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The NewSpace Daily
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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SpaceX Primes Dragon Capsule for Space Station Mission (Photos)

SpaceX Primes Dragon Capsule for Space Station Mission (Photos) | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

The Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, Dragon spacecraft with solar array fairings attached, stands inside a processing hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The spacecraft will launch on the upcoming SpaceX CRS-2 mission. Image released Jan. 15, 2013.

 

 

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Efforts to Protect Earth From Asteroids Are Under Way. But Will It Be Enough? | Wired.com

Efforts to Protect Earth From Asteroids Are Under Way. But Will It Be Enough? | Wired.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

In the wake of Earth’s largest meteor strike in more than a century, the world’s attention has turned skyward.

 

The 17-meter bolide exploded in the air over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia on Feb. 15, shattering windows and injuring around 1,000 people. But had the meteor come in at a slightly different angle, the space rock could have impacted the ground and the fallout could have been much worse.

 

 

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Lyle Upson's comment, February 26, 2013 11:48 PM
if it is discovered in the near future that we must choose between asteroid deflection versus all other space flight activities, due to cost and urgency requirements ... do we abandon Mars as our objective for the protection of the human race, or do we go after the asteroid to the exclusion of all other space flight activity? If so, are governments and the private sector capable of making such a decision?
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It’s time for a real policy on asteroids | The Space Review

It’s time for a real policy on asteroids | The Space Review | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

If you think the events of the post-Valentine surprise of the Russian meteor and the 2012 DA14 near-miss are one of a kind, think again. “We know there are 500,000 to one million asteroids the size of DA14 or larger. So far we have found fewer than 1% of that ‘cosmic hailstorm’ through which we sail in our yearly orbit around the Sun,” said the Association of Space Explorers in their recent statement. We are tracking fewer than 10,000 of them. Even our pathetically limited Space Situational Awareness of the threat shows that there were a total of 10 close approaches just this month and there are many more near approaches on the way, and currently 1,381 already identified potentially hazardous objects.

 

In 2008, some prescient members of Congress wrote HR 6063, which tasked the Director of the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a policy for notifying federal agencies and relevant emergency response institutions of an impending near Earth object threat, if near-term public safety is at stake; and recommend a federal agency or agencies to be responsible for protecting the nation from a near Earth object that is anticipated to collide with Earth and implementing a deflection campaign, in consultation with international bodies, should one be required.

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Spacevidcast Live with the Google Lunar X-PRIZE - 6.06

Guests Leo Camacho and Nathan Wong join us to talk about the Google Lunar X-PRIZE, where the teams all stand and what the prize could mean for the future of lunar flight!

 

 

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A changed mind about sequestration | Space Politics

Once upon a time, NASA administrator Charles Bolden wasn’t worried about the across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, incorporated into the Budget Control Act of 2011. “I don’t talk about sequestration because I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Bolden said in a December 2011 speech, not long after to so-called “supercommittee” established by that 2011 bill failed to come up with an alternative deficit reduction package. At the time, he said he was optimistic that Congress and the White House would come up with another way to reduce deficits and avoid sequestration. “We are not planning for sequestration,” he said in that 2011 speech.

 

He’s planning for it now. Bolden told media during a visit to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville that sequestration would have major effects on NASA programs, in particular commercial crew. “The gap is going to get bigger,” the Huntsville Times quotes Bolden as saying, referring to the gap in NASA access to low Earth orbit that the agency hopes to close with commercial providers. NASA earlier this month identified commercial crew as one of the programs that would take the biggest hit from sequestration-induced spending cuts. “I’m just being very blunt about. Anybody who thinks this is no big deal – it’s a big deal.”

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Commercial crew program threatened by budget cuts | Spaceflight Now

Commercial crew program threatened by budget cuts | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Automatic spending cuts due to go into effect March 1 would likely extend U.S. reliance on Russia for human spaceflight, delay development of badly-needed next-generation weather satellites, and force a reduction in radar scans searching for space debris, according to Obama administration officials.

 

That's if Congress and the White House don't act to avoid the across-the-board cuts, which will be automatically triggered at the end of next week without a compromise on how to deal with the federal government's budget deficit.

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Elon Musk on Jimmy Kimmel Live PART 1

Jimmy Kimmel Live - The first part of Jimmy's interview with Elon Musk, Thursday, February 21, 2013.

