NASA to Provide Coverage of SpaceX Commercial Crew Flight Test

Crew Dragon for DM-1 mission with Falcon 9 booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the SpaceX Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011.

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Hayabusa2 Lands on Asteroid Ryugu

Camden County, Ga. Sued Over Documents Withheld About Spaceport Risks

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Southern Environmental Law Center PR) — As proponents of Spaceport Camden continue to push the controversial project forward despite mounting questions concerning public safety and environmental impacts, local residents are demanding answers about the potential dangers to nearby communities and sensitive ecosystems.

Today SELC filed suit on behalf of One Hundred Miles in Camden County Superior Court against Camden County and Spaceport Camden consultants for failing to meet requirements under the Georgia Open Records Act (GORA).

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Soyuz Launches Egyptsat-A Satellite From Baikonur

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — Today, February 21, 2019, from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 19:47 Moscow time, the launch vehicle Soyuz-2 with the Fregat accelerating unit (RB) and the satellite Egyptsat-A, created in the interests of the Arab Republic of Egypt, was launched.

After the separation of the head unit from the third stage of the carrier rocket RB “Frigate” continued the removal of the spacecraft. The separation of the satellite from the upper stage took place normally after two inclusions of the marching propulsion system in strict accordance with the flight sequence chart.

The Egyptsat-A spacecraft is designed to capture the earth’s surface with high spatial resolution. After the flight test program has been completed, the satellite will be transferred to the Egyptian side.

Translated from Russian using Google Translate.

Editor’s Note: There are reliable Twitter reports that the third stage of the Soyuz-2 booster under performed. The Frigate(Fregate)  stage fired longer to place the satellite into its intended orbit. It’s not clear if the anomaly will impact upcoming launches of OneWeb satellites or crews and supplies to the International Space Station.

I will update this story when more is known.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Flight Test Reset for Friday Morning

SpaceShipTwo flight profile (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic has rescheduled the ninth flight test of the SpaceShipTwo program for Friday, Feb. 22. The flight window opens at 8 am PST (10 am EST/1500 UTC). I will be tweeting the flight live at www.twitter.com/spacecom

This is scheduled to be the second flight above 50 miles (80.4 km) for the program after the first in December. VSS Unity will carry NASA experiments as it did on the previous flight two months ago.

UK Space Agency Provides $23.5 Million to OneWeb for Global Communications Constellation

LONDON (UKSA PR) — Affordable worldwide internet coverage is one step closer today, after £18 million [$23.5 million] of UK Space Agency funding was awarded to OneWeb through the European Space Agency, to aid the development of its next generation satellite constellation.

A global communications network in space, the system will be comprised of approximately 650 satellites initially and scale to more than 900 satellites over time.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore is visiting the European Space Agency in the Netherlands today. He will say:

Fast internet access is something many people take for granted but in many areas of the world connectivity is still hit and miss.

This new £18m investment will go towards meeting the significant technical challenges of the project, putting the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.

The commercial potential for a cost effective worldwide telecoms satellite system is huge, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering it. It is made possible by our ongoing commitment to the European Space Agency and our world-leading capabilities in space and telecommunications, which we are supporting through our modern Industrial Strategy.

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OneWeb’s Inaugural Launch Takes FIRST into Space

LONDON, February, 21, 2019 (OneWeb PR) ― OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, today announced that it will take FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international, youth-serving, nonprofit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, into orbit on February 26th.

OneWeb is on the cusp of bringing about a new era of space, launching the world’s first Low Earth Orbit global broadband satellite constellation that will provide connectivity for everyone, everywhere.

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Israeli Lunar Landing Mission Set to Launch Aboard SpaceX Falcon 9

SpaceIL, a non-profit team from the defunct Google Lunar X Prize competition, will launch its Beresheet lunar lander to the moon this evening aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Cape Canaveral in Florida. It will be the first privately funded lunar mission.

Beresheet, which is Hebrew for “Genesis” or “in the beginning,” is being launched as a secondary payload on a voyage that will take nearly two months. The 32-minute launch window opens at 8:45 p.m. EST, or 1:45 UTC on February 22. The launch will be webcast at www.spacex.com.

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Falcon 9 to Launch Communications Satellite, Israeli Moon Mission & USAF Satellite Tonight

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Thursday, February 21 for launch of the Nusantara Satu satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The 32-minute launch window opens at 8:45 p.m. EST, or 1:45 UTC on February 22. Falcon 9 will also deliver the Beresheet lunar spacecraft and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) S5 spacecraft to orbit. Deployments will occur at approximately 33 and 44 minutes after liftoff. A 32-minute backup launch window opens on Friday, February 22 at 8:41 p.m. EST, or 1:41 UTC on February 23.

