Op-Ed in The Hill: NASA is Playing Favorites With SpaceX

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Well, this is interesting.

There’s an opinion piece in The Hill concerning the CRS-7 accident:

Time for NASA to stop playing favorites with Elon Musk’s SpaceX

The op-ed deals with the handling of the investigation in the June 2015 loss of a Dragon spacecraft by NASA and SpaceX. It supports a provision in the Senate appropriations bill that requires the FAA to produce a public summary.

After promising to produce a public summary last year, NASA reversed itself last month. The agency said it was not required to produce one and said the responsibility lies with the FAA.  So, Senators are telling the FAA to produce one.

Space Rodents Help NASA Plan for Deep Space Missions

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson collects images of the back of the eye during a routine check into astronaut eyesight. Crew members’ bodies change in a variety of ways during space flight, and some experience impaired vision. (Credits: NASA)
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s future deep space exploration – including to Mars – is an unprecedented venture in spaceflight, requiring us to tackle challenges we’ve never faced before. For instance, we know the human body changes significantly while in space, and we’ll need to find ways to address those effects. NASA is conducting research to learn more about the long-term impact of extended human spaceflight. One experiment that just launched, Rodent Research-9, is contributing to this goal by sending rodents to the International Space Station, to study how a lack of gravity in space affects blood vessels, eyes and joints.

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Dragon Loaded With Supplies & Experiments for ISS Crew

SpaceX launched its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:31 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. (Credit: NASA Television)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments seeking a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease and the origin of cosmic rays are on their way to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft following today’s 12:31 p.m. EDT launch.

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Dragon Supply Ship Launched to Space Station

Falcon 9 first stage landing at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station on Monday afternoon.

The picture perfect launch took place at 12:31 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon successfully separated from the Falcon 9 second stage and deployed its solar panels. It will take the ship about three days to reach the station.

Falcon 9’s first stage made a pinpoint landing back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Techshot Research System Headed for International Space Station

ADvanced Space Experiment Processor ((Credit: Techshot)

GREENVILLE, Ind., August 8, 2017 (Techshot PR) – Onboard the next SpaceX cargo spacecraft launching to the International Space Station (ISS) from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center will be a commercial research system owned and operated by Techshot Inc. The equipment will conduct regenerative medicine experiments on board the station before returning to Earth in the same capsule for a splashdown off the coast of Southern California approximately 30 days later.

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Science Payloads Set for Launch Aboard CRS-12 Mission

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., August 8, 2017 (CASIS PR) The SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle is poised to launch its 12th cargo resupply mission (CRS-12) to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than August 13th, 2017 from Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will carry more than 20 ISS National Laboratory payloads to conduct research across a variety of areas aimed at improving life on Earth, including research on Parkinson’s disease, new anti-bacterial compounds, new approaches to treating blood pressure, and pioneering new advances in the use of stem cells for repairing damage from disease, among many others. Thus far in 2017, the ISS National Lab has sponsored more than 100 separate experiments that have reached the station.

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Senate Appropriations Measure Requires FAA Report on SpaceX CRS-7 Failure

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

A Senate Appropriations bill would require the FAA to produce a report on the catastrophic failure of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that destroyed a Dragon resupply ship and $118 million worth of space station cargo in June 2015.

“The report must consolidate all relevant investigations by, or at the request of, the Federal Government that were conducted, including those completed by NASA as part of the FAA report, and must also include a summary suitable for public disclosure,” according to a committee report that accompanies the spending bill.

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Boeing Commercial Crew Progress & Schedule

Boeing’s CST-100 Structural Test Article ready for shipment from C3PF to Boeing’s facility in Huntington Beach, California. (Credit: Boeing)

The following slides are from a recent NASA update on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew effort. The company is currently schedule to fly an automated flight to the International Space Station next June followed by a test flight with crew two months later.
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SpaceX Commercial Crew Progress & Schedule

Dragon 2 weldment and heat shield. (Credit: SpaceX)

The following slides are from a recent NASA update on SpaceX’s Dragon 2 commercial crew effort. The company is currently schedule to fly an automated Dragon 2 flight to the International Space Station in February followed by a test flight with crew four months later.
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A Look Inside Bigelow’s BEAM Module on the ISS

BEAM module interior (Credit; NASA)

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik looks through the hatch of the International Space Station’s Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module (BEAM) on July 31, 2017. He shared this photo on social media on August 2, commenting, “Ever wonder how you look when you enter a new part of a spacecraft? Well, this is it.  First time inside the expandable BEAM module.”

