Video: NASA Accomplishments at Mid-Year

Video Caption: 2017 is shaping up to be another year of unprecedented exploration, amazing discoveries, technological advances and progress in development of future missions – and we’re just six months into the year. Here are some of our top stories of 2017, so far – Mid-Year at NASA!

Is Trump the New JFK of Space?

Yeah, I don’t think so….

OK, let me clarify that. I’ve seen no real signs so far that Trump wants to do anything really bold in space. That could change; never say never. But, it’s been five months, and he hasn’t even gotten around to nominating a NASA administrator yet. His FY 2018 budget proposal doesn’t include anything novel.

“Mr. Trump’s charisma, vision, and style are reminiscent of JFK…”

Mmmmm…..no. Definitely not.

Here’s a challenge for you guys for the comments sections: JFK’s greatest and most inspiring quotes side-by-side with Trump’s worst quotes and Tweets. Don’t limit yourself to space.

Read the full op-ed piece.

Healthy Chinese Communications Satellite Placed in Wrong Orbit

A Long March 3B rocket placed a Chinese communications satellite into an extremely lopsided orbit on Monday following what official state media say was an anomaly with the booster’s third stage.

Space-Track.org reports the Zhongxing-9A (Chinasat-9A) spacecraft is in an orbit measuring 193 x 16,357 km. It is not clear whether the geosynchronous satellite can be salvaged.

Chinese media report the spacecraft is healthy with solar panels and antennas deployed.

The satellite was launched aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 00:12 local time.

Zhongxing-9A is designed to provide direct-to-home television broadcast services to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

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SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell to Drop By The Space Show


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

1. Monday, June 19, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): CHRIS STONE is back for updates with DOD and National Security Space matters.

2. Tuesday, June 20 , 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: We welcome back DR. JASON REIMULLER of Integrated Spaceflight Services and PoSSUM for updates.

3. Wednesday, June 21, 2016:: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details.

4. Thursday, June 22, 2017; 2-3PM PDT, 5-6 PM EDT, 3-4 PM CDT: We welcome back GWYNNE SHOTWELL of SpaceX. Please be succinct with your calls and emails. One question per listener to allow as many as possible to engage with Ms. Shotwell. Thank you.

5. Friday, June 23, 2017; 9:30-11AM PDT, 12:30-2 PM EDT, 11:30AM-1 PM CDT: We welcome back DR. DOUG PLATA. Doug will report on ISDC and much more.

6. Sunday, June 18, 2017: 12-1:30 PM DST (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. Call in about the topics you want to talk about. First time callers welcome. Space and STEAM topics welcome.

New Mexico’s Spending on Spaceport America Likely Not Over

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

After a decade of broken promises and delays, the next year could bring some very good news for New Mexico’s $225 million taxpayer-funded Spaceport America.

Anchor tenant Virgin Galactic’s lease payments are increasing. And Richard Branson’s prediction for the start of commercial spaceflights there in 2018 appear (for once) to be on the mark, barring major problems with SpaceShipTwo’s flight test program.

So, it would seem that at long last, New Mexico’s hard-pressed taxpayers will finally be off the hook for supporting the spaceport. Right?…I mean, right?

Not necessarily.

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Lockheed Martin Unveils New Space-Themed STEM Resources


Concerned the United States will lack a workforce capable of sending astronauts to Mars, Lockheed Martin has unveiled new resources to encourage students to study relevant STEM fields.

The additions to the company’s Generation Beyond program including a space-themed curriculum and new app that simulates what it’s like to explore the surface of Mars.

The expansion of the program follows a poll that shows low interest among students in studying STEM fields.

“According to the national survey of 1,000 teachers (conducted by Morar Consulting from April 5 – 11, ± 3.1% MOE), while just 38 percent of teachers report that a majority of students seem naturally interested in STEM, 83 percent see discussing space-related careers as a potential way to increase student focus on STEM,” Lockheed Martin said in a press statement.

“America’s hardworking teachers do an amazing job preparing students for success, and we owe them our support and partnership,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “The new Generation Beyond curriculum connects students to the real-world exhilaration of space exploration to ignite their interest in STEM. It’s incumbent on all of us to help teachers inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers.”

Lockheed Martin partnered with Discovery Education to create the Generation Beyond curriculum resources. They are available at generationbeyondinschool.com. The Mars Walk can be download for iPhone or Android phones.

Zero Gravity Solutions Reports Positive Results on ISS Broccoli Experiment

Zero Gravity Solutions, Inc. (ZGSI) reports that broccoli grown aboard the International Space Station (ISS) that was treated with ts BAM-FX micro-nutrient product grew larger than a control group without it.

