And the New NASA Administrator is Probably….Wait for it….

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

This guy.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

That’s what a couple of websites (here and here) are reporting this evening, with the caveat that — this being “Trump world” — anything could happen between now and the formal announcement planned for September or perhaps earlier.

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be.

During his three terms Congress, Bridenstine has made himself an expert in space policy, with a particular focus on promoting commercial space. He’s also been campaigning for the job since Trump was elected (and probably before). Bridenstine will also be in need of a new job soon. He promised voters he would serve a maximum of six years in the House, which means he won’t be standing for re-election next November.

The Trump Administration has also settled on a deputy administrator. That guy’s name is…

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XCOR Lost ULA Engine Contract

Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)

Despite laying off its 21 remaining employees, XCOR Aerospace isn’t dead yet. But, it’s not in real good shape, either.

It turns out that a major blow to the company was the loss of a contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to develop an upper stage for the Vulcan booster.

The primary impetus for the layoffs, Acting CEO and XCOR Board member Michael Blum told me, is the loss of a contract for engine development that the company had with United Launch Alliance. “The proceeds should have been enough to fund the prototype of Lynx [the company’s planned spacecraft], but ULA decided they’re not going to continue funding the contract. So we find ourselves in a difficult financial situation where we need to raise money or find joint developments to continue.” ULA declined to comment.
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Aerojet Rocketdyne Tests Advanced Electric Propulsion System

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 06, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully conducted a series of hot-fire tests on a Power Processing Unit (PPU) for an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) designed to advance the nation’s commercial space capabilities as well as support NASA’s plans for deep space exploration. The tests were conducted at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

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House to Hold Hearing on In-Space Propulsion


House of Representatives

Space Subcommittee Hearing

In-Space Propulsion: Strategic Choices and Options
Date: Thursday, June 29, 2017 – 10:00am
Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Hearing Purpose
NASA is pursuing several in-space propulsion technologies to advance not only human exploration, but also uncrewed spacecraft operations. The hearing will explore NASA’s current portfolio of investments in in-space propulsion technologies, the state of the various technologies, and how they fit into future space architectures.

Witnesses

  • Mr. William Gerstenmaier — Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, NASA
  • Mr. Stephen Jurczyk — Associate Administrator, Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Dr. Mitchell Walker — Chair, Electric Propulsion Technical Committee, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
  • Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz — Founder and CEO, Ad Astra Rocket Company
  • Mr. Joe Cassady — Executive Director for Space, Washington Operations, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Dr. Anthony Pancotti — Director of Propulsion Research, MSNW LLC

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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Aerojet Rocketdyne Selected as Main Propulsion Provider for XS-1 Vehicle

DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program seeks to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would break the cycle of escalating launch costs and make possible a host of critical national security options. As the next step toward a future of routine, responsive, and low-cost space access, DARPA has awarded Phases 2 and 3 of the program to The Boeing Company. (Credit: Boeing)

LOS ANGELES, May 24, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), was selected to provide the main propulsion for the Boeing and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) reusable Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1). Aerojet Rocketdyne is a member of the Boeing team that recently announced an agreement to collaborate with DARPA to design, build and test a technology demonstrator for the agency’s XS-1 program.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Fuel Boost Kick Pump Testing

The HBTD kick pump in test configuration at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s test facility in Sacramento, California. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 12, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed its test campaign of a fuel boost kick pump at its Sacramento, California, facility as part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. This device, as part of the engine turbomachinery, is the first full-scale engine component to be tested on the program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the pump units at full power to provide key insights for future engines that use the oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Qualifications Tests for Starliner Propulsion System

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s MR-104J Hydrazine Monopropellant Engine. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 20, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), has successfully completed hot-fire qualification tests of an engine that demonstrates the ability to meet reusability requirements for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner crew module propulsion system.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Announces Reorganization, Job Cuts

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 10, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), announced plans for the next phase of its Competitive Improvement Program (CIP) that was launched in 2015. The next phase (Phase II) includes additional consolidation and optimization of Aerojet Rocketdyne facilities over the next two years.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Tests Full-Scale 3-D Printed RL10 Thrust Chamber

Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed successful hot-fire testing of a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine at its West Palm Beach, Florida facility. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 03, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD) has successfully hot-fire tested a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine that was built from a copper alloy using selective laser melting (SLM) technology, which is often referred to as 3-D printing.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Coleman Aerospace Opens New Facility on Cape Canaveral

SACRAMENTO, Calif.(Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), announced that Coleman Aerospace today unveiled its new Space Coast Integration & Test Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

“With the opening of this innovative facility, we are building on our expertise as a premier launch vehicle provider for missile defense testing,” said Dan Kelly, who will serve as interim general manager of Aerojet Rocketdyne Coleman Aerospace.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 Engine Sets U.S. Record

Staged-combustion testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for the AR1 program is being developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss., (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), recently demonstrated the highest chamber pressure of any United States produced liquid oxygen and kerosene main combustion system. This milestone occurred during a series of successful test firings of the AR1’s staged combustion system at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Acquires Coleman Aerospace

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Feb. 22, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD) announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Coleman Aerospace from L3 Technologies, Inc. for $15 million in cash, subject to customary adjustments. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the month. Coleman Aerospace will operate as a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. and will be renamed Aerojet Rocketdyne Coleman Aerospace, Inc. (“Coleman”).

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Adds 100 Jobs in Huntsville

AR1 engine (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 30, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), announced it is moving forward with plans to produce America’s newest advanced rocket engine, the AR1, in Huntsville, Alabama, resulting in the creation of 100 new jobs. AR1 is the latest engine in development by Aerojet Rocketdyne, America’s premier large liquid rocket engine manufacturer.

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Astrobotic Pulls Out of Google Lunar X Prize

Peregrine lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic)
Peregrine lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic has pulled out of the Google Lunar X Prize, according to an update on the Space Angels Network website.

As a former XPRIZE contender, Astrobotic was the only team to win all three of the competition’s Milestone Prizes, which brought the company $1.75 million in prize money. Astrobotic is now poised for further success: Their Peregrine Lander will carry customer payloads to the Moon’s surface in 2019, including the rovers of three other GLXP competitors. These initial customers, who have had an opportunity to evaluate all potential service providers, have said that Astrobotic is “years ahead of the competition.”
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