Tag: human spaceflight

Orbital Outfitters Gives Midland Preview of Vacuum Chamber Complex

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orbital_outfittersOn Wednesday, representatives of Orbital Outfitters and Holder Aerospace gave an overview of the vacuum chamber complex they plan to build to the Midland Development Corporation (MDC).

The complex features three chambers — a vacuum system, an observation room and safety support systems — according to a presentation made by co-developers Holder Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters. Two of the chambers will be used to test the space suits that Orbital Outfitters are custom-building for XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx space vehicle.

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Book Review: Safe is Not An Option

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safe_not_optionSafe is Not an Option: Overcoming the Futile Obsession with Getting Everyone Back Alive that is Killing Our Expansion into Space
By Rand Simberg
Interglobal Media LLC
2013

On May 26, 1865, Captain J. C. Mason pushed off from a dock in Vicksburg, Miss., and steered the steam-powered paddle wheeler SS Sultana north along the rain-swollen Mississippi River. The Sultana’s decks groaned from the weight of more than 2,500 passengers and crew members.

At 2 a.m. the following morning, the ship’s boilers exploded north of Memphis. As many as 1,800 people died in the explosion and fire or drowned in the fast flowing river. The majority of the dead were Union soldiers recently released from a pair of hellish Confederate prison camps. Their ticket home had become a death warrant.

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NASA and Commercial Partners Review Summer of Advancements

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) – NASA’s spaceflight experts in the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) met throughout July with aerospace partners to review increasingly advanced designs, elements and systems of the spacecraft and launch vehicles under development as part of the space agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) and Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiatives.

Blue Origin, The Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX are partners with NASA in these initiatives to develop a new generation of safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit.

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Boeing Completes Final Two Commercial Crew Milestones

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Commercial interior of the Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) next-generation manned space capsule, (Credit: Boeing)

Commercial interior of the Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) next-generation manned space capsule, (Credit: Boeing)

HOUSTON, Aug. 21, 2014 (Boeing PR) –  Boeing [NYSE: BA] recently completed the Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review of its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft and the Critical Design Review (CDR) of its integrated systems, meeting all of the company’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones on time and on budget.

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Results of the NASA is Not Nominal Poll

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NASA_Not_Nominal_Reasons_PollIn a recent poll, Parabolic Arc’s readers had very strong opinions about why the U.S. space program is not nominal.

Congress: ‘enuf said topped the list with 121 votes. Although readers were not give the opportunity to explain why they thought the venerable was doing a bad job, it’s most likely that it has repeated refused to fully fund requests for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Voters were not quite as critical of the Lack of White House leadership in space, which nonetheless came in third with 83 votes.

Just above that was Space Launch System: Deep Space Money Hole, with 89 votes.

Orion: a vehicle to nowhere garnered 56 votes or 31 percent of the total, indicating less criticism of that program than the rocket that will carry it into deep space.

NASA’s Lame ass Asteroid Retrieval Mission and No focus on return to the moon were tied for fifth place with 47 votes each, which represented 26 percent of the total vote.

Too many projects, too little money came in just below those two reasons with 46 votes.

Only eight voters believed that commercial crew is a dead end.

A big thank you to all those who voted. If you haven’t already done so, please vote in our current poll about Elon Musk’s fear of the upcoming Robocalypse.

Remember: Vote early! Vote often! Just vote, dammit! Vote!

Space Florida Sets Boeing Commercial Crew Rent

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High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

Florida Today reports that Space Florida will charge Boeing up to $1 million per year in rent for facilities at the Kennedy Space Center where the company would assemble commercial crew vehicles.

The agreement is contingent upon Boeing winning a contract under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to build the CST-100 spacecraft, which would transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA is expected to announce the next round of program funding soon.

The 10-year lease, which would begin on Jan. 1, 2015, would include a former space shuttle processing facility, an engine shop and offices. Space Florida would spend up to $20 million to renovate the facilities.

Boeing has said the NASA contract would allow it to base more than 500 jobs in Florida. However, the company is not expected to continue with CST-100 development if it does receive additional funds from the space agency.

Boeing is in competition with SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation, which also are developing vehicles under the program. NASA expects to announce the next round of funding shortly. It is likely that at least one of the competitors will be eliminated.

NASA Commercial Crew Decision Expected Soon

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Charles Lurio of The Lurio Reports that NASA is likely to announce contracts for the next round of the Commercial Crew Program on either Aug. 22 or Aug. 29. Sources have told him that the space agency is likely to make two full awards for partners to build and flight test their crew vehicles.

If he is correct, that would leave one of three competitors — Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation or SpaceX — without a seat at the table. Sierra Nevada and SpaceX have said they would continue with vehicle development if they are not chosen for this round. Boeing has said it would be difficult for the company to close the business case for its CST-100 spacecraft without additional NASA funding.

NASA’s goal is to have commercial crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of 2017. SpaceX has said that it believes it can begin service about a year prior to that deadline with its Dragon V2 spacecraft, which is an upgraded version of the Dragon cargo vehicle that has already flown to and returned from ISS four times. Boeing and Sierra Nevada have said they are on track to meet the 2017 deadline.

Is China Planning Test of Human Lunar Vehicle?

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shenzhou1Toward the end of the year, China will launch a spacecraft to the moon that will return for a soft landing on Earth.  Officially, this is a test of a ship that will return soil samples from the moon, but Morris Jones suspects there’s more to it than that:

This analyst also suspects that China is also testing technology for a future Chinese astronaut launch to the Moon. The re-entry capsule is a scale replica of the capsule used on China’s Shenzhou astronaut spacecraft.

China has not released a lot of information on the mission, and has not even revealed any diagrams or photographs of the entire spacecraft. We have seen the re-entry module in photographs, but little else….

We believed that China would fly this mission in a free-return trajectory to the Moon. This meant that the spacecraft would fly around the far side of the Moon and use the Moon’s gravity to sling it back to Earth.

This mission profile was used by the Soviet Union’s “Zond” lunar probes, which were themselves tests for a cosmonaut launch to the Moon that never happened. A free-return trajectory was also used to bring the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission back to Earth.

Recently, a story published by China’s state news agency Xinhua gave a different perspective. It claims that the spacecraft will actually enter orbit around the Moon.

Read the full story.

How Much Space is in Space?

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Courtesy of: SelfStorage.com

Sierra Nevada Eyes Dream Chaser Test Flights in Fall

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Dream_Chaser_LandingSierra Nevada Space Corporation is preparing for a series of Dream Chaser glide flights that will begin in the fall.

The company, which is competing with the Dream Chaser against capsule designs from Boeing and SpaceX for a contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is more than 90% through the qualification program.

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