Commercialization: August 2017 Archives

Space, nuclear security, polar bears: Russia and the U.S. still agree on some things, Washington Post

"Farther afield, American astronauts have been relying on Russia to fly them to the International Space Station since the U.S. space shuttle program shut down in 2011. Despite muttering in Moscow about cosmic retaliation for the latest U.S. sanctions, the Kremlin is not expected to follow through. Not when it costs NASA $80 million for a seat on a Soyuz rocket."

How much secrecy does Spaceport America need? , Las Cruces Sun News

"Spaceport America hasn't always been so secretive. In addition to releasing Virgin Galactic's lease without redactions before Hicks was in charge, the agency has also shared details about its agreement with SpaceX. Hicks' predecessor, Christine Anderson, was quoted in 2013 as saying SpaceX would be paying $6,600 a month for three years to lease a mobile mission control facility and $25,000 per launch to test a reusable rocket. In other words, today the spaceport is trying to keep secret information it released to the public four years ago that's still available online."

Funding woes could 'cripple' NM spaceport as other states invest in space race, Las Cruces Sun News

"The New Mexico Spaceport Authority, the state agency that operates the facility, has shored up its annual operating budget since 2012 with excess money from taxes collected in Doña Ana and Sierra counties. That's been controversial. Officials pledged to voters who approved the tax increase a decade ago that three-fourths of the money would be used for construction of the facility that was to be built in the desert west of Truth or Consequences. The remaining one fourth of the tax money was pledged to education programs in the two counties. Officials said the state would fund the spaceport's operations."

Transparency problems plague Spaceport America, Las Cruces Sun News

"Spaceport America is a publicly owned government entity, so the law requires its financial and other dealings to be open to the public, with few exceptions. And yet in 2017 the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, the state agency that runs the spaceport, has violated the state's transparency laws several times in response to requests for documents filed by NMPolitics.net, a citizen from Truth or Consequences, and a reporter with KTSM-TV in El Paso. Those violations, in addition to other possible infractions, blocked or delayed public access to information about the spaceport."

SpaceX informed NASA of slowdown in its commercial Mars program, SpaceflightNow

"Confirming rumors and suspicions that SpaceX is adjusting its plans to begin dispatching robotic landers to Mars, NASA officials said the commercial space company has informed the agency that it has put its Red Dragon program on the back burner. Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and SpaceX, the government agreed to provide navigation and communications services for the Red Dragon mission, which originally aimed to deliver an unpiloted lander to Mars in 2018. SpaceX confirmed earlier this year the launch of the experimental lander on a Falcon Heavy rocket had slipped to 2020."

- SpaceX Will Go To Mars Starting in 2018, earlier post
- NASA's SpaceX Mars Mission Briefing That NASA Is Not Telling You About, earlier post

GAO: Surplus Missile Motors: Sale Price Drives Potential Effects on DOD and Commercial Launch Providers, GAO

"The Department of Defense (DOD) could use several methods to set the sale prices of surplus intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) motors that could be converted and used in vehicles for commercial launch if current rules prohibiting such sales were changed. One method would be to determine a breakeven price. Below this price, DOD would not recuperate its costs, and, above this price, DOD would potentially save. GAO estimated that DOD could sell three Peacekeeper motors--the number required for one launch, or, a "motor set"--at a breakeven price of about $8.36 million and two Minuteman II motors for about $3.96 million, as shown below. Other methods for determining motor prices, such as fair market value as described in the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board Handbook, resulted in stakeholder estimates ranging from $1.3 million per motor set to $11.2 million for a first stage Peacekeeper motor. The prices at which surplus ICBM motors are sold is an important factor for determining the extent of potential benefits and challenges of allowing the motors to be used for commercial launch."

Here are the business leaders who are - and aren't - officially advising Trump, Business Insiders

CEOs of at least 3 major companies quit WH board over Trump Charlottesville response

"Thanks for checking in. We don't have a comment," said a spokesman for Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson."

As Trump disbanded advisory groups, this is who was in and who was out, CNBC

"Marillyn Hewson Lockheed Martin CEO No comment"

SpaceX Launches Cargo Resupply Mission to the Space Station (With multiple videos)

"Experiments seeking a better understanding of Parkinson's disease and the origin of cosmic rays are on their way to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft following today's 12:31 p.m. EDT launch."

"Carrying more than 6,400 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies, the spacecraft lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the company's 12th commercial resupply mission. It will arrive at the space station Wednesday, Aug. 16, at which time astronauts Jack Fischer of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the space station's robotic arm to capture it."

Rocket Lab Completes Post-Flight Analysis

"Rocket Lab's investigation team determined the launch, named 'It's a Test', was terminated due to a data loss time out, which was caused by misconfiguration of telemetry equipment owned and operated by a third-party contractor who was supporting the launch from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1. Four minutes into the flight, at an altitude of 224 km, the equipment lost contact with the rocket temporarily and, according to standard operating procedures, range safety officials terminated the flight. Data, including that from Rocket Lab's own telemetry equipment, confirmed the rocket was following a nominal trajectory and the vehicle was performing as planned at the time of termination."

After failed space flights, NASA investigation leads to Portland, The Oregonian

"Twice in the past decade, NASA launched unmanned spacecraft ferrying advanced satellites into Earth's orbit as part of a mission that could offer researchers an unprecedented new source of data on climate change. But the satellites failed to deploy and, within minutes, NASA's $550 million investment and years of work vaporized in fiery balls of space junk. NASA has been investigating ever since. Now the inquiry has led to a nondescript industrial building in Northeast Portland, where a company called Sapa Extrusions acknowledges it has been dealing in bad aluminum and bad faith for as long as two decades."

NASA Creates Glory Satellite Mishap Investigation Board, earlier post

"NASA's Glory mission ended Friday after the spacecraft failed to reach orbit following its launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA has begun the process of creating a Mishap Investigation Board to evaluate the cause of the failure. Telemetry indicated the fairing, a protective shell atop the satellite's Taurus XL rocket, did not separate as expected. The launch proceeded as planned from its liftoff at 5:09 a.m. EST through the ignition of the Taurus XL's second stage. However, the fairing failure occurred during the second stage engine burn. It is likely the spacecraft fell into the South Pacific, although the exact location is not yet known. NASA's previous launch attempt of an Earth science spacecraft, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory onboard a Taurus XL on Feb. 24, 2009, also failed to reach orbit when the fairing did not separate."


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