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Used SpaceX booster set for historic first reflight is test fired in Texas
February 6, 2017 by Ken Kremer, Universe Today

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SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage previously flown to space is test fired at the firms McGregor, TX rocket development facility in late January 2017. Credit: SpaceX
The first orbit class rocket that will ever be reflown to launch a second payload to space was successfully test fired by SpaceX engineers at the firms Texas test facility last week.

The once fanciful dream of rocket recycling is now closer than ever to becoming reality, after successful completion of the static fire test on a test stand in McGregor, Texas, paved the path to relaunch, SpaceX announced via twitter.
The history making first ever reuse mission of a previously flown liquid fueled Falcon 9 first stage booster equipped with 9 Merlin 1D engines could blastoff as soon as March 2017 from the Florida Space Coast with the SES-10 telecommunications satellite, if all goes well.
The booster to be recycled was initially launched in April 2016 for NASA on the CRS-8 resupply mission under contract for the space agency.
"Prepping to fly again—recovered CRS-8 first stage completed a static fire test at our McGregor, TX rocket development facility last week," SpaceX reported.
The CRS-8 Falcon 9 first stage booster successfully delivered a SpaceX cargo Dragon to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2016.
The Falcon 9 first stage was recovered about 8 minutes after liftoff via a propulsive soft landing on an ocean going droneship in the Atlantic Ocean some 400 miles (600 km) off the US East coast.
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Aerial view of pad and strongback damage at SpaceX Launch Complex-40 as seen from the VAB roof on Sept. 8, 2016 after fueling test explosion destroyed the Falcon 9 rocket and AMOS-6 payload at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on Sept. 1, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/
SpaceX, founded by billionaire and CEO Elon Musk, inked a deal in August 2016 with telecommunications giant SES, to refly a 'Flight-Proven' Falcon 9 booster.
Luxembourg-based SES and Hawthrone, CA-based SpaceX jointly announced the agreement to "launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster."
Exactly how much money SES will save by utilizing a recycled rocket is not known. But SpaceX officials have been quoted as saying the savings could be between 10 to 30 percent.
The SES-10 launch on a recycled Falcon 9 booster was originally targeted to take place before the end of 2016.
That was the plan until another Falcon 9 exploded unexpectedly on the ground at SpaceX's Florida launch pad 40 during a routine prelaunch static fire test on Sept. 1 that completed destroyed the rocket and its $200 million Amos-6 commercial payload on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
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SpaceX is repurposing historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida for launches of the Falcon 9 rocket. Ongoing pad preparation by work crews is seen in this current view taken on Jan. 27, 2017. Credit: Ken Kremer/
The Sept. 1 launch pad disaster heavily damaged the SpaceX pad and launch infrastructure facilities at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Pad 40 is still out of commission as a result of the catastrophe. Few details about the pad damage and repair work have been released by SpaceX and it is not known when pad 40 will again be certified to resume launch operations.
Therefore SpaceX ramped up preparations to launch Falcon 9's from the firms other pad on the Florida Space Coast – namely historic Launch Complex 39A which the company leased from NASA in 2014.
Pad 39A is being repurposed by SpaceX to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. It was previously used by NASA for more than four decades to launch Space Shuttles and Apollo moon rockets.
But SES-10 is currently third in line to launch atop a Falcon 9 from pad 39A.

Falcon 9 first stage from May 2016 JCSAT mission was test fired, full duration, at SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas rocket development facility on July 28, 2016. Credit: SpaceX

The historic first launch of a Falcon 9 from pad 39A is currently slated for no earlier than Feb. 14 on the CRS-10 resupply mission for NASA to the ISS – as reported here.
The EchoStar 23 comsat is slated to launch next, currently no earlier than Feb 28.
SES-10 will follow – if both flights go well.
SpaceX successfully launched SES-9 for SES in March 2016.
Last July, SpaceX engineers conducted a test firing of another recovered booster as part of series of test examining long life endurance testing. It involved igniting all nine used first stage Merlin 1D engines housed at the base of a used landed rocket.
The Falcon 9 first stage generates over 1.71 million pounds of thrust when all nine Merlin engines fire up on the test stand for a duration of up to three minutes – the same as for an actual launch.
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SES-10 satellite mission artwork. Credit: SES
[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: SpaceX shuffles Falcon 9 launch schedule

Read more at:[/url]

NASA okays commercial airlock for space station
February 6, 2017 Stephen Clark

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Artist’s concept of the NanoRacks airlock attached to the space station’s Tranquility module. Credit: NanoRacks
A commercial airlock built in partnership by NanoRacks and Boeing will be connected to the International Space Station in 2019, the companies announced Monday, after the proposed project won preliminary approval from NASA managers.
NanoRacks plans to deploy small commercial satellites and CubeSats from the airlock, reducing the workload currently occupying time on the smaller equipment airlock inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. Only half of the Kibo airlock’s capacity is allocated to NASA and commercial clients — the rest goes to Japan.
“This partnership is an important step in the commercial transition we’ll see on the ISS in coming years,” said Mark Mulqueen, Boeing’s ISS program manager. “Utilizing a commercial airlock to keep up with the demand of deployment will significantly streamline our process.”
NanoRacks has arranged for the launch of more than 375 payloads to the space station since 2009, including more than 100 CubeSats released from a deployer mounted on the end of the Japanese robotic arm outside Kibo for commercial customers, universities and NASA.
Houston-based NanoRacks also has an external platform outside Kibo, where scientists can test sensors, electronics and other equipment in the harsh environment of space.
The privately-funded commercial airlock will launch inside the unpressurized trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, then attach to a port on the station’s Tranquility module with the Canadian-built robotic arm.
Another commercial module is already to connected to Tranquility.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, launched to the station in April 2016 under a NASA-funded contract. Developed and built by Bigelow Aerospace, the soft-sided module expanded to full size in late May after bolted on to the Tranquility module.
BEAM is on a two-year demonstration to test the performance of an expandable module in space, but Bigelow and NASA are in discussions to extend the module’s presence on the station longer.
NASA and NanoRacks signed a Space Act Agreement for the airlock project last year. The space agency announced Monday that it has committed to install the airlock on the station once NanoRacks completes pre-agreed financial and technical milestones outlined in the agreement.
“We want to utilize the space station to expose the commercial sector to new and novel uses of space, ultimately creating a new economy in low Earth orbit for scientific research, technology development and human and cargo transportation,” said Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We hope this new airlock will allow a diverse community to experiment and develop opportunities in space for the commercial sector.”
The new airlock will triple the number of small satellites that can be deployed in a single cycle, according to Boeing.
[url=][img=675x0][/img]Artist’s concept of the NanoRacks airlock attached to the space station’s Tranquility module. Credit: NanoRacks
Astronauts inside the station will also be able to assemble payloads from components delivered to the complex in bags, then put them through the NanoRacks airlock, which can handle larger packages than the sizes supported by the current Kibo passageway.
Boeing is providing the passive common berthing mechanism, a connecting ring to install the new port on the Tranquility module, plus unspecified engineering services required for developing and manufacturing of the airlock, according to NanoRacks.
“We are very pleased to have Boeing joining with us to develop the airlock module,” said Jeffrey Manber, CEO of NanoRacks. “This is a huge step for NASA and the U.S. space program, to leverage the commercial marketplace for low Earth orbit, on Space Station and beyond, and NanoRacks is proud to be taking the lead in this prestigious venture.”
Boeing is also NASA’s lead contractor for the entire space station, providing engineering support for all of the lab’s U.S. modules.
NanoRacks said the airlock could be detached from the ISS and placed on another platform in orbit.
“The NanoRacks airlock module is the next logical step in the successful line of NanoRacks’ commercial payload facilities,” said Brock Howe, head of the airlock project at NanoRacks. “This airlock module will provide a broad range of capabilities to our payload customers and expand greatly on the commercial utilization of the station — and I look forward to leading the team at NanoRacks on this next venture.”
The airlock module will be assembled and tested by NanoRacks, which is also responsible for the design, safety, operations, quality assurance, mockups and crew training, the company said in a statement.
ATA Engineering of San Diego will lead structural and thermal analysis and testing services for the airlock project.

Live coverage: SpaceX mounts first rocket on launch pad 39A
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February 10, 2017
A rocket is standing on Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A, originally built for the Apollo and space shuttle programs, for the first time since 2011 after SpaceX hoisted a Falcon 9 booster upright Friday afternoon for a critical fueling and engine hotfire test. The static fire test is now scheduled for Sunday.

Work is underway to establish the world's first private, international commercial space station
[size=undefined][size=undefined][Image: 8d58d8_5598de10dbb94c7a918523d13fc3ba18~...00_jpg_srz]Work is underway to establish the world's first private, international commercial space station, a complex that would serve a global community of sovereign and private astronauts. 
The builders of the Axiom International Commercial Space Station aim to enlarge the landscape of low-Earth orbit, to create what they view as a “historic shift” in human spaceflight. 
Making a space outpost available to nations, organizations and individuals could help make living and working in Earth orbit commonplace and support the exploration of deep space, Axiom representatives said. [6 Private Deep Space Habitats Paving the Way to Mars]
A BUSY 2017
Amir Blachman, vice president of strategic development for Houston-based Axiom Space, said the company is shaping its plans to build the International Space Station's (ISS) international, privately owned successor.
The goals are to build an orbiting outpost that will host government agency astronauts, private companies and individuals for research, manufacturing and space exploration systems testing, and to grow a healthy space-tourism business, Blachman said.This year, Axiom's to-do list is hefty.
“We are now deep into conversations with our first nonsovereign astronaut customers,” Blachman told in an exclusive interview. Axiom has begun conversations with 20-plus countries, he said, and is also working out the details with its first research and manufacturing tenant.
By 2017, Axiom wants to have contracts in place to start driving revenue and project advancements, Blachman said. Furthermore, by closing first and second rounds of funding this year, the group can start construction of the Axiom space station in earnest, he said.
“The pace is quick,” Blachman said. “We're answering a demand that's clearly there … The demand is there; the need is there.” 
NASA now spends more than $300 million a year on ISS research, he added. [Building the International Space Station (Photos)]
In mid-January, Axiom partnered with Made In Space, an enterprising California-based company that has created 3D-printed products on board the ISS
One aspect of that partnership is to work out the logistics of in-space manufacturing — how best to outfit an in-space factory with equipment, utilities, power and thermal management to handle prospective customers, Axiom Space representatives said.
“In-space manufacturing provides a unique class of products beneficial to the communications, materials and biomedical industries on Earth,” Axiom Space President and CEO Michael Suffredini, a former NASA ISS program manager, said in a company statement.
For now, the ISS is funded through at least 2024. Though an ISS de-orbit plan has been scripted, NASA officials have said they hope the $100 billion structure's life gets extended to 2028. That would be 30 years after the first ISS modules were launched into Earth orbit.  
“As you can imagine, we keep our ear very close to the rail on that,” Blachman said. “We have to operate on the assumption that the ISS could be de-orbited in 2024 … perhaps deorbited sometime after that. There are structural and operational limitations, specifically the growing cost to maintain the ISS.”
Blachman said that it currently costs about $7.5 million to support each astronaut every day on the ISS, “and we come in far below that.” Axiom intends to start flying space travelers to the ISS in mid-2019, “and that means we start to train them in 2017,” he said. “They will get the same level of training as NASA astronauts. They will be qualified to use all elements of the station.”
Axiom's plan, which has been approved by NASA, calls for the company to attach its first commercial module to the ISS in late 2020. In the 2024-2028 time frame, that module would be detached from the ISS to help shape the Axiom commercial space station.
“That all goes back to whether the station is decommissioned in 2024 or later,” Blachman said. “It changes the shape of our cash curve, but it doesn't change the operability of the business. It's still a highly profitable and very large business.”
The Axiom International Commercial Space Station undertaking would also comprise tried-and-true technologies, Blachman said. The private orbiting facility would benefit from years of lessons learned with the ISS life-support systems and take advantage of modernized software and hardware, Blachman said.
“We're the private company that's going to continue the ISS legacy, so to speak,” Blachman said. The lack of a plan for a replacement government-operated space station when the ISS is de-orbited bolsters that view, he added.
“Our government and our agencies recognize that commercial is really the way to go,” Blachman said.

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A private space station “is likely an idea whose time has come,” said Dylan Taylor, a leading angel investor of private space endeavors. 
“There are several revenue streams that are near and present that could support a private space station,” Taylor said, “ including in-space manufacturing, microgravity research and tourism — for both individuals and sovereign nation astronauts — and in-space supply logistics.”
Taylor told that it is a capital-intensive exercise, “but for the right team and architecture, coupled with patient capital, the revenue streams are there.”
“If international governments do not vote to extend the life of the ISS, then a commercial substitute will be needed,” said Derek Webber, author of the newly released book “No Bucks, No Buck Rogers: Creating the Business of Commercial Space” (Curtis Books, 2017).
Axiom isn't the only company vying to provide this commercial successor. Las Vegas-based company Bigelow Aerospace, for example, is building huge expandable space habitats that could serve a variety of customers. The company is currently testing a prototype habitat, known as the Bigelow Aerospace Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), on the ISS.

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“Bigelow has given a great start to the space tourism hotels initiative, both by demonstrating free-flying prototypes in orbit and coordinated operations with NASA in the case of Bigelow's BEAM initiative,” Webber said.
“Axiom would build on this,” Webber said, “and I look forward to seeing how they will provide for the needs of future orbital space tourists. The introduction of private space station hotels will create new opportunities, and indeed roles, for next-generation astronauts,” he said.
That space station ... is not a space "hotel"  Lol  it is a space hovel.

Here is the Axiom link ... bottom of this post.

It's not the Ritz-Carlton or the Hilton ... it's a metal Twinkie with solar panels.

Then I was looking at their "manufacturing" and research venues ...  Cry

They left out the swimming pool ... exercise gym ... theater ... restaurant ... 

It's a metal Twinkie all tinker toyed together with solar panels.

I suppose that they have to start somewhere.
I could find nothing on space station size and distribution of "hotel" space - living quarters,
and the "manufacturing and research" venues.

The station repair man must be the astronaut.
They didn't mention crew capacity  Alien2 Alien2
 to operate the hotel and research - manufacturing Twinkie Toy Hilton in space.

Use your credit Tp  card to get a room ... might be 7.5 million a night.

Quote:Blachman said that it currently costs about $7.5 million 
to support each astronaut every day on the ISS

The Bigelow system sounded better.
The link below is worth the quick visit just to see it from the corporate advertising perspective.

Trump To Send NASA Back To The Moon In 2019 Popblood Beer

Will be Wright,Right,Rite  back after this commercial message from our sponsor SpaceX... Arrow

Quote:He says they've already paid a "$ignificant" deposit.

SpaceX says it will fly two people to moon next year LilD
February 27, 2017 by Marcia Dunn

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain
SpaceX says it will fly two people to the moon next year.

Company chief Elon Musk announced the surprising news Monday.
Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon. Musk won't identify the pair or the price tag. He says they've already paid a "significant" deposit.

Musk says SpaceX is on track to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA in mid-2018. This moon mission would follow about six months later, using a Dragon crew capsule and a Falcon heavy rocket.
Musk says the moon mission is designed to be autonomous—unless something goes wrong. SpaceX says the passengers would fly to the moon, but won't land on it.

Read more at:[/url]

And Now Our Feature Presentation.
If you really want to leave the earth and go to some other planet in our solar system. Then, don’t worry about this now, as scientists are working very hard on it and may be they are in more hurry than you. The dream of leaving Earth behind and go on a lunar or Martian base is far from realization just yet, but in the meantime, this classic short film by digital artist Erik Wernquist gives you an indication of what it’s really going to look like if when humans conquer the Solar System.

The duration of the film is less than 4 minutes and Wanderers takes us on a mind-bending journey through the Solar System, as humans from the future base-jump off the tallest known cliff in the Solar System - Verona Rupes on Uranus’ moon Miranda - and float through the clouds of Saturn.

Wernquist said: "Wanderers is a vision of humanity's expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like, if it ever happens, the locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available."

We're still guessing out what our nearby planets even look like, it's about as exact a demonstration as we're going to get right now of what it would be like to travel through the compact atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

The sources of the images for the film are NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio and the European Space Agency.

FEBRUARY 27, 2017
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Quote:We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration. We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow. Additional information will be released about the flight teams, contingent upon their approval and confirmation of the health and fitness test results.

Most importantly, we would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission. In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V moon rocket. At 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, Falcon Heavy is two-thirds the thrust of Saturn V and more than double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying.

Later this year, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, we will launch our Crew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station. This first demonstration mission will be in automatic mode, without people on board. A subsequent mission with crew is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX is currently contracted to perform an average of four Dragon 2 missions to the ISS per year, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew. By also flying privately crewed missions, which NASA has encouraged, long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions.

Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the moon and return to Earth. Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral – the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions. This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.
Designed from the beginning to carry humans, the Dragon spacecraft already has a long flight heritage. These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars.

...and now back to your scheduled NASA program. Arrow

Trump To Send NASA Back To The Moon In 2019

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NASA will honor a request from the Trump administration and spend the next month studying how to return astronauts to the moon’s orbit.
America’s storied space agency will study the feasibility of converting the recent test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule into a new crewed lunar mission, propelling two astronauts to the moon and back by 2019. The feasibility study should be completed by late March. If the mission is successful, it will be the first flight by an astronaut into deep space since the Apollo Moon-landing era came to a close more than 40 years ago.
“If NASA wants to make the mission politically attractive, an accelerated schedule of this type is required,” Dr. Robert Zubrin, who helped design plans for NASA’s manned mission to Mars, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I’m encouraged by this development. It shows that NASA is responding positively to the challenge posed by SpaceX. Let’s have a race!”
previously planned for the test to be an unmanned launch in late 2018, which would send a capsule into a distant lunar retrograde orbit. Making the craft ready to support astronauts will require additional life support systems, display panels, and abort systems.
Sponsored Links by

Zubrin previously told The DCNF that accelerating NASA’s return to the moon could potentially save taxpayers $10 billion dollars in expenses.

NASA already planned to send an unmanned SLS rocket with an Orion capsule to orbit the Moon, but will accelerate the program to send astronauts on the previously unmanned mission in late 2019. One Trump adviser told The Washington Post adding astronauts to the project is intended to be “a clear signal” to the Chinese that the U.S. will retain its dominance in space.

Trump seemingly wants to return U.S. astronauts to the Moon and then send them on to Mars, which will require the giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket currently being debated in Congress. The president vowed to “unlock the mysteries of space” in his inaugural address, lending credence to reports that he was exploring sending humans to Mars in a private meeting with billionaire Elon Musk.

Leaked documents say Trump wants NASA to launch a “rapid and affordable” lunar mission to the moon by 2020, build privately-operated space stations and assist “the large-scale economic development of space.”

“NASA’s new strategy will prioritize economic growth and the organic creation of new industries and private sector jobs, over ‘exploration’ and other esoteric activities,” states a summary of NASA’s agency action plan obtained by Politico. “Done correctly, this could create a trillion-dollar per year space economy, dominated by America.”

