Tag: Orion

ASAP’s Report Card on NASA Safety

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International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel
Annual Report for 2016
January 11, 2017
[Full Report – PDF]

Excerpts

Report Summary

Twelve topic areas, highlighted in this report, are summarized in the table below. They have been broken out to focus attention on individual topics that the Panel feels are worthy of note.

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The Year Ahead in Space

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

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.

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NASA Looks Ahead to Major Milestones for Orion Program

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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.
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NASA’s Exploration Year in Review

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BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2016, NASA drove advances in technology, science, aeronautics and space exploration that enhanced the world’s knowledge, innovation, and stewardship of Earth.

“This past year marked record-breaking progress in our exploration objectives,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We advanced the capabilities we’ll need to travel farther into the solar system while increasing observations of our home and the universe, learning more about how to continuously live and work in space, and, of course, inspiring the next generation of leaders to take up our Journey to Mars and make their own discoveries.”
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Space Florida Approves Minotaur Launches From Florida

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minotaur4

Minotaur IV booster

The Space Florida Board of Directors last week approved a plan to allow Orbital ATK to use Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46) at Cape Canaveral for Minotaur launches. The board instructed staff members to complete negotiations and enter into a contract with the Virginia-based company.

The board’s approval clears the way for Orbital ATK to launch the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Operationally Responsive Space’s ORS-5 SensorSat spacecraft in mid-2017.

SensorSat will be launched aboard a Minotaur IV rocket under a $23.6 million contract.

“The risks associated with operating the site and launching the vehicle are born by [Orbital ATK],” according to the board’s meeting agenda. “The Company will pay a reimbursement fee to Space Florida for all fees and costs incurred by Space Florida associated with the use of the Premises.”

SLC-46 increases the locations where Minotaur rockets can be launched to four. Orbital ATK has launch facilities for the booster in Virginia, California and Alaska.

Space Florida is eyeing SLC-46 for other launches, including or a test of the Orion abort system in 2019.

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Ultra-Cold Storage – Liquid Hydrogen May be Fuel of the Future

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Technicians with Praxair pressurize the hydrogen trailer before offloading liquid hydrogen during a test of the Ground Operations Demo Unit for liquid hydrogen at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Cory Huston)

Technicians with Praxair pressurize the hydrogen trailer before offloading liquid hydrogen during a test of the Ground Operations Demo Unit for liquid hydrogen at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Cory Huston)

By Amanda Griffin and Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

When NASA saved a shuttle-era storage facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida from demolition five years ago, engineers already had future in mind for what to do with the building. Some three years later, NASA transformed the hangar and installed test equipment at an adjacent field for testing a new ground operations demo unit for liquid hydrogen. The testing has come to a successful conclusion after 1.5 years.

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Kennedy Space Center Becomes Multi-Use Launch Center

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Video Caption: The new Space Age is launching at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center through a combination of expertise and innovation among government and commercial providers.

International Partnership with Europe Extended for Space Station, Orion

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Orion_in_orbit
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) will continue their international cooperation in space, extending humanity’s presence farther into the solar system than ever before while sustaining critical work aboard the world-class laboratory, the International Space Station.

International Space Station partner agencies in extending their participation in the program through at least 2024. Their extension also enables ESA to fulfill a portion of its share of operational costs and additional supporting services for the space station by providing a second service module for Orion, the powerhouse that will propel and fuel the spacecraft when astronauts venture beyond the moon as early as 2021.

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Trump Appoints New Members of NASA Transition Team

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

President Elect Donald Trump has appointed six new members to the NASA transition team, including Steve Cook, who formerly managed the agency’s Ares program, and retired astronaut Sandra Magnus.

Steve Cook, acting president of Dynetics Technical Services in Huntsville, Ala., led NASA’s Ares program from July 2005 to August 2009. The program included the Ares I and Ares V heavy-lift vehicle and the Orion crew spacecraft for deep-space exploration.

The Obama Administration canceled the programs. However, Congress resurrected the Ares V as the Space Launch System and kept the Orion program in place.

At Dynetics, Cook has been involved in support Aerojet Rocketdyne’s development of the AR-1 engine. He also supported the company’s work on Stratolaunch Systems’ aircraft, which is designed to air launch satellite boosters.

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ESA Approves 10.3 Billion Euro Budget; ISS Extended, ExoMars Funded

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ESA logoMinisters from 22 ESA member countries approved a multi-year spending plan of €10.3 billion ($11 billion) for the European space agency, a reduction from the  €11 billion ($11.74 billion) that Director General Jan Dietrich Woerner had sought.

The budget includes an extension of the International Space Station to 2020 to 2024. ESA was the last of the international partners to approve the extension after the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.

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Space Florida Pleads With Trump to Continuing Funding Major NASA Programs

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Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Statement from Space Florida President Frank DiBello Regarding President-Elect Donald Trump

“On behalf of Space Florida, I welcome President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration and look forward to continuing our positive relationship with NASA. I have been encouraged by what I have heard of President-Elect Donald Trump’s plans for our national space program. As the incoming administration develops policies and priorities for the upcoming term, Space Florida  encourages President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration to sustain the balance of programs of record, including NASA’s Commercial Cargo and Crew programs, Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), and affiliated Ground Systems Development and Operations.

Collectively, these programs sustain the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida, this nation’s premier gateway to a great future in space.”
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Trump’s Tax Plan Likely to Limit Options in Space

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

During an appearance in Florida one week before the election, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence promised that he and Donald Trump would reinvigorate the nation’s space program.

However, the incoming administration’s larger economic priorities are likely to limit its options for any large-scale space exploration efforts.

President elect Trump’s biggest priority is a massive tax cut that would primarily favor corporations and upper income Americans. It would also lower taxes slightly for many middle class families while actually raising taxes for some of them. CBS News has a full analysis. Some of the highlights:

Right now, a single parent with $75,000 in income and two children can claim a head of household deduction of $9,300, plus three personal exemptions. Those steps would reduce the household’s taxable income by $21,450, to $53,550.
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NASA Seeks Input on Long-term Sustainability of SLS, Orion

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Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The early missions of Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft will be the first of several missions that travel more than 40,000 miles beyond the moon to demonstrate capabilities in deep space farther than humans have ever traveled, but close enough to return home in days or weeks if needed. With the SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems programs now past their respective critical design reviews and flight hardware in production for the first integrated mission, NASA is transitioning from design and development to long-term affordability and sustainability in support of the Journey to Mars.

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ESA Ministers Get Ready to Rumble in Lucerne

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ESA logoPARIS (ESA PR) — The Ministers in charge of space within the 22 ESA Member States and Canada gather typically every three years to set the Agency’s strategy and policies. During these ESA Council meetings at Ministerial Level, decisions are taken on the main direction for the coming years and on the additional budget for the future. Ministers agree to start new programmes or eventually to bring them to an end. This time, the ‘space ministers’ will meet on 1–2 December in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The meeting this year will define ESA’ objectives based on the vision of a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0.
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Lockheed Martin Responds to Report NASA is Looking at Alternatives to Orion

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Orion_in_orbit
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.