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SPENDING GRADUALLY INCREASING AGAIN ON NASA'S MARS EXPLORATION PROGRAM
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Click image for a larger picture

Curiosity rover inspects a rock on Mars

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Curiosity rover inspects a rock on Mars

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech


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NEWTOWN, Conn. - For years, NASA's Mars Exploration Program suffered due to an overall U.S. government spending crunch. The program also competed for dollars with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), human spaceflight efforts, and even other planetary science missions. Funding for the program reached a near-term low of $288 million in FY14.

However, NASA's budget has had more room for growth over the past few years, and spending on the Mars Exploration Program has recovered somewhat. NASA has requested nearly $585 million in FY17. There are signs that spending will continue to grow over the next few years as NASA ramps up the Mars 2020 Rover program. Funding will also continue into the 2020s to support the 2022 Orbiter.

The Mars program continues to enjoy support in Congress as well. That is particularly true since NASA moderated some of its goals. Originally, the agency teamed with the European Space Agency to develop a joint mission to Mars. However, as that program became too expensive for NASA, the space agency decided to develop its own mission to the Red Planet.

Furthermore, the 2020 Rover will be a clone of the Curiosity rover currently exploring the Martian surface. Utilizing hardware from that mission will keep costs in check, with the program estimated to cost $1.5 billion.

In addition to the 2020 Rover, NASA will continue to operate the Curiosity rover on Mars' surface following its successful landing in August 2012 and will operate the MAVEN, launched in November 2013, following its successful insertion into orbit in September 2014. The space agency has also begun investigating a Mars orbiter to launch in 2022 that will provide scientific observation and communications links for rovers on the planet's surface. NASA awarded five companies contracts in July 2018 to begin concept studies for the mission.

Source:  Forecast International
Associated URL: www.forecastinternational.com
Source Date: September 29, 2016
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 09/29/2016

 
 
SIERRA NEVADA CORP AGREES TO CONDUCT FIRST DEDICATED UNITED NATIONS SPACE MISSION
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Click image for a larger picture

Dream Chaser will conduct a mission for the UN

Source: NASA/Ken Ulbrich


Dream Chaser will conduct a mission for the UN

Source: NASA/Ken Ulbrich


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GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have announced details of the first-ever United Nations space mission at the International Astronautical Congress on September 27 in Guadalajara, Mexico. All United Nations Member States will be able to propose payloads for the mission; however, it is targeted at providing developing countries the opportunity to develop and fly microgravity payloads for an extended duration in orbit.

This announcement builds on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in June 2016 between UNOOSA and SNC to collaborate on this space mission. The mission is intended to launch in 2021 and will allow United Nations Member States to participate in a 14-day flight to low-Earth orbit (LEO) on SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft.

Countries selected to provide mission payloads will be asked to pay a pro-rated portion of the mission cost, based on the resources required to host the payload and their ability to pay. In addition, major sponsors are being sought to finance a large portion of the mission costs.

For years SNC worked on designing a Dream Chaser capable of carrying astronauts to low Earth orbit. However, when SNC lost the NASA commercial crew competition to Boeing and SpaceX, the company shifted its focus to developing a crewless version to carry payloads and supplies to space.

Sierra Nevada Corp scored a major victory when NASA awarded it one of three contracts to carry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). With the CRS-2 win, Sierra Nevada Corp will now receive a large amount of cash flow that will be a boon to the Dream Chaser program.

In addition to NASA, SNC has been successful in developing relationships with other space agencies. The contract with UNOOSA shows that this strategy is succeeding.

Source:  SNC
Associated URL: http://www.sncorp.com/AboutUs/NewsDetails/3810
Source Date: September 29, 2016
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 09/29/2016

 
 
ULA AND USAF AGREE ON VULCAN CERTIFICATION PROCESS
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Click image for a larger picture

Artist's rendition of a Vulcan launch vehicle

Source: ULA


Artist's rendition of a Vulcan launch vehicle

Source: ULA


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CENTENNIAL, Colo. - United Launch Alliance (ULA) and the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to begin the certification process for the company’s new Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle.

"The certification process provides a path for launch-service providers to demonstrate the capability to design, produce, qualify, and deliver a new launch system and provide the mission assurance support required to deliver NSS satellites to orbit," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space and Space and Missile Systems Center commander. "This process ensures that we continue to have assured access to space."

The Vulcan is ULA's response to major changes that are currently taking place in the launch market. The new launch vehicle addresses two problems that have arisen at ULA in recent years. The first is new competition from Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). SpaceX's Falcon 9 was recently certified to carry national defense payloads. The other major issue that the Vulcan addresses is replacement of the RD-180 engine - the main engine on the Atlas V. Supplied by Russian company Energomash, the engine has come under fire due to the conflict between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Congress has demanded that the Air Force and ULA find a replacement for the venerable engine.

The ULA team completed the vehicle’s Preliminary Design Review in July of this year, and is on schedule to fly the inaugural flight test of the Vulcan Centaur in 2019.

Source:  ULA
Associated URL: http://www.ulalaunch.com/news-press-details.aspx?id=333&title=United-Launch-Alli
Source Date: September 29, 2016
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 09/29/2016

 

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