U.S. Air Force Awards Four Study Contracts for Weather Mission

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center recently awarded four study contracts worth approximately $500,000 each to EO Vista, Millennium Space Systems, Orbital ATK, and Raytheon Company – Space and Airborne Systems. These companies will provide concept reports to address space-based cloud characterization and theater weather imagery solutions by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Currently, the Air Force relies on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and other programs to provide cloud characterization, whereby satellites analyze cloud detection, cover and temperature, and, theater weather imagery, whereby satellites record visible satellite images of atmospheric conditions. Together, these missions are referred to as Space Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) Electro Optical Infrared (EO/IR) capabilities. The SBEM EO/IR mission has been performed by the DMSP satellite constellation for over 50 years and the Air Force is exploring new long-term solutions to continue this mission.

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Defense Officials Describe Priorities for Operating in Contested Space Domain

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying AFSPC-6 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37. (Credit: ULA)

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2017 — Space enables everything the joint force does and the national security space architecture must protect and defend that capability in a contested environment, officials from the Air Force, the intelligence community and the Defense Department told a House panel in recent testimony.

Air Force Gen. John Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command and Air Force Lt. Gen. David Buck, commander of the Joint Functional Component-Space for the U.S. Strategic Command testified last week before the House Armed Services Committee on priorities and posture of the national security space enterprise for fiscal year 2018.

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Planetary Resources Hires Lawyer

REDMOND, Wa., May 22, 2017 (Planetary Resources PR) – Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, announced today that it has named Brian Israel as General Counsel. Mr. Israel will oversee the legal, regulatory, and compliance functions for the company, its parent, and Planetary Resources Luxembourg. The company’s vision is to expand humanity’s economic sphere of influence into the Solar System by providing resources for people and products in space, with a near-term goal of identification, extraction, and refinement of water from near-Earth asteroids.

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OneWeb Moves Forward With Broadband Satellite Constellation

OneWeb says it is on track with its broadband satellite constellation.

OneWeb told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that its 800-plus-satellite constellation is on schedule and ready to fulfill the FCC’s goal of broadband coverage of all U.S. territory to reduce the digital divide.

For satellite broadband providers, Alaska appears to be the flavor of the month. In view to a competition for in-flight broadband service provision, in-flight-connectivity provider Gogo Inc. recently leased an aging SES-owned satellite and had it moved into a position for Alaskan and Hawaii coverage….

OneWeb, which for regulatory purposes is also known as WorldVu Satellites, said its final assembly line for the first 10 of its 880 satellites would be in operation at the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Toulouse, France, in June.

Airbus is a 50% shareholder of OneWeb Satellites, whose principal operations will be conducted in Exploration Park, Florida, where two production lines are being built.

The first 10 satellites will be used to validate OneWeb system performance. Full production-rate launches, aboard Europeanized Russian Soyuz rockets, is expected to start by the end of 2018, with each Soyuz carrying up to 36 OneWeb satellites, each expected to weigh about 150 kilograms.

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Rocket Lab Postpones First Electron Launch Attempt

First Electron rocket on launch pad. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab postponed the first launch attempt of its Electon booster on Monday due to high winds. company officials said.

The delay occurred on the first day of a planned 10-day launch window at the company’s base on Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. The company plans to try again as early as Tuesday if conditions are acceptable.

The first Electron carries an inert payload. Rocket Lab plans three flight tests of the booster with inert payloads before launch satellites.

Electron is designed to place payloads weighing up to 150 kg (330 lb) into a 500 km (311 mile) sun-synchronous orbit.

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Jain Optimistic About Flying to Moon on Rocket Lab’s Electron “or Some Other Rocket”

Naveen Jain

Moon Express’s Naveen Jain is optimistic his company and the Rocket Lab will be ready to fly to the moon by the end of the year n an attempt to win the Google Lunar X Prize.

Moon Express is building a lander and hopper in an effort to win the $20 million first prize. Rocket Lab is hoping to launch the maiden flight of its Electron booster as early as Tuesday.

As it stands today, Jain’s space company appears to be the private-industry leader in the race to reach the Moon….

Jain notes Moon Express—not Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, or Blue Origin—remains the only company to secure all the necessary permissions from the US government to launch beyond low-Earth orbit toward the Moon. And in January, his co-founder (and current CEO) Bob Richards announced the company fully hit its funding goals as well. However, the team has yet to solidify the third component for its success. Moon Express secured an initial flight contract with Rocket Lab, another US space company with a subsidiary in New Zealand. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket, however, has yet to even run a test launch.

Fear not, Jain says. If that vehicle doesn’t look to be panning out in time, he indicates Moon Express will look for workable alternatives without hesitation.

