United Launch Alliance Introduces Payload Competition for 10th Anniversary of Student Rocket Launch

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Jan. 9, 2018) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) has issued its request for proposals for the annual ULA and Ball Aerospace Student Rocket Launch. To celebrate the event’s 10th anniversary, K-12 teams can design, build and operate a payload to guide it to a designated ground-based target for a chance to win up to $5,000 for their school or sponsoring nonprofit.

The 2018 Student Rocket Launch, tentatively scheduled for July 2018 in Colorado, is part of a unique program offering hands-on experience working with rockets and payloads to students from kindergarten through graduate school. ULA intern volunteers design, build and refurbish the high-power sport rocket – dubbed “Future Heavy” – while volunteer interns from Ball Aerospace and K-12 students design and build payloads that launch on the rocket.

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A Look at Payloads Launched in 2016

Built by Lockheed Martin, the WorldView-4 satellite will expand DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading constellation of high-accuracy, high-resolution satellites, and double the availability of 30 cm resolution imagery for commercial and government customers around the globe. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Excerpt from

The Annual Compendium of
Commercial Space Transportation: 2017

Federal Aviation Administration
Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST)

January 2017

State of the Payload Industry

Space industry companies and organizations worldwide, sometimes the same as launch vehicle manufacturers but also those specifically dedicated to spacecraft manufacturing, produce these spacecraft. Commercially launched payloads are typically used for the following mission types:

  • Commercial communications satellites;
  • Commercial remote sensing or Earth observation satellites;
  • Commercial crew and cargo missions, including on-orbit vehicles and platforms;
  • Technology test and demonstration missions, usually new types of payloads undergoing test or used to test new launch vehicle technology; and
  • Other commercially launched payloads, usually satellites launched for various purposes by governments of countries not having indigenous orbital launch capability.

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World View, Ball Aerospace Demonstrate Persistent Remote Sensing from Stratollite Platform

World View Stratollite module. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

TUCSON, Ariz.(Ball Aerospace PR) — World View and Ball Aerospace successfully completed a Stratollite mission earlier this month, demonstrating early capabilities for remote sensing applications from the stratosphere, nearly 70,000 feet above Earth. This latest mission is a pathfinder for a commercial offering of low-cost, persistent, high-resolution imagery data from the stratosphere and is part of the collaboration between the two companies.

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A Summary of NSRC Day 1

Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)
Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

The three-day Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference began today in Colorado. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I have compiled highlights of a very newsworthy day via Twitter posts. (You can follow along with hashtag #nsrc2016.)

Below is a summary of news and updates provided by Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, World View Enterprises, Exos Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, Near Space Corporation, and NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

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World View, Ball Aerospace to Explore Stratollite Platform for Remote Sensing

World_View_LogoBROOMFIELD, Colo.,  June 2, 2016 (World View PR)  – World View, pioneers of the stratosphere, are collaborating with Ball Aerospace to explore World View’s Stratollite platform for remote sensing applications. Ball Aerospace and World View are working together to explore the feasibility of a commercial capability to perform persistent remote sensing from the Stratollite platform. The collaboration will culminate with World View performing a long-duration, persistent Stratollite flight to demonstrate remote sensing capabilities for commercial applications.

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NASA Spacecraft to Test ‘Green’ Propellant Passes Major Pre-flight Milestone

A Ball Aerospace engineer adjusts the thermal insulation on NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft bus following integration of the propulsion system. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)
A Ball Aerospace engineer adjusts the thermal insulation on NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft bus following integration of the propulsion system. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Like all rocket engines, the small thrusters that a spacecraft or satellite fires to maintain or change positions need fuel. Currently, many use hydrazine — a toxic and corrosive fuel that requires special handling and equipment.

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NASA Space Technology Achievements in 2015

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) checked off a number of key accomplishments in 2015. These advancements pushed the technological envelope, not only for use near Earth, but also to support future deep-space exploration missions.

“In 2015 we have made significant progress with several of our larger technology demonstration initiatives,” explains Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for STMD.

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Colorado School of Mines Receives $2.5 Million for 3D Metal Printing Consortium

This rocket engine fuel pump has hundreds of parts including a turbine that spins at over 90,000 rpms. This turbopump was made with additive manufacturing and had 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made with traditional manufacturing. It completed testing under flight-like conditions at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA/MSFC)
This rocket engine fuel pump has hundreds of parts including a turbine that spins at over 90,000 rpms. This turbopump was made with additive manufacturing and had 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made with traditional manufacturing. It completed testing under flight-like conditions at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA/MSFC)

GOLDEN, Colo., Dec. 14, 2015 – Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professors Aaron Stebner and Douglas Van Bossuyt were awarded a $2.5 million Advanced Industries Accelerator grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to establish a 3D metal printing research consortium.

