SpaceX Orbits Comsats, Progress Resupply Launch Scrubbed

Soyuz rocket with Progress 68 resupply ship. (Credit: Roscosmos)

SpaceX successfully launched the SES 11 and EchoStar 105 communication satellites on Wednesday evening from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket landed on an off-shore drone ship.

Meanwhile, the launch of Progress 68 resupply ship was scrubbed from Baikonur for an unknown reason. The launch of the Soyuz rocket has been rescheduled for no earlier than Saturday Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (0846 GMT).

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USAF Issues RFP for New Launch Vehicles

The U.S. Air Force issued a request for proposals (RFP) last Thursday for a new launch vehicle to handle national security space (NSS) requirements.

“The goal of the EELV acquisition strategy is to leverage commercial launch solutions in order to have at least two domestic, commercial launch service providers that also meet NSS requirements, including the launch of the heaviest and most complex payloads,” the proposal states.

“The Launch Service Agreements (LSAs) facilitate development of at least three EELV Launch System prototypes as early as possible, allowing those launch systems to mature prior to a future selection of two NSS launch service providers for Phase 2 launch service procurements, starting in FY20,” the proposal adds.
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NASA, Roscosmos Sign Agreement on Deep Space Exploration

Boeing Deep Space Gateway (Credit: Boeing)

ADELAIDE, Australia (NASA PR) — Building a strategic capability for advancing and sustaining human space exploration in the vicinity of the Moon will require the best from NASA, interested international partners, and U.S. industry. As NASA continues formulating the deep space gateway concept, the agency signed a joint statement with the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

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Orbital ATK Receives $21 Million Hypersonic Propulsion Contract from DARPA

DARPA’s new Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program seeks to develop and demonstrate a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate at subsonic through hypersonic speeds and lay the framework for routine, reusable hypersonic flight. (Credit: DARPA)

DARPA has awarded a contract worth $21.4 million to Orbital ATK for a research project under the Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program. The defense agency is allocating $1 million in R&D funds for the program in fiscal year 2017, which ends on Sept. 30.

“AFRE seeks to develop and demonstrate a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate over the full range of speeds required from low-speed takeoff through hypersonic flight,” DARPA said in a press release announcing the program.

Hypersonic speeds are defined as Mach 5 (approximately 3,300 miles per hour/5,300 kilometers per hour) and above.

“Instead of designing an entirely new kind of engine, we’re envisioning an inventive hybrid system that would combine and improve upon the best of off-the-shelf turbine and ramjet/scramjet technologies,” said Christopher Clay, DARPA program manager. “This won’t be the first time that ambitious engineers will attempt to combine turbine and ramjet technologies. But with recent advances in manufacturing methods, modeling, and other disciplines, we believe this potentially groundbreaking achievement may finally be within reach.”

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Northrop Grumman to Acquire Orbital ATK in $9.2 Billion Deal

FALLS CHURCH Va. and DULLES, Va., Sept. 18, 2017 (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), a leading global security company, and Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE:OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. Orbital ATK shareholders will receive all-cash consideration of $134.50 per share.

The agreement has been approved unanimously by the Boards of Directors of both companies. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Orbital ATK shareholder approval.

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Report: Northrop Grumman Nears Deal to Acquire Orbital ATK

Here’s an interesting report from Reuters:

Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) neared an agreement to buy Orbital ATK Inc (OA.N) in a transaction that could be announced as soon as Monday, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

The source requested anonymity because the deal has not been disclosed publicly.

Northrop Grumman declined to comment and Orbital did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Wall Street Journal reported the deal earlier on Sunday.

Northrop is valued at $46.5 billion, while Orbital is valued at $6.3 billion. The acquisition price could not be immediately determined, but could exceed $7.5 billion if a typical premium was attached to it, Wall Street Journal said.

Editor’s Note:  If Northrop buys Orbital ATK, it will inherit the Pegasus XL booster and the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft that is used to launch it. Northrop is also is involved through Scaled Composites in the Stratolaunch program, which will also use Pegasus XL boosters.

