Astra Ready for DARPA Launch Challenge

Astra Ready for DARPA Launch Challenge

DARPA’s Launch Challenge is on!  The prize-money competition to demonstrate flexible, responsive launch capabilities should see its first rocket launch before March 1 from Kodiak Island, Alaska.  The sole remaining competitor, Astra, will have to reach orbit and then do it again within two weeks to win $12 million.

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SpaceX and Space Adventures Ink Deal on Crew Dragon Tourist Flight

SpaceX and Space Adventures Ink Deal on Crew Dragon Tourist Flight

SpaceX and Space Adventures announced today that they have signed an agreement to fly private citizens to orbit on one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.  The four space tourists would not dock at the International Space Station (ISS), but remain in space for up to 5 days on a free-flying mission.  The asking price was not revealed.

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What’s Happening in Space Policy February 16-22, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 16-22, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of February 16-22, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess this week except for pro forma sessions.

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New Executive Orders for GPS, Space Council

New Executive Orders for GPS, Space Council

President Trump signed two new space-related Executive Orders (EOs) this week.  One takes steps to protect critical infrastructure from disruptions to systems that provide positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services. DOD’s Global Positioning System (GPS) is the best known of these.  It also incentivizes efforts to develop alternatives to GPS.  The other EO adds new members to the White House National Space Council.

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Missions to Venus, Io and Triton Win Chances to Be Next Discovery Mission

Missions to Venus, Io and Triton Win Chances to Be Next Discovery Mission

NASA picked four missions for additional studies as the next step in deciding what will be the next mid-size planetary exploration probe in its Discovery series.  Two of the four would investigate Venus.  The other two would go to moons in the outer solar system, Jupiter’s Io and Neptune’s Triton.  NASA plans to select two for launch in the mid-late 2020s.

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Office of Space Commerce Seeks Budget Boost to Accelerate SSA Work

Office of Space Commerce Seeks Budget Boost to Accelerate SSA Work

The Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce is seeking a significant budget boost for FY2021 to accelerate its work on space situational awareness (SSA). The head of that office, Kevin O’Connell, told a Senate committee today that his office wants $15 million for FY2021.  For FY2020, it received $2.3 million.  Other witnesses today and at a House hearing yesterday emphasized the critical need to deal with SSA and mitigation of space debris to ensure a sustainable space environment for government and commercial use.

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SpaceX Demo-2 Capsule on Its Way to KSC

SpaceX Demo-2 Capsule on Its Way to KSC

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that soon will send two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on a test flight is on its way to Kennedy Space Center (KSC). KSC Director Bob Cabana confirmed earlier this week that the launch is expected in the second quarter of this year, which begins in April.

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Gerstenmaier Joins SpaceX As Consultant

Gerstenmaier Joins SpaceX As Consultant

Bill Gerstenmaier, who for decades led NASA human spaceflight programs, has joined SpaceX as a consultant.  He retired from NASA in December after being dismissed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in July as the head of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) just as the Artemis program was getting underway.

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First Budget Request for Space Force Tops $15 Billion

First Budget Request for Space Force Tops $15 Billion

For the first time, the President’s Budget Request includes funding for the U.S. Space Force, which was created as a sixth military service in December.  Most of the funding for Space Force in the F2021 request simply reflects shuffling funds into the new account structure, but an Air Force official said today there is a $900 million increase compared to FY2020.

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FAA Requests Modest Increase for Commercial Space Office

FAA Requests Modest Increase for Commercial Space Office

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FY2021 budget request for commercial space activities includes both increases and decreases.  The total of $44.4 million includes funding for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) as well as efforts elsewhere in the agency to integrate launches and reentries into the National Airspace System (NAS) and enhance safety. Some parts did better than others.

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