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SpaceX and NASA Still Determining Reasons for Falcon 9 Engine Failure, Other Anomalies

The overall success of SpaceX's first operational cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) last month overshadowed the fact that the mission also encountered several problems, including the failure of one of the nine Falcon 9 engines.

 

Speaking to the NASA Advisory Council's Human Exploration and Operations Committee today, ISS program manager Mike Suffredini said that Space X is still trying to determine what happened to the engine. NASA is participating in the investigation, he said, and a fault tree analysis is underway.

 

 

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Space Access Society: Update on Shelby’s commercial cargo/crew poison pill

There's been some additional action in the fight over the future of NASA's Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew programs.  Florida Today and The Houston Chronicle ran stories reporting the Commercial Spaceflight Federation industry association's view that Senator Shelby's provision to impose cost-plus contract-type "certified cost and pricing data" on these programs could disrupt contracting and would increase overall costs.

 

“The language would effectively change an efficient and lean commercial program into a traditional government procurement with all of the associated overhead and cost,” said Alex Saltman, executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

 

“In addition, if this language were to become law before NASA awards the latest commercial crew contracts, NASA would likely have to restart the procurement with these new rules, pushing back the program up to a year and sending hundreds of millions of more taxpayer dollars to Russia for Soyuz rides,” Saltman added. “If the language were to go into effect after the awards, NASA could be tied up in contract renegotiations and challenges for months if not years.”

Stratocumulus's insight:


What To Do


Write (Or Call) Your Senators about this, soon.  Senator Shelby is carving out and claiming a very large piece of turf here.  Senators from California, Texas, New Mexico, and Florida (SpaceX) and Virginia and Utah (Orbital) should be directly concerned.  Other Senators may also want to discourage this sort of overreach.


Don’t try to go into depth or detail. Keep it simple and top-level. Most incoming email won’t get read beyond the first paragraph anyway.  Get the key points in the first paragraph, or in your first two sentences if calling.


The gist should be that there’s language in the Senate CJS NASA Appropriation Report mandating cost-plus type accounting for NASA’s Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew programs, despite those being run on fixed-price contracts. This mandate will greatly increase costs and delay schedules in essential programs that have been till now models of cost-saving. It should be removed from the bill.

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The 2nd SPACE Conference examines human exploration and habitation in space | The Space Review

The 2nd SPACE Conference examines human exploration and habitation in space | The Space Review | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Last month a meeting of a little-known space group examined a variety of issues about humanity’s future in space. Anthony Young recaps the conference’s sessions on a wide range of topics and concepts.

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Air launch, big and small | The Space Review

Air launch, big and small | The Space Review | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

While the concept of air launch seems compelling, such systems have failed to have much effect on the overall launch market. Jeff Foust reports on two different air launch ventures, one by DARPA and one funded by Paul Allen, attacking the air launch idea from two very different directions.

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Luciano Lampi's curator insight, July 9, 9:48 AM

Much less complex to manage?

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SpaceX is Changing Spaceflight Forever!!!!!! | YouTube

In the first installment of From the Ground Up Michael Clark talks about SpaceX's reusable test program, which as the title suggests, will change everything if successful.

Stratocumulus's insight:


Actually, the last two flights of the Falcon 9v1.1, which were the first two flights to deploy landing legs, where the ISS CRS-3 Resupply Flight back in April and the THAICOM 6 geostationary communications satellite launch back in January.

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Orbital Announces New Launch Date for Orb-2

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced today that July 11 is the new launch date for its second operational cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Orb-2.  The launch has been delayed several times for a variety of reasons.


The launch is scheduled for 1:40 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the coast of Virginia.  Orbital's Antares rocket will send a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to ISS packed with 3,000 pounds of science experiments, supplies and a number of nanosatellites that will be deployed from the ISS.


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No action, but more commentary, on Shelby’s commercial crew cost language | Space Politics

... “As fans of the Johnson Space Center, we can sympathize with Shelby’s desire to protect his constituents’ jobs against a perceived competitor. But Shelby’s policy is misguided,” the editorial continues. The editorial concludes by asking Texas’s two senators to fight back: “Texas’ own senators should go to bat for SpaceX and ensure that its multimillion dollar investment outside Brownsville doesn’t get tied up in Shelby’s red tape. Shelby is fighting for his state. Where are the Texans fighting for Texas?”

