The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2017
Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST)
State of the Payload Industry
Space industry companies and organizations worldwide, sometimes the same as launch vehicle manufacturers but also those specifically dedicated to spacecraft manufacturing, produce these spacecraft. Commercially launched payloads are typically used for the following mission types:
Commercial communications satellites;
Commercial remote sensing or Earth observation satellites;
Commercial crew and cargo missions, including on-orbit vehicles and platforms;
Technology test and demonstration missions, usually new types of payloads undergoing test or used to test new launch vehicle technology; and
Other commercially launched payloads, usually satellites launched for various purposes by governments of countries not having indigenous orbital launch capability.
WESTMINSTER, Colo., Feb. 7, 2017 (DigitalGlobe PR) — DigitalGlobe, Inc. (NYSE: DGI), the global leader in Earth imagery and information about our changing planet, announced the growth of its ecosystem of content producers and consumers who leverage the Company’s Geospatial Big Data analytics platform, GBDX. With this increase in ecosystem partners, GBDX solidified its leadership position.
WESTMINSTER, Colo. (DigitalGlobe PR) — DigitalGlobe, Inc. (NYSE: DGI), the global leader in earth imagery and information about our changing planet, today announced that the WorldView-4 satellite successfully completed in-orbit testing and calibration and began serving its first direct access customer on Feb. 1. Additional direct access customers will be added to WorldView-4 service throughout 2017.
DENVER (Lockheed Martin PR) — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design, build and operate the spacecraft for NASA’s Lucy mission. One of NASA’s two new Discovery Program missions, Lucy will perform the first reconnaissance of the Jupiter Trojan asteroids orbiting the sun in tandem with the gas giant. The Lucy spacecraft will launch in 2021 to study six of these exciting worlds.
BOULDER, Colo., January 4, 2017 (SwRI PR) — NASA has selected Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) to lead Lucy, a landmark Discovery mission to perform the first reconnaissance of the Trojans, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. The Lucy spacecraft will launch in 2021 to study six of these exciting worlds.
It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.
A New Direction for NASA?
NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.
Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — From the beginning of assembly work on the Orion crew module at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to testing a range of the spacecraft systems, engineers made headway in 2016 in advance of the spacecraft’s 2018 mission beyond the moon. A look at the important milestones that lie ahead in the next year give a glimpse into how NASA is pressing ahead to develop, build, test and fly the spacecraft that will enable human missions far into deep space. (more…)
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Dec. 18, 2016 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the EchoStar XIX satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 Dec. 18 at 2:13 p.m. ET. EchoStar XIX will dramatically increase capacity for HughesNet® high-speed satellite Internet service to homes and businesses in North America. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services procured the Atlas V for this mission. This is ULA’s 12th launch in 2016 and the 115th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
In what could be a preview of things to come, Donald Trump today threatened The Boeing Company with the cancellation of a $3 billion U.S. Air Force contract to replace the fleet of Air Force One aircraft.
Statement from Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin Orion Program Manager:
The NASA and Lockheed Martin team are approaching the end of Orion’s development phase having successfully tackled many of the toughest engineering challenges associated with deep space travel. Now, as outlined in Lockheed Martin’s response to NASA’s RFI, we’ve identified savings that will reduce the recurring production costs of Orion by 50 percent – and we aren’t stopping there. We believe the cost savings we’ve defined in our response will enable decades of affordable human space exploration. Orion is the only ship built to NASA’s rigorous requirements for human deep space travel, and remains on track for Exploration Mission-1 in 2018.
Editor’s Note: The statement is in response to this report.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF PR) – Team Vandenberg is scheduled to launch the WorldView-4 satellite on an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-3 here Friday, Nov. 11, with a launch window opening at 10:30 a.m. PDT.
“No sooner had we accomplished the securing of the pumps when I was approached by another one of our range users who explained they were losing pressure on the chillers at a neighboring launch complex. Without those chillers the spacecraft for the next launch would be lost. [Emphasis added] Needless to say at this point I had to reestablish our priorities and get a team working on a way to get our IRT into Space Launch Complex 41 to allow access for technicians to enter in order to make the necessary repairs.”
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx was sitting on top of an ULA Atlas V on Space Launch Complex 41. Read the full story below.
NASA’s Management of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Program
NASA Office of Inspector General Office of Audits Report No. IG-16-029 September 6, 2016 [Full Report]
What We Found
The Orion Program has met several key development milestones on the path to its first crewed mission, including a successful test flight in December 2014. However, much work remains, including evaluating options related to the delayed delivery of the European Service Module; continuing mitigation of seven critical risks while operating with a less-than-optimal budget profile for a developmental project; addressing a potential shortfall of $382 million in reserves managed by its prime contractor; and successfully launching and recovering EM-1 after its uncrewed test flight scheduled for September 2018. At the same time, Program officials are working toward an optimistic internal launch date of August 2021 for EM-2 – 20 months earlier than the Agency’s external commitment date of April 2023. While we understand the desire to meet a more aggressive schedule, this approach has led the Program to defer addressing some technical tasks to later in the development cycle, which in turn could negatively affect cost, schedule, and safety.
The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held a meeting on July 21, 2016 at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Below is a summary of the status of the Commercial Crew program and the Boeing and SpaceX vehicles, including top programmatic risks.