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    NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

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    Walther von Oldenburg
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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  Walther von Oldenburg on Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:54 pm

    With current technology any form of terraforming is unfeasible. On Mars you have to create a proper magnetosphere first - basically brining an object of the size of Ceres to martian orbit... good luck.

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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:13 am

    NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft to Pluto Experiences Anomaly


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  flamming_python on Mon Jul 06, 2015 1:37 am

    George1 wrote:NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft to Pluto Experiences Anomaly

    Spooky

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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:22 am

    NASA's New Horizons Closes in on Pluto



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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:06 pm

    Never Get Lost on Mars Again With NASA's New Red Planet Map


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:58 am

    NASA Scared of Traffic Jams Around Mars

    With a growing number of spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, NASA is beginning to worry about celestial collisions. To avoid satellite fender benders, the agency is looking to boost its Deep Space Network traffic monitoring system.

    If 2013’s "Gravity" taught us anything, it’s that there’s little room for error in space. One defunct satellite bumps into your space shuttle, and suddenly you’ve got a chain reaction which pretty much brings down every space station every launched into orbit.

    We almost lost Sandra Bullock.

    While it may be over 100 million miles away from Earth – and presumably immune to the traffic problems that plague Interstate 405 in Los Angeles – the space around Mars is also becoming surprisingly crowded. India launched its Mangalyaan probe last year, immediately followed by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. They’re now rocketing around Mars, often narrowly avoiding the Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and Mars Express probes also in orbit.

    Not to mention Phobos and Deimos, the planet’s two moons. While their orbits are typically further out than that of the spacecraft, there are points of overlap.

    "Previously, collision avoidance was coordinated between the Odyssey and MRO navigation teams," Robert Shotwell, Mars Program chief engineer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

    But the new spacecraft are complicating things.

    "There was less of a possibility of an issue. MAVEN’s highly elliptical orbit, crossing the altitudes of other orbits, changes the probability that someone will need to do a collision-avoidance maneuver," Shotwell said. "There’s still a low probability of needing a maneuver, but it’s something we need to manage."

    To accomplish that, the agency relies on Deep Space Network. With communications facilities in the US, Spain, and Australia, the system utilizes a global antenna network designed to assist interplanetary spaceflight.

    Using ultra-sensitive receivers, DSN can keep track of any vessel travelling over 10,000 miles from Earth. If any of those spacecraft appear to be getting too close to one another, an alert is sent to the remote pilot, who can then alter the flightpath.

    The system is already proving its worth. In January, an automated signal warned of a potential collision between MRO and MAVEN, which would pass within two miles of each other. Thankfully, avoidance maneuvers turned out to be unnecessary.

    Monitoring, of course, can only do so much. The Mars Global Surveyor, an old mapping satellite which went dark in 2006, is also being tracked by Deep Space Network. If it were to enter the flight path of one of the active probes, those could be steered away. But because NASA has lost communication with Surveyor, it could do little if that satellite was on a collision course with either of the two moons or a rogue asteroid.

    Over 19,000 large pieces of space junk are being tracked in orbit around Earth. If a similar buildup were to occur around Mars, it could add strain on the tracking system, and make future missions to the Red Planet exponentially more complicated.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20150731/1025234219.html#ixzz3hQT1Nm9s


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:52 am

    Forget Flybys: Now NASA Wants to Land on Jupiter Moon to Look for Aliens

    In our search for life-harboring bodies in the solar system, the Jovian satellite of Europa may be our safest bet. While NASA previously announced a flyby mission to observe the moon from afar, the space agency now has plans to send a probe down to the surface, where life may exist in vast oceans beneath the ice.

    "All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there." reads a cryptic message from an alien race in Arthur C. Clarke’s sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey."

    As you can probably guess, that warning was pretty much ignored. A team of astronauts land on the moon’s frozen surface, only to be immediately attacked by a giant squid creature from beneath the ice.

    Clarke, one of science fiction’s most fastidiously scientific writers, may not be entirely off base. While the mysterious alien message and aggressively evolved octopus may be imagined narrative devices, there’s still a reason he chose to set the tale on Europe: as far as our solar system goes, it may be the most likely candidate to host life beyond Earth.

    And according to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the space agency may soon be attempting a landing of its own.

    "We are actively pursuing the possibility of a lander," Robert Pappalardo, Europa project scientist with JPL, said during a conference last week, according to Space.com.

