Three USAF Experimental Satellites Launched Aboard Electron Rocket

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The U.S. Air Force and its mission partners has successfully launched three Department of Defense research and development satellites on Huntington Beach-based Rocket Lab USA’s Electron rocket from Mahia, New Zealand at 11:00 p.m. PST, May 4, 2019 and  6:00 p.m. NZST May 5, 2019.

(more…)

Inside the SpaceX Falcon Heavy’s Most Challenging Payload Yet

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

Aerospace packed two dozen satellites inside the nose cone of the world’s most powerful rocket.

EL SEGUNDO, Cali. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — It’s a little like trying to fit as many people as possible into a Nissan Leaf.

But in this case, Aerospace is overseeing the process of safely packing more than two dozen satellites into the nose cone of a giant SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

(more…)

Air Force Releases Proposal Request for Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement Contract

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — The Space and Missile Systems Center, in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office, released a request for proposals May 3, for the purpose of competitively awarding firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contracts to two domestic launch service providers. These “Launch Service Procurement” contracts are for National Security Space launch service procurements in fiscal year 2020 through 2024 for missions launching through 2027.

This solicitation strategy is a full and open competition allowing companies to compete for procurement contracts regardless of whether they have a current Launch Service Agreement development contract.

(more…)

ATLAS Space Operations Awarded Project with Space and Missile Systems Center and Defense Innovation

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., (Atlas Space Operations PR)–ATLAS Space Operations, Inc., a leading innovator in ground communications for the space industry, today announced an agreement to develop its LINKS platform with the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). The competitively awarded rapid prototyping program will run for 12 months, and will deliver a complete satellite communications platform tailored to the Air Force’s Multi-Band Multi-Mission requirements, as outlined by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Range and Network Systems Division.

(more…)

NASA to Launch New Technologies on Next Falcon Heavy Flight

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A new kind of atomic clock, non-toxic propellant system and missions to characterize how space weather interferes with satellites and communication transmissions are one step closer to liftoff. With the second-ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch complete, these NASA technologies await the powerful rocket’s next flight.

(more…)

US Air Force Selects Slingshot Aerospace to Bring AI to SSA

SpaceNews reports the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded a two-year $6 million contract to Slingshot Aerospace of Los Angeles to customize its artificial intelligence space situational awareness software for military use.

The commercially developed Orbital Atlas “will enable warfighters to pivot from traditional space situational awareness focusing on space catalog maintenance toward a more tactical, predictive solution,” said Melanie Stricklan, chief technology officer and co-founder of Slingshot Aerospace.

The company uses artificial intelligence to analyze data from satellites, aerial drones and other sources. Slingshot announced the Air Force award on Friday and will be demonstrating the Orbital Atlas this week at the Space Symposium’s “Orbit Lounge.”

The contract was a competitive award by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Superiority Systems Directorate. “SMC is eager to tap into the innovations of artificial intelligence and cloud computing,” Stricklan said.

Rocket Lab to Launch 3 More Defense Satellites Later This Month

Ellectron launches NASA’s Venture Class CubeSats. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., April 3, 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) — U.S. small satellite launch company Rocket Lab announced today that it will launch three experimental research and development (R&D) satellites for the U.S. Air Force in April. The mission will lift-off from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, carrying three R&D spacecraft to Low Earth Orbit aboard an Electron launch vehicle. The launch will be Rocket Lab’s second orbital mission of 2019, and fifth orbital mission overall.
(more…)

Debate Rages Over Usefulness of Pentagon’s New Space Development Agency

Mike Griffin

A debate has raged in the Pentagon over whether the new Space Development Agency will transform the acquisition of new systems, or merely unnecessarily duplicate existing capabilities within the Defense Department’s sprawling bureaucracy.

On one side of the argument are the agency’s champions, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. Griffin oversees the new agency, which is run by Fred Kennedy.

(more…)

National Space Council to Meet Next Tuesday

Vice President Mike Pence addresses NASA employees, Thursday, July 6, 2017, at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Fifth Meeting of the National Space Council

Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2019, at 12:00 p.m. CDT
Location: Saturn V Hall, Davidson Center for Space Exploration, U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Ala.

Panel 1: “Ready to Fly”

  • Gen. Les Lyles, USAF (ret.), former Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
  • Col. Eileen Collins, USAF (ret.), former Shuttle commander
  • Dr. Sandy Magnus, former Shuttle astronaut

Panel 2: “Ready to Explore”

  • Dan Dumbacher, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Dr. Jack Burns, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Wanda Sigur, independent consultant

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches WGS-10 Mission

A Delta IV rocket carrying the tenth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite lifts off from Cape Canaveral. (Credit: ULA)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., March 15, 2019 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the tenth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the U.S. Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on March 15 at 8:26 p.m. EDT. ULA has been the exclusive launch provider for all ten WGS satellites.

