Blue Origin Moves Closer to Human Flights with New Shepard Test

New Shepard booster over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — New Shepard flew for the ninth time on July 18, 2018. During this mission, known as Mission 9 (M9), the escape motor was fired shortly after booster separation.

The Crew Capsule was pushed hard by the escape test and we stressed the rocket to test that astronauts can get away from an anomaly at any time during flight. The mission was a success for both the booster and capsule. Most importantly, astronauts would have had an exhilarating ride and safe landing.

This isn’t the first time we’ve done this type of extreme testing on New Shepard. In October of 2012, we simulated a booster failure on the launch pad and had a successful escape.

New Shepard capsule parachutes to a safe landing (Credit: Blue Origin)

Then in October of 2016, we simulated a booster failure in-flight at Max Q, which is the most physically strenuous point in the flight for the rocket, and had a completely successful escape of the capsule.

This test on M9 allowed us to finally characterize escape motor performance in the near-vacuum of space and guarantee that we can safely return our astronauts in any phase of flight.

Also on M9, New Shepard carried science and research payloads from commercial companies, universities and space agencies. Learn more about the payloads on board here.

You can also view the full replay of M9 on YouTube.

Until our next test launch, Gradatim Ferociter!

Southern Road to Spaceport America Nearly Completed

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

The long-awaited southern road that will cut travel time between Las Cruces and Spaceport America is nearing completion, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Finally, after years of delays and uncertainties, the roughly 24-mile-long road is paved. Some details remain in the overall project, which Doña Ana County officials expect to be completed in August.

Doña Ana County Manager Fernando Macias said he drove the road on July 9 to see how it looked.

“From my perspective, it’s 98 percent complete,” he said. “Maybe a little bit of touch-ups (are needed) as we go along because we haven’t technically accepted the road or accepted the finality of the project.”

For years, there’s been a dirt road along the southern route, which stretches from the Upham Exit of Interstate 25 to the spaceport. But it was in poor condition, and drivers, especially those in passenger cars, found it impassable. Even people driving trucks reported frequent flat tires.

Currently, motorists must drive north of the spaceport on I-25 to Truth or Consequences and then double back on local roads to reach the spaceport.

The $14 million project is being paid for by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, which runs Spaceport America. The state of New Mexico has spent about $225 million on the spaceport project, whose anchor tenant is Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic continues to test SpaceShipTwo Unity at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The ship is designed to carry six passengers and two pilots on suborbital flights.

 

List of Interested Vendors in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Below is a list of vendors who expressed interest in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. The space agency is looking to buy rides to the moon for payloads.

The list includes vendors ranging from the biggest aerospace companies in the country to former Google Lunar X Prize competitors to smaller companies that few people have heard about.

NASA’s deadline for making CLPS awards is Dec. 31, 2018.

NASA Lunar CATALYST Companies

Large Space Companies

Smaller Space Companies

Former Google Lunar X Prize Teams

And the Rest….

Disruption Tolerant Networking to Demonstrate Internet in Space

NASA’s new Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem, or PACE, mission will be the first space mission to use a new communication technology. From left to right are the engineers helping to build the mission: Nga Cao, Steve Feng, Wei Lu, Chris Zincke, and Zoran Kahric. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Science Mission Directorates are collaborating to make interplanetary internet a reality.

They’re about to demonstrate Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking, or DTN – a technology that sends information much the same way as conventional internet does. Information is put into DTN bundles, which are sent through space and ground networks to its destination.

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Goonhilly Unveils Roadmap for Commercial Space Communications, Exploration & More

Highlights:

  • Goonhilly to launch new services thanks to recent £32.4 million in investment and contract wins
  • Space and satellite industries, video service providers, enterprises and universities to benefit from new applications on Earth, in near space and deep space
  • Expansion plans include facilities in US and Australia to support deep space ambitions
  • Green data centre will offer co-location with satellite, sub-sea cable and fibre connectivity

CORNWALL, UK (Goonhilly Earth Station PR) — Satellite communications innovator and space gateway, Goonhilly Earth Station, today launched its roadmap and outlined developments which will galvanise its position in the satellite industry and place it firmly at the vanguard of the new space economy driven by private investment and solid growth performance. With the agility of a start-up yet with many science and technology firsts under its belt, this roadmap underpins the firm’s ambition to become a world-leading space connectivity nexus and centre of innovation.

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Blue Origin’s New Shepard Makes Successful Flight

Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle reached its highest altitude yet on Wednesday with a successful flight that saw the capsule reach 74 miles above the West Texas desert.