In the 26-day experiment, the broccoli was grown in agarose media treated with BAM-FX, which is a patented precision zinc and copper micro-nutrient formulation.

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Fate of Chinese Communications Satellite Unknown

China launched the Zhongxing-9A (Chinasat-9A) communications satellite early Monday morning, but the fate of the spacecraft remains unclear.

Normally an official confirmation of launch success would be issued. However, no updates have been provided yet, a sign there might have been a problem with the launch.

The spacecraft was launched aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 00:12 local time.

Zhongxing-9A is designed to provide direct-to-home television broadcast services to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

SpaceX Could Launch Two Falcon 9s on Same Weekend

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft on board, (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

SpaceX has delayed the Falcon 9 launch of the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite until no earlier than Friday, June 23, with June 24 as a backup date. The launch had been scheduled for Monday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted that engineers are replacing a fairing pneumatic value.

The delay sets up the possibility of the dual launch of Falcon 9’s for the East and West coasts.  SpaceX is scheduled to launch  the Iridium Next 11-20 satellites on Sunday, June 25, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Avio Tests New PC120C Solid Rocket Motor Booster Casing

P-120C solid rocket motor booster casing. (Credit: Avio)

Avio reports it has completed operational tests for the first P120C sold rocket motor booster casing, which will be used on the new Ariane 6 and Vega C launch vehicles.

“The mechanical tests were carried out using a platform specifically designed and built to simulate the actual conditions of a space launch: pressurization inside the combustion chamber, engine thrust and mechanical loads resulting from the launcher’s operational phases,” the Italian company said in a press release.

“The technological casing, equipped and complete with instrumentation, was subjected to a test cycle up to the maximum engine operating pressure as well as a series of axial load cycles, which demonstrated that the prototype fully corresponded to engineering predictions for its mechanical behaviour,” the company added.

Vega C is set for its first launch in 2019. Ariane 6 is scheduled for the following year.

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Haas 2CA Flight Animation & Vehicle Specifications

Video Caption: Introducing the Haas 2CA Single-Stage-to-Orbit rocket. Outfitted with lightweight composite materials and the Executor aerospike engine, the Haas 2CA will be the first rocket in history to place itself into Earth’s orbit as a single stage.

HAAS 2CA VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle length10 m
Vehicle diameter (except fins)0.7 m
Takeoff weight2,240 kg
Dry weight120 kg
Number of stages1
PropellantHydrogen peroxide 70%
Tank pressurizationPressure fed
Chamber temperature250°C
Total thrust at sea level4,100 kgf
Total thrust in vacuum5,700 kgf
Specific impulse at sea level93 s
Specific impulse in vacuum127 s
Running time85 s
Source: ARCA Space Corporation

ARCA Space to Test Aerospike Engine at Spaceport America

ARCASpace booster with aerospike engine. (Credit: ARCA Space)

ARCA Space Corporation has announced plans to flight test its Executor aerospike engine for its Haas 2CA single-stage-to-orbit small satellite launch vehicle at Spaceport America in New Mexico in August.

The Demonstrator 3 vehicle will conduct the first test of an aerospike engine in flight during a suborbital mission that will reach an altitude of up to 100 km, the company said in a press release.

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Russian Rocket Engines Exempted from Sanctions Bill

RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)

Officials at Orbital ATK and ULA breathed sighs of relief on Thursday as the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to exempt rocket engines from a sanctions bill targeting Iran and Russia.

The amendment to the sanctions measure exempted RD-180 engines used by ULA in the first stage of its Atlas V booster and the RD-181 engines Orbital ATK uses in the first stage of its Antares launch vehicle. Both engines are produced by NPO Energomash of Russia.

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Jay Gibson Out at XCOR, In With Trump Administration

John (Jay) Gibson

Jay Gibson’s two-year tenure as president and CEO of XCOR appears to be at an end.

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Gibson to be deputy chief management officer of the Department of Defense.

The announcement describes Gibson as “most recently” having been XCOR’s president and CEO. However, a source says he is still at the company.

The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

XCOR hired Gibson in March 2015 to replace founder Jeff Greason. The objective was for Gibson to focus on the business side while Greason focused on completing construction on the Lynx suborbital space plane.

That arrangement did not work out. By November, Greason and two other founders, Dan DeLong and Aleta Jackson, had left the company to found Agile Aerospace.

In May 2016, XCOR laid off about 25 employees — roughly half of its workforce — and suspended work on the Lynx. The company has since refocused its energies on its rocket engine work.

UPDATE: XCOR board member Michael Blum issued the following written statement:

“Jay Gibson is still at XCOR but will be leaving shortly for a tremendous opportunity to serve his country in a very senior role at DoD. He has been a great CEO whose leadership and experience has guided XCOR through ups and downs.”

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