Falcon 9’s first stage for the Nusantara Satu mission previously supported the Iridium-7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018. Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Rosetta’s Comet Sculpted by Stress

Single frame enhanced NavCam image taken on 27 March 2016, when Rosetta was 329 km from the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The scale is 28 m/pixel and the image measures 28.7 km across. (Credit:  ESA/Rosetta/NavCam)

18 February 2019

MARSEILLE, France (ESA PR) — Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. ESA’s Rosetta mission has revealed that geological stress arising from the shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has been a key process in sculpting the comet’s surface and interior following its formation.

Small, icy comets with two distinct lobes seem to be commonplace in the Solar System, with one possible mode of formation a slow collision of two primordial objects in the early stages of formation some 4.5 billion years ago. A new study using data collected by Rosetta during its two years at Comet 67P/C-G has illuminated the mechanisms that contributed to shaping the comet over the following billions of years.

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NASA’s Flight Opportunities Partnerships

A drone released from a high-altitude balloon carried a payload to evaluate how the equipment could help the FAA detect and track commercial spacecraft entering the National Air Space, (NAS) as it descends from space. (Image Credit: NASA)

Helping to mature space technology while bolstering the commercial space industry.

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — One of the goals of NASA’s Flight Opportunities program is a thriving private-sector space industry that supports innovative new technologies of interest to NASA. Such a marketplace promises to advance the Agency’s exploration goals and provide a wellspring from which NASA can draw resources and expertise, while providing them, in turn, to industry.

“We’re encouraging an industry that has potential to lower the cost and increase the speed of access to space,” says Christopher Baker, program executive for Flight Opportunities. “Additionally, we help validate technologies before they go on to applications in Earth orbit or deep space.”

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Gilmour Space Unveils One Vision Rocket Ahead of Suborbital Test Launch

One Vision Booster. (Credit: Gilmour Space)

Gold Coast, QLD — Australian rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, today unveiled its ‘One Vision’ rocket which it plans to launch later this month, and conducted a live demonstration of its automated mobile launcher, the first of its kind in Australia.

“One Vision is a scaled version of our Ariel sounding rocket, and its main objective will be to flight-test our proprietary hybrid rocket engine for commercial orbital launches starting in 2020,” said the company’s CEO & Founder, Adam Gilmour.

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NASA Receives Significant Funding Increase with $21.5 Billion Budget

The Lunar Gateway (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has received a $21.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2019, which is $736.86 million above FY 2018 and $1.6 billion above the total requested by the Trump Administration.

The funding, which came more than four months into the fiscal year,  was included in an appropriations bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday. NASA’s budget has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years. In FY 2018, the space agency received an $1.64 billion increase over the previous year.

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U.S. Air Force Awards SpaceX & ULA $727 Million in Launch Contracts

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

The U.S. Air Force has split contracts between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) for a series of upcoming satellite launches.

SpaceX will receive $297 million for the launches of NROL-87, NROL-85, and AFSPC-44 satellites.  ULA will receive $441,761,778 for the launches of the SILENTBARKER, SBIRS GEO-5, and SBIRS GEO-6 satellites.

This is the sixth competition under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy. The launch schedule is:

  • NROL-85 will launch in FY2021 from the Eastern Range;
  • NROL-87 will launch in FY2021 from the Western Range;
  • SILENTBARKER will launch in FY2022 from the Eastern Range;
  • SBIRS GEO-5 will launch in FY2021 from the Eastern Range;
  • SBIRS GEO-6 is an option on the ULA contract with a possible launch in FY2022 from the Eastern Range; and,
  • AFSPC-44 will launch in FY2021 from the Eastern Range.

The Silent Barker, NROL-85 and NROL-87 satellites are missions for the National Reconnaissance Office. AFSP-44, SBIRS GEO-5 and SBIRS GEO-6 spacecraft will be launched for the U.S. Air Force.

The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), awarded the contracts under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. In a press release, SMC said the awards struck a balance between maintaining operational readiness and introducing competition into national security launches.

“The competitive award of these EELV launch service contracts directly supports SMC’s mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our Nation while maintaining assured access to space” said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, SMC Commander, and Program Executive Officer for Space. “Phase 1A continues to enable the space enterprise to respond to the rapidly evolving operating environment.”