Marc Boucher: December 2015 Archives

Marc's note: SpaceX will attempt their return to flight Sunday evening with the launch of ORBCOMM-2 mission from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This follows the successful static fire test on Friday.

Of note, SpaceX may attempt landing of the Falcon 9 rockets first stage at Space Launch Complex 13.

Update: You can watch the launch live on SpaceRef on the SpaceX channel starting at 8:00 p.m. ET (0100 GMT).

Marc's Update: The launch has been delayed 24 hours as there will be more favourable conditions for a landing attempt tomorrow. The new launch window is between time is 8:29 - 8:34 p.m. ET.


SpaceX landing complex at SLC-13

Station Managers "GO" For Monday Morning Spacewalk

"The International Space Station Mission Management Team met Sunday and gave its approval to proceed with a spacewalk Monday out of the Quest airlock by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA to assist in moving the Mobile Transporter rail car a few inches to a worksite on the station's truss where it can be latched in place and electrically mated to the complex. The green light for the unplanned spacewalk to take place Monday came three days after the Mobile Transporter stalled just four inches away from its embarkation point at worksite 4 near the center of the station's truss as it began to move to another worksite to support robotic payload operations with its attached Canadarm2 robotic arm and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre)."

Marc's note: Watch it live.

Marc's update: The mobile transporter rail car was successfully moved and is in place for the Progress 62 cargo resupply spacecraft arrival scheduled for Wednesday.

Related: Video: Russian Cargo Ship Sets Sail for the International Space Station

NASA Orders Second Boeing Crew Mission to International Space

"This is the third in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. Boeing and SpaceX received their first orders in May and November, respectively, and have started planning for, building and procuring the necessary hardware and assets to carry out their first missions for the agency. NASA will identify at a later time which company will fly a mission to the station first.

Boeing met the criteria for NASA to award the company its second mission with the successful completion of interim developmental milestones and internal design reviews for its Starliner spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and associated ground system."

NASA Astronauts to Conduct Spacewalk as Early as Monday, Dec. 21

"Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA are preparing for a previously unscheduled spacewalk outside the International Space Station on either Monday, Dec. 21, or Tuesday, Dec. 22. The pair will move the station's mobile transporter rail car so it can be latched in place ahead of the Wednesday, Dec. 23 docking of a Russian cargo resupply spacecraft.

The mobile transporter -- used to position the station's robotic Canadarm2 -- stalled on Dec. 16, just four inches (10 centimeters) from where it began its move, while flight controllers in the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston were attempting to reposition it robotically. The cause of the stall still is being evaluated."

NASA Releases New High-Resolution Earthrise Image

"NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recently captured a unique view of Earth from the spacecraft's vantage point in orbit around the moon."

"The image is simply stunning," said Noah Petro, Deputy Project Scientist for LRO at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The image of the Earth evokes the famous 'Blue Marble' image taken by Astronaut Harrison Schmitt during Apollo 17, 43 years ago, which also showed Africa prominently in the picture."

Marc's note: The ASU website has more details on how the image was taken along with some video. Well worth visiting.

U.K. Releases National Space Policy

"As Britain's first European Space Agency astronaut prepares for his historic launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on 15 December, the Government is publishing the UK's first ever National Space Policy - firmly placing the UK on the global stage for future space programmes.

With the UK aiming to become the European hub for commercial spaceflight and related space sector technologies, this new policy sets out the Government's vision to capture a greater share of the world's thriving space market. Working across the UK in partnership with the rapidly growing sector, this One Nation policy will see ensure the UK seizes opportunities to deliver new business opportunities, create jobs and push the boundaries of our understanding of space."

New Canadian Small Satellite Conference Caters to a Growing Demand

"Because of the growth and demand for small satellites, the Canadian Space Commerce Association decided earlier this year to host its first Canadian SmallSat Symposium this coming February 2nd and 3rd. The symposium is about opportunity, building capability and international partnerships."

Marc's note: I'm organizing this event. We've got some great speakers announced with more to come. We have Greg Wyler opening the symposium, Pete Worden keynoting a lunch and the President of the Canadian Space Agency delivering a plenary to just name a few people. Oh, and of course we'll have some speakers from NASA.

If the small satellite segment is your thing then why not come? There's still a few days to submit an abstract to speak and early registration is underway until December 23rd.

We've also set aside a Business to Business room for those who want to talk business.

SpaceRef/NASA Watch is the media sponsor for the event, though there will be other media present.

Contact me if you want more information: marc.boucher@spacecommerce.ca or visit the symposium website: https://smallsat.ca

XPRIZE Verifies Moon Express Launch Contract, Kicking Off New Space Race

"Moon Express, Inc. has received official verification today of their launch contract from XPRIZE as part of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition for privately funded teams to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the moon by December 31, 2017. Moon Express will use a Rocket Lab Electron rocket combined with the company's "MX-1E" micro-lander as part of a 2017 mission."

Previous

Google Lunar X Prize to Verify Moon Express Launch Contract (October 2, 2015)

Here's what Chanda Gonzales, Senior Director, Google Lunar XPRIZE said on the contract issue "Our decision is based on a holistic assessment of whether the launch contract is genuine, whether there are any legal issues that might pop up, whether there are any obvious non-compliances with the rules, and whether a substantial commitment was made by both the team and the launch provider (e.g. non-refundable deposit of some certain minimum value)."

Israeli Google Lunar XPrize Team is First to Sign Launch Agreement for Private Mission to the Moon on SpaceX Falcon 9 (October 7, 2015)

"At a press conference held in Jerusalem today, alongside Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and Bob Weiss, vice chairman and president of XPRIZE, SpaceIL announced a significant milestone in its race to the moon: securing a "ticket to the moon" on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher, with a mission scheduled for the second half of 2017. With this, SpaceIL becomes the first team to produce a verified launch contract in the US$30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, and aims to accomplish not only the first Israeli mission to the moon, but also the world's first private lunar mission."

Marc's note: So Moon Express announced their contract first but SpaceIL had theirs verified first. Each will claim they were first for history, but the only thing that matters at this point is that one or both and possibly more actually launch, make it to the moon, do something and build their business case.


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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Marc Boucher in December 2015.

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