 

 

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Antares test sets stage for first launch | NewSpace Journal

Antares test sets stage for first launch | NewSpace Journal | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

A successful “hot fire” test Friday night is expected to clear the way for the first launch, in just over a month, of a new medium-class launch vehicle. Orbital Sciences Corporation fired the two AJ26 engines in the first stage of an Antares rocket Friday evening, holding the stage down on the pad at the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Virginia. The test, which lasted for 29 seconds, confirmed that the engines and the other systems in the rocket’s first stage worked as planned.

 

“Our initial assessment of the test data shows that we were successful in achieving each of the primary objectives we had hoped to accomplish going into the test,” said Antares program manager Mike Pinkston in a statement released by the company after the test.

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SpaceX launch week begins with static fire Monday | Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launch week begins with static fire Monday | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SpaceX engineers will spend the next week testing its next Falcon 9 rocket and packing its privately-built Dragon spaceship with supplies and experiments before the next commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station blasts off March 1.

 

Launch week begins Monday with the Falcon 9 rocket's customary preflight static fire test, in which the launcher's nine first stage engines ignite on the launch pad.

 

The static fire, scheduled for Monday afternoon at SpaceX's launch pad at Cape Canaveral, will occur at the end of a practice countdown. The launch team stationed about 10 miles from the rocket will load kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the booster and oversee a computer-controlled countdown sequence leading to ignition of the Falcon 9's first stage engines.

 

The rocket's nine Merlin 1C engines will fire at full power for about two seconds, reaching more than 800,000 pounds of thrust while the vehicle remains firmly attached to the launch pad at Complex 40.

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Aerojet's AJ26 Engines Ignite Successful Antares(TM) Stage Test Hot Fire | SpaceRef

Aerojet's AJ26 Engines Ignite Successful Antares(TM) Stage Test Hot Fire | SpaceRef | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 22, 2013 - Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced that its dual AJ26 main engine system successfully powered today's Antares(TM) Stage 1 Hot Fire test conducted by Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia.

The 29-second test enabled engineers to validate flight configuration checkout of the Antares main engine system and first stage booster. During this "strap down" test, the AJ26 engines produced approximately 680,000 lbs of sea-level thrust.

"Today's successful stage test positions us one step closer to supporting Orbital's historic flight test," said Aerojet Vice President of Space & Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck. "We're proud to deliver for the Antares team and we're looking forward to continuing the countdown toward the inaugural mission."

 

 

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Antares rocket completes engine hot fire in Virginia | Spaceflight Now

Antares rocket completes engine hot fire in Virginia | Spaceflight Now | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Orbital Sciences Corp. conducted a successful engine test of its Antares rocket Friday, demonstrating the booster's dual-engine first stage on a Virginia launch pad and clearing a hurdle before the rocket's first flight in April.

 

As light rain fell, the Antares engines ignited at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) on launch pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va.

 

The booster's two AJ26 engines, built in Russia and modified by Aerojet, fired for 29 seconds. The rocket remained firmly attached to the launch pad as the engines generated 680,000 pounds of thrust, sending a ground-shaking roar across the coasts of Virginia and Maryland.

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Orbital Conducts Successful Antares Hot Fire Test | Parabolic Arc

Orbital Conducts Successful Antares Hot Fire Test | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., successfully conducted an engine test of its Antares rocket Friday, February 22, at the nation’s newest launch pad.

 

The company fired dual AJ26 rocket engines for approximately 30 seconds while the first stage of Orbital’s Antares rocket was held down on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. The test demonstrated the readiness of the rocket’s first stage and launch pad fueling systems to support upcoming test flights.

 

“This pad test is an important reminder of how strong and diverse the commercial space industry is in our nation,” said Phil McAlister, director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “A little more than one year after the retirement of the space shuttle, we had a U.S company resupplying the space station, and another is now taking the next critical steps to launch from America’s newest gateway to low-Earth Orbit. Today marks significant progress for Orbital, MARS and the NASA team.”

 

 

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Boeing CST-100 Program Making Rapid Progress | Parabolic Arc

Boeing CST-100 Program Making Rapid Progress | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. (NASA PR) — The Boeing Company’s plans for its CST-100 spacecraft continue to firm up as the aerospace company works with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to establish what will be needed to communicate with the spacecraft and recover it when it returns from a mission.

 

The capsule-shaped spacecraft is on track to launch to low-Earth orbit atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida’s Space Coast around the middle of the decade. It is designed to hold enough crew members to allow the spaceship to operate as a taxi and lifeboat on missions to the International Space Station.

