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JPL Seeks Robotic Spacecraft Development for Asteroid Redirect Mission

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This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (Credit: NASA)

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has issued a request for proposal (RFP) seeking design, development and build of the robotic spacecraft that will capture a multi-ton asteroid boulder from deep space during the first segment of the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). The RFP is open to the four industry partners that previously completed conceptual designs of the spacecraft.

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Space Foundation Partners with Project PoSSUM

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Project_PoSSUMCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 15, 2016) — The Space Foundation is partnering with Project PoSSUM to offer the PoSSUM Academy upper-atmospheric and astronautics education program in 2017. The program, designed by upper atmospheric scientists and former NASA astronaut instructors, is an immersive education program for high-school and undergraduate students. PoSSUM Academy students learn about upper-atmospheric science and astronautics as they prepare for simulated suborbital missions to study elusive ‘space clouds’ called noctilucent clouds.

PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, grew from a suborbital flight opportunity granted by NASA in 2012 in which a commercial suborbital spacecraft, such as Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two, will be used to fly through a noctilucent cloud with a package of instruments that can create a tomographic image of these cloud features, much like an MRI builds a 3D model of a human body.

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SpaceX, NASA Misled Public About First Commercial Resupply Flight

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Falcon 9 launches on its first commercial resupply mission.

Falcon 9 launches on its first commercial resupply mission.

As SpaceX prepared to launch its first commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station in October 2012, there was a rather curious aspect about the mission. While the Dragon spacecraft was advertised as being able to carry 3,310 kg of cargo, the ship was only loaded with 450 kg of cargo — less than 14 percent of maximum capacity.

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UAE Space Agency Announces Details of National Space Sector Policy

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UAE_Space_Agency_LogoDUBAI (UAE Space Agency PR) — The UAE Space Agency announced today details of the National Space Sector Policy. The document was approved on September 4 by the Council of Ministers, headed by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The policy aims to build a strong and sustainable space sector in the UAE that supports and protects national interests and related vital industries. This includes contributing to economic growth and diversification, strengthening specialized Emirati skillsets and developing scientific and hi-tech capabilities. It also seeks to nurture and grow a culture of innovation and enhance the UAE’s status on regional and global levels.

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IAF to Webcast Elon Musk’s Mars Speech Next Week

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Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Editor’s Note: Good news, everyone! For all those who can’t make it to Mexico next week to hear Elon Musk’s big Mars talk on Sept. 27, the IAF is offering it free online. For the first time, it will be webcasting all plenary sessions. See the press release below for details.

The International Astronautical Federation is pleased to announce that for the first time in IAC history, all Plenary Events as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 67th International Astronautical Congress to be held from 26–30 September 2016 in Guadalajara, Mexico, will be live broadcasted.

One of the main components of this year’s IAC is telecommunications and, as one of the great benefits of this technology, an unprecedented number of people will be able to have access to the state-of-the-art knowledge shared on this premier event.

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A Video Analysis of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Firexplanomaly

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Video Caption: A more detailed analysis of the spacex falcon 9 rocket explosion.

Several interesting details. Firstly the main explosion is actually from the fuel from the second stage and the liquid oxygen from the first stage.

In order to save weight on the rocket the second stage of the falcon 9 uses a common wall for the liquid oxygen and fuel tank (rp1). Any rupture in this tank wall would doom the rocket.

The quiet ‘pop’ may well be a failure of a helium tank. They are usually used to keep a pressure in the tanks while they are emptying due to the rocket burning the fuel. If one of these had ruptured while the oxygen tank was full, it could have overpressurized the tank causing it to also fail.

ASTM International to Host Organizational Meeting on Potential Commercial Spaceflight Standards

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astm_logoWEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Penn. (ASTM PR) — With support from industry and government leaders, ASTM International will host an organizational meeting to potentially create a new technical committee that develops voluntary consensus standards for commercial spaceflight.

This meeting comes in part as a result of the updated U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 (CSLCA).  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) is recommending the organization of the new group.

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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, Sept. 19, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): DR. PAUL SUTTER returns for a space science discussion.

2. Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) MARK WHITTINGTON, author & journalist is back with us.

4. Friday, Sept. 23, 2016: 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT) DENNIS WINGO returns to discuss the Falcon 9 launch accident and much more.

5. Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): DR. JOHN BRANDENBURG returns for the promised hybrid-fusion discussion.

Norwegian Company Working on Ocean Launched Rocket

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And now from Norway, the latest entry into the Great 21st Century Rocket RaceTM, the Sea Serpent. Featuring an aerospike engine, the booster will be launched from the ocean after being towed out by a tug boat.

The company announced last week it had received a grant from Innovation Norway, a government agency that funds startups. The company expects to begin test flights of the booster in the first quarter of 2017, with commercial flights following in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The information below is taken from Ripple’s website.

