Tag: human spaceflight

A Look at the ISS Flight Manifest

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Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

There was a lot of discussion on Sunday about the impact of the loss of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft on the International Space Station. NASA officials said the ISS crew was in no danger from a supply standpoint, and they said they would stick to the existing schedule for crew rotation but might change the cargo manifest.

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Space Access Society Update on Commercial Crew, ITAR Rules

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Space Access Update #142 6/24/15

copyright 2015 by Space Access Society
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Contents This Issue:

Commercial Crew Funding
– Deeper Background?
– Opposition Overreach

Major Problem With Proposed New ITAR Rules

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Commercial Crew Funding

– Deeper Background RSN

Since this latest Commercial Crew funding fight started a few weeks back, we’ve been skimping on context. Those of you less than totally immersed in all this might not have ended up with a completely clear picture of what we think is really going on, or why we think it matters so much. We’ve been rushed. Our apologies.

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Sarah Brightman Replaced By Kazaknaut

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Dragon CRS-5 spacecraft berthed at International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Dragon CRS-5 spacecraft berthed at International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

This is a bit of a letdown, going from international recording star Sarah Brightman singing on orbit to Kazakhstan’s third ever space traveler:

Kazakhstan’s third ever cosmonaut is set to replace would-be space tourist Sarah Brightman, a British singer who recently backed out of a $52 million seat aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft blasting off in September.

Russian federal space agency Roscosmos confirmed on its official Twitter account Monday that Kazakh cosmonaut candidate Aidyn Aimbetov would be the third man on the short 10-day flight to the International Space Station….

Aimbetov’s journey to space began in 2003, when the Kazakh government began grooming him and another homegrown hopeful for a mission to the ISS. In 2007, the two were sent to Russia for training under Roscosmos’ tutelage, but funding cuts at Kazcosmos grounded them in 2009.

Eleven Years Ago Today…

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White Knight taxis with SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004.

White Knight taxis with SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004.

SpaceShipOne became the first private human spacecraft on this day in 2004. Mike Melvill flew the tiny ship to just above 62 miles. SpaceShipOne would fly to space twice more that year to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize before being retired to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic have spent nearly 11 years trying to replicate this feat with the much larger SpaceShipTwo. The results have been a wrecked ship, four dead Scaled Composites employees, and not a single flight anywhere near space. The Mojave Air & Space Port — America’s first inland spaceport — has not seen a human fly into space from it in more than a decade.

I wrote about the Ansari X Prize’s legacy on the eve of SpaceShipTwo’s destruction: Apollo, Ansari and the Hobbling Effects of Giant Leaps

Senate: Because Commercial Crew Could Slip, We’re Slashing the Budget Request

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Sen. Richard Shelby

Sen. Richard Shelby

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program must drive Richard Shelby absolutely crazy. It just has to. There’s no other way to explain the utterly nonsensical reasoning being used to justify the Senate Appropriation Committee’s decision to slash NASA’s budget request for the program by more than 27 percent.

The Obama Administration came to Congress requesting $1.244 billion for FY 2016 to keep Boeing and SpaceX on track to begin commercial human spaceflights to the International Space Station by 2017. Anything less, NASA insisted, would result in further delays and more reliance upon Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

The House came through with $1 billion in its funding measure. When the proposal came up before Shelby’s Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee in the Senate, appropriators cut the amount even further to $900 million. That amount ended up in the measure approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Increase in NASA’s Budget

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Capitol Building
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an $18.289 billion budget for NASA that is $279.3 million above the FY 2015 level but $239.6 million what the $18.529 billion the Obama Administration’s requested and the House approved.

The biggest differences between the Administration and the Senate lie in human spaceflight. Appropriators would spend $3.51 billion on the Space Launch System, the Orion spacecraft and related ground systems. The Administration asked for $2.86 billion for these programs. The House would spend $3.4 billion.

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National Space Society Opposes Senate Gutting of Commercial Crew Program

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commercial_crew_cst100_dragon_iss
WASHINGTON, DC (NSS PR ) — The National Space Society (NSS) strongly opposes the Senate Appropriations Committee’s $344 million (27%) cut of the 2015 Commercial Crew budget requested by the Administration. The Senate cuts were $100 million more than those recently passed by the House.

NSS stands with NASA administrator Charles Bolden when he said “By gutting this program and turning our backs on U.S. industry, NASA will be forced to continue to rely on Russia to get its astronauts into space – and to continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the Russian economy rather than our own.” The two winners of the Commercial Crew competition, Boeing and SpaceX, have been making excellent progress, exemplified by the May 6th successful pad abort test of the SpaceX Dragon 2 crew escape system. Both are on track to fly astronauts in 2017 assuming funding is provided.

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Bolden Slams Senate Subcommittee’s Funding of Commercial Crew

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Statement on Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Vote on Commercial Crew Budget

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee vote Wednesday on NASA’s Fiscal Year 2016 commercial crew budget:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Senate Appropriations subcommittee does not fully support NASA’s plan to once again launch American astronauts from U.S. soil as soon as possible, and instead favors continuing to write checks to Russia.

“Remarkably, the Senate reduces funding for our Commercial Crew Program further than the House already does compared to the President’s Budget.

“By gutting this program and turning our backs on U.S. industry, NASA will be forced to continue to rely on Russia to get its astronauts to space – and continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the Russian economy rather than our own.

“I support investing in America so that we can once again launch our astronauts on American vehicles.”

NASA Awards $30 Million to SpaceX for Abort Test

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Dragon abort test with SuperDraco engines.  (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon abort test with SuperDraco engines. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has approved a $30 million milestone payment to SpaceX under the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with the company following a recent and successful pad abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Data gathered during the test are critical to understanding the safety and performance of the Crew Dragon spacecraft as the company continues on the path to certification for crew missions to the International Space Station, and helping return the ability to launch astronauts from the United States.

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Space Access Society Commercial Crew Funding Update

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew
Space Access Update #141
6/8/15
Copyright 2015 by Space Access Society
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Commercial Crew Funding Update

Last Week’s Results

The short version of what happened last week is, the part of the House Commerce Justice Science (CJS) 2016 Appropriations bill that we’re concerned about, NASA Commercial Crew funding set by the House CJS subcommittee at 20% below NASA’s request, went through unchanged in the version passed by the whole House. There was some discussion of the need for full funding during the House amendments and debate process, but no serious attempt to restore it. (Longer version at Space News, additional detail at SpacePolicyOnline.com.)

We’re not shocked at this result; it was the way to bet at this stage of the process. We thank those of you who did contact their House member; there were some signs of increased awareness of the issue. This is a multi-step process, and the more support we’ve built by the late stages, the better our chances.

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