NewSpace News #113 – November 2014

NewSpace News #113 – November 2014

November 12, 2014 NewSpace News

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Dear Loyal NSN Readers,
The past week has been one difficult to swallow. Our hearts especially go out to the families and friends of the Scaled Composites test pilots. As fans and participants of the NewSpace and commercial spacemovement who really want to see this happen, it has been heart wrenching, and we can only imagine how trying it is for those on the frontier pushing the limits. As the NewSpace leaders have stressed many times already, we will learn from this tragedy, and we will become smarter, grow stronger, and continue to reach for the stars.
– NewSpace News Team

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo experienced an in-flight anomaly during their powered test flight on Oct. 31st. One of the pilots has died, the other has been hospitalized, and the spacecraft has been irreparably damaged. Investigations are ongoing to uncover what has happened. Sir Richard Branson has stated, “…humanity’s greatest achievements come out of our greatest pain.” We are reminded that spaceflight is a difficult endeavor, and we will learn from this in order to realize the dream of commercial spaceflight. The official investigation is being led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and we refer you to their press conferences to continue following this story.
– Statement by Virgin Galactic, Blog Post by Richard Branson

Orbital Sciences Corporation has attempted to deliver cargo and science experiments to the International Space Station (ISS), but the launch of their Antares rocket was not successful. The rocket failed soon after taking off the launch pad. Among the payloads included Planetary Resource’s first satellite Arkyd-3 and Planet Lab’s Flock 1-d, which is a constellation of 28 satellites. This failure will be a setback for Orbital, but NASA’s strategy to develop multiple launch providers to the ISS will now pay off with SpaceX still available to deliver cargo. We at the SFF look forward to seeing the Antares and Cygnus up in the air again.
– Updates by Orbital, Posts by Planetary Resources and Planet Labs

Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon) recently hoisted Google’s Senior Vice President of Knowledge, Alan Eustace, to 135,000 ft via helium balloon. Wearing a custom pressurized space suit developed by ILC Dover, Eustace was released into freefall, where he broke several records including Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull Stratos jump, almost two years ago on the dot. Peaking at 822 mph, Eustace is now the second person to have ever achieved supersonic velocity outside of a vehicle. [video] – Press Release and video by Paragon

NanoRacks has announced that they have determined the root cause of the CubeSat dispenser anomaly that they experienced last month. Overtightening of the screws has caused some of the CubeSats to deploy inadvertently and others not to deploy. They were able to repeat the same issues on the ground and have hired The Aerospace Corporation to oversee the review process. New dispensers will be sent to the International Space Station to deploy the remaining satellites.
– Article by Space News

The Dragon Capsule has successfully reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and returned over 3,000 lbs of cargo and science samples, which is a unique capability that is currently only shared by the Russian Soyuz capsule. The Dragon capsule has also won the Vladimir SyromiatnikovSafety by Design Award for its safety related achievements. In search of more talent, SpaceX has been hiring heavily in the Seattle area where there are major technology companies such as Microsoft and Boeing.
– Press Release by NASA, Articles by Space Safety Magazine and Geekwire

The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has announced several agreements with unsolicited proposals. Some include drug testing for osteoporosis by taking advantage of the accelerated bone loss experienced in space, a return vehicle for small payloads, and a hyper-integrated satlet which will pave the way for on-orbit assembly of satellites.
– Press Releases by CASIS

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has announced their Dream Chaser for Science (DC4Science) mock-up to demonstrate how the spacecraft can also be configured for experiments. SNC has also been involved with a legal battle involving NASA and GAO to protest the recent Commercial Crew decision by NASA.
– Press Release by SNC, Article by Reuters

Bigelow Aerospace has confirmed that they will be sending their Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to the ISS in 2015. The module will be used primarily as a test bed during its two year stay in orbit. Assuming all goes well, Bigelow intends to launch a much larger module, the BA330. Countries, companies, and private spacefarers will be able to lease a third of the BA330 for $25 million for up to 60 days at a time, but users will need to find their own rides to their future spacestation.
– Article by IEEE

One of the many thriving suborbital launch companies, UP Aerospace, has logged another successful launch with their SpaceLoft SL-9 sounding rocket. Contracted under NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, the UP’s rocket has carried four NASA-sponsored experiments on a suborbital trajectory which provided nearly four minutes of microgravity. The experiments included an advanced micro sun sensor, a radiation tolerant computer system, a vibration isolation platform for other experiments, and a Spanish experiment on multiphase flow systems under controlled vibrations.
– Press Release by NASA

On the small satellite forefront, Zero2Infinity has recently announced plans for a combined balloon-rocket launch system which will ferry up to 75 kg of payload to orbit. The system, dubbed “Bloostar”, uses a large balloon to carry a 3-stage rocket to above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere, where it then will ignite and insert the payload into orbit. Meanwhile, the Florida-based smallsat launch provider, MISHAAL, has signed a letter of intent with SpaceQuest to launch their satellites.
– Press Releases by Zero2Infinity and MISHAAL

More on the nano-launcher front, Firefly recently signed on Shey Sabripour, former Director of Spacecraft Design at Lockheed Martin, as their Chief Technical Officer. On the payload side of the spectrum,Canopus Systems LLC, a small satellite startup has been “optimizing the management structure of the company,” firing their president, Tomas Svitek, as their COO, Megan Nunes resigned. It is not yet known who will replace Svitek and Nunes.
– Press Release by Firefly, Article by Space News

After 674 days in the air, the US Air Force’s X-37B autonomous spaceplane finally touched down at Vandenberg Air Force base this month. Though the details of this latest mission (labelled OTV-3 for Orbital Test Vehicle) remain classified, the X-37B has now clocked nearly 900 days in space.
– Article by