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.

Comments of President Trump and Vice President Pence at Space Force Directive Signing

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

THE PRESIDENT:  Today, I’m thrilled to sign a new order taking the next step to create the United States Space Force. So important, when you look at defense, when you look at all of the other aspects of where the world will be someday. I mean, this is the beginning. This is a very important process.

First, I want to recognize our wonderful Vice President, Mike Pence, who serves as the Chairman of the National Space Council. Thank you, Mike. Great job. I know you feel the same way I do.

I also want to thank Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who is with us; Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva; and the Executive Secretary of the Space Council, Dr. Scott Pace for being here today.

They’ve all worked very hard on the Space Force. They all believe in it very strongly, as I do. It’s the future. It’s where we’re going. I suspect, whether we like it or not, that’s where we’re going. It’s space. That’s the next step, and we have to be prepared.

Our adversaries and — whether we get along with them or not, they’re up in space. And they’re doing it, and we’re doing it. And that’s going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation — and you could say “offense” — but let’s just be nice about it and let’s say the defense of our nation is going to be.

(more…)

Text of Space Policy Directive-4: Establishment of the United States Space Force

Credit: Matt Wade

SUBJECT: Establishment of the United States Space Force

Section 1.  Introduction.  Space is integral to our way of life, our national security, and modern warfare.  Although United States space systems have historically maintained a technological advantage over those of our potential adversaries, those potential adversaries are now advancing their space capabilities and actively developing ways to deny our use of space in a crisis or conflict.  It is imperative that the United States adapt its national security organizations, policies, doctrine, and capabilities to deter aggression and protect our interests. Toward that end, the Department of Defense shall take actions under existing authority to marshal its space resources to deter and counter threats in space, and to develop a legislative proposal to establish a United States Space Force as a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces within the Department of the Air Force. This is an important step toward a future military department for space.  Under this proposal, the United States Space Force would be authorized to organize, train, and equip military space forces of the United States to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict.

(more…)

Techstars, Starburst Announce Space-Focused Accelerator Program With U.S. Government And Corporate Consortium

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Unite to Disrupt Space Industry

LOS ANGELES and BOULDER, Colo. (Techstars/Starburst PR) – Techstars and Starburst announced today their joint effort to help entrepreneurs succeed in aerospace. The Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, a new Los Angeles-based program, will focus on the next generation of space technology companies and related frontier technologies. Matt Kozlov will be the managing director of the program. Matt previously led the Cedars Sinai Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Los Angeles and has invested in over 30 companies. Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing director of Starburst, will be advising Kozlov and the broader program, applying his experience of accelerating over 300 aerospace startups.

(more…)

Pentagon Inspector General to Examine USAF Certification of Falcon 9

Falcon 9 lifts off on Spaceflight SSO-A mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Bloomberg reports that the Pentagon’s inspector general is going to review the U.S. Air Force’s certification process for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

“Our objective is to determine whether the U.S. Air Force complied with the Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide when certifying the launch system design for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles,” the inspector general said in a memo to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson sent on Monday.

The Air Force’s certification of SpaceX in 2015 allowed the company take on military payloads, bringing competition to military space launches that were being handled solely by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between top defense contractors Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. At the time, Musk said he was getting into the business in part to end a monopoly…

The memo to Wilson was signed by Michael Roark, deputy for intelligence and special program assessments. It didn’t give a reason for what prompted the evaluation. Bruce Anderson, a spokesman for the inspector general, didn’t have an immediate comment as to what led to the evaluation.

Spaceflight to Launch First Privately Funded Lunar Lander

Lunar lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

In partnership with SSL, Spaceflight will send its first rideshare mission to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb. 11, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) – Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will launch two payloads on its first rideshare mission to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The mission is scheduled for no earlier than mid-February 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launching from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

(more…)

Lawmakers Seek Review of U.S. Air Force Decision Not to Award Funding to SpaceX

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceNews reports that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) are seeking an independent review of the U.S. Air Force’s decision to award contracts to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and United Launch Alliance for the development of new launch vehicles. California-based SpaceX was not awarded any funding.

In a Feb. 4 letter addressed to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Feinstein and Calvert — both with strong ties to the space industry — argue that the path the Air Force has chosen to select future launch providers creates an unfair playing field. Although SpaceX is not mentioned in the letter by name, it is clear from the lawmakers’ language that they believe the company is getting a raw deal because, unlike its major competitors, it did not receive Air Force funding to modify its commercial rockets so they meet national security mission requirements.

Feinstein and Calvert in the letter ask Wilson to “review how the Air Force intends to maintain assured access to space while preserving maximum competitive opportunities for all certified launch providers.” A copy of the letter was obtained by SpaceNews.

At issue are Launch Service Agreement contracts the Air Force awarded in October to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and United Launch Alliance. The three companies collectively received $2.3 billion to support the development of space launch vehicles that meet national security requirements. The Air Force started the LSA program in 2016 to ensure future access to space and to end its reliance on ULA’s Atlas 5 and its Russian main engine.

(more…)

NASA Makes Change in Boeing Starliner Test Flight Crew

Astronaut Eric Boe examines hardware during a tour of the SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, California. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.

Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

(more…)

Relativity Wins Direct Contract for Launch Site at Cape Canaveral from the U.S. Air Force

The autonomous rocket factory becomes the first venture-backed company to be granted an agreement for historic Launch Complex 16 from the U.S. Air Force

Los Angeles, CA — January 17, 2019 — Relativity, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader, today announced that it has been granted a Statement of Capability for its own rocket launch facilities at Launch Complex 16 (LC-16) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by The 45th Space Wing of the United States Air Force. The Statement of Capability signifies the U.S. Air Force’s formal acceptance of Relativity for launch operations in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This is the first and only direct agreement the U.S. Air Force has completed with a venture-backed orbital launch company at LC-16, and includes on-site vehicle integration and payload processing, with the opportunity to extend to an exclusive 20-year term. Relativity joins SpaceX, ULA, and Blue Origin as only the 4th company with a major operational orbital launch site at Cape Canaveral.

(more…)