UK Space Launch Program Receives £50 Million Boost in Government’s Industrial Strategy

LONDON (UKSA PR) — A £50 million [$66.7 million] programme to enable new satellite launch services and low gravity spaceflights from UK spaceports will boost the economy and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the plans today (Monday 27 November) as he launched the Government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy. This sets out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and support businesses and workers.

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UK Space Agency Launch Tour ’17

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency is touring the country with industry workshops and public open evenings on LaunchUK – the campaign to enable small satellite rocket launches and sub-orbital flights from UK spaceports.

The Government wants to make the UK a world-leading destination for companies offering launch services. New legislation to regulate launch is currently before Parliament and in early 2018 the UK Space Agency will announce the outcome of its call for grant proposals to achieve low cost access to space. In total 26 proposals were submitted to the call, and the UK Space Agency is currently considering grant applications to support the first launches from UK soil.

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Research & Innovation Park Proposed for Spaceport Camden

Research and innovation park (Credit: Spaceworks Enterprises)

WOODBINE, Ga., November 6, 2017 (Spaceport Camden PR) – The Camden County Board of Commissioners released a report finding that a Spaceport Camden Innovation and Research Park will lead to expanded job growth and investment benefits for Camden County residents, as well as outside aeronautical firms looking to launch new projects. County leaders requested the analysis from Astralytical, a space analytics firm, to assess the opportunities an aerospace research park would provide.

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Australian Spaceport Plan Advances

A plan to build a spaceport to support small satellite launches has moved forward in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The Northern Land Council has granted a 275-hectare lease in northeast Arnhem Land to the Gumatj clan for use as a commercial rocket launching facility.

That’ll pave the way for Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation to sublease the site to Equatorial Launch Australia, a firm whose $236 million space base proposal is being considered by federal and NT infrastructure funds.

The 12-year lease has an option for a 28-year extension, and is expected to be finalised later this month.

The Arnhem Space Centre could be operational within a year, and would be the only facility of its kind in the south-east Asia region.

Equatorial Launch Australia says they have not finalized any orbital rockets to be launched from the spaceport. Initially, suborbital sounding rockets will be flown from there.

UTEP Experts to Study Feasibility of Spaceport in the Azores

Darren Cone, executive director for UTEP’s Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research (CASSMAR); College of Engineering Dean Theresa Maldonado, Ph.D.; UTEP alumnus and former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas, Ph.D., and Nathaniel Robinson with the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. (Credit: UTEP)

 

EL PASO, Texas (UTEP PR) — A group of space experts at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was awarded $85,000 to study the potential installation of a new generation of space launching services in Portugal. The team is led by Nathaniel Robinson with the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects and includes UTEP alumnus and former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas, Ph.D., and Darren Cone, executive director for UTEP’s Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research (CASSMAR).

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Spaceport Camden Adds General to Steering Committee

WOODBINE, Ga., Oct. 16, 2017 (Spaceport Camden PR) — Major General Robert S. Dickman, the former commander of the 45 Space Wing and Director of the Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral, FL is joining the Spaceport Camden Steering Committee.

An executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics, General Dickman also served as vice commander of what is now the 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, CO, responsible for operating all Air Force on-orbit satellite systems; Director of Air Force Space Systems in the Pentagon; the first Department of Defense Space Architect; the senior military officer at the National Reconnaissance Office and the Deputy for Military Space in the office of the Undersecretary of the Air Force.

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Investigative Series on Spaceport America Ends With a Whimper

SpaceShipTwo glides over the Mojave Desert after being released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)

The fifth and final installment of NMPolitics.net’s series on Spaceport America was published today: After years of delays, Virgin Galactic prepares for spaceflights from NM

The story mostly features interviews with Virgin Galactic officials outlining their plans to start commercial operations from New Mexico. There will be a series of additional flight tests in Mojave, Calif., and then SpaceShipTwo will move down to Spaceport America for some additional tests before the start of commercial flights. Richard Branson has been prediction ticket holders will start flying in 2018.

In other words, nothing we haven’t been hearing for years and years, albeit with a shiny new set of dates.

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How Much Secrecy Does Spaceport America Need?

Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The fourth installment of NMPolitics.net’s five-part series on Spaceport America was published today. How much secrecy does Spaceport America need?

Picking up on a theme covered in the third installment, this story details the lengths to which Spaceport America officials have gone to keep secret details of deals they have concluded with tenants.

“If you were to ask them would they want their leases out in the public they would say no,” [New Mexico Spaceport Authority CEO Dan] Hicks said. “…We just don’t want to have additional burdens on them or scrutiny on them.”

That’s a controversial stance in a poor state that has invested more than $220 million in Spaceport America – a state whose law intends that the public be given access to “the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government,” which it calls “an essential function of a representative government.”

There’s a real tension created by the public/private partnership that is the spaceport. On one hand, greater secrecy may help attract companies that demand it, and with them may come good-paying jobs the state needs. On the other hand is the principle that opening the spaceport’s finances builds accountability and public trust that is key to winning the government funding on which the spaceport also depends.

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, sponsored legislation on behalf of the spaceport earlier this year that would have let the agency keep rent payments, trade secrets and other information secret. One committee approved the bill, but then it died.

