On October 28, 2014 an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket launched to the ISS on the company's fourth contracted resupply mission for NASA. Just a few seconds after liftoff there was a failure in a first stage booster AJ26 engine, causing the rocket to lose thrust and become engulfed in flames as it fell back to the ground. As you will see, upon hitting the ground the rocket exploded in a huge fireball, showering the launch site with debris.
The fifth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Tuesday, Dec. 16, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 1:15 p.m. EST.
The company's Falcon 9 rocket will lift off at 2:31 p.m., carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft. It is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.
In addition to launch coverage, NASA also will host a series of prelaunch news conferences Monday, Dec. 15, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will air live on NASA TV and the agency's website.
WASHINGTON — Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) is in the process of closing a California facility that has worked on hybrid propulsion systems, a move the company said Nov. 25 will not result in staff cuts beyond a previously announced round of layoffs.
In a statement provided to SpaceNews, SNC spokeswoman Krystal Scordo said the company plans to close its Poway, California, office as it consolidates propulsion work across the company. The closure of the office is “ongoing,” she said, and will be completed early next year.
PARIS — Orbital Sciences Corp. will get most of its planned revenue from NASA for the Oct. 28 launch of Orbital’s Antares rocket despite the rocket’s failure because the milestone that triggered payment was the rocket’s ignition and liftoff, not launch success, Orbital and its prospective merger partner, Alliant Techsystems (ATK), said Nov. 24.
Under Orbital’s $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) with NASA, Orbital’s obligations are not counted in launches, but in kilograms delivered to the space station.
The Oct. 28 launch was the third of a then-planned eight cargo runs for NASA to meet the 20,000-kilogram requirement, with subsequent missions using a larger version of the Cygnus payload module, built by Thales Alenia Space in Italy.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Made in Space PR) — History was made on November 24th at 9:28pm GMT, when the first 3D printer built to operate in space successfully manufactured its first part on the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time that hardware has been additively manufactured in space, as opposed to launching it from Earth.
“When the first human fashioned a tool from a rock, it couldn’t have been conceived that one day we’d be replicating the same fundamental idea in space,” said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made In Space, Inc. “We look at the operation of the 3D printer as a transformative moment, not just for space development, but for the capability of our species to live away from Earth.”
MOJAVE, Calif., November 24, 2014 (XCOR PR) — XCOR Aerospace will be at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual meeting – and taking its full scale Lynx® spacecraft model along for the ride. The model will be on display December 15-19 at the AGU Exhibit Hall in San Francisco.
XCOR’s Director of Payload Sales and Operations Khaki Rodway will be on site to present an overview of space-based research the AGU community will be conducting on Lynx. The session is titled Next Generation Instrumentation in Solar and Space Physics: Critical Measurements from Low-Cost Missions/Platforms.
AGU Fall Meeting attendees are invited to explore and sit inside the model Lynx cockpit, examine payload experiments, and discover for themselves the research potential of Lynx.
The concept of commercial missions to the Moon is not a new one: while none have yet flown, a number are under development, thanks primarily to the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competition. In the last couple of years, crowdfunding—soliciting the public for funding of particular projects, in exchange for merchandise, experiences, or simply recognition—has been increasingly used by space ventures. The two have even come together: one GLXP competitor, Israel’s SpaceIL, raised more than $280,000 earlier this year to support development of its lunar lander.
Those efforts, though, pale in comparison to what a British company unveiled last week. Lunar Missions Ltd. announced plans to fly its own lunar lander mission, dubbed simply Lunar Mission One. That spacecraft, planned for launch in 2024, will land on the rim of the South Pole-Aiken Basin—the solar system’s largest impact crater—on a scientific mission, but one funded primarily by the general public.
The mystery behind the “floating platform” – set to welcome home a returning Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage – has been solved via a series of fascinating comments by SpaceX’s Elon Musk. Known as the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship, the ocean faring platform will be the new propulsive landing target for a Falcon 9, possibly as soon as the CRS-5/SpX-5 Dragon mission in December.
"We don't do anything just to win a prize. If we're on the moon anyway, we're going to do something while we're up there," William "Red" Whittaker, a robotics professor at CMU and director of the Field Robotics Center, said Monday in a news release.
Two private companies have received contracts from NASA to study asteroid redirection and will pursue their plans of asteroid mining. The companies are Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources. Planetary Resources is a company from the U.S., more specifically from Washington State, and it will launch two satellites, called Arkyd 6 and Arkyd 3, to analyze the design and systems of their telescopes.
