WASHINGTON — Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s bid for access to the U.S. Defense Department launch market has many champions on Capitol Hill, but the chairman of the House Armed Services strategic force subcommittee, which oversees military space activities, remains firmly in the skeptics’ camp.
Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), whose home state hosts a major production facility of SpaceX archrival United Launch Alliance, said Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX “has a ways to go” before it can be entrusted with billion-dollar national security satellites.
“In her May 20 letter to Rogers, James says one of the most significant anomalies on a SpaceX certification flight occurred on the maiden launch of the Falcon 9 v1.1 variant Sept. 29. The mission successfully placed a Canadian satellite into low Earth orbit, but a postdeployment reignition of the rocket’s upper stage — intended as a demonstration of the Falcon 9’s ability to deploy geostationary-orbiting spacecraft — did not take place as planned.”
If that’s the best that Rogers has then he has absolutely nothing. A slight upgrade in insulation on the Falcon 9v1.1’s upper stage engine fixed this problem entirely. It performed flawlessly on its first mission to place the SES-8 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit on December 3, 2013, and then flawlessly again one month later when it placed the Thaicom 6 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit on January 6th of this year. It has performed flawlessly ever since. As usual, Congress wasting taxpayers’ money with partisan, parochial, dishonest dog and pony shows.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) are one step closer from allowing a human crew to fly inside the Dream Chaser spacecraft, as the vehicle passed yet another Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestone. While Milestone 9 has the rather mundane title of Risk Reduction and Technology Readiness Level (TRL), it provided the baby orbiter with a major review of her key systems.
Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their Space Act Agreements with the agency.
NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move ahead with plans to develop the first American spacecraft designed to carry people into space since the space shuttle.
Video of the Falcon 9 first stage reentry and landing following successful delivery of six ORBCOMM satellites to orbit. This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity.
After landing, the vehicle tipped sideways as planned to its final water safing state in a nearly horizontal position. The water impact caused loss of hull integrity, but we received all the necessary data to achieve a successful landing on a future flight. Going forward, we are taking steps to minimize the build up of ice and spots on the camera housing in order to gather improved video on future launches.
Our main topic today is Apollo 45 years later and why we don’t want a repeat of the past. Our next humans on the Moon or Mars should be there to stay, not just flags and footprints!
In Space News we have:
Orbital Sciences Antares Cygnes Launch, SpaceX Falcon 9 Orbcomm launch, Russia launches a Foton satellite via Soyuz, ESA Rosetta Update, UAE going to Mars in 2021, ISRO going to Mars again, UKs first Space Port and a Bonsai tree in space?
Two of the key issues surrounding access to space in the US this year have been reliance on the Russian-built RD-180 engine and a dispute between the Air Force and SpaceX. Jeff Foust reports that, despite a number of hearings and other events, there’s no clear resolution to either issue on the horizon.
While space advocates are never short of bold visions for future space development projects, funding them has long been a major challenge. Richard Godwin offers one approach to bootstrap long-term use of space resources though smaller initial steps and a key financial measure.