Experts have long suspected Trump’s space agenda will fund exploration with robotic probes and human astronauts diverted from NASA’s global warming science programs. Billionaire space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow thinks Trump could double NASA’s budget.

Trump has yet to name a NASA director, but available information identifies Oklahoma Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot, as the top contender.

Read more:

Quote:Leaked documents  Rofl
say Trump wants NASA to launch a “rapid and affordable” lunar mission to the moon by 2020, 

build privately Sheep   operated space Tp  Whip stations  

and assist
 “the large-scale economic development of space.”


Quote:Experts Alien2  have long suspected  Hmm2

Trump’s space agenda will fund exploration with robotic probes  Assimilated

and human Hi  astronauts  Hi

diverted from NASA’s global warming science programs.   Rofl

and that was fun.

And Now Our Feature Presentation.

Quote:"It's nobody from Hollywood." Popblood Beer

SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year (Update)
February 28, 2017 by Marcia Dunn

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In this Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 file photo made available by SpaceX, their Dragon capsule sits aboard a ship in the Pacific Ocean west of Mexico's Baja Peninsula after returning from the International Space Station, carrying about 3,700 lbs of cargo for NASA. SpaceX announced Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 that it would send two paying customers to the moon next year on a private flight aboard its Dragon capsule. The company said the unnamed customers have paid "a significant deposit" for the moon trip.(AP Photo/SpaceX, File)
SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA's Apollo heyday close to half a century ago.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk—the company's founder and chief executive officer—announced the surprising news barely a week after launching his first rocket from NASA's legendary moon pad.
Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon, according to Musk. He won't identify the pair or the price tag. They've already paid a "significant" deposit and are "very serious" about it, he noted.
"Fly me to the moon ... Ok," Musk said in a light-hearted tweet following the news conference.
Musk said SpaceX is on track to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA in mid-2018. This moon mission would follow about six months later, by the end of the year under the current schedule, using a Dragon crew capsule and a Falcon heavy rocket launched from NASA's former moon pad in Florida.
If all goes as planned, it could happen close to the 50th anniversary of NASA's first manned flight to the moon, on Apollo 8.
The SpaceX moonshot is designed to be autonomous—unless something goes wrong, Musk said.
"I think they are entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here," Musk told reporters in the telephone conference, a day after teasing via Twitter that an announcement of some sort was forthcoming.
"They're certainly not naive, and we'll do everything we can to minimize that risk, but it's not zero. But they're coming into this with their eyes open," said Musk, adding that the pair will receive "extensive" training before the flight.
Musk said he does not have permission to release the passengers' names, and he was hesitant to even say if they were men, women or even pilots. He would only admit, "It's nobody from Hollywood."
The paying passengers would make a long loop around the moon, skimming the lunar surface and then going well beyond, perhaps 300,000 or 400,000 miles distance altogether. It's about 240,000 miles to the moon alone, one way.

The mission would not involve a lunar landing.
"This should be a really exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again," Musk said.
NASA will have first dibs on a similar mission if it so chooses, he said. The space agency learned of his plan at the same time as reporters.
In a statement, NASA commended SpaceX "for reaching higher." In all, 24 astronauts flew to the moon and 12 walked its surface from 1969 to 1972.
The California-based SpaceX already has a long list of firsts, with its sights ultimately set on Mars. It became the first private company to launch a spacecraft into orbit and safely return it to Earth in 2010, and the first commercial enterprise to fly to the space station in 2012 on a supply mission.
Just a week ago, SpaceX made its latest delivery from Kennedy Space Center's legendary Launch Complex 39A, where the Apollo astronauts flew to the moon and shuttle crews rocketed into orbit. That will be where the private moon mission will originate as well.
The crew Dragon capsule—an upgraded version of the cargo Dragon—has yet to fly in space. Neither has a Falcon Heavy rocket, which is essentially a Falcon 9 rocket with two strap-on boosters, according to Musk. A Falcon Heavy test flight is planned this summer, while an empty crew capsule is set to launch to the space station late this year. He said there will be ample time to test both the spacecraft and the rocket, before the moon mission.
NASA last week announced it was studying the possibility of adding crew to the test flight of its megarocket, at the request of the Trump administration. Such a flight to the lunar neighborhood wouldn't happen before 2019 at best—if, indeed, that option is even implemented.
Musk said anything that advances the space exploration cause is good, no matter who goes first.
Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will celebrate his homecoming this week from a one-year space mission, was quick to tweet: "It's been almost a year. Send me!"
Musk said he expects to have more moon-mission customers as time goes by.
At the same time, SpaceX is also working on a so-called Red Dragon, meant to fly to Mars around 2020 with experiments, but no people—and actually land. His ultimate goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars.
[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: SpaceX aborts approach to space station, delivery delayed (Update)
More information: SpaceX:

Read more at:[/url][url=]

Commercial space cargo ship’s ride to orbit assembled for March 19 launch

February 23, 2017 Justin Ray

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The OA-7 Cygnus launch poster. Credit: United Launch Alliance

CAPE CANAVERAL — An Atlas 5 booster core and Centaur upper stage have been stacked to launch another commercial freighter with supplies and scientific research gear to the International Space Station next month.

The United Launch Alliance rocket is scheduled to fly March 19 to deploy Orbital ATK’s seventh Cygnus ship for NASA’s privatized cargo-delivery program.

It’ll be the third time an Atlas 5 has launched a Cygnus carrying its maximum load of cargo amounting to about 7,700 pounds.

Preparations at Cape Canaveral’s Vertical Integration Facility began yesterday when the first stage was erected aboard the mobile launch platform. The pre-stacked interstage, Centaur and boattail assembly was hoisted into place this morning to complete the basic buildup of the Atlas 5.

The rocket will be powered on and fully tested in the next two weeks to verify all systems are functioning properly. The encapsulated Cygnus will be delivered to the assembly building and attached in early March.

The 194-foot-tall rocket will be rolled out to the Complex 41 launch pad on March 17.

[Image: stacking-1024x757.jpg][img=788x0][/img]File photos of the Atlas 5 stacking from OA-4. Credit: NASA-KSC

The Cygnus was loaded with its initial complement of cargo over the last 10 days at Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility. The cylindrical module’s hatch was then closed before the vessel was turned vertically and mated to its propulsion tug on Valentine’s Day.

Next, the craft will be fueled at the nearby Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility and the hatchway reopened to allow the insertion of late-load cargo.

The spacecraft will weigh nearly 16,000 pounds at launch.

Cygnus will be the third resupply ship scheduled to visit the station in a one-month period, a flurry of flights by its commercial counterpart SpaceX, a Russian Progress craft and then the Cygnus.

The Atlas 5’s launch on March 19 is targeted for 10:56 p.m. EDT (0256 GMT), the opening of a half-hour available window.

Known as Orbital ATK’s OA-7 mission, the Cygnus is scheduled to make a March 23 rendezvous with the International Space Station and be grabbed by the 58-foot-long Canadarm2. It will be attached to the station’s Unity module for a 90-day stay.
See earlier OA-7 Cygnus coverage.

Taking Cygnus to the Next Level



While the International Space Station (ISS) is going strong, enabling scientific discoveries in a state of the art orbiting laboratory, NASA is also working on developing pathways to explore beyond low earth orbit to deep-space destinations such as the proving ground of space around the moon, known as cis-lunar space, and Mars. In order to live and work in deep space, astronauts will need additional pressurized habitation capability beyond what the Orion spacecraft currently provides. And Orbital ATK is looking to the Cygnus product line to help fill this need.

So that humans can take that next giant leap, NASA is building on the success of commercial partnerships with the recent Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement. Through this effort, NASA has selected 12 companies to advance concept studies and technology development projects to enable commercial endeavors in space and human exploration in the areas of advanced propulsion, habitation and small satellites.

Building on the success of the Cygnus spacecraft for space station resupply, Orbital ATK is one of seven companies selected for NextSTEP awards for habitation systems. The contract awards have initial performance periods of up to 12 months, at a value of $400,000 to $1 million for study and development efforts, with the potential for follow-on phases to be defined during the initial phase.

“This award allows us to mature plans to develop an Exploration Augmentation Module (EAM) based on the Cygnus product line and a new docking node concept,” said Frank DeMauro, Vice President of Human Spaceflight Systems at Orbital ATK. “Cygnus modules can be added to increase pressurized volume for the crew and outfitted to increase the associated functionality of the EAM.”

The goal of the habitation systems awards is to help define the architecture and subsystems of a modular habitation capability to enable extended missions in deep space.

"Habitation systems and components are necessary equipment to live in space," DeMauro said. "This covers a broad range of topics from Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), to providing sustenance to the astronauts for their duration of their mission, to providing radiation protection to protect the astronauts for long duration missions outside the asteroid belt, and many items in between."

Orbital ATK will study the functionality and enabling technologies used to supplement human space transportation systems such as NASA's Orion spacecraft to initially sustain a crew of four for up to 60 days in cis-lunar space with the ability to scale up to transit habitation capabilities for future Mars missions.

“We will also develop a Concept of Operations that describes how the EAM will develop over time and how it will be used to help long-duration human exploration of space and provide a recommended functional baseline for the system architecture,” DeMauro said. “By studying the necessary functionality for the proposed reference missions, we believe that configurations, EAM layouts, and support equipment can be recommended for further review with an emphasis on providing hardware as early as possible."

Orbital ATK will leverage the company’s experience and knowledge of systems integration and combine it with industry leading teammates in pressurized habitation systems (TAS-I) and the innovation of academia (University of Colorado - Boulder) for ECLSS.

“The Cygnus product line is very versatile and I’m excited to see the outcome of our efforts take this spacecraft to the next level,” DeMauro said.

To learn more about Orbital ATK’s current Commercial Resupply Services and the Cygnus spacecraft, visit:

For additional information about NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, and to see the full list of awards, visit:
[Image: NextSTEP.png]
Artist concept of the Cygnus derived deep space habitat and airlock serviced by Cygnus derived logistics vehicles.
I've either popped into an alternate timeline over the weekend
or Trump is lurking in THM, and elevating this outfit to a space advisory think tank.
Only a few weeks ago Bob and I were talking about putting Elon Musk at the center of this new plan
and now Musk has met privately with the president...talking about "rebuilding our infrastructure".
Band  Food-smiley-004 Jawdrop Fireworks Spacecraft  Damned Reefer
(02-28-2017, 06:33 PM)Kalter Rauch Wrote: [ -> ]I've either popped into an alternate timeline over the weekend
or Trump is lurking in THM, and elevating this outfit to a space advisory think tank.
Only a few weeks ago Bob and I were talking about putting Elon Musk at the center of this new plan
and now Musk has met privately with the president...talking about "rebuilding our infrastructure".
Band  Food-smiley-004 Jawdrop Fireworks Spacecraft  Damned Reefer
elevating this outfit to a space advisory think tank.

KR Eye doubt we are infrequently visited... 

Please welcome our newest member, ames  LilD
[Image: 31012440750_ff95073805_b.jpg]
Welcome to the ames Rorschach Center.

[Image: Screenshot_from_2012-09-04.png]
NASA, satellite company team up to explore unique asteroid
March 3, 2017 by Aylin Y. Woodward, The Mercury News

[Image: asteroid.jpg]
An artist's impression of an asteroid breaking up. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Mention the word "asteroid" and you'll probably think about the downfall of the dinosaurs, or perhaps Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck duking it out in the movie "Armageddon."   Popblood Beer

Now, NASA and a Palo Alto-based satellite manufacturer are working to get a spacecraft to an asteroid before one gets to us.
Asteroid exploration has become one of NASA's top goals, and Space Systems Loral will play a key role in an upcoming mission that will allow scientists to get research equipment to a unique asteroid to study its composition. It's the company's first major foray into the world of deep-space exploration.
NASA's Discovery Program, aimed at improving our understanding of the solar system by exploring planets, moons and other celestial bodies, announced last month that it had selected two asteroid-centric missions - each with a $450 million price cap - to launch in the next decade. One of the missions involves sending a spacecraft to Psyche, an asteroid named after the Greek goddess of the soul that is made entirely of metal.
Scientists say metal asteroids are one of the last remaining things in our solar system that they have never seen up close.
"We've looked at rocky planets, gas giants, icy planets, rocky asteroids, comets - but never anything like this," said Jim Bell, a professor of planetary science at Arizona State University, where a team of scientists is leading the Psyche mission. The scientists believe the asteroid may be the metal core of a planet that was stripped of its rocky outer layers when it was destroyed billions of years ago.
Asteroids - rocky space bodies that orbit the sun - range in size from 600 miles in diameter to dust particles. Like Psyche, most are in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. NASA estimates the belt contains between 1.1 million and 1.9 million asteroids larger than a half-mile in diameter, plus millions of smaller ones.
Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the Arizona team's principal investigator, recently told Space News that visiting Psyche will allow scientists to "literally visit a planetary core - the only way that humankind ever can." Psyche's metallic iron and nickel composition is similar to Earth's core, so studying the asteroid may help scientists understand how planets' layers - such as cores and crusts - separate.

Bell, Elkins-Tanton's second-in-command, will be in charge of obtaining color images of the asteroid and figuring out its surface geology from the images.
For Bell, Psyche represents the opportunity to study a world made of metal. "We don't know what to expect regarding impact craters or tectonic features," he said. "Our predictions are all over the map of Dr. Seuss-like landscapes."
The mission, set to launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center in 2023, hopes to use data collected from the metallic asteroid to help scientists learn about how planets with cores like Psyche formed during the early days of our solar system.
Erik Asphaug, another investigator on the team, likens himself to "a kid in a candy store." Like Bell, he yearns to understand the geology of an entirely metallic body: "Was there ever water on Psyche? Is there evidence for chemical processes? Plate tectonics?"
Added Bell: "We're also trying to figure out what these kinds of asteroids are like, to inform us about others like it that could be a threat to Earth in the future."
The Arizona team says it will take five to seven years for the mission's spacecraft to get to the asteroid - which is 130 miles in diameter - and then it will spend one year collecting data as it orbits the asteroid.
Bell's imaging camera, along with a gamma ray neutron detector to detect the asteroid's composition and a magnetometer to detect its magnetic fields, will also be making the journey. Information will be relayed back via a radio antenna on the spacecraft that communicates with the deep-space network antennas on Earth.
The responsibility of building the shuttle-bus-size spacecraft that will travel to Psyche falls to Space Systems Loral, or SSL - a 60-year-old company that constructs and launches commercial communications satellites for companies such as Sirius XM and DirecTV.
When the company announced it was awarded the mission's $127 million contract in early January, SSL President John Celli said "years of experience and success in building state-of-the-art spacecraft" positioned the company to contribute to the NASA mission.
The spacecraft will be built in conjunction with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which will later integrate the scientific instruments and computer "brain." Bob Mase, deputy project manager for the Psyche mission at JPL, called it a "tag-team effort that leverages both parties' strengths."
Harrison Pitman of Made In Space, a Mountain View company that manufactures technology for use in space, said that his company recognizes the importance of reaching resource-rich asteroids like Psyche.
Made In Space, which did not compete for the Psyche project contract, is working on another project aimed at traveling to an asteroid in deep space. The project involves using robotics to convert an asteroid into a self-propelled spacecraft that flies itself back to Earth's orbit. Once in orbit, the asteroid can be mined for resources like rare metals that are unobtainable on Earth.
"We believe that the insights gained on this Psyche mission and similar missions will provide the groundwork necessary to successfully develop asteroid-mining operations like ours," Pitman said.
The Psyche collaboration also marks a new trend at the nexus of scientific exploration and commercial production.
Al Tadros, a vice president at SSL who has been with the company for 28 years, said the firm has had to make some major adjustments to pull off the asteroid project - but is loving every minute of it.
"It's a change from communication satellites, which are business- and profit-driven," he said. "But like our commercial business, NASA projects demand low risk and on-time delivery."
Tadros said SSL was chosen from more than 20 proposals following an initial selection process, vigorous oral evaluations and an on-site visit from 80 NASA reviewers.
"It's pretty cool," Tadros said with a laugh.

Read more at:[/url][url=]

An exclusive look at Jeff Bezos’s plan to set up Amazon-like delivery for ‘future human settlement’ of the moon

Bezos and Blue Origin Reportedly Pitch 'Amazon-like' Delivery for the Moon
By Jeff Foust, SpaceNews Writer | March 4, 2017 07:00am ET
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos poses in front of his rocket.
[Image: jeff-bezos.jpg?interpolation=lanczos-non...ize=*:1400]
Credit: Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, reportedly pitched the new administration on setting up an "Amazon-like" delivery service for the moon.
In a January white paper circulated within NASA and the Trump transition team, Blue Origin proposed developing a cargo lander called Blue Moon that could support a future lunar base at the south pole, where there are both deposits of water ice and regions in almost constant sunlight.
The Blue Moon spacecraft could fly on a number of launch vehicles, including Blue Origin's New Glenn vehicle under development. [Washington Post]

By Christian Davenport March 2 

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, inspects New Shepard’s West Texas launch facility before the rocket’s maiden voyage.
More than four decades after the last man walked on the lunar surface, several upstart space entrepreneurs are looking to capitalize on NASA's renewed interest in returning to the moon, offering a variety of proposals with the ultimate goal of establishing a lasting human presence there.
The commercial sector's interest comes as many anticipate support from the Trump administration, which is eager for a first-term triumph to rally the nation the way the Apollo flights did in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The latest to offer a proposal is Jeffrey P. Bezos, whose space company Blue Origin has been circulating a seven-page white paper to NASA leadership and President Trump's transition team about the company's interest in developing a lunar spacecraft with a lander that would touch down near a crater at the south pole where there is water and nearly continuous sunlight for solar energy. The memo urges the space agency to back an Amazon-like shipment service for the moon that would deliver gear for experiments, cargo and habitats by mid-2020, helping to enable “future human settlement” of the moon. (Bezos, the founder of, owns The Washington Post.)
“It is time for America to return to the Moon — this time to stay,” Bezos said in response to emailed questions from The Post. “A permanently inhabited lunar settlement is a difficult and worthy objective. I sense a lot of people are excited about this.”
The Post obtained a copy of the white paper, marked “proprietary and confidential,” and the company then confirmed its authenticity and agreed to answer questions about it.
Bezos’s proposal comes as SpaceX founder Elon Musk made a stunning announcement this week that his company planned to fly two unnamed, private citizens on a tourist trip around the moon by next year — an ambitious timeline that, if met, could beat a similar mission by NASA.
[SpaceX plans to fly two private citizens around the moon by late next year.]
Anticipating that the Trump administration is focusing on the moon, the space agency recently announced it is considering adding astronauts to the first flight of its Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule. That flight, originally scheduled to fly without humans in 2018, would also circle the moon. But as the space agency seeks to move faster under the Trump administration, it is now studying the feasibility of adding crew for a mission that would then occur by 2019.

