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First Commercial Flights to ISS Slide Toward 2020


by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Early in the classic police comedy, The Naked Gun, Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is at the hospital with partner Ed Hocken (George Kennedy) visiting the critically wounded Officer Nordberg (O.J. Simpson), who had been shot and left for dead by a group of heroin smuggling thugs.

“Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that,” Ed tells Frank.

A similar scene played out Wednesday morning during the House Space Subcommittee’s hearing on the progress of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Only it wasn’t nearly as funny.

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ICEYE Launches World’s First Successful SAR Microsat

Helsinki, FINLAND  (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the leader in synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology for microsatellites providing expanded access to reliable and timely earth observation data, today announced the successful launch of its proof-of-concept satellite mission, ICEYE-X1, on ISRO’s PSLV-C40 rocket.

The success of the launch, from Satish Dhawan Space Center in India, distinguishes ICEYE-X1 as the world’s first microsatellite equipped with synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) to ever be deployed in space and as Finland’s very first commercial satellite. Making further history, ICEYE has also successfully established communications with the 70 kg satellite at 05:20, GMT (07:20 Finland time) now in orbit, signaling the next step in the mission’s success.

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SSTL Confirms the Successful Launch of CARBONITE-2 & Telesat LEO Phase 1 Satellite

PSLV-C40 booster lifts off (Credit: ISRO)

GUILDFORD, England (SSTL PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has confirmed the successful launch of CARBONITE-2, an Earth Observation technology demonstration mission owned and operated by SSTL, and of the Telesat LEO Phase 1 communications satellite, an important milestone in Telesat’s plans to deploy a global low earth orbit (LEO) constellation that will revolutionise broadband communications services around the world.

These two small SSTL satellites were launched into a 505 km sun-synchronous orbit on board the PSLV launch vehicle from the Satash Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on 12 January 2018 at UTC/GMT 03:59.

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GomSpace Signs Launch Contract with Virgin Orbit

LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

STOCKHOLM, Jan. 16, 2018 (GomSpace PR) — GomSpace has purchased a launch for several nanosatellites onboard a LauncherOne rocket from the California based company Virgin Orbit. The flight, which is bound for a low-inclination orbit, is scheduled to occur in early 2019.
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Zuma Blame Game Begins

In the wake of the apparently unsuccessful launch of the secret Zuma payload, there is still some confusion about what exactly happened and who is to blame.

The top secret satellite for an unidentified government agency is believed to have burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere after failing to separate from the second stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.

However, SpaceX officials say that the Falcon 9 booster performed exactly as planned, so the company is not responsible for any failure that might have occurred.

That would appear to point the finger at Northrop Grumman, which provided the satellite and the adapter that connected it to booster. The company had declined to comment, saying it doesn’t comment on classified missions.

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Telesat Begins Deploying Its Global Low Earth Orbit Constellation with Phase 1 Satellite Launch

OTTAWA, CANADA, January 12, 2018 (Telesat PR) – Telesat announced today the successful launch of its first LEO satellite, an important milestone in the company’s plans to deploy a global LEO constellation that will revolutionize broadband communications services around the world.

Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite was launched aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) operated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The spacecraft was built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) based in the U.K., a world leader in small satellites and part of the Airbus Defence and Space group.

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Falcon Heavy Static Fire Postponed

Falcon Heavy on the launch pad (Credit: SpaceX)

There’s an unconfirmed report that the Falcon Heavy static fire scheduled for today has been postponed. No new date set. Updates as we get them.

Coalition Seeks Another $20 Million in Public Funding for Spaceport America

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the New Mexico Legislature back in session in Sante Fe, the Dona Ana County Legislative Coalition is seeking more than $20 million for improvements to Spaceport America.

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Science & Technology Experiments Returned on Dragon

Dragon capsule after recovery. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, Jan. 13, west of Baja California, with approximately 4,100 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to Long Beach, California, where some cargo will be removed immediately for return to NASA. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for final processing.

