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Russian Audit Committee Finds Mind Boggling Financial Violations at Roscosmos

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Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

More bad news for Russia’s struggling space program:

Russia’s Audit Chamber has discovered $1.8 billion of financial violations in the Roscosmos space agency. According to Chamber head Tatyana Golikova, this included accounting violations, misuse of budget funds and inefficient spending on construction.

“At first I didn’t believe the inspectors,” Golikova said, Interfax reported.

The Audit Chamber has observed a sharp rise in violations at Roscosmos since last year, she said. “It was an absolute surprise for me. I conducted a budget inspection last year, and now in 2014, the number of violations has grown sharply.”

Earlier, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin blamed corruption in the space industry for the recent high accident rate of Russian spacecraft. Speaking in the State Duma on Tuesday, he said Roscosmos’ partner, the state company producing Proton rockets, is facing eight criminal cases.

One of the projects apparently seething with violations is the new Vostochny (Eastern) Cosmodrome. According to Golikova, its construction saw an overspending of about 13 billion rubles ($260 million). She says this resulted from overpricing and use of fraud schemes. The numbers are being looked into by the Russian Investigative Committee.

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Flashback: Virgin Galactic Announces Switch From Rubber to Nylon Engine

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RocketMotorTwo firing. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

RocketMotorTwo firing. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Parabolic Arc Flashback: One year ago, Virgin Galactic announced it changing SpaceShipTwo’s propulsion system from a rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine due to demonstrated better performance. The news was announced on a Friday at the start of long holiday weekends in the U.S. and Britain, a perfect time to dump news when neither reporters nor the public are paying much attention. Sierra Nevada, by the way, was blindsided that their rubber engine was being dropped and their lucrative agreement was going away.

Today, the nylon engine decision is being re-evaluated due to performance. The company recently revealed it is testing both hybid engines again, and it might go back to using the rubber one. That means the company still doesn’t know how its going to power its spacecraft despite being nearly 11 years into the SpaceShipTwo program. That explains why it is taking as long as it is.

MOJAVE, Calif., May 23, 2014 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline which is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, has selected a polyamide-based fuel grain to power its hybrid rocket motor for the remainder of the test flight program and start of commercial operations. This decision follows numerous ground test firings and is supported by data collected over an extensive development program.

Continue reading ‘Flashback: Virgin Galactic Announces Switch From Rubber to Nylon Engine’

UAE Space Agency to Unveil Strategy, Operational Plan on Monday

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UAE_Space_Agency_LogoABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (UAE Space Agency PR) — Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the UAE Space Agency will launch its official strategy and operational plan this week in Abu Dhabi on 25 May. The official launch event will showcase the aims of the strategy and plan, which are to strengthen the foundations of the space sector and work towards creating a developed and integrated industry that will enable the UAE to become one of the leading countries in space science exploration.

The UAE Space Agency launch will include a focus on the Agency’s mission, values and priorities for the future. The event will also introduce a number of initiatives and programs being carried out in line with the Agency’s strategic goals.

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Draper to Flight Test New Spacesuit Technology

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Draper_gyroscopeCAMBRIDGE, MA (Draper Laboratory PR) – As Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie “Gravity” spun away from the space shuttle following an accident during a spacewalk, she found herself disoriented and unable to determine her own position. Astronauts find that the lack of gravitational force that made her character unable to distinguish up from down can also be disorienting when doing routine research and other tasks in the initial days after reaching orbit, and its absence during prolonged weightlessness can lead to muscle and bone loss.

NASA has funded Draper Laboratory to address these concerns with new spacesuit technology that introduces a sensation similar to gravitational pull, giving them a sense of “down” while in space. The artificial force could also keep astronauts healthier by giving them the slight resistance to movement that comes with gravity, which helps keep muscles in shape and bones from degenerating.

The space agency announced plans on April 22 to test Draper’s spacesuit technology in a microgravity environment during parabolic flight funded by its Flight Opportunities Program.

“This flight opportunity allows us to demonstrate our technology in a relevant environment for spaceflight use, as well as determine how much torque we need to generate so that astronauts can feel the resistance while weightless,” explained Kevin Duda, Draper’s principal investigator for the Variable Vector Countermeasure Suit (V2Suit).

Draper began development of the V2Suit, which includes an inertial measurement unit and control moment gyroscopes to raise or lower resistance to body movements, with funding from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) office. Draper is also investigating the possibility of applying the same technology here on Earth to stabilize walking and other movements for the elderly, and assist with injury rehabilitation.

Russian Duma Unanimously Rubber Stamps Government Takeover of Space Industry

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Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) – Russian Federation Federal Assembly State Duma deputies gave the bill “On Public Space Corporation Roscosmos” its first reading and approved it unanimously. On May 19, 2015 the parliamentarians from all groups raised their voices for setting up a new public corporation: altogether 442 affirmative voices as said in the message published on site of Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.

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Critical NASA Research Returns to Earth Aboard SpaceX Dragon

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Dragon CRS-6 capsule descends under parachutes. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon CRS-6 capsule descends under parachutes. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m. EDT Thursday with almost 3,100 pounds of NASA cargo from the International Space Station, including research on how spaceflight and microgravity affect the aging process and bone health.

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Brevard Board Approves Incentives for Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin

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Blue_Origin_logo1The North Brevard Economic Development Zone board has approved economic incentives for Blue Origin to build a facility in the county and for Lockheed Martin to expand its operations there.

The board voted 8-1 to approve $8 million in incentives for rocket company Blue Origin. The company — being referred to by the code name “Project Panther” — is considering building a 330-employee facility at Exploration Park, near the Kennedy Space Center.

Separately, the board voted 9-0 in favor of a $1.735 million grant for Lockheed Martin Corp., which is considering a 300-employee facility at 1515 Chaffee Drive in Titusville.

Lockheed on Tuesday also will ask the Brevard County Commission to consider property tax abatements totaling $397,043 a year over a 10-year period for its project….

The incentives for both projects would come back to the zone board for a second vote once deals are worked out with the companies. Additionally, the Brevard County Commission must approve the $8 million commitment to Blue Origin….

Lockheed Martin said its project involves its Space Systems Company operations.

The proposed Chaffee Drive expansion is on the site of an Astrotech facility. Lockheed Martin in August completed its acquisition of Astrotech Space Operations business of Astrotech Corp, including operations in Titusville and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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SpaceX Abort Test Video Seen From Dragon Capsule

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My Upcoming Talk at ISU-USA Space Cafe in Washington DC

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doug_emerald_bay_lake_tahoe
The International Space University-US Alumni Association’s Washington, DC Chapter presents monthly Space Cafes!  These events bring together prominent experts on space, ISU alumni, the space community, and the interested public in a casual forum that encourages interaction and discussion.

This month’s speaker will be Douglas Messier, managing editor of parabolicarc.com, who will provide an overview of Mojave space activities and discuss the SpaceShipTwo accident.

Please join us on Tuesday, June 2nd at 7 pm to hear what Doug has to say and add your voice to the discussion.  The Space Cafes are hosted by the Science Club, located at 1136 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC on the second floor:  http://www.ScienceClubDC.com/.

There’s no need to RSVP, but if you have questions or suggestions for future speakers, please feel free to contact me at angela.peura@gmail.com.

We’d like to thank the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ National Capital Section for their co-sponsorship of Space Café – we look forward to their participation in this and future events!

See you there!

Virgin Galactic Lowers Second SpaceShipTwo Onto Landing Gear

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