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Sierra Nevada Develops Stratolaunch Launch For Dream Chaser

By Keith Cowing on September 30, 2014 6:56 PM.

Sierra Nevada Corporation Develops Design for Stratolaunch Air Launch System for Low Earth Orbit

"Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for an integrated system for human spaceflight that can be launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) using Stratolaunch System's air launch architecture and a scale version of SNC's Dream Chaser(R) spacecraft."

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Russia and China Visa Issues at the International Astronautical Congress

By Marc Boucher on September 30, 2014 8:05 AM.

International Astronautical Congress Opens with Fanfare But Russia and China Have Visa Issues, SpaceRef

"Delegates from around the world were treated to Canadiana during the opening ceremonies of the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto. Highlights included a love story on ice, a cross country taste of Canadian music including fiddlers from Nova Scotia and First Nations from British Columbia and of course an appearance by former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who galvanized the world with his social media presence during his stay aboard the International Space Station."

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Sierra Nevada Protests Commercial Crew Award

By Marc Boucher on September 26, 2014 5:28 PM.

Sierra Nevada Corporation Protests NASA's Commercial Crew Program Award, SpaceRef Business

"A representative from Sierra Nevada Corporation has confirmed to SpaceRef that they have filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office regarding the CCtCap contract."

Sierra Nevada Corporation Challenges Award of NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract

"Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced today that it has filed a legal challenge to the award of contracts to Boeing and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) program. The CCtCap program will restore U.S. transportation capability to the International Space Station.

SNC, Boeing and SpaceX submitted separate proposals for the CCtCap program. While all three competitors were found to be compliant and awardable under the criteria set forth in the request for proposal (RFP), only two proposals were selected (Boeing and SpaceX), one of which would result in a substantial increased cost to the public despite near equivalent technical and past performance scores."

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NASA Issues RFP for Next Round of Commercial ISS Resupply Missions

By Marc Boucher on September 26, 2014 10:23 AM.

NASA Expands Commercial Space Program, Requests Proposals for Second Round of Cargo Resupply Contracts for International Space Station

"On the heels of awarding groundbreaking contracts to U.S. commercial space companies to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA has released a request for proposals (RFP) for the next round of contracts for private-sector companies to deliver experiments and supplies to the orbiting laboratory."

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Soyuz Arrives at Space Station - Both Solar Panels Now Deployed

By Keith Cowing on September 25, 2014 10:34 PM.

Soyuz Launched From Baikonur

"The Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft docked to the International Space Station at 10:11 p.m. EDT while flying over the Pacific Ocean. Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency will welcome Soyuz crew. Coverage of hatch opening begins on NASA TV at 11:30 p.m. EDT."

Continue reading: Soyuz Arrives at Space Station - Both Solar Panels Now Deployed.

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Someone at NOAA Really Hates Star Trek

By Keith Cowing on September 25, 2014 9:50 PM.

Investigative Report,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Review of Improper Expenditure for GOES-R Ground Segment Team Activity

"The OIG also determined that 13 movie attendees--six government and seven contract employees--had failed to charge their attendance at the movie as non-work hours. The timecards for those 13 employees were later amended or annotated, after the OIG initiated investigation 13-0948-I, to reflect the use of annual leave/personal time or a reference to offsetting hours worked to cover participation in the team event. The OIG concluded investigation 13-0948-I on March 17, 2014, with a determination that, absent these adjustments, the government paid $3,487.31 in taxpayer-funded wages for employees to attend the theater showing of "Star Trek Into Darkness."

Keith's note: I can understand the whole time card thing. But ... NOAA GOES-R (a satellite) employees, who work at an agency (run by a former astronaut) that operates a large number of satellites (in outer space) - attend a SciFi movie (about space) and someone thinks that this contributed to GOES-R delays? Its possible, I suppose - if the individuals involved were actually in launch-critical positions. But DC Metro and traffic delays probably had a much more prominent effect. Meanwhile, everyone wanted NASA to do more tie-in promotions with the very same movie. I hope someone files a FOIA request seeking out the time charges (expense) for the NOAA IG to do this report.

Audit of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series: Comprehensive Mitigation Approaches, Strong Systems Engineering, and Cost Controls Are Needed to Reduce Risks of Coverage Gaps, 25 April 2013.

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You Can Now Buy NASA Wind Tunnel Parts on eBay

By Keith Cowing on September 25, 2014 3:20 PM.

RARE! NASA 16' Transonic Wind Tunnel Sitka Spruce Wood Fan Blade Propeller Model

Sitka Spruce Fan blade from NASA Langley 16' Transonic Wind Tunnel *Very Rare*

"This wind tunnel no longer exists, and very little remains as historic artifacts available to the public from this remarkable tunnel. You are buying a true piece of aviation and aeronautic history. Most of these fan blades were re-purposed by NASA and used as tributes to the historic tunnel. Now you can have the same in your museum or board room."

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ISEE-3 Is In Safe Mode

By Keith Cowing on September 25, 2014 3:08 PM.

ISEE-3 Is In Safe Mode

"The ground stations listening to ISEE-3 have not been able to obtain a signal since Tuesday the 16th. Arecibo, Morehead, Bochum, SETI, as well as the Usuda 64 meter dish in Japan and the Algonquin 45 meter dish in Canada have all pointed at the spacecraft with no positive results. So, at this time we are assuming that the spacecraft has gone into safe mode."

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We Are Indeed Made of Starstuff

By Keith Cowing on September 25, 2014 2:12 PM.

Earth's Water Is Much Older Than the Sun, Carnegie Institution for Science

"Our findings show that a significant fraction of our solar system's water, the most-fundamental ingredient to fostering life, is older than the Sun, which indicates that abundant, organic-rich interstellar ices should probably be found in all young planetary systems," Alexander said."