(more…)

Pentagon Seeks $14.1 Billion for Military Space Programs

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Department of Defense (DOD) has requested to spend $14.1 billion on space programs in FY 2020, an amount that includes the establishment of a Space Force within the U.S. Air Force and a new Space Development Agency.

“The FY 2020 budget accelerates our efforts to move to a defendable space posture, which is critical as our adversaries continue to develop capabilities to counter our advantages in space,” the DOD said in budget documents. “This budget invests in the survivable and resilient Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared system and continues modernization of our GPS satellites communications systems and space warfighting enterprise.”

(more…)

ULA Delta IV WGS-10 Mission Set to Launch on Friday

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Delta IV launch carrying the WGS-10 mission for the U.S. Air Force. The mission is set to lift off on Friday, March 15 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Today’s forecast shows a 70 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch window begins at 6:56 p.m. ET and extends to 9:05 p.m. ET.

Live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 6:35 p.m. ET on March 15. Live launch updates and webcast available at: www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance
(more…)

USAF Secretary Heather Wilson Resigns

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has resigned her position to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso, officials confirmed today.

Her resignation is effective on May 31. She assumed office on May 16, 2017, meaning her tenure will last just over two years.

“I am proud of the progress that we have made in restoring out nation’s defense,” Wilson said in a statement. “We have cut years out of acquisition schedules and gotten better prices through competition; we have repealed hundreds of superfluous regulations; and we have strengthened our ability to deter and dominate in space.”

The Air Force secretary had clashed with the White House over the proposed Space Force. President Donald Trump wanted it to be a separate, sixth branch of the Armed Forces. Wilson, whose views prevailed in a proposal now before Congress, wanted it to be a new command within the Air Force.

X-60A Hypersonic Flight Research Vehicle Program Completes Critical Design Review

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Aerospace Systems Directorate, High Speed Systems Division, in partnership with Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc., is developing the X-60A vehicle. It is an air-dropped liquid rocket specifically designed for hypersonic flight research.

(more…)

Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 4 Establishing Space Force

Washington
White House Press Release

“Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security.”

— President Donald J. Trump

ESTABLISHING THE SPACE FORCE: President Donald J. Trump’s Space Policy Directive-4 is a bold, strategic step toward guaranteeing American space dominance that sets the framework for establishing the United States Space Force.

  • Space Policy Directive-4 calls on the Secretary of Defense to develop a legislative proposal establishing the Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces.
    • The Space Force will initially be established within the Department of the Air Force.
  • The legislative proposal will embody President Trump’s vision for the Space Force by requiring this new branch of the Armed Forces to:
    • Strengthen America’s ability to compete, deter and win in an increasingly contested domain.
    • Organize, train and equip our space warfighters with next-generation capabilities.
    • Maximize warfighting capability and advocacy for space while minimizing bureaucracy.

A VITAL NATIONAL INTEREST: Our use of space is necessary to keep our country safe, protect lives, and support our way of life.

  • The United States is the best in space, and our adversaries know it.
    • Space is a key source of strategic advantage for the United States, and potential foreign adversaries are determined to restrict our access to it.
    • America has the most capable military in the world, but we must address the looming threats from foreign adversaries in space to maintain our leadership and outpace competitors.
  • America will always seek peace through strength, and we will work with our allies and partners to secure that peace in space.
    • United States space forces will be ready to win in a competitive multi-domain environment against increasingly competitive adversaries.
  • To meet and deter challenges in space, Space Policy Directive-4:
    • Launches a joint interagency review by the National Space Council and the National Security Council to recommend changes to space operational authorities in order to address the threats posed by foreign adversaries.
    • Requires the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to create collaborative mechanisms to improve space capabilities and operations.

LEADING IN A NEW WARFIGHTING DOMAIN: President Trump knows warfare is changing – space is now a warfighting domain just like the air, land and sea.

  • No branch of the Armed Forces has been created since the United States Air Force was established in 1947, more than 70 years ago. The world has changed significantly since then.
  • Establishing the Space Force is critical to preparing the Department of Defense for the evolving warfighting environments of the twenty-first century.
  • President Trump is dedicated to protecting the Nation and preparing America’s military to deter and defeat threats in space.