California Considers Tax on Launches Within the State

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

California’s Franchise Tax Board is seeking public comment on a proposed new tax that would fall upon ULA, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and other companies launching spacecraft from within the state.

The levy would apply to companies “that generates more than 50 percent of its gross receipts from the provision of space transportation activity for compensation in a taxable year,” the proposal states. Space is defined as 62 statute miles (100 km) or more above Earth.
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ULA Leaning Toward BE-4 Engine for Vulcan as Crucial Engine Tests Loom

BE-4 staged combustion testing (Credit: Blue Origin)

In what is likely a surprise to no one, United Launch Alliance’s CEO said this week the company is leaning toward selecting Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine in the first stage of its new Vulcan rocket — providing upcoming engine tests go well.

That would leave rival Aerojet Rocketdyne and its AR1 engine without a booster to fly on.

In an interview during the 33rd Space Symposium here, Tory Bruno said that tests of the BE-4 engine, scheduled to begin “very soon” at Blue Origin’s test site in West Texas, are the last major hurdle the engine must clear before ULA decides to use it on Vulcan.
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ULA Lays off 48 Employees at Vandenberg

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

United Launch Alliance (ULA) plans to lay off 48 employees that work for its operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. ULA launches Atlas V and Delta IV rockets from the coastal base.

“United Launch Alliance continues to transform our company to provide cost-effective solutions for our customers, while we maintain our focus on mission success,” spokeswoman Jessica Rye said in a written statement.

“As we announced last year, ULA would have two reductions in force, one in 2016, which was completed, and one in 2017 to accomplish our business goals. We hope to accomplish the majority of the 2017 reductions through voluntary layoffs….

The jobs will end June 1, according to the letter, and include both union and non-union employees. Layoffs are expected to be permanent.

Affected employees currently hold assorted jobs, including technicians and engineers.

Read the full story.

ULA’s Delta IV Launches U.S. Air Force Satellite

Delta IV rocket launches the WGS-9 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., March 18, 2017 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the ninth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) satellite for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on March 18 at 8:18 p.m. EST.

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A Look at Launches in 2016

Atlas V launches the NROL-61 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Excerpt from

The Annual Compendium of
Commercial Space Transportation: 2017
Federal Aviation Administration
Office of Commercial Space
Transportation (FAA AST)

January 2017

2016 Launch Events

Space launch activity worldwide is carried out by the civil, military, and commercial sectors. This section summarizes U.S. and international orbital launch activities for calendar year 2016, including launches licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST). Countries and jurisdictions worldwide that possess functional and operating indigenous launch industries are the United States, Russia, China, European Union, India, Japan, Israel, Iran, North Korea, and South Korea. Several other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Indonesia, are developing launch vehicle technologies.

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Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Part 2 of 2

There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

Part 1 of 2

The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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ULA Delta IV Carries U.S. Air Force Satellite Into Orbit

A Delta IV rocket carries the WGS-8 satellite into orbit. (Credit: ULA)
A Delta IV rocket carries the WGS-8 satellite into orbit. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Dec. 7, 2016 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the eighth installment of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 Dec. 7 at 6:53 p.m. EDT. This is ULA’s 11th launch in 2016 and the 114th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

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Delta IV Set to Launch Air Force Satellite on Wednesday Night

The U.S. Air Force's eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37. (Credit: ULA)
The U.S. Air Force’s eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, encapsulated in a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Delta IV launch carrying the WGS-8 satellite for the US Air Force. The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Delta IV rocket on Wednesday, Dec. 7 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 6:53-7:42 p.m. EST. Today’s L-2 forecast shows a 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

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

Weather Forecast

Overall probability of violating launch weather constraints: 20%
Primary concern: Thick Cloud Layers
Overall probability of violating launch weather constraints for 24-hour delay: 40%
Primary concern: Thick Cloud Layers

Are SpaceX’s 60 to 80 Hour Work Weeks Really Such a Good Idea?

Credit: USLaunchReport.com
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Elon Musk has been credited with bringing Silicon Valleyesque practices to the rocket industry: the 60 to 80 hour weeks, frequent hardware as software upgrades, multi-tasking, free coffee, vested stock options, gala holiday parties each more extravagant than the last, and the other things.

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Delta IV Orbits Two USAF Satellites

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying AFSPC-6 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying AFSPC-6 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug.19, 2016 (ULA) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the AFSPC-6 mission for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 Aug. 19 at 12:52 a.m. EDT. This is ULA’s seventh launch in 2016 and the 110th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

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Forecast Looks Good for Friday Morning Delta IV Launch

ULA Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-45 mission lifts off from Vandenberg. (Credit: ULA)
ULA Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-45 mission lifts off from Vandenberg. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — The ULA Launch Readiness Review was completed today everything is progressing toward the ULA Delta IV launch carrying the AFSPC-6 mission for the United States Air Force.

The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Delta IV rocket on Friday, Aug. 19, from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 12:47-1:52 a.m. EDT. Today’s L-2 forecast continues to show a 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

Weather Forecast

Overall probability of violating launch weather constraints: 20%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds

Overall probability of violating launch weather constraints for 24-hour delay: 20%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds

The launch will be webcast at http://www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

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SpaceX, ULA Launches Set for Next Week

deltaiv_nrol45_l3
Delta IV launch (Credit: ULA)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully completed a pre-flight static engine test on Thursday. The launcher is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base with the JCSAT 16 communications satellite on Sunday morning at 1:26 a.m. EDT (0526 GMT). The launch attempt has a two-hour window. SpaceX will attempt to land the Falcon 9’s first stage on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean.

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket is scheduled to launch the U.S. Air Force’s AFSPC 6 mission from Cape Canaveral on Friday, Aug. 19. The launch period is listed as being from 12:00-4:00 a.m. EDT. (0400-0800 GMT).

RiskIt: NASA’s High Risk Commercial Cargo Strategy

A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.
A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

Commercial Cargo’s Lower Costs Brought Higher Risks

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In October 2014, NASA engineers were deeply worried about Orbital Sciences Corporation’s upcoming Orb-3 commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

An Antares booster was set to send a Cygnus cargo ship loaded with 2,215 kg (4,883 lb) of supplies to astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory. It would be the third of eight Cygnus flights to the station under a Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) contract worth $1.9 billion.

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ULA’s Delta IV Heavy Launches NROL-37 Spacecraft

Delta IV Heavy lifts off with the NROL-37 satellite. (Credit: ULA)
Delta IV Heavy lifts off with the NROL-37 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., (June 11, 2016) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 June 11 at 1:51 p.m. EDT. The NROL-37 mission is in support of national defense.

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