Redwire Acquires Roccor, a Manufacturer of Critical Systems for Satellite Industry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., October 29, 2020 (Redwire PR) – Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy, announced today that it has acquired Roccor, a disruptive military and commercial hardware supplier in the rapidly growing small satellite market and a premier manufacturer of deployable booms, structures, antennas, thermal products, and solar arrays for the space industry. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Multiple Research Investigations From Northrop Grumman CRS-14 Mission Being Performed on Space Station

International Space Station (Credit: NASA/Roscosmos)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., October 26, 2020 (CASIS PR) – When Northrop Grumman launched its Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 2, 2020, it was loaded with a multitude of research and technology development investigations to be carried out onboard the orbiting laboratory.

Once Cygnus berthed with the space station three days later and its contents were unloaded by the astronauts onboard, it was time to start performing some of the science that flew on Northrop Grumman’s 14th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission. 

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Gardner and Peters’ Bipartisan Bill to Predict and Mitigate Space Weather Signed Into Law

An image taken from the International Space Station shows orange swaths of airglow hovering in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s new Atmospheric Waves Experiment will observe this airglow from a perch on the space station to help scientists understand, and ultimately improve forecasts of, space weather changes in the upper atmosphere. (Credits: NASA)

Washington, D.C. (Cory Gardner/Gary Peters PR) – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today applauded the signing into law of their bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s ability to predict severe space weather events and mitigate their harmful impacts on Earth. A severe space weather event, such as a solar flare or coronal mass ejection, has the potential to seriously disrupt the electric power grid, communications networks including cellular phones and GPS, satellites, and aircraft operations.

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PROSWIFT Space Weather Bill Signed into Law

Space weather effects. (Credit: ESA/Science Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

President Donald Trump has signed a bill to reorganize and strengthen the nation’s monitoring of and response to space weather, albeit with some reservations about its impact on foreign policy and national security.

The Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act (PROSwift) assigns roles to federal departments and establishes an interagency working group to coordinate their activities.

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Wicker Introduces Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency Act to Put Commerce Department in Charge of Space Situational Awareness

WASHINGTON (Senate Commerce Committee PR) – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency (SPACE) Act. The legislation would authorize the Department of Commerce (DOC) to provide space situational awareness (SSA) services to civil, commercial, and international space operators. 

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L3Harris, SpaceX Win SDA Contracts to Build Missile Tracking Satellites

National Defense Space Architecture tracking layer. (Credit: Department of Defense)

WASHINGTON (DOD PR) — The Space Development Agency announced today that two companies won bids to build out Tranche 0 of the tracking layer for the National Defense Space Architecture. Together, those contracts amount to more than $342 million.

Both L3Harris Technologies, Inc., of Melbourne, Florida, and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., of Hawthorne, California, also known as SpaceX, were successful in their bids to participate in the NDSA.

Each company is expected to build four overhead persistent infrared imaging, or OPIR, satellites for the tracking layer of the NDSA. Those satellites should be ready by the end of fiscal year 2022.

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Orbit Logic Awarded AFRL/AFWERX Space Situational Awareness Planning & Analysis Contract

GREENBELT, MD (Orbit Logic PR) – Orbit Logic, a leading provider of planning and scheduling software, announced today that it has been awarded an AFWERX Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The award will enhance the Heimdall Fire Space Situational Awareness (SSA) planning solution. Heimdall Fire is an existing software solution consisting of Orbit Logic COTS software products configured for SSA observation planning.

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Rocket Lab Completes Final Dress Rehearsal at Launch Complex 2 Ahead of First Electron Mission from U.S. Soil

Electron on the launch pad at Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., 17 September 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a leading satellite manufacturer and launch provider, has successfully completed a wet dress rehearsal of the Electron vehicle at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 (LC-2) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia.

With this major milestone complete, the Electron launch vehicle, launch team, and the LC-2 pad systems are now ready for Rocket Lab’s first launch from U.S. soil. The mission is a dedicated launch for the United States Space Force in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program and the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division. 

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DOD Report Spotlights Aggressive Chinese Military Buildup

WASHINGTON (Department of Defense PR) — The Department of Defense announces the release of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” The congressionally mandated report serves as an authoritative assessment on military and security developments involving the PRC. 

This year’s report highlights the links between China’s national strategy and developments within China’s armed forces.

Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the strategy calls for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” by 2049, including the transformation of the People’s Liberation Army into a “world-class” military.

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Ball Aerospace Selected for Space RCO Tactical Ground Command, Control and Communications

BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 26, 2020 (Ball Aerospace PR) — Ball Aerospace, teamed with Booz Allen Hamilton, was awarded a contract by the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (SpRCO) to serve as the prime system integrator for the SpRCO Ground Command, Control and Communications (GC3) system. GC3 will integrate into and help enable the larger tactical command and control enterprise for the United States Space Force.

“The GC3 System Integrator program provides a great foundation to work with SpRCO and other space resiliency mission partners to develop and deliver advanced capabilities to support the warfighter,” said Mark Healy, vice president and general manager, National Defense, Ball Aerospace. “This mission aligns directly with the 2020 Defense Space Strategy to enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to defend the space domain.”