[NASA officials discuss Trump's push for first-term moon mission.]
Obama killed plans for a lunar mission, saying in 2010 that “we’ve been there before.” But the administration’s Mars plan was still far from actually delivering humans there, and critics grew frustrated that NASA has not been able to fly humans out of low Earth orbit since the 1970s. A shot around the moon, however, could be feasible, even within a few years.
Blue Origin’s proposal, dated Jan. 4, doesn’t involve flying humans, but rather is focused on a series of cargo missions. Those could deliver the equipment necessary to help establish a human colony on the moon — unlike the Apollo missions, in which the astronauts left “flags and footprints” and then came home.
NASA already has shown a willingness to work closely with the commercial sector, hiring companies to fly supplies and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station. It is providing technical expertise, but no funding, to SpaceX’s plan to fly an uncrewed spacecraft to Mars by 2020.
The prospect of a lunar mission has several companies lining up to provide not just transportation, but also habitats, science experiments and even the ability to mine the moon for resources.
The United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has also been working on plans to create a transportation network to the area around the moon, known as cislunar space.
“I’m excited by the possibilities,” said Tory Bruno, the alliance's chief executive. “This administration, near as we can tell, feels a sense of urgency to go out and make things happen, and to have high-profile demonstrations that are along the road map to accomplish these broad goals. … There is an opportunity to begin building that infrastructure right now — within the next four years.”
Robert Bigelow, the founder of Bigelow Aerospace, a maker of inflatable space habitats, said his company could create a depot that could orbit the moon by 2020, housing supplies and medial facilities, as well as humans. A smaller version of the possible habitats, known as the BEAM, is docked to the International Space Station, where astronauts have been testing it.

In an interview, Bigelow said he was glad the administration seems to be refocusing on the moon. “Mars is premature at this time. The moon is not,” he said. “We have the technology. We have the ability, and the potential for a terrific business case.”

At an Aviation Week awards ceremony Thursday evening, Bezos added that the moon could help propel humans even further into space, to destinations such as Mars: "I think that if you go to the moon first, and make the moon your home, then you can get to Mars more easily."
After remaining quiet and obsessively secretive for years, Blue Origin’s attempt to partner with NASA is a huge coming out of sorts for the company, which has been funded almost exclusively by Bezos. The paper urges NASA to develop a program that provides “incentives to the private sector to demonstrate a commercial lunar cargo delivery service.”
Blue Origin could perform the first lunar mission as early as July 2020, Bezos wrote, but stressed that it could “only be done in partnership with NASA. Our liquid hydrogen expertise and experience with precision vertical landing offer the fastest path to a lunar lander mission. I’m excited about this and am ready to invest my own money alongside NASA to make it happen.”
Last year, Blue Origin successfully launched and landed its suborbital rocket, the New Shepard, five times within less than a year, flying just past the 62-mile edge of space and then landing vertically on a landing pad at the company’s West Texas facility.
That same technology could be used to land the Blue Moon vehicle on the lunar surface, the company said. Its white paper shows what looks like a modified New Shepard rocket, standing on the moon with an American flag, a NASA logo and Blue Origin’s feather symbol.
The company said it plans to land its Blue Moon lunar lander at Shackleton Crater on the moon’s south pole. The site has nearly continuous sunlight to provide power through the spacecraft’s solar arrays. The company also chose to land there because of the “water ice in the perpetual shadow of the crater’s deep crevices.”

Water is vital not just for human survival, but also because hydrogen and oxygen in water could be transformed into rocket fuel. The moon, then, is seen as a massive gas station in space.

The Blue Moon spacecraft could carry as much as 10,000 pounds of material and fly atop several different rockets, including NASA’s Space Launch System, the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V or its own New Glenn rocket, which is under development and expected to fly by the end of the decade, the company said.

“Once on the surface, the lander’s useful payload can be used to conduct science or deploy rovers,” the company said. “A robotic arm attached to the lander will deploy to examine the lunar surface with an array of instruments.”

The initial landing “is envisioned as the first in a series of increasingly capable missions,” including flying samples of lunar ice back to Earth for study.

The company said it could also help deliver the cargo and supplies needed for human settlements.
“Blue Moon is all about cost-effective delivery of mass to the surface of the Moon,” Bezos wrote. “Any credible first lunar settlement will require that capability.”

Virgin Galactic Unveils Spin-Off Virgin Orbit for Small-Satellite Launches

By Irene Klotz, Contributor | March 2, 2017 11:30am ET
[Image: virgin-galactic-launcherone-launch-art.j...ize=*:1400]
An artist's depiction of a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne rocket being air-launched from its Cosmic Girl mothership. Virgin Orbit is a spinoff company from the space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

Credit: Virgin Galactic

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space company is spinning off its LauncherOne rocket program into a separate firm to better position itself to serve the booming small-satellite industry, the company said Thursday (March 2).

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides will hold the same role in the spin-off, called Virgin Orbit, with day-to-day operations now in the hands of Dan Hart, a veteran Boeing executive hired away to become Orbit's president.
"It's been clear to me that there's been something changing, and I've really admired a lot of the bold moves that have gone on in the industry over the last five to 10 years, where people are doing commercially what was once only done with large, large government-funded programs," Hart said in an interview with [Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne in Pictures]

"My favorite times in my career have always been to driving teams to aggressive goals and achieving those," Hart said. "I just see this team as tremendously capable. It's kind of an all-star team, driving toward an objective and doing really well against that with a greater purpose.

"I've had a great journey across Boeing through ELVs [expendable launch vehicles] and the Delta program, missile defense systems, satellites big and small — so I've really enjoyed that. I just see this as a logical next step in my journey," Hart said.

The LauncherOne program, based in Long Beach, California, intends to serve the burgeoning small-satellite industry by offering low-cost, quick-turnaround launch services to orbit.
With a target price of below $10 million per flight, the air-launched LauncherOne will be able to carry 440 lbs. (200 kilograms) into standard sun-synchronous orbits, or more than 880 lbs. (400 kg) to low Earth orbit. The debut flight is targeted to launch before the end of 2017. [Flashback: Virgin Galactic Unveils LauncherOne (Video)]

[Image: launcherone-in-space-art.jpg?1488469817?...ize=*:1400]
An artist's illustration of a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne rocket carrying a small satellite into orbit.

Credit: Virgin Galactic

Ultimately, Virgin Orbit should be capable of manufacturing "a couple of dozen or more launch vehicles per year," Whitesides said.

"When we got started a few years ago, we were at a lower number," he added. "With the investments we've made and this big manufacturing facility we have here [in Long Beach], we have the capacity to scale."

Over the next five years, thousands of small satellites are expected to need rides into orbit, with big global networks in development by OneWeb, Planet, SpaceX and other firms in the United States and abroad looking to provide global high-speed internet and communications, imagery and other services.

"If you look at market projections, they are looking at literally thousands of satellites to be launched over the next five years," Whitesides said. "Many of those were announced over the past couple of years.
"These are all really encouraging trends — we think mostly due to Richard Branson having a good nose for what's next that LauncherOne will be coming to market at the right time," he added.
The Bezos plan offers a goal of more immediate infrastructure development in a Lunar colony,
while NASA looks for microbes that are everywhere on Mars,
except in a NASA test tube on a Rover.

Private industry begins to think clearly because they are privately funded.

NASA plays games with public funding vectored to special interests,
while they practice evasion and delay tactics in everything else they do.

I would like to see coolony infrastructure goals focused on Mars, 
but private industry sees more immediate tangible results in Lunar efforts right now.

The moon is a blossoming tourist trap with Chinese restaurants on the dark side, 
while Mars remains the destination dateline with destiny.
Elon Musk: tech dreamer reaching for sun, moon and stars
March 5, 2017 by Glenn Chapman

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Entrepreneur Elon Musk has an estimated current net worth of $13.4 billion from interests in transport, payments and space technology
Sending tourists for a trip around the moon is the latest big idea launched by Elon Musk, a Silicon Valley star known for turning his passions into visionary enterprises.

Musk has become one of the United States' best-known innovators. He was a founder of payments company PayPal, electric carmaker Tesla Motors and SpaceX, maker and launcher of rockets and spacecraft.
SpaceX recently announced that two private citizens have paid money to be sent around the Moon in what would mark the farthest humans have ever traveled to deep space since the 1970s.
In a sector where entrepreneurs often speak of "moonshots," Musk is one of the biggest dreamers.
The 45-year-old South Africa-born entrepreneur has channeled a dot-com fortune into a series of ambitious ventures.
Besides being the head of SpaceX and Tesla, Musk is the chairman of SolarCity, a solar panel installer recently bought by Tesla.
He also operates his own foundation focusing on education, clean energy and child health.
And he drafted a paper detailing the feasibility of an ultra-fast "Hyperloop" rail transport system that would transport people at near supersonic speeds, then made it freely available to enterprises willing to pursue the project.
[Image: spacextosend.jpg]
The SpaceX plan to fly tourists around the Moon in 2018
'Doesn't sit around'
"He is a visionary who has some key passions which he pursues with vigor," Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson said of Musk.
"He doesn't sit around and wait for people to do something about them; he goes out and does it himself."
Musk's penchant for rocketing after his passions may appear to spread him thin, but he has built a record of success.
Musk appears strong on painting big ideas in broad strokes and then enlisting people skilled at tending to the nuts-and-bolts work needed to follow through, say observers.
"He doesn't seem to be able to focus," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said.
"He just likes coming up with the ideas and is good at picking other people who can deal with the plumbing—that is why he is able to do a lot of stuff."
And while some may wonder whether hubris or realism reigns in Musk's moves, his businesses have gained value, with the jury still out on the wisdom of the Tesla acquisition of SolarCity.
"He can certainly sell his ideas," Enderle said.
[Image: visionaryorm.jpg]
Visionary or mad scientist—Elon Musk's Tesla aims to conquer the car market in the oil-rich Middle East with electric vehicles
"The fact his businesses have held together so long indicates he is not a con man."

Fighting against evil
Musk more than a year ago took part in creating a nonprofit research company devoted to developing artificial intelligence that will help people and not hurt them.
Musk found himself in the middle of a technology world controversy by holding firm that AI could turn on humanity and be its ruin instead of a salvation.
Technology giants including Google, Apple and Microsoft have been investing in making machines smarter, contending the goal is to improve lives.
"If we create some digital super-intelligence that exceeds us in every way by a lot, it is very important that it be benign," Musk said at a conference in California.
He reasoned that even a benign situation with ultra-intelligent AI would put people so far beneath the machine they would be "like a house cat."
"I don't love the idea of being a house cat," Musk said, envisioning the creation of neural lacing that magnifies people's brain power by linking them directly to computing capabilities.
[Image: elonmusksspa.jpg]
Elon Musk's SpaceX venture carries cargo to the International Space Station and has plans to send two private passengers on a trip around the Moon
Living in a game
Some of his ideas have prompted questions about whether Musk is a visionary or mad scientist. He has raised eyebrows with a theory that the world as it is known may be a computer simulation.
"I've had so many simulation discussions it's crazy," Musk said while fielding a question on the topic at the conference.
He maintained that "the odds that we are in base reality is one in billions."
Musk lives in Los Angeles and holds US, Canadian and South African citizenship.
He moved to Canada in his late teens and then to the United States, earning bachelor's degrees in physics and business from the University of Pennsylvania.
After graduating, Musk abandoned plans to pursue further studies at Stanford University and started Zip2, a company that made online publishing software for the media industry.
He banked his first millions before the age of 30 when he sold Zip2 to US computer maker Compaq for more than $300 million in 1999.
Musk's next company,, eventually merged with PayPal, the online payments firm bought by Internet auction giant eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
Forbes estimates Musk's current net worth at $13.4 billion.
[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Elon Musk an innovator wary of humanity's future

Read more at:[/url][url=]

This vehicle would/could actually work on mars.
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With a few modifications... Arrow

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If Tesla can make near autonomous self-driving 'cars' on Earth...they can make electric Mars Cars too.
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Sierra Nevada to resume Dream Chaser flight tests  LilD
March 6, 2017 Stephen Clark
[Image: dreamchaser.png]
[url=][/url]Artist’s concept of a Dream Chaser spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: Sierra Nevada

An atmospheric test model of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser space plane is being readied for tow and landing tests at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California this spring.
The partially-assembled test craft arrived at the California test site, located on Edwards Air Force Base, on Jan. 25. Technicians are adding the ship’s V-shaped tail fins and other equipment before kicking off ground and flight tests in the coming months, according to Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada’s space systems division.
“We’ll do a series of ground tests,” Sirangelo said in a recent interview. “That will include towing the vehicle down the runway, and that allows us to see how it stops and how it moves, but it also allows us to test all the sensors on the vehicle because we can get it up to a high enough speed where that will happen.”
The Dream Chaser spacecraft, originally envisioned to fly with astronaut crews, will now fly on space missions with cargo deliveries heading for the International Space Station. That change means the spaceship will return to Earth on autopilot, using navigation aids to descend to a runway, deploy its landing gear and touch down like NASA’s space shuttles.
After the ground tests, Sirangelo said the Dream Chaser test article will perform “captive carry” tests suspended under a helicopter, using the exercises to verify the movements of the craft’s aerosurfaces and navigation instrumentation.
“When that’s done, we’ll move into a series of flight tests, where it will be dropped for approach and landing like the shuttle Enterprise,” Sirangelo said, referring to the vehicle NASA used for landing demonstrations in the 1970s before the first full-up space shuttle mission.
The Dream Chaser will be dropped from heavy-duty carrier helicopter for an autonomous landing at Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base.
The test campaign in California’s Mojave Desert comes three-and-a-half years after Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser last flew on its own. A drop test in October 2013 ended with a crash landing after the ship’s left landing gear failed to deploy.
Sierra Nevada says the 2013 flight was successful until that point, and Dream Chaser’s autopilot landing system steered the craft toward the runway for a touchdown on the centerline.
Engineers blamed the mishap on a landing gear borrowed from a U.S. Air Force F-5E jet. Future Dream Chaser cargo missions to the space station will fly with a different landing gear, and the spaceship preparing for tests this spring in California features a gear more advanced then the suspect system at fault in 2013.

[Image: afrc2017-0016-081.jpg]
The Dream Chaser test craft arrived at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in late January. Credit: NASA/Ken Ulbrich

“We had borrowed that gear for that test, and that was one of the decision we made that didn’t work out, obviously,” Sirangelo said. “It wasn’t the orbital flight design. It’s a completely different design system now, so it’s very different from what we had before. It’s not quite the full orbital design, but it’s on that path.”
After the crash landing in 2013, Sierra Nevada returned the damaged test craft to the company’s facility in Louisville, Colorado, for repairs. While the vehicle set for landing tests in the coming months is the same one that flew in 2013, Sirangelo said it is “substantially upgraded.”
“It’s much more close to the (configuration) of the orbital vehicle now, with flight software,” Sirangelo told Spaceflight Now. “It’s fully autonomous, so it will use flight software that we’ll go to orbit with. All the control surfaces, and all the data gathering is all electronic.
“The computer systems are now the orbital version of the computer systems that we will manage with, so it’s structurally similar, but virtually the whole inside of the vehicle has been updated and changed.”
In 2013, Sierra Nevada was competing with Boeing and SpaceX for lucrative contracts with NASA to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The space agency awarded the crew transportation deals to the other two companies in 2014, leaving Dream Chaser’s future uncertain.
But Sierra Nevada found other business for the lifting body space plane, primarily in the space station’s cargo resupply program. NASA announced in January 2016 that Sierra Nevada, SpaceX and Orbital ATK will be responsible for hauling up most of the space station’s U.S. cargo and experiments from 2019 through 2024, the station’s current planned retirement date.
SpaceX and Orbital ATK are the incumbent commercial cargo transportation contractors, and Sierra Nevada will join them in the follow-on contract.
Sierra Nevada also has agreements with the European Space Agency to study the use of Dream Chaser to provide access to space for European research experiments after the end of the space station program in the 2020s. The United Nations agreed last year to purchase a standalone unpiloted Dream Chaser mission to Earth orbit in 2021 to host research payloads from developing nations.
Sirangelo said the long gap between Dream Chaser flight tests was not only driven by technical concerns — like the upgrade and repair of the test craft — but by closing the business case for the program.
“We had to go and win a contract,” Sirangelo said. “We needed a path to really make this all worthwhile to take this next step. Once we won the contract a year ago, we were able to accelerate the program and get back into flight tests.”
The feeling among Sierra Nevada’s team is different this time, he said.
“Not only are we back in flight tests, but now it’s different in that we know that we have a contract,” Sirangelo said. “We have flights coming up. We’ve got decades of flights in front of us, so it’s a different feeling.”
Under the structure of the cargo resupply contract, each partner must pass several programmatic, safety and integration milestones before flying missions. Sierra Nevada has passed two of those milestones so far, Sirangelo said, and a preliminary design review for the full Dream Chaser system is coming up soon.
NASA has not ordered resupply missions from any of the three providers under the new cargo contract — called Commercial Resupply Services-2 — but Sirangelo said the company hopes to get a firm order and a target launch date from the space agency this year. Each of the three CRS-2 contract winners is guaranteed at least six missions.
On space station resupply runs, the Dream Chaser will take off from Florida on top of United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets and return to runway landings at one of several potential sites, such as the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, for unpacking, refurbishment and reuse.
The Dream Chaser is about one-quarter the size of a space shuttle orbiter, allowing it to land on shorter runways.
It is capable of delivering more than 12,000 pounds (5,500 kilograms) of equipment to the space station inside its pressurized compartment and on an external aft-mounted payload carrier. At the end of each flight, the two parts will detach, with the Dream Chaser space plane returning to Earth with research specimens and other gear, and the disposable cargo module burning up in the atmosphere to incinerate trash.
The fully-loaded spacecraft will weigh around 20 tons and will likely require the lift capacity of ULA’s most powerful Atlas 5 rocket configuration — the “551” with five strap-on solid rocket boosters and a 5-meter (17-foot) payload fairing, according to Sirangelo.
The first space-rated Dream Chaser is “well under design and development” and on schedule, he said.
“We’ve now built the full pressure shell and tested it, and now we’re building the orbital shell — we call it the external structure — the structure of the vehicle, and all the flight software,” Sirangelo said. “A lot of the work has been on the software side because it is a fully autonomous vehicle now, so it’s well on the way to being ready on time.”
Lockheed Martin built the Dream Chaser’s composite structure, and Sierra Nevada will locate the spaceship’s launch site processing facility alongside Lockheed Martin’s Orion production line inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Blue Origin details new rocket’s capabilities, signs first orbital customer

March 7, 2017 Stephen Clark

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Artist’s concept of the New Glenn rocket. Credit: Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos revealed new details of his space company’s reusable orbital-class booster Tuesday, releasing an animation illustrating the rocket’s liftoff from Cape Canaveral and announcing a contract with Eutelsat to put a commercial communications satellite on one of the launcher’s first missions.

Speaking at the Satellite 2017 industry conference in Washington, Bezos said Blue Origin’s towering New Glenn rocket, named for pioneering astronaut John Glenn, could launch by 2020 and be reused up to 100 times.

Paris-based Eutelsat, one of the largest satellite telecom operators in the world, has signed up as the first paying customer for a New Glenn launch in 2021 or 2022.

“Eutelsat is one of the world’s most experienced and innovative satellite operators, and we are honored that they chose Blue Origin and our New Glenn orbital launch vehicle,” Bezos said in a statement.

