Tag: human spaceflight

RSC Energia Holds Contest to Name Soyuz Spacecraft Successor

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Mockup of Russia's next generation crew vehicle.

Mockup of Russia’s next generation crew vehicle.

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — Rocket and Space Corporation Energia announces creativity competition for the best name of the new-generation crew transportation spacecraft, which is planned to be used for missions to the Moon.

The competition time frame: August 30 through November 2, 2015. Its results will be announced on January 15, 2016.

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SpaceX Powers Up Crew Dragon Avionics Test Bed

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Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (NASA PR) — SpaceX recently powered up its Crew Dragon avionics test bed at its facility in Hawthorne, California, by simulating a crew flight to the International Space Station. During the avionics functionality check, engineers were able to make sure the spacecraft’s hardware and software worked well together in a flight-like environment. The avionics are known as the brains of a spacecraft, controlling all the critical automated operations of a flight.

“It may not sound exciting, but it’s a really, really important tool. We can basically fly the Crew Dragon on the ground — flip the switches, touch the screens, test the algorithms and the batteries – all before testing the avionics system in flight,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of mission assurance for SpaceX. “It’s important to get the avionics right before putting it into the capsule.”

The SpaceX avionics test bed is similar to the Shuttle Avionics Integration Lab, or SAIL, in Houston, which was used throughout NASA’s Space Shuttle Program to test the interaction of hardware and software before modifying code on the vehicles for flight.

XCOR Signs Agreements with DLR, ESA-ESTEC

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Credit: XCOR

Credit: XCOR

Here are a couple of short XCOR press releases related to agreements signed by CEO Jay Gibson in Europe back in May. One is an agreement with the German space agency DLR relating to medical screening protocols for Lynx passengers. The second involves a multi-party letter of intent Gibson signed with ESA-ESTEC and two other organizations to jointly develop a new space mission concept.

XCOR didn’t publicize the trip at the time, and the information only recently appeared on the company’s revamped website.

COLOGNE, Germany – XCOR’s CEO Jay Gibson signed an agreement with Professor Rupert Gerzer, General Director of the prestigious DLR Institute for Aerospace Medicine in Cologne, Germany on May 20.

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Russia Commits to Operating International Space Station Until 2024

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Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Some good news for NASA came last week when the Russian government formally committed to operating the International Space Station until 2024. The orbiting facility had been previously slated to be decommissioned in 2020.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos is reportedly to have fought hard for the four-year extension despite tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine.

Earlier this year, the Canadian government agreed to continue participating in the program until 2024. The European Space Agency and Japanese government have made similar commitments yet. Japan is widely expected to sign on to the extension.

 

XCOR Launches New Website, XCOR Science as New Brand

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XCOR_Science
Mojave, CA, July 22, 2015 (XCOR PR) – XCOR today announced the redesign and re-launch of its flagship domain, XCOR.com. The new site includes each of the three XCOR brands in one space: XCOR Aerospace, manufacturer of XCOR Lynx spacecraft and rocket engines; XCOR Space Expeditions, offering Lynx ticket sales and Lynx astronaut trainings; and XCOR Science, the newest division of the company.

XCOR Science promotes suborbital research and education missions onboard Lynx for government, university and commercial customers, with a focus on the broad range of mission offerings onboard the spacecraft.

“Both the cost and pace of research flights in the current suborbital market made it impossible for most customers to engage in a meaningful pace of research in suborbital space,” Noted XCOR CEO Jay Gibson.  “XCOR Science makes that dream a reality, providing low-cost, high-frequency access to space four times each day.”

New interactive features and a dynamic user experience allow visitors to better explore Lynx capabilities, and XCOR as a whole. The site also supports the rapid growth of the company as it heads toward commercial flights.

Spaceport America Plays Guessing Game as Virgin Galactic Awaits NTSB Report

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The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The guessing game was being played again last week in New Mexico, when nobody seems to know when Virgin Galactic will begin commercial spaceflights from the state’s gleaming but little used Spaceport America.

“Our assumption is that they wouldn’t begin commercial flights with passengers until July 2016,” [Executive Director Christine] Anderson said in an interview. “That’s just an assumption. It doesn’t mean I know any more than anyone else, but it means that I had to base my budget on something.”

Well, fair enough. I guess she has to base the budget on something. It would be nice if that something was a little more realistic. A July start doesn’t appear to be so at the moment.

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Piece of SpaceShipOne Flew Past Pluto

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Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

MOJAVE, Calif., July 17, 2015 (Northrop Grumman PR)– The first privately-funded vehicle to reach space and one of the most innovative crafts ever flown is part of space history again. A three-inch piece of SpaceShipOne was selected by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) to accompany eight other mementos on the New Horizons spacecraft’s extraordinary journey to Pluto.

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XCOR to Hike Ticket Prices 50 Percent

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Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)

Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)

AMSTERDAM, July 16 (XCOR Space Expeditions PR) — XCOR Space Expeditions announced that it will be raising the price of a flight aboard Lynx from $100,000 to $150,000 effective on January 1st, 2016. With the spacecraft getting closer to completion, a major milestone for the company, the price will be raised to align more closely with the current market value of a commercial spaceflight.

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XCOR Hosted Customer Day at Hangar 3 Months Ago

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XCOR_SXC_logoMojave, California, July 09, 2015 (XCOR PR) – XCOR Aerospace and XCOR Space Expeditions announced today that XCOR has hosted its first XCOR Lynx customer day-dubbed “Operation Hangar 61″. Directed by XCOR Space Expeditions, the experience included 41 guests from 14 countries and 5 continents visiting XCOR in Mojave and attending XCOR events in Los Angeles, including a tour of the California Science Center and Griffith Observatory.

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NASA Names New Chief Astronaut

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Chris Cassidy

Chris Cassidy

HOUSTON, July 9, 2015 (NASA PR) — NASA’s Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly has appointed U.S. Navy Capt. Christopher Cassidy as the chief of the Astronaut Office. Cassidy replaces Air Force Col. Robert Behnken, who has held the position since August 2012.

“Bob has provided outstanding leadership of our astronaut corps during the last three years,” Kelly said. “His selfless dedication and sound guidance has been top-notch as NASA ramped up research aboard the International Space Station and began laying the groundwork for human exploration missions beyond Earth orbit.”

In his new role, Cassidy will be responsible for managing Astronaut Office resources, operations and safety programs. He also will help develop astronaut flight crew operation concepts and crew assignments for future spaceflight missions.

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