SpaceX, Boeing & Firefly File FCC Applications for Fall Flights

Starship hopper under construction at Boca Chica. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has applied for a temporary Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license to fly its Starship prototype to an altitude of 20 km (12.4 miles) from its Boca Chica test site in Texas.

The approval would be valid for hops from Oct. 11, 2020 to April 11, 2021. Starship prototypes have flown to an altitude of 150 meters from Boca Chica.

Boeing has filed for a FCC license for its second Starliner orbital flight test. The application covers a six-month period from Nov. 1, 2020 to May 1, 2021.

The uncrewed Starliner test is a repeat of a flight that went awry last December. The spacecraft failed to dock with the space station due to software and communications problems.

Firefly Aerospace has filed for approval for the maiden flight of its Firefly Alpha booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The approval would be valid from Nov. 21, 2020 until May 21, 2021.

Apha is designed to loft 1 metric ton into low Earth orbit and 630 kg into a 500 km sun synchronous orbit at a dedicated mission cost of $15 million.

Upcoming Satellite Mission will Improve Hurricane Forecasts and Climate Science, NOAA Expert Says

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)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — A new satellite designed to capture detailed measurements of sea-surface height and other ocean features is scheduled to launch in November 2020. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will help provide enhanced hurricane intensity forecasts and improved information of Earth’s climate.

(more…)

Coalition Partners, U.S. and UK, Agree to Share Technical Foundation for Space Operations

WASHINGTON, (AFNS) — The U.S. Space Force reached an important milestone by recently signing an agreement to allow sharing of the Standardized Astrodynamics Algorithm Library with the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The U.K. was the first international partner to join U.S. Space Command’s Operation OLYMPIC DEFENDER and is the first to receive access to the SAAL, though USSF is currently working with other partner nations to expand that list. 

(more…)

UKspace, RAF to Establish Commercial Integration Cell for Greater Military & Commercial Space Collaboration

BORDON, UK (UKspace PR) — UKspace is working in partnership with the Royal Air Force (RAF) to develop a new Commercial Integration Cell (CIC) at the UK Space Operations Centre (SpOC), which will enable enhanced coordination of military and commercial space operations.

This partnership will establish a CIC in the UK similar to that currently operated by the US Space Force at the Combined Space Operations Centre in Vandenburg, further improving interoperability between the allied nations in support of Operation OLYMPIC DEFENDER and national operations.

(more…)

ULA Wins Multi-Year Competitive Contract Award to Launch Critical National Security Space Missions for U.S. Space Force

Artist’s conception of Vulcan Centaur rocket. (Credit: ULA)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Aug. 7, 2020 (ULA PR) – The U.S. Space Force announced today that United Launch Alliance (ULA) was awarded a firm, fixed-price, indefinite-delivery contract to launch 60 percent of the missions on its newest launch procurement contract. This contract resulted from a competitive award under the Space Force’s National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 procurement.

(more…)

Agreement Unites Parties in Boosting Commercial Space Operations in California

Vandenberg Air Force Base

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., August 5, 2020 (Deloitte PR) — Leaders from the State of California, REACH, the 30th Space Wing, Cal Poly State University and Deloitte today announced a commitment to develop a thriving spaceport at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the surrounding area. According to the memorandum of understanding, the parties will develop a master plan that identifies the required infrastructure, human capital development, governance and financing necessary to support the United States Space Force mission and position California as a global leader in the future of the commercial space industry.

(more…)

ABL Space Systems Begins RS1 Stage Testing, Reaches $90 Million in Funding

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Aug. 3, 2020 (ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems has begun stage testing of the RS1 small satellite launch vehicle, and has been awarded two US DoD contracts and secured a large round of funding with a combined value of over $90 million. ABL’s awards and funding are key to the rapid development of the RS1 launch vehicle and GS0 deployable launch system, with a demonstration launch slated for Q1 of 2021.

ABL’s DoD contracts, awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX, with participation from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, total $44.5 million over three years. Additionally, ABL has secured $49 million of financing led by Ethan Batraski at Venrock with participation from New Science Ventures, Lynett Capital, and Lockheed Martin Ventures. The recent round closed on March 31st, and fully funds ABL through a three launch demonstration campaign in 2021.

(more…)

Relativity Space Expands Footprint Via Launch Site at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Rendering of Terran 1 rocket luanching from potential future Vandenberg launch site. (Credit: Relativity Space)

VANDENBERG, Calif. (Relativity Space PR)–Relativity Space, the first company to utilize 3D printing, robotics and AI to reinvent aerospace manufacturing, extended its launch capabilities via a Right of Entry Agreement with the United States Air Force, 30th Space Wing for development of rocket launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

(more…)

Firefly Applies for FCC Permit for September Launch From Vandenberg

Firefly Aerospace has applied for a permit from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a launch of its Alpha booster on Sept. 6-7 from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.

“Once the launch vehicle reaches the mission altitude of 300 km, it will deploy commercial payloads into orbit. “The second stage will complete one full orbit while it downlinks data to VAFB and KSAT ground station locations in Hawaii, Mauritius, and South Africa,” the company said in its application.

Firefly has not yet launched the Alpha booster, which is designed to orbit small satellites.

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)