NanoRacks Continues Investigation of ISS CubeSat Deployer Problems

International Space Station solar array panels, Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the Feb. 11 deployment of the first of 33 small satellites using the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. (Credit: NASA)
International Space Station solar array panels, Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the Feb. 11 deployment of the first of 33 small satellites using the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. (Credit: NASA)

NanoRacks Update

The investigation of the anomalies on the CubeSat deployers continues and has three main components:

  1. To understand the root cause of the behavior of the deployers
  2. To put corrective actions into place
  3. To plan a resumption in CubeSat deployments

We believe we are making progress in understanding the root cause of the anomalies. The team of NanoRacks and the CubeSat deployer manufacturer Quad M are now able to duplicate on the ground the anomalies observed in space.

Yesterday we showed the results to a NASA working group. In addition, NanoRacks has brought in a team from the Aerospace Corporation to assist NanoRacks in the investigation and in finding a pathway for future deployments. All parties are reviewing historical and new test data to validate the preliminary root cause we have identified. At the same time, the broad root cause analysis continues as NASA and NanoRacks explore all possible causes.

NanoRacks is appreciative of the hard work of NASA and the other ISS partners, including Roscosmos and JAXA, as they examine and seek to help resolve the situation. We are also appreciative for the many notes and calls we have received from the industry in support for this ground-breaking effort to stimulate the CubeSat market.

We will provide further information when appropriate.

Thanks,

The NanoRacks Team

Terminal Velocity Aerospace Signs Deal With NASA Ames

Terminal_VelocityATLANTA, GA, October 28, 2013 (TVA PR) – Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC (TVA) has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA Ames Research Center to collaborate on evaluation, testing, and technology transfer of newly-developed thermal protection system (TPS) materials.

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More Details on Orbital Sciences’ Lawsuit Against VCSFA

Antares lifts off with a Cygnus freighter. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Antares lifts off with a Cygnus freighter. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Space News has a bit more information about Orbital Sciences Corporation’s lawsuit against the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA).  Orbital purchased hardware from VCSFA after the authority ran into cost overruns and delays in building a new launch complex for the company’s Antares rocket.

Orbital bought $42 million worth of hardware, with the understanding that Virginia would eventually buy these assets back, the complaint says. The state bought back about $25.5 million worth of hardware in 2012, but balked at repurchasing a horizontal rocket transporter and associated hardware. The state argued this hardware could only be used for Antares and therefore was not a reimbursable cost. Orbital disagreed.

The Aerospace Corp., a federally funded think tank specializing in military space, was brought in to mediate and ruled  in Orbital’s favor in 2012, according to the complaint. Orbital subsequently sought payment but was told June 5 by Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton that the state would not pay. Connaughton informed Orbital of the state’s decision during a meeting of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority’s board of directors, according to the complaint.

Read the full story.

Tethers Unlimited to Test Deorbit System on CubeSat

About the size of a drink coaster, this Terminator Tape Deorbit Module enables a small spacecraft to remove itself from orbit at the end of its mission to help reduce the growth of space debris. (Credit: TUI)
About the size of a drink coaster, this Terminator Tape Deorbit Module enables a small spacecraft to remove itself from orbit at the end of its mission to help reduce the growth of space debris. (Credit: TUI)

Bothell, WA, 18 December 2012 (TUI PR) — Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) announced today that it has delivered the first flight units of an innovative spacecraft component that will help reduce the growth of space debris. TUI delivered several of its Terminator Tape™ Deorbit Modules to The Aerospace Corporation for use on its upcoming AeroCube-­5 flight experiment.

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module is a small device, about the size of a drink coaster, which is attached to a satellite prior to launch. When the satellite completes its mission, it activates the Terminator Tape Module, which then deploys a long conductive tape. This tape drags against the Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere, rapidly lowering the orbit of the spacecraft until the satellite burns up in the upper atmosphere. By rapidly removing the satellite from orbit, the Terminator Tape helps ensure that the satellite will not contribute to the accumulation of space debris that could pose a threat to future space missions.

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CSF Welcomes Aerospace Corp’s Clarification of Non-Controversy

CSF PR — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomes the Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, California for its decision to release a clarification document yesterday regarding its white paper on the business case for NASA’s Commercial Crew program. The clarification document, titled “Aerospace Commercial Crew Modeling Tool Update,” is available on the Aerospace Corporation homepage at www.aero.org.

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Aerospace Corp. Explains Commercial Crew Cost Modeling Tool

AEROSPACE CORP. PR — In late 2009, The Aerospace Corporation conducted an internally funded project to develop a model of the business-case of commercial crew space transportation. NASA’s Independent Program & Cost Evaluation department subsequently asked for, and funded, an expanded and refined analysis of Aerospace’s initial work.

