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USAF Review of SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle Continues

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Falcon 9 in flight with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 in flight with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Bloomberg News has an update on the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to certify SpaceX’s Falcon 9 v1.1 to launch military payloads. The service is reviewing the results of three successful flights of the booster as well as SpaceX’s processes on the ground.

Bloomberg obtained a redacted copy of a May 20 letter and briefing paper discussing the review that the Air Force sent to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic panel.

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Commercial Crew Partners Continue Milestone Work

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their  Space Act Agreements with the agency.

NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move ahead with plans to develop the first American spacecraft designed to carry people into space since the space shuttle.

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Sierra Nevada Completes Dream Chaser Technology Readiness Level Milestone

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Former astronaut Lee Archambault Dream Chaser crew test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Former astronaut Lee Archambault Dream Chaser crew test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., July 22, 2014 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces it has successfully passed Milestone 9, the Risk Reduction and Technology Readiness Level (TRL) Advancement Testing milestone, for several critical Dream Chaser® systems under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement. Milestone 9 culminated in a major comprehensive review of various hardware systems. To date, SNC has received 92 percent of the total award value of the CCiCap agreement.

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The Risks of Airplane and Spacecraft Travel — By the Numbers

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In the “UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations Technical Report,” there is a fascinating section outlining the risks of aviation and spaceflight. It is worth quoting at length because it shows the risks people take in different types of flights, and the nearly complete lack of safety data involving the emerging field of space tourism.

The key excerpts are below. I’ve added emphasis to spotlight the key statistics.

Over the past hundred years, commercial aviation has evolved to the extent that, for public transport, operations involving ICAO-certified aircraft achieve a catastrophic failure rate better than 1×10-7. This means that catastrophic failure takes place less than once in every 10 million hours of flight.

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Lunar Pits Could Shelter Future Explorers, Settlers

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This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO's NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO’s NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Mary. (NASA PR) — While the moon’s surface is battered by millions of craters, it also has over 200 holes – steep-walled pits that in some cases might lead to caves that future astronauts could explore and use for shelter, according to new observations from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.

The pits range in size from about 5 meters (~5 yards) across to more than 900 meters (~984 yards) in diameter, and three of them were first identified using images from the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft. Hundreds more were found using a new computer algorithm that automatically scanned thousands of high-resolution images of the lunar surface from LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera (NAC).

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This Week on The Space Show

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This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, July 21, 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. ERICK SEEDHOUSE on his new Space Tourism book.

2. Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 7 PM PDT (10 PM EDT, 9 PM CDT): We welcome DR. MARK SHELHAMER of NASA regarding his FISO talk from earlier this year regarding critical issues for Human Space Flight. His FISO talk was April 1, 2014.

3. Friday, June 27, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12;30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT): No show as am at NewSpace Conference.

4. Sunday, July 27, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PST, (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). OPEN LINES. First time callers welcome. All space and STEM topics welcome.

Khrunichev Ships Heavy-lift Angara 5 to Plesetsk Cosmodrome

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Angara rocket family (Credit: Roscosmos)

Angara rocket family (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Khrunichev PR) — Preparations are in full swing for the launch of Angara 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle, marking the next testing phase of the new Angara Space Rocket Complex (SRC).

The required testing completed, the first Angara 5 launch vehicle flight article has been shipped to Plesetsk from Khrunichev Space Center (KhSC) of Moscow.

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Video Interview With Planet Labs CTO

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Video Caption: Space Station Live commentator Brandi Dean interviews Chris Boshuizen, co-founder and CTO of Planet Labs. This interview aired during Space Station Live on July 17, 2014.

A Closer Look at the UK’s Commercial Space Review

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Following the release of the document, “UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations: Summary and Conclusions,” almost all media attention focused on one element of the report: the 8 candidate sites for the nation’s first spaceport.

This laser focus is easy to understand. The fierce, tooth-and-nail competition to land some big government project will be fun to watch. And spaceports are super cool. Well, they are when space planes are actually flying to space. When like a decade goes by with people promising imminent spaceflights without a single one taking place, spaceports become a lot less cool.  (I’m looking at you…everybody in Mojave!)

But, I digress. I went through the 80-page document and the 321-page technical report its based on so you don’t have to. Why would I do this? Because you guys are the best! You’re very welcome.

Key excerpts follow with commentary as appropriate. Read away!

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Xoterra Space Founder Fatima Dyczynski Perishes on Flight MH17

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A very sad note from Xoterra Space, a start-up company focused on big data analytics whose founder gave the above talk about the potential of space at TEDxGroningen last year.

We are very grieved by the loss of the founder of Xoterra Space, Fatima Dyczynski, who passed away in flight MH17 to Kuala Lumpur. Fatima was energetic, full of life and her dreams reached to the outermost of space. She was brightly outspoken, ambitious and incredibly motivated. Many people were inspired by her dreams to make space personal and her passion for innovation and business.

Our deepest condolences go to her parents, family and dear friends.

Comments are open for condolences.

My deepest sympathies to her family, friends and colleagues for their loss.