“Eutelsat has launched satellites on many new vehicles and shares both our methodical approach to engineering and our passion for driving down the cost of access to space,” Bezos said. “Welcome to the launch manifest, Eutelsat, can’t wait to fly together.”

The New Glenn’s primary base will be at Cape Canaveral, where Blue Origin is constructing a cavernous rocket factory just outside the gates of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Blue Origin has started preliminary earthmoving work for a launch pad at Complex 36, a former Atlas rocket facility at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and plans to install an engine test stand at neighboring Complex 11.

The animation released by Blue Origin on Tuesday shows the New Glenn rocket taking off from Complex 36 on the power of seven BE-4 main engines, burning a mixture of liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen. The engines each produce about 550,000 pounds of thrust at full throttle, combining to generate 3.85 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.

The first stage engines will give way to a single modified BE-4 engine on the New Glenn’s second stage to deliver satellites, and eventually crews, into orbit, while the booster flips around and reignites to slow its descent toward a barge positioned offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Blue Origin.

The New Glenn first stage will have aerodynamic fins, or strakes, for improved steering and extend six landing legs just before touchdown.

The recovery maneuver is familiar to industry officials and space enthusiasts, bearing similarity to the landings pioneered by rival SpaceX.

Blue Origin held a patent on its plans to land rocket boosters on ships in the ocean using rocket thrust to slow the vehicles down for landing, but SpaceX disputed the validity of the patent claims by pointing to academic papers and proposals dating back decades outlining concepts to recover rockets on ocean-going vessels for refurbishment and reuse.
Blue Origin in 2015 canceled the claims disputed by SpaceX, which achieved its first rocket landing at sea in April 2016.
View image on Twitter


[Image: UF3cgUk4_normal.jpg]Jeff Bezos 

Excited to announce we have signed our 1st #NewGlenncustomer. Welcome to the launch manifest @Eutelsat_SA
7:56 AM - 7 Mar 2017

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The two-stage New Glenn variant, shown in the animation, will stand 270 feet (82 meters) tall and haul nearly 29,000 pounds, or 13 metric tons, to geostationary transfer orbit, the drop-off point for most communications satellites, like the platforms owned and operated by Eutelsat. The rocket’s payload capacity to low Earth orbit, a few hundred miles in altitude, will be nearly 100,000 pounds, or 45 metric tons, Bezos said.

With the addition of an optional third stage for deep space missions, the New Glenn’s height will increase to 313 feet (95 meters).

Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine in development to power the New Glenn rocket is scheduled to perform its full-scale hotfire test later this year at the company’s remote West Texas test site.

Bezos tweeted two pictures of the first fully-assembled BE-4 engine Monday, adding that the second and third copies are “following close behind.”

United Launch Alliance has tapped the BE-4 engine as its preferred powerplant for the next-generation Vulcan rocket scheduled for a maiden launch in 2019. ULA is paying Aerojet Rocketdyne, a traditional engine-builder, to continue developing its kerosene-fueled AR1 engine as a backup option.

“We are very close to selecting,” said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of ULA, in a Feb. 16 presentation at the University of Texas at El Paso. “And if the testing that happens in the next couple of months is successful, we’ll probably end up on that Blue Origin (engine).”

The BE-4 and AR1 will employ a staged combustion cycle, a more efficient engine cycle than currently available on other U.S. liquid hydrocarbon rocket engines. Staged combustion engines currently flying include the Russian RD-180 on ULA’s Atlas 5, which the Vulcan will replace.

It’ll be very exciting because it’ll bring that advanced Russian engine cycle technology to America, and it will make it much much better because this engine will be additively manufactured,” Bruno said. “It will be much more produceable. It will be much lighter, and it will be much much more affordable.”

Blue Origin’s first production engine, the BE-3, burns liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and flies on the company’s suborbital New Shepard rocket. The New Shepard has launched successfully six times, including five straight vertical liftoffs and landings with the same reusable single-stage booster in 2015 and 2016.

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The first fully-assembled BE-4 engine. Credit: Blue Origin

Eutelsat has taken chances on new rockets before, placing its satellites on the inaugural launches of the Atlas 3, Atlas 5, Delta 4 and Ariane 5 ECA boosters in the early 2000s.

In a statement Tuesday, Eutelsat said the contract with Blue Origin “reflects Eutelsat’s longstanding strategy to source launch services from multiple agencies in order to secure access to space.”

Eutelsat said the New Glenn launcher will be compatible with “virtually all” of its satellites, allowing the company to assign a spacecraft to the mission 12 months ahead of time.

“Blue Origin has been forthcoming with Eutelsat on its strategy and convinced us they have the right mindset to compete in the launch service industry,” said Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat. “Their solid engineering approach, and their policy to develop technologies that will form the base of a broad generation of launchers, corresponds to what we expect from our industrial partners.
“In including New Glenn in our manifest, we are pursuing our longstanding strategy of innovation that drives down the cost of access to space and drives up performance,” Belmer said in a statement. “This can only be good news for the profitability and sustainability of our industry.”
Meanwhile @.guv ... Arrow

NASA to Test Orion Space Capsule Parachute

By Calla Cofield, Staff Writer | March 7, 2017 05:16pm ET

[img=553x0]|660:*[/img][Image: orion-chute-test.jpg?interpolation=lancz...ize=*:1400]

A test of the Orion human space capsule's parachute system in December 2012. NASA plans to conduct another Orion drop test on March 8, 2017.
Credit: NASA

The NASA spacecraft that could one day help ferry humans to Mars is scheduled to undergo a parachute test tomorrow (March 8). 

The Orion spacecraft can carry humans on long trips into deep space, but once it returns to Earth, it needs a little help touching down. Like the Apollo spacecraft, Orion relies on a parachute system to lower it down through Earth's atmosphere, and safely return astronauts to the ground.
The test is scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EST/1430 GMT) at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. A model of Orion will be dropped from a C-17 aircraft flying at an altitude of 25,000 feet, according toa statement from the agency. NASA is currently investigating the possibility of flying two astronauts on a test flight of the Orion spacecraft as early as 2019. 

Tomorrow's parachute test will simulate what would happen if an abort sequence took place during Orion’s launch. If something goes wrong with NASA's Space Launch Systems (SLS) rocket that Orion is riding on, NASA officials may decide to abort the flight, meaning the spacecraft would be ejected from its seat atop the rocket. In such an event, the parachutes would deploy and drop the spacecraft safely back to Earth. During an abort sequence, the spacecraft will be traveling at the relatively slow speed of about 130 mph [210 km/h], rather than speeds of about 310 mph [500 km/h] during re-entry after reaching space, according to NASA. The drop will last for about four minutes total; the last one to two minutes will take place under fully deployed parachutes, according to a NASA representative.

Orion's parachute system consists of 11 parachutes in total: three forward bay cover parachutes (deployed first), two drogue parachutes (deployed second, at about 25,000 feet), and three pilot parachutes (deployed at about 9,500 feet) that subsequently deploy three main parachutes. The parachute system can slow down the space capsule to just 20 mph [32 km/h] before touchdown, according to NASA. During tomorrow's test, the Orion team will focus on "deployment of Orion's two drogue parachutes at low speeds, and deployment of its three main parachutes in preparation for landing."
This will be Orion's second airdrop parachute test in a series of eight qualifying drop tests that will replicate various scenarios in which Orion's parachute system would need to be deployed, according to the statement.
Don't expect SpaceX-NASA space race
March 9, 2017 by Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times

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SpaceX, the upstart company, and NASA, the government agency, both have plans to venture to Mars and orbit the moon. But that doesn't mean they've launched a new space race.

In fact, NASA has long been SpaceX's most important customer, providing contracts to deliver cargo and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station. And the Los Angeles-area company will need NASA's technical support to achieve the first of its grand ambitions in deep space.
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk acknowledged as much last week, shortly after announcing that SpaceX would launch two private, paying individuals on a weeklong lunar flyby in 2018.
"SpaceX could not do this without NASA," Musk tweeted. "Can't express enough appreciation."
NASA, on the other hand, has come to rely on SpaceX and other companies for transport to the space station as its funding has tightened. In today's dollars, the agency's budget is about half what it was at the peak of the 1960s, and down from the 1990s.
In the wake of the SpaceX news, NASA issued a statement that said it is "changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships," in part to "free" the agency to focus on rockets and spacecraft to go beyond the moon into deep space.
"The whole idea is that NASA is at the point of a spear," said Howard McCurdy, professor in the school of public affairs at American University. "It's like exploration of any terrestrial realm. This is the way the model is supposed to work."
Indeed, the rapid ascent of Musk and other space industry pioneers is validation of the public-private partnership envisioned when Congress passed the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984.
By the mid-2000s, NASA was signing contracts with the private sector to fill in for its own funding constraints and the impending retirement of the space shuttle program.
In 2006, SpaceX won its first NASA award for $278 million to help develop the company's now-workhorse Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule. It later received an additional $118 million, and SpaceX contributed a total of about $454 million of its own funds to finish development, according to a NASA report.
Two years later, SpaceX won a $1.6 billion NASA contract to transport cargo to the space station. The deal came as the fledgling company of about 400 employees was starting to successfully launch the Falcon 1 from an atoll in the Marshall Islands.

It was not just NASA's financial resources and technical support that helped SpaceX, said company President Gwynne Shotwell, but also the agency's trust.
"We would not be the company that we are today without that early support from NASA," Shotwell said. "We would have made it, but it would have been more of a struggle, it would have taken us longer."
A major milestone for the partnership came in 2012 when SpaceX launched its first NASA cargo load, making it the first private company to send a spacecraft to the space station.
Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at the Teal Group, said the NASA supply missions gave SpaceX "almost instant credibility."
"Having NASA as an anchor client allowed them to have enough revenue flow so that they could establish themselves and eventually diversify and get some commercial contracts and eventually to be able to get into the military establishment," he said.
Today, SpaceX and Boeing Co. are developing separate crew capsules as part of NASA contracts to transport astronauts to the space station.
SpaceX noted that this NASA program provided most of the funding to develop the Dragon 2 spacecraft, which will make the moon trip. It is planning to conduct the first test flight of the Dragon crew capsule in November, followed by a flight test with humans in May 2018.
Once operational crewed flights to the space station are underway, the company said it would launch its Dragon capsule atop the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with SpaceX funds, for the lunar mission in late 2018.
Other well-known, newer space companies have also recently been awarded NASA contracts, including Inc. founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic.
Both of those companies intend to target the suborbital space tourism markets, though Blue Origin has also unveiled plans for a launch vehicle called the New Glenn, which the company has said could lift astronauts to low-Earth orbit or even beyond.
Blue Origin is interested in developing a lunar spacecraft and lander, and eventually, a delivery service for the moon, according to a white paper obtained by the Washington Post that the company sent to NASA officials and President Trump's transition team.
Virgin Orbit, which recently split from Virgin Galactic, is focused on launching small satellites.
NASA's role as a "development catalyst" has been part of the agency's objectives since its earliest days, said Sean O'Keefe, a former NASA administrator and current university professor at Syracuse University.
"The idea was to spin that into opportunities for commercial market potential for other discoveries, for those who would build on the knowledge base of what was determined, discovered or invented as a means to overcome obstacles and take it to another level," he said.
Phil McAlister, division director for commercial spaceflight development at NASA, called the recent advances of the space companies "really positive."
"Moving human presence deeper into space is going to require the best of NASA and the private sector," he said. Over the last 10 years, he added, NASA's private partners have become more technologically mature and capable.
It's unclear whether NASA will provide any further assistance for the SpaceX moon shot, though Musk emphasized that the agency would have first priority if it wanted to work with SpaceX on a lunar orbit mission.
NASA also has its own plans to fly around the moon with a crew in tow.
Last month, NASA said it would look into the feasibility of putting a crew on the first flight test of its Orion spacecraft and heavy-lift rocket, Space Launch System, in 2019. That mission is set to go around the moon to test maneuvers that would be necessary to eventually go farther into deep space.
While both SLS and Falcon Heavy will have heavy-launch capabilities, they may not necessarily be redundant, said Dava Newman, former NASA deputy administrator and Apollo program professor of astronautics at MIT.
"If in the next two years there's two capabilities for heavy-lift, that'd be awesome," she said. "Having one system leaves you vulnerable" to system failures.
The nature of NASA's mission, and its funding, is up in the air under the new Trump administration, however. The agency is still waiting on Trump to appoint a new administrator, and there has been debate in Washington about whether NASA should go back to the moon or venture ahead toward Mars.
SpaceX's private moon mission could influence that debate, McCurdy said. "It certainly complicates the argument that the moon-firsters would like to make."
Both SpaceX and NASA plan flights to Mars. Last year, Musk unveiled plans to colonize the Red Planet, sending up to a million people on more than 1,000 spaceships, stretched over decades. He called for a public-private partnership, but the nature of any collaboration was unclear.
The two entities will team up on at least one launch - SpaceX's first Red Dragon uncrewed mission to Mars, now aimed at 2020, two years behind Musk's original timeline.
NASA has more than 50 years of experience with Mars exploration and will provide SpaceX with technical support during the mission, which could include help with data transmission from deep space, flight systems and engineering, and mission design and navigation.
In exchange, NASA is interested in the entry, descent and landing data from the capsule.
SpaceX has started testing some of that supersonic retro-propulsion technology by landing its first-stage rocket booster on floating platforms and on land, a technique that could be important for future Mars landings, said Ellen Stofan, former NASA chief scientist.
NASA has successfully landed rovers on Mars weighing up to almost a ton. The robots have dropped to the planet's surface in air bags, using rockets, and with the assistance of cables extended from a "sky crane" - all methods that are problematic for landing humans.
A human mission would weigh considerably more, somewhere between 10 and 20 tons, Newman said.
"It is an order of magnitude greater than we've ever done," she said. "We all want to figure out how to get to Mars. And one of the things we need to figure out is to get humans there safely."

Read more at:[/url][url=]

Private Space Stations Could Orbit the Moon by 2020, Robert Bigelow Says

By Tariq Malik, Managing Editor | March 9, 2017 06:30am ET

Giant space-station refueling depots could be orbiting the moon by 2020, but only if the Trump administration makes the funding and national drive needed for it to happen a priority, according to aerospace entrepreneur Robert Bigelow

Bigelow, whose company, Bigelow Aerospace, has launched three private space-habitat prototypes into orbit — including the first inflatable space-station module, said that a commercial station in lunar orbit would be a vital destination for moon exploration. 
"The key is going to be how fast the Trump administration can react," Bigelow said in an interview Friday (March 3). The administration would have to move quickly "to energize funds and to galvanize the private sector" to make a lunar depot by end of 2020 possible, he added. [Bigelow Aerospace's Inflatable Space Station Idea (Photos)]

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A privately built space station could be in lunar orbit by 2020 to serve as a refueling depot for other spacecraft as depicted in this artist's illustration from space-habitat manufacturer Bigelow Aerospace.
Credit: Bigelow Aerospace

Bigelow spoke with just days after the private spaceflight company SpaceX, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, announced that it will launch a private flight around the moon in 2018. On Feb. 26, Musk told reporters SpaceX had "significant deposits" from two as-yet unnamed individuals for a private trip around the moon aboard the company's Dragon crew capsule. The flight will launch on SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket, which is scheduled to make its first test flight later this year. 

"SpaceX has indicated that they can provide transportation for a circumlunar flight by 2018," Bigelow said. "If the timeline is met, SpaceX would be in a position to offer commercial transportation to the moon by 2020."
Last week, another space entrepreneur — Amazon's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos — told the Washington Post that his private space company Blue Origin is eyeing its own plan for moon-bound spacecraft and a lunar lander.

[Image: bigelow-aerospace-ba-330-lunar-orbit.jpg...ize=*:1400]
This illustration depicts a Bigelow Aerospace BA-330 space habitat in orbit around the moon, where it could serve as a waystation for astronaut crews and a refueling depot for visiting spacecraft.
Credit: Bigelow Aerospace

Bigelow himself has often said that private space stations and habitats for the moon and beyond have been goals for his Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace. Last Wednesday (March 1), Bigelow unveiled his company's concept images of a lunar depot on the way to the moon, and in lunar orbit. 

Bigelow Aerospace launched two uncrewed prototype inflatable habitats, called Genesis I and Genesis II, in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Then in 2016, the company's Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (or BEAM) was delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) on a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship as part of a NASA test for future space habitats. It is the first privately built and inflatable room ever installed on the space station. And so far, it's performed well, Bigelow said. [The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module in Pictures]

"We are pleased, so far, with the performance of the spacecraft," he added. 

Bigelow Aerospace has also teamed up with the United Launch Alliance, a launch-providing partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to launch a colossal inflatable space habitat into orbit in 2020. That spacecraft, called the BA-330 for its 330 cubic meters (or about 11,650 cubic feet) of internal volume, would launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket and expand in orbit to serve as a free-flying private space station. 
"The BA-330 is three times the size of anything on the ISS," Bigelow told, adding that the company aims to be able to provide the habitats at a fraction of NASA's cost. 

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This artist's illustration of a Bigelow Aerospace BA-330 habitat on the way to the moon, powered by two United Launch Alliance ACES rocket stages.
Credit: Bigelow Aerospace

Bigelow said that a BA-330 habitat could potentially be placed into a low-lunar orbit using two of ULA's upgraded Centaur rocket stages, known as ACES(Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage). The space station would orbit somewhere between 100 and 150 kilometers above the moon, serving as a gateway for astronaut crews making their way to or from the lunar surface. 

The BA-330 could also be a fueling station for other spacecraft operating near the moon, something that will be essential for the permanent settlement of the moon, Bigelow said. 
"You'll be able to give the astronauts a waystation, a place where they can have the experience of being farther from Earth than anyone has been in the last 45 years," he added.

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Bigelow Aerospace's BEAM expandable module will enhance the living area of the International Space Station. See how the BEAM module works in our full infographic.
Credit: Karl Tate, contributor
Here's ~19.5 Billion$... Now get yer ass to Mars.
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The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 is a bill the Senate and House collaborated on for months, and it appropriates $19.508 billion to the space agency. NASA received $19.3 billion in 2016, or 0.5% of the total federal budget. In more than 6 years for the very first time, both chambers of Congress passed a bill that approves funding for NASA and gives the space agency new directives. According to Jeff Foust at Space News: the vital thing is that no members of the house of the Representatives spoke against the bill, when the bill presented to the senate members on March 7.

The main theme of the document that has sent to the NASA is to create a roadmap for sending humans near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s. It also calls on the space agency to continue developing the Space Launch System (SLS), a behemoth rocket and the Orion space capsule in order to eventually go to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

Now it's up to President Donald J. Trump to sign the bill into law or veto it.

In his inauguration speech, President Trump has showed his support for a crewed exploration of Mars, he said he's "ready to unlock the mysteries of space."

Administration officials, have said they want NASA to return to the moon in the 2020s but also planned to end the space agency's 58-year mandate to study the Earth and its climate. Trump also maintains a relatively tight collaboration with the Republican-controlled legislative branch.

This bill of $10.508 billion include funding for human space exploration, space station operations, science and more.

Here are some important titles and points of the 146-page document:

Launch of SLS and Orion in 2018, followed by a crewed mission to the moon in 2021, and further trips to the moon and Mars.

