NASA and SpaceX: Dragon Crew Extraction Rehearsal

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken practice extraction from a Crew Dragon capsule. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

On August 13, 2019, NASA at the Trident Basin in Cape Canaveral, Florida, astronauts Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken work with teams from NASA and SpaceX to rehearse crew extraction from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which will be used to carry humans to the International Space Station. Using the ship Go Searcher to recover their spacecraft after splashdown and a mock-up of the Crew Dragon, the teams worked through the steps necessary to get Hurley and Behnken safely out of the Dragon. The pair will fly to the space station aboard the Crew Dragon for the SpaceX Demo-2 mission. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA TV to Air US Spacewalk, Briefing on Space Station Docking Port Install

The International Docking Adapter 3, a critical component for future crewed missions to the International Space Station, is carefully packed away in the unpressurized “trunk” section of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the SpaceX facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 24. (Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Experts from NASA will preview an upcoming spacewalk with two American astronauts outside the International Space Station to complete the outfitting of docking ports during a briefing at 2 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Live coverage of the briefing will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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SpaceX Statement on U.S. Air Force Launch Competition

Gwynne Shotwell

The following statement can be attributed to Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX:

“SpaceX means to serve as the Air Force’s long-term provider for space launch, offering existing, certified and proven launch systems capable of carrying out the full spectrum of national security space launch missions and requirements.”

Overall, SpaceX’s mature, operationally proven Falcon launch system delivers significant flight heritage and is fully capable of reliably supporting Phase 2 National Security Space Launch missions.

Phase 2 presents an opportunity to utilize and expand this certified operational capability to support the full spectrum of national security space launch requirements, leveraging the years-long, close technical relationship between SpaceX and the USG Team. This collaboration has delivered mission success for critical national security payloads, including National Reconnaissance Office Launch 76 (NROL-76), Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5), Global Positioning System III-2 (GPS III-2), and STP-2.

SpaceX’s Falcon launch system is the only system offered for Phase 2 NSSL that is flying today and has already achieved national security space certification—SpaceX is clearly the lowest-risk solution for the Government to provide assured access to space on time and on budget.

Blue Origin Files Pre-award Protest Over USAF Launcher Competition

Defense News reports that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has filed a pre-award protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over the U.S. Air Force’s competition for new launch contracts.

Blue Origin is arguing that the current structure of the launch service provider competition may favor incumbents and will perpetuate a duopoly, according to a Blue Origin fact sheet obtained by Defense News.

“As drafted, the LSP [launch service provider] RFP [request for proposals] includes evaluation criteria that are ambiguous and fail to comply with federal procurement statutes and regulations. This subjectivity of the criteria makes it impossible to accurately respond to the RFP,” the fact sheet states.

“To ensure the process maximizes value for the American taxpayer and protects U.S. national security interests in space, it is essential that the Air Force structure the LSP RFP in a way that fosters a fair and level playing field for new entrants.”

The Air Force released a solicitation for the second phase of the LSP competition in May and intends to downselect to two launch providers in 2020. SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman are all slated to vie for the series of contracts, which will be awarded over 2020 to 2024 for launches scheduled through 2027.

NewSpace vs. Big Rocket: FAA’s Overhaul of Launch Regs Splits Industry

Two Launches in One Week: On Aug. 14, 2017, a Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the photo on the left. It was carrying a Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. In the image on the right, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Aug.18, 2017 placing in orbit NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite. (Credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Sandra Joseph)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

According to who you talk to, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) proposed streamlining of launch and re-entry regulations is either a prudent step forward that provides much-needed flexibility while protecting public safety or a a confusing mess that’s a massive step backward.

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launches AMOS-17, Ship Catches Half of Payload Fairing

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster launched Spacecom’s AMOS-17 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday. The company’s Ms. Tree vessel caught half of the rocket’s payload fairing in a net as it descended under a parachute.

It was the second recovery of a fairing half by the net-equipped ship. A full fairing costs about $6 millions to manufacture.

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SpaceX Set to Launch Communications Satellite Tonight from Cape Canaveral

Falcon 9 lifts off with Iridium Next 41-50 satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Tuesday, August 6 for launch of AMOS-17 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The launch window opens at 6:53 p.m. EDT, or 22:53 UTC, and closes at 8:21p.m. EDT, or 00:21 UTC on August 7. The satellite will be deployed approximately 31 minutes after liftoff.

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SpaceX Offers Dedicated Ride Program for Small Satellites

SpaceX announced today that it will be offering dedicated rideshare launches for small satellites.

Pricing to sun-synchronous orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

“SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program will provide small satellite operators with regularly scheduled, dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare missions to SSO for ESPA class payloads for as low as $2.25M per mission, which includes up to 150 kg of payload mass,” the company said on its website.

Pricing to sun-synchronous orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

“Unlike traditional rideshare opportunities, these missions will not be dependent on a primary.,” the company added. “These missions will be pre-scheduled and will not be held up by delays with co-passengers.”

Rideshare launch schedule (Credit: SpaceX)

More infornmation is available here.

Momentus and NanoRacks Announce Working Relationship

SANTA CLARA, Calif., August 5, 2019 (Momentus PR) — Momentus (http://www.momentus.space), a provider of in-space shuttle services that move satellites between orbits, today announced a working relationship with NanoRacks to utilize the Bishop Airlock Module for Vigoride services from 2021 when the module will be installed on the International Space Station. The companies also plan to have a test launch of Vigoride in Q2-Q3 of 2020 using NanoRacks’ existing Kaber microsatellite deployer.

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NASA Releases Draft Environmental Assessment for SpaceX Starship & Super Heavy at KSC

Super Heavy Starship (Credit: SpaceX)

Draft Environmental Assessment
for the SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy
Launch Vehicle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

Full Report

August 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has prepared this Environmental Assessment (EA), with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as Lead Agency, to evaluate the potential environmental impacts resulting from construction and operations associated with the proposed SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). This EA analyzes effects on resources due to the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Federal agencies are required to consider environmental consequences resulting from their actions.

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NASA’s Uncertain Path Back to the Moon

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nothing illustrates the changes wrought by the Trump Administration’s decision to move up the deadline for returning astronauts to the moon from 2028 to 2024 than a pair of contracts NASA awarded for the Lunar Gateway that will serve as a staging point for the landing.

In May, Maxar won a competitively awarded $375 million contract to build the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). NASA released a source selection statement that detailed how officials evaluated the five bids they received and why Maxar’s proposal was superior to the others.

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NanoRacks Flies Science Mission for First Emirati Astronaut, Commercial, Educational Customers on SpaceX ISS Launch

WEBSTER, Texas, July 29, 2019 (NanoRacks PR) — The 18th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from SpaceX delivered a historic mission for NanoRacks. NanoRacks, the leading provider of commercial access to low-Earth orbit, transported the materials for the science experiments that will be conducted by the first Emirati astronaut upon his arrival to the International Space Station (ISS) in late September, 2019.

NanoRacks also launched the first-ever microgravity experiment from Young Living – the world-leader in essential oils, amongst other educational research. Collectively, this amounts to NanoRacks’ single largest mission to the Space Station to date.

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SpaceX Dragon Supply Ship Attached to Space Station

Dragon CRS-18 cargo ship at the end of the space station’s robotic arm. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Two days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 12:01 p.m. EDT.

The 18th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-18) delivers more than 5,000 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

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SpaceX Launches Dragon Cargo Ship to Space Station

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The company said the spacecraft entered the planned orbit and opened its solar arrays as scheduled. It’s the third trip to ISS for this particular spacecraft.

The Falcon 9 first stage touched down back at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Dragon will arrive at the space station on Saturday morning.