SpaceX, Boeing & Firefly File FCC Applications for Fall Flights

Starship hopper under construction at Boca Chica. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has applied for a temporary Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license to fly its Starship prototype to an altitude of 20 km (12.4 miles) from its Boca Chica test site in Texas.

The approval would be valid for hops from Oct. 11, 2020 to April 11, 2021. Starship prototypes have flown to an altitude of 150 meters from Boca Chica.

Boeing has filed for a FCC license for its second Starliner orbital flight test. The application covers a six-month period from Nov. 1, 2020 to May 1, 2021.

The uncrewed Starliner test is a repeat of a flight that went awry last December. The spacecraft failed to dock with the space station due to software and communications problems.

Firefly Aerospace has filed for approval for the maiden flight of its Firefly Alpha booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The approval would be valid from Nov. 21, 2020 until May 21, 2021.

Apha is designed to loft 1 metric ton into low Earth orbit and 630 kg into a 500 km sun synchronous orbit at a dedicated mission cost of $15 million.

Boeing Faces Independent Compliance & Ethics Review

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

Reuters reports that Boeing has submitted to an independent review of its compliance and ethics practices under an agreement with NASA and the U.S. Air Force in the wake of scandal relating to its bid to built the space agency’s crewed lunar lander.

The agreement, signed in August, comes as federal prosecutors continue a criminal investigation into whether NASA’s former human exploration chief, Doug Loverro, improperly guided Boeing space executive Jim Chilton during the contract bidding process.

By agreeing to the “Compliance Program Enhancements”, the aerospace heavyweight staves off harsher consequences from NASA and the Air Force – its space division’s top customers – such as being suspended or debarred from bidding on future space contracts.

The agreement calls for Boeing to pay a “third party expert” to assess its ethics and compliance programs and review training procedures for executives who liaise with government officials, citing “concerns related to procurement integrity” during NASA’s Human Landing System competition.

Loverro resigned his NASA post in May. Reuters reports that Boeing has fired a company attorney and a number of mid-level employees. The company has also revised its procurement procedures.

NASA rejected Boeing bid on the human lander for the Artemis program, which aims to land two astronauts at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

NASA awarded study contracts to Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX. The space agency plans to award a multi-billion contract to build the lander.

Boeing’s Starliner Flight Scheduled for No Earlier Than December

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing continue to make progress toward the company’s second uncrewed flight test of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft prior to flying astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Commercial Crew Program currently is targeting no earlier than December 2020 for launch of the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) pending hardware readiness, flight software qualification, and launch vehicle and space station manifest priorities.

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NASA Astronaut Jeanette Epps Joins First Operational Boeing Crew Mission to Space Station

Jeanette Epps (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has assigned astronaut Jeanette Epps to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station.

Epps will join NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada for a six-month expedition planned for a launch in 2021 to the orbiting space laboratory. The flight will follow NASA certification after a successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 and Crew Flight Test with astronauts.

The spaceflight will be the first for Epps, who earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1992 from LeMoyne College in her hometown of Syracuse, New York. She completed a master’s degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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WSJ: Former Top NASA Official Under Criminal Investigation in Lunar Lander Procurement Case

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into whether a former senior NASA official broke federal procurement law by updating a Boeing official on the status of the company’s bid to develop a human lunar lander.

The grand jury investigation involves communication between NASA’s former head of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, and Boeing Senior Vice President Jim Chilton.

Loverro, who abruptly resigned from NASA in May, is alleged to have improperly told Chilton that Boeing was about to be eliminated from a competition for human landing system development contracts because the company’s bid was deficient

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Boeing-USAF X-37B Team to Receive 2019 Collier Trophy

The X-37B spacecraft after landing on May 7, 2017. (Credit: USAF)

WASHINGTON, DC, August 13, 2020 (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) is pleased to announce that the United States Department of the Air Force – Boeing X-37B team has been named as the recipient of the 2019 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… developing and employing the world’s only reusable, autonomous spaceplane, which logged more than 2,865 days in orbit across five missions, changing access to space and serving as the nation’s workhorse in space experimentation and technology.”

