Relativity Seeks to Disrupt Smallsat Launch Industry

A startup named Relativity has conducted more than six dozen test firings of a new liquid oxygen/liquid methane rocket engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, CEO Tim Ellis told a Senate subcommittee last week.

“Relativity is a stealth-mode startup re-imagining the way orbital rockets are built and flown,” said Ellis, who co-founded the company. “We are creating a new launch service for orbital payloads enabled by never-seen-before technologies, allowing for a high degree of launch schedule certainty at significantly reduced cost.”

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Trump Administration’s NASA Policy Slowly Emerges

Vice President Mike Pence addresses NASA employees, Thursday, July 6, 2017, at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week was long on rhetoric and short on details, but a few themes and priorities have already emerged in the Trump Administration’s slowly evolving approach to the nation’s civilian space program.

NASA Will Lead Again

In a speech in which he repeatedly praised President Donald Trump, Pence used some variation of the word “lead” a total of 33 times (“leadership” 18 times, “leader(s)” eight times,  “lead”  six times and “leading” once).
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Pence Promises Return to the Moon & Boots on Mars

Mike Pence

Vice President and newly minted Chairman of the revived National Space Council Mike Pence visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday where he gave a speech promising a return to the moon and boots on Mars.

When? How? What will it cost? And how are we going to pay for it?

Pence didn’t get into that level of granularity. In fact, he didn’t get into very many details at all during his address to KSC employees.

Pence’s speech consisted of a lot of platitudes delivered with attitude and lots of latitude as to what it all meant in practice.

If you watched it and were baffled, welcome to the club. That seems to be the consensus of the media coverage I’ve seen so far among reporters who cover space.

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Vice President Pence to Visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Mike Pence

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Vice President Mike Pence will visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, July 6.

NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage for parts of the visit starting at noon EDT with Air Force Two’s arrival at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility runway, as well as a special address to the center’s workforce at 12:50 p.m.

The Vice President will tour Kennedy and learn more about the center’s work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, as well as see the agency’s progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling past the moon, and eventually on to Mars and beyond with the help of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

For more information about NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/kennedy

SpaceX Schedules Another Falcon 9 Launch for Sunday

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft on board, (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is set to launch the Intelsat 35e satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, July 2 at 7:36 p.m. EDT. This will be the third Falcon 9 launch in nine days. The company will not attempt to land the booster’s first stage.

SpaceX will webcast the launch at www.spacex.com.

Kennedy’s Transformation Paying Off in New Opportunities

Mural on Starliner assembly building. (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A transformation begun before the space shuttles retired six years ago set the stage at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the current development underway among commercial space companies and for the infrastructure needed to support deep space exploration, Bob Cabana, Kennedy’s director, told community leaders Tuesday afternoon.

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SpaceX Plans Two Launches in Two Days

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has planned two Falcon 9 launches this weekend, one from each coast.

A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. The two-hour launch window opens at 2:10 p.m. EDT. The flight marks the second reuse of a first stage.

The second Falcon 9 flight is scheduled for Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The booster will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites.

SpaceX will webcast both flights at www.spacex.com.

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Florida Space Coast EDC, NASA Accepting Strategic Tech Partnership Applications

Technology Docking program assists companies in solving technology challenges

SPACE COAST, Fla., June 16, 2017 (Space Coast EDC PR) – Facing a product development technical challenge? NASA may be able to help. The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC), in partnership with NASA, is accepting applications from companies for the Technology Docking Subject Matter Expert (SME) Assistance program.

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SpaceX Could Launch Two Falcon 9s on Same Weekend

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft on board, (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

SpaceX has delayed the Falcon 9 launch of the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite until no earlier than Friday, June 23, with June 24 as a backup date. The launch had been scheduled for Monday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted that engineers are replacing a fairing pneumatic value.

The delay sets up the possibility of the dual launch of Falcon 9’s for the East and West coasts.  SpaceX is scheduled to launch  the Iridium Next 11-20 satellites on Sunday, June 25, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

DSI Delivers Space Dirt to NASA

Containers of asteroid simulant are stacked up and ready for delivery to NASA. (Credit: Deep Space Industries)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Deep Space Industries recently delivered 3.5 gallons of dirt to NASA. But this wasn’t ordinary dirt; it was developed to simulate the material found on an asteroid or moon.

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SpaceX Launches Inmarsat Satellite

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster launched the Inmarsat 5 F4 communications satellite on Monday from Pad 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was SpaceX’s sixth launch of 2017. Due to the demands of the mission, SpaceX did not attempt to recover the first stage.

According to the Inmarsat:

Inmarsat-5 F4 (I-5 F4) will boost the power of our award-winning Global Xpress network, which has been delivering seamless, high-speed broadband connectivity across the world since December 2015.

Like the other three satellites in our fifth generation fleet, I-5 F4 was built by Boeing in El Segundo, California as part of our investment of approximately US$1.6 billion in the first ever global Ka-band service from a single network operator.

Once in geostationary orbit, the satellite will provide additional capacity for Global Xpress users on land, at sea and in the air.

SpaceX Set to Launch Communications Satellite Tonight

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is targeting launch of Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 49-minute launch window opens on Monday, May 15, at 7:21 p.m. EDT, or 23:21 UTC. Watch the webcast here.

A backup launch window opens on Tuesday, May 16, at 7:21 p.m. EDT, or 23:21 UTC. SpaceX will not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch due to mission requirements.

A mission press kit is available here.

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DiBello: Florida Faces Possible Shortage of Aerospace Talent

Space Florida President Frank DiBello
Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Florida’s success in drawing companies such as Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and OneWeb to the Space Coast could create a shortage of aerospace talent in the future, Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello said on Tuesday.

“I would even go so far as to say that this is the area I am most worried about for our aerospace future,” DiBello told several hundred guests at a National Space Club Florida Committee meeting in Cape Canaveral….

The Space Coast, anchored by the civil and military and space programs at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, has long been a hub for skilled aerospace workers.

And new companies had a ready supply to draw from after the retirement of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011 resulted in roughly 8,000 layoffs of contractors.

But looking ahead, DiBello said Florida does not produce enough aerospace-related degrees and lags a dozen states in attracting federal funding for space-related research, metrics that need to improve.

A source on the Space Coast recently told Parabolic Arc that NASA’s exploration ground system program, which is developing supporting infrastructure for the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, has been impacted by workers taking positions with Blue Origin, which is building a rocket production facility nearby and modifying a launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
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Space Florida Seeks to Upgrade Shuttle Landing Facility

The Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. (Credit: NASA)

Space Florida is looking update the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Growing commercial activity at Kennedy Space Center is prompting Space Florida to seek contractors to provide more fuel and new air-traffic-control facilities at the runway known as the Shuttle Landing Facility.

The need for more fuel at the runway is prompted by more cargo flights and the potential for launching more satellites from the wings of jets.

On Wednesday, Space Florida released a request for proposals from potential fuel suppliers, calling for at least two fueling trucks that carry 5,000 gallons of Jet-A fuel, or a similar capacity.

Space Florida owns the former shuttle landing strip, and is preparing it to serve launch companies operating in the area.

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