Tag: SpaceX

I Will Launch America: Brittani Sims

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i_will_launch_brittani_simsBy Joshua Finch,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Brittani Sims is one of the many dedicated employees supporting NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

An electrical engineer by education, Sims developed a passion for safety and human spaceflight in high school after watching the space shuttle on TV.

“I was just sitting on the couch watching TV and the news was covering the return of the space shuttle,” said Sims. “I wasn’t even aware what NASA did at the time. I remember asking my mom, ‘Did you know that we put people into space?’ When I went to school the next week, I told people that I wanted to work for NASA, and a lot of them didn’t really believe me.”

Sims says those doubts only served as additional motivation for her to achieve her goals.

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Dragon Returns to Earth

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SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 26, southwest of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

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ASAP Update on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

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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.

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SpaceX Looks to Expand Operations at Port Canaveral

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Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

With a hangar full of used Falcon 9 first stages, SpaceX is looking to expand its operations along Florida’s Space Coast.

The space launch company plans to lease the now-vacant former Spacehab building on the north side of the port, and is looking at constructing a second building on vacant land adjacent to that site, [Port Canaveral CEO John] Murray told port commissioners.

SpaceX is expected to process and refurbish rockets, as well as potentially perform other functions, at the port, Murray said.

“We’re happy to announce that they’re onboard,” he said. “It’s good for the port, it’s good for the community, and it’s a high-visibility project. So we’re really excited about that. They’re a great client to have on our port. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

A formal lease agreement with SpaceX could come before port commissioners for approval as early as next month. In the meantime, Murray said SpaceX plans to move into the 52,000-square-foot former Spacehab building through a temporary property-use permit between the company and the port.

Read the full story.

COTS Hits the Big 1-0

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Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Ten years ago, on August 18, 2006, NASA announced agreements with two private companies that dramatically changed the way NASA does business and the landscape for the commercial space industry.

The announcement was rooted in long term trends dating back to the 1980s, but the immediate cause of this change can be traced to the report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In the wake of the Columbia accident in 2003, and the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration by President Bush in early 2004, the Commission was tasked with coming up with recommendations about future space policy.

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SpaceX Tests Crew Dragon Parachutes

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Crew Dragon parachute test (Credit: SpaceX)

Crew Dragon parachute test (Credit: SpaceX)

A Crew Dragon test article successfully deployed its four main parachutes as planned during a test that saw the SpaceX-made test article dropped from a C-130 aircraft 26,000 feet above Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada.

The Crew Dragon, designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, will use four parachutes when returning to Earth. SpaceX plans to land the initial flight tests and missions in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX is working on a propulsive landing system the company intends to use in the future missions to propulsively land on land using its SuperDraco engines.

The parachute test is just one of an evaluation regimen that is expected to include many additional parachute drops of increasing complexity. SpaceX and NASA engineers will use the results throughout the test program to confirm the system and get it certified for use first on flight tests and then for operational missions.

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Report: SpaceX Makes Large Carbon Fiber Purchase From Japan

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Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

Some news from Japan about SpaceX:

Japanese materials maker Toray Industries has agreed to supply carbon fiber to U.S. startup SpaceX for use in the bodies of rockets and space vehicles.

The multiyear deal with Tesla founder Elon Musk’s 14-year-old venture is estimated to be worth 200 billion yen to 300 billion yen ($1.99 billion to $2.98 billion) in total. The two sides are aiming to finalize the agreement this fall after hammering out prices, time frames and other terms.

SpaceX aims to hold down expenses by re-using rockets and spacecraft. Originally, the company made rockets mostly out of aluminum to keep costs low, using carbon fiber only for a few parts, such as connecting joints.

The U.S. company said in a statement, “Toray is one of a number of suppliers we work with to meet our carbon fiber needs for Falcon rocket and Dragon spacecraft production, and we haven’t announced any new agreements at this time. As our business continues to grow, the amount of carbon fiber we use may continue to grow.”

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Video: The Road to the International Docking Adapter

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Video Caption: In 2015, NASA astronauts laid the groundwork for the installation of the first International Docking Adapter, or IDA on the International Space Station.

SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite, Lands Boosters

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Falcon 9 first stage landed nearly dead center. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 first stage landed nearly dead center. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 placed the Japanese JCSAT-16 communications satellite into orbit in a spectacular early-morning launch on Sunday. The first stage of the booster also landed also successfully landed on an off-shore drone ship.

The flight was the eighth successful launch of a Falcon 9 this year. It also was the sixth time the company has landed a first stage booster for later use.

During the Small Satellite Conference in Utah last week, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company could reuse two of recovered boosters for satellite launches by the end of the year.

SpaceX has a crowded manifest for the rest of 2016, with at least eight more flights planned. The launch is scheduled for late this month from Cape Canaveral, with the Amos 6 satellite as the payload.

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NASA Q&A on Commercial Crew Program

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Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director, from left, Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager, astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams discuss talk about the development of a new generation of human-rated spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director, from left, Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager, astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams discuss talk about the development of a new generation of human-rated spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

There are few days that are the same for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program astronauts as they train for flight tests aboard the next generation of human-rated spacecraft, astronauts Eric Boe and Suni Williams told an audience at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.

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SpaceX, ULA Launches Set for Next Week

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Delta IV launch (Credit: ULA)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully completed a pre-flight static engine test on Thursday. The launcher is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base with the JCSAT 16 communications satellite on Sunday morning at 1:26 a.m. EDT (0526 GMT). The launch attempt has a two-hour window. SpaceX will attempt to land the Falcon 9’s first stage on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean.

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket is scheduled to launch the U.S. Air Force’s AFSPC 6 mission from Cape Canaveral on Friday, Aug. 19. The launch period is listed as being from 12:00-4:00 a.m. EDT. (0400-0800 GMT).

More Delays Coming for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program?

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I asked Eric what he meant by this Tweet. He said he was referring to a crewed test flight of either SpaceX’s Dragon or Boeing’s CST-100 sometime by the end of 2018. That would push back the first commercial mission into 2019.

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ESA Targets Active Tracking of Astronaut Radiation Exposure

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ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Radiation is an invisible hazard of spaceflight, but a new monitoring system for ESA astronauts gives a realtime snapshot of their exposure. The results will guide researchers preparing for deep-space missions to come.

A key element of the new system launched to orbit on last month’s Falcon 9 launch to the International Space Station, ensuring it is in place for ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s November mission to the Station.

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Links to Parabolic Arc’s Coverage of Small Satellite 2016 Conference

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SkyFire’s new infrared technology will help NASA enhance its knowledge of the lunar surface. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

SkyFire’s new infrared technology will help NASA enhance its knowledge of the lunar surface. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

The Small Satellite 2016 Conference is now over. Below are links to Parabolic Arc’s coverage of the conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it last weekend. There are also links to announcements made during the conference and in recent weeks.

Small Satellite Conference Coverage

Recent Smallsat News & Announcements

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Smallsat 2016: Spaceflight Looks Forward to SHERPA Launch

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spaceflight_logoSpaceflight CEO Jason Andrews gave at talk this week at the Small Satellite Conference in Utah. Below is a summary of his address derived from Tweets by Jeff Foust (‏@jeff_foust) and David Hurst ‏(@OrbitalDave).

Spaceflight
Jason Andrews, CEO

  • Spaceflight scheduled to launch its SHERPA spacecraft carrier aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in late October
  • SHERPA is secondary payload to Formosat-5 spacecraft
  • SHERPA will deploy 89 satellites ranging from 2U CubeSats to 150-kg spacecraft
  • Launch will set a new world record for the number of spacecraft on a single launch vehicle
  • At Spaceflights’s request, Falcon 9 will drop perigee before deploying SHERPA to ensure spacecraft will de-orbit within 25 years
  • Spacecraft will be placed in sun-synchronous orbit
  • There’s a lot of demand for SSO launches
  • Lately there has been increasing demand for launching spacecraft to mid-inclination orbits
  • Spaceflight has flown 93 satellites on various launch vehicles to date
  • Company has 150 satellite launches on order that will fly on five launch vehicles
  • Spaceflight wants to make buying a space launch as easy as purchasing an airline ticket