    "NASA has asked us to investigate: What would it take? How much would it cost? Could we put a small surface package on Europa with this mission?"

    A mission to Europa was previously announced by the space agency. Slated for launch sometime in the mid-2020s, NASA originally planned to survey the moon through a series of 45 flybys. Using a number of instruments, including ice-penetrating radar and high-resolution cameras, the observations would provide untold details about Europa’s surface composition and characteristics.

    But a lander could take even more accurate measurements. NASA has also asked the European Space Agency if it would like its own lander to be included on the flyby mission.

    What we already know about Europa has many researchers excited about the moon’s possibilities. Slightly smaller than our own moon, Europa is wrapped in a 50 mile-thick sheet of ice. But beneath that layer, scientists believe the planet to be covered in a massive ocean, which could contain twice as much salt water as the planet Earth.

    Researchers also believe that ocean to be as old as the solar system itself. An ancient, 4.5 billion-year-old ocean could theoretically provide ample time for life to evolve.

    "When it comes to habitability, we’d like to have the knowledge that the potentially habitable environment has been there for a significant duration," Kevin Hand, deputy chief scientist at JPL’s Solar System Exploration Directorate, said during the same panel.
    What we’ve imagined as a sister planet lush with salt oceans may have, in fact, been a very dry and frozen place.

    Still, much about the moon’s landscape remains a mystery, and that could present extreme challenges for the possibility of a lander. While we know the icy surface contains a number of cracks, most likely caused by the waters beneath, the effect of those cracks on the topography remains unknown.

    "We don’t actually know what the surface of Europa looks like at the scale of this table, at the scale of a lander – if it’s smooth, if it’s incredibly rough, if it’s full of spikes," Curt Niebur, a Europa program scientist with NASA, said during a conference in June.

    "Without knowing what the surface even looks like, it’s difficult to design a lander that could survive."

    Whatever NASA decides, Pappalardo expects a decision to be made by the end of the year. It’s impossible to say what we’ll find, but if there’s a giant black monolith sticking out of the ice, can we all just agree to pack up and move on?

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20150909/1026757046/Europa-Lander.html#ixzz3lBrNOhLZ


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:22 pm

    US Orion Rocket Passes Review, Moves to Assembly Stage - Lockheed Martin

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/us/20151026/1029144116/us-orion-rocket-lockheed-martin-nasa.html#ixzz3piOhpsoS


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  AlfaT8 on Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:05 am

    George1 wrote:US Orion Rocket Passes Review, Moves to Assembly Stage - Lockheed Martin

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/us/20151026/1029144116/us-orion-rocket-lockheed-martin-nasa.html#ixzz3piOhpsoS

    Lockheed Martin!!
    Ooh boy, this ain't gonna end well. Rolling Eyes

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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:52 pm

    NASA Chief: We're Closer to Sending Humans on Mars Than Ever Before

    President Barack Obama remains committed to a 2030 manned mission to Mars, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. stated on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Bolden noted that NASA’s deadline the Mars mission was 2030.

    “We're closer to sending human beings to the Red Planet than ever before in human history,” Bolden told a meeting at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.

    In a preparatory mission for the manned Mars landing, Bolden explained, NASA also plans to send an unmanned module in 2020.

    “[NASA will send a] new rover to the red planet in 2020 that will help us prepare for [a] human mission,” Bolden said.

    The unmanned mission would be designed to send Mars rocks back to Earth for direct scientific examination, he told the audience.

    Bolden also said that when the 2030 manned mission arrived on the Martian surface, the astronauts would not have to build their own base because it would already have been constructed underground for them by robots sent in advance.

    “We are going to send a team of robots in. We will send the robotic precursors in. … That's what I mean about collaboration between humans and robotic technology,” he pointed out.

    Bolden explained an underground base on Mars would have many advantages for human survivability over one constructed on the planet’s surface.

    “I think we will probably live under ground for the most part. It gets rid of the need for above ground shielding,” he stated.

    Bolden commanded two US space shuttle missions and was the pilot on two in his previous career as an astronaut. He has been NASA’s chief administrator since July 2009.

