NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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Orbit Fab Secures Additional Seed Round Funding for its Gas Stations in Space

SAN FRANCISCO (Orbit Fab PR) — Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space company, announced that it has raised a seed extension round led by Munich Re Ventures, the strategic corporate venture capital arm of Munich Re Group, one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, primary insurance, and insurance-related risk solutions. 

The funding will help Orbit Fab achieve its vision of an in-orbit ecosystem for satellite servicing, national security, and space commercialization. Orbit Fab recently announced that it will launch its first fuel tanker, Tanker 001 Tenzing, in the coming year.

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Two USAF Facilities in Florida Designated as Space Force Bases

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence looks on as the signage is revealed re-designating Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base at a ceremony at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020. (Credit: U.S. Space Force)

By Charles Pope
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base were formally re-designated Dec. 9, as facilities central to the mission of the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony rich in symbolism that further confirmed the nation’s commitment to operating in and defending space.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the decision to shift the designation of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base during a formal ceremony at Cape Canaveral.

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Chuck Yeager, Famed for Breaking the Sound Barrier, Dies at 97

U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett tweeted:

Brig Gen (ret) Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) was a barrier-breaking aviation legend who left an outsized impact on the @USAirForce & @SpaceForceDoD. My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and those he inspired.

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager:

“Today’s passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager is a tremendous loss to our nation. Gen. Yeager’s pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America’s abilities in the sky and set our nation’s dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age. He said, ‘You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.’

“Among many firsts in more than 60 years in aviation, Chuck was the first man to fly at the speed of sound, and his achievements rival any of our greatest firsts in space. Not content to rest on his laurels, he went on to break his own record and travel at Mach 2.44. But even before that he was serving his country heroically in World War II. Long after he became a legend in his own time, he continued to serve his country through the military and later in his ongoing work to test new aircraft.

“Chuck’s bravery and accomplishments are a testament to the enduring strength that made him a true American original, and NASA’s Aeronautics work owes much to his brilliant contributions to aerospace science. As a young naval aviator, I was one of many around the world who looked up to Chuck Yeager and his amazing feats as a test pilot. His path blazed a trail for anyone who wanted to push the limits of human potential, and his achievements will guide us for generations to come.”

Space Force Launches SpaceWERX Accelerator

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) — AFWERX kicked-off its inaugural Accelerate event Dec. 7 with an exciting announcement on the formation of SpaceWERX, a new entity that will focus on technologies for the United States Space Force.

“As we approach the first anniversary of our newest Service, the United States Space Force, we also celebrate the opening of the first space-focused innovation hub at Los Angeles Air Force Base,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett.

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Chief of Space Operations Discusses Need for Outreach to Partners, State of Space Force

 

Gen. John “Jay” Raymond. Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, Commander, U.S. Space Command, provides remarks at the USSPACECOM Change of Command. (Credit: Lewis Carlyle)

By Jim Garamone
DOD News

The importance of space to the modern world cannot be underestimated, and the U.S. Space Force will be key to defending the ultimate “high ground,” said Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations for the new service.

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Winners Announced for US/UK Partnered International Space Pitch Day

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USSF SMC PR) –  U.S Space Force’s Space And Missile Systems Center,  (SMC) along with its partners have announced the winners of International Space Pitch Day (ISPD). Small tech companies and start-ups from multiple countries had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of several U.S., U.K. and N.A.T.O. allied defense leaders on Nov. 16, 2020.

During the event, ten start-ups successfully secured same-day contracts and a slice of the $1M pot, to fast-track the development of their innovations. This marks the first time two nations have come together to award defense contracts based around a pitch-style event and the first time two nations have awarded joint defense innovation contracts to foreign companies.

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Doubling Down on Space Safety

by Keith Wright
U.S. Air Force Safety Center

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Recently, the Air Force Safety Center transferred the Space Safety Division to the United States Space Force as one of the first blended organizations in the Department.  Already charged with supporting both services, this transfer serves to leverage the Center’s expertise doubling down on space safety for both services.

The Safety Center’s Space Safety Division will continue to call Kirtland Air Force Base home, while remaining steadfast in their commitment to promote and enhance space mishap prevention and a risk management culture in the USSF.

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U.S. Air Force Identifies 6 Candidates to Host U.S. Space Command HQ

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Department of the Air Force, on behalf of the Office of Secretary of Defense, has selected six candidate locations for the U.S. Space Command Headquarters.

The six locations include Kirtland AFB, New Mexico; Offutt AFB, Nebraska; Patrick AFB, Florida; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Port San Antonio, Texas; and Redstone Army Airfield, Alabama.

Self-nominated communities from across 24 states were evaluated as potential locations for hosting the headquarters. 

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Orbit Fab to Launch Orbital Fuel Depot Next Year

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Orbit Fab plans to launch its first operational fuel depot into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than June 2021.

Orbit Fab’s Tanker 001 Tenzing will store propellant for satellite serving spacecraft and other vehicles that need refueling. The spacecraft will be placed in a sun synchronous orbit by one of Spaceflight Inc.’s Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles.

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NASA and SpaceX Complete Certification of First Human-Rated Commercial Space System

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Resilience for NASA SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission are seen inside the SpaceX Hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 9, 2020, before rollout to Launch Pad 39A. (Credits: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Years of design, development, and testing have culminated in NASA officially certifying the first commercial spacecraft system in history capable of transporting humans to and from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA completed the signing of the Human Rating Certification Plan Tuesday for SpaceX’s crew transportation system after a thorough Flight Readiness Review ahead the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the space station.

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Supersonic & Hypersonic Civilian Transport Projects in Development

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.

XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.

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Orbital Sidekick Awarded $16M U.S. Air Force STRATFI Contract

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 15, 2020 (Orbital Sidekick PR) — Orbital Sidekick (OSK) announced today that it has been awarded a $16 million multi-year contract by the Department of the Air Force’s commercial investment group (AFVentures), in conjunction with the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), as part of its Strategic Financing (STRATFI) program.

This award, which is matched by private investment funds, will allow OSK to accelerate the deployment of six advanced hyperspectral imaging (HSI) satellites with edge processing capabilities as well as integrate its Spectral Intelligence Global Monitoring Application (SIGMA™) platform with the USAF Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS).

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SpaceX Loses Lawsuit Against U.S. Air Force Over Starship Funding

Starship lifts off on a point to point flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A federal judge had denied SpaceX’s claim that the U.S. Air Force should have provided development funding for its Starship booster, according to media reports.

USAF awarded $2.2 billion in contracts in October 2918 to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to help the companies develop new rockets to launch national security payloads. SpaceX’s proposal for Starship funding was rejected.

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NASA Looks to Advance 3D Printing Construction Systems for the Moon and Mars

ICON illustration of a conceptual lunar base with 3D printed infrastructure, including landing pads and habitats. (Credits: ICON/SEArch+)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — The process of building landing pads, habitats, and roads on the Moon will likely look different than the common construction site on Earth. Excavation robots, for one, will need to be lightweight yet capable of digging in reduced gravity. A large-scale construction system could be autonomous and equipped to work without astronauts’ help.

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