The new altitude record of 389,846 feet (73.8 miles/118.8 km) came courtesy of a high-altitude test of the capsule’s abort system, which activated after the booster stage had stopped firing. The capsule on the previous flight reached 351,000 feet (66.5 miles/107 km).

The rocket booster, making its third flight to space, touched down safely on a landing pad located two miles from where it launched. The capsule later made a soft landing nearby after a flight that lasted 11 minutes 17 seconds.

An instrumented flight dummy dubbed Mannequin Skywalker experienced 10 Gs during the abort test, according to commentary on Blue Origin’s webcast. The capsule also contained a number of experiments.

It was the ninth flight of the New Shepard system. Blue Origin plans to begin flying test passengers later this year and selling tickets to the public in 2019.

ESA Issues Call for Ideas on Future Space Transportation


PARIS, 16 July 2018 (ESA PR) —
ESA is calling for ideas that will shape the future of space transportation services – to space, in space and returning from space.

“The changing world we live in requires a space agency to anticipate. Now is the time for ESA to reach out to our citizens in the Member States and listen to their ideas and take them on board Europe’s greatest adventure,” commented Jan Wörner, ESA Director General.

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Dusk for Dawn: Mission of Many Firsts to Gather More Data in Home Stretch

This mosaic of Cerealia Facula in Occator Crater is based on images obtained by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in its second extended mission, from an altitude as low as about 21 miles (34 kilometers). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

 

 

Pasadena Conference to Include New Insight into Dwarf Planet Ceres

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft prepares to wrap up its groundbreaking 11-year mission, which has included two successful extended missions at Ceres, it will continue to explore — collecting images and other data.

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Manifest for Blue Origin’s New Shepard Flight on Wednesday

Credit: Blue Origin

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — An awesome feature of New Shepard is its modular interior design. While in the future it will feature six seats to fly people, we’re already flying science and education experiments for microgravity research.

On Mission 9, we welcome our third round of payload customers from commercial companies, universities and space agencies. They will share the cabin with Blue Origin’s Mannequin Skywalker for their flight to space.

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BlackSky Selects ATLAS to Provide Ground Station Support for Earth Imaging Constellation

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – July 17, 2018 (Atlas Space Operations PR) — ATLAS Space Operations, Inc., a company that provides satellite communications as a service through an innovative software-driven, high data flow global antenna network, announced today that BlackSky has selected ATLAS to provide telemetry, commanding, and data support for its high-revisit, Earth imaging constellation of satellites. ATLAS will be offering this support via new ground station sites in Guam and Japan to further maximize the performance of the BlackSky constellation.

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Astrobotic Selects Dynetics as Propulsion Provider for the Peregrine Lunar Lander

Peregrine lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Astrobotic PR)– Astrobotic proudly announces today during the 49th anniversary week of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing that the company has selected Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama as the propulsion provider for its Peregrine Lunar Lander.

Peregrine will return America to the Moon for the first time since Apollo and begin delivering customer payloads once a year starting in 2020. Dynetics will integrate Peregrine’s main engines and attitude control thrusters, controller electronics, tanks, and feed system into a single system that performs all propulsive maneuvers from cruise to soft landing on the Moon.

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Skyrora Chooses Cornwall for First Rocket Engine Test

Booster (Credit: Skyrora)

FARNBOROUGH, UK (Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP PR) – Launch operator Skyrora has announced that it will begin its engine testing programme at Cornwall Airport Newquay’s rocket test facility in Q4 this year. The site will be an operational Spaceport by 2021.

The event is expected to be the first liquid engine test by a British small-satellite launcher to take place in the UK since Black Arrow around 50 years ago.

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Maxar’s MDA Acquires Neptec Design Group, a Leading Space Sensors Company

BRAMPTON, ON, July 16, 2018 (MDA PR) — MDA, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.), (NYSE: MAXR; TSX: MAXR), announced today it has acquired Neptec Design Group Ltd. (Neptec), the leading electro-optical and electro-mechanical systems and high-performance intelligent Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) company for CA$42 million, comprised of approximately CA$8 million in cash and the balance in Maxar common shares.

With Neptec, MDA will deliver end-to-end robotic systems and an expanded set of solutions, positioning the company to capture growth in U.S., Canadian and global space exploration markets and accelerate advancement into new and expanding space segments. The transaction is accretive to Maxar’s operating earnings per share beginning in 2019, solidifies MDA’s leadership in space robotics innovation, and reinforces Maxar’s industry-leading space capabilities.

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Blue Origin New Shepard Flight Set for Wednesday

Update: Launch tomorrow slated for 9:00 am CT / 14:00 UTC. Live webcast begins at T-20 minutes on http://BlueOrigin.com.