Commercial Spaceflight And The Dawning Age of NewSpace

Archive for March, 2016

Bigelow BEAM | Space Angels Network

As is often the case with technology, even things which seem improbable eventually come true and in April will see the first inflatable space habitat, when an inflatable module known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is launched to the International Space Station (ISS). If successful, the potential from the technology could offer a cheaper, more efficient and safer habitat for future space explorers, with the possibility to go beyond low Earth orbit and perhaps even onwards to the planet Mars.

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Atlas V Rocket Successfully Launches with Multiple Components 3D Printed by Stratasys

3D printed parts have been finding themselves in rockets and spacecraft for a few years now, but typically it was a single, experimental part, usually printed in metal. However, using 3D printed parts in production of spacecraft like the types of rockets that send satellites into orbit hasn’t been especially common. But that is starting to change, as United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has started sending Atlas V rockets into orbit using several 3D printed parts made from advanced thermoplastic materials developed for them by Stratasys. Not only do these 3D printed parts shave critical weight off of the rocket, they often significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing them, which is vital when dealing with non-recoverable spacecraft like the Atlas V.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: 3dprint.com

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Traveling Cygnus pulls into port at the International Space Station | Spaceflight Now

CAPE CANAVERAL — Astronauts aboard the International Space Station used the robotic arm to snare a commercial cargo ship and bring it aboard this morning while traveling at five miles per second.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus freighter, dubbed the S.S. Rick Husband, was captured at 6:51 a.m. EDT (1051 GMT) by Expedition 47 commander and arm operator Tim Kopra floating in the station’s multi-window Cupola.

“Cygnus capture is complete,” Kopra radioed to Mission Control in Houston as the spacecraft flew 252 miles above the southern Indian Ocean.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: spaceflightnow.com

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Rocket Lab plans to begin launches mid-year | SpaceNews.com

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab, the U.S.-New Zealand company developing the Electron small launch vehicle, now plans to begin launches in the middle of this year after completing qualification tests of the vehicle’s main engine.

The company announced March 22 that it has completed qualification tests of the Rutherford engine, allowing it to be used in flights of the Electron vehicle. A video released by the company showed the engine firing on a test stand for more than two and a half minutes.

The first launch is planned for the middle of this year, company spokeswoman Catherine Moreau-Hammond said March 23, with the overall flight test program running through the second half of the year. Those launches are planned from a site the company is developing on New Zealand’s North Island.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: spacenews.com

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Historical Studies in the Societal Impact of Spaceflight

This volume presents a series of in-depth studies on the mutual interaction of space exploration and society—part of a larger need to understand the relationships between science, technology, and society. After beginning with a study of public attitudes toward space over time, it then moves on to specific case studies of potential “spinoffs” from NASA’s space program in the areas of medical technology, integrated circuits, and the multibillion-dollar industry today known as MEMS (microelectromechanical systems). These studies explicitly raise the difficult questions of what can be considered spinoff and how much of any particular claimed spinoff can be attributed to NASA.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nasa.gov

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Reviewers approve early design work on new Vulcan rocket | Spaceflight Now

CAPE CANAVERAL — Work to create a new all-American rocket, the United Launch Alliance Vulcan-Centaur, has passed its first major hurdle for its first flight in three years, officials announced Thursday.

The Preliminary Design Review for the next-generation vehicle was recently completed and verified that the rocket will satisfy the criteria for the diverse military, civil and commercial missions it will launch.

The rocket as currently designed will be powered by a pair of BE-4 liquefied natural gas main engines, made by Blue Origin, for 1.1 million pounds of thrust.

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United Launch Alliance Completes Preliminary Design Review for Next-Generation Vulcan Centaur Rocket

Centennial, Colo., (March 24, 2016) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle with dual Blue Origin BE-4 engines. The PDR, a major milestone in development of the Vulcan launch vehicle, confirms that the design meets the requirements for the diverse set of missions it will support. The ULA team will build upon this milestone to refine and test key elements of the design while executing a busy manifest of 14 launches in 2016.

“The completion of the Vulcan Centaur rocket’s PDR is the first of several major and very exciting milestones in the launch vehicle’s development,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive officer. “We have a strong path to get to a 2019 flight test of this new, highly-capable American launch vehicle.”

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.ulalaunch.com

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