Uchu☆Cafe | NewSpace News: Issue #124 September 2015
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NewSpace News: Issue #124 September 2015

NewSpace News: Issue #124 September 2015

Lynx Getting Ready to Pounce
XCOR’s Lynx is about six to nine months away from its first flight, which is great news, but it’s also complicating their move. About half of the company has now made the migration from Mojave, CA to Midland, TX, but the other half is staying primarily because of the tight build schedule. Lynx 1 will serve as a test article, and Lynx 2, which they have started designing, and Lynx 3 will carry customers and scientific instruments to space.

Article by Midland Reporter-Telegram

 

Virgin Learning from Experience

The final report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that the lack of consideration for human factors was the main cause for Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) accident on Halloween last year. Virgin has already completed implementing most of theNTSB recommendations, and it has been making steady progress on the next SS2 and has tweeted pictures of it [tweet, tweet]. There have also been several personnel changes including the departure of CFO John Rego, addition of former-SpaceX Barry Matsumori as Senior VP of Business Development and Advanced Concepts, and appointment of Nicola Pecile as pilot.

Report by NTSB, Tweets and Press Releases by Virgin, and Articles by ParabolicArc

 

Cubesats, Made to Order
Made In Space and Nanoracks have announced a partnership to provide an innovative new “Stash & Deploy” service for CubeSat developers. The team plans to store a wide variety of general and customer-specific components on board the ISS, which can then be integrated with a made-to-order 3D printed structure and deployed on relatively short notice. The goal of this service is to eliminate as much of the time and cost of launching individual CubeSats as possible. Made In Space has also recently announced a technological breakthrough, which will allow the next generation of 3D printers to operate in vaccum. This is a significant step toward large-scale planetary use.
Press Releases by Made In Space

Hard at Work Behind the Scenes
Although both SpaceX and Boeing have been rather quiet about their commercial crew activities, they have been making progress to send astronauts to space. SpaceX has recently started testing the avionics for the Crew Dragonusing their test bed, which allows the engineers to test the interactions between the hardware and software. SpaceX also completed the road to Launch Pad 39A. Meanwhile,Boeing has been busy completing its milestones, building test capsules, and decorating Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Press Releases by NASA, Article by NASASpaceFlight.com
 

Rack ‘em Up
A loophole will allow the first ever commercial Chinese payload to fly on the ISS. NanoRacks recently signed an agreement to fly DNA research from the Beijing Institute of Technology, skirting a long-standing prohibition of NASA cooperation with China. The most recent flight of Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle carried with it an entirely new opportunity for CubeSat makers. The NanoRacks External Payload Platform (NREP) will soon be mounted just outside the Kibo module on the ISS, allowing up to 9 4U CubeSats to experience the rigors of space… without leaving the station.
Article by Space.com, Press Release by NanoRacks

Competing for Everyone’s Sake
On August 4, the Senate unanimously passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLA) intended to protect the development and growth of the commercial space industry. The bill extends the regulatory learning period by five years and extends the federal indemnification of commercial launches until 2020. Among other provisions, the bill also extends the life of the International Space Station until 2024. The CSLA is expected to go to conference in the next month to be reconciled with the similar SPACE Act passed by the house in May.
Bill by U.S. Senate

GO Still Going Strong
Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ) for continued development of the GOLauncher 1 – a single-stage air launched liquid rocket vehicle, designed to fly suppressed trajectories for hypersonic flight research applications. Booster systems capable of flying suppressed trajectories increase flexibility for experimental payloads requiring high Mach numbers and high dynamic pressure flight environments.
Press release from Generation Orbit website

Experimenting With Lofty Goals
DARPA has awarded Masten Space Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing a combined total of $20 million for the second phase of the XS-1 (Experimental Spaceplane 1) program. Each of these companies are working with other NewSpace companies towards the completion of the project: XCOR Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin respectively. The XS-1 is a robotic spaceplane being designed to lower the cost of putting satellites into orbit. DARPA is hoping that the plane will have the capability to fly 10 times over a 10 day period. In addition, the XS-1 is expected to be able to put payloads up to 5,000 lbs. into orbit for under $5 million per launch. Early estimates have flights beginning in 2018.
Article by Space.com

Factory to Comprise Composite Capabilities.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) and RUAG Space announced their new strategic partnership, in which RUAG will establish a U.S. composites production capability within ULA’s Decatur, Alabama, factory. RUAG currently builds the Atlas V payload fairing system and the interstage adapter in Switzerland. By mid-2017, the company will shift the production line of these structures to Decatur, where it will also manufacture the composite structures for ULA’s new Vulcan launcher.
Press release from ULA

