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NewSpace: A New Era In Space Exploration. As one era ends a new one begins: a new golden era in spaceflight. Join us for all the latest headlines in this bold new adventure.
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Congress Voices Support for NASA LC 39-A Leasing | NASA Watch

"In particular, we commend NASA for undertaking an open, competitive process regarding Launch Complex 39, Pad A, (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). As you are aware, the NASA Inspector General and the Agency have identified LC-39A as excess infrastructure and have no "future rnission-related uses for these facilities" (Report No. IG- 13-008). Consistent with the OIG's recommendation, as well as the need to reduce overhead in the current constrained fiscal environment, we understand that NASA is currently undertaking an open competitive process to transfer LC-39A to a private entity, with formal decisions relating to lease terms and duration to be determined through proper negotiation subsequent to award. Given KSC's expertise, it should be within their purview and judgment to determine what factors to consider and outcomes to render. We urge you to proceed with these plans."

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A critical time for commercial launch providers | The Space Review

A critical time for commercial launch providers | The Space Review | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

For a time last week, it looked like we would be in the midst of an unusually concentrated period of critical launches. In the span of less than a week, four launches of new, nearly new, or returning to flight vehicles were on global launch manifests: the inaugural launch of Japan’s Epsilon small launch vehicle, the first launch of SpaceX’s upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1, the second launch of Orbital Sciences Corporations Antares rocket carrying the first Cygnus cargo spacecraft, and the first Proton launch since a dramatic launch failure in early July.

 

Launch manifests are subject to change, of course, and that’s what happened. While the Epsilon launch went off on schedule, and successfully, on Saturday, Orbital slipped its Antares launch a day, from this Tuesday to Wednesday, while the Falcon and Proton launches have been delayed until at least late this month. Nonetheless, all three upcoming launches remain critical in separate, but often interrelated, ways.

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Pad-Interface Anomalies, Range Conflicts Push Falcon 9 1.1 Launch to Late September | SpaceNews.com

WASHINGTON --Anomalies discovered during a Sept. 12 hot-fire test, coupled with upcoming missile tests at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, have delayed the inaugural launch of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket to the end of September, the company’s chief executive said Sept. 15.

 

Following the hot-fire test, “we saw some anomalies stemming from how the pad interfaces with the vehicle,” SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin wrote in a Sept. 16 email. “These are the kinds of things you can only find out when you static fire.  We’re making the necessary adjustments and will static fire again for good measure before launch.”

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Falcon launch slips to the end of the month | NewSpace Journal

There’s been no formal announcement from SpaceX, but it appears that the Falcon 9 v1.1 launch that had slipped from Sunday is now postponed to the end of this month.

 

Vandenberg Air Force Base, where the launch is taking place, is also used by the Air Force for test launches of ICBMs.

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Orbital Completes Test, Antares Launch Still Set for September 18

Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully completed a new test of its Antares rocket last night and confirms that the launch is now scheduled for Wednesday, September 18.

 

The launch window is open from 10:50 - 11:05 am Eastern Daylight Time.  

 

This is Orbital's demonstration flight for NASA under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.  It is the second flight of Antares and the first of Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft that is taking supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).   If the launch takes place as scheduled on September 18, Cygnus will berth with the ISS on Sunday, September 22.

 

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Antares/Cygnus launch slips a day | NewSpace Journal

Antares/Cygnus launch slips a day | NewSpace Journal | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

While many have been keeping a close eye on SpaceX’s upcoming Falcon 9 v1.1 launch, it’s not the only significant impending commercial launch. On the opposite coast from Vandenberg, Orbital Sciences Corporation is getting ready for the second launch of its Antares rocket from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), carrying its first Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The mission is the final milestone in Orbital’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement from NASA, and success will allow the company to begin commercial cargo missions to the ISS as soon as December.

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Antares Launch Report: Antares rocket rolls toward second flight | Spaceflight Now

Antares Launch Report: Antares rocket rolls toward second flight | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

An Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket arrived at its seaside launch pad on Virginia's Eastern Shore on Friday after a one-mile journey from the rocket's horizontal integration facility.