    Before and after his time as an astronaut, Bolden served in the US Marine Corps and rose to the rank of major general.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20151028/1029244785/mars-nasa-chief-send-humans.html#ixzz3py6nuRWG


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  max steel on Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:21 pm

    Miser Pays Twice: Low-Cost Super Strypi Rail-Launched Rocket Fails in Debut


    The debut of a new, rail-launched experimental rocket for small satellites failed less than a minute into its flight, the US Air Force said, according to Spacenews.com.

    The rail-launched Super Strypi rocket was part of the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-4 mission.

    "The ORS-4 mission on an experimental Super Strypi launch vehicle failed in mid-flight after liftoff at 5:45 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (7:45 p.m. PST/10:45 p.m. EST) today from the Pacific Missile Range Facility off Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii," the Air Force said in a brief statement on November 4.

    Project officials wanted to build a new launcher that would provide a low-cost launch option for smaller satellites. The Super Strypi project was expected to cost about $15 million per mission and bring as much as 300 kilograms of load into orbit.

    Currently US defense organizations, such as the US Army, the Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office build heavy-lift rockets that cost billions of dollars.


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Sat Nov 21, 2015 12:25 am

    NASA Gives SpaceX Company 1st Mission Order to International Space Station

    The first mission order has been submitted to SpaceX to ferry US astronauts to ISS.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The first mission order has been submitted to the private space company SpaceX to ferry US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017, NASA announced in a press release.

    NASA’s contract with SpaceX is the second guaranteed order for an ISS crew mission. The agency granted the first mission to Boeing earlier this year.

    "It’s really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions," NASA Commercial Crew Program director Kathy Lueders said.

    SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell responded to the mission order stating that the company’s Crew Dragon Capsule is "one of the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever flown."

    The United States has been entirely dependent on the Russian Soyuz shuttle to get into low Earth orbit, after retiring its shuttle fleet in 2011. Both Boeing and SpaceX must complete certification and other requirements before flying the missions, which are scheduled to take place sometime in 2017.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20151121/1030489093/nasa-orders-spacex-iss.html#ixzz3s4qRzqSA


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:09 am

    Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft Launched From Florida Towards ISS

    NASA reported that orbital ATK on Sunday launched its Cygnus cargo ship from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to resupply astronauts at the International Space Station after postponing the launch twice over weather conditions.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Orbital ATK on Sunday launched its Cygnus cargo ship from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida to resupply astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) after postponing the launch twice over weather conditions, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.

    ​The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket was initially scheduled to take the Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS at 5:55 p. m. EST (22:55 GMT) on Thursday. The launch was then rescheduled for Friday 5:33 p.m. EST (22:33 GMT), but was cancelled again because of poor weather conditions.

    The spacecraft is expected to dock with the ISS on Wednesday.

    The delayed mission is Orbital ATK’s fourth to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract with the company. According to NASA, this will be the first flight of an "enhanced" Cygnus spacecraft, which has a higher payload capacity and new fuel tanks.

    The improvements come after the October 2014 accident, when an Orbital ATK Antares rocker that was to deliver a Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS crashed six seconds after launch. Orbital ATK suspended deliveries to the ISS after the crash.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20151207/1031336188/cygnus-launched-iss.html#ixzz3taa1sZPi


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:06 pm

    NASA Orders Second Boeing Crew Mission to International Space Station

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20151219/1032008074/space-nasa-boeing-iss.html#ixzz3urkMTV4L


    Spacecraft for Mars Mission Sent to California Launch Site

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20151217/1031931364/lockheed-mars-spacecraft.html#ixzz3urkSdzHK



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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:13 pm

    NASA Picks Orbital ATK, SNC Space Systems, SpaceX to Deliver Cargo to ISS

    NASA has selected Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and SpaceX to deliver cargo to ISS.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems and SpaceX to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019-2024.

    "Each contract guarantees a minimum of six missions, however, as of today, we have not yet ordered any of those missions," Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS division of NASA said on Thursday.

    NASA’s competition for commercial resupply mission (CRS) contracts ended on Thursday.

    SpaceX, Boeing, Orbital ATK, Lockheed Martin and SNC Space Systems had submitted bids for the CRS contracts.

    Two of the winners – California-based SpaceX and Virginia-based Orbital ATK — currently fly cargo to the ISS. Their contracts expire in 2017.

