by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Development Council
July 27, 2016

Blue Origin Crew Capsule Safely Lands During Parachute Test

Blue Origin says a test flight last month in Texas showed the crew capsule of its New Shepard spacecraft could safely land with only two of its parachutes open. On Wednesday Jeff Bezos emailed website subscribers the latest update: “On our most recent flight, we performed a test to prove the crew capsule could safely land with only two of its three parachutes open,” Bezos said. “On a nominal flight with all three parachutes deployed, the capsule descends at about 16 mph before firing a retrorocket just a few feet above the ground. This retrorocket firing is what creates the large cloud of dust you see just before the capsule lands, and slows the capsule down to 3 mph before it touches the ground.” — Kent Reporter

SpaceX Plans Dragon Capsule Reuse Too

SpaceX could launch a reused Dragon capsule as soon as next year. At a post-launch press conference Monday, NASA and SpaceX officials said they may reuse the pressure vessel from a Dragon spacecraft as soon as the company’s 11th mission to the ISS under its current contract, currently scheduled for early 2017. While SpaceX has suggested in the past that the Dragon spacecraft could be reused, NASA has required a new Dragon spacecraft for each mission to the station. – Space.com

Last Shuttle Commander ‘Back in the Fight’ with Boeing

When Chris Ferguson climbed into the commander’s seat of the shuttle Atlantis five years ago Friday for the spaceship’s final flight, he didn’t know what turn his career would take when he returned to Earth. Like many space shuttle workers, Ferguson had to decide what to do next. Atlantis’ final flight, which lifted off July 8, 2011, was Ferguson’s third space mission and capped a nearly 30-year flying career with the Navy and NASA. After joining Boeing in late 2011, Ferguson helped lead the company’s development of the CST-100 Starliner space taxi, one of two U.S.-built commercial spacecraft selected by NASA to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. “Now I find myself right back in the fight again, right back in the fight as a stakeholder in making sure that we’re successful,” Ferguson said. Launch pads at Cape Canaveral are also seeing changes. “It’s sort of a hopping place. For each one, it’s like are we all going to live in this symbiotic relationship where we’re all providing reliable inexpensive transportation to low Earth orbit,” Ferguson said. “That, to me, is sort of like nirvana.” — SpaceFlight Now

Orion Service Module Getting World’s Hardest Shake-Up at NASA’s Plum Brook Station

NASA’s Orion service module is getting a serious shake-up, thanks to the engineers and technicians at NASA’s Plum Brook Station testing facility in Sandusky, Ohio. Inside Plum Brook’s giant Space Power Facility, the service module is currently undergoing a rigorous series of vibration tests atop the facility’s new vibration table, the most powerful such apparatus in the world. — SpaceFlight Insider

1,000 Astronauts? SpaceX Isn’t the Only Company with a Grand Plan for Space

You say SpaceX wants to cut the cost of spaceflight by 75% — or more? And SpaceX also wants to put a human on Mars — before NASA can get there? Well, hold on just a minute there, Tex. Because over at Boeing and Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance has some pretty grand plans for space of its own. In its new blueprint for space exploration, ULA lays out a plan for humanity in space, dubbed the “Cislunar 1000 Vision” — and it’s a big one. Over the next 30 years, ULA believes it will be possible to launch astronauts into space not just three at a time, with the lofty objective of floating around the Earth in an aluminum tube — but sending dozens, scores, even hundreds of explorers into the region bounded by Earth and its Moon, to live and work there long-term. ULA argues that its technology has matured to the point that ULA rockets are no longer restricted to just one-way missions to Earth orbit. Today, ULA believes that spaceships, once launched into orbit, can proceed to conducting new missions while they’re up there — and don’t necessarily have to come back down. — Motley Fool

Boeing Plans Challenge Bezos and Musk’s Race to Mars

Boeing kicked off its hundredth year of existence yesterday, unveiling plans of moving towards supersonic commercial planes and rockets with the ability to take humans to Mars and other planets. Although the possibility for humans to go to Mars may still be decades away, the Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg said “I’m anticipating that person will be riding on a Boeing rocket.” Following its announcement, shares of the company are trading up 0.64% at $132.39 yesterday. — Headline News