2.     "Journey to Mars"

Asks NASA for a roadmap to send people to Mars by 2033 and also points the space agency away from chasing the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Says it's the mission of NASA to "to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit"

4.     "Aeronautics"

Calls on NASA to be a leader in aviation and asks the space agency to look into supersonic aircraft research that would "open new global markets and enable new transportation capabilities"

5.     "Mars 2020 rover"

 Congress backs up NASA's plan to use the car-sized rover to "help determine whether life previously existed on that planet"

6.     "Europa"

 Supports of NASA's plan to send a probe to Jupiter's ice-covered moon Europa.

 Amends previous laws to make it part of NASA's mission to "search for life's origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe"

Asks NASA to explain how it will use the James Webb Space Telescope and other instruments to hunt for exoplanets

9.     "Near-Earth objects"

 Asks NASA to accelerate its program to find killer asteroids in space.
Commercial Breaking News.
Here's a 'plug' for Musk & Co.
Quote:the South Australia government said it would support the offer of Tesla batteries, according to Reuters.

In the next decade as humans begin setting up shop on Mars...

Musk will most likely already have an infrastructure working in-situ while NASA is still doing Test Flights/Fly byes Hi .

Don't take my word for it.

Take Elon's:

Quote:[Image: zDo-gAo0_normal.jpg]Elon Musk 

@mcannonbrookes Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?

Australia and the outback is like a Warm and Toasty Mars in many ways.
If Tesla / Solar City / Spacex can rescue an entire desolate region of a country from blackouts...

I'm nearly Positive he could safely,efficiently and economically have a feasible power supply on Mars with little difficulty as the technology matures by ~2020 enough to kickstart colonization efforts.

Tesla to the Rescue? Elon Musk Offers Solution for Australian Blackouts

By Kacey Deamer, Staff Writer | March 10, 2017 02:16pm ET

[img=553x0]|660:*[/img][Image: musk-powerwall.jpg?interpolation=lanczos...ize=*:1400]

Elon Musk unveils the Powerwall system at a press briefing on April 30, 2015.
Credit: Tesla Motors

Can South Australia's power crisis be solved in 100 days? Elon Musk said he thinks so, and he even bet on it.

The Tesla CEO took to Twitter on today (March 10) to offer the Australian state a solution to its worsening blackouts. South Australia is a renewable-energy-dependent state, and the market has been in short supply recently, causing blackouts across the region, reported Reuters.
Backup battery power could avert blackouts, Reuters reported, and Musk offered to install $25 million in Tesla battery storage for South Australia. In fact, Musk gave himself a 100-day deadline for the installation — or the batteries would be free. [Top 10 Craziest Environmental Ideas]

Musk's offer came in response to a call-out on social media by Mike Cannon-Brookes, the co-founder of Australian software company Atlassian, Reuters said. Cannon-Brookes said he would find funding and political support for the battery farm if Tesla would supply the batteries.

"Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature, or it is free. That serious enough for you?" Musk replied in a tweet, Reuters reported.

Quote:9 Mar
[Image: 2eTVtXXO_normal.jpeg]Mike Cannon-Brookes @mcannonbrookes
Lyndon & @elonmusk - how serious are you about this bet? If I can make the $ happen (& politics), can you guarantee the 100MW in 100 days? …


[Image: zDo-gAo0_normal.jpg]Elon Musk 

@mcannonbrookes Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?
8:50 PM - 9 Mar 2017



  • [url=] 8,9038,903 likes

In a follow-up tweet, Musk offered Cannon-Brookes a pricing quote for the project: $250 per kilowatt-hour of energy for 100-megawatt-hour systems, according to Reuters, which amounts to a total of $25 million for the batteries.

Cannon-Brookes told Reuters he was already fielding calls from people in support of the project, including companies offering funding. Though the offers were made on social media, the South Australia government said it would support the offer of Tesla batteries, according to Reuters.

"The government stands ready through ARENA [the Australian Renewable Energy Agency] and the CEFC [the Clean Energy Finance Corporation] to work with companies with serious proposals to support the deployment of more storage," Josh Frydenberg, the Australian environment and energy minister, said in an email to Reuters.
Tesla's work in renewable energy was in the news earlier this week, too, with the completion of a solar farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The project includes a 13-megawatt solar farm and a 52-megawatt-hour battery installation, reported The Verge. Solar energy generated from the farm could reduce fossil fuel consumption by 1.6 million gallons of fuel per year, the Verge said.

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Mars Powerhouse In Our Era.
NASA Seeks Information on Commercial Mars Payload Services

By Jeff Foust, SpaceNews Writer | March 11, 2017 08:53am ET
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NASA is seeking information from companies planning Mars missions, like SpaceX's Red Dragon, that could accommodate NASA payloads.

Credit: SpaceX artist's concept
WASHINGTON — Planning a mission to Mars and have some extra payload space? NASA would like to hear from you.
The agency issued a request for information (RFI) Feb. 27 seeking information on private ventures planning to send spacecraft to Mars in 2020 and beyond that would be willing to accommodate NASA instruments and other payloads on their missions. Responses are due March 28.
"Furthering NASA's human deep space exploration goals will require a significant amount of scientific research, and opportunities to collect data on Mars have been rare," NASA said in a statement announcing the RFI. "Evolving capabilities in the private sector have opened the possibility for NASA to take advantage of commercial opportunities to land scientific payloads on the surface of the Red Planet."


Organizations planning such missions should provide "details of your planned mission, including payload accommodation locations on your transportation vehicle, estimated mass and volume that may be available, and your schedule for the Mars mission," the RFI states. "Provide information to aid in understanding the probability of success for your planned Mars mission."
The RFI specifically refers to payloads delivered to the Martian surface, as opposed to Martian orbit. It adds, though, that NASA "does not anticipate any sample return payloads" for those missions.
The RFI, formally known as a "sources sought" request, casts a broad net, seeking responses from "all interested parties," including small businesses and universities. Government agencies use responses to such statements to determine whether to formally solicit proposals, and how to structure that solicitation.
The company most likely to be able to provide payload services as soon as 2020 is SpaceX. The company announced plans last year to fly a robotic Mars lander, called Red Dragon, and signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to gain technical and other support. Red Dragon is intended primarily as a test of a Mars landing technique known as supersonic retropropulsion that could enable landings of much heavier spacecraft than existing approaches.
At the time of the announcement, SpaceX planned to launch Red Dragon in the spring of 2018, but company president Gwynne Shotwell said last month that mission would likely slip to 2020 because the company has been focused on its Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and Crew Dragon spacecraft development. Additional Red Dragon missions are planned in future Mars launch windows, which open every 26 months, as SpaceX develops plans for far larger spacecraft intended to carry people to Mars.
NASA officials last year said there were some discussions about flying payloads on the first Red Dragon mission. In an interview last June, Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for space technology, said his office has a "wish list" of technology demonstration payloads it would like to fly on Red Dragon, but cautioned a lack of funding and a tight schedule made it unlikely they would be ready in time for a 2018 launch.
Mars One, the European venture with long-term ambitions for one-way human missions to Mars, has also announced a robotic Mars lander as a precursor mission. That lander, originally scheduled for launch in 2018, has now slipped to no earlier than 2022 as Mars One struggles to raise funding.
Damn...we missed the Russkies!!!

This flew under the radar...

Russia to carry out tourist flights around Moon by 2022
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Sputnik) Feb 22, 2017

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Russia's Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia hopes to be the first to offer space tourism around the Moon aboard the Soyuz spacecraft by 2021-2022.
First round-the-Moon flights should be possible for space tourists aboard the Soyuz spacecraft in 2021-2022, Vladimir Solntsev, the head of Russia's Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia, told Sputnik.
"We are speaking of flying around the Moon. I think that RSC Energia will be ready to be the first to offer this service on the international market by 2021-2022," Solntsev said.
The company is planning to sign a deal in March 2017 to use nine seats on the Soyuz spacecraft for flights of the so-called space tourists to the International Space Station (ISS).
"The renewal of a program implying space tourist flights on Soyuz spacecraft is possible. I think that in the near future we will sign a contact with one of the companies on provision of tourism services...
"In particular we are ready to sign with one of such companies an agreement in March 2017, which implies nine 'tourist' seats in Soyuz spacecraft for the flights to the ISS, which is expected to be implemented by 2021," Solntsev said, adding that there were no Russians among potential space tourists at the moment.
Source: Sputnik News

Russia's first private space tourism craft flight test set for 2020
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Sputnik) Feb 15, 2017

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Potential space tourists would be admitted to the private spaceflight program after three-day training and medical examination.

First flight tests of Russia's reusable suborbital space tourism craft are slated for 2020, the head of the company that is spearheading the effort told Sputnik.
Pavel Pushkin, director of CosmoCourse company, said the spacecraft's production is funded by a private investor.
It is expected to be launched from a Russian cosmodrome and conduct space tours at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles).
"The start of flight tests is scheduled for 2019-2020," Pushkin said.
Potential space tourists would be admitted to the private spaceflight program after three-day training and medical examination.
"Space tourists will be offered a 15-minute flight in a group of six tourists. Each will be in a state of weightlessness inside a cabin with a total volume of 30 square meters [320 square feet]," Pushkin said.
Source: Sputnik News

NASA moving ahead with plans for cislunar human outpost

by Jeff Foust — March 10, 2017

[Image: lm-cislunar.jpg][img=788x0][/img]A Lockheed Martin concept of a cislunar outpost that could support future human missions to the moon or elsewhere. Credit: Lockheed Martin

GREENBELT, Md. — Despite uncertainty about potential policy changes, NASA is pressing ahead with plans for a cislunar “gateway” outpost for future human missions, with decisions about how to develop it expected in the coming months.
Speaking at the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Memorial Symposium here March 8, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said he was studying concepts for launching the first elements of the proposed outpost as secondary payloads on early flights of the Space Launch System.
“There’s starting to be a sense of urgency” about selecting what to fly on those initial SLS missions to support development of the cislunar outpost, he said. “We’ve really got to start making some decisions about what that cargo is.”

The outpost will be a collection of habitation, cargo and other modules that could support crews working in lunar orbit or elsewhere in cislunar space for extended periods. Orion spacecraft would ferry astronauts to and from the outpost, where they could test technologies and perform other work needed to support NASA’s long-term plans for human missions to Mars in the 2030s.

Gerstenmaier said development of the outpost could begin with the second and third SLS missions, EM-2 and -3, which will be the first flights of the SLS to use the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage (EUS). That version of the SLS will have the ability to carry secondary payloads weighing up to several thousand kilograms within the rocket’s Universal Stage Adapter, an area between the EUS and Orion spacecraft.

Current schedules call for the launch of EM-2 as soon as 2021, which Gerstenmaier said pushes NASA to make decisions soon on what element of the outpost, if any, to fly on that launch. “We’ve really got to start making some decisions about what that cargo is, whom we partner with and how we build the equipment,” he said. “You’re going to see us, over the next several months, starting to make some pretty crisp decisions about what goes on those flights.”

EM-1 and the moon

A wild card in those plans is the ongoing study of putting a crew on the first SLS/Orion mission, EM-1. That mission is currently scheduled to launch in late 2018 without a crew, but if NASA does decide to place astronauts on that mission, it would likely slip until 2019, pushing back EM-2 and later missions.

Gerstenmaier, in an interview after his conference presentation, said putting a crew on EM-1 could open up new possibilities for EM-2 and later missions. “It makes EM-2 be more of an aggressive mission, and we can do more with the cargo that’s behind the Orion capsule on that flight,” he said.

Gerstenmaier and others cautioned that no decision had been made about flying crew on EM-1, as the study was ongoing. “We realize the challenges associated with that. That’s not an easy task to do,” NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in remarks at the conference earlier the same day. “I expect to hear pretty soon in terms what we could do.”

The idea of the study had its roots in the potential for other delays in EM-1. Chris Shank, who led the NASA “landing team” for the incoming Trump administration late last year, said on a conference panel that Gerstenmaier informed him at a meeting that the service module for that mission, being provided by the European Space Agency, could be delivered several months late.

“We asked, if given more time, if there are some additional things that you could do with the mission,” Shank said. That led to consideration of flying crew on the mission. “As part of the transition, there were no preconceived conclusions. This is genuinely a study on how to get the best bang for the buck.”

Whether or not NASA decides to fly a crew on EM-1, there’s widespread speculation in the space community that the Trump administration might redirect NASA’s human spaceflight efforts towards lunar missions, including a human return to the lunar surface. Industry officials, though, said that a cislunar gateway would still be useful for human missions to the surface of the moon.

“I would argue that none of it becomes obsolete. This was intended to be a first step, or an outpost” regardless of ultimate destination, said Matt Duggan, exploration manager at Boeing, during a March 9 conference panel.

Boeing is one of six companies that received contracts in August from NASA as part of its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, program. The contracts call on the companies to develop designs for habitat modules that could be used on future cislunar habitats.

Some of the companies, like Boeing, have also developed more comprehensive cislunar outpost designs, which Duggan said takes into account their potential use supporting lunar landing missions, originally by international partners and not NASA. “We may be talking more now about a U.S. trip to the surface of moon,” he said, “but an international trip to the surface of the moon has always been in the trade space.”

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Boeing CST-100 Starliner Parachute System Test Launch Lifts off Successfully from Spaceport America in New Mexico

Series of CST-100 Starliner Parachute drop tests scheduled this year
SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M., March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA, announced today a successful Boeing CST-100 Starliner Parachute System Test Launch from Spaceport America's horizontal launch complex.

In collaboration with teams from Boeing and White Sands Missile Range, a giant helium-filled balloon lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying a flight-sized boilerplate Starliner spacecraft up to about 40,000 feet where it floated across the San Andres Mountains for a parachute landing on the other side. The goal was for the spacecraft to reach the same velocity it would experience during a return from space and for the parachutes to deploy as planned.
"We took another step toward returning a domestic crew launch capability to the U.S.," said John Mulholland, Vice President and Program Manager, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "Our team is reviewing the data from this first successful test and gearing up for a few more drops that will enable us to qualify our parachutes for spaceflight."
Data collected from these tests will be used to verify the parachute inflation characteristics and landing system performance, as well as the altitude and descent rate of the Starliner at touchdown.
"We are proud that Boeing chose Spaceport America as a test location for the CST-100 Starliner," saidDaniel Hicks, Chief Executive Officer Spaceport America.  "It's been a privilege to support this important endeavor in returning human spaceflight launch capabilities to NASA and the United States."
The results of these mission-critical tests will confirm that the Starliner's parachute system can stabilize and decelerate the crew module to a nominal terminal descent velocity, such that a landing on the Earth's surface can be safely accomplished.
Boeing's Crew Space Transportation CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is being developed in collaboration with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The Starliner was designed to accommodate seven passengers, or a mix of crew and cargo, for missions to low-Earth orbit. For NASA service missions to the International Space Station, it will carry up to four NASA-sponsored crew members and time-critical scientific research. The Starliner has an innovative, weldless structure and is reusable up to 10 times with a six-month turnaround time. It also features wireless Internet and tablet technology for crew interfaces.
About Spaceport America
Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The FAA-licensed launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, boasts 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, low population density, a 12,000-foot spaceway, and 340+ days of sunshine and low humidity. With 38 vertical launches and 8 horizontal missions to date, some of the most respected companies in the commercial space industry are customers at Spaceport America: Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, UP Aerospace and EXOS. Visit and for more information. Spaceport America is #NewMexicoTRUE.
Now China's in on the act...

China Plans to Launch 1st Probe to Mars in Summer 2020
by Staff Writers
Beijing (Sputnik) Mar 09, 2017

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File image.

China is expected to launch its first probe satellite to Mars in July or in August 2020, local media reported Tuesday.
The People's Daily newspaper reported citing Wan Weixing, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, responsible for Beijing's Mars exploration program would arrive to Mars after seven months of flight and would start sending information back in 2021.
The media outlet added that the satellite's life expectancy was about two years on Earth.
Beijing has been developing its space program for years. In 2003, China launched the first country's manned spacecraft with Yang Liwei on board. China plans. In 2013, Beijing's Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover became the first rover landed on the moon since mid-1970s.
In January, China National Space Administration's Vice Director Wu Yanhua said that Beijing was planning two missions to Mars and one to Jupiter on its exploration agenda.
Source: Sputnik News

Under Trump, the Moon regains interest as possible destination
By Jean-Louis SANTINI
Washington (AFP) March 12, 2017

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Dismissed by former US president Barack Obama as a place explorers had already seen, the Moon has once again gained interest as a potential destination under Donald Trump's presidency.
Private sector companies in particular are energized by the prospect of future space exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station circles the Earth.
Even though Trump himself has said little about the subject, his close circle and some former NASA officials have made clear their interest in returning to the Moon by way of partnerships with the private sector.
Billionaire Elon Musk, the president and chief executive of SpaceX, along with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also runs a rocket company called Blue Origin, have met with Trump's advisors several times since the Republican won the presidency.
"There is certainly a renewed interest in the Moon in the Trump administration," said John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at The George Washington University.
Some of Trump's advisors worked on the Constellation program, conceived by former president George W. Bush with a goal to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the pioneering US Apollo missions of the 1960s and '70s.
Obama cancelled Constellation, deeming it too costly and repetitive in nature, opting instead to work toward new and unexplored destinations like an asteroid and, one day, Mars.
"The people advising Trump on space in a sense are still angry at that and believe it was a mistake," said Logsdon.
"If the Trump administration gets out of the current chaos and if their approach to the budget would allow it, I think within the next 12 months, we will see a major space initiative involving a public-private partnership -- hopefully international partnership -- focused on a return to the Moon."
- Bold -
Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents the private sector of spaceflight, agreed.
"I think the Trump administration wants to do something big and bold and the Moon is certainly that idea," he told AFP.
NASA's current focus on developing what will be the world's most powerful rocket, known as the Space Launch System, which will propel a new capsule, Orion, to deep space, one day carrying people around the Moon, to an asteroid or even to Mars by the 2030s.
Stallmer described this program as "very expensive."
"I think you cannot proceed with a mission to the Moon and beyond at this point anymore without a partnership with the commercial industry," he added.
Since the US-run space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has forged partnerships with private industry, including SpaceX and Orbital ATK, to resupply the International Space Station.
SpaceX plans to start sending astronauts to the orbiting outpost as early as 2018.
"I know that there is no backing down from the commercial sector, from the commercial launch companies on their desire and vision to go to the Moon and beyond. These are very exciting times," said Stallmer.
SpaceX said last month it had signed its first contract to send two space tourists on a trip around the Moon at the end of 2018, but did not give many details, including the cost or their identities.
SpaceX has also vowed to send an unmanned spacecraft on a journey to Mars in 2018, as a prelude to manned missions one day.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that its owner Bezos is working on an Amazon-like delivery service to the Moon.
The proposal has not been made public, but was circulated to the Trump team and NASA in the form of a seven-page white paper, the report said.
- Moon colonies -
The goal of the project is to enable "future human settlement" on the Moon.
"It is time for America to return to the Moon -- this time to stay," Bezos was quoted as saying in an email to the Post.
"A permanently inhabited lunar settlement is a difficult and worthy objective. I sense a lot of people are excited about this."
Oklahoma Republican lawmaker Jim Bridenstine, who has told Trump he wants to be the next NASA administrator, has praised cooperation between the US space agency and private industry, and called for a return to Moon mission as a way to boost needed resources on Earth, such as water.
Research has shown billions of tons of water ice can be found at each lunar pole.
"Water ice on the Moon could be used to refuel satellites in orbit or perform on-orbit maintenance," he wrote in a blog post in December.
"Government and commercial satellite operators could save hundreds of millions of dollars by servicing their satellites with resources from the Moon rather than disposing of, and replacing, their expensive investments."
This could translate into lower bills for users of satellite internet, television and radio services, he said.
The lunar soil is also believed to be rich in rare Earth minerals that are widely used in electronic devices.
The Google Lunar XPrize Foundation is also in on the action, recently announcing its five finalists for a $20 million award to the first team to land a robot on the Moon.

