NewSpace News: Issue #104
February 2014
Orbital Sciences Corporation has made its first official delivery under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program. Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft carried 2,780 lbs. (1,260 kg) of cargo and science payloads to the International Space Station (ISS). Among the cargo were 5 CASIS-sponsored experiments as well as 33 satellites, which includes Planet Labs' constellation of 28 CubeSats. Press Release by Orbital and CASIS, and Article by NewSpace Journal
The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been busy making progress on its Dream Chaser spacecraft as well as developing announcing its partnerships. SNC has completed the Certification Plan Review milestone for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and the Incremental Critical Design Review. The company has also announced a cooperative partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). And finally, SNC has revealed the launch date of the first Dream Chaser, which is scheduled to take place on November 1, 2016 on top of an Atlas V from Florida. Press Releases by SNC
Falcon 9 is the Real Deal
SpaceX has successfully launched THAICOM 6 into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), making this their second consecutive successful commercial launch. Soon afterwards, SpaceX signed a contract with SkyPerfect JSAT to deliver JCSAT-15 into orbit next year. SpaceX has also tested the parachute system for their Dragon capsule in an emergency abort scenario, which satisfied an optional milestone for NASA's Commercial Crew Program [video]. Press Releases by SpaceX and NASA, Video by NASA, and Image by
Virgin Galactic (VG) has successfully completed a third powered flight of the SpaceShipTwo [video]. VG is also moving forward in full speed with its LauncherOne development. They have tested their NewtonOne (3,500 lbf) and NewtonTwo (47,500 lbf) rocket engines, which will serve as their third and second stage engines, respectively. Press Releases and Video by Virgin Galactic
The US Congress has appropriated $17.65 billion for NASA's 2014 budget through an omnibus bill. In total, the amount is slightly less than the White House request. The Commercial Crew Program received more funding than last year but still less than requested. The bill also included a 3-year extension to the launch liability indemnification, which transfers some of the liability in the case of a catastrophic event to the US government. Article by, Chart by Parabolic Arc
The Obama Administration has announced its intentions to extend the operation of the ISS to 2024. The ISS provides many different services to commercial companies such as research and development, small satellite launch, and video imaging. It is also an important destination for launch service providers. This four-year extension will have to be evaluated for technical feasibility as well as negotiated with other ISS partners before it is finalized. Press Release by NASA
UrtheCast (pronounced "Earthcast") has announced that its HD video cameras have been installed successfully on the ISS. The cameras experienced technical difficulties when the Russian cosmonauts attempted to install them last month. The company plans to sell imagery and video data captured by the cameras. Press Release by UrtheCast
Lunar COTS
NASA has announced that it is seeking for partnership proposals to develop lunar landing capabilities. The Lunar Partnership and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST) initiative will eventually lead to a no-funds exchanged Space Act Agreement and is intended to encourage development of lunar landers for small to medium payloads. Press Release by NASA
This Firefly Breathes Fire
As CubeSats and small satellites increase in popularity and companies like Planet Labs and SkyBox gain traction, the demand for orbital launch of small payloads is also on the rise. A new company, Firefly Space Systems, has joined the fray of launch providers. The company will be run by Tom Markusic, who was previously Virgin Galactic's VP of Propulsion. Article by Hedgeye
Reaction Engines Signs CRADA with AFRL
Reaction Engines Ltd. (REL) has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The CRADA will allow AFRL to evaluate REL's air heat exchanger technology, which is a key enabler for their SABRE engine concept and may open doors to low-cost access to space. Press Release by Reaction Engines
The Space Show
Jim Crisafulli, Chris Carberry, and SFF Founder Rick Tumlinson share their respective NewSpace initiatives with Dr. David Livingston on The Space Show.
Space Tech Expo 2014
Space Tech Conference 2014 takes place as part of Space Tech Expo 2014, the West Coast's premier B2B event for spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and space-related technologies during April 1-3, at the Long Beach Convention Center. The Space Tech Expo exhibition and conference brings together global decision-makers involved in the design, build and testing of spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and space-related technologies. In its third year, the conference and exhibit hall is expected to feature over 150 companies and organizations showcasing their latest products, technologies and innovations, and 2,000-plus attendees. For more information please visit Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo, the only tradeshow and summit dedicated to on-board electrical power for aviation and spacecraft will be co-located with Space Tech Expo for the first time in 2014.
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Curtis Iwata
NSN Editor