recovery campaign being carried out at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

JPL engineers are employing a combination of listening and commanding methods in case Opportunity is still operational. It’s possible that a layer of dust deposited on the rover’s solar panels by the recent global dust storm is blocking sunlight that could recharge its batteries. No one can tell just how much dust has been deposited on its panels.

A windy period on Mars — known to Opportunity’s team as “dust-clearing season” — occurs in the November-to-January time frame and has helped clean the rover’s panels in the past. The team remains hopeful that some dust clearing may result in hearing from the rover in this period.

Opportunity has exceeded its expected lifespan many times over. Both Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, were designed to last only 90 days on the Martian surface, with the expectation that the planet’s extreme winters and dust storms could cut their mission short. The rover has lasted nearly 15 years: It last communicated on June 10 before being forced into hibernation by the growing dust storm.

JAXA Postpones Hayabusa2 Landing on Asteroid Ryugu

Image of Ryugu captured by the ONC-T at an altitude of about 64m. Image was taken on September 21, 2018 at around 13:04 JST.This is the highest resolution photograph obtained of the surface of Ryugu. Bottom left is a large boulder. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On the basis of the recent observations and operations in the vicinity of asteroid Ryugu by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, the project team have decided to postpone the touchdown (TD) from the end of October this year (2018) to after January next year.

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Virgin Galactic Entering Next Phase of SpaceShipTwo Flight Tests

View of SpaceShipTwo Unity from the tail boom. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceNews has an update on Virgin Galactic’s progress in testing SpaceShipTwo Unity.

Speaking at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight here Oct. 10, George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said he expected at least one more powered flight test of the vehicle before the end of this year.

“We’re entering into the next phase of our test flight program,” he said. “The next phase of flight will entail longer burns and higher duration, and that’s exciting for the team.”

Not all of those flights, though, will involve flights that go higher and faster. “We’ll do a variety of different things as we expand the envelope and try to understand abort scenarios and other things,” he said. “We have a lot of work still to go, but we’re making good progress.”

You might recall that the previous test flight in July the suborbital vehicle fired its engine for 42 seconds and reached an altitude of 170,800 ft, which are both records for the program.