Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin will Launch Rockets and Spaceships from Florida

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of private spaceflight company Blue Origin and founder and CEO of Amazon.com, announced today that Blue Origin will make Florida’s Space Coast its home port for reusable rocket launches.

Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000, will launch rockets and spacecraft from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company will lease the launchpad and establish a “21st century production facility” to manufacture a reusable fleet of orbital vehicles. Florida Governor Rick Scott praised the venture, which he said will “invest $200 million locally and create 330 jobs.”

“As a kid, I was inspired by the giant Saturn V missions that roared to life from these very shores,” Bezos said during the announcement here today (Sept. 15). “Today, we’re thrilled to be coming to the Sunshine State for a new era of exploration.” [Watch Blue Origin Announce Its Florida Launch Plans]

Bezos made the announcement during an event close to Launch Complex 36, which saw its last launch in 2005. Speakers at the event included Governor Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla). At the event, Bezos also unveiled an artist’s concept image of Blue Origin’s new orbital launch vehicle, which Bezos said has been nicknamed “Very Big Brother.”  The new rocket will launch and land vertically to reuse its first stage.

The new Florida facility will include a rebuilt launch pad, a facility for performing acceptance tests of the new BE-4 rocket engine, and a processing facility for manufacturing, integrating and prepping vehicles for flight.

Read more at: Space.com

Rockwell Collins Wins DARPA Award to Develop GPS Backup Technologies 

Rockwell Collins has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop technologies that could serve as a backup to GPS. The research, being conducted as part of DARPA’s Spatial, Temporal and Orientation Information in Contested Environments (STOIC) program, aims to reduce warfighter dependence on GPS for modern military operations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rockwell Collins will develop innovative architectures and techniques to enable communication systems that will support time transfer and positioning between moving platforms independent of GPS, with no impact on primary communications functionality.

“STOIC technology could augment GPS, or it may act as a substitute for GPS in contested environments where GPS is degraded or denied,” said John Borghese, vice president of the Rockwell Collins Advanced Technology Center. “The time-transfer and ranging capabilities we are developing seek to enable distributed platforms to cooperatively locate targets, employ jamming in a surgical fashion, and serve as a backup to GPS for relative navigation.”

Borghese added that the goal of the STOIC program is to develop positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) systems that provide GPS-independent PNT, achieving timing that far surpasses GPS levels of performance. The program is comprised of three primary elements that, when integrated, have the potential to provide global PNT independent of GPS, including long-range robust reference signals, ultra-stable tactical clocks, and multifunctional systems that provide PNT information between cooperative users in contested environments.

Read more at: Aerospace and Defense News

ISRO Focussing on Low Cost Access to Space: A S Kiran Kumar

Indian Space Research Organisation is moving forward with the development of heavy lift launchers and reusable launch vehicles with its main focus being the low cost access to space, its chairman A S Kiran Kumar said here today.

“ISRO is developing heavy lift launchers, reusable launch vehicles, cryogenic engines and is mainly concentrating on low cost access to space,” Kumar said. He was addressing as the chief guest the 6th convocation ceremony at Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management, commonly known as GITAM University.

Kumar said the recent success of the Mars Orbiter Mission was a result of a tremendous team effort and innovative use of limited resources to achieve defined goals. “Advances in satellite remote sensing, global navigation satellite systems and geographic information system are now making it easier to integrate ecological, environmental and other information for developing predictive models that can be used in the surveillance and control of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever,” the space scientist said.

He observed that use of technology in tackling social issues and empowering disadvantaged groups still remains significantly under-explored. Appealing for environment-friendly lifestyle, Kumar said, “The society must concentrate to green their lifestyle (sic) and lessen the negative impact of technology on natural environment.”

Read more at: Zee News

NASA Pushes First Flight of Orion Spacecraft With Crew to 2023

NASA’s newest spacecraft, the Orion, won’t be flying astronauts as soon as anticipated.

On Wednesday, top NASA officials said there isn’t much confidence in the original 2021 launch date. That’s because of the space agency’s history of running into unexpected problems in new programs, like Orion. Managers set 2023 as the new official launch date for the capsule, although they said they haven’t entirely given up yet on 2021.

Orion is meant to expand human exploration in space, principally Mars. The 11-foot capsule will blast off atop a megarocket still under development by NASA, called SLS for Space Launch System. An unmanned test flight of Orion and the new SLS rocket is still on schedule for 2018.

The spacecraft sailed through its first test flight in December. Nonetheless, managers said they want to be conservative in what lies ahead.  NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said there were too many variables to calculate the chance of meeting a 2021 launch. But he noted during a teleconference with reporters: “It’s not a very high confidence level, I’ll tell you that, just because of the things we’ve seen historically pop up.”

Software development typically can cause delays, as can the reuse of test hardware. While there are no setbacks in these areas yet, Lightfoot said, “but we have to account for those because we’ve got a lot of runway in front of us here before we get there, and those things could pop up.” He called these “unknown unknowns.”

NASA has already spent $4.7 billion on Orion and is committing $6.7 billion more in development costs from October to Orion’s first crewed flight by 2023. That first flight with astronauts will be to check out Orion’s crew systems close to Earth, especially the life-support equipment. The capsule is designed to hold four astronauts.