Sea Serpent Version 1 Performance Facts

3.35 MT LEO SSE-258KM orbit. Standalone. Non reusable.

2MT LEO – First Stage Reusable (Delta-V performance allowing for re entry of second stage). Amount of mass allows for customer customization to reach different celestial targets as necessary for satellite deployment.

640kg GTO. SSE. Non-reusable. Potential first stage reusability through testing.

As a first variation model of this particular launch system, whose promises of reusability are better emphasized with the larger launch vehicle variants,, we are aiming to prove reusability and providing that option for customers now in limited form.

Due to how this launch system is built, we leave it up to the customer on whether reusability or non reusability is gauged to meet their missions success.

Cost

  • Projected cost $18 Million USD. $4090/lb. $9000/Kilogram
  • Possible to split payloads
  • Example configuration: 8 cylindrical payload spacing. 550lbs each (249kg). $2,249,500/ 249kg payload space.

Technical Details

  • Aerospike engine
  • Thrust (vac) 1111 kN
  • Thrust (SL) 916.3 kN
  • LH2/LO2
  • O/F = 5.5

Stratolaunch: How Very Soon is Now?

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It’s been a while since we last checked in with Mojave’s largest — and most media shy — space project, Stratolaunch (whose carrier aircraft has been dubbed Carbon Goose, Composite Goose and — for no discernible reason — Birdzilla).

Some of you may recall there was a burst of publicity about the project back in June. A group of journalists were allowed into the project’s giant hangar to view the world’s largest airplane, then 76 percent complete. The circle of invitees appeared rather small, limited to those who had not (ahem) impertinently nicknamed the aircraft Birdzilla.

About a week later, Chuck Beames gave a talk about Stratolaunch at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace Conference in Seattle. Beames said all the right things — program on track, everything going well, can’t wait to fly, etc.

Unfortunately, his talk sounded a lot like the one he had given at the same conference the previous July in San Jose. In 2015, he said the company was due to announce what rocket(s) the aircraft would air launch in the fall. That time came and it went. In Seattle, he promised announcements “very soon.” In fact, he had hoped to announce them at the conference.

Three months later, construction on the mammoth carrier aircraft continues on Riccomini Street with no announcement of what rocket(s) the airplane will air launch. Clearly, the definition of “soon” is a rather elastic one in the space industry.

After going through SpaceX and Orbital ATK, the company talked to anyone and everyone with a rocket engine or an idea for one. They must have hit pay dirt with someone. Otherwise, the giant aircraft will likely share the fate of its nicknamesake, Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, which flew once before becoming a museum piece.

I Will Launch America: Mike Ravenscroft

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Mike Ravenscroft (Credit: NASA)

Mike Ravenscroft (Credit: NASA)

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

Every astronaut who flies into space should go with the confidence that every detail of their spacecraft, rocket and mission has been thought-through and evaluated carefully, engineer Michael Ravenscroft said. That’s one of the reasons that the Commercial Crew Program engineer takes so little for granted as the program steers itself and partners toward a new dawn of human spaceflight from American soil.

“It’s one of those things you always think about – you don’t want to put anybody at unnecessary risk,” Ravenscroft said.

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Rocket Lab Gets New Zealand Government Approval for Launches

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Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab has signed a contract with the government of New Zealand that will allow it to begin orbital launches of its Electron booster.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says they’ll start later this year.

He’s signed a contract with the ground-breaking company that allows it go ahead before legislation is passed by parliament….

Mr Joyce will introduce a bill to parliament later this month that will set out permanent regulations covering rocket launches.

He expects to have it in law by mid-2017.

Read the full story.

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Next ISS Crew Launch Postponed

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Expedition 49-50 crew members (from left) Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko.

Expedition 49-50 crew members (from left) Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko.

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos decided to postpone the planned September 23, 2016 launch of the manned spacecraft Soyuz MS-02 for technical reasons after tests at the Baikonur Space Center.

The launch date of the spacecraft will be announced later.

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Orbital ATK Completes PDR for Vital Weather Satellite

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orbital_ATK_logoGILBERT, Ariz., 12 September 2016 (Orbital ATK) – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, announced today that the program team has successfully completed NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Spacecraft Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for JPSS-2, and the Polar Follow-On/JPSS -3 and -4. Built on Orbital ATK’s proven and reliable LEOStar-3TM platform, these spacecraft will host instruments that provide essential operational space-based weather observations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The four-day spacecraft PDR was conducted August 29 through September 1 at Orbital ATK’s facility in Gilbert, Arizona where the spacecraft are being designed and built. Representatives from NOAA and NASA, including satellite instrument providers and independent reviewers, participated in this important program milestone.

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UK Announces £2 Million for Earth Observation Technologies

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UK_space_agencySWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today unveiled new support to help the UK space and satellite technology sector maintain their leading position in earth observation and help tackle global issues such as deforestation and disaster monitoring. This support includes a new £2m joint programme for UK companies and academia to develop innovative technologies to observe Earth from space. A new online portal will also provide businesses and academics with access to real-time high quality satellite data to help them monitor changes in our planet.

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