Next Step, Ad Astra!
On August 7, the Ad Astra Rocket Company executed a three-year, $9 million fixed price contract negotiated with NASA as part of the NextSTEP VASIMR® partnership. Under the one-year agreement, with the possibility of two additional one-year extensions, Ad Astra will conduct a long duration, high power test of the upgraded VX-200TM VASIMR® prototype for a minimum of 100 hours at a continuous power level of 100 kW. Ad Astra will be testing the engine’s proprietary core design and thermal control subsystems to better estimate component lifetime.
Press Release by Ad Astra
 

Almost Ready to Reach Orbit
Orbital ATK will resume ISS cargo resupply missions with the upcoming December 2015 launch of Cygnus, aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket. Orbital was recently granted two additional cargo resupply missions, extending their resupply contract into 2018. The Antares Launch Vehicle remains on track to resume flights starting early 2016, powered by the new RD-181. The first dual-engine RD-181 ship-set arrived at the Antares integration facilities at Wallops Island in mid-July, following certification and acceptance testing. These engines will replace the previous Aerojet AJ26-62 engines.
Press Release by Orbital ATK
 

X Marks the Spot
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas raised some eyebrows this month, when he questioned NASA’s choice to allow SpaceX to conduct their own internal investigation of the company’s June crash. Smith claimed that SpaceX was receiving favoritism over Orbital ATK, who also lost a rocket last year and whose crash was investigated directly by NASA. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has responded to these allegations, reassuring the representative thatNASA’s investigatory approach was established prior to the flight and is not comparable to the previous Orbital ATK crash. “In both accident investigations, NASA has gained significant insight into the findings and rationale developed by the contractors,” writes Bolden.
Article by USAToday

Research Facility Materializing on the ISS
Alpha Space, the MEI Technologies spin-off company has recently signed a cooperative agreement with NASA to develop, deploy, and operate a commercial research facility on the ISS. This facility, known as MISSE (the Materials International Space Station Experiment), will be the first facility purely dedicated to performing materials science research to the commercial sector. According to Alpha Space Operations manager Darrin Walker, the MISSE facility will be able to host up to twelve experiments at a time. Alpha Space and the ISS are planning on having operations begin in 2017, and expecting to make launches up to MISSE every six months.
Article by BusinessWire
 

How’s the Weather Up There?
Citizens in Space announced the successful completion of the first high-altitude balloon flight in a series of missions to test hardware designed to fly on the Lynx spacecraft by XCOR Aerospace. “The components functioned normally throughout the flight at temperatures down to -50°C (-60°F) and atmospheric pressure below 1% of sea level.” said Dr. Justin Karl, Chief Payloads Officer for Citizens in Space. The company already purchased ten suborbital flights on the Lynx spacecraft and is offering free-of-charge rides for genuine 1U or 2U sized experiments once they are licensed as open-source hardware.
Press release from Citizens In Space

Fresh From the Greenhouse

A new galactic record has been recorded on the International Space Station (ISS) where astronauts have eaten food that was grown in space. The lettuce was seasoned with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but more research may be required for a tossed salad. As humanity learns to live beyond the confines of Earth, these experiments of sustainable food production will prove to be key enablers for survival.

Article by Quartz
 

Quick One-Liners
 
DSI – ISISpace partnership [Link]
Tim Pickens moves from Moon Express to Bigelow [Link]
PlanetiQ opens new facility in Boulder, CO [Link]
ARCA Space Expanding U.S. Operations [Link]
Lori Garver Joins MDA Board [Link]
Kratos Partners with Spaceflight Industries [Link]
Send Your Ashes to the Moon with Elysium and Astrobotics[Link]
Garvey Delivers First Rocket Motor to Kodiak [Link]
$77M SABRE Engine Grant Approved [Link]
Online Booking for Launch Service with Rocket Labs [Link]

Oops, Missed It…
OneWeb Gets $500 Million in A Series Investments [Link]
Final Frontier Designs wins glove contract [Link]

The Space Show
This month, Dr. Pat Hynes of ISPCS and author Gerald Driggers share their respective NewSpace initiatives with Dr. David Livingston on The Space Show. [Link]
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QUICK LINKS

OTHER FUN THINGS

BE-4 Vine [Link]
SpaceVR Kickstarter to send 3d camera to ISS[Link]
Earth-Moon Transit Images [Link]
NASA Martian Quadcopters [Link]
Canadian Space Elevator [Link]
Black Project Rocket[Link]
NanoRacks and Space Angels Team Up To Fund STEM [Link]
UPCOMING LAUNCHES

Sept 2
Soyuz – ISS 44S
Atlas V – MUOS 4Sept 10/11
Soyuz – Galileo 9 & 10

Sept 14
Proton – Express AM8

Sept 28
PSLV – Astrosat

Sept 30
Ariane 5 – NBN Co 1A & Arsat 2

Sept TBD
Long March 6 – Cluster

Oct 1

Soyuz – Progress 61P

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