Video: Roll-Out Solar Array Experiment (ROSA) Deploys on ISS

Video Caption: The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) was deployed from the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm Sunday, June 18 outside the International Space Station. ROSA is an experiment to test a new type of solar array that rolls open in space like a party favor and is more compact than current rigid panel designs.

The ROSA investigation tests deployment and retraction,characterizes changes when the Earth blocks the sun, vibration and other physical challenges to determine the array’s strength and durability.

ROSA has the potential to replace solar arrays on future satellites, making them more compact and lighter weight. Satellite radio and television, weather forecasting, GPS and other services used on Earth would all benefit from high-performance solar arrays. The payload will remain deployed for seven days before retracting and will be stowed back inside the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle.

Note: footage of deploy is sped up 300%.

Spaceport America Tax: The Levy that Keeps on Taking

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Residents of New Mexico’s Dona Ana and Sierra counties will continue to subsidize Spaceport America’s operating budget for at least another year.

The New Mexico Finance Authority agreed to let the spaceport for one year use extra money from the taxes that shoppers pay in two Southern New Mexico counties. But the spaceport wanted the excess tax money in perpetuity, a proposal that the finance authority declined to grant as its chairman raised questions about the facility’s financial strength.

Though some politicians have supported the spaceport’s proposal, others have argued the tax money was only intended to help build the facility, not cover its day-to-day expenses.

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ESA Signs Contracts to Improve Ariane 5, Vega Boosters

Vega launch vehicle (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director of Space Transportation, Daniel Neuenschwander, signed five contracts with industry at the Paris Air and Space show in France this week.

“Five contracts, one goal: to consolidate space transportation services and capacities for the benefit of Europe’s competitiveness,” he commented.

Contracts signed with ELV SpA and Airbus Safran Launchers will improve launch performance and flexibility, and maintain the competitiveness of Europe’s current and future space transportation systems.

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Investigative Journalism Report Coming on Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic President George Whitesides, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, Richard Branson, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at the dedication of Spaceport America’s runway in October 2010. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Well, this ought to be interesting…

What NMPolitics.net is working on

By Heath Haussamen, NMPolitics.net
June 19, 2017

I’ve been working for months on an investigative project into the status of Spaceport America. The question of whether the spaceport is providing an economic benefit to the state is front-and-center, but I’m also exploring transparency and other issues. I’ve visited the spaceport, interviewed Virgin Galactic employees, dug deep into documents and researched what’s happening in other states that have spaceports. I’ve obtained information the public has never seen and am excited to publish this series. Look for it sometime in July.

NmPolitics.net

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SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite With Reused First Stage

Screenshot of Bulgaria 1 satellite launch. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX successfully launched the BulgariaSat 1 spacecraft on Friday using a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage. The stage landed on a drone ship off the coast of Florida. The launch occurred from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Falcon 9 first stage on drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s next launch is on Sunday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch 10 Iridium Next satellites at 4:25 p.m. EDT.

ESA Gives Go Ahead for Low-cost Prometheus LOX-Methane Rocket Engine

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has given Airbus Safran Launchers the go-ahead to start working on a full-scale prototype of an ultra-low cost engine demonstrator, Prometheus, using liquid oxygen–methane propellants.

The methane reusable engine precursor in the thrust class 1000 kN will be ground tested in 2020 for use on future versions of the European launcher family, after Ariane 6 and Vega-C. Next-generation launch vehicles require a factor 10 reduction in recurrent costs of propulsion systems compared to current cryogenic engines. New propellants, the systematic application of design-to-cost approach and innovative manufacturing technologies will also be applied.

The project can derive and provide significant synergies with other propulsion demonstration projects within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme, national agencies and industry.

SpaceX Plans Two Launches in Two Days

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has planned two Falcon 9 launches this weekend, one from each coast.

A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. The two-hour launch window opens at 2:10 p.m. EDT. The flight marks the second reuse of a first stage.

The second Falcon 9 flight is scheduled for Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The booster will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites.

SpaceX will webcast both flights at www.spacex.com.

