Aerojet Rocketdyne Delivers DART Propulsion Systems Ahead of 2021 Asteroid Impact Mission

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

REDMOND, Wash., May 19, 2020 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – The dual chemical and electric propulsion systems for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) were recently delivered by Aerojet Rocketdyne to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

The chemical propulsion system and the electric propulsion Xenon feed system have been undergoing assembly and integration onto the spacecraft structure at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility in Redmond, Washington, since August 2019.

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Building Satellites Amid COVID-19

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

MUNICH (ESA PR) — During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 lockdown, trying to work poses huge challenges for us all. For those that can, remote working is now pretty much the norm, but this is obviously not possible for everybody. One might assume that like many industries, the construction and testing of satellites has been put on hold, but engineers and scientists are finding ways of continuing to prepare Europe’s upcoming satellite missions such as the next Copernicus Sentinels.

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Firefly Aerospace and Spaceflight Inc. Sign Launch Services Agreement

CEDAR PARK, Texas/SEATTLE, April 22, 2020 (Firefly Aerospace PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, and Spaceflight Inc., the leading launch services and mission management provider, today announced they have signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA). The agreement confirms that Spaceflight will secure the majority of the payload mass aboard a Firefly Alpha launch, scheduled for lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2021.

In addition to being the anchor customer, Spaceflight will sign, manage, integrate, and deploy multiple payloads on the flight, enabling Firefly to maximize its full 630 kilogram launch capacity on the commercial Alpha mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Also, according to the LSA, Spaceflight will help maximize payload capacity aboard future Firefly Alpha launches.

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Space Force Welcomes First Academy Graduates to its Ranks

Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, administers the U.S. Space Force Oath of Office to the Eighty-Six Space Force Cadets during the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2020 graduation at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 18, 2020. In all, Nine-hundred-sixty-seven cadets crossed the stage to become the Air Force/Space Force’s newest second lieutenants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.T. Armstrong)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) — Eighty-six graduates from the United States Air Force Academy celebrated receiving their diplomas April 18 and moved directly into the U.S. Space Force, marking the first infusion of commissioned personnel into the new service since its creation last year.

Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance at the event and congratulated the entire graduating class.

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Global Lightning 20 Concludes with Greatest Commercial Participation to Date

By 1st Lt. Tyler Whiting
United States Space Force Public Affairs

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Exercise Global Lightning 20 successfully concluded with the most commercial partnership participation to date at the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base Jan. 30.

This year civilian personnel from seven commercial companies affiliated with the Commercial Integration Cell supported the exercise by rapidly identifying, diagnosing and resolving on-orbit requirements, while also increasing the overall resilience of Combined Force Space Component Command operations at the CSpOC.

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NASA Prepares to Launch ICON — Again

ICON spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman currently are preparing the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft and the Pegasus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for ferry to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft on Oct. 1, 2019.

The launch has been rescheduled to Oct. 10, 2019, following the completion of a joint NASA/Northrop Grumman investigation into a Pegasus sensor reading that was not within normal limits during previous ferry and launch attempt flights. The cause of the issue is understood, and the flight hardware has been modified to address the issue.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Set to Lift off Wednesday with 3 Canadian Radarsats

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, June 12 for launch of RADARSAT Constellation Mission from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The primary launch window opens at 7:17a.m. PDT, or 14:17UTC, and closes at 7:30 a.m. PDT, or 14:30 UTC. The satellites will begin deployment approximately 54 minutes after launch. A backup launch window opens on Thursday, June13 at 7:17a.m. PDT, or 14:17 UTC,and closes at 7:30 a.m. PDT, or 14:30 UTC.

Falcon 9’s first stage for launch of RADARSAT Constellation Mission previously supported Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission in March 2019. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will return to land on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

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Rocket Lab to Expand Launch Capability with US Launch Site

Electron launch (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — 10 July 2018 (Rocket Lab PR) — US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has today confirmed plans to expand its launch capability by developing a US launch site, with four US space ports shortlisted to launch the Electron rocket.

Final selection is underway with Cape Canaveral, Wallops Flight Facility, Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base. A decision on the confirmed site, to be named Launch Complex 2, is expected to be made in August 2018.

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NASA’s First Mission to Study the Interior of Mars Awaits May 5 Launch

Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — All systems are go for NASA’s next launch to the Red Planet.

The early-morning liftoff on Saturday of the Mars InSight lander will mark the first time in history an interplanetary launch will originate from the West Coast. InSight will launch from the U.S. Air Force Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3E. The two-hour launch window will open on May 5 at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT).

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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.











California Considers Tax on Launches Within the State

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

California’s Franchise Tax Board is seeking public comment on a proposed new tax that would fall upon ULA, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and other companies launching spacecraft from within the state.

The levy would apply to companies “that generates more than 50 percent of its gross receipts from the provision of space transportation activity for compensation in a taxable year,” the proposal states. Space is defined as 62 statute miles (100 km) or more above Earth.
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Vandenberg Continues Recovery From Fire

An aircraft drops chemicals on wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: USAF)
An aircraft drops chemicals on wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: USAF)

It is still not clear when Vandenberg Air Force Base can resume launch operations after more than 12,000 acres were burned by brush fires.

Vandenberg officials have been tight-lipped about damage beyond confirming downed power lines in the area, despite unconfirmed reports in the local communities about a tracking station, weather sensor or other critical support equipment being ruined in the fire.

Other unconfirmed reports mention damage to communication equipment.

ULA officials last said the launch would not occur before early October, but never released the targeted launch date as the Air Force began surveying damage and crafting a recovery plan.

The Air Force remains mum about what was damaged or affected by the fires.

“We don’t have any updates at this time,” Lt. William Collette, a Vandenberg public affairs officer, said Thursday.

The launch of an ULA Atlas V rocket with the WorldView-4 satellite on board was postponed indefinitely due to the fire.

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Firefighters Continue to Battle Blaze at Vandenberg AFB

An aircraft drops chemicals on wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: USAF)
An aircraft drops chemicals on wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: USAF)

Vandenberg Air Force Base
Wildland Fire – Update
September 20, 2016

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF PR) – As of 7:30 a.m., the Canyon Fire has burned 10,542 acres. The fire is now 18 percent contained and 633 firefighters from Vandenberg AFB, U.S. Forestry, Cal Fire, and Santa Barbara County Fire are combatting the blaze.

The fire was very active yesterday, growing by approximately 6,000 acres. Most of the growth was to the west and the north. However, fire teams made strong progress along the south and east portions of the fire.

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X-37B Lands Safely at Vandenberg, Mission Remains a Mystery

X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)
X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)

The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane landed safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Friday morning, completing a record 674 days in orbit.

The unmanned winged vehicle touched down at 9:24 a.m. PDT after conducting experiments and testing out technologies for 22 months.

“The 30th Space Wing and our mission partners, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, Boeing, and our base support contractors, have put countless hours of hard work into preparing for this landing and today we were able to see the culmination of that dedication,” said base commander Colonel Keith Balts, in a prepared statement. “I’m extremely proud of our team for coming together to execute this third safe and successful landing. Everyone from our on console space operators to our airfield managers and civil engineers take pride in this unique mission and exemplify excellence during its execution.”

The Air Force is planning a fourth X-37B flight in 2015. Officials recently announced they would consolidate program operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the X-37 vehicles are launched.