SpaceX Wants More Government Funding for Renamed BFR

BFR servicing the International Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

Some news out of the NewSpace Europe conference:

The president of SpaceX said she expects the company would receive additional funding from the U.S. government to support the development of its large reusable launch system.

Speaking at the NewSpace Europe conference here Nov. 16, Gwynne Shotwell noted that SpaceX is already receiving funding from the U.S. Air Force supporting the development of Raptor, the engine that will power the vehicle known as BFR, or Big Falcon Rocket, and the reusable spacecraft known as BFS or Big Falcon Spaceship.

“I do anticipate that there is residual capability of that system that the government will be interested in,” she said. “I do see that we would likely get some funding from the government for BFR and BFS.” She added, though, that work on the vehicles was not contingent on receiving government funding.

The U.S. Air Force recently issued a request for proposals that will fund the development of new launch systems to replace ULA’s Delta IV and Atlas V boosters.

SpaceX, ULA Split Pair of NASA Launch Contracts

Falcon 9 on the launch pad with Intelsat 35e satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the Sentinel-6A mission. Launch is currently targeted for November 2020, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

NASA also has selected United Launch Services LLC (ULS) of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the Landsat 9 mission. The mission is currently targeted for a contract launch date of June 2021, while protecting for the ability to launch as early as December 2020, on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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ULA Atlas V Launches NRO Satellite

Atlas V lifts off with NROL-52 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., (Oct. 15, 2017) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on Oct. 15 at 3:28 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-52, the mission is in support of national security.

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Atlas V Scrubbed for Weather, Soyuz Launches Progress to Station

Atlas V with NROL-52 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

ULA says it scrubbed an early-morning launch of an Atlas V carrying the NROL-52 satellite due to weather violations. The launch has been rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 15, at 3:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was the third scrub of the flight due to weather constraints and the fourth scrub overall.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a Russian Progress resupply ship blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Saturday. The freighter will take about two days to reach the International Space Station. The launch comes two after a last-minute abort of the Soyuz booster.

On Friday, the European Sentinel 5 Precursor satellite was orbited by a Russian Rockot booster from the Plesestk Cosmodrome. The mission, a joint collaboration of the European Commission and European Space Agency, will measure greenhouse gases.

SpaceX Orbits Comsats, Progress Resupply Launch Scrubbed

Soyuz rocket with Progress 68 resupply ship. (Credit: Roscosmos)

SpaceX successfully launched the SES 11 and EchoStar 105 communication satellites on Wednesday evening from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket landed on an off-shore drone ship.

Meanwhile, the launch of Progress 68 resupply ship was scrubbed from Baikonur for an unknown reason. The launch of the Soyuz rocket has been rescheduled for no earlier than Saturday Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (0846 GMT).

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Launch Crews 3-for-3 Today

Falcon 9 launch

Launch crews in the United States, China and Japan are celebrating successful flights to start a busy launch week.

China got things started by launching the Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite aboard a Long March 2D rocket from Jiuquan.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 followed up with an early morning launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The flight included the 17th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage.

The Japanese successfully launched the Michibiki 4 navigation satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center.

Below is the launch schedule for the rest of the month. It is possible that an Atlas V that had been scheduled to launch a national reconnaissance satellite last week will be added to the schedule for later this month. The launch was delayed twice due to weather and the third time because of a faulty telemetry transmitter. ULA has not set a new launch date.

October 11

Falcon 9
Payload: SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite
Launch window: 6:53-8:53 p.m. EDT (2253-0053 GMT)
Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

October 12

Soyuz
Payload: Progress 68P resupply ship
Launch time: 5:32 a.m. EDT (0932 GMT)
Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

October 13

Rockot
Payload: Sentinel 5p Earth observation satellite
Launch time: 5:27 a.m. EDT (0927 GMT)
Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

October 17

Minotaur-C
Payload: 6 SkySat Earth observation satellites
Launch time: 5:37 p.m. EDT; 2:37 p.m. PDT (2137 GMT)
Launch site: SLC-576E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

October 30

Falcon 9
Payload: Koreasat 5A communications satellite
Launch window: 3:34-5:58 p.m. EDT (1934-2158 GMT)
Launch site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

USAF Issues RFP for New Launch Vehicles

The U.S. Air Force issued a request for proposals (RFP) last Thursday for a new launch vehicle to handle national security space (NSS) requirements.