    The third winner, SNC Space Systems, has developed the Dream Chaser Cargo System, a robotic cargo variant of its Dream Chaser spaceplane, in a bid to win a NASA CRS contract.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20160115/1033158189/nasa-picks-atc-snc-spacex.html#ixzz3xKI724KW


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:18 am

    NASA Starts Working on Huge 'Spy Telescope' (VIDEO)

    NASA is set to begin the construction of a flagship space observatory that will use a decommissioned top secret spy satellite telescope, with a field of view 200 times wider than that of the Hubble Space Telescope and capable of studying exotic dark matter, distant exoplanets and the formation of faraway solar systems.

    The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or simply WFIRST, will begin its first build stage in February, according to agency officials.

    The telescope, to be mounted into the new observatory, was originally designed for the National Reconnaissance Office, America’s spy satellite agency, and previously flew surveillance missions.

    The telescope’s 2.4 meter mirrors are the same as those used in Hubble, and, coupled with new electronics, allow seeing space in near-infrared wavelengths at greater depth than previously measured.

    WFIRST will be also equipped with a sensitive coronagraph, an instrument used to block extremely bright surfaces, such as stars, allowing the observation of objects such as exoplanets in greater detail.

    Other mission specifications and requirements will be detailed during the construction phase, according to David Spergel, co-chair of the WFIRST science definition team.

    "An example of something that we will decide during formulation is the filters that we will use. We need to weigh the relative merits of being sensitive to bluer photons versus having sharper wavelength coverage" Spergel outlined in an interview with Discovery News. "Improved blue sensitivity will help us better characterize the properties of stars in nearby galaxies, but possibly at the cost of less accurate determination of distance to galaxies through photometry," he added.

    Congress has currently allocated some $90 million to NASA for the 2016 fiscal year, six times more than agency initially requested. Due to the financial boost the build phase will start a month ahead of a schedule.

    The mission is expected to be launched by 2024, and to spend some six years at the L2 Lagrange point, a location a million miles from Earth in the direction away from the sun.



    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/art_living/20160123/1033583737/nasa-spy-telescope.html#ixzz3y1uxdSCq


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  max steel on Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:41 pm

    US gov increasing funds for NASA meanwhile Russian govt cutting funds for its Aerospace Industry. pale

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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:49 am

    Aerospace company Blue Origin announced that it has successfully landed a booster that was previously launched and landed, marking a first in the pursuit of reusable space technology.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20160126/1033700072/blue-origin-reuses-rocket.html#ixzz3yWzQgekM



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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  max steel on Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:02 pm

    NASA’s New Super-Fast Solar Ship May Have Just Revolutionized How We Explore Space


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:43 pm

    NASA Wants to Use Spy Telescope for Science

    What once was used to spy on rival nations will now be turned toward the cosmos.

    After nearly 30 years of flawless service, the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to go into retirement in 2020. After capturing thousands of stunning images and contributing to humanity’s fundamental understanding of the universe, Hubble will have degraded beyond functionality, and will be left to drift in orbit before being pulled by Earth’s gravity to a fiery end during reentry.

    To make up for the loss, NASA will need new tools. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is set to launch in 2018, but scientists have another trick up their sleeve. With the permission of the National Reconnaissance Office, NASA will use hardware repurposed from spy satellites to launch the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

    "WFIRST has the potential to open our eyes to the wonders of the universe, much the same way Hubble has," John Grunsfield, Hubble repair astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.

    "This mission uniquely combines the ability to discover and characterize planets beyond our own solar system with the sensitivity and optics to look wide and deep into the universe in a quest to unravel the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter."

    To accomplish these goals, the telescope will be equipped with several instruments. A wide-field camera, similar to the one installed on Hubble, will be used to measure how fast the universe is expanding.

    Those measurements will rely partially on observing distances between supernovas.

    "WFIRST is designed to address science areas identified as top priorities by the astronomical community," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division, in a statement.

    "The Wide-Field instrument will give the telescope the ability to capture a single image with the depth and quality of Hubble, but covering 100 times the area. The coronagraph will provide revolutionary science, capturing the faint, but direct images of distant gaseous worlds and super-Earths."

    The telescope will also feature a coronagraph, a device that blocks light from stars, in order to hunt planets circling close to their host, and use atmosphere scanning equipment to better characterize exoplanets.

    NASA hopes to launch WFIRST in the mid-2020s.

    "In addition to its exciting capabilities for dark energy and exoplanets, WFIRST will provide a treasure trove of exquisite data for all astronomers," said Neil Gehrels, project scientist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in a statement.