NASA Tests SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule's Life-Support Systems

By Samantha Mathewson, Contributor | March 12, 2017 08:30am ET

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SpaceX's Crew Dragon environmental control system must balance temperature, cabin pressure and the mixture of gases supporting the astronauts on their journey to the space station.
Credit: SpaceX

NASA engineers are evaluating the life-support system planned for SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to make sure it will keep astronauts safe while they're traveling to and from the International Space Station. 

SpaceX built the ECLSS (pronounced EE'-cliss, and short for "environmental control and life support system") Module to test the essential life-support systems for the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft, which could fly crewed missions to the orbiting lab as soon as 2018. The module is a prototype spacecraft designed "as close to the specifications of operational spacecraft as possible," allowing engineers to work out all the kinks before flight versions of the Crew Dragon are manufactured, NASA officials said in a statement
While NASA engineers are helping to evaluate the ECLSS Module, SpaceX is building the spacecraft, launch systems and operational networks that will carry astronauts to the space station on missions for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Once NASA certifies the spacecraft, the Crew Dragon will launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center atop a Falcon 9 rocket, agency officials said in the statement. [SpaceX's Crew Dragon Spacecraft in Pictures]

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A glimpse inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon Environmental Control and Life Support System Module, where engineers are studying the systems to keep astronauts comfortable on spaceflights.
Credit: SpaceX

"ECLSS systems and subsystems present unique challenges to a developer," Brian Daniel, crew systems lead for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said in the statement. "Such systems must assure tight control of parameters that are important to human safety, such as temperature, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels and cabin pressure. The various functions of the life support system must not only be failure tolerant and robust, but also able to perform their function for the whole gamut of the mission, from countdown to splashdown." 

The ECLSS is a complex network of machinery, pipes, tanks and sensors that relies on computer software to automatically adjust conditions inside the spacecraft and ensure the safety of the crew throughout a mission. However, "astronauts will still wear launch-and-entry spacesuits while inside the spacecraft during certain phases of their missions to guard against cabin leaks or other emergencies, such as a launch abort," NASA officials said. 

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SpaceX's ECLSS (environmental control and life support system) Module tests the systems that will protect astronauts who travel to the International Space Station on the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft. Here, engineers work inside the module at the company's headquarters in California.
Credit: SpaceX2

To test the functionality of the ECLSS Module, engineers were sealed inside the prototype spacecraft and were exposed to a mix of oxygen and nitrogen — conditions similar to what astronauts will experience in flight. 

"Unlike relying solely on computer simulation and analysis, the ECLSS Module allows us to test and observe Crew Dragon's life support systems as they autonomously control a real cabin environment," Nicolas Lima, a life support systems engineer at SpaceX, said in the statement. "Extensive testing of the ECLSS module has and will continue to contribute to improvements to Crew Dragon's design and operation, which ultimately leads to greater crew safety."

SpaceX still plans for first flight of a Falcon 9 with reused first stage this month

by Jeff Foust — March 9, 2017

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[img=788x0][/img]A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster being returned to port aboard a drone ship following the JCSAT-14 Mission in May, 2016. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX says it still plans to make the first flight of a Falcon 9 with a reused first stage this month.
That launch, of the SES-10 satellite, is planned before the end of March, company president Gwynne Shotwell said Wednesday.
Five more previously flown boosters are also planned for launch later this year.

The company’s next launch, of the EchoStar 23 satellite, has slipped by at least two days to no earlier than March 14 after delays in a planned static-fire test. [Bloomberg / Spaceflight Insider]

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Budweiser aims to brew first beer on Mars, plans space station experiments

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Former astronaut Clay Anderson speaks at a "Bud On Mars" panel discussion with actress Kate Mara, Valerie Toothman of Anheuser-Busch and Patrick O'Neill of CASIS at the SXSW festival in Austin. (Jack Plunkett/Invision for Budweiser/AP Images)
March 13, 2017 
– Budweiser has set its sights on brewing the first beer on Mars.

"The King of Beers" announced its "Bud on Mars" initiative — including a partnership that could lead to flying malt and other experiments on the International Space Station — on Saturday (March 11) at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

"This takes the Budweiser experience to the future, where colonization and socialization might go," Valerie Toothman, Anheuser-Busch's Vice President of Marketing Innovation, said during a panel discussion devoted to brewing beer on the Red Planet.

"We know that travel to Mars might still be a decade or two away, but this is the first step in the journey in a long-term commitment by the company to make sure that when we get there and we achieve that American dream, Budweiser is the beer people will be toasting with and will be enjoying there on Mars," said Toothman.

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Budweiser's "Bud On Mars" logo. (Budweiser/Anheuser-Busch)
The early evening event, which included a happy hour with specially-labeled "Bud on Mars" beer, also featured former astronaut Clayton Anderson and Patrick O'Neill, marketing and communications manager for the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory at CASIS, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space. Actress Kate Mara, who played an astronaut in the 2015 movie "The Martian," moderated the panel.

"I'm so flattered to be here, but I don't at all feel qualified," said Mara. "That said, I will just go with it and do what I did when I made the movie 'The Martian' and pretend like I am a genius when it comes to space."

Burps, pops and hops

A mission to send humans to the Red Planet is well-within NASA's long-range plans, said Anderson, who is a veteran of two space missions, including spending 152 days on the space station. "A successful mission will include many key components, including the need to provide crew members with commodities that remind them of home."

"Popping the top on a cold Budweiser mid-mission could very well be one of those things," he wrote in an email sent to collectSPACE after the panel.

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A carbonated color-water bubble on the space station. (NASA)
"While the idea poses considerable technical challenges, the concept – which may lend itself to some valuable initial test ideas and experiments on the space station – is valid and potentially worthy of consideration with respect to a commercial partnership," Anderson added.

Beyond the possible issue of "wet burps" ("you just tumble a few times and all the liquid in your stomach will separate from the air; then you burp a solid dry burp," Anderson told the panel to laughter), there are also container concerns. Astronauts during the space shuttle-era experimented with non-alcoholic carbonated beverages in the 1980s, but the cans, cups and dispensers were unsuccessful.

"When you have a Budweiser and you pop the top [of the bottle], the pressure inside is higher than outside, so things will happen. As soon as the lid is popped on Earth, you let it 'fizz' and you enjoy. In space, it 'pops,' and then maybe you'd need to clean everything," described Anderson, who wrote about his experience with alcohol in orbit in his book, "The Ordinary Spaceman" (Univ of Nebraska Press). "That would be an interesting dilemma to solve for the engineers at Anheuser-Busch."

The pull of gravity on Mars, which is about one-third of that on Earth, may help with bottle designs, but the distance to the Red Planet from our home planet may mean having to grow and source the main ingredients to brew Budweiser on Mars.

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Barley malt used in the making of Budweiser beer. (Budweiser)
The American-style pale lager is made of two- and six-row malt, rice, hops and is propagated from the original strain of yeast as was first used by Adolphus Busch in 1876. And that is just 10 percent of the recipe.

"Beer at its core is 90 percent water," said Toothman. "And does everyone know what doesn't exist on Mars' surface? Water. There is ice and [other sources] like that, so we are going to learn about that."

Bud on Mars, for the benefit of Earth

"My 'enginerdiness' loves that we might completely rethink what it takes to deliver the signature Budweiser experiencewhen we colonize Mars," Toothman said.

Acknowledging that it may still be decades before there is a colony in need of a beer, Budweiser has identified some short-term studies it can do to advance its long-term goal while also benefiting the brand today.

"We realized there could be benefits about what we would learn that could make our product – here on Earth – even more efficient, and help make a better world, which is also a part of the Budweiser dream," said Toothman.

Budweiser and CASIS have recently agreed to look at how the U.S. National Lab on the International Space Station could be used to improve the brewing company's products and processes, said O'Neill. 

"It is the role of CASIS to seek out new and non-traditional research partners interested in leveraging our orbiting lab," O'Neill said in an email to collectSPACE. "No flight projects have been selected at this point, but we are always excited to participate in discussions with unique brands who have an interest in microgravity research for terrestrial benefit."

Toothman said during the panel that working with CASIS could help the company with making "short-term sprints."

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"Bud On Mars" panel at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on March 11. (Jack Plunkett/Invision for Budweiser/AP Images)
"We've already started to construct a set of experiments to take our barley malt up to the space station to understand what kind of effect those low Earth orbit conditions puts on [the grains]," she said. "Then, bringing [the grains] back to Earth, planting them, growing, harvesting and testing them and understanding what kind of changes might happen."

Such an experiment, together with longer-term studies into genotyping and DNA, could help create the ultimate barley strain for disease-resistance, drought-resistance and yield, Toothman explained.

"That will help us be part of creating a better world with the same Budweiser on Earth in the shorter term," she said.

3D Pizza Printer to Feed Hungry Astronauts in Deep Space
by Staff Writers
Washington (Sputnik) Mar 13, 2017

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BeeHex will perform a demonstration of their robot at the International Pizza Expo (probably the most delicious industry showcase one could attend) on March 27-29 in Las Vegas.

Has this ever happened to you? You're drifting through the vacuum of space, millions of miles from Earth, when suddenly you have a craving for pizza.
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 To satisfy this probable demand, a startup has raised $1 million in seed funding to create a 3D printer that they hope can be used as a spaceship's pizza oven.
The company, BeeHex, intends to build "3D printing robots that prepare food faster than human hands." Their printers would be able to build, cook, and serve a pizza of any shape in just five minutes, then clean itself afterwards, a sort of Blaze Pizza for technophiles.
While BeeHex intends to one day put their robots into shopping centers to enable anyone to enjoy a piping-hot high-tech pie, the motivation to create the technology comes from space travel.
Food is a major concern for astronauts on lengthy voyages. NASA has estimated that some 7,000 pounds of freeze-dried food would be needed to feed a team on the long flight to Mars. ISS astronauts currently eat food that has been irradiated (to kill bacteria) and slathered in hot sauce (to give it flavor), not exactly a 5-star meal at Dorsia.
Freeze-dried food is low in nutritional value and taste, and NASA has sought alternatives. In 2013, they gave the Systems and Materials Research Consultancy of Austin, Texas, $125,000 to explore the viability of a 3D food compiler.

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If a car or a prosthetic leg can be 3D-printed, then so can a pizza, or any other food. The robot could make pizza out of powders that can be stored indefinitely, instead of using fresh tomatoes and dough that decay over time.
Anjan Contractor, formerly a senior mechanical engineer with Systems and Materials Research Consultancy, saw that the technology had potential outside of making food for hungry spacefarers. He co-founded BeeHex and presently serves as the company's CEO.
BeeHex will perform a demonstration of their robot at the International Pizza Expo (probably the most delicious industry showcase one could attend) on March 27-29 in Las Vegas. The technology is more than just a gimmick, according to Contractor.
For instance, people with celiac disease can order gluten-free foods without having to worry about cross-contamination (as gluten can stick to cooking utensils and appliances.)
A long-term goal, according to the company, is to expand past pizza to let customers use an app to tailor whatever they might want to eat. "After pizza, this technology could be used for a wide range of foods," said Jim Grote, a BeeHex investor, to TechCrunch.
"The company has mastered the technology around dough, which is a real challenge. So it would make sense to expand into other baked goods, potentially."

[Image: Moon-Dominos.png]

Beer and Pizza Commercial...

'I hope they take a camera': 

Astronaut Jim Lovell talks SpaceX moon mission

[Image: news-030817a.jpg]

Astronaut Jim Lovell says SpaceX's planned private moon mission won't be like his historic Apollo 8 mission nearly 50 years ago, but will still be worth doing for the experience. (Adler Planetarium)
March 8, 2017 
— SpaceX's announcement that it plans to launch two private passengers on a flight around the moon evoked comparisons to Apollo 8, NASA's December 1968 mission that sent the first astronauts into lunar orbit.

Targeted to fly in late 2018, SpaceX's moon-bound clientswould carry the "hopes and dreams of all humankind," said the spaceflight company, "like the Apollo astronauts before them." SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft could lift off in time for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, serving as a fitting tribute to that mission's historic achievement.

Or maybe not.

"No, not really," said Jim Lovell, who flew on Apollo 8 with Frank Borman and Bill Anders. "If I understand the project correctly, this is going to be a fully-automated spacecraft. We have sent many unmanned, robotic spacecraft around the moon already."

SpaceX plans to launch a privately-crewed Dragon spacecraft on a mission to circle the moon by the end of 2018. (SpaceX)
On the first flight to the moon, Lovell and his Apollo 8 crew mates were kept busy operating and flying the spacecraft.

"On Apollo 8, of course, as the initial flight, there was a lot of stuff [to do]; we were navigating," described Lovell in an interview. "It appears to me that they won't have to bother navigating. It will be done just as we have sent unmanned spacecraft to the moon."

"Two people are going to sit in there [the Dragon], they're going to be launched, they're going to go out, they're going to circumnavigate, they will be on a free-return course and they will come back and land," Lovell told collectSPACE on Tuesday (March 7). "I hope they take a camera."

That is, unless things go wrong.

"If it is Apollo 13, and not Apollo 8, they'll have a problem," Lovell said. "It will be a big setback for SpaceX. That is the risk they are taking."

SpaceX intends the lunar mission to build off the success of its autonomous Dragon cargo flights to the International Space Station that began in 2012. Further, it does not plan to launch to the moon until it begins its contracted flights to send NASA astronauts to the space station, now targeted for mid-2018.

"We are confident this will be a good vehicle to fly on," said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a Feb. 27 call with reporters.

Lovell, who after Apollo 8 commanded the near-disastrous Apollo 13, said SpaceX's mission will be worth the risk — for the passengers.

"It was for me," he said. "If there are people who like to live on the edge, and certainly the astronauts during the Apollo period had that type of personality, it will be well worth it. If they've money to give to SpaceX to go do that, well, yes [it will be worth the risk]."

Jim Lovell reads the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper proclaiming "Astronauts Safe!" after he and his Apollo 13 crew mates returned to Earth, surviving an explosion on the way to the moon. (NASA)
The lunar mission, which SpaceX said will travel faster and further than any mission of its type before, will not be in the same category as Apollo 8, Lovell said.

"They're not accomplishing anything. They're not pioneers. It is not a Lewis and Clark expedition of some sort, it is just a ride that goes around the moon," said the veteran Apollo astronaut. "They will see something that has been looked at before by other people and in photographs."

But that is not to say that SpaceX's moon mission will only be about what can be seen out the window, Lovell noted.

"You have to remember, it's not just the view. It is also the experience. It's the fact that they will come back and at the next cocktail party, they will be the center of attention," he said. "It is the fact that they will have done something that only a few other people have ever done."

"So I am sure even if they were blindfolded, they would go. That is the attraction and that is where SpaceX may find a viable business," said Lovell.
"Earthrise," as first seen from Apollo 8 in December 1968. (NASA)
Lovell is glad that SpaceX and other companies like it are starting to turn their attention to the moon — in addition to other lunar-focused efforts underway at NASA.

"I think we have barely scratched the surface of the moon with the six Apollo landings," Lovell said. "I think that since the moon is there, 240,000 miles away [386,000 km], and we have the technology, let's concentrate on learning more about the moon and making travel to the moon, and back again, sort of a routine thing, so we're very confident in the architecture, infrastructure we have to do the job. And then expand on that."

That being said, Lovell won't be signing up — or accepting any invitations — for a return trip to the moon.

"Why should I? I've been there twice," he said.
I want somebody to 3-D print me some PIE and serve it to me in the SKY!!! Damn straight!!!
(03-13-2017, 06:55 PM)Ancient Vizier Wrote: [ -> ]I want somebody to 3-D print me some PIE and serve it to me in the SKY!!! Damn straight!!!

Welcome on-board.

Enjoy the in-flight features.
Hope you like Chineese food too!
Chinese to Launch Takeout Food Service in Space

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BEIJING — China is about to launch a manned, food service module atop a LongMarch 2 rocket. It will thus become the first spacefaring country to offer Chinese takeout in space.
The food service module is affectionately dubbed 'Dragon's Delight,' and will offer a full menu of Chinese takeout for astronauts from other nations who have had to make do with reprocessed green peas and squeeze-tube ham.
"We will be moving our delivery service beyond bicycle range, out to the Moon, Mars, and the stars beyond," said Xiao Cho Fat, Minister of Space Food Services at the Jiuquan Space Center.
"We have trained our astronauts in both navigation and food warming techniques so the product we deliver will be just like home for those boys in space." he said. "We'll even have fortune cookies. Getting a fortune cookie that says you're not going to burn up on re-entry is a great picker-upper."


[Image: chinesenaut.jpg]

"We will accept MasterCard and Visa, but we will not be taking American Express, so sorry."
American interest in the Chinese launch is mixed. Some US analysts see China's manned space activity as a 'Trojan Horse' within which they can conceal their military space activities. Others are envious of the Chinese taking the lead in food service in space.

"We were planning to put a McDonald's up soon," said one NASA source, "but the shuttle thing kind of set us back."


[Image: chinamoonbase.jpg]
There have been news going around about spaceX sending human moon but this time china has also stepped up to go to the moon. China never come in this field directly and show its operation rather than their first crewed mission in 2003, although they have some great achievements in this field and are also recognized as a major contender. China is developing a new spaceship that could be able to land on the surface of moon as well as could fly in low-Earth orbit. This spacecraft will be better than the other similar spaceships, capable of shuttling multiple crew members and designed to be recoverable.


Spaceship engineer Zhang Bainian, who spoke to Science and Technology Daily, hope it will be able to bring astronauts to space by 2023 and compared the planned spacecraft to the NASA and the European Space Agency’s Orion.

China has already launched 22 rockets in space as compared to the Russia’s 17, despite the Russia’s long-established space program.

According to Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, the US could have achieved more if the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket fleet had not been grounded after an explosion in September 2016.

Furthermore, China is also planning for a permanently crewed space station to start operations within five years. As China’s most recent crewed mission saw two astronauts spend a month aboard the Chinese space station.
China Develops Spaceship Capable of Moon Landing
by Staff Writers
Beijing (Sputnik) Mar 13, 2017

[Image: china-astronauts-jing-haipeng-chen-dong-lg.jpg][Image: chinesenaut.jpg]
A late-bloomer in crewed space flight, 2003 marked the first time Beijing launched a human into space.