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ISRO Launches Cartosat-2, 30 Secondary Payloads

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C38 successfully launched the 712 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites today (June 23, 2017) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty ninth consecutively successful mission of PSLV.

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FCC Grants OneWeb U.S. Access

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2017 (FCC PR) – The Federal Communications Commission today approved a request by WorldVu Satellites Limited, which does business as OneWeb, to access the United States satellite market. Today’s action paves the way for OneWeb to provide broadband services using satellite technology that holds unique promise to expand Internet access in remote and rural areas across the country.

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Orbex Reveals Rocket Factory

LONDON (Orbex PR) — Welcoming the UK’s focus on low-cost, reliable commercial spaceflight activities in today’s Queens’s Speech, a UK company has revealed details of a 1200m2 space rocket factory currently building vertical launch vehicles that will be launched into orbit from the UK.

Orbex, a UK company that has raised significant venture capital investment, is building a space micro-launcher, a small launch vehicle able to transport payloads of up to 150kg to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The company is already using the existing factory to build key launch vehicle subsystems, and is currently looking for an additional 2000m2 production facility in Scotland.

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Orbital ATK Completes PDR for Part of Mission Extension Vehicle System


DULLES, Va., June 20, 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced the completion of its Rendezvous, Proximity Operations and Docking (RPOD) system preliminary design review.

The RPOD system comprises the sensors, actuators and control algorithms which allow for the detection, tracking, and safe approach to a client spacecraft. The company’s first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) will provide satellite life extension services to Intelsat S.A. beginning in 2019.

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Astrobotic & ATLAS Announce Lunar Laser Communications Payload


PARIS (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, which is making the Moon accessible to the world, and ATLAS Space Operations Inc., the US leader in cloud-based satellite management and control services proudly announce today at the Paris Air Show that they have signed a payload reservation and partnership to deliver and operate the first-ever laser communications terminal on Astrobotic’s upcoming mission to the Moon. This brings the total number of deals in place for Astrobotic’s mission to eleven.

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High-Tech Gründerfonds Invests in Orbex

LONDON (Orbex PR) — Germany’s High-Tech Gründerfonds has made its first investment in the space sector with UK-based Orbex. Founded in 2015, Orbex is building an orbital micro-launch vehicle to insert small satellites into low Earth orbit from Europe.

The Orbex launcher exploits a novel, sustainable fuel strategy to create one of the lowest inert mass fractions of any space launch vehicle ever built. All vehicle subsystems are being developed in-house, including rocket engines, avionics, guidance, software and patent-pending structures technologies.

“Our goal is not just to build a space launch vehicle. It’s to build a complete service offering to help businesses, governments and academic projects get their small satellites to orbit – on time, at a reasonable fixed price, from within Europe,” said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex.

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Plants to Feed This — and Other — Worlds

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson harvests red romaine lettuce on the space station, the first fresh produce grown and eaten in space. The Veggie project, which is ongoing, uses Florikan’s controlled-release fertilizer to nourish the growing plants. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Astronaut ice cream may be an exotic treat for kids, but for real space explorers, a fresh, crunchy salad could sometimes really hit the spot. And the ability to grow food in space will prove crucial for longer-duration voyages envisioned over the next decades.

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Thirteen Years Ago Today in Mojave…

Me on the right with the video camera filming White Knight with SpaceShipOne on the taxiway prior to the first commercial spaceflight. (Credit: John Criswick)

Thirteen years ago I was on the Mojave flight line to watch Mike Melvill make the first private spaceflight aboard SpaceShipOne.

I remember well the excitement of that day, the feeling that a new era of human spaceflight lay right around the corner. Today, there’s really only one thing to say:

All the hype we’ve been listening to for the last 13 years about how great SpaceShipOne and the Ansari X Prize were and what great things they did. Meanwhile, SpaceShipTwo has dragged on longer than the entire Apollo moon program without flying to space. And there have been no other commercial human spaceflights, either.

In terms of inspiration, these things were great. A bit of a disaster from a technological standpoint.

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