Read more at: Phys.org

Boeing Rejects Bid to Buy ULA as Engine Race Heats Up

Boeing said Wednesday it has turned down an offer from Aerojet Rocketdyne to buy United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture that operates the Atlas and Delta rocket fleets. The decision keeps ULA’s plan to select a new engine for the company’s next-generation Vulcan rocket some time next year. Aerojet Rocketdyne and Blue Origin are in the running to be the engine supplier.

The unsolicited offer, reportedly worth $2 billion, was made by the company that builds rocket engines for ULA’s Delta 4 launcher and Atlas 5 upper stage. “With regard to reports of an unsolicited proposal for ULA, it is not something we seriously entertained for a number of reasons,” said Todd Blecher, a spokesperson for Boeing’s defense and space division, in an email to Spaceflight Now. “Boeing is committed to ULA and its business, and to continued leadership in all aspects of space, as evidenced by the agreement announcement last week with Blue Origin.”

ULA says it prefers an engine made by Blue Origin, a company founded by Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos, to power the company’s next-generation Vulcan rocket. Aerojet Rocketdyne is working on its own engine called the AR1, but ULA officials say its development is two years behind Blue Origin’s.

Read more at: Space Flight Now

AFSPC: Space, Cyberspace Provide Advantages, Challenges

Gen. John Hyten, the Air Force Space Command commander, explained how space and cyberspace domains are integral components in modern and future operations during a speech at the 2015 Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 15.

“Everything we do is a multi-domain problem,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what problem we’re looking at, we have to figure out how to look at it from a multi-domain approach. When we do that, we will bring the power of the Air Force to bear on any problem, and that power will be enormous – that’s what it’s all about.”

Hyten talked about maintaining information superiority and safeguarding against possible threats to that information. “You have to be able to have agile information superiority so you can adjust when an enemy does something to you that says ‘I want to take that advantage away from you,'” he said.

“When that happens, you have to be able to fight. All you have to do in order to effectively have agile information superiority is get ahead of your adversary. It’s something we’ve learned in this (Air Force) since the beginning of communications.” Those communications aren’t limited to land-based communications, he said. The Air Force also needs to be equally as focused on safeguarding satellite communications.

“The warfighters depend on (satellite) communication and if that communication is not there, then we do not fight effectively and we go back to what it looked like in World War II,” Hyten said. “I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to that kind of fight.”

The Air Force is working on a developmental planning effort, looking at air superiority in 2030 as a full multi-domain solution

Read more at: Space Daily

Galileo Taking Flight: 10 Satellites Now in Orbit

Europe’s own satellite navigation system has come a step nearer to completion today, with Galileo 9 and 10 which lifted off together at 02:08 GMT on 11 September (04:08 CEST; 23:08 local time, 10 September) from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, atop a Soyuz launcher.

All the Soyuz stages performed as planned, with the Fregat upper stage releasing the satellites into their target orbit close to 23 500 km altitude, around 3 hours and 48 minutes after liftoff.

“The deployment of Europe’s Galileo system is rapidly gathering pace” said Jan Woerner, Director General of ESA. “By steadily boosting the number of satellites in space, together with new stations on the ground across the world, Galileo will soon have a global reach. The day of Galileo’s full operational capability is approaching. It will be a great day for Europe.”

Two further Galileo satellites are still scheduled for launch by end of this year. These satellites have completed testing at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, with the next two satellites also undergoing their own test campaigns.

More Galileo satellites are being manufactured by OHB in Bremen, Germany, with navigation payloads coming from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK, in turn utilising elements sourced from all across Europe.

Read more at: Aerospace and Defense news

Small Asteroids Completely Shattered the Moon’s Upper Crust

Using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, astronomers mapped the gravity field in and around more than 1,200 craters on the far side of the moon and detailed the production and saturation of porosity in the lunar highlands from impact cratering.

Scientists believe that about 4 billion years ago, during a period called the Late Heavy Bombardment, the moon took a severe beating, as an army of asteroids pelted its surface, carving out craters and opening deep fissures in its crust. Such sustained impacts increased the moon’s porosity, opening up a network of large seams beneath the lunar surface.

Now scientists at MIT and elsewhere have identified regions on the far side of the moon, called the lunar highlands, that may have been so heavily bombarded — particularly by small asteroids — that the impacts completely shattered the upper crust, leaving these regions essentially as fractured and porous as they could be. The scientists found that further impacts to these highly porous regions may have then had the opposite effect, sealing up cracks and decreasing porosity.

The researchers observed this effect in the upper layer of the crust — a layer that scientists refer to as the megaregolith. This layer is dominated by relatively small craters, measuring 30 kilometers or less in diameter. In contrast, it appears that deeper layers of crust, that are affected by larger craters, are not quite as battered, and are less fractured and porous.

Jason Soderblom, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, says the evolution of the moon’s porosity can give scientists clues to some of the earliest life-supporting processes taking place in the solar system.

Read more at: Scitech Daily

First Woman in Space Valentina Tereshkova Launches Soviet Spacecraft Exhibition

First woman in space Valentina Tereshkova launches Soviet spacecraft exhibition in London as she poses with her original craft, Vostok-6. Watch the video.

Read more at: Science Daily