I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.
I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….
So, have at it! Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!
The ground test of Orbital ATK’s five-segment rocket motor, known as QM-1, ocurred on March 11, 2015. (Credit: Orbital ATK)[/caption]The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $20 million contract to ATK Launch Systems for “advanced rocket technology-solid boost technology.”
The award is an “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, hybrid cost-plus-fixed fee and firm-fixed-price contract for advanced rocket technology-solid boost technology. This contract provides a contract vehicle the Air Force Research Laboratory, aerospace systems, and rocket propulsion division can use to establish task orders to advance solid rocket motor technologies and address technical needs for next-generation strategic, tactical, and spacecraft propulsion systems,” according to the contract announcement.
“Work will be performed in Corinne, Utah, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 16, 2022,” the announcement states. “This award is the result of a competitive acquisition, with two offers received. Fiscal 2017 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $650,000 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity.”
With Richard Branson once again predicting that Virgin Galactic will fly SpaeShipTwo into space before the end of the year, it seems like a good time to take a look at the history of suborbital spaceflight.
The number of manned suborbital flights varies depending upon the definition you use. The internationally recognized boundary is 100 km (62.1 miles), which is also known as the Karman line. The U.S. Air Force awarded astronaut wings to any pilot who exceeded 80.5 km (50 miles).
Editor’s Note: Dream Chaser was last at Edwards in October 2013 for its first and only drop test. It was released from a helicopter and glided to a runway landing. However, it crashed after part of its landing gear failed to deploy. Video of the accident has never been released.
At the time, Sierra Nevada was testing a crew version of the Dream Chaser under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The vehicle was dropped from the program the following year. However, NASA has given the company a contract to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) using a cargo variant of the spacecraft.
SPARKS, Nev., July 28, 2016 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser full-scale, flight test vehicle is ready for transportation to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in California where Phase Two flight tests will be conducted in coordination with Edwards Air Force Base (AFB). (more…)
The Mojave Air and Spaceport sits on 3,300 acres of California’s High Desert about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Since it opened in 1935, the facility had seen multiple uses – rural airfield for the mining industry, World War II Marines Corps training base, U.S. Navy air station and general aviation airport.
Video Caption: In this video, innovative ideas on the future of space travel and aerospace dynamics are the brainchild of Mojave Spaceport’s, Stu Witt; NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s David McBride and Rocket Propulsion Lab’s Mike Huggins. The importance of risk as a crucial element in progressing forward is emphasized by the foremost risk-takers in space; rocket science; aerospace and education.The role of STEM education in growing our engineers is championed by AV College Math and Science Dean, Les Uhazy, as well as the space pioneers interviewed for this project.
Sierra Nevada Corporation will conduct additional drop tests of its Dream Chaser space shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base in the fall, Co-program Director John Curry said during the recent Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif.
The approach and landing tests will be conducted using an upgraded engineering test vehicle that glided to a landing at Edwards last October. The upgrades will include the avionics, software, and guidance, navigation and control systems designed for use on the orbital Dream Chaser spacecraft, Curry said.
California State Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), a key supporter of commercial space, says he will run for Congress next year in the 25th District should the current office holder, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), decides to retire, the Antelope Valley Press reported today.
McKeon, 75, has not announced his plans, but there is widespread speculation in political circles that he will elect to step down next year rather than seek another two-year term, the newspaper reported.
The state senator, whose father William J. “Pete” Knight flew the X-15 rocket plane, has been a key backer of commercial space measures in the California Legislature. He introduced a limited liability bill designed to protect commercial space providers from passenger lawsuits that was approved with revisions. He also has introduced several other commercial space bills now being considered by legislators.
I recently heard a very interesting talk from someone who saw the Dream Chaser drop test at Edwards Air Force Base. The person described the landing, which went awry due to the failure of the left landing gear, as being looking similar to the crash in the opening credits for “The Six Million Dollar Man” television show.
This explains why the video that Sierra Nevada Corporation released ends abruptly just at touchdown. A crash like that is not exactly what you want everyone to see when you’re competing for billions of government dollars.
NASA PR — Space shuttle Endeavour has returned to California, its state of origin, 21 years after rolling out of the Palmdale assembly facility. At 3:50 p.m. EDT, Endeavour, mounted atop NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), landed at Edwards Air Force Base, just down the road from where it was built.
Following an overnight stay, the SCA and Endeavour will complete the ferry flight with a salute to the Edwards Air Force Base area early Friday. At 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT), NASA Television will air the departure of Endeavour from Edwards as it begins its California flyover:
They will take off at 8:15 a.m. PDT (11:15 a.m. EDT) and make low-altitude flyovers of Palmdale, Lancaster, Rosamond and Mojave before heading north to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. (more…)
I am making my way from Santa Clara to back to Mojave this afternoon. It’s a trip that will take about five hours and cover roughly 300 miles, but the distance traveled cannot be measured solely in time and distance. Instead, it is a voyage between two very different cultures.
Silicon Valley is a green, leafy place with shiny office buildings where talented engineers sit in cubicles writing software that makes billions of dollars. That software has helped to make user-friendly computers ubiquitous and connected the world via the Internet.
Silicon Valley has long since transitioned from the days where engineers labored in garages to produce the first personal computers. Most of the hardware production has all be shipped away to be done by low-wage workers in distant locales.
Scaled Compositesâ€™ White Knight One and White Knight Two aircraft will be making a rare public appearance at the Edwards Air Force Base â€œFlight Test Nation 2009â€ Air Show and Open house on October 17, 2009.