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Despite delays, SpaceX still winning commercial launch business | NewSpace Journal

Despite delays, SpaceX still winning commercial launch business | NewSpace Journal | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Early this year, SpaceX said it planned to carry out ten launches in 2014, and appeared to be on the fast track after launching the Thaicom 6 satellite in early January. Since then, though, the company has done only one other launch—a cargo resupply mission to the ISS in April—while the launch of six ORBCOMM satellites has been delayed from mid-May to, now, mid-July. That makes it increasingly unlikely it will meet its goal of ten launches by the end of 2014.


Yet, those delays do not appear to have deterred customers, even those mainstream commercial communications satellite customers that have, traditionally, valued schedule over cost. On Wednesday, Inmarsat announced a launch contract with SpaceX for at least one, and perhaps up to three, missions through the end of the decade. “We believe that SpaceX has demonstrated tremendous successful progress in its launch capabilities and is now a fully-credible provider of vehicles to support geostationary missions,” Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce said in the statement.

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Inmarsat appoints SpaceX for future satellite launches | Inmarsat

2 July 2014 – Inmarsat plc (LSE: ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite services, today announced that it has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for its S-band satellite and up to two further Inmarsat missions. Under the terms of its agreement with SpaceX, Inmarsat expects to use the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, but will retain the possibility of using a Falcon 9 as an alternative, providing further launch flexibility.


Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s Chief Executive Officer said, “We believe that SpaceX has demonstrated tremendous successful progress in its launch capabilities and is now a fully-credible provider of vehicles to support geostationary missions.  We are delighted to be working with SpaceX for the launch of our S-band satellite and other potential future missions for Inmarsat.  In view of capacity constraints in the satellite launch market, Inmarsat believes that securing optionality today is an important business safeguard to mitigate future launch schedule risk.”

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Masten Wins $3 Million Contract for DARPA XS-1 Reusable Vehicle | Parabolic Arc

Masten Wins $3 Million Contract for DARPA XS-1 Reusable Vehicle | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif. has won a $3 million contract for work on DARPA’s XS-1 program, according to an award announcement at www.FedBizOpps.gov.

The objective of the XS-1 program “is to demonstrate a reusable first stage launch vehicle capable of carrying and deploying an upper stage that inserts 3,000 to 5,000 lb. payloads into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), designed for less than $5M per launch for an operational system."


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Air Force seeks to dismiss SpaceX EELV suit | Space Politics

In a motion filed with the Court of Federal Claims this week, the Air Force seeks to dismiss SpaceX’s lawsuit against it protesting the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) block buy contract the service awarded to United Launch Alliance (ULA), arguing that SpaceX missed its chance to protest the award by two years.


“SpaceX’s complaint is amorphous,” the Air Force motion, filed with the court on Monday, states. “Rather than challenge a single procurement action, SpaceX broadly protests any sole-source purchase of single-core evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELV) and associated launch services.” [emphasis in original] The Air Force argues that the court should narrow the scope of SpaceX’s protest to the latest block buy award.

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GLXP Update: Penn State Lunar Lion Receives New Engine | Parabolic Arc

GLXP Update: Penn State Lunar Lion Receives New Engine | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. (Penn State Lunar Lion PR) — This summer will be a very exciting time for the Lunar Lion Team as it recently received the first of its new H202 engines.  These engines represent a transition from a previous bipropellant LOX/Ethanol propulsion system to a monopropellant one using H2O2.  The previous design for a terrestrial rocket-powered prototype called for using a series of pencil thrusters capable of putting out 20lbs of force.  The new system will still require the prototype (now named Puma) to demonstrate a 500m hop, but do so using four of the new engines, capable of putting out 100lbs of force.

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Google Lunar XPrize: The world's next great space race | CNET

Google Lunar XPrize: The world's next great space race | CNET | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

When innovation stalls, sometimes it just needs a little push. A bit of force applied in the right direction and then, momentum imparted, the rest takes care of itself. That push can come from many sources, but one tends to be the most effective: money.


It was a monetary prize that spurred Charles Lindbergh to strap into the Spirit of St. Louis and become the first to cross the Atlantic in one shot. It was a monetary prize that encouraged Scaled Composites to build SpaceShipOne, ultimately spawning Virgin Galactic. And, next year, it will be a monetary prize that puts the first non-government-funded rover on the moon. Or, possibly, multiple rovers.