A summary of the tool was presented to NASA senior leadership February 28th.

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Aerospace Study on Commercial Crew: There’s No There There

As I surmised, the leaked Aerospace Corporation study that showed NASA spending an obscene amount of money on commercial crew procurement is much ado about nothing. Space News explains:

Los Angeles-based Aerospace Corp., in an undated explanation of the study and its methodology, said the analysis was merely intended to develop a modeling tool that could be applied to a variety of data.

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Device Records Breakup of HTV Freighter

AEROSPACE COP. PR — EL SEGUNDO, March 30 — The first Reentry Breakup Recorder (REBR), an instrument designed and constructed by engineers at The Aerospace Corporation, successfully recorded data as it plunged through the atmosphere on Tuesday night aboard the disintegrating Japanese HTV-2 spacecraft.

The REBR then “phoned home” the data via the Iridium satellite system as it fell into the South Pacific Ocean Tuesday evening.

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Why is Aerospace Corp’s Commercial Crew Presentation So Incomplete?

A leaked copy of an Aerospace Corporation presentation to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden on commercial crew program has surfaced. And man, has it set off a sh***storm. Within hours of its publication, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation put out a press release attacking its conclusions. And the blogosphere has lit up with various denunciations of the Aerospace Corporation for supposedly trashing the viability of commercial space.

But, when you look at it more closely, something doesn’t quite add up.

The PowerPoint presentation is strangely incomplete. As CSF points out, there isn’t an analysis of the business case for seven-person vehicles. Boeing and SpaceX are both proposing seven-person capsules, so they believe they can close the business case with vehicles of that size. There’s no way that Aerospace Corporation would not have evaluated it. The PowerPoint presentation contains no data from the commercial crew providers. And there’s no review of other key issues, such as who pays for NASA’s existing ground infrastructure.

The Aerospace Corporation is not this sloppy. The company would not make a presentation to the NASA Administrator that left out such vital analysis. Nor would Bolden or anyone else at the space agency sit through such a session that failed to look at the most viable options.

This just don’t smell right. It seems like a selective leak of supposedly damaging  information that comes as NASA is fighting for money for its commercial crew effort and is about to announce another $270 million in funds to providers.

Device to Record HTV Re-entry, Breakup

AEROSPACE CORPORATION PR — The first Reentry Breakup Recorder (REBR), an instrument designed and constructed by engineers at The Aerospace Corporation, is set to plunge to Earth on March 29, shortly after 7 p.m.

Two REBRs were carried to the International Space Station (ISS) on board a Japanese Kounotori2 spacecraft, also known as the HTV2, on Jan. 21. The REBR is a small autonomous device that is designed to record temperature, acceleration, rotation rate, and other data as a spacecraft reenters Earth’s atmosphere. The REBRS will be attached to spacecraft returning to Earth from the ISS and will take measurements as the spacecraft breaks up during its reentry.

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2010: An Exceptionally Busy Year in Commercial Space

Dragon being recovered in the Pacific. (Credit: SpaceX)

A brief look at developments in commercial space in 2010 with a look ahead, primarily focused on developments in the United States related to the so-called “New Space” sector.

SPACEX

Milestones

  • Two Falcon 9 launches, two successes
  • One Dragon floating down gently in the Pacific
  • Submitted CCDEV 2 proposal

Coming Up in 2011

  • Test flights to ISS
  • Possible CCDEV contract award

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AIAA Awards to Honor ULA, Aerospace Corp. CEOs and STS-125 Team

AIAA PRESS RELEASE

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will honor the winners of AIAA technical and literary achievement awards on September 1 at a noon luncheon in conjunction with the AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference & Exhibition and the 28th AIAA International Communications Satellite Systems Conference (ICSSC), being held August 29–September 2, 2010 at the Anaheim Convention Center and Hilton Anaheim Hotel in Anaheim, Calif.

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Aerospace Corporation to Assess DIRECT Alternative to Ares

NASA's Ares I rocket lifts off in this artist's conception. (Credit: NASA)
NASA's Ares I rocket lifts off in this artist's conception. (Credit: NASA)

Alternative moon rockets to over-budget Constellation gaining traction
Orlando Sentinel

They have deemed some of these projects worthy of further study, including ideas written off by NASA engineers a few years ago as being underpowered, unsafe and unimaginative. One of them is being promoted by the head of NASA’s shuttle program. Another is the product of a group of freelance engineers — some of them NASA employees working on their own time — and rocket hobbyists calling themselves the Direct team.

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