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USSPACECOM to Welcome New Command Senior Enlisted Leader

Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker (Credit: US Space Command)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Aug. 27, 2020 (US Space Command PR) — U.S. Marine Corps Master  Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker is set to assume responsibility of U.S. Space Command from U.S. Space Force Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman during an Aug. 28 ceremony.

The Department of Defense’s 11th combatant command is getting a new command senior enlisted leader eight days after U.S. Army Gen. James H. Dickinson assumed command from USSF Gen. John W. Raymond.

Stalker, a native of Lebanon, New Hampshire, previously served as the CSEL for U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency.

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Military Smallsat Launch Contracts Withdrawn, Future Remains Uncertain

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

Easy come, uneasy go.

Last month, the Department of Defense announced it would award two rideshare launch contracts apiece to Aevum, Astra, Rocket Lab, Space Vector, X-BOW and Virgin Orbit’s subsidiary VOX Space.

Earlier this month, however, the contract awards were withdrawn so the $116 million in funding could be used for other priorities. The money came from the Defense Production Act, which is designed to help companies struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

C4ISRnet quotes Will Roper, Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, as saying the contracts could be awarded again.

“My hope is that whenever there’s new [Defense Production Act] Title 3 funding or when resource frees up due to other efforts not executing as planned, that those [contracts] are the first to go back into the hopper,” Roper told reporters Tuesday.

“If I were asked today to put in one new Title 3 initiative, it’s small launch because I think it’s going to be an amazing industry base for this country, and if properly influenced, my military mission can be highly disruptive in future war fighting, especially if satellites can be put up in a very responsive way that changes the calculus for holding space assets at risk.”

Of the six companies, only Rocket Lab has launched satellites into orbit. Astra has failed in several launch attempts. The maiden flight of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne failed in late May.

Aevum, Space Vector and X-BOW have not made any orbital launch attempts.

Sierra Nevada Selected by DoD to Design, Develop Unmanned Orbital Outpost Prototype

Orbital Outpost (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Proposed Design Leverages Existing Commercial Tech to Achieve Savings in Cost, Schedule

SPARKS, Nev., July 14, 2020 (Sierra Nevada PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, was awarded a contract to repurpose SNC’s Shooting Star transport vehicle as a proposed commercial solution for an Unmanned Orbital Outpost – essentially a scalable, autonomous space station for experiments and logistics demonstrations – by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). SNC’s Shooting Star transport vehicle serves as the core structure for the proposed design.

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Virgin Orbit Subsidiary to Launch 3 Missions for U.S. Space Force

The LauncherOne booster can be seen under the left wing of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., April 10, 2020 (VOX Space PR) — VOX Space, the Virgin Orbit subsidiary which provides responsive and affordable launch services for the U.S. national security community, has been selected to launch three dedicated missions for the U.S. Space Force (USSF), delivering multiple spacecraft to orbit for the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program-S28 (STP-S28). This launch service contract — awarded by the USSF Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) Office in Albuquerque, NM — is the first task order under the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract. 

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SpaceX Starship SN3 Collapses During Cryo Test

Video Caption: Starship SN3 collapsed during a cryogenic proof test designed to validate the vehicle ahead of a planned static fire and 150-meter hop. SpaceX will now have to instead focus on future Starship builds.

Footage via Mary (@BocaChicaGal) for NSF and edited by Jack Beyer (thejackbeyer)

Video Caption: Another very disappointing end to the week with SpaceX SN3 Starship Destroyed. Looks like the Liquid Oxygen Tank Crumpled. This is quite disappointing as we had huge hopes for the SN 3 because it looked just so much more robust. The welds were looking really beautiful.

The SN 4 is already being built so we can look forward to that which is going come up rapidly much quicker than most people would realize.

A huge thank you to Boca Chica girl with NASAspaceflight and also LabPadre links to both of those incredibly awesome channels below.

Editor’s Note: It’s disconcerting that work on this project is continuing during the coronavirus pandemic. I reviewed the video above that shows the stacking of the the Starship prototype that collapsed on the test stand this morning.

Credits: BocaChicaGal, NASASpaceflight.com & Marcus House

The above screenshot taken at 4:54 into the video shows employees working closely together without observing the six feet social distancing guidelines or wearing protective masks to guard against infecting each other with the deadlly COVID-19 virus.

Any one of these workers could have the virus for a week without showing any symptoms. During that time, an infected worker could unknowingly pass COVID-19 onto his co-workers. The result of that could be severe illness or death. Even young, seemingly healthy individuals have died when their respiratory systems collapsed.

SpaceX is legally exempt from closing its doors because it is classified as an essential business. That is due to the fact that Elon Musk’s company is a government contractor that performs vital, time critical work for NASA and the Department of Defense.

Starship, however, does not appear to be either vital or time critical. It’s a long-term development project that SpaceX is funding on its own. Neither NASA nor DOD is going to use Starship at any time in the near future. Their launch needs are satisfied by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as well as the nation’s fleet of expendable boosters.

SpaceX’s goal of preserving humanity by making it a multi-planetary species is noble enough. It doesn’t need to place the humans making that possible at unnecessary risk in the midst of a deadly global pandemic.