NASA, U.S. Space Force Sign MOU to Deepen Cooperation

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — While advancing plans for unprecedented lunar exploration under the Artemis program, NASA also is building on a longstanding partnership with the Department of Defense with a new memorandum of understanding announced today by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Space Force (USSF) Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.

The agreement, discussed during a Sept. 22 Mitchell Institute virtual event, commits the two organizations to broad collaboration in areas including human spaceflight, U.S. space policy, space transportation, standards and best practices for safe operations in space, scientific research, and planetary defense.

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AFWERX Announces EngageSpace, Premier Collaboration Event for Space Industry

LAS VEGAS (AFNS) — AFWERX, the U.S. Air Force’s innovation catalyst, announced Sept. 16 that registration is now live for EngageSpace virtual event. Join AFWERX, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Space Force and the Space Frontier Foundation for this two-day virtual event on September 29-30.

With its highly interactive format and diverse participants, this event is designed to revolutionize how the space ecosystem works, dismantle the walls between sectors and close the “believability gap” for what’s possible in space.

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USSF and NOAA Begin Joint Operations of Infrared Weather Satellite

A view of the Earth from the EWS-G1 satellite taken on September 1, 2020. Originally launched in 2006 as GOES-13, the satellite provided operational weather coverage over the United States’ East Coast for 10 years before being replaced in the GOES-East position by GOES-16. The transfer to the Department of Defense and relocation of EWS-G1 is the culmination of joint efforts between SMC, NOAA and NASA. (Credit: U.S. Space Force’s MARK IV-B Program Office)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (U.S. Space Force PR) – The U.S. Space Force has declared Initial Operational Capability of the Electro-optical Infrared Weather System Geostationary (EWS-G1) spacecraft. EWS-G1, formerly known as GOES-13, was transferred to the U.S. Air Force by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2019 under an agreement between the U.S. Air Force and NOAA for Interagency Cooperation on Collection of Space-Based Environmental Monitoring Data.

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Top 5 Times Solar Activity Affected Earth

The Sun sends out a constant stream of particles and energy, which drives a complex space weather system near Earth and can affect spacecraft and astronauts. NASA has chosen five new mission concept studies for further development to study various aspects of this dynamic system. (Credits: NASA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — Over the course of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, the star goes through a period of increased and decreased activity. When this activity ramps up, sometimes phenomena such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), where massive amounts of radiation and solar particles erupt out from the Sun’s surface, can wreak havoc if our planet happens to be in the way of the blast.

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Driven by ‘a Tectonic Shift in Warfare’ Raymond Describes Space Force’s Achievements and Future

Gen. John Raymond

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — Chief of Space Operations, Gen. Jay Raymond, presented an ambitious blueprint Sept. 15 for cementing the nation’s superiority in space while also forcing change closer to home by slashing bureaucracy, refocusing training and instilling a culture across the Space Force that puts a premium on speed, technology and innovation for “this digital service.”

Noting “we are on the cusp of a tectonic shift in warfare,” Raymond said during his keynote address on the second day of the Air Force Association’s 2020 Air, Space & Cyber Conference that the law creating Space Force “gives us a huge opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper to build a service from the ground up.”

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Boeing Faces Independent Compliance & Ethics Review

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

Reuters reports that Boeing has submitted to an independent review of its compliance and ethics practices under an agreement with NASA and the U.S. Air Force in the wake of scandal relating to its bid to built the space agency’s crewed lunar lander.

The agreement, signed in August, comes as federal prosecutors continue a criminal investigation into whether NASA’s former human exploration chief, Doug Loverro, improperly guided Boeing space executive Jim Chilton during the contract bidding process.

By agreeing to the “Compliance Program Enhancements”, the aerospace heavyweight staves off harsher consequences from NASA and the Air Force – its space division’s top customers – such as being suspended or debarred from bidding on future space contracts.

The agreement calls for Boeing to pay a “third party expert” to assess its ethics and compliance programs and review training procedures for executives who liaise with government officials, citing “concerns related to procurement integrity” during NASA’s Human Landing System competition.

Loverro resigned his NASA post in May. Reuters reports that Boeing has fired a company attorney and a number of mid-level employees. The company has also revised its procurement procedures.

