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Aerospace & Defense News - Space.

New York (AirGuideBusiness - Space News) Oct 23, 2011

Boeing, NASA Boeing subjects space-capsule model to wind-tunnel tests. Boeing is conducting wind-tunnel tests on a scale model of its CST-100 space capsule at a NASA facility in California. Engineers subjected the 12-by-14-inch aluminum model to ultra-high-speed winds, and collected data on airflow from hundreds of small sensors. The CST-100 should be operational by 2015, Boeing says. Oct 19, 2011

NASA NASA weighs costs of Russian shuttles, private space taxis. NASA could spend more than USD50 million per passenger on ferrying astronauts to the moon on Russian space shuttles, or it could invest the funds in a private space taxi program. "One additional year of buying this service from the Russians will cost the United States about USD450 million," said Lori Garver, NASA deputy administrator. Oct 21, 2011

NASA Astronauts will practice asteroid missions under the sea. NASA astronauts have headed to the ocean floor to practice asteroid missions through NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations. "For this particular mission, because we're on the ocean floor, we're able to be mutually buoyant," said NASA astronaut and NEEMO 15 commander Shannon Walker. "It's one of the few places where we can do tasks as if we're on an asteroid." Oct 21, 2011

NASA Webb telescope is projected to launch in 2018. NASA's administrator said he's "spreading the costs" of the James Webb Space Telescope across the organization to get the delayed project off the ground. The telescope is over-budget and behind schedule, but Charles Bolden Jr. said the telescope should be ready for launch by 2018. The Webb telescope is supposed to replace the Hubble Space Telescope, but will go much farther into space. Oct 17, 2011

NASA After months of speculation, NASA has confirmed the final design of the Space Launch System (SLS) - a heavy lift launch vehicle expected to launch NASA payloads into deep space by 2017. The first rockets will be capable of lifting 70 tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), and later versions will be scaled up to 130 tons. With a minimum of 10% greater thrust than the massive Saturn V rocket, which took the Apollo astronauts to the Moon, SLS will be the largest and most powerful launch vehicle ever built. The first stage of SLS will be powered by three Rocketdyne RD-25D/E rockets, also known as Space Shuttle main engines (SSME), assisted in the first minutes of flight by two five-segment solid rocket boosters also derived from Shuttle systems. Oct 12, 2011

Space Exploration Technologies SpaceX Completes Key Milestone to Fly Astronauts to International Space Station. Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announced it has successfully completed the preliminary design review of its revolutionary launch abort system, a system designed for manned missions using its Dragon spacecraft. This represents a major step toward creating an American-made successor to the Space Shuttle. NASAOs approval of the latest design review marks the fourth successfully completed milestone under the agencyOs Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program and demonstrates the innovation thatOs possible when NASA partners with the private sector. Now that the Space Shuttle program has ended, the United States relies on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for astronaut transport, costing American taxpayers as much as USD62 million a seat. By comparison, Dragon is designed to carry seven astronauts at a time for an unparalleled USD20 million per seat. As with all SpaceX designs, increased safety and reliability are paramount. ODragonOs integrated launch abort system provides astronauts with the ability to safely escape from the beginning of the launch until the rocket reaches orbit,O explained David Giger, co-lead of the DragonRider program. OThis level of protection is unprecedented in manned spaceflight history.O With the latest design review approved by NASA, SpaceX can now start building the hardware at the heart of its innovative launch abort system. The SpaceX design incorporates the escape engines into the side walls of Dragon, eliminating a failure mode of more traditional rocket escape towers, which must be successfully jettisoned during every launch. The integrated abort system also returns with the spacecraft, allowing for easy reuse and radical reductions in the cost of space transport. Over time, the same escape thrusters will also provide Dragon with the ability to land with pinpoint accuracy on Earth or another planet. In its first flights, on June 4 and December 8, 2010, SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle achieved consecutive mission successes. The December mission, which was the first demonstration flight under NASAOs Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, marked DragonOs historic debut and established SpaceX as the first private company to launch and recover a spacecraft from orbit. As a result, many Falcon 9 and Dragon components required for transporting humans to Earth orbit have already been demonstrated in flight. Oct 20, 2011

Virgin Galactic Virgin Galactic has formally inaugurated Spaceport America, from which the company plans to begin suborbital flights into space in 2012. The 17 October ceremony at the spaceport, near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, featured dancers on rappelling ropes and a flyby from WhiteKnightTwo, with SpaceShipTwo underslung. Roughly 800 people attended the inauguration, according to Virgin Galactic. Various celebrities from the space world, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin and space shuttle pilot Julie Payette, were in attendance. Also present were an estimated 150 Virgin Galactic ticket holders. Richard Branson, the company's chief investor, rappelled down with the dance troupe and formally christened the facility halfway to the ground. The private spaceport, which is closed to unapproved air- or spacecraft, has no formal role in spacecraft testing. The October dedication ceremony marks only the second landing by WhiteKnightTwo. Major parts of the facility, including the flight operations building and hanger offices, remain under construction. Oct 21, 2011

Virgin Galactic Virgin Galactic has confirmed an order from NASA for up to three charter flights on its privately built spacecraft to provide opportunities for engineers, technologists and scientific researchers to conduct cutting-edge experiments in suborbital space. The agreement calls for NASA to charter a full flight from Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, and includes options for two additional charter flights. If all options are exercised, the contract value is $4.5 million. This arrangement dramatically increases the access researchers currently have to space. Each mission allows for up to 1,300 pounds of scientific experiments, which could enable up to 600 experimental payloads per flight. Virgin Galactic will provide a flight test engineer on every flight to monitor and interact with experiments as necessary, a capability that has never before been available on suborbital vehicles. If requested, these experiments can be quickly accessed after landing, a feature critical to many types of experiments.

These research flights mark an important milestone for Virgin Galactic. Although generally referred to as a space tourism company -- Virgin Galactic has already collected more than $58 million in deposits from 455 future tourist astronauts -- providing access to space to researchers and their experiments is viewed by Virgin Galactic as both a future mission segment and a significant business opportunity.

NASA's charter for these flights comes through the agency's Flight Opportunities Program, managed by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. Through this program, NASA has already arranged the flight of a broad range of innovative scientific payloads designed by NASA labs, universities, and private companies across the United States. To date, none of the experiments flown via the Flight Opportunities program have crossed the boundary into space. With the flights secured, NASA will be able to select from a variety of proposals currently being solicited from the research community, which has already expressed strong interest. The Flight Opportunities Program will be responsible for selecting the payloads to be flown. For more information, visit www.virgingalactic.com. Oct 13, 2011

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