Sources report that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has shut down its rocket engine test facility in Poway, Calif., where the company has tested propulsion systems for the Dream Chaser space shuttle and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.
The company laid off more than 100 employees last week, including around 70 in Poway with the rest in Colorado, sources report.
Space start-ups around the world are harnessing an unabashed Silicon Valley mentality. They pride themselves on small staff cohorts, cheap technology and quick deployment, factors that would traditionally make NASA gag at the mere mention.
But for now, start-ups are leaving human space travel to the multi-billionaires. Instead, they hope to solve smaller, more immediate problems faced by those on earth.
As Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) continues forward with efforts to develop numerous mission scenarios for its Dream Chaser space plane, a study – in collaboration with Stratolaunch Systems – expands on the scaled-down version of Dream Chaser launched into orbit via the air-launch vehicle for a variety of mission including ISS emergency crew rescues and micro-gravity research missions.
"Human spaceflight reached an important milestone this week. An additive manufacturing device, or 3D printer, was turned on, and initiated the first official 3D print on the International Space Station (ISS).
"The print took slightly more than an hour, and once it finished, the world changed. At the Made In Space Operations Center in Moffett Field, California, the rest of the team and I had the ability to command the printer and see inside it as the machine received and executed our commands. For the first time, humans demonstrated the ability to manufacture while in space. At this moment, if the space station absolutely needs a part that the 3D printer can build, I can start producing the part onboard the ISS within minutes — from my chair in California."
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk couldn't resist showing off some of his new toys on Twitter yesterday. First up is the latest version of SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9R rocket, which is now fitted with a set of four independently-adjustable fins. Or, as Musk described them: real-life X-wings. The grid fins are designed to deploy only after takeoff, when they'll work together with thrusters to help the rocket maneuver itself into position for those spectacular vertical landings. Musk says the hypersonic grid fins are similar to a set used on a test earlier this year.
After a series of calibration tests, the first 3-D printer to fly to outer space has manufactured its first potentially useful object on the International Space Station: a replacement faceplate for its print head casing.
"An astronaut might be installing it on the printer," said Aaron Kemmer, the chief executive officer of Made In Space, which built the 3-D printer for NASA's use.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Registration now is open for NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, the agency’s first in-space competition that offers the agency’s largest-ever prize purse.
Competitors have a shot at a share of $5 million in prize money and an opportunity to participate in space exploration and technology development, to include a chance at flying their very own CubeSat to the moon and beyond as secondary payload on the first integrated flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
"In 2005, I wrote my first piece for this publication focusing on the need to rethink the current body of international space law (see “It’s time to rethink international space law”, The Space Review, May 31, 2005). Since then, I have reevaluated my position, particularly regarding the solutions I proposed in that piece. That reassessment leads me to deem that while the issues presented have not fundamentally changed, the solutions I offered to address those issues have evolved. The purpose of this essay is to explore the issue of outer space security and norms, and present an alternative means to the traditional methods of creating norms to address those challenges."
SpaceFlight Insider has received word that the potential prime “contender” to ferry Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus spacecraft to orbit, and thus allow Orbital to complete its requirements under the $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS ) contract – is none other than fellow CRS participant – SpaceX. If this turns out to be true, it would mean that both current CRS firms – would be flying on the same rocket.
PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University on Monday unveiled Andy, a four-wheeled robot designed to scramble up steep slopes and survive the temperature swings and high radiation encountered while exploring the moon's pits, caves and polar ice.
"Every extraterrestrial robot carries some DNA from Carnegie Mellon, but Andy would be the first true CMU robot to make the leap from Earth," said William "Red" Whittaker, professor of robotics and director of the Field Robotics Center. "This is the culmination of lots of work by lots of people and is the next step toward Carnegie Mellon becoming a spacefaring university."
"We are fortunate at Galactic to have an extraordinary leader in chief executive officer George Whitesides. His calm, compassion and determination should be a model for any aspiring chief executive; Virgin Galactic’s unwavering focus and culture of teamwork, which George has helped to foster, are the foundations of any strong business."
"Whether or not the Oct. 31 crash was preventable, it was far from pointless. It is worth considering that to a striking degree, the criticism of 'space tourism' today echoes the scoffing of a century ago that greeted the arrival of powered flight.
"Certainly the Wright brothers and others like them were involved in what we now view as an epic quest, but many experts of the day were certain that flight, however interesting, was destined to be not much more than a rich man’s hobby with no practical value."