Tag: NASA

NASA Launches $5 Million Cube Quest Challenge

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Registration now is open for NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, the agency’s first in-space competition that offers the agency’s largest-ever prize purse.

Competitors have a shot at a share of $5 million in prize money and an opportunity to participate in space exploration and technology development, to include a chance at flying their very own CubeSat to the moon and beyond as secondary payload on the first integrated flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

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Space Access Society Update #137

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Space Access Update #137
  11/24/14
Copyright 2014 by Space Access Society
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In this Issue:

         Maintaining An Even Strain

         Commercial Crew Followup

         Booster & Engine Developments

         Space Access ’15 Conference, April 2015

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Maintaining An Even Strain

Many times over the years, we’ve gotten feedback to the effect that “things are going so well for this new industry, don’t you think it’s time to declare victory and move on?”

Oddly enough, none of those times was during this last month. The spectacular loss of two different commercial space vehicles in quick succession now has some questioning the viability of the entire commercial space industry.

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Sierra Nevada Shuts Down Poway, Lays Off More Than 100

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Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sources report that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has shut down its rocket engine test facility in Poway, Calif., where the company has tested propulsion systems for the Dream Chaser space shuttle and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.

The company laid off more than 100 employees last week, including around 70 in Poway with the rest in Colorado, sources report.

Sierra Nevada lost out on two big contracts this year. In May, Virgin Galactic announced it was switching from SNC’s rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine developed by Scaled Composites to power SpaceShipTwo. The rubber hybrid had been tested down in Poway.

In September, SNC lost out on the next round of NASA Commercial Crew Program contracts when the space agency selected Boeing and SpaceX to develop vehicles to fly to the International Space Station. SNC’s Dream Chaser shuttle was not selected.

SNC has appealed the decision. The Government Accountability Office has until early January to make a decision on the appeal.

Recovery Plans Emerge as Assessment of Wallops Island Pad Damage Continues

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An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket Oct. 28. (Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

Officials are estimating that it could cost $13 million to $20 million to repair the launch pad at Wallops Island following last month’s explosion of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket, according to media reports. It’s not clear who will cover what repairs at the Virginia-owned launch facility.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Gov. Terry McAuliffe is seeking federal funds to cover some of the repairs. Virginia’s two Democratic Senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, released a statement last week saying they would work to identify federal monies that could help with the recovery.

The Democratic governor is also considering renegotiating its agreements with Orbital Sciences Corporation to ensure a more equitable cost sharing arrangement between the state, Orbital and NASA in the event of future accidents at the pad.

Orbital Sciences was launching a Cygnus freighter to the International Space Station under contract with NASA when the Antares failed shortly after liftoff. Investigators say they believe a turbo pump failure on one of the two first stage engines is the most likely cause of the accident.

 

NASA Announces New Opportunities for Public Participation in Asteroid Grand Challenge

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NASA LOGOWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Ten new projects are providing opportunities for the public to participate in NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, which accelerates the agency’s asteroid initiative work through innovative partnerships and collaborations.

The 10 new projects developed by SpaceGAMBIT were done in partnership with Maui Makers – a group that provides the space and tools to make new things on the island of Maui in Hawaii.

“SpaceGAMBIT and their partners have created an incredibly wide variety of projects that speak to the strong interest in asteroids and passion of the public to participate in space-related activities,” said Jason Kessler, program executive for the Asteroid Grand Challenge. “These projects will inspire NASA audiences and the broader community to learn and get involved.”

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Made in Space 3D Printer Installed on Space Station

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NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore installs a 3-D Printer in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA-TV)

NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore installs a 3-D Printer in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA-TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Today, NASA took a big step toward changing the way we plan for long-duration space voyages when astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore successfully installed and prepared the first 3-D printer for upcoming manufacturing operations on the International Space Station.

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ATK, Orbital Sciences Going Forward With Merger Despite Antares Accident

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ATK_LogoARLINGTON, Va. (ATK/Orbital Sciences PR) – Alliant Techsystems Inc. (“ATK”) (ATK) and Orbital Sciences Corporation (“Orbital”) (ORB) announced today that the two companies have set January 27, 2015 as the new date for their separate, special stockholder meetings in connection with the proposed transaction to spin off ATK’s Sporting Group business and immediately thereafter, merge ATK’s Aerospace and Defense Groups with Orbital. On October 28, 2014, both companies communicated they would hold separate, special stockholder meetings on December 9, 2014 for ATK stockholders to vote on the issuance of shares to stockholders of Orbital and for Orbital stockholders to vote on the proposed transaction. Following this announcement on October 28, 2014, a failure occurred during Orbital’s Antares launch.  Since the incident, the companies have conducted a thorough review and analysis of the launch failure and Orbital’s proposed recovery plan and long-term competitive position.  Following this review, ATK’s board of directors continues to support the strategic merits of the transaction and recommends that ATK stockholders vote to approve the issuance of shares to Orbital stockholders. Orbital’s board of directors also continues to recommend that Orbital stockholders vote to approve the proposed transaction.

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Airbus to Build Orion Service Module

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BERLIN, Germany — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second space company, has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development and construction of the service module for Orion, the future American human space capsule. The contract is worth around 390 million euros. The service module will provide propulsion, power supply, thermal control and the central elements of the life support system of the American capsule.

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Google Backs Moffett Field Education Center

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.  (EASEF PR) –
The Earth, Air and Space Educational Foundation (EASEF), a Silicon Valley non-profit corporation, today announced that it has received a commitment of funds and material support from Google, Inc. The development grant will help EASEF advance its goal of establishing a public use Collaboratory for science and technology education and cultural activities in the Silicon Valley region.

Created with a commitment to the restoration and revitalization of facilities at Moffett Federal Airfield, which includes facilities that comprise a National Historic District, the EASEF plans to establish a Grand Challenges Learning, Exhibition, Conference and Event Collaboratory on Moffett property. The support pledged by Google to EASEF includes a cash donation and commitment to help establish the proposed Collaboratory.

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Towed Twin-Fuselage Glider Launch System First Test Flight Successful

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One of NASA Armstrong’s DROID small unmanned research aircraft tows the twin-fuselage towed glider into the blue sky on its first test flight. (Credit: Tom Tschida/NASA Armstrong)

One of NASA Armstrong’s DROID small unmanned research aircraft tows the twin-fuselage towed glider into the blue sky on its first test flight. (Credit: Tom Tschida/NASA Armstrong)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has successfully flight-tested a prototype twin-fuselage towed glider that could lead to rockets being launched from pilotless aircraft at high altitudes – a technology application that could significantly reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of sending small satellites into space. The first flights of the one-third-scale twin fuselage towed glider took place Oct. 21 from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.

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