“We are completely ready to go for the end of this year,” Jain says. “And I believe Rocket Lab will be, too. I believe, by the end of the year, they will have done four or five tests by the time we go. But just to be clear, we are not married to any rocket. That means we could be using a Launcher One from Virgin Galactic, if it is ready. We could be using SpaceX. We could be using some other rocket.”

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This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, May 22, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome JOSH GUILD of The Space Frontier Foundation to tell us about the upcoming June NewSpace Conference to be held in San Francisco, CA.

2. Tuesday, May 23 , 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: No show today as I am finally undergoing my long delayed dental surgery.

3. Wednesday, May 24, 2016: John Batchelor is on a fact finding working travel project. There will be no Hotel Mars program this week. .

4. Friday, May 26, 2016: 9:30-11AM PDT, 12:30-2 PM EDT, 11:30AM-1 PM CDT: We welcome back DR. SCOTT PACE for space policy updates and more.

5. Sunday, May 28, 2017: 12-1:30 PM DST (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): No show today due to the Memorial Day Holiday weekend.

Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: Ragnarok Industries

Heimdallr Cubesat (Credit: Ragnarok Industries)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Ragnarok Industries is busily working on its Cube Quest Challenge entry, a 6U smallsat named Heimdallr. The spacecraft will feature electric propulsion to reach lunar orbit, explains Luigi Balarinni, chief executive officer and co-founder of the firm.

A big plus in their design and building of Heimdallr is partnering with a diversity of space industry companies, furthering their objective of advancing CubeSat applications in the near future.

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CubeSats Deployed From ISS

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — NanoRacks began the first of two airlock cycles for the 11th and 12th NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Missions (NRCSD-11, NRCSD-12) on May 16, 2017. We are pleased to update our customers, friends, and shareholders that the first round of deployments has been completed successfully.

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Cube Quest Challenge Spotlight: Team Miles

A plume from thruster testing of Team Miles’ CubeSat. The Miles mission will be flown autonomously by an onboard computer system and propelled by evolutionary plasma thrusters. (Credit: Team Miles)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — For Team Miles and their CubeSat entry, it’s about propelling citizen science to the moon…and beyond.

The breadbox-size Miles is a 6U satellite built to navigate into deep space.

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Trump Eyes Half Billion Dollar Cut in NASA’s Budget

President Donald Trump would cut $561 million from NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2018 under a spending plan set for release next week, according to a leaked budget document.

NASA would see its budget reduced from $19.6 billion this year to just below $19.1 billion. The space agency received just under $19.3 billion in fiscal year 2016.

The total budget is close to the $19.1 billion contained in a budget blueprint the Trump Administration released in March. The blue print provided guidance for the formal budget proposal to be released next week.

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Virgin Galactic’s Attenborough Promises Greater Safety on SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic Commercial Director Stephen Attenborough was in Australia where he made a presentation in which he promised a greater level of safety for the company’s shrunken base of customers.

“We are a better and safer company as a result of that incident. One of the outcomes of testing is failure. We live in a risk averse world and it can come as a shock when something like that happens,’’ Mr Attenborough told the State Library audience, which included ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott.

“We have (since) looked at every element of the vehicle and every element of the operation.’’

Virgin Galactic is locked in a race with the likes of private firms Blue Origin and billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk’s Space X to be the first private company to successfully send commercial passengers into space….

Already 650 people have bought tickets to fly, including celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. But if you bought a ticket today, you would get to the front of the queue by around 2021, according to Mr Attenborough.

Virgin Galactic officials had previously stated the number of ticket holders to be around 700. The company had cancellations after the first SpaceShipTwo was destroyed in a test flight on Halloween 2014.

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NASA to Highlight Science on Next ISS Resupply Mission

Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology undergoes testing (Credits: Deployable Space Systems, Inc.)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 10 a.m. EDT Friday, May 26, to discuss select science investigations launching on the next SpaceX commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station.

SpaceX is targeting June 1 for the launch of its Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Defense Leaders Testify on Space Posture

Gen. John Raymond, the Air Force Space Command commander, testifies with Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces May 17, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Sharing the panel with them were Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Cristina Chapin, the General Accounting Office director of acquisition and sourcing management. The committee examined military space organization, policy, and programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

By Staff Sgt. Alyssa C. Gibson,
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) —

On May 17, 2017, Air Force senior leaders testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee Strategic Forces subcommittee on military space, organization, policy and programs.
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DOD Space Acquisition Plagued by Delays, Cost Overruns & Fragmented Leadership

Space Acquisitions: DOD Continues to Face Challenges of Delayed Delivery of Critical Space Capabilities and Fragmented Leadership
Government Accountability Office
GAO-17-619T [Full Report]

Statement of Cristina T. Chaplain, Director,
Acquisition and Sourcing Management

Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces,
Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate

For Release on Delivery
Expected at 2:00 p.m. ET
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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