Tag: space station

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.

 

Excalibur Almaz Sez: We Are Not a Scam

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An Almaz space station module being transported on the Isle of Man. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

An Almaz space station module being transported on the Isle of Man. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

IOMToday reports that Excalibur Almaz is denying charges that it fraudulently took funds from an investor to use Soviet-era space hardware for human stations:

“These allegations are baseless and will be vigorously defended. To set the record straight, Excalibur Almaz is not out of business and is vigorously pursuing a profitable commercial space program utilizing proven Russian flight hardware capable of re-use, contrary to recent allegations.”

In a lawsuit, Japanese investor Takafumi Horie accused Excalibur Almaz founders Art Dula and J Buckner Hightower of misleading him in order to obtain a $49 million investment in the company. Horie says the Soviet-era Almaz space station hardware the company purchased were museum pieces that could never be launched into space.

Read the full story.

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.

Continue reading ‘Made in Space 3D Printer Installed on Space Station’

Reports: Russia Planning Alternative to ISS

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From left, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA, smile and wave as they hold an Olympic torch that will be flown with them to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingals)

From left, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA, smile and wave as they hold an Olympic torch that will be flown with them to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingals)

Russian media are reporting on plans for the country to pull out of the International Space Station by 2020:

The Russian space agency is reportedly considering construction of a high-altitude orbital station starting from 2017. This means that Moscow may walk away from the ISS after 2020, when its obligations under the current project are fulfilled.

Kommersant newspaper reported that the manned space exploration program for the period until 2050 implies step-by-step assembly of a new scientific space station, citing its sources in Central Research Institute for Engineering Technology, Roscosmos space agency’s leading space scientific and research enterprise.

The principal difference from the currently operating International Space Station will be the new Russian station’s high-altitude orbit with a 64.8-degree inclination, which would make up to 90 percent of the Russian territory visible from on board, including Arctic shelf seas.

From the ISS, which has an orbit inclination of 51.6 degrees, no more than 5 percent of the Russian territory is currently visible.

Read the full story.

CASIS, Boeing Partner on Entrepreneurial Space Station Research

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casis_new_logoKENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., November 6, 2014 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and The Boeing Company (Boeing) awarded three entrepreneurial researchers financial support through the MassChallenge Startup Accelerator. In April, both entities announced their intention to collaborate on the “Technology in Space” sidecar prize through MassChallenge. CASIS is the nonprofit organization responsible for managing and promoting research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Boeing is the ISS sustaining engineering contractor responsible for the successful integration of vehicle and payload hardware and software for the orbiting laboratory.

MassChallenge is the largest-ever startup accelerator and the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs without taking any equity. Its four-month accelerator program offers world-class mentorship, free office space, $1 million in cash awards, and up to $10 million through in-kind support. MassChallenge alumni have collectively raised over $360 million in outside funding, generated nearly $100 million in revenue, and created over 3,000 jobs since 2010.

Continue reading ‘CASIS, Boeing Partner on Entrepreneurial Space Station Research’

And Now for Some Good Space News…

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A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the eighth Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-8 satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 1:21 p.m. EDT today from Space Launch Complex-41. This is the 50th successful Atlas V mission and the fourth GPS mission for the U.S. Air Force this year.  (Credit: ULA)

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the eighth Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-8 satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 1:21 p.m. EDT today from Space Launch Complex-41. This is the 50th successful Atlas V mission and the fourth GPS mission for the U.S. Air Force this year. (Credit: ULA)

While Orbital Sciences picked up the pieces from Wednesday’s failed Antares flight, there was some good launch news to report elsewhere.

At Baikonur, the Russians successfully launched a new Progress freighter to the International Space Station (ISS). The vehicle later successfully docked with ISS, bringing up fresh supplies and equipment to the six astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory.

And down at Cape Canaveral, ULA successfully launched an Atlas V with a military GPS satellite aboard. This was the 50th successful Atlas V mission to date.

Orbital Stock Takes a Serious Tumble as Company Seeks to Reassure Investors

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Orbital_Stock
Orbital Sciences stock took a major nose dive today following the failure of the company’s Antares launch vehicle last night. The stock is down more than 15 percent today.

