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.

(more…)

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).

(more…)

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.
(more…)

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.

Read the full story.

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.

(more…)

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.

ULA Delta II Puts NASA Environmental Satellite into Orbit

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) payload for NASA lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 at 2:56 a.m. PDT today. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) payload for NASA lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 at 2:56 a.m. PDT today. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., July 2, 2014 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) payload for NASA lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 at 2:56 a.m. PDT today. This launch marks the 51st Delta II mission for NASA and Delta II’s return to flight as the first of two planned Delta II launches this year, and also the seventh ULA launch of 2014 and the 84th since the company was formed.

“Congratulations to the NASA Launch Services Program team, JPL and all of our mission partners on the successful launch of the OCO-2 satellite,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “It is our honor to launch this important mission that will gather the scientific data to better understand planet earth.”

(more…)

NASA, Partners Provide Updates on Commercial Crew

commercial_crew_earthDuring last week’s Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif., a panel of NASA and private sector partners gathered to discuss their progress on returning U.S. crew launches to American soil.

Below is a summary of their comments that provides some insights into where each partner is in development and what lies ahead for the rest of the year.

NASA is expected to award the next round of commercial crew contracts later this year.

(more…)

Falcon 9 Certification Delayed Due to Government Shutdown

Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s efforts to get its Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle certified to carry U.S. military payloads is being delayed due to the government shutdown, Aviation Week reports.

The Aerospace Corporation, which handles much of the technical analysis for the U.S. Air Force that is required for the certification, has furloughed 2,000 of their 3,500 employees due to the budget impasse. The company is analyzing data from the Sept. 29 launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

(more…)

Falcon 9 Launch Set for Sunday Morning

falcon9_oct72012
Mission Overview

Company: SpaceX
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 v. 1.1
Date: Sept. 29, 2013
Launch Window Opens: 12: p.m. EDT/9 a.m. PDT
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Orbit: Elliptical Polar
Primary Payload: CASSIOPE (CAscade, SmallSat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer)
CASSIOPE Funding Authority: Canadian Space Agency
CASSIOPE Builder: MDA

CASSIOPE Description:
Cascade commercial communications system and a scientific payload called ePOP (enhanced Polar Outflow Probe)

(more…)

Air Force Moves Forward with Initiatives to Improve Range Operations

spacex-crs2-launch
The U.S. Air Force is moving ahead with two initiatives designed to make their launch ranges more user friendly and to facilitate partnerships with private sector and state entities, according to presentations given at a recent FAA Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) meeting.

A provision in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act allows private-sector and non-federal contributions to and cost sharing for federal launch ranges, Maj. Justin Sutherland told attendees. “Contributions may include funds, services, equipment and requests for range support and services in DoD contractual requirements,” according to the presentation.

(more…)

California Space Authority Planning Education Center at Vandenberg

The California Space Authority is hoping to build a $175 million education center just outside the gates at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, Calif., the Santa Maria Times reports.

CSA officials are negotiating a lease for use of 66 acres of Air Force property. The land sits on a bluff that is used as the primary viewing area for rocket launches from the military spaceport.

“The purpose of the space center is to primarily inspire young people to look to Vandenberg and learn the story of the land – what’s happening there today, and what’s going to happen there in the future,” CSA Executive Director Andrea Seastrand told KSBY-TV.