Water On Earth Is Older Than Our Sun, University of Exeter

"A pioneering new study has shown that water found on Earth predates the formation of the Sun -- raising hopes that life could exist on exoplanets, the planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. The ground-breaking research set out to discover the origin of the water that was deposited on the Earth as it formed."

Keith's note: This is a rather profound finding - the sort of thing that would make Carl Sagan excoted - something that you'd think a lot of people would like to know about. The Carnegie Institution for Science notes: "This research was supported by the NSF, the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, NASA Astrobiology, NASA Cosmochemistry and NASA.". Yet no mention is made at @AstrobiologyNAI, astrobiology.nasa.gov, science.nasa.gov, or at NASA.gov. The word "inept" once again comes to mind with regard to NASA's Astrobiology program.

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Dream Chaser Program to go Forward

By Marc Boucher on September 25, 2014 11:10 AM.

Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Program to Continue, SpaceRef Business

"Having lost out to Boeing and SpaceX for the lucrative Commercial Crew Program contract, Sierra Nevada's Mark Sirangelo told the Denver Post the companies plans to go forward with development of the spacecraft and bid on future contracts."

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India's Mars Orbiter: Does "Faster, Better, Cheaper" Work?

By Keith Cowing on September 25, 2014 9:28 AM.

India's Mars Orbiter Sends Back Its First Images

"India's Mars Orbiter Spacecraft has captured its first image of Mars. The image was taken from a height of 7300 km; with 376 m spatial resolution. Another image shows the limb of Mars."

India becomes first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, joins elite global space club, Washington Post

"By comparison, India's $72 million Mars orbiter is the cheapest interplanetary mission ever. [Indian Prime Minister] Modi said that India's Mars mission cost less than what it took to make the famous Hollywood space movie "Gravity." "We kept it low cost, high technology. That is the Indian way of working," Sandip Bhattacharya, assistant director of B.M. Birla Planetarium in the northern city of Jaipur, said in a telephone interview. " ... "

Five things to know about India's Mars orbiter, CNN

"In a rapid turnaround, the ISRO worked at breakneck speed to engineer, assemble and launch the Mars Orbiter. By November 2013, it launched from Chennai and 10 months later, it reached Mars' orbit to inspire a nation. From announcement to execution, the Mars mission took India's space agency two years and one month."

Why India's Mars mission is so cheap - and thrilling, BBC

"So how has India done it? For sure, people costs are less in this populous nation, and the scientists and engineers working on any space mission are always the largest part of the ticket price. Home-grown components and technologies have also been prioritised over expensive foreign imports. But, in addition, India has been careful to do things simply."

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How Much Will SLS Actually Cost?

By Keith Cowing on September 24, 2014 5:43 PM.

NASA Solicitation: Space Launch System RS-25 Core Engine

"In developing the SLS, the Act directed the Administrator to utilize, to the extent practicable, existing contracts, investments, workforce, industrial base, and capabilities from the Space Shuttle Program (SSP), Orion, and Ares I projects. This includes SSP-derived components and Ares I components that draw extensively on SSP heritage propulsion systems, including liquid fuel engines, external tank or tank-related capability, and solid rocket motors. To achieve this mandate, NASA initiated the development of the SLS with SSP and Ares I derived assets. Specific to the Core Stage Engine, the system will utilize modified RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) hardware and Ares I components to provide the required lift capabilities. This procurement action is to acquire six additional RS-25 Core Stage Engines. These six flight engines in combination with the available RS-25 residual inventory will support the SLS flight manifest through the first five flights."

NASA Solicitation: Space Launch System Exploration Upper Stage Engine

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invites Industry to submit a response to this Request for Information (RFI) to assist NASA in the planning for a new Exploration Upper Stage Engine (EUSE) acquisition development."

Keith's note: Funny how NASA makes these overt statements about using Ares stuff - stuff that cost billions - and yet when you ask how much SLS costs they never seem to include the cost of all the Ares stuff.

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NASA Releases Emerging Space Report

By Marc Boucher on September 24, 2014 9:39 AM.

NASA's Emerging Space Office Releases New Report, SpaceRef Business

"NASA's Emerging Space Office (ESO), part of NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, has released a new report "The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight." According to NASA the "report provides an introduction and overview to the emerging space ecosystem and American private-sector space activities."

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This Is What Happens to Moon Bashers

By Keith Cowing on September 23, 2014 11:06 PM.

NASA Administrator Resigns After Leak Of Offensive Anti-Moon Email, The Onion

"I wish I could understand what would possess someone so committed to space exploration to say such ugly things about the moon," NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said, adding that he was shocked and appalled when he read Bolden's wish that the moon would "just wane itself out of existence." "But his comments were clearly inexcusable. Unfortunately, I think his resignation was the only way for NASA, and for Charles himself, to move forward."

Keith's note: (sigh) Yes folks, this is a parody. Its The Onion after all. Although it was hard to tell it was fake - until they quoted Robert Lightfoot as having refered to Charlie Bolden as "Charles" - then I knew it was fake. ;-)

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India Enters Mars Orbit

By Keith Cowing on September 23, 2014 10:51 PM.

India's Mars Orbiter Spacecraft Enters Mars Orbit (with video)

"India successfully placed its Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft into orbit around Mars this evening - and in so doing it became the first nation to put something into Mars orbit on its very first attempt."

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NASA ISS Space to Ground Weekly Report - 26 September 2014

NASA ISS Space to Ground Weekly Report - 26 September 2014 Video in Story

NASA's Space to Ground is your weekly update on what's happening aboard the International Space Station.

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