 

The company, one of three NASA is working with to establish a commercial industry to ferry astronauts to and from the orbiting laboratory, recently completed its fifth performance milestone and two in-depth reviews as part of the CST-100′s development.

 

 

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Shooting for the Moon: Google Lunar X PRIZE contenders

Shooting for the Moon: Google Lunar X PRIZE contenders | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Google is offering R27 million for landing a privately funded craft on the Moon and sending back data and footage of lunar exploration – before 2015. Here are 4 of the contenders:

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Private Sector Seeks Profit, Adventure Beyond Earth Orbit | Parabolic Arc

Private Sector Seeks Profit, Adventure Beyond Earth Orbit | Parabolic Arc | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

With human flights beyond Earth orbit not expected to occur for at least eight years, the private sector is increasingly eying deep space for a series of ambitious robotic and human missions for both adventure and profit.

 

Eight programs are currently underway that include robotic and human landings of the moon, human flybys of the moon and Mars, and the mining of the moon and asteroids. Backers of these initiatives include the X Prize Foundation, Google and its executives, and the world’s first space tourist, Dennis Tito.

 

 

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A Manned Mission to Mars This Decade?

A Manned Mission to Mars This Decade? | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Because of the huge expense and perceived need for gargantuan launch vehicles that don’t yet exist, the conventional wisdom in the space community is that a human mission to Mars is many years off, perhaps not to be achieved until 2030 or so. But space adventurer Dennis Tito is about to announce a plan to do one privately about five years from now.

 

What’s the catch? Well, first of all, there are no plans to land on the planet itself, which is one of the hardest parts of a Mars mission, due to its thin atmosphere, demanding a lot of propellant that must be hauled all the way there. In fact, there are no plans to even go into orbit around the planet, which itself would also be costly in propellant, both to enter and depart. The mission is much simpler — a two-person flyby on a so-called “free return” trajectory, allowing it to get back to earth without the need for an engine burn at Mars. The total trip time will be about a year and a half. It would be the ultimate human adventure to date.

 

 

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John Kelly: Commercial crew program is worst possible choice for NASA cuts

John Kelly: Commercial crew program is worst possible choice for NASA cuts | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

If political leaders in Washington are unable to reach a deal this week, NASA could be facing nearly $1 billion less funding than previously planned for during the next seven months or so.

 

That means some emergency, quick-action belt tightening to accommodate forced spending reductions implemented if elected officials can’t agree on other steps to reduce the nation’s deficit spending. So, what are agency leaders planning to cut? Well, one of the few programs in the space agency’s portfolio that seems to be working and on track. The effort to field a privately-operated replacement system for the space shuttle for the purposes of transporting U.S. astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station and, possibly, blazing a trail for more routine private space flight.

 

It appears from documents the agency is sharing with Congress that NASA plans to mothball its Commercial Crew program to incentivize private companies to provide a human-rated crew ferry for missions to low-Earth orbit. Commercial Crew is a small program in the grand scheme of the NASA budget, but it’s one that is showing documented progress and would be most hurt by a sudden interruption in funding. Analyzing the NASA budget, agency leaders surely could find other, less destructive means to cut spending.

 

Stratocumulus's insight:

One of NASA's greatest recent successes, the only hope we have of returning Americans to space in the next few years, and these worthless idiots in Washington are perfectly willing to pull the plug while bloated obscenities like the "Senate Launch System" continue to waste billions of taxpayers' dollars every year. What a pathetic travesty.

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Interpreting NASA's Letter to Sen. Mikulski About the Impact of the Sequester

SpacePolicyOnline.com appreciates the insight shared by several Washington insiders on how to interpret NASA's letter to Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) last week on the impact of the sequester.  It is no easy task for anyone not steeped in intricate budget details and who must rely only on documents in the public domain.  Based on the new information, we need to clarify an article we published on Thursday about the impact on NASA's budget for space technology.

 

Mikulski chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and published letters from many government agencies last week in connection with a hearing on what will happen if the sequester goes into effect on March 1 as scheduled.  NASA was one of the agencies providing a letter in response to her questions.

 

The key to understanding the letter, however, is that the cuts displayed there are not only because of the sequester even though that was the topic of the hearing and associated letters.

 

As they are, the numbers imply that choices were made by the Administration about where to cut, rather than applying the sequester on an across-the-board ("meat-axe") basis of reducing each account by the same percentage -- in NASA's case, 5 percent.  NASA's letter also repeatedly states that the cuts are expressed in comparison to the FY2013 budget request.  That request reflects Obama Administration priorities, not congressional priorities since Congress has not completed action on that request. Thus, the letter further implies that cuts were based on Obama Administration priorities in the FY2013 request.  Since some budget accounts were cut more than others by percentage, it appeared that someone was choosing winners and losers.

