The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has upheld a pre-award protest by Blue Origin over the selection process the U.S. Air Force is using to award contracts for military launches for the years 2022 to 2027.
GAO recommended the Air Force modify the solicitation under which it planned to select two companies that would compete for launches during that period. The decision would have been based on which combination of two independently developed proposals provided the best value to the government.
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE – EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile System Center released a Request for Information (RFI) today to learn more about industry’s innovative developments in launch, on-orbit maneuverability, and commodity transport architectures for on-orbit servicing. SMC will use this information to assess if and how it can leverage such capabilities to satisfy National Security Space operational requirements in contested space environments.
“SMC strives to deliver an integrated open space architecture, able to rapidly on-board Allied, commercial & mission partner capabilities and advanced technologies at the speed required to outpace the threat, that enables multi-domain coalition architectures,” said Col. Russell Teehan, SMC’s Portfolio Architect, who leads this study.
PARIS (CNES PR) — ArianeWorks, the acceleration and innovation platform created at the beginning of 2019 by the French space agency CNES and ArianeGroup, founder members and coordinators, continues to expand with the arrival of a new partner, ONERA, a leading player in aerospace research and a key partner in the development of the Ariane family of launchers.
This partnership agreement will enable ArianeWorks’ projects to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of the French aerospace research center, notably in the fields of structural health monitoring (SHM) and aerothermodynamics.
It seems not everyone is on board with plans by UK governments to spend $25 million to create a spaceport in Cornwall for billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit launch company.
Cornwall Live reports Nichola Andersen has written to members of the Cornwall Council’s Cabinet to urge them to vote against a £12 million [$14.79 million] package for upgrades to Cornwall Airport Newquay to accommodate Virgin Orbit operations. The Cornwall Council will vote on the package in November.
She states that the council’s carbon emissions report is flawed and says that the cost of the spaceport should be with Sir Richard Branson and not Cornwall’s taxpayers.
“The report that the council has had is not a proper carbon audit – it hasbeen calculated just on launches by Virgin Orbit, it has not taken into account all the other aspects, the testing by Virgin, the transport of their staff, the other launches.
Under the proposals Cornwall Council would provide £12m [$14.79 million] of funding for the spaceport with £7.5m [$9.68 million] coming from the UK Space Agency and £2.5m [$3.1 million] from Virgin Orbit.
Nichola said: “Richard Branson is the only beneficiary of this. Cornwall Council should be saying there are better things that we can spend this money on that will benefit people in Cornwall.
Virgin Orbit plans to use a Boeing 747 to air launch satellites using its LauncherOne rocket. Officials said the first flight test of the new booster is expected this fall.
China’s Kuaizhou-1A light launcher orbited two small satellites from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Friday in a successful commercial mission.
The solid-fuel booster launched DFH Satellite Company’s KX-09 microgravity experimental satellite and SpaceTY’s Xiaoxiang 1-07 CubeSat.
The Kuaizhou-1A booster is manufactured and launches are managed by Expace, which is a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).
CASIS said it is planning to launch Kuaizhou-1A eight or nine more times before the end of the year. This was the booster’s first launch of 2019.
It was the fifth successful flight in five attempts for the solid-fuel Kuaizhou family of boosters, and the third success for the upgraded Kuaizhou-1A variant. The booster can place payloads weighing up to 200 kg (441 lbs) in 700 km (435 mile) high sun synchronous orbits.
BEIJING, Aug. 29, 2019 (LandSpace PR) — On August 28, Chinese leading commercial launcher developer and launch service provider LandSpace Technology Corporation Ltd. (LandSpace) announced during MAKS-2019 that the company is seeking and accepting payloads from around the world for the maiden launch of its proprietary ZhuQue-2 (ZQ-2) launcher powered by a LOX/LCH4 liquid-propellant rocket engine (LRE).
On Monday July 29, Gilmour Space Technologies attempted to launch our ‘One Vision’ suborbital rocket to flight test the company’s proprietary 80 kN orbital-class hybrid rocket engine and demonstrate our mobile launch capability.