Southern California’s Aerospace Industry, Long in Decline, Begins to Stir

When Tim Buzza joined McDonnell Douglas in the late 1980s and worked on the C-17 cargo plane, lots were so jammed that workers often had to park as much as a mile from the Long Beach plant and take a shuttle bus. Last year, the C-17 production line shut down, ending the last large aircraft assembly operation in the region. Today, Buzza, 52, works on the old Douglas property, but for Virgin Galactic, billionaire Richard Branson’s space start-up. Southern California is a long way from its aerospace glory years. Employment today is about one-third of what it was in 1990. But analysts and industry leaders believe that the sector is poised to grow again, behind a new generation of entrepreneurial private space companies like SpaceX in Hawthorne and Virgin Galactic, and defense projects such as the B-21 long-range strike bomber, which could bring thousands of jobs to the area. — LA Times

Florida’s Space Coast “Booming” in National Aerospace Ranking

Florida moved into second place, primarily because of an increase in aerospace wages. But Florida’s Space Coast is booming, with major new initiatives being planned in that area. In 2015, SpaceX said it was leasing launch pads at Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. Also last year, Blue Origin announced it is building a production facility for manufacturing its fleet of orbital rockets in Florida and is planning to launch its orbital rockets from Cape Canaveral. Boeing opened a commercial spaceship plant at Cape Canaveral to build spaceships for NASA. — PWC

Houston to Host ASE Astronaut Convention in 2019

Houston will host a convention of astronauts in 2019. The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) announced this week that its annual Planetary Congress, a gathering of its members, will take place in Houston in October 2019. It will be the first time the ASE has held its annual conference in the U.S. since 2008 in Seattle. ASE, whose membership is open to people who have flown in space, has more than 400 members worldwide. — CollectSpace

Vector Space Discussing Cape Canaveral Launch Site with Space Florida

Vector’s new Garvey-designed engines are now moving into final development and qualification tests, Cantrell said, including a flight test of a second stage engine on a suborbital rocket planned for July 30 from an amateur rocket test site in California’s Mojave Desert. Another test is planned for September from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska, a launch site on Kodiak Island, Alaska. That test will also help the company understand how to work with launch ranges to minimize problems Cantrell said often delay launch vehicle development efforts. Ultimately, he said the company plans to launch from Alaska and is in discussions with Space Florida about a launch site at Cape Canaveral. — Space News

RocketCrafters Switches Gears from Spaceplane to Vertical Launchers

RocketCrafters, the small aerospace company that planned to develop a family of dual-propulsion spaceplanes for point-to-point spaceflight, has changed its business plan to focus on developing an “Intrepid” family of vertical-launch hybrid-fueled rockets to deliver small satellites to orbit. The company relocated from Utah to Florida’s Space Coast in 2012 to design and build its spaceplanes, with the potential for creating up to 1300 jobs and a manufacturing facility at Titusville’s Space Coast Regional Airport, adjacent to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The company’s rockets would likely launch from Florida for many missions, but perhaps also from Puerto Rico where RocketCrafters is considering a site for high-inclination and polar-orbit launches. — SPACErePORT

Commercializing the Space Station

NASA and other governments may have an end date for the International Space Station, but private companies are creating their own for commercial purposes. Senior Space Editor Frank Morring discusses plans for new commercial space modules from which other companies can launch small satellites, or use the advantages of microgravity for new ventures such as one with a plan to manufacture faster fiber optics. — Aviation Week

International Space Station Captures Dozens of Experiments

Fungi found near the Chernobyl power plant might end up being put to good use. A NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory experiment sent from Florida’s Space Coast early Monday has on board fungal strains found near the Ukrainian site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. Researchers say the materials found there are biologically active and could some day treat disease or help food crops grow. The experiment will monitor the fungi in microgravity, monitoring to see if that environment fosters any beneficial natural products. The experiment was among those highlighted by NASA on Wednesday, as the SpaceX Dragon capsule berthed with the International Space Station. — Orlando Sentinel