    "This mission will survey the universe to find the most interesting objects out there," he claims.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20160223/1035195339/nasa-wfirst-telescope.html#ixzz40ziZva8p


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:44 pm

    Launch of Dragon Spacecraft to ISS Postponed Until April

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20160310/1036097362/dragon-laaunch-postponed-april.html#ixzz42dYw5Vf3


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:27 am

    Cygnus rocket carrying supplies for ISS blasts off from Cape Canaveral

    More:
    http://tass.ru/en/science/864414


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Fri Mar 25, 2016 3:05 pm

    US Aerospace Company Completes Preliminary Design Review for Vulcan Centaur

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/us/20160324/1036926371/us-vehicle-launch-engine.html#ixzz43vJlCxYb


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    Re: NASA Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft: Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:24 am

    Dragon Spacecraft to Fly to International Space Station on Friday

    The US SpaceX aerospace manufacturer will carry out the first Dragon resupply flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in nearly a year on Friday, also attempting yet another drone ship landing.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The launch of the Dragon cargo spacecraft is scheduled for 20:43 GMT, April 8, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The robotic spacecraft will be launched using the Falcon 9 carrier rocket.

    In June 2015, A Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon cargo ship carrying supplies to the ISS exploded 3 minutes after it had been launched from Cape Canaveral. SpaceX has since modified the Falcon 9 rocket and the Friday launch, which is the first Dragon mission since last year’s accident, will be carried out using the upgraded model.

    SpaceX will also try to get the first stage of the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket to land on a drone ship.

    In December 2015, SpaceX succeeded in making Falcon’s reusable first stage land upright about 6 miles from where it was launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rest of the company’s attempts to have rocket boosters land on a drone ship have failed.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/science/20160408/1037669810/dragon-flies-iss-friday.html#ixzz45DnLCJAC


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    Boeing's XS-1 spaceplane design

    Post  max steel on Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:34 pm

    DARPA to hold open competition for XS-1 demonstration phase

    DARPA has been working with industry teams Boeing-Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems-XCOR Aerospace and Northrop Grumman-Virgin Galactic to mature three competing designs. However, it will select just one team for Phase II and III, worth up to $140 million.

    Brad Tousley, who heads the agency’s tactical technology office, says there are now enough mature concepts on the market to warrant a full and open competition.

    His believes that enough progress has been made in the commercial space sector since the original solicitation for Phase Zero in 2013 that it will be worthwhile accepting bids from incumbents and those not involved in the initial government-sponsored design phases.

    “We expect that the current three performers will bid,” Tousley said at the 32nd annual space symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado on 12 March. “We don’t think it’s necessary for some to go through phase zero and phase one because of their maturity. There’s a lot going on in the commercial sector.”

    Boeing's XS-1 spaceplane design:



    The XS-1 programme aims to launch 10 payloads into space over 10 days using a two-stage launch system comprised of a business jet-sized spaceplane and second-stage launch vehicle or rocket.

    The spaceplane would have a turnaround time between recovery and relaunch of less than 24h, and would ultimately be capable of putting a 1,360kg (3,000lb) payload into low Earth orbit for under $5 million.

    DARPA is preparing a solicitation for the next phase, Phase II, which covers “final design, fabrication, and integration assembly and test”. A “proposers day” will be held in Arlington, Virginia on 29 April.

    Northrop's XS-1 concept :

    Tousley expects that XS-1 will succeed where other spaceplane programmes like the Rockwell X-30 National Aero-Space Plane (NASP) and Lockheed Martin X-33 failed by focusing on affordability and technological maturity.
    “This is not quite the challenge of the Space Shuttle, because obviously the Mach numbers are much less,” he says, noting that the maximum speed required will be Mach 10. “In contrast to other programmes we’ve had in the past, we’re not developing new engines here. It’s about integrating existing engines, and making sure those existing engines have been robustly tested.”

    Those propulsion systems must be “ready for flight no later than fiscal year 2020,” according to the 7 April XS-1 proposers day notice.

    If successful, Tousley believes there will be an immediate need for the XS-1 system to launch both commercial and national security payloads.

    “It’s very difficult. It’s worth going after,” he says. “We think it has national security applications and commercial applications and will have a positive impact on the launch market.”

    Masten' XS-1 proposal:


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