The cost of maintaining one aging jetliner built in 1974 has got to be fairly high. Then you’ve got Stratolaunch which is a massive, one-of-a-kind aircraft. So, would you want to maintain both of them to launch the same booster?

Orbital ATK Begins Assembly of Commercial Satellite Servicing System

DULLES, Virginia 11 September 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced significant progress on the industry’s first commercial in-space satellite servicing system. The Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) spacecraft successfully completed its critical design review earlier this year and is now in production with about 75% of the platform and payload components already delivered to the company’s Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft will begin system-level testing in spring 2018 with launch planned late next year. MEV-1 will provide satellite life extension services to its anchor customer, Intelsat S.A., beginning in early 2019.

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Orbital ATK Completes Qualification of SLS Solid Rocket Booster Avionics

The ground test of Orbital ATK’s five-segment rocket motor, known as QM-1, ocurred on March 11, 2015. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

DULLES, Virginia, 6 September 2017 (Orbital ATK) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, recently completed an important qualification test of the avionics system for the solid rocket boosters the company has developed and is now manufacturing for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). Completion of this milestone is an important step toward preparing the SLS and Orion spacecraft for their first flight in 2019. Two Orbital ATK-developed five-segment rocket boosters will be used on each SLS launch to help provide initial thrust for the first two minutes of flight.

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NASA Space Act Agreements with Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Stratolaunch

NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Stratolaunch Systems.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)

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Orbital ATK Supports Ground Testing of Robotic Assembly Project at NASA’s Langley

The NINJAR 2.0’s ability to position portions of truss to create a perfect cube for use in manufacturing structures in space was demonstrated at Langley on July 20. (Credit: NASA/LRC)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — The Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services (CIRAS) project has reached an important milestone in advancing technologies to build large structures in space.

Ground demonstration of the CIRAS component, NASA Intelligent Jigging and Assembly Robot (NINJAR) 2.0, was conducted July 20 in the Structures and Materials Test Laboratory at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

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Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV Lofts U.S. Air Force Satellite into Orbit

Minotaur IV launches ORS-5 spacecraft. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

DULLES, Va., 26 August 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, announced its Minotaur IV space launch vehicle successfully launched and placed into orbit the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) spacecraft on August 26, 2017.

The Minotaur IV launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46), which is operated under license by Space Florida. This mission marks the 26th consecutive successful launch for the company’s Minotaur product line.

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Minotaur IV Launch Set for Tonight

DULLES, Va., 25 August 2017 (Orbital ATK PR)– Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it is proceeding towards launch of the company’s Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, tonight at approximately 11:15 p.m. EDT.

Live web coverage of tonight’s Minotaur launch will begin at 10:55 p.m. EDT and can be found at bit.ly/2x7o20P. 

The Minotaur IV will carry the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) spacecraft, which will monitor satellites and space debris to aid the U.S. military’s space situational awareness.

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Falcon 9, Minotaur IV Launches Set for Thursday & Friday

Three launches are scheduled for the week ahead, including a pair in the United States and one in India.

Falcon 9
Formosat 5 remote sensing satellite
Date: Thursday, Aug. 24
Time: 2:50-3:34 p.m. EDT; 11:50 a.m.-12:34 p.m. PDT (1850-1934 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Minotaur IV
ORS 5
Date: Friday, Aug. 25
Time: 11:14 p.m.-3:15 a.m. EDT (0314-0715 GMT on Aug. 26)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

This marks the first flight of Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV booster from Cape Canaveral. The payload, also known as SensorSat, is a military satellite that will scan for other spacecraft and orbital debris. ORS 5 was produced by the military’s Operationally Responsive Space program.

PSLV
IRNSS 1H navigation satellite
Date: Thursday, Aug. 31
Time: TBA
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India

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Space Florida Transforms SLC-46 for New Launch Capabilities

Athena-2 rocket at SLC-46. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT (August 17, 2017) – On August 25, Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch its Minotaur 4 rocket from Space Florida’s Space Launch Complex (SLC) 46 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch of the ORS 5 mission for the US Air Force (USAF), will be the first launch from the pad since 1999, as well as the first since Space Florida renovated the complex.

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