Chinese state media is reporting that the country's space program has developed a craft capable of both landing on the moon and flying in low-Earth orbit.
The new spacecraft is claimed to be able to accommodate multiple astronauts, according to spaceship engineer Zhang Bainian, who Science and Technology Daily cited as comparing the forthcoming ship to the Orion craft currently in development by the European Space Agency and NASA.
All six crewed missions of China's Shenzhou spacecraft, modeled after Russia's Soyuz series, have carried three astronauts in its re-entry capsule.
A late-bloomer in crewed space flight, 2003 marked the first time Beijing launched a human into space. Since that time its program has seen swift progress, and is now considered one of the top-three worldwide. In late 2016, two Chinese astronauts spent a month inside a space station during the country's most recent crewed mission.
It will take about five years to implement a fully-operational space station with a permanent crew, according to reports. The space station is thought to be a platform for future lunar-landing missions.
Last year Beijing surpassed Moscow's 17 rocket launches with 22, equaling the US for the first time, according to Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard University-based astrophysicist.
Had a launchpad explosion not grounded Washington's Space X's Falcon 9 rocket fleet in early September 2016, the US may have conducted additional launches. The explosion happened as the $195 million Amos-6 communications satellite was preparing to be launched from Cape Canaveral.
Source: Sputnik News

Zero 2 Infinity conducts first flight test of Bloostar balloon-assisted launcher
by Caleb Henry — March 14, 2017
[Image: rsz_ignition1web-879x485.jpg][img=788x0][/img]Zero 2 Infinity conducted a scaled-down test launch of a prototype balloon-rocket smallsat launch vehicle called Bloostar on March 1. Credit: Zero 2 Infinity

WASHINGTON — Spanish high-altitude balloon specialist Zero 2 Infinity completed its first test flight of Bloostar, a balloon-assisted small-satellite launcher four years in development.
During the test, conducted March 1 from a vessel a few kilometers off Spain’s coast, a stratospheric balloon lifted the Bloostar vehicle to a 25-kilometer altitude before its vacuum-optimized engine ignited.
The Barcelona-based company announced March 13 that the test proved Zero 2 Infinity’s ability to perform a controlled ignition in space, stabilize the rocket and monitor the launch sequence. The test also allowed Zero 2 Infinity to demonstrate Bloostar’s telemetry systems in space and recover the vehicle at sea following parachute deployment.

Designed to carry small satellites to low Earth orbit, Bloostar is a three-stage vehicle (not counting the balloon) equipped with rocket engines that burn a mixture of liquid oxygen and methane. During a standard mission, Bloostar’s balloon will carry it above an estimated 95 percent of the atmosphere before its propulsion stages activate, enabling it to deliver a 75-kilogram satellite to a 600-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit.

Zero 2 Infinity CEO Jose Mariano Lopez Urdiales, who sometimes refers to the hybrid vehicle as a “rockoon,” told SpaceNews that Bloostar’s rockets only fired for a few seconds during the March 1 test; reaching a high apogee was not a goal. Zero 2 Infinity has a series of tests planned both on the ground and at near-space altitudes between 20 and 100 kilometers going forward.

“This was a very early test, but we were happy with the results and it’s an important step moving from computer graphics and engineering and calculations to actual hardware,” he said.

Zero 2 Infinity started on Bloostar in 2013. The company has been deploying high-altitude balloons for about seven years, but made a move into the launch sector when demand for small satellites increased. Zero 2 Infinity also has a program called Bloon for passenger-carrying balloon trips to near space, but Lopez Urdiales said the company is currently focusing on Bloostar.

Lopez Urdiales said Bloostar fired only one engine of its seven engines during the March 1 test. The final version of the vehicle, he said, will carry 13 engines — six on the first stage, six on the second stage and one on the third stage.

“We have a long list of test flights that we need to perform,” he said. “Our next big milestone will be crossing the Karman line with a ‘rockoon,’ with a rocket being launched from a balloon.” The Karman line, a point 100 kilometers above sea level, marks the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.

Lopez Urdiales said recovering the prototype after its March 1 launch allows Zero 2 Infinity to retrieve onboard SIM cards containing a bigger trove of flight data than what the vehicle sent back through telemetry. The recovery is also an important step for reusability which, while not part of Zero 2 Infinity’s main business plan, is factored into Bloostar’s design.

Zero 2 Infinity says it has letters of intent worth a total of 250 million euros ($266.4 million) from customers that want to launch with Bloostar. Lopez Urdiales said the launcher’s development is financed through a combination of outside investment and revenue generated from Zero 2 Infinity’s existing balloon business.

Ultra Magic, a hot air balloon manufacturer, is an industrial investor in Bloostar, though Zero 2 Infinity doesn’t purchase its balloons from them. Lopez Urdiales said Ultra Magic is more interested in the propulsion technology side of Bloostar.

Zero 2 Infinity plans to have its first commercial Bloostar launch in 2019, Lopez Urdiales said, after a final test campaign of four rockoon launches that year. Lopez Urdiales said the company wants a minimum of one successful full demonstration mission out of the four before launching with customer payloads.

Lopez Urdiales said Zero 2 Infinity recently created a subsidiary in the United States, and might do some test flights from U.S. ranges out over the sea. The majority of tests though, will be in Europe, he said.

- See more at:
Commercials break:  Reefer Beer

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'Aqua Dragons' to Ride Balloon to Near-Space

By Kasandra Brabaw, Contributor | March 14, 2017 11:00am ET

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Plans Crewed Launch Within a Year

By Tracy Staedter, Contributo | March 15, 2017 07:00am ET

[Image: newshepard-launch-jan16-879x485.jpg?inte...ize=*:1400]
Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital vehicle launches on a suborbital test flight on Jan. 22, 2016.
Credit: Blue Origin

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The spaceflight company Blue Origin, which was founded by CEO Jeff Bezos, plans to launch its first crewed flight to suborbital space soon. 

"We're trying to get to our first human flights within the next year. That's a laser focus for the team right now," Erika Wagner, Blue Origin's business development manager, told the audience at the New Space Age Conference on Saturday (March 11) here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.
In November 2015, Blue Origin made history when it landed its New Shepard rocket after an uncrewed test flight to suborbital space. This was the first time that any company or country had successfully completed a vertical takeoff and landing with a reusable rocket. [How Blue Origin's Suborbital Rocket Ride Works (Infographic)]

"We're pretty proud of that milestone," Wagner said. 

Over the next year, Blue Origin launched and landed that same rocket four more times, further demonstrating the reusable-rocket technology that Bezos has said could revolutionize spaceflight by slashing costs.

Elon Musk, SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO, has expressed similar enthusiasm for reusability. SpaceX has landed the first stage of eight different Falcon 9 rockets during orbital flights and said it plans to re-fly one of these boosters for the first time later this month.  

Both SpaceX and Blue Origin are also developing heavy-lift rockets, and each company has said it aims to launch moon missions in the next few years. 

But if Blue Origin is feeling the pressure, it's not showing it. The company's motto, Wagner pointed out, is gradatim ferociter — Latin for "step by step, ferociously."

The company's first launcher consisted of four Rolls Royce jet engines strapped to a launch frame, and the main purpose of creating it was to develop software, Wagner said. Blue Origin then built small rocket engines, and then bigger ones. Now, the company has the suborbital New Shepherd, and engineers are working on the heavy-lifter New Glenn, an orbital vehicle that's scheduled to fly for the first time by 2020.
This same incrementalist philosophy will also apply to crewed flights, which will begin aboard New Shepard. (Blue Origin also intends to launch people to orbital space eventually, Bezos has said.) 

"We're really taking that to the next level and proving out a rocket before we ever put our first human on board," Wagner said. 

Safety is the primary goal, she added.

"We don't believe in qualifying a [specified] number of flights," Wagner told the audience. "We believe in qualifying performance. We really believe that safety comes from how well you understand a system."

Wagner said Blue Origin looks to NASA's human spaceflight integration standards — which establish health requirements for the preflight, in-flight, and post-flight phases of such a journey — as a guide.
"As soon as we're ready, we'll have humans on board," she said. "We're not there yet."
CANADA gets in on the Act!!!  LilD

 Par-ty Finally!!!  Cheers

MLS selects Nova Scotia Launch Site for Commercial Operation of Cyclone 4M Rocket
 March 14, 2017 
[Image: high_definition_C4M-2-512x384.jpg]Image: Maritime Launch Services
Canadian-based Maritime Launch Services announced on Tuesday it has committed to establishing a launch site in Nova Scotia for Ukraine’s Cyclone-4M (Tsiklon-4M) rocket hoped to become a contender on the international launch market, primarily targeted for medium-class payloads headed to Low Earth Orbit.

Cyclone-4 was left without a launch site after plans of launching the rocket from Alcantara, Brazil fell through in 2015 and the rocket’s designer Yuzhnoye, based in the Ukraine, was cleared by its government to begin looking into potential launch sites in North America. Maritime Launch Services (MLS), registered in Nova Scotia, has roots in the U.S. and Ukraine with initial funding provided in 2016 by United Paradyne, a firm specializing in rocket propellants with facilities in California and Cape Canaveral.

MLS studied 14 potential launch locations across North America over the past year with considerations ranging from launch trajectories and environmental impacts to present infrastructure. By early 2017, the company had zeroed in on a site in the Canso-Hazel Hill area of Nova Scotia’s Guysborough Municipality that offers a wide stretch of ocean to the south and east for launches into Low Earth Orbit and high-inclination Sun Synchronous Orbits favored by Earth-imaging satellites as well as communications satellite constellations aiming for global coverage.

The chosen location fulfills all requirements for establishing a commercial launch site, notably “very low population density, proximity to multimodal transportation, and interest from the community, province and government,” MLS noted in a statement. MLS entered a dialog with the local community earlier this year with open house meetings to discuss the potential impacts and benefits of moving a commercial launch site into the area.
[Image: C4M-NS-Launch-Site-512x374.jpg]
Canso-Hazel Hill Area – Image: Google Earth

“While we have a number of challenges ahead to work through the regulatory processes, approvals and site planning, we are optimistic that we can break ground on the launch complex within a year and meet market demands with our first launch in 2020,” said MLS CEO John Isella. MLS is seeking a 20-year lease from the Canadian government for the Canso-Hazel Hill property.
Specific challenges to be overcome in the next year include environmental and safety assessments, land use reviews, continued community outreach and site design.
The company expects the launch complex would cost around $100 million and will comprise a processing & control facility located around two Kilometers from the rocket’s launch pad. MLS hopes to step up the company’s launch rate to eight per year by 2022.
Cyclone 4M is being advertised as an all-Ukrainian launch vehicle with extensive flight heritage and highly competitive prices, employing heritage components flown for hundreds of missions over the past several decades. MLS targets a launch price of $45 million per mission and hopes to enter the launch market at the most opportune time to meet the demands of the satellite constellation market as multiple ventures are actively pursuing plans to set up large constellations of hundreds of satellites in the Low Earth Orbit regime to establish global communications networks.
Cyclone 4M represents a modified version of the original Cyclone 4 vehicle, moving from a launcher purely fueled by toxic hypergolic propellants to a more environmentally-friendly version with a large first stage using Kerosene and Liquid Oxygen, constraining the use of self-igniting hypergolics to the launcher’s second stage. According to MLS, Cyclone 4M will be able to lift 3,350 Kilograms into a Sun Synchronous Orbit and around five metric tons into Low Earth Orbit.

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Zenit Launch Vehicle – Photo: Roscosmos

Rocket designer Yuzhnoye and manufacturing company Yuzhmash have a long-standing partnership over the last six decades that produced a number of successful launch vehicles such as Dnepr, Zenit, Cyclone-2 & 3 and more recently Antares. Cyclone 4M represents a combination of heritage components from the Zenit and Cyclone programs to create a robust vehicle design.

The Cyclone 4M first stage is derived from the Zenit, fueled by rocket-grade Kerosene and Liquid Oxygen and powered by four “Ukrainian-built RP-1/LOX engines.” Zenit heritage is also employed by Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket, characterized by a stage diameter of 3.9 meters and variable tank length tailored to the engines powering the vehicle.

Although MLS did not explicitly identify the engine, there is only a limited number of candidates – first and foremost the RD-120 or a derivative thereof, based on a 1970/80s design by NPO Energomash, modified in the early 2000s in a cooperative effort between Energomash and Yuzhnoye. A pair of firing tests of a modified RD-120 engine demonstrated it was possible to adept the design for use on a first stage with a nominal thrust of 785kN per engine (80 metric ton-force). Other engine projects of Yuzhnoye include designs for the proposed Mayak launch vehicle family that are still far from reaching a launch pad.

[img=392x0][/img]The last Cyclone 3 – Photo: Roscosmos

The Cyclone 4M will use the upper stage and payload fairing developed for the original all-hypergolic Cyclone 4 rocket. Per the Cyclone 4 design proposal, the upper stage largely relies on heritage components from the Tsiklon-2 and 3 but widens the tank diameter to hold more propellants, burned by a eight-metric-ton-force RD-861K engine that provides re-start capability and can support a burn time of eight minutes. The heritage payload fairing measures four meters in diameter, offering sufficient volume for most Earth observation payloads and constellation missions.

MLS hopes to fill an underserved market segment with the Cyclone 4M, specifically catered to companies operating large satellite constellations that require a number of annual launches or SmallSat operators that have to replenish their low-orbiting constellation segments every year or two. The company compares their vehicle to India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in terms of performance and price, though U.S. companies wishing to launch on PSLV need to acquire regulatory waivers which will not be required for MLS.
Cyclone 4M will face competition from a variety of rockets including a range of small satellite launchers such as Rocket Lab’s Electron and VirginOrbit’s LauncherOne that can only lift a fraction of Cyclone’s payload but offer more schedule flexibility to SmallSat operators that would have to book a shared ride on the larger Cyclone which comes with less authority over schedules for the individual operators.

10 'Innovative' Space Firms Make Fast Company's Annual Roundup

By Irene Klotz, Contributor | March 10, 2017 08:00pm ET
[Image: orbital-insight.JPG?interpolation=lanczo...ize=*:1400]
The company Orbital Insight is making sense of images of Earth taken from space. The firm was featured on Fast Company's 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2017 List.
Credit: Orbital Insight

Fast Company's annual list of the "50 Most Innovative Companies" includes a firm working to make sense of a flood of data coming from space.

The Mountain View, California-based Orbital Insight is taking the deluge of images coming from Earth-imaging satellites and channeling them into useful and lucrative data.

The company "analyzes more than a million square kilometers of high-resolution imagery on a monthly basis from eight of the largest satellite constellations in orbit, and then uses machine-vision doink-head to put hard numbers on everything from the amount of water in reservoirs to the number of active fracking sites in North Dakota to the depth of poverty in Sri Lanka," Fast Company wrote in its March issue. [Photos: Amazing Images of Earth from Space]

Orbital Insight's customers include NASA and more than 70 financial firms.
"Its most popular report," the magazine noted, "measures American retail strength by counting the number of cars in shopping-mall parking lots and predicting daily customer spending."

Fast Company also released a series of lists looking at companies by sector. Under the category "space," the magazine singled out nine more firms for recognition:
  • Spire Global, a San Francisco-based startup that is using a fleet ofcubesats (simple satellites as small as about 4 inches or 10 centimeters cubed) to analyze GPS radio signals passing through the atmosphere, in order to make better and more accurate weather predictions.

  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, which has made Fast Company's space list every year since 2013. This year, the magazine noted SpaceX's plans for a transportation system to Mars.

  • Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington, which was recognized in 2016 for its work on a liquid-methane-powered rocket engine. The company returned to the list in 2017 as a viable competitor to SpaceX. As if to underscore the point, Blue Origin this week announced its first six launch contracts for its orbital New Glenn rocket.

  • Redmond, Washington-based Kymeta Corp., which makes flat-panel antennas that use electronic steering to connect with satellites to provide broadband internet speeds aboard planes, trains and other moving vehicles.

  • China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., for the launch and operation of a prototype space station.

  • Los Angeles-based Rocket Lab, which is preparing for its first test flight of an innovative small-satellite launcher called Electron from a private spaceport in New Zealand.

  • Singapore-based Astroscale, which is working on a system to remove space debris from orbit. Next year, the company plans to launch a satellite to map space junk, followed in 2019 by a satellite to track, capture and remove debris from orbit.

  • Stratolaunch Systems, a startup financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen that is developing a massive airplane to serve as a flying launchpad. The aircraft, which is being built in Mojave, California, is expected to make its first test flight this year.

  • Cape Canaveral, Florida-based Moon Express, which intends fly robotic spacecraft to the lunar surface. As a contender in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, Moon Express hopes to launch its first mission before the end of the year, but the company says winning the competition isn't necessary to close the business case for lunar transportation and research services.

Quote:Chinese to Launch Takeout Food Service in Space

Chinese restaurants invade the universe with fake noodles.

It causes a war with the closest technological alien species.

They don't like the hot sauce or the fortune cookies,
they espacially don't like the:
Chinese Disposable Universe Economic Expansion Model

The Chinese will start experiencing spacecraft failure like the Russians do.
It will probably be from bad quality parts failing.

Chinese taikonauts will have a cemetary on the Moon.
A dusty gravestone with a Chinese flag on it ... every 5 feet across a lunar crater plain.
Right next to the Chinese Noodle Swamp Resort, Brothel and Restaurant on the crater rim.

I liked the Spanish balloon project to deploy satellites.
The rapid escalation of satellite delivery technologies is amazing along with the wild demand.

Quote:Cyclone 4M 
is being advertised as an all-Ukrainian launch vehicle 
with extensive flight heritage and highly competitive prices, 
employing heritage components flown for hundreds of missions over the past several decades. 

MLS targets a launch price of $45 million per mission 
and hopes to enter the launch market at the most opportune time 
to meet the demands of the satellite constellation market 
as multiple ventures 
are actively pursuing plans to set up large constellations of hundreds of satellites 
in the Low Earth Orbit regime 
to establish global communications networks.

Just say NO
to Chinese food in space.
I will eat fake Ukrainian sausage bathed in sauerkraut on Mars,
before I eat,
at the Chinese Noodle Swamp Resort, Brothel and Restaurant  ... 
on the crater rim next to the taikonaut cemetary,
on the dark side of the moon.


(03-16-2017, 02:52 AM)Vianova Wrote: [ -> ]Just say NO
to Chinese food in space.
I will eat fake Ukrainian sausage bathed in sauerkraut on Mars,
before I eat,
at the Chinese Noodle Swamp Resort, Brothel and Restaurant  ... 
on the crater rim next to the taikonaut cemetary,
on the dark side of the moon.