 

Riding a heavy-duty transporter, the 13-story rocket left the hangar in the predawn hours Friday and rolled through NASA's Wallops Flight Facility before arriving at launch pad 0A, a complex leased from NASA and operated by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

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California SpaceX launch postponed

A spokeswoman for Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has confirmed that the SpaceX Falcon 9-R launch scheduled for Sunday has been postponed, with a new date to be determined.

 

Less clear is what's going on with the second static fire test that was scheduled for Saturday. One such test — a dress-rehearsal countdown ending in a brief engine firing and a simulated launch abort — was conducted Thursday after the countdown had been halted twice to work some issues. The anomalies that popped up then led to a decision to conduct a second test to iron things out — understandable caution since this is essentially the maiden launch for a brand-new rocket.

 

Stephen Clark, writing for Spaceflight Now, reports that test is now set for Wednesday.

 

 

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This Company Wants To Send Robots Into Lunar Caves

This Company Wants To Send Robots Into Lunar Caves | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Ever since (and most likely long before) the first tantalizing glimpses of a lunar lava tube and skylight were captured by Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft in 2009, scientists have been dreaming of ways to explore inside these geological treasures. Not only would they provide valuable information on the movement of ancient lunar lava flows, but they could also be great places for future human explorers to set up camp and be well-protected from dangerous solar and cosmic radiation.

 

But before human eyes will ever peer into the darkness of a lava tube on the Moon, robotic rovers will roll along their silent floors — at least, they will if Google Lunar XPRIZE competitor Astrobotic has anything to say about it.

 

 

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Boeing Completes Mission Control Center Interface Test

Boeing Completes Mission Control Center Interface Test | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

For the first time, the Mission Control Center (MCC) at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston has tested communications with a commercial, crew-capable spacecraft, as The Boeing Company conducted an interface test between the MCC and software planned for the company's CST-100 spacecraft.

 

Boeing has partnered with NASA to develop a fully integrated crew transportation system, with its CST-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). New commercial spaceflight capabilities being developed by NASA partners through commercial crew initiatives could eventually provide services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, launching from U.S. soil.

 

 

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Readying for Launch: Orbital Sciences' Antares Rocket and Cygnus Spacecraft | SpaceRef

Readying for Launch: Orbital Sciences' Antares Rocket and Cygnus Spacecraft | SpaceRef | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., rolled out its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013.

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SpaceX Readies New Falcon 9 v1.1 for Launch, But Date Still Uncertain

SpaceX is getting ready for the first launch of its new version of the Falcon 9, the Falcon 9 v1.1, carrying a Canadian scientific satellite and five smaller satellites.  SpaceX is being cautious about announcing a launch date, and until [just recently] indicators were that it would be on Sunday.  One of the customers announced about 4:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), however, that the launch has been postponed to an unspecified "later date."

 

SpaceX's website makes no mention of the launch.  The FAA granted a safety waiver for the launch last month and identified September as the launch time frame.  This is SpaceX's first launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA and the waiver was needed because of weather conditions common off the California coast in September.

 

 

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GLXP Update: Barcelona Moon Team Sets June 2015 Launch | Parabolic Arc

GLXP Update: Barcelona Moon Team Sets June 2015 Launch | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

The Barcelona-based company, Galactic Suite, leading the industrial conglomerate, Barcelona Moon Team, announced June 2015 as the new date to launch the Spanish robot to the Moon in its attempt to win the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE.

 

The Google Lunar XPRIZE, the largest incentivized competition offered to date, challenges people from across the globe to build and launch a privately funded spacecraft to the moon. Once landing on the moon, the spacecraft must also complete a series of exploration and transmission tasks. The Google Lunar XPRIZE is one of three active competitions from XPRIZE Foundation, a leading organization solving some of the world’s biggest challenges by creating and managing large-scale, global competitions that stimulate investment in research and development, often worth far more than the prize itself.

 

 

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[Rachel Nelson]

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Blue Origin Files Formal Protest of Proposed Shuttle Pad Lease | SpaceNews.com

Blue Origin Files Formal Protest of Proposed Shuttle Pad Lease | SpaceNews.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

WASHINGTON — A spat between Blue Origin and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) over Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, a disused space shuttle launch pad both companies want to lease from NASA, escalated when Blue Origin challenged the legality of the agency’s search for a caretaker.