These days Papen says she supports withholding company trade secrets from the public. But she no longer backs secrecy for money coming into the spaceport from private companies.

The spaceport authority didn’t always keep agreement terms secret. For example, Virgin Galactic’s development and lease agreements were released years ago without anything being redacted.

The situation is different at the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is a public general aviation airport run by an elected board. Lease agreements are included in board packets that are available to the public.

The fifth and final installment looking at anchor tenant Virgin Galactic’s preparations for space tourism flights from Spaceport America will be published on Friday.

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Bids for Government Funding Prove Strong Interest in LaunchUK

Summary

  • 26 proposals were submitted in response to the call
  • Proposals came from spaceports all over the UK, working with vehicle operators from the UK, other European nations and the US
  • Multiple proposals have been recommended for further consideration, to ensure any grant funding delivers the best outcome for the UK

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — The number of responses for government funding to support UK spaceflight has highlighted a strong interest in the UK commercial market for small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight. The UK Space Agency’s call for grant proposals to establish initial launch capability in the UK has now concluded, with a number of options being recommended for consideration.

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Mojave: The Once and Future Spaceport

Sunset from the Mojave Air and Space Port on Oct. 30, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

At some point in the next six months, the Mojave Air and Space Port could experience something that not happened here in 13 long years: an actual spaceflight.

Richard Branson is predicting that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity could reach space on a flight test from Mojave by December. For once, his prediction does not appear to be based on unrealistic hopes, the need to reassure customers about delays, or a complete misunderstanding of what is happening on the ground here.

In other words, it’s actually plausible. Whether it will happen on that schedule…that’s another question. Flight test is notoriously unpredictable and very tough on timetables.

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Spaceport America Tax: The Levy that Keeps on Taking

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Residents of New Mexico’s Dona Ana and Sierra counties will continue to subsidize Spaceport America’s operating budget for at least another year.

The New Mexico Finance Authority agreed to let the spaceport for one year use extra money from the taxes that shoppers pay in two Southern New Mexico counties. But the spaceport wanted the excess tax money in perpetuity, a proposal that the finance authority declined to grant as its chairman raised questions about the facility’s financial strength.

Though some politicians have supported the spaceport’s proposal, others have argued the tax money was only intended to help build the facility, not cover its day-to-day expenses.

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Queen’s Speech to Include UK Spaceports

Credit: Discover Space UK

Queen Elizabeth II will give an address to Parliament on Wednesday that will include plans for legislation authorizing spaceports and the launching of satellites from the United Kingdom.

Powers planned by the Government aiming to pave the way for commercial space flights in Britain will be included in the Queen’s Speech alongside a raft of investments in transport infrastructure.

The legislation, according to Department for Transport (DfT), will allow the launch of satellites from the UK for the first time, horizontal flights to the edge of space for scientific experiments and the establishment of spaceports in regions across Britain….

But one Bill will concentrate specifically on the future of spaceflight technology in Britain. The DfT believes the new powers – to be outlined on Wednesday – will allow UK companies access to a wide range of new spaceflight, including vertically launched rockets, spaceplanes, satellite operation and spaceports.

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China Eyes Reusable Boosters, Lifting Bodies & Foreign Launch Sites

Long March 5 on the launch pad. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

China’s surging space program is developing reusable launch vehicles and the construction of equatorial spaceports to better compete on the international market.

The processes under development include parachute-landing and propulsion-landing, said Lu Yu, director of Science and Technology Committee of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) at the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX 2017).

Reusable lift-body launchers will be developed in three stages — rocket-engine partial reusable vehicle, rocket-engine full reusable vehicle and combined cycle-engine reusable vehicle, said Lu….

According to Lu, a low-cost commercial medium launch vehicle, the Long March-8. is under development, and based on the Long March-8, a new high-orbit medium launch vehicle should be designed to improve the Long March series and enhance competitiveness.

China will also enhance cooperation by renting foreign launch sites to improve launch flexibility, building international launch sites at equatorial regions, and developing sea-based launch platforms with other countries, he said.

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Georgia Governor Signs Legislation for Camden County Spaceport

George Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation in support of a spaceport in Camden County.

The Georgia Space Flight Act, which the General Assembly passed overwhelmingly in March, will give operators of a planned commercial spaceport in Camden County, Ga., the same liability protections that already exist in states competing with Georgia to host commercial rocket launches. House Bill 1 sets a strict legal standard for a plaintiff, likely a space tourist, injured while riding in a spacecraft to collect damages in a lawsuit.

“Commercial space flight is the next great space race,” said Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden project leader Steve Howard, who attended Monday’s bill-signing ceremony. “It is a $320 billion industry that offers tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs. By signing this legislation today, Gov. Deal is sending a message to the global space industry that we are open for business.”

Camden County is working closely with Arizona-based Vector, a small satellite launch company founded by veterans of SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch. Vector, which is planning to conduct a test launch of a suborbital rocket at Camden as early as this summer, launched its first test rocket last week in California’s Mojave Desert.

“The signing of [House Bill] 1 not only represents the huge strides taken in developing space flight legislation,” said Jim Cantrell, Vector’s co-founder and CEO. “[It] also demonstrates the viability of Spaceport Camden to support Vector’s goal of developing hundreds of launches a year.

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