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Tekrighter's curator insight, July 2, 6:01 AM

The next great challenge for private industry!

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Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot receives Honorary Doctorate

Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot receives Honorary Doctorate | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Test pilot – and soon to be astronaut – David Mackay is to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Glasgow tomorrow.


The pilot, an alumnus of the University of Glasgow, will be the first man to take passengers on commercial flights to space.


David Mackay joined the University to study aeronautical engineering in 1975 after being inspired by the Apollo programme’s astronauts. Noting that all of the Apollo programme’s astronauts were former military test pilots, David became determined that he too would be a test pilot - beginning his training with the RAF’s University of Glasgow Air Squadron whilst studying for his degree.


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What will Martian habitats look like? 7.19 | YouTube

SpaceUp Founder, SD Space Co-Founder, GeekDad contributor and Future Martian Chris Radcliff joins us to talk about future Martian habitats and what they will look like. Will we have domes? Underground habs? What will our future on Mars look like?



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Scaling up alternative space funding sources | The Space Review

Scaling up alternative space funding sources | The Space Review | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

In recent years, some space-related projects have pursued unconventional funding sources, including crowdfunding and other donations, with some success. Jeff Foust reports on efforts to scale up those mechanisms for bigger, and more expensive, projects.

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Peter Diamandis: Entrepreneur reaches to skies to benefit Earth

Peter Diamandis: Entrepreneur reaches to skies to benefit Earth | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Peter Diamandis stands at a whiteboard in an empty conference room at Moffett Field and excitedly sketches a diagram of the solar system, with messy lollipop-like dots for Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. His eyes light up when he draws a certain asteroid known to come close to Earth every few years.


"We're going to send out a flotilla of small spacecraft, dock on the asteroid, prospect it and lay claim to it," Diamandis said. "The goal is to make rocket fuel from a class of asteroids rich in hydrogen and oxygen, and use 3-D printers in space to build the equipment to mine the rock for rare metals like platinum."


The benefits, he said, will be nothing less than protecting planet Earth, creating the world's first trillionaires, and paving the way for humans to live off the planet.

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The Space Industry: Seriously Congested, Contested And Poised For Growth

The Space Industry: Seriously Congested, Contested And Poised For Growth | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Outer space will be a seriously contested and congested place in the future. A combination of a plethora of new navigation satellite networks and services, new space faring nations (like Japan, India and China) and organizations (like Google GOOGL +0.56% and Facebook) entering the market and creation of R&D programs across various mass categories from micro- to heavy-satellites, as well as the trend of engaging commercial satellite platforms in dual applications (military and civil) will make this a very attractive “space” in the future.


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Government argues for dismissal of SpaceX lawsuit

Government argues for dismissal of SpaceX lawsuit | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

The U.S. government has filed a motion with the Court of Federal Claims to dismiss a key element in a lawsuit by SpaceX challenging a sole-source multi-rocket contract awarded to United Launch Alliance last December. The motion argues SpaceX knew about the sole-source contract well in advance, never protested until well after it was awarded and was not qualified to compete for it in the first place.


"SpaceX's complaint is amorphous," the motion claims. "Rather than challenge a single procurement action, SpaceX broadly protests any [in italics] sole-source purchase of single-core evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELV) and associated launch services. This challenge appears to implicate the United States Air Force's entire EELV program -- including past and future purchases under various contracts."

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Rockets' red tape

Rockets' red tape | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., wants to drag companies like SpaceX back to Earth and force them to comply with NASA's usual regulatory paperwork. This idea threatens to kill the goose that could lay the golden egg.


Under the current Commercial Crew Development program, SpaceX contracts with NASA for a flat payment. If SpaceX comes in under cost, it gets to keep the profit. If it goes over budget, SpaceX has to make up the difference. This system gives SpaceX more flexibility to operate as it sees fit.


Shelby has inserted language in a Senate appropriations bill that would instead force SpaceX to work on NASA's old cost-plus model. This would require the private company to track every step of its development, assign a cost to those steps and charge it to NASA, plus an additional fee. This stilted payment model forces engineers to be accountants and removes disincentives for bloated budgets.