 

That is not exactly the story, however.

 

This is our clarified understanding of this complicated situation.  (To simplify matters in the following discussion, we omit nuances, exceptions and other fine details that are important, but add to the confusion.  Kudos to the budget experts who keep track of every one of them):

 

 

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Elon Musk on Jimmy Kimmel Live PART 2

 

Jimmy Kimmel Live - The second part of Jimmy's interview with Elon Musk, Thursday, February 21, 2013.

 

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SpaceX Dragon to make third ISS visit amid logistics schedule challenges | NASASpaceFlight.com

SpaceX Dragon to make third ISS visit amid logistics schedule challenges | NASASpaceFlight.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

With less than one week now remaining until the launch of SpaceX’s second operational International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission, preparations to make the orbital outpost ready to receive the Dragon capsule are progressing smoothly. However, resupply flights for the remainder of the year continue to be re-shuffled around a packed and challenging logistics flight manifest.

 

 

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NASA Coverage Set for March 1 SpaceX Mission to Space Station | SpaceRef

NASA Coverage Set for March 1 SpaceX Mission to Space Station | SpaceRef | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The second SpaceX mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Friday, March 1, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage begins at 8:30 a.m. EST.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket carrying its Dragon cargo capsule will lift off at 10:10 a.m. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on March 2 with launch time at 9:47 a.m. and NASA TV coverage beginning at 8 a.m.

The mission is the second of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the space station. It will mark the third trip by a Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory, following a demonstration flight in May 2012 and the first resupply mission in October 2012.

 

 

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NASA video of Antares Hot Fire Test 2/22/13

 

Video captured by NASA Wallops Flight Facility of the February 22, 2013 Antares Hot Fire Test.

 

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Hot fire success for Orbital’s Antares | NASASpaceFlight.com

Hot fire success for Orbital’s Antares | NASASpaceFlight.com | The NewSpace Daily | Scoop.it

Orbital’s Antares vehicle has enjoyed a successful hot fire test on Friday. The success followed last week’s scrubbed attempt at at T-1.5 seconds – related to a low pressure purge condition ahead of engine ignition. With the issue resolved, the Antares came to life for the first time, firing its engines for 29 seconds.

 

Orbital’s new launch vehicle is making progress towards its debut launch, ahead of carrying the company’s Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration run to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.

 

The duo make up half of NASA’s multi-billion dollar Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, awarded to Orbital and SpaceX at the end of 2008. Cygnus has been tasked with eight supply runs to the orbital outpost, while SpaceX will soon carry out the second of 12 cargo missions when they launch SpX-2 (CRS-2) on March 1.

 

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Orbital Completes Successful Hot Fire Test of Antares

Orbital Sciences Corp. conducted a successful hot fire test of the engines for its Antares rocket tonight at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the coast of Virginia. 

 

This was the second attempt at the hot fire test.  The first was aborted seconds before the test last week.  Antares uses Russian NK-33 engines refurbished by Aerojet and renamed AJ-26.

 

Antares and its Cygnus spacecraft are competitors to SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule.   Both are partially funded by the government through NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program.   Orbital started about a year and a half after SpaceX, replacing another company (RocketPlane Kistler) that did not meet its milestones.

 

 

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Orbital Successfully Conducts First Stage "Hot Fire" Test of Antares Space Launch Vehicle

(Dulles, VA 22 February 2013) -- Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced it successfully conducted an extended-duration “hot fire” test of the first stage propulsion system of its new Antares™ medium-class rocket. Developed over a four-plus-year period, Antares will be used to launch cargo supply missions to the International Space Station as part of a $1.9 billion contract with NASA.

 

The 29-second hot fire test took place at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on February 22, 2013 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0A, which was designed and built over the last several years to accommodate liquid-fuel space launch vehicles. The primary goals of the test were to ensure that the launch complex’s fueling systems and the Antares stage one test article functioned properly in a fully operational environment, that engine ignition and shut down commands operated as designed, and that the dual AJ26 first stage engines and their control systems performed to specifications in the twin-engine configuration. The test included a full propellant loading sequence, launch countdown and engine ignition operation. The pad’s high-volume water deluge system flowed throughout the entire period of the test to protect the pad from damage and for noise suppression.

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