Mines is building out 2200 sq. ft. of dedicated laboratory space in the new Coorstek Center for Applied Science and Engineering for the consortium, while industry members Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, Fauston Tool and Manufacturer’s Edge, are providing more than $4.5M of initial investment in the program. The combination of funds will help position Colorado as the leader in the advancement of standardization, qualification, and intelligent digitization of 3D metal printing.

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Green Propellant Infusion Mission Progresses

A green propellant propulsion subsystem was recently delivered to Ball Aerospace for integration into the Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft. The subsystem will be one of three experimental payloads on the spacecraft. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)
A green propellant propulsion subsystem was recently delivered to Ball Aerospace for integration into the Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft. The subsystem will be one of three experimental payloads on the spacecraft. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — Space exploration is about to go “greener.”

NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission to develop a high-performance, low-toxicity fuel and propulsion system for spacecraft has passed a major milestone. A green propellant propulsion subsystem, built by Aerojet Rocketdyne in Redmond, Washington, has been delivered to the mission’s prime contractor, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado.

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SpaceWorks Review Finds Sharp Increase in Smallsat Launches

SpaceWorks_nano_microsat_2014
Excerpts From
2015 Small Satellite Market Observations
Full Presentation

Developed by:

Ms. Elizabeth Buchen
Director, Engineering Economics Group
SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI)
Atlanta, GA

2014

SpaceWorks’ 2014 Projection estimated between 140 and 143 nano/microsatellites across all sectors would launch globally in 2014; 158 nano/microsatellites were actually launched. This represented an increase of nearly 72% compared to 2013.

2015+

In 2014, 107 commercial nano/microsatellites (1-50 kg) launched and thousands of commercial small satellites (101-500 kg) are planned for launch over the next fifteen years. Recent multi-million and multi-billion dollar investments in various ventures confirm the commercial sector’s continued interest in the nano/microsatellite and small satellite industries.
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Ball Aerospace Green Propellant Infusion Mission to Host 3 DOD Experiments

Artist rendition of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) that will demonstrate and test the capabilities of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)
Artist rendition of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) that will demonstrate and test the capabilities of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

BOULDER, Colo (Ball Aerospace PR) — The NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will fly three Defense Department experimental hosted payloads when it launches in 2016. GPIM’s mission will validate a non-toxic fuel for future satellite missions, which could replace hydrazine and provide additional performance benefits.

The Department of Defense (DOD) Space Experiments Review Board (SERB) selected the three payloads to fly on GPIM. The SERB chooses experiments based on a high potential to provide new or enhanced warfighting capabilities for the DOD.

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Ball Aerospace to Build First Commercial Laser Satellite System

ballAerospaceLogoBOULDER, Colo., September 10, 2014 (Ball Aerospace PR) — Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has been selected by Laser Light™ Communications, LLC (Laser Light™) to be its prime contractor for the first global, all-optical commercial satellite system. As customer demand for bandwidth grows, space-based laser communication provides a new way to move vast amounts of information around the globe efficiently and with greater resiliency.

The Ball Aerospace contract will include a first phase design analysis that will lead to completion of an eight-satellite constellation operating in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). The complete constellation of up to 12 satellites is expected to deliver 6 terabits of data per second with service speeds of 200 gigabits per second, bi-directionally, or nearly 100 times faster than conventional radio downlinks.

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NASA to Test Green Thruster Propellant in Space

Artist rendition of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) that will demonstrate and test the capabilities of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)
Artist rendition of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) that will demonstrate and test the capabilities of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Milestone progress is being made in readying NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) for launch in 2016, a smallsat designed to test the unique attributes of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit.

The GPIM marks the first time the United States will use a spacecraft to test green propellant technology, thereby showcasing the innovation needed to develop a fully domestic, green propellant solution for the next generation of space flight.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne, Ball Aerospace Complete Study on Common Upper Stage

aerojet_rocketdyneSACRAMENTO, Calif., Jul 09, 2014 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp GY company, has completed a study with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. to develop a common upper stage service for NASA, designed to enhance the performance of the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II medium and heavy launch vehicles for planetary and heliophysics missions, and pave the way for additional missions by providing more affordable launch services.

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NASA Selects 18 Proposals for Asteroid Redirect Mission Studies

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)
In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 18 proposals for studies under the Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).  These six-month studies will mature system concepts and key technologies and assess the feasibility of potential commercial partnerships to support the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, a key part of the agency’s stepping stone path to send humans to Mars.

The agency is working on two concepts for the mission. The first concept would fully capture a very small asteroid in free space and the other would retrieve a boulder off of a much larger asteroid. Both concepts would redirect an asteroid mass less than 10 meters in size to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) would rendezvous with the captured asteroid mass in lunar orbit and collect samples for return to Earth.

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