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Inmarsat Books Falcon Heavy for up to Three Launches | SpaceNews.com

Inmarsat Books Falcon Heavy for up to Three Launches | SpaceNews.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

PARIS — Mobile satellite services provider Inmarsat on July 2 said it had booked one firm launch and two options — two with satellites already identified — aboard the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon Heavy rocket scheduled to make its inaugural flight in 2015.


London-based Inmarsat said that while Falcon Heavy was the nominal vehicle to be used, the contract foresees the use of SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 vehicle if needed to keep to the schedule. The satellite for which Inmarsat has a firm order for a Falcon Heavy is expected to weigh 5,900 kilograms at launch, which would be an exceptionally large payload for Falcon 9, even if the satellite makes use of electric propulsion for part of its mission.

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Analysis | Commercial Space Supporter McCarthy Opposes Tool that Supports Commercial Space | SpaceNews.com

Analysis | Commercial Space Supporter McCarthy Opposes Tool that Supports Commercial Space | SpaceNews.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

... The Ex-Im Bank has been increasingly used by domestic satellite manufacturers and launch services providers in recent years to provide favorable financing terms for the sale of commercial satellites and launches. For example, in 2012 it backed financing of satellites built by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Orbital Sciences to customers in Australia and Mexico. Later that year, it financed the sale of satellites built by Boeing and Space Systems/Loral to a Hong Kong-based company; the deal also covered the launch of two of those satellites on a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rocket.


Like many other business organizations, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) has warned about the potential effects on industry should Congress not reauthorize the bank. “Ex-Im Bank export credit support has helped U.S. companies compete successfully for major foreign sales of U.S. civilian aircraft, launch services and commercial satellites in recent years,” the AIA states in its position paper about the bank on its website. “[T]he Bank helps level the playing field for America’s aerospace manufacturers, who are competing with foreign companies backed by the low interest rates and deep coffers of other nations.”

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Masten wins DARPA XS-1 contract | NewSpace Journal

Masten Space Systems is the first of likely several companies to receive awards from DARPA for the agency’s Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) reusable launch vehicle technology demonstration program. According to a Federal Business Opportunities posting, DARPA awarded Masten with a contract valued at just under $3 million on June 27 as the first award under a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) DARPA issued for the program last fall.

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U.S. Air Force Seeks Dismissal of SpaceX Suit | SpaceNews.com

U.S. Air Force Seeks Dismissal of SpaceX Suit | SpaceNews.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has asked a federal court to dismiss a key portion of the lawsuit by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. claiming that the service improperly awarded an $11 billion rocket deal to United Launch Alliance last year, according to a June 30 federal court filing.

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Entrepreneurs Smell Profits In Low Earth Orbit | Aviation Week

Entrepreneurs Smell Profits In Low Earth Orbit | Aviation Week | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

It has been three years since the International Space Station was completed and made available for full-time use, or as full-time as possible given the demands of keeping its crew and hardware functioning in the harsh environment above the atmosphere. Now the shakeout appears to be over, and ISS managers seem to have found their way to relatively efficient use of the unique facility. More important, business types are starting to report early evidence that the terrestrial economy can indeed move into low Earth orbit—on the station and elsewhere.


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NASA Veteran Inspired by Destiny that 'Lies Above Us'

NASA Veteran Inspired by Destiny that 'Lies Above Us' | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Jon Cowart's email signature, which comes from the movie "Intersteller," reads "Perhaps we have forgotten that we are still pioneers . . . That we’ve barely begun.  And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us… That our destiny lies above us."


But ask just about anyone who knows the 27-year NASA veteran and they'll tell you all about his many accomplishments and pioneering spirit.


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CSF continues to press for human spaceflight export rule changes | Space Politics

The mid-May publication of the “draft final” export control rule for satellites and related components largely brought the saga of export control reform to an end, with the exception of a few loose ends, such as aperture limits for remote sensing systems. The administration’s decision was a major, but not complete, victory for the space industry. One area where they sought but did not win change was in human spaceflight: crewed vehicles, both suborbital and orbital, will remain on the US Munitions List (USML) and thus under the jurisdiction of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).


“Spacecraft specially designed for human space flight that have integrated propulsion present another security concern, for such capabilities may be used for the purposes of weapons targeting from space,” the State Department noted in its final ruling. “So, although these technologies and capabilities are used in commercial endeavors, they continue to merit control on the USML.”

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