At T-7 seconds to launch, the test rocket suffered an anomaly that resulted in the premature end of the mission.Initial investigations show that a pressure regulator in the oxidiser tank had failed to maintain the required pressure, and this caused the upper half of the rocket to be ejected as helium escaped.
iSpace, aka, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., has become the first private Chinese company to launch payloads into orbit.
The company launched its four-stage Hypobola-1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Thursday afternoon local time.
iSpace reported the rocket deployed the CAS-7B amateur radio satellite and a technology verification satellite for China Central Television. Three additional payloads remained attached to the upper stage as planned.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., (ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems Company, the California-based developer of the RS1 launch vehicle, announced today that it has closed a strategic investment from Lockheed Martin Ventures.
Founded in 2017, ABL completed its first development vehicle in 2018.
More recently, the company conducted a series of successful tests of
the E2 bipropellant rocket engine at Spaceport America in Truth or
Consequences, New Mexico. The investment follows ABL’s recent announcement of an improved 1,200 kilogram payload capacity and $12 million price of RS1.
It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with Dmitry Rogozin and his team over at Roscosmos. This has been partly due to all the awesome things that are happening elsewhere that keep me busy. And partly due to the fact that Russia’s plans seem to be continuing evolving due to budget cuts to the point to where I’m never quite sure what exactly to take seriously.
The question usually is: yeah, that sounds great, but is there any money for this? I’m lacking in good sources there. And Russian media usually don’t provide enough insights into the program to allow for informed judgments.
With that caveat in mind. TASS has provided another one of its periodic bursts of updates about what Rogozin and company have been up to lately. They are making progress on reusable launch vehicles, a super-heavy booster, a spacecraft that will replace Soyuz, and plans sending cosmonauts and robots to the moon.
SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM — EXOS Aerospace’s SARGE 3 launch went awry shortly after liftoff from Spaceport America on Saturday as the suborbital rocket suffered control problems only seconds into its flight.
Liftoff appeared nominal, but then the rocket began to veer from side to side as it ascended. It was not clear from the webcast what altitude the booster reached.
Ground control team members lost sight of the rocket for a period. They then spotted it dumping fuel as it descended under a parachute guided by GPS.
The reusable rocket successfully touched down not far from its launch site. The rocket’s nose cone also landed in the New Mexican desert under a drogue parachute.
At the end of the company’s webcast, an official said the booster had apparently suffered a problem with its gimbal system.
EXOS, which is based in Caddo Mills, Texas, is attempting to build a business flying payloads on suborbital flights. The company also has plans for an orbital launcher that would carry small satellites.
EXOS uses technology originally pioneered by Armadillo Aerospace, a now-defunct company founded by gaming programmer John Carmack.
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and five European companies have teamed up in the RETro Propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies (RETALT) project to jointly advance the research and development of key technologies for European vertical-landing launch vehicles. The consortium will spend three years examining the aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics – that is, in-flight surface temperatures – flight dynamics during both the outward and return flight phases, and navigation and control, as well as structural components, materials and mechanisms.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss., June 11, 2019 (Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission PR) – Aerospace company Relativity is expanding its rocket component production and rocket engine testing operations at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The project is a $59-million corporate investment and will create 190 jobs, increasing employment at Relativity’s Stennis Space Center site to 200 workers.
“Relativity‘s announcement today solidifies Hancock County’s position as a leader in commercial space activity and further establishes our aerospace cluster as one of the strongest in the region,“ said Blaine Lafontaine, President, Hancock County Board of Supervisors.
CORNWALL, United Kingdom (Virgin Orbit PR) — For a while now, we’ve been working with our friends in Cornwall on the prospect of using LauncherOne to bring launch back to Britain. Today, that project took a massive step forward, as the U.K. Space Agency announced it aims to invest £7.8m (~$10 million) into the development of Spaceport Cornwall as a key operating hub for horizontal launch system, working towards a first launch from British soil in the early 2020’s.