“The goal of the EELV acquisition strategy is to leverage commercial launch solutions in order to have at least two domestic, commercial launch service providers that also meet NSS requirements, including the launch of the heaviest and most complex payloads,” the proposal states.

“The Launch Service Agreements (LSAs) facilitate development of at least three EELV Launch System prototypes as early as possible, allowing those launch systems to mature prior to a future selection of two NSS launch service providers for Phase 2 launch service procurements, starting in FY20,” the proposal adds.
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Weather Delayed Atlas V Launch Rescheduled for Saturday

Atlas V with NROL-52 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

UPDATE: The launch was scrubbed due to an issue with a telemetry transmitter on the vehicle. No new late date has been set yet.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Calif. — The ULA Atlas V launch carrying the NROL-52 mission in support of national security remains on track. The mission, for the National Reconnaissance Office, is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Saturday, Oct. 7 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The Oct. 7 launch time is 3:59 a.m. ET.

Launch Forecast Summary:

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 40%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds and Thick Clouds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 30%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds

Webcast available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

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Atlas V Launch Set for Thursday Morning

The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA’s most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the NROL-52 mission in support of national security.

The mission, for the National Reconnaissance Office, is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Thursday, Oct. 5 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Today’s L-4 forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The Oct. 5 launch time is 4:07 a.m. ET.

Launch Forecast Summary:

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 40%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds and Ground Winds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 60%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds

ULA’s Atlas V Launches NRO Satellite

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying NROL-42 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 on Sept. 23, 2017. (Credit: ULA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Sept. 24, 2017 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off  from Space Launch Complex-3 on Sept. 23, at 10:49:47 p.m. PDT. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security.

“Congratulations to the entire team for overcoming multiple challenges throughout this launch campaign. From Hurricane Irma schedule impacts to replacing to a first stage battery this week – the team maintained a clear focus on mission success,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. “NROL-42 marks the 25th ULA-launched NRO mission, building upon our legacy of partnership with the NRO in providing reliable access to space for our nation’s most critical missions.”

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ULA to Conduct Atlas V Night Launch From Vandenberg Tonight

The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA’s most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

UPDATE: The launch has been postponed to no earlier than Saturday, Sept. 23. They need to replace a valve in the booster.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (ULA PR) — The ULA launch readiness review was completed today everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V NROL-42 launch in support of national security.

The mission, for the National Reconnaissance Office, is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Thursday, Sept. 21 from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Today’s L-1 weather forecast continues to show 60% favorable conditions for launch. The launch time is 10:38 p.m. PDT.

Atlas V NROL-42 mission profile located here: https://youtu.be/4UjeoySzxPo

Webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com  and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Launch Day Forecast

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 40%
Areas of concern: Launch Visibility, Ground Winds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 Hour Delay: 10%
Areas of concern: Ground Winds

 

ULA Atlas V Orbits TDRS-M Satellite

ULA Atlas V lifts off with TDRS-M satellite. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Aug. 18, 2017 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NASA’s Tracking Data and Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 Aug. 18 at 8:29 a.m. EDT. The TDRS-M is the third and final mission in the series of these third generation space communication satellites to orbit, as part of the follow-on fleet being developed to replenish NASA’s space Network.

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NASA TV to Air Launch of ULA Atlas V

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M is the latest spacecraft destined for the agency’s constellation of communications satellites that allows nearly continuous contact with orbiting spacecraft ranging from the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope to the array of scientific observatories. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting 8:03 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 18, for the launch of its next Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) mission atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch, and related activities that begin Thursday, Aug. 17, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. (more…)

Sierra Nevada Selects ULA to Launch First 2 Dream Chasers

Dream Chaser cargo ship docking with International Space Station. (Credit: SNC)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., July 19, 2017 (SNC PR)) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced that it selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) commercially developed Atlas V rocket to launch the first two missions of its Dream Chaser cargo system in support of NASA’s Cargo Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract.
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Trump Administration Objects to Defense Bill Provisions on Space Corps, EELV Development


The Trump Administration and the House Armed Services Committee are on a collision course over four space- and rocket-related provisions in the fNational Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018).

Specifically, the administration is objecting to the following provisions:

  • the establishment of a separate space corps within the U.S. Air Force (USAF);
  • limitations on the funding of new rocket engines for the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program;
  • a prohibition on the Pentagon procurement of transponder services on commercial satellites launched on Russian rockets; and,
  • requirements that the Defense Department find multiple suppliers for individual components of solid rocket missile systems.

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