Space Force Identifies USAF Missions for Transfer to Newest Service

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — In a significant step that enhances the U.S. Space Force’s capabilities and development, the Department of the Air Force has identified 23 U.S. Air Force organizations whose space-related missions will soon transfer to the Space Force.

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, in conjunction with Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, directed the transfer which entails shifting space missions from Air Force organizations into the newest military branch.

Currently, Space Force is comprised primarily of units which previously fell under the former Air Force Space Command prior to the service’s establishment on Dec. 20, 2019.  

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AFRL, Masten & NASA Collaborate on Successful Testing of Methane Engine

The Masten 25k lbf thrust Broadsword rocket engine. (Credit: Masten Space Systems/Matthew Kuhns)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and Masten Space Systems Inc. successfully tested a liquid methane rocket engine, the first of its kind tested at AFRL.

AFRL and Masten signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement in December 2018. The agreement enabled Masten to test the Broadsword 25K engine at AFRL’s rocket testing facility at Edwards Air Force Base in Test Area 1-125 and complete NASA’s Tipping Point contract requirement of a ten second hot fire test.

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Blue Moon Program Fact Sheet

Blue Moon crewed landing vehicle. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s advanced development programs and Blue Moon lunar lander.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

Advanced Development Programs

Blue Origin is developing advanced technologies to enable space exploration and development, including a NASA Tipping Point contract to mature cryogenic liquid propulsion for integrated large-scale lunar lander applications and several years of progress on the Blue Moon Lunar Lander and its BE-7 lunar landing engine.

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Blue Origin Fact Sheet on New Glenn, Engine Development

New Glenn is a reusable, vertical-landing booster with 3.85 million pounds of thrust, (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s New Glenn rocket and its BE-3, BE-4 and BE-7 engine development program.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

New Glenn

Named after John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit Earth, New Glenn is a single configuration, heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to low Earth orbit, geostationary transfer orbit, cislunar and beyond. Its first stage is fully reusable and built for 25 missions initially.

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U.S. Government Further Invests in Blue Canyon Technologies’ Next-Gen Reaction Wheels

BOULDER, Colo. (BCT PR) — Small satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has been awarded an agreement with the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) serving as Department of Defense (DoD) Executive Agent for the Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III program.

The purpose of this Title III project is to establish and scale up domestic production capability for the manufacture of space-qualified Next Generation Reaction Wheels (NGRWs) and small Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs). BCT’s diverse and growing reaction wheel platform has the proven capability to enable a broad range of missions and technological advances, further reducing the barriers of space entry.

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L3Harris Technologies Passes Preliminary Design Review for Experimental Satellite Navigation Program

U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) satellite. (Photo: L3Harris Technologies)
  • Defines design baseline for U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3
  • Demonstrates ability to move quickly for rapid acquisition prototype programs
  • Allows L3Harris to continue development of newly named Air Force vanguard program

MELBOURNE, Fla. (L3Harris Technologies PR) — L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has reached a major milestone in the U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) project – passing the preliminary design review that defines the spacecraft’s path to delivery and allows the program to move to the next phase of development.

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AFRL, Blue Origin Partner on Test Site for BE-7 Lunar Lander Engine Development

The Altitude facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California, does tactical scale research on next generation rocket motor and engine components, propellant formulations, and subsystems; and high vacuum research on satellite components, subsystems, and systems. Research testing includes solid rocket motor testing at simulated altitudes up to 120,000 feet. The complex has been used for space simulation to validate thrust vector control systems, baseline a standard for solid rocket motor propellants, research extendible nozzle cones, and systems, and research space qualified ignition systems. (Credit: Blue Origin)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory and Blue Origin are developing a new test facility for the Blue Origin BE-7 lunar lander engine at the AFRL rocket lab here.

Capital improvements, funded by Blue Origin, will allow BE-7 testing in a simulated space-like environment. Planned work includes adding liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellant capabilities, along with other facility upgrades.

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China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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Northrop Grumman, AFRL Partner to Provide Critical Advanced Technology in Space Solar Power

An artistic representation showcases the capture of solar energy in space that is precisely beamed it to where it is needed through the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Project directly supports the Space Solar Power Initiative converting solar power in space to radio frequency on Earth.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman is working with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on a project to rapidly infuse space technological innovations to incrementally develop component technologies needed for a prototype solar energy collection system.

The project is designed to provide constant, consistent and logistically agile power to expeditionary forces operating in unimproved areas such as forward operating bases. These forces require assured power that will be transmitted via radio frequency (RF) from spacecraft.

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China Making Aggressive Moves to Dominate Commercial Space Sector

China satellite launch

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s growing commercial space industry. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is using aggressive state-backed financing to capture increasing shares of the commercial launch and satellite markets, making it more difficult for American companies to compete and threatening to hollow out the U.S. industrial base.

China is also leverage “military-civil” fusion to create a burgeoning commercial space sector by providing substantial state support. Nearly 90 new space companies have been created since 2014, most of which enjoy the support of the Chinese military, defense industrial base, or state-owned research and development institutions.

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USAF Space and Missile Systems Center Payloads Arrive at Space Station

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMSC PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners successfully delivered the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta CubeSats and Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) to the International Space Station.

The mission, designated NG-12, started with the on-time launch of an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A Nov. 2 at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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Google and NASA Achieve Quantum Supremacy

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Google, in partnership with NASA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has demonstrated the ability to compute in seconds what would take even the largest and most advanced supercomputers thousands of years, achieving a milestone known as quantum supremacy.

“Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but this transformative achievement rockets us forward,” said Eugene Tu, center director at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “Our missions in the decades to come to the Moon, Mars and beyond are all fueled by innovations like this one.”

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Kleos Space to Participate in USAF Accelerator Program

LUXEMBOURG, 6 September 2019 — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, is proud to announce that it has been awarded a contract to participate in the United States Air Force Space Vehicle Directorates Catalyst (AFRL/RV) Space Accelerator program (CSA).

The newly appointed VP of Business Development for the program, Danny McGrane, will represent Kleos Space in the 12-weeks, semi-residential program located in Colorado Springs. The CSA is sponsored by Air Force Research Lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

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General Atomics Orbital Test Bed Satellite Payload Commissioning Underway

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: General Atomics)

SAN DIEGO, CA, 26 August 2019 – General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that commissioning of NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), the primary hosted payload on-board the Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite, is now underway. GA-EMS’ OTB was successfully launched at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019 on board the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

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AFRL Puts New Technologies into Space Aboard World’s Most Powerful Launch Vehicle

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission launches from Launch Complex 39A, Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA)

by Bryan Ripple
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) — The Air Force Research Laboratory successfully put new technologies into space, June 25, as part of the Department of Defense Space Test Program (STP-2) mission, managed by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.

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