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PLD Space Receives $2.4 Million for Smallsat Launcher

ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit: PLD Space)

PLD Space of Spain has received nearly 2 million euros ($2.4 million) from the European Commission to continue development of its reusable ARION 1 and ARION 2 launch vehicles.

ARION 1 is a suborbital booster that PLD Space plans to begin launching later this year.  The company said the rocket will validate 70% of the technologies required for ARION 2, which will place payloads weighing as much as 150 kg (331 lbs) into low Earth orbit.

 

Falcon Heavy Static Fire Delayed to Tuesday

SpaceX will attempt a static fire of the Falcon Heavy’s 27 first stage engines on Tuesday. The six hour window will open at 4 p.m. EST (2100-0300 GMT).

Also on the schedule this week:

January 17
Launch vehicle: Epsilon
Payload: ASNARO 2 Earth observation radar satellite
Launch window: 4:00-4:35 p.m. EST (2100-2135 GMT)
Launch site: Uchinoura Space Center, Japan

January 18/19
Launch vehicle: Atlas 5
Payload: SBIRS GEO Flight 4 early warning satellite
Launch window: 7:40-8:20 p.m. EST on 18th (0040-0120 GMT on 19th)
Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

January 19/20
Launch Vehicle: Electron
Payload: Spire & Planet CubeSats
Launch window: 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on 19th/20th (0130-0530 GMT on 20th)
Launch site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand

Rocket Lab will open a nine-day launch window for the second launch of Electron. Four-hour launch windows will open each day.

Luxembourg Deputy PM in China to Sign Agreements on Space Resources

LUXEMBOURG (Government PR) — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Etienne Schneider will pay a working visit to the People’s Republic of China from January 15 to 16, 2018.

The Luxembourg delegation will travel to Beijing where Etienne Schneider will meet with political and economic leaders. The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy will be, among others, welcomed by the Minister of Commerce, Zhong Shan, to take stock of the development of trade relations between the two countries.

Interviews with senior officials from the China Academy of Science and the Chinese Space Agency will also be on the agenda. During these interviews, cooperation agreements between Luxembourg and the People’s Republic of China will be signed in the scientific and spatial field, and more particularly in the field of exploration and use of resources in space.

NASA Audit Says CASIS Under Performing on Key ISS Research Tasks

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The organization NASA hired to manage research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has seriously under performed on the majority of its tasks, a new  audit from space agency’s Inspector General finds.

“Of the nine performance categories we assessed, CASIS met expectations in only two: research pathways and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education,” the report states. “For example, the STEM education performance category required CASIS to increase interest in using the National Lab as a platform for STEM education. CASIS met expectations for this performance category by funding 14 STEM education programs in FY 2016 with more than 325,000 participants.”

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This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Jan.15 , 2018: 2-3:30 PM PST (4-5:30 PM CST, 5-6:30 PM EST): We welcome back Dr. MADHU THANGAVELU with JONATHAN MESSER, to discuss the Fall 2017 Design Studio @ USC, suborbital space and much more.

2. Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PST, 10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST: Welcome to OPEN LINES with DR. DAVID LIVINGSTON. First time callers are welcome as are all space & science topics. We talk about the issues and subjects that you want to talk about. Give us a call.

3. Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, Jan. 19, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 PM PST, (12:30 -2 PM EST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST): We welcome back space attorney MIKE GOLD on commercial space topics, the industry and much more.

5. Sunday, Jan. 20, 2018: 12-1:30 PM PST; 2-4:30 PM EST; 2-3:30 PM CST. No show today due to my moving.

Commercial Crew Schedule Margins at Risk as Much Work Remains


by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s uninterrupted access to the International Space Station (ISS) could be at risk due to continued schedule slips by commercial crew providers Boeing and SpaceX, the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) said last week.

“Based on the quantity, significance, and associated uncertainty of work remaining for both commercial providers, the Panel believes there is a very real possibility of future schedule slips that could easily consume all remaining margin,” ASAP said in its annual report. [Full Report]

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