Orbital officials held a conference call with investors and analysts earlier today. [Transcript] David  W.  Thompson,  CEO and chairman, and Garrett  E.  Pierce,  CFO and vice  chairman, spoke during the call. Below is a summary of the major points they made:

  • a lot of data on launch, don’t expect a problem in determining what went wrong
  • expects to zero in on the cause of the accident over the coming days
  • could take longer to determine the root cause
  • cautioned against drawing early conclusions, sometimes early guesses they are wrong
  • launch complex spared any major damage
  • Orbital carried insurance that will cover contract revenue on flight and repairs to launch complex
  • company has “ample and conservative” management reserves for the recovery period
  • next Antares/Cygnus launch was scheduled for early April
  • expects a delay of three months but hopefully not more than one year — too early to tell at this stage
  • company has amply supply of AJ-26 engines to cover remaining launches to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA
  • about two years away from flying Antares launch vehicle with a new first-stage engine
  • company could accelerate that change over if AJ-26 engine is identified as cause of the accident
  • will make a decision in November as to what to do about the engine change
  • hinted at possible other options other than accelerating the engine change but would not elaborate
  • still on track to submit a proposal for the CRS-2 contract in a few weeks
  • flights under CRS-1 extension agreement and CRS-2 proposal would be done with a new first-stage engine
  • do not expect the failure to affect planned merger with ATK
  • too early to tell whether early December vote on ATK merger will be delayed.

NASA Statement on Orbital Sciences Antares Failure

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The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

NASA Statement Regarding Oct. 28 Orbital Sciences Corp. Launch Mishap

The following statement is from William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, regarding the mishap that occurred at Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during the attempted launch of Orbital Sciences Corp’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft at 6:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.

“While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap. The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.

“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success. Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”

Updates will be posted as available on NASA’s Orbital page, at:

http://www.nasa.gov/orbital

No Cause of Antares Failure Identified Yet

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A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

A NASA/Orbital Sciences press conference just ended. Here’s are the key details:

  • Orbital’s Frank Culbertson said launch operators realized there was a failure at 10 to 12 seconds into the flight. They noted it on telemetry and visually.
  • The range safety officer activated the vehicle destruct system at about 20 seconds.
  • It’s too early to say exactly what caused the failure. Data have been locked down, which is standard procedure.
  • Culbertson says it is too soon to say how long it will take to resume flights.
  • There were no injuries in the accident, all personnel are safe.
  • Damage was limited to the southern area of Wallops Island.
  • The extent of damage to the launch pad is unknown. Some systems are continuing to hold pressure.
  • Vehicle integration facility is outside the hazard zone, officials expect to see no damage there.
  • Crews are allowing fires to burn themselves out and securing the perimeter.
  • Personnel will enter the area on Wednesday morning to begin recovery efforts.
  • Officials have warned local residents to avoid any debris they find because it might be hazardous or toxic and to notify authorities.
  • NASA officials said there was nothing crucial on the Cygnus freighter.
  • International Space Station could probably go until March without any resupply missions.
  • A Russian Progress resupply ship is scheduled to launch on Wednesday.
  • SpaceX Dragon freighter is set to fly on Dec. 9.
  • Officials might rearrange some of the Dragon manifest.
  • Orbital does carry some insurance on the rocket. Culbertson unable to say how much.
  • There are provisions in the resupply contract to reimburse NASA for Orbital’s failure to perform. No details provided.

Orbital Sciences Statement on Antares Failure

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The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

ORBITAL’S STATEMENT REGARDING ORB-3 LAUNCH MISHAP

Orbital Sciences Corporation confirms that today’s Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was not successful. Shortly after lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at 6:22 p.m. (EDT), the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. According to NASA’s emergency operations officials, there were no casualties and property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island. Orbital has formed an anomaly investigation board, which will work in close coordination with all appropriate government agencies, to determine the cause of today’s mishap.

“It is far too early to know the details of what happened,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group.“As we begin to gather information, our primary concern lies with the ongoing safety and security of those involved in our response and recovery operations. We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident. As soon as we understand the cause we will begin the necessary work to return to flight to support our customers and the nation’s space program.”

Orbital will provide more information as it becomes available and is verified.