|Dragon Has Landed
SpaceX’s 5th Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-5) has successfully concluded with thesplashdown of the Dragon capsule on February 10. The vehicle has returned with about two tons of cargo and scientific samples, including some of the first 3D-printed in space, courtesy of Made In Space. Within 24 hours, SpaceX was ready to go again with NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) on the Falcon 9. The launch and insertion of the satellite went flawlessly, and an attempt was made to land the rocket’s first stage. Due to the extreme weather, the rocket made a soft landing on to the ocean instead of on the barge. SpaceX has also dual-launched two commercial satellites ABS 3A and Eutelsat 115 West B at the end of the February. SpaceX has begun the process of leasing additional launch pads at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg, possibly for landing their reusable stages in the future.
— Press Releases from SpaceX, NASA
|Stake Your Claim
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken preliminary steps to allow private companies to haveexclusive rights to territories on the Moon in order to encourage its commercial development. In a letter to Bigelow Aerospace, FAA has stated that it intends to use “existing launch licensing authority” to eventually grant companies like Bigelow landing rights. This letter also indicates that FAA’s scope has been expanded from launch licensing to overseeing U.S. companies’ activities on the Moon.
— Article By Reuters
|Boeing Breaks Ground
Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) teams have held the groundbreaking ceremony to begin the construction of their crew access tower at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Using this facility, the CST-100 commercial crew capsule on top of an Atlas V rocket will launch manned missions to the International Space Station and other destinations. Boeing has also announced that it is consolidating several of its aerospace development programs including the Space Launch System (SLS) and CST-100 into a new division to improve management of those programs.
— Press Release by NASA
|Astronauts Repair NanoRacks Small Sat Deployer
NanoRacks’ CubeSat deployer has been repaired on-orbit. Although, NanoRacks has built new modules on the ground, they have decided to repair in-orbit with the support and coordination of a number of groups, including NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, and The Aerospace Corporation. At the request of JAXA, additional safety latches have been installed to prevent premature deployment. Thanks to these repairs, NanoRacks has begun deploying the CubeSats from last year’s Orb-2 mission, which includes 12 Doves from Planet Labs.
Over 100 space leaders from academia, government, and industry have come together at the Pioneering Space National Summit in Washington D.C., and they have all come to a consensus on the goals of humanity’s space endeavor, which reads “The long-term goal of the human spaceflight and exploration program of the United States is to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that will enable human settlement and a thriving space economy. This will be best achieved through public-private partnerships and international collaboration.”
— Press Release by SFF
Generation Orbit (GO) has begun the integrated testing of the transfer stage prototype for theirGOLauncher2 vehicle. They have successfully completed the cold and hot fire tests, which included a full duration, full pressure burn. Meanwhile, Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, FL has completed the construction of the spacecraft runway and taxiways – the first of many steps in the transition to full-fledged spaceport. Cecil is aiming to launch it’s first smallsat missions, through a contract with GO, sometime in 2016.
— Press Releases by GO
On February 10th, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the 2015 NASA Authorization Act, which appropriates NASA’s budget. The bill will go next to the Senate for approval. The bill maintains the previously enacted funding for 2015. The house intends to pursue a multi-year authorization for NASA to provide constancy and stable funding. Commercial spaceflight will be funded at $805 million, an increase of $109 million from last year’s budget.
— Press Release by U.S. House of Representatives
|Welcome to the Alliance
The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) and the National Space Society (NSS) have announced the formation of the Alliance for Space Development (ASD). The alliance currently includes nine other space organizations, and it has hosted a press event in Washington D.C. with Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R) and Representative Chaka Fattah (D) as co-hosts of the event. The objectives of ASD include establishing space settlement as a reason for going to space, reducing the cost of access to space, and promoting the growth of the space industry.
|Planet Labs Wilbur-Ellis Partnership
Planet Labs has announced its partnership with Wilbur-Ellis, which is a leading international marketer and distributor of agricultural products. Planet Labs’ high-cadence satellite imagery will feed into Wilbur-Ellis’ AgVerdict data platform to help farmers manage their crops and farmland.
— Press Release by Planet Labs
|Kymeta and Intelsat Join Forces
Kymeta has agreed to work exclusively with Intelsat on Ku-band technology development in order to bring innovative solutions to market for existing and new applications. Intelsat is a leading provider of satellite services, and Kymeta Corporation is a leading developer of metamaterials-based antenna technology. The agreement will have Kymeta develop innovative, flat electronically steerable Ku-band mTenna antenna solutions optimized for the Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellite (HTS) platform which will launch in late 2015.
— Press Release By Kymeta
Early in February, the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has completed the initial Dream Chaser for European Utilization (DC4EU) Study, and it has concluded that the vehicle is suitable for microgravity research and active debris removal. Co-sponsor of the study, OHB System AG, has spoken highly of Dream Chaser and has indicated that it plans to broaden their partnership with SNC and mature design concepts.
— Press Release By SNC
|Prepping for Arrival
The Midland City council approved XCOR to create arocket engine test stand at its new R&D facility in the west Texas city. XCOR will move to Midland after flight tests of its Lynx suborbital spacecraft begin in Mojave, Ca.
— Article by Parabolic Arc
|For Sale: Spaceport America
Senator George K. Munoz has sponsored the bill SB 267to propose the sale of Spaceport America because the state’s “taxpayers are continuing to foot the bill for a $250 million empty facility” that is not being fully utilized. It is unclear whether anyone would be interested in purchasing the spaceport and who those potential buyers may be. Virgin did respond to criticisms of violating the lease from Senator Munoz in stating they will test in California while operating in New Mexico and that they have been paying rent monthly since January 2013 to the spaceport.
Quick One Liners
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World View Record Breaking Parafoil Flight [Link]
GLXP’s Hakuto And Astrobotic Signed For Launch [Link]
Stratolaunch’s Roc Is Going To Be Huge [Link]
Firefly Bradspace Partnership [Link]
PLD Space Propulsion Facility Updates [Link]
DARPA Releases ALASA Concept Video [Link]
Surrey Satellite CEO Change [Link]
DigitalGlobe Offers 30cm Resolution To All [Link]