Today’s Tidbits: February 26, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: February 26, 2018

Here are our tidbits for February 26, 2018: George Nield retiring from FAA/AST; Ariane 5 investigation report; and Aerospace Corp’s new space policy advisory board.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

George Nield Retiring from FAA/AST

George Nield, Associate Administrator (AA) for Commercial Space Transportation at the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is retiring.  In an email to this evening, Nield confirmed that he will retire at the end of March.

Nield has an extensive career in space.  A graduate of the Air Force Academy and a Flight Test Engineering Graduate of the Air Force Test Pilot School with master’s and doctorate degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford and an MBA from George Washington University, Nield has served as an astronautics engineer at the AF Space and Missile Systems Organization, flight test engineer at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Assistant Professor and Research Director at the AF Academy, manager of the Flight Integration Office for the Space Shuttle Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, worked on the Shuttle/Mir and International Space Station Programs, and was Senior Scientist for the Advanced Programs Group at Orbital Sciences Corporation (now Orbital ATK) prior to joining the FAA.

Nield has been an articulate and indefatigable champion for commercial space transportation since joining FAA/AST in 2003 as Deputy AA while Patti Grace Smith was AA.   He became AA when she retired in 2008.  It has been a remarkable 15 years, during which the commercial space transportation industry has mushroomed with the emergence of companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, a host of small launch services companies and the commercial cargo and commercial crew programs initiated by NASA .  To say he has big shoes to fill is quite an understatement.

Ariane 5 Anomaly Investigation Report

The Independent Enquiry Commission charged with discovering why a January 25, 2018 Ariane 5 launch placed two satellites into incorrect orbits issued its report on February 22.   The two communications satellites, SES-14 and Al Yah 3, reached the correct altitude, but at the wrong inclination.  Both satellites are fine and are slowly working their way into their correct geostationary orbits thanks to onboard propulsion, but the question is what went wrong.  The answer basically is that someone entered bad data and no one caught it.

Investigations by the Independent Enquiry Commission showed that the trajectory anomaly resulted from an incorrect value in specifications for the implementation of the launcher’s two inertial reference systems. Given the special requirements of this mission, the azimuth required for the alignment of the inertial units was 70 degrees instead of 90 degrees, as is most often the case for missions to geostationary transfer orbit. This gap led to the 20-degree shift to the south in the launcher trajectory from the initial seconds of flight. The cause of the trajectory deviation, therefore, was due to a bad specification of one of the launcher mission parameters that was not detected during the standard quality checks carried out during the Ariane 5 launches’ preparation chain.

Learn more at: [].

Aerospace Corporation’s New Space Policy Advisory Board

The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy has created a new Senior Advisory Council to serve as strategic advisers to the Center’s research agenda and review individual projects.  The members are:

Vice Adm. Manson Brown, USCG (Ret.)
Carissa Bryce Christensen
The Honorable Madelyn Creedon
Adm. Cecil Haney, USN (Ret.)
Lt. Gen. Larry James, USAF (Ret.)
Maj. Gen. Susan Mashiko, USAF (Ret.)
Col. Pamela Melroy, USAF (Ret.)

The Center has just released two new reports:

  • On-Orbit Assembly of Space Assets: A Path to Affordable and Adaptable Space Infrastructure
  • Assurance Through Insurance and On-Orbit Servicing

They and other policy papers are available at the Center’s website []

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