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Thursday, May 28, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (May 22 – May 29 2015)


Amazing Video Gives Dragon's-Eye View of SpaceX Capsule Test Flight

A stunning new video puts viewers aboard SpaceX's Dragon crew capsule during its first-ever liftoff earlier this month.
SpaceX has released a video showing Dragon's May 6 flight, an unmanned launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that tested the capsule's launch-escape system. The 2-minute video integrates footage taken by cameras aboard the spacecraft, showing key events such as parachute deployment up close — and providing great Dragon's-eye views of the Space Coast landscape. 

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Milky Way Glows Over Maine Beach in Stunning Photo

The crisp water and clear sky over Popham Beach State Park in Maine show our host galaxy in a stunning panorama.
Astrophotographer A. Garrett Evans took this image the morning of April 18 as a nine-shot panorama. He used a Canon 6D with Canon 16-35 mm on a Nodal Ninja panning head, camera settings were ISO 4000, f/2.8, 30 seconds each.

Credit: A. Garrett Evans
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NASA's Last Space Shuttle External Tank to Complete Endeavour L.A. Exhibit

It's a sight no one thought possible again: a complete NASA space shuttle — the winged orbiter, twin rocket boosters and a massive external tank, all authentic hardware – standing vertical as if the vehicle was about to blast off for space.
But come 2018, that's exactly what the California Science Center will be able to display, thanks to a newly-revealed agreement by NASA to donate its last remaining fuel tank built to launch the space shuttle.

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House Approves Commercial Space Bill

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with a number of commercial space policy provisions May 21, despite objections from some Democratic members about the bill's language and warnings that the Senate is unlikely to adopt it.
The House passed H.R. 2262, the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act, on a 284–133 vote after nearly two hours of debate. Nearly 50 Democrats joined almost all the chamber's Republicans in voting for the bill.

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NASA Mission to Europa Will Seek Conditions for Life

NASA's Europa spacecraft will use nine scientific instruments to assess the icy, ocean-harboring Jupiter moon's ability to support life, space agency officials announced today (May 26).
The Europa probe — which is scheduled to launch in the early to mid-2020s — will carry supersharp cameras, a heat detector, ice-penetrating radar and a variety of other gear that will shed light on the satellite's surface composition and the nature of its salty subsurface sea, among other things, NASA officials said.
2014 Version of Europa Image
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Certified for Military Launches

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force has certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch military satellites, completing a nearly two-year process that at times strained the two parties' relationship and establishing a competitor to United Launch Alliance in the national security marketplace.
The Air Force announced the decision May 26, clearing the way for Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX to bid on military launches beginning this year with one of the service's next-generation GPS 3 positioning, navigation and timing satellites.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket
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NASA's Next Mars Lander Begins Tests for 2016 Launch

NASA's next robotic Mars explorer has been put together and is now undergoing testing ahead of its launch next year.
Engineers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems have finished building NASA's InSight Mars lander and have begun testing the spacecraft, to make sure it can handle the rigors of launch and the harsh environment of deep space, space agency officials said.
"The assembly of InSight went very well, and now it's time to see how it performs," Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, said in a statement.

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Spaceport America Signs Up Teleport Customer To Diversify Customer Base

WASHINGTON — Spaceport America, the commercial launch site in New Mexico most closely linked to Virgin Galactic, is seeking to diversify its user base beyond launch companies, an effort that has already resulted in one new customer.
Spaceport America announced May 19 a memorandum of agreement with X2nSat, a Petaluma, California, provider of satellite communications services, to establish a ground station on spaceport property. The parties expect to sign a long-term lease agreement for the ground station this summer.

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NASA Selects 9 Instruments for Europa Mission

WASHINGTON — NASA announced the selection of nine instruments it plans to fly on a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa May 26, but agency officials were vague about whether the instruments, or the overall mission, could meet an aggressive schedule sought by some in Congress.
NASA said the nine instrument concepts, selected from 33 proposals submitted by scientists last year, will be flown together on a spacecraft with the goal of determining whether Europa can support life, although not necessarily if the icy moon hosts life today.
Europa Clipper. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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