NASA Prepares SLS Moon Rockets for First Crewed Artemis Missions

Casting and assembly of solid rocket booster, shown her, for the Artemis IV mission is underway at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Promontory, Utah. The booster motors for Artemis II and Artemis III have completed casting and are ready to go to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where they will be assembled with other booster hardware being prepared for the missions. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As teams continue to prepare NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its debut flight with the launch of Artemis I, NASA and its partners across the country have made great progress building the rocket for Artemis II, the first crewed Artemis mission. The team is also manufacturing and testing major parts for Artemis missions III, IV and V.

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Merger Leaves Virgin Orbit with Less Than Half of Funding Originally Planned

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a clear sign of investor skepticism, Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will receive only about $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it expected after merging with the NextGen Acquisition II special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

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Boeing to Move Up Service Modules for Commercial Crew Flight Tests

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Following extensive testing and analysis of oxidizer isolation valves on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner service module propulsion system, Boeing has decided to move up service modules currently in production for its upcoming uncrewed and crewed flight tests to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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NASA Orders 3 Additional Crew Dragon Flights From SpaceX

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. (Credit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX to acquire up to three additional crew flights to the International Space Station as part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract. The additional crew flights allow NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station.

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NASA Selects Orbital Reef to Develop International Space Station Replacement

Orbital Reef commercial space station (Credit: Orbital Reef)

Louisville, Colo., December 2, 2021 (Sierra Space PR) — Orbital Reef, led by partners Blue Origin and Sierra Space, was selected today by NASA for a funded Space Act Agreement for collaboration to design a commercially owned and operated space station in low Earth orbit (LEO). NASA’s Commercial LEO Development program aims to shift NASA’s research and exploration activities in LEO to commercial space stations, helping stimulate a growing space economy before the International Space Station is retired. The Orbital Reef team includes  BoeingRedwire SpaceGenesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

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NASA Selects Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman to Develop Commercial Destinations in Space

Northrop Grumman’s free flyer commercial destination design leverages flight proven elements to provide the base module for extended capabilities including science, tourism, industrial experimentation, and building of infrastructure beyond initial design. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has signed agreements with three U.S. companies to develop designs of space stations and other commercial destinations in space. The agreements are part of the agency’s efforts to enable a robust, American-led commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.

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Planned Comsat Constellations Now Exceed 94,000 Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A wave of new applications submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for approval for communications satellites operating in the V band has sent the number of spacecraft in large constellations soaring to nearly 100,000.

A list compiled by Parabolic Arc shows that 94,255 satellites are included in the constellations. That number includes 29,439 satellites approved by the FCC or in development in China. The FCC has applicants pending before it for another 64,816 satellites.

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Astra Space Applies to Launch More than 13,000 Satellites; Proposed Broadband Constellations Exceed 79,000 Spacecraft

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astra Space has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the launch more than 13,000 communications satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), joining SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon and other companies seeking to provide broadband services across the globe. The application brings the number of proposed satellites in these constellations to more than 79,000.

“The Astra Constellation as proposed would ultimately consist of as many as 13,620 operational LEO satellites, supported by a global network of gateway earth stations utilizing the identified V-band frequency bands for feeder links for space-to-earth transmit and receive,” the company’s application said.

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FCC Authorizes Boeing’s 132 Satellite Broadband Constellation

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2021 (FCC PR) — The Federal Communications Commission today approved an application from The Boeing Company for a license to construct, deploy, and operate a satellite constellation. As detailed in its FCC application, Boeing plans to provide broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users in the United States and globally.

“Advanced satellite broadband services have an important role to play in connecting hard-to-serve communities,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “We are committed to a careful and detailed review of all such applications and I thank the International Bureau team for their work completing this first round of NGSO applications.”

Today’s Order approves Boeing’s application for non-geostationary orbit fixed-satellite service system using frequencies in portions of the V-band (the 37.5-40, 40-42, 47.2-50.2 and 50.4-51.4 GHz bands), and to operate inter-satellite links (ISLs) using frequencies in portions of the V-band (65-71 GHz band). It also dismisses Boeing’s request to operate ISLs in certain frequency bands that are not allocated internationally for operations of the FSS in the space-to-space direction in the ITU Radio Regulations.

Two Startups Awarded Projects Leveraging the ISS National Lab Through MassChallenge

Selected projects to receive funding from CASIS and Boeing through the Technology in Space Prize

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, November 2, 2021 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science and Space, Inc. (CASIS) and Boeing [NYSE: BA] are awarding up to $500,000 in grants to two startup companies through the Technology in Space Prize. The startups, krtkl inc. and Oculogenex, Inc., were identified through the MassChallenge (Boston) startup accelerator program. The companies will leverage the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory, managed by CASIS, to further their research and technology development in low Earth orbit.

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Cost to Boeing of Starliner Delays Now Total Nearly $600 Million

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing said on Wednesday that it was taking an additional $185 million charge against earnings due to additional delays to its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which it is developing to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

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Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station Promotional Video

Video Caption: Blue Origin and Sierra Space have announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit. The station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

Designed to open multiple new markets in space, Orbital Reef will provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address on orbit. This unique destination will offer research, industrial, international, and commercial customers the cost competitive end-to-end services they need including space transportation and logistics, space habitation, equipment accommodation, and operations including onboard crew. The station will start operating in the second half of this decade.

Learn more at OrbitalReef.com

Blue Origin, Sierra Space and Partners Unveil Plans for Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station

Orbital Reef commercial space station (Credit: Orbital Reef)

New Orbital Destination Opens Up Space For Business And Travel, Creating New
Ecosystem

KENT, Wash., October 25, 2021 (Blue Origin/Sierra Space PR) – Blue Origin and Sierra Space today announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit. The station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

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NASA Requests Information for American Crew Transportation to Space Station

This image shows the planned configuration of six iROSA solar arrays intended to augment power on the International Space Station. The roll-up arrays arrive on the SpaceX-22 resupply mission. (Credits: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Boeing)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA released a request for information from American industry capable of providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective human space transportation services to and from the International Space Station to ensure a continuous human presence aboard the microgravity laboratory.

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Slow Speed Ahead: Boeing Struggles with Starliner Valve Issues as Second Flight Test Delayed to Next Year

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing said on Tuesday that it will delay the second uncrewed flight test of its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) until sometime in the first half of next year due to ongoing problems with stuck oxidizer valves on the vehicle. A crewed flight test would follow about six months later, with the first commercial mission carrying NASA astronauts in 2023.

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