USAF Issues RFP for New Launch Vehicles

The U.S. Air Force issued a request for proposals (RFP) last Thursday for a new launch vehicle to handle national security space (NSS) requirements.

“The goal of the EELV acquisition strategy is to leverage commercial launch solutions in order to have at least two domestic, commercial launch service providers that also meet NSS requirements, including the launch of the heaviest and most complex payloads,” the proposal states.

“The Launch Service Agreements (LSAs) facilitate development of at least three EELV Launch System prototypes as early as possible, allowing those launch systems to mature prior to a future selection of two NSS launch service providers for Phase 2 launch service procurements, starting in FY20,” the proposal adds.
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SSL to Help U.S. Air Force Test & Validate Hosted Payloads Scenarios

PALO ALTO, Calif. SSL, a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it was selected by Innoflight, Inc., a veteran-owned business specializing in electronics systems for Defense & Aerospace, to provide a high fidelity simulation environment for testing the security of hosted payloads on commercial satellites.  The capability, which is being developed for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) as part of its Secure IP Payload Accommodation Demonstration Project, will enable SMC to demonstrate cybersecure payload hosting scenarios, concepts of operation, and cybersecurity controls.

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Space Commanders Address Operations, Importance at AFA

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) — Several of the Air Force’s space commanders spoke on a panel about the significance of Air Force space operations and its undeniable importance to national defense during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 19, 2017.

The Air Force is the lead service for space and has the vast majority of the Defense Department’s space systems, personnel and budget with 36,000 Airmen at 134 different locations.
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Jim Bridenstine Explains Why He is Qualified to be NASA Administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) says that his leadership efforts in Congress on space issues qualifies him to serve as NASA administrator.

“For three terms in Congress, have led comprehensive, bipartisan, space reforms with the objective of preserving America’s preeminence and global leadership in space,” Bridenstine stated in a notarized document submitted to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“These efforts have led me to a deep understanding of the complex challenges NASA will face bringing together traditional space companies and new space entrepreneurs into a comprehensive NASA vision for both exploration and science,” he added. “Traditional and new space companies are both critical to accelerating America’s space renaissance.”

In the document, which queried Bridenstine on his views and qualifications for NASA’s top job, the congressman listed NASA’s top three challenges as:
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Falcon 9 Launches U.S. Air Force X-37B

The X-37B spacecraft after landing on May 7, 2017. (Credit: USAF)

A Falcon 9 launched the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane this morning from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the fifth launch of an X-37 vehicle and the first one by SpaceX’s booster. The first stage of the Falcon 9 successfully touched down on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was the 16th recovery of a first stage.

Video of Spectacular Minotaur IV Night Launch

Video Caption: An Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket has successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s launch pad 46 at 06:04 UTC, August 26th 2017. This was the 6th launch and 1st from Cape Canaveral. The rocket carried the ORS-5 payload for the US Air Force.

Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV Lofts U.S. Air Force Satellite into Orbit

Minotaur IV launches ORS-5 spacecraft. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

DULLES, Va., 26 August 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, announced its Minotaur IV space launch vehicle successfully launched and placed into orbit the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) spacecraft on August 26, 2017.

The Minotaur IV launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46), which is operated under license by Space Florida. This mission marks the 26th consecutive successful launch for the company’s Minotaur product line.

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Minotaur IV Launch Set for Tonight

DULLES, Va., 25 August 2017 (Orbital ATK PR)– Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it is proceeding towards launch of the company’s Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, tonight at approximately 11:15 p.m. EDT.

Live web coverage of tonight’s Minotaur launch will begin at 10:55 p.m. EDT and can be found at bit.ly/2x7o20P. 

The Minotaur IV will carry the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) spacecraft, which will monitor satellites and space debris to aid the U.S. military’s space situational awareness.

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Space Florida Transforms SLC-46 for New Launch Capabilities

Athena-2 rocket at SLC-46. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT (August 17, 2017) – On August 25, Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch its Minotaur 4 rocket from Space Florida’s Space Launch Complex (SLC) 46 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch of the ORS 5 mission for the US Air Force (USAF), will be the first launch from the pad since 1999, as well as the first since Space Florida renovated the complex.

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U.S. Air Force Names Space Operations Officials

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force selected the senior civilian and mobilization assistant for the deputy chief of staff for Space Operations directorate, or “AF/A11,” Aug. 17, 2017. Mr. Shawn Barnes will serve as the assistant deputy chief of staff for Space Operations, and Maj. Gen. Pamela Lincoln has been named as the Mobilization assistant to the deputy chief of staff for Space Operations.

“Mr. Barnes and Maj. Gen. Lincoln are experienced leaders who will provide the vision and direction for our new Space Operations Directorate,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “This is one more element of the plan to ensure our space forces are organized, trained, and equipped to prevail in any conflict.”

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A Look at the History of Suborbital Spaceflight

Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

With Richard Branson once again predicting that Virgin Galactic will fly SpaeShipTwo into space before the end of the year, it seems like a good time to take a look at the history of suborbital spaceflight.

The number of manned suborbital flights varies depending upon the definition you use. The internationally recognized boundary is 100 km (62.1 miles), which is also known as the Karman line. The U.S. Air Force awarded astronaut wings to any pilot who exceeded 80.5 km (50 miles).

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U.S. Air Force Secretary Visits Mojave, Tours Stratolaunch

If Stratolaunch only had a rocket worthy of the ginormous carrier aircraft they built. No offense to Orbital ATK and the Pegasus XL, but that’s not what this thing was built for. Maybe they will develop one eventually.

Trump Administration Objects to Defense Bill Provisions on Space Corps, EELV Development


The Trump Administration and the House Armed Services Committee are on a collision course over four space- and rocket-related provisions in the fNational Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018).

Specifically, the administration is objecting to the following provisions:

  • the establishment of a separate space corps within the U.S. Air Force (USAF);
  • limitations on the funding of new rocket engines for the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program;
  • a prohibition on the Pentagon procurement of transponder services on commercial satellites launched on Russian rockets; and,
  • requirements that the Defense Department find multiple suppliers for individual components of solid rocket missile systems.

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