Audit Reveals $1.8 Billion Financial Violations at Russia’s Space Agency

Russian auditors have uncovered 92 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) in financial violations committed by federal space agency Roscosmos last year, the head of Russia’s Audit Chamber, Tatyana Golikova, said Friday. The Audit Chamber, a government spending watchdog, released its annual report on Friday detailing investigations into misspending by Russian government agencies and ministries. During a press conference announcing the report, Golikova singled out Roscosmos as one of Russia’s worst offenders, saying: “At first, I didn’t believe my inspectors, because the value of the financial violations identified [at Roscosmos] was 92 billion rubles,” news agency TASS reported. The violations included inefficient use of funds, misuse of appropriated funds, and violations in fiscal reporting methods, according to Golikova

Source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/audit-reveals-18-billion-financial-violations-at-russias-space-agency/522220.html

House Approves Commercial Space Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with a number of commercial space policy provisions May 21, despite objections from some Democratic members about the bill’s language and warnings that the Senate is unlikely to adopt it. The House passed H.R. 2262, the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act, on a 284–133 vote after nearly two hours of debate. Nearly 50 Democrats joined almost all the chamber’s Republicans in voting for the bill. The act combines four commercial space bills approved by the House Science Committee in a May 13 markup. The cornerstone of the bill is a section dealing with commercial launch issues, including extending the “learning period” limiting safety regulations for people flying on commercial spacecraft, and indemnification for third-party damages from commercial launches, through 2025.

Source: http://spacenews.com/house-approves-commercial-space-bill/

Dordain Says ESA Cannot Go it Alone in Debris Mitigation

The head of the European Space Agency on May 20 said the agency’s space debris-mitigation practices will be scrapped unless other space powers follow suit, and that ESA’s one-nation, one-vote principle may need review given the disparity in member contributions. In a speech to Britain’s Royal Aeronautical Society, Jean-Jacques Dordain also implicitly criticized the United States for trying to exclude China from a global space exploration effort, and for its lack of a clear long-term space exploration goal.

Source: http://spacenews.com/dordain-says-esa-cannot-go-it-alone-in-debris-mitigation/

Graphic: Everything We Know About the Mysterious Boeing X-37B Space Plane

The last time the U.S. Air Force’s super secretive X-37B space plane launched, it didn’t come down until almost two years later — 674 days to be exact. On Wednesday, it launched again, and was scheduled to stay in orbit for 270 days. Or maybe more. No one knows for sure because the largely classified project is shrouded in mystery. The Air Force will only say that it will test a new, experimental thruster. The rocket carrying the spacecraft will also deliver a small satellite that would fly using a “solar sail.” But the broader mission of the Boeing-made X-37B, which looks like a miniature version of a the space shuttle, is not publicly known.

Source: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/graphic-everything-we-know-about-the-mysterious-boeing-x-37b-space-plane

Orion Test Lab Mockup for Next Flight Finished

The construction of an Orion crew module and crew module adapter full-scale mockup has been completed at the Littleton, Colorado facility of Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor for Orion. This mockup was transferred to the company’s Orion Test Lab on May 13, where engineers will configure it with the exact harnessing, electrical power, sensors, avionics and flight software needed to support Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first flight of Orion atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Orion’s team of engineers will use the mockup to verify the configuration of these vehicle components for EM-1, which ultimately saves assembly time and reduces risk.

Source: https://blogs.nasa.gov/orion/2015/05/

Russian Deputy PM Attacks Space Industry with Reform Bill

Russia’s deputy prime minister on Tuesday lambasted the country’s beleaguered space industry as inefficient and corrupt, as he presented proposed reform measures to parliament. Speaking several days after the latest failures in the sector — including the botched launch of a Proton rocket that led to the loss of a Mexican satellite — Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the industry was plagued by “morally decayed” officials and underpaid personnel. He reserved the most biting criticism for the Khrunichev space centre, which produces the Proton rockets. After the latest failure, investigators launched probes targeting the lab’s ex-employees for allegedly falsifying documents and causing a loss of nine billion rubles ($180 million, 161 million euros), Rogozin said. “With such high moral decay of its leadership, one should not be surprised at the product’s poor quality,” he said.

Source: Space Daily

NASA Surprised By Chelyabinsk Russian Meteor Fragments

More than two years after an estimated 20-meter class meteor fragmented high over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, new data reported by NASA researchers this week reveals that — over a four billion year timeframe — the meteor’s orbital parent body itself had likely been geologically-impacted as many as a dozen times.

Two 15- to 20-gram samples of the Chelyabinsk meteorite that NASA obtained from Russia over a year ago reveal a broad range of information about the meteor’s mineralogy, bulk composition and age, as noted at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2015/03/21/nasa-surprised-by-chelyabinsk-russian-meteor-fragments/

Russia Restarts Spacecraft After Embarrassing Failures

Russia on Monday managed on a second attempt to restart the engines of a Progress spacecraft attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and shift the station’s orbit.The success of the manoeuvre is a much-needed scrap of good news for Russia’s beleaguered space programme after a spate of high-profile malfunctions that saw a spacecraft fail to dock with the ISS, astronauts stranded temporarily in space and the loss of a Mexican satellite. “The engines of the Progress-M26M cargo transport craft were switched on at 0330 (0030 GMT) and worked for 1922 seconds,” space agency Roscosmos said in a statement.”As a result of the completion of the manoeuvre the altitude of the station’s orbit was increased by 2.8 kilometres.” A first attempt to turn on the Progress engines early Saturday failed.

Source: Space Daily

European Space Agency Inaugurate Altered-Gravity Aircraft

ESA, France’s space agency CNES and the German aerospace centre DLR inaugurated the Airbus A310 ZERO-G refitted for altered gravity. Repeatedly putting the aircraft on an up-and-down trajectory angled at up to 50° creates brief periods of weightlessness. During the climb and pulling out of the descent, the occupants endure almost twice normal gravity. Parabolic flight aircraft A310 A person weighing 80 kg on Earth will feel as if they weighed 160 kg for around 20 seconds. At the top of each curve, the forces on the passengers and objects inside cancel each other out, causing everything to freefall in weightlessness.

Source: ESA