The BEAM is an experimental expandable module launched to the station aboard SpaceX’s eighth commercial resupply mission on April 8, 2016, and fully expanded and pressurized on May 28.  Expandable modules weigh less and take up less room on a rocket than a traditional module, while allowing additional space for living and working. They provide protection from solar and cosmic radiation, space debris, and other contaminants. Crews traveling to the moon, Mars, asteroids, or other destinations may be able to use them as habitable structures.

The BEAM is just over halfway into its planned two-year demonstration on the space station. NASA and Bigelow are currently focusing on measuring radiation dosage inside the BEAM. Using two active Radiation Environment Monitors (REM) inside the module, researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are able to take real-time measurements of radiation levels.

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Russia & China to Increase Space Cooperation

Tass reports that Russia and China plan to sign a cooperative agreement in the fall outlining increased cooperation across a range of space areas. Russia and China are also working to deepen cooperation with the BRICS nations, which include Brazil, India and South Africa.

As Glavkosmos explained, cooperation with Chinese partners envisages the following areas: the exploration of the Moon and outer space, space vehicles and ground infrastructure, hardware components and materials, the Earth’s remote sensing data.

Glavkosmos is also working with Chinese commercial partners on the issue of holding experiments aboard the International Space Station and providing the data of the Earth’s remote sensing from Russian satellites, the company said….

Specifically, Glavkosmos is holding preparations in Brazil for a tender for the delivery of space images to that country.

It was reported earlier that China was interested in buying the world’s most powerful Russian-made RD rocket engines produced by Energomash while Russian Space Systems showed interest in Chinese electronic components.

Russia and China are also working on making their GLONASS and BeiDou navigation satellite systems mutually complement each other and on installing adjusting ground-based stations on the territory of each other.

Read the full story.

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New Crew Arrives at International Space Station

Expedition 52 flight engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA, left, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Randy Bresnik of NASA pose for a photograph outside the Soyuz simulator. (Credits: NASA/ Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — After a six-hour spaceflight, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) arrived at the International Space Station at 5:54 p.m. EDT Friday to continue important scientific research in the orbiting laboratory.

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Senate Appropriators Split Difference on NASA FY 2018 Budget


By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a modest cut to NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018) that splits the difference between the cut requested by the Trump Administration and the increase approved by House appropriators.

The $19.53 billion provided is $ below the agency’s current budget but above the $19 billion the administration wants to spend. The House Appropriations Committee has approved $19.87 billion for the space agency.

Senate appropriators rejected efforts by the Administration to significantly cut NASA’s Earth Science budget and to end the agency’s Education program. The House has made an even deeper cut in Earth Science than the administration proposed but also has rejected ending the Education program.

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MDA to Provide Communications Subsystem for Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser berthed at space station. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

VANCOUVER, BC (MDA PR) — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA” or the “Company”) (TSX:MDA), a global communications and information company, today announced that it has received an Authorization to Proceed on a multi-million dollar contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).

MDA will provide a communications subsystem for on-board communication signal processing capabilities for the Dream Chaser® Cargo System, a cargo transportation spacecraft being developed by SNC under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS2) program. The spacecraft is scheduled for at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the International Space Station between 2020 and 2024.

Joanna Boshouwers, MDA’s vice president and general manager responsible for this business said, “We are pleased to continue our partnership with SNC and to contribute to the success of the CRS2 program. MDA is a long-term supporter of SNC’s innovative Dream Chaser® space vehicle, and we look forward to working closely with SNC to bring it into service for NASA.”

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