 

On Sept. 3, Blue Origin filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) alleging that “there’s a problem with [NASA’s] solicitation that needs to be addressed,” according to Ralph White, GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law. 

 

GAO must rule on Blue Origin’s protest by Dec. 12, White said. With rare exceptions, White added, agencies may not award contracts when a solicitation is under protest.

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Lynx Space Plane Taking Off: Q&A with XCOR Aerospace CEO Jeff Greason

Lynx Space Plane Taking Off: Q&A with XCOR Aerospace CEO Jeff Greason | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

MOJAVE, Calif. — In an old World War II-era hangar here in this blistering-hot town, a passionate group of young aerospace engineers is building a private spaceship called Lynx. Developed by XCOR Aerospace, Lynx is the main competitor of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, built by Scaled Composites, also in Mojave.

Commercial flights of the Lynx space plane are expected to commence in 2015, mainly through the Dutch company Space Expedition Corporation.

 

SPACE.com talked to XCOR's CEO Jeff Greason about the company, Lynx and the rise of private spaceflight.

 

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Build a little, test a little | XCOR Aerospace blog

Build a little, test a little | XCOR Aerospace blog | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

XCOR follows a rapid design-build-test approach to developing new products and systems critical to the success of all XCOR programs. We excel at the fast hardware design, build and test of non-toxic liquid propulsion systems. While non-toxic systems are critical to the overall safety of the Lynx system, they are also vital to the low cost of operation and ownership of Lynx.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 Launch Delayed Till End of September

Elon Musk tweeted this morning that SpaceX's launch of the Falcon 9 v1.1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base will be delayed until the end of September.

 

Musk, founder and Chief Technology Officer of SpaceX, tweeted that the company will do another static fire test and "AF needs to test ICBMs, so probable launch Sept 29/30."

 

The launch had been tentatively set for today, September 15, but anomalies were detected during a static fire test on Thursday, necessitating the second test.

 

 

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Antares Launch Delayed 24 Hours to Wednesday Morning | Parabolic Arc

Antares Launch Delayed 24 Hours to Wednesday Morning | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Following a launch review meeting held earlier this morning, Orbital’s Antares team has decided to postpone the launch of the COTS Demonstration mission from Wallops Island, VA by at least 24 hours.

 

The combination of yesterday’s poor weather that delayed roll-out of the rocket to the launch pad and a technical issue that was identified during a combined systems test held last night involving communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer drove the decision to delay the launch.

 

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Launch of Antares With Orbital’s Cygnus 1 Spacecraft Delayed

Launch of Antares With Orbital’s Cygnus 1 Spacecraft Delayed | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

After a launch readiness review, mission planners with Orbital Sciences Corporation have opted to delay the first flight of the company’s Cygnus 1 cargo vessel, perched atop their Antares rocket, for no earlier than Sept. 18. The launch window extends from 10:50 to 11:05 a.m. (EDT). This will be the first demonstration mission for Orbital under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract with NASA. Launch will occur at Wallops Flight Facility’s Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).

 

The decision to delay the inaugural flight of the Cygnus spacecraft was prompted by a combination of poor weather during the rollout of the Antares rocket on Friday, Sept. 13, as well as a technical issue that was discovered during a combined systems test that was held that evening. The test involved communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer.

 

 

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CASSIOPE Mission Delayed After ‘Anomalies’ During Hot Fire Test

CASSIOPE Mission Delayed After ‘Anomalies’ During Hot Fire Test | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SpaceX’s long-awaited “Flight Six” of its Falcon 9 rocket—the first in the new “v1.1″ configuration, powered by uprated Merlin-1D engines—must wait a little longer, having been stalled by an issue which arose during Thursday’s “hot fire” test at Space Launch Complex (SLC)-4 East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. At the time of writing, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has remained characteristically quiet about what occurred during the hot fire test, noting on Twitter: “Full thrust achieved on 2 sec static fire” and adding “Some anomalies to be investigated, so launch date TBD.”