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic, Looks Ahead in 2020, 2021

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — With 2020 more than half way through, NASA is gearing up for a busy rest of the year and 2021.

Following the recent successful launch of a Mars rover and safely bringing home astronauts from low-Earth orbit aboard a new commercial spacecraft, NASA is looking forward to more exploration firsts now through 2021.

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Genes in Space Selects Winning Student Experiment to Fly on International Space Station

Genes in Space 2020 winner Kristoff Misquitta (Credit: Genes in Space)

BOSTON, Aug. 6, 2020 (Genes in Space PR — Student Kristoff Misquitta (17) has won the sixth annual Genes in Space competition. Misquitta, who attends Stuyvesant High School in New York, NY, proposed to study drug metabolism on the International Space Station (ISS). His experiment will be performed by astronauts aboard the ISS next year.

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Boeing to Build Four Additional 702X Satellites for SES’s O3b mPOWER Fleet

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Aug. 7, 2020 (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE: BA] has received a contract to build four additional 702X satellites from SES as the leading global content connectivity provider  increases the number of O3b mPOWER satellites in its Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) to 11.

These four additional O3b mPOWER satellites will enhance SES’s next-generation MEO constellation throughput and efficiency as well as expand its unique capabilities to deliver connectivity services ranging from 50Mbps to multiple gigabits per second to a single user. The system will allow telecommunications companies, mobile network operators, governments, enterprises, aircraft and ship operators, and more, to connect with their core network or extend cloud access worldwide.

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SES Selects ULA Atlas V to Launch Two C-Band Satellites to Accelerate C-Band clearing

An Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-6 mission for the U.S Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 4:18 p.m. EDT on March 26, 2020. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

LUXEMBOURG, 5 August 2020 (SES PR) – SES, the leader in global content connectivity solutions, has selected U.S.-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) to launch two C-band satellites.

This launch is part of the company’s accelerated C-band clearing plan to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s objectives to roll out 5G services in the United States. ULA’s Atlas V rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2022 and carry the two stacked satellites.

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Millennium Space Systems and Tethers Unlimited to Test Space Tether Solution

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module interacts with the space environment to rapidly drag a satellite out of orbit. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

Two small satellites set to race in space; scientifically compare deorbit capability

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space PR) – Two Millennium Space Systems-built DRAGRACER small satellites are being prepared for a first-of-its kind, controlled flight experiment later this year to mature future deorbit tether systems for low Earth orbiting satellites.

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Boeing Gets $916 Million Contract Extension to Support Space Station

International Space Station (Credit: NASA/Roscosmos)

HOUSTON, July 15, 2020 (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE: BA], NASA’s lead industry partner for the International Space Station (ISS) since 1993, will continue supporting the celebrated orbiting laboratory through September of 2024 under a $916 million contract extension awarded today.

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NASA and Boeing Complete Orbital Flight Test Reviews

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have completed major reviews of the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December 2019 and are continuing with preparations to refly the test, designated Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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NASA to Provide Boeing Commercial Crew Update on Tuesday

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 7, to discuss the outcome of its High Visibility Close Call review of the December 2019 uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Participants in the briefing will be:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate 
  • Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at: 

https://www.nasa.gov/live

Boeing was able to complete a number of test objectives during the December flight, but was unable to reach its planned orbit and dock to the International Space Station. An investigation team was established in March to develop recommendations that could be used to prevent similar scenarios from occurring in the future.

In March, NASA and Boeing completed a joint independent review of the anomalies experienced during the flight test. A summary of recommendations and the action plan already implemented will be available online at:

http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test was an uncrewed test of the company’s Starliner crew spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Learn more about commercial crew at:

https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html

Starliner Parachutes Perform Under Pressure

Two drogue parachutes successfully deploy from a Boeing Starliner test article during a landing system reliability test conducted on June 21 above White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. (Credit: Boeing)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Boeing put Starliner’s parachutes to the test again on June 21 as part of a supplemental reliability campaign designed to further validate the system’s capabilities under an adverse set of environmental factors.

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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