Student Scientists Select Menu for Astronauts
by Amanda Griffin for KSC News
Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Mar 15, 2017

[Image: students-growing-beyond-earth-challenge-...ers-lg.jpg]
High-school students participating in the Growing Beyond Earth challenge show NASA judges their growth chambers that mimic the Veggie system that grows plants aboard the International Space Station. Image courtesy Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. For a larger version of this image please gohere.
If you've ever had a cold preventing you from really tasting your food, you've experienced what astronauts aboard the International Space Station encounter at every meal. In a reduced-gravity environment, the fluids in astronauts' bodies shift around equally, filling up their faces, feeling similar to the congestion from a cold, reducing their ability to smell, and ultimately dulling their sense of taste.
But hope is on the way for these taste bud-challenged explorers. Several thousand middle and high school students from Miami-Dade County in Florida are on the case. For the past two years, plant researchers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center have been partnering with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami to create STEM-based challenges for teachers and students in the area. There are two challenges-Growing Beyond Earth and Green Cuisine: The Flavor of Space Travel.
Over this past school year, the students participated in Growing Beyond Earth by growing crops in mini botany labs provided to each of the participating schools by Fairchild.
Each lab mimics NASA's Veggie plant growth system currently aboard the space station, and the students had to follow research protocols set forth by NASA and Fairchild while testing factors that could influence plant growth, flavor and nutrition-all so they can help NASA pick the next crops to grow for the astronauts aboard the station.
"The Veggie team at KSC is excited to be working with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and middle and high schools groups to help us identify future varieties and best growing practices for use on the International Space Station," said Dr.
Gioia Massa, Veggie project scientist. "We plan to use the data from the student research to help us determine what to grow and how to grow it in Veggie experiments in the future."
The second challenge came on Saturday, March 4, where the student-scientists presented flavorful culinary dishes astronauts could eat in space as part of the Green Cuisine challenge.
Students were asked to create dishes with fresh herbs and spices to add variety and flavor to astronauts' daily meals. Students had to research the origins of the chosen herbs and spices, how they are grown and prepared, and the nutritional value of both the herbs and spices and the prepared dish.
One judge, Charlie Quincy, a NASA research advisor in food production, said, "High-quality foods with fresh strong flavors will give astronauts both what they need and what they want during their long exploration missions."
KSC Education's Theresa Martinez, who manages the four-year NASA Institutional Engagement Fairchild grant from Kennedy's Education Office, is excited for the south Florida student participants. "Eventually, they'll see direct results of their research when astronauts on the ISS try veggies they, in part, helped grow."
During the challenge, the students posted regular updates of their work on Twitter. You can follow their space farming @fairchdchallnge.
In addition to Veggie, a large plant growth chamber called the Advanced Plant Habitat is on its way to the space station-increasing the amount of scientific knowledge needed to dig deeper into long-duration food production for missions farther and farther from home.

Indicators show potatoes can grow on Mars
by Staff Writers
Lima, Peru (SPX) Mar 09, 2017
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Watch a video on the research here.

Chive on Baked Potato?

Quote:That represented a 40 percent reduction in launch cost  LilD from the Air Force’s estimated based on previous ULA flights, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said last year.

SpaceX nabs GPS launch contract as Air Force opens more missions for bidding

March 18, 2017

[img=675x0][/img]File photo of a Falcon 9 rocket launching from Cape Canaveral. Credit: SpaceX

The U.S. Air Force this week awarded SpaceX a contract to launch a Global Positioning System satellite in early 2019, concluding the second of as many as 15 competitions the military plans to run over the next year to pit SpaceX against United Launch Alliance for rights to lift defense and intelligence-gathering payloads into orbit.

The Air Force’s third GPS 3-series navigation satellite will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in February 2019, service officials said. The $96.5 million launch contract makes SpaceX two-for-two in its bids to launch high-value military satellites after the company won a previous GPS launch agreement last year.

But United Launch Alliance, operator of the Atlas and Delta rocket fleets, did not submit a bid for the earlier GPS launch contract, citing legislation in Congress threatening to restrict the use of Russian-made engines on the Atlas 5 rocket for U.S. military launches, and the Air Force’s decision to favor price over other factors in its selection criteria.

The Air Force signed an $82.7 million contract with SpaceX, the sole bidder, for the GPS 3-2 satellite after the company met minimum qualifying criteria on technical grounds. That represented a 40 percent reduction in launch cost from the Air Force’s estimated based on previous ULA flights, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said last year.

ULA is believed to have competed for the GPS launch contract awarded to SpaceX on Tuesday.

Claire Leon, director of the launch enterprise directorate at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said Wednesday that price was the determining factor in the military’s decision to give the latest GPS launch contract to SpaceX.

“Each contractor had to prove through their proposal that they could meet the technical, the schedule and the risk criteria,” Leon told reporters in a conference call. “SpaceX was able to do that. I wouldn’t say that they were necessarily better. They adequately met our criteria.”

The next-generation GPS 3-series satellites, built by Lockheed Martin, are expected to begin launching some time next year, several years late due to problems developing their navigation payloads and ground control systems.

The Air Force has contracted Lockheed Martin to build 10 of the new GPS 3 satellites, but a deal to manufacture the next batch of navigation platforms is being competed between Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

[img=675x0][/img]The first GPS 3 satellite in environmental testing. Credit: Lockheed Martin

The first GPS 3 satellite is set for launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket. The Air Force awarded that contract in a sole-source block buy of ULA rockets.

ULA plans to retire the medium-class, single-core version of the Delta 4 rocket in 2018 and use Atlas 5s for most of its launches through the early 2020s, when the company’s new Vulcan rocket will take over. The triple-body Delta 4-Heavy rocket will continue flying to lift the military’s heaviest satellites into orbit.

The second and third GPS 3-series launch contracts have now gone to SpaceX, giving the launch firm, led by Elon Musk, its first two awards for “EELV-class” satellites, a category that includes GPS navigation craft, nuclear-hardened, jam-resistant communications satellites, and platforms to warn the military of a nuclear attack.

The awards came after SpaceX struggled for several years to break into the military launch market, a contentious effort marked by a SpaceX lawsuit against the Air Force and intense lobbying in Washington.

Leon declined to speculate why SpaceX’s latest Air Force launch contract cost more than the last one.

“I can’t get into SpaceX’s process for pricing, however, the first award was their first time doing an Air Force EELV mission with our full mission assurance requirements,” Leon said. “I think they’re becoming more familiar with the expectations of the Air Force, so for this competition, they decided to change their price.”

In a statement, the Air Force said the $96.5 million contract covers “launch vehicle production, mission integration, and launch operations and spaceflight certification.”

Leon said the Air Force, so far, is specifying that SpaceX only launch the military’s satellites on newly-built Falcon 9 boosters. The Air Force is risk-averse in most of their satellite programs, citing their high cost, one-of-a-kind nature, and criticality for national security.

“There’s a whole lot more work to do,” Leon said. “We would have to certify flight hardware that had been used, which is more qualification and analysis, so we’re not taking that on quite yet. I think, if it proves to be successful for commercial (missions), we might use it in the future, but at this point in time we’re not prepared to start reusing hardware.”

[img=675x0][/img]File photo of a Falcon 9 first stage after landing at Cape Canaveral. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX plans to launch their first reused rocket on an operational satellite mission later this month from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight will carry the SES 10 communications satellite into orbit, using a Falcon 9 first stage that first flew in April 2016.

Asked whether the Air Force is satisfied that SpaceX has resolved the helium system problems that led to two rocket explosions in the last two years — one in flight in June 2015 and another on the launch pad last September — Leon said: “The short answer is yes, but I’m not going to tell you that there isn’t more work to do before we have an Air Force launch.”

The Air Force’s launch procurement office at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles is in a transition phase as launch companies prepare to debut new rockets in the next few years.

ULA’s new Vulcan rocket could launch as soon as 2019, and Orbital ATK is designing a medium-to-heavy lift rocket it says could loft commercial and national security satellites, assuming officials give a final go-ahead late this year. Both rockets are being developed as public-private partnerships between the Air Force and industry.

Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket is also in the pipeline for a maiden flight around 2020.

Until the new rockets are certified for Air Force launches, which will not happen until they complete several successful demonstration flights, the military will award satellite launch contracts to SpaceX’s Falcon rocket family or ULA’s Atlas and Delta boosters, the only U.S. vehicles currently certified for the task.

Before SpaceX was certified, the Air Force gave launch contracts ULA in sole-source “block buy” awards.

The Air Force originally identified nine missions up for competition between ULA and SpaceX, but Leon said six more payloads have been added to the roster, extending the “Phase 1A” transition period from this year through 2019.

The nine missions previously set up for head-to-head competitions included six GPS 3 satellites, the SBIRS GEO 5 missile warning satellite, the AFSPC 9 mission, and a multi-payload launch called STP-3 for the Air Force’s Space Test Program.

Leon said six classified missions for the National Reconnaissance Office, which manages the U.S. government’s spy satellites, have been added to the list. That makes for 15 missions eligible for competition through 2019.

“SpaceX can compete for any of them,” Leon said. “They will need the Falcon Heavy for some of those competitions, so they need to get a demo flight off, at least, to be able to be competitive for some of those missions.”

[img=675x0][/img]File photo of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on the launch pad. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The Air Force expects to award the STP-3 launch contract in June — proposals from ULA and SpaceX are already in for that mission — then release two more requests for bids by the end of the year.

According to Leon, the two new solicitations will bundle the remaining 12 missions, likely seven for the first batch and five in the second set. Launch contracts for the four GPS 3 satellites still up for competition in this procurement round might be awarded in a block to one of the launch providers, Leon said, but the others will be considered on a mission-by-mission basis, with contractors selected one at a time.

“We’re grouping them for our convenience, and for the contractors,” Leon said. “I think it will help the contractors because they’ll know what they’ve won, as opposed to doing these one at a time stretched out.”

Some of the launches up for competition will require a “direct injection” into geosynchronous orbit, a perch around 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) over the equator. Such missions are particularly complex, requiring a rocket’s upper stage to function at least six hours and reignite at high altitude, a capability not yet demonstrated in flight by SpaceX.

The flight sequence for GPS satellite launches is shorter because the spacecraft use on-board propulsion to reach their operational orbits around 12,550 miles (20,200 kilometers) above Earth.

“For future missions that are longer duration, there are certain steps that would have to be done to certify that,” Leon said.

The Air Force plans to assign the last three sole-source missions to ULA by the end of this year, fulfilling the final segment of an $11 billion order of 36 Delta and Atlas rocket cores from 2014, Leon said.
Those missions guaranteed to go to ULA will be the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite, a jam-resistant telecom relay craft designed to ensure military communications in nuclear war, and two top secret NRO payloads designated NROL-82 and NROL-101.

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A journalist Piers Morgan on ITV's Good Morning Britaintook the interview of Professor Stephen Hawking about America and American Politics, today. Professor Stephen Hawking said, he fears he may not be welcome in Donald Trump's America. The physicist and cosmologist think that the US has become more 'authoritarian' and, in a possible attack on Mr. Trump. Professor Hawking also said that “people who boast about their IQ are losers”.

Professor Hawking while commenting on the US election,said:  “The reaction to the election of Donald Trump may have been overdone, but it represents a definite swing to a right-wing, more authoritarian approach”

As Trump claimed that his IQ is “one of the highest” so Morgan said that the comment was a possible taunt at Trump.

Hawking thinks that the condition that government imposed on scientist to get White House approval for announcements, would not leave any good effect. He also suggested Trump to get rid of Scott Pruitt, the person at the US Environment Protection Agency.

Professor said: “Everyday life in the United States continues much the same. I have many friends and colleagues there, and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways. I would like to visit again, and to talk to other scientists. But I fear that I may not be welcome”.

Pruitt said last week he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

Professor Hawking said today: “Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it's one we can prevent. It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for his second term. God forbid.”

Hawking also told Morgan, that Virgin boss had offered him a seat and he is planning to travel into space on Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. He said he had not expected this.

When asked about his thoughts regarding happiness, he said: “My three children have brought me great joy. And I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space. I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic, and I said yes immediately.”

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At the National Space Club Florida Committee’s meeting this week, former NASA space shuttle pilot Tony Antonelli revealed that the concept of a ‘Mars base camp’ could be achieved as soon as 2028. As Lockheed Martin showed his intentions to send humans on a three-year trip around Mars.

At the meeting, according to Florida Today Antonelli said: “This is all doable in the next 10 to 12 years, all that we have to do is decide that we’re going to go collectively, together – government, industry, international participation. This is a mission for citizens of Earth, and there’s a role for everyone to play.”

Because of the request from Donald Trump’s administration to NASA to assess the feasibility of sending a crew around the moon with the first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. May be this concept is the result of the request.

Lockheed Martin first revealed they were joining the space race to Mars back in May, at the 'Humans to Mars' summit in Washington.

According to Antonelli: “the firm is not waiting for ‘some kind of magic’ to reach the goal – instead, the craft would rely on existing technology, putting Orion deep-space capsules on either end of the outpost to carry six astronauts around the red planet.”

Astronauts could perform real-time scientific exploration while orbiting the red planet, firm said. To find the best place for the humans to land they will analyze Martian rock and soil samples on the surface of the planet.

Lockheed Martin hopes to convince the space agency to make this earlier as NASA wants to get to Mars in the 2030s.

The spacecraft will launch in 2018 without a crew, and this will be followed by a manned mission five years later.

Lockheed Martin's chief technologist for civil space exploration Tony Antonelli told Popular Science: “NASA has [orbiting Mars] in their plan, and we're coloring in the details…All of these pieces exist today, they're not brand new. We're taking advantage of what we've already got.”

Lockheed Martin is working on developing the space habitats which would provide both a living space and work space for astronauts.

Lockheed Martin will use Orion as the mission's command-and-control center, equipped to survive 1,000 days.

Bill Pratt, Lockheed's program manager for habitat study said: “Basically, the habitat would be located just far enough away that astronauts couldn't easily turn around and come home when problems arise, That really forces us to operate in a different mindset that's more akin to a long trip to Mars.”

China National Space Administration (CNSA) is also intensive to go to Mars. Wu Weiren, Head Designer of CNSA Lunar and Mars Mission told the BBC that CNSA's goal is to reach Mars by 2021.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, believes it may be possible to send the first humans to Mars within the next 10 to 15 years.

SpaceX studying landing sites for Mars missions
by Jeff Foust — March 20, 2017
[Image: reddragon-mars-879x485.jpg][img=788x0][/img]SpaceX's "Red Dragon" concept envisions using a Dragon spacecraft with only minor modification to land on the surface of Mars as a precursor to later human missions. Credit: SpaceX

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — SpaceX has been working with NASA to identify potential landing sites on Mars for both its Red Dragon spacecraft and future human missions.
In a presentation at a symposium here March 18 on planetary surface exploration and sample return, Paul Wooster of SpaceX said the company, working with scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere, had identified several potential landing sites, including one that looks particularly promising.
Wooster, who is involved in Mars mission planning in addition to his “day job” as manager of guidance, navigation and control systems on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, said that site selection is based on several criteria. One is access to large quantities of ice near the surface that could, ultimately, support human settlements.

Another is to be close to the Equator and at a low elevation for solar power and better thermal conditions. “It’s probably hard to find that along with ice,” he acknowledged, so the focus has been on four locations at latitudes no more than about 40 degrees from the Equator.
Wooster said the study identified four regions in the northern hemisphere of Mars that met those basic criteria. Three of the regions — Deuteronilus Mensae, Phlegra Montes and Utopia Planitia — looked attractive in images from a medium resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaissiance Orbiter called CTX, he said, but appear rockier in high-resolution HiRISE images.
“The team at JPL has been finding that, while the areas look very flat and smooth at CTX resolution, with HiRISE images, they’re quite rocky,” Wooster said. “That’s been unfortunate in terms of the opportunities for those sites.”
A fourth region, Arcadia Planitia, looks more promising in those high-resolution images. “What they’ve found is basically few or no rocks, and a polygonal terrain that they think is pretty similar to what was seen at Phoenix,” he said, referring to NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft, which landed in the north polar regions of Mars in 2008.
Those landing sites are of particular interest, he said, for SpaceX’s long-term vision of establishing a human settlement on Mars, but he said the company wouldn’t rule our sending Red Dragon spacecraft elsewhere on the planet to serve other customers. “We’re quite open to making use of this platform to take various payloads to other locations as well,” he said. “We’re really looking to turn this into a steady cadence, where we’re sending Dragons to Mars on basically every opportunity.”
The Red Dragon spacecraft, he said, could carry about one ton of useful payload to Mars, with options for those payloads to remain in the capsule after landing or be deployed on the surface. “SpaceX is a transportation company,” he said. “We transport cargo to the space station, we deliver payloads to orbit, so we’re very happy to deliver payloads to Mars.”
When SpaceX announced the Red Dragon program last year, it planned to perform the first launch as soon as the spring of 2018. Last month, however, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said it was likely that mission would shift to the next Mars launch window in mid-2020.
Wooster said the slip didn’t have anything to do with issues with the mission itself. “Overall, we just had a lot of things on our plate at SpaceX. It’s not anything specific to Red Dragon,” he said.
- See more at:


“With this legislation, we support NASA’s scientists, engineers and astronauts and their pursuit of discovery"

Mikael Thalen | - MARCH 21, 2017 
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President Donald Trump signed into law Tuesday a bill authorizing funding for NASA which also makes human exploration of Mars a priority.
Known as the NASA Transition Authorization Act, the new law provides $19.5 billion in funding for fiscal year 2018 and tasks the space agency with planning a manned mission to the red planet in the 2030s.

View image on Twitter


[Image: DJT_Headshot_V2_normal.jpg]Donald J. Trump 

Honored to sign S.442 today. With this legislation, we support@NASA's scientists, engineers, and astronauts in their pursuit of discovery!
11:33 AM - 21 Mar 2017

[size=undefined]“I’m delighted to sign this bill,” Trump said. “It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of NASA, human space exploration, space science and technology.”
As noted by the [url=]Houston Chronicle, the measure is “the first major NASA policy bill in seven years,” which Trump also heralded for its job-creating ability.
“With this legislation, we support NASA’s scientists, engineers and astronauts and their pursuit of discovery,” Trump added. “This bill will make sure that NASA’s most important and effective programs are sustained.”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who in 1986 orbited the earth for 6 days while aboard the space shuttle Columbia, attended the signing and emphatically expressed agreement with a Mars mission.
“It puts us on the dual track,” Nelson said. “We have the commercial companies going to and from the International Space Station and we have NASA going out and exploring the heavens. And we’re going to Mars.”
Numerous sponsors of the bill, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), likewise joined the president for the signing.
A preliminary budget released last week had proposed only allotting $19.1 billion to NASA, $200 million less than the current budget of $19.3 billion. The Trump administration reversed the decision, instead opting to increase funding for the space agency.
I wonder if Trump actually knows what he's signing? Certainly the last guy I'd figure for a rocket scientist.

"I’m delighted to sign this bill," Trump said. "The more rockets we have, the more it will distract everyone from all the saucers we've built and tested since the 1940s that no one tells me anything about. None of my staff trusts me with anything important, did you know that? They all think I'm a dangerous, egomanaical racist pinhead who ought to be treated like they're five".

Well, if Elon Musk actually achieves something in space besides the power of speech, I'll stop saying that Elon Musk is a foofy French perfume.

Don't pay the ferryman 'til he gets you to the other side, that's my motto...

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@realDonaldTrump @NASA #2020CydoniaMarsRover #OriginsEnigmatic Orbit to PINPOINT Ares Face close enough 2 touch

Bob... Ninja Alien2
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