 

During Thursday’s hot fire test—which evaluated the performance of the SLC-4 East fueling equipment and was tasked with demonstrating the nominal start-up of the Falcon 9 v1.1′s nine Merlin-1D first-stage engines—two aborts were experienced, ahead of success on a third attempt. The anomalies which arose during this attempt led to Musk’s clipped announcement of a new launch date “To Be Determined,” which was yesterday (Friday) confirmed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). “The launch of Canadian satellite CASSIOPE,” CSA tweeted, “previously scheduled on September 15th is delayed to a later date.” According to NASASpaceflight.com, the anomalies may produce a launch delay of between 1-2 weeks.

 

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Boeing’s CST-100 Completes Interface Test at NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Boeing’s CST-100 Completes Interface Test at NASA’s Johnson Space Center | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Boeing recently tested systems that will be used on Boeing’s Commercial Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft. The interface test was conducted between Mission Control Center (MCC) and software which will be used on Boeing’s commercial offering. The tests were conducted at NASA’s Johnson Space Center located in Houston, Texas.

 

Boeing, along with launch service provider United Launch Alliance (ULA), is working to transport crew to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It is hoped that these efforts might return the capability of launching astronauts on U.S. spacecraft from U.S. soil.

 

“Every day, our connection to the humans living and working in space comes through the historic and hallowed MCC in Houston,” said Ed Mango, NASA’s CCP manager. “As low-Earth orbit opens to a growing commercial space industry, the ability of new spacecraft to communicate with existing space infrastructure is critical.”

 

 

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DARPA To Start Reusable Launch Vehicle Program | SpaceNews.com

SAN DIEGO — DARPA is about to start a program to develop a reusable first stage that could be used to launch medium-sized satellites for as little as $5 million each.

 

Speaking at the AIAA Space 2013 conference here Sept. 12, Pam Melroy, deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said the agency would release a Broad Agency Announcement in the next few weeks for a program called Experimental Spaceplane, or XS-1. An industry day for the program is planned for early October.

 

“The goal of the program is to fly ten times in ten days, and to achieve Mach 10,” Melroy said. The XS-1 itself would not fly into orbit, but could carry an expendable upper stage to place payloads weighing up to 1,800 kilograms into orbit at a target price of $5 million per launch. The vehicle could also be used as a platform for hypersonics research.

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Billionaires' battle for historic launch pad goes into overtime | NBC News.com

Billionaires' battle for historic launch pad goes into overtime | NBC News.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

A tug of war involving two billionaire-backed space ventures has forced NASA to put a hold on its plans to turn over one of its historic space shuttle launch pads to a commercial operator by the end of this month.

 

Now it could take until mid-December for NASA to decide whether Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A should be given over to California-based SpaceX, founded by billionaire Elon Musk; or Blue Origin, the Washington state company founded by Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos.

 

The competition demonstrates two kinds of clout at work: Musk's SpaceX was once seen as an upstart challenger to the space establishment — but after a string of successes, it now plays a leading role in NASA's vision for commercial spaceflight. Bezos' Blue Origin doesn't have as much of a track record in spaceflight, but it does have powerful allies in the launch industry as well as in the halls of Congress.

 

 

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Antares rolled out to Wallops pad ahead of ORB-D mission | NASASpaceFlight.com

Antares rolled out to Wallops pad ahead of ORB-D mission | NASASpaceFlight.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Orbital’s Antares launch vehicle is deep into preparations for its second trip into space, this time hosting the debut mission for the Cygnus resupply ship. Known as ORB-D, Cygnus will make its long-awaited flight to the International Space Station (ISS), with the aim of validating multiple demonstration milestones ahead of its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) missions.

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SpaceX California Falcon 9 Launch Debut On Hold | DNews

SpaceX California Falcon 9 Launch Debut On Hold | DNews | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Space Exploration Technologies’ next-generation Falcon 9 rocket, which is being prepared for a debut test flight from the company’s new launch pad in California, is not quite ready for liftoff.

 

The Falcon rocket’s nine engines roared to life on Thursday for what is known as a “static test fire” (meaning the rocket stays bolted down), but all apparently was not perfect.

 

“Full thrust achieved on 2 sec static fire,” company founder, chief executive and technical lead Elon Musk posted on Twitter early Friday. “Some anomalies to be investigated, so launch date tbd.”

 

Vandenberg Air Force Base in California — SpaceX’s landlord and range operator — had reserved Sunday for the Falcon 9 launch.

 

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