NASA rejected Boeing bid on the human lander for the Artemis program, which aims to land two astronauts at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

NASA awarded study contracts to Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX. The space agency plans to award a multi-billion contract to build the lander.

Northrop Grumman Wins $13.3 Billion ICBM Contract

FALLS CHURCH, Va, Sept. 8, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) was selected by the U.S. Air Force to modernize the nation’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system under a $13.3 billion contract awarded today for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center announced that the effort will span 8.5 years and include weapon system design, qualification, test and evaluation and nuclear certification. Upon successful completion of EMD, the Northrop Grumman team will begin producing and delivering a modern and fully integrated weapon system to meet the Air Force schedule of initial operational capability by 2029.

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US Air Force Teams with Boom Supersonic for Government Executive Flight Program Exploration

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

DENVER, Sept. 8, 2020 (Boom Supersonic PR) – Boom Supersonic, an aerospace company building the world’s fastest commercial airliner, today announced that the company has been awarded a contract by the Air Force under its program meant to help fund innovations with future Air Force applications.

The contract will fund explorations of an Overture configuration designed for Air Force executive transport. The Department of Defense and the Air Force manage all air transport for executive branch top leadership, including Air Force One.

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DARPA Completes Key Milestone on Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Program

Artist’s illustration of hypersonic missile. (Credit: DARPA)

Risk reduction milestone paves way for airborne tests this year

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) today announced successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and are ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year. The joint Agency and Service effort seeks to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

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2,400 USAF Airmen Begin Transfer into Space Force

WASHINGTON, (AFNS) — Beginning Sept. 1 and continuing throughout the fall, more than 2,400 active-duty Airmen in space operations (13S) and space systems operations (1C6) career fields will transfer into the U.S. Space Force in public and private ceremonies across the globe.

Given limits on mass gatherings in the current COVID-19 environment, the Space Force will commemorate the transfers with a virtual swearing-in ceremony Sept. 15 following live remarks from Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond during the Air Force Association’s Virtual Air, Space and Cyber Conference.  In addition to the ceremonial swearing-in, members can also opt for private events or participate in locally organized ceremonies. 

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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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Stargazer Flight Raises Questions

Stargazer aircraft carrying Pegasus XL rocket with CYGNSS satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Whenever I’m over at the Mojave Air and Space Port, I’ve always felt a little sad when I catch a glimpse of Northrop Grumman’s Stargazer aircraft.

The last Lockheed L-1011 Tristar still flying today, the modified passenger aircraft’s main task is to air launch satellites aboard the Pegasus XL rocket carried under its fuselage. Since the rocket isn’t much in demand, the gap between launches can last for years.

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Boeing-USAF X-37B Team to Receive 2019 Collier Trophy

The X-37B spacecraft after landing on May 7, 2017. (Credit: USAF)

WASHINGTON, DC, August 13, 2020 (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) is pleased to announce that the United States Department of the Air Force – Boeing X-37B team has been named as the recipient of the 2019 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… developing and employing the world’s only reusable, autonomous spaceplane, which logged more than 2,865 days in orbit across five missions, changing access to space and serving as the nation’s workhorse in space experimentation and technology.”

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AFWERX Awards Accion Systems $2.25 Million Phase II SBIR Contract

Air Force Award Will Drive Advanced Development and Commercialization of Multi-Mode In-Space Propulsion System.

BOSTON, Mass., August 11, 2020 (Accion Systems PR — In-space propulsion pioneer Accion Systems announced today that it has been awarded a follow-on Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract through AFWERX, in partnership with Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). The award recognizes the successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contact earlier this year and exciting promise for Accion’s TILE ion electrospray propulsion for use in national security missions. 

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Space Force Awards National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Contracts to SpaceX & ULA

WASHINGTON, (AFNS) — The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), competitively awarded two Firm-Fixed-Price, Indefinite Delivery Requirement contracts for National Security Space launch services today to ULA and SpaceX.

“This is a groundbreaking day, culminating years of strategic planning and effort by the Department of the Air Force, NRO, and our launch service industry partners,” said Dr. William Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “Maintaining a competitive launch market, servicing both government and commercial customers, is how we encourage continued innovation on assured access to space. Today’s awards mark a new epoch of space launch that will finally transition the Department off Russian RD-180 engines.”

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