ULA has selected Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine for the Vulcan Centaur’s booster stage. The selection follows the completion of a competitive procurement contest. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled booster will be powered by a pair of BE-4 engines, each producing 550,000 pounds of sea level thrust. ULA held a multiyear competition that pitted startup Blue Origin against industry incumbent Aerojet Rocketdyne, which proposed its AR1 engine. Once operational, the Vulcan, powered by the BE-4, will end reliance on the Russian-built RD-180 that powers the Atlas V currently used by ULA. Continue reading
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed its version of the FY19 defense authorization bill by a vote of 351-66. The bill supports a Pentagon base budget of $639.1 billion, which complies with the two-year budget deal agreed upon earlier this year that amended national security spending caps in FY18 and FY19. This base spending includes $617.1 billion for the Pentagon, $21.8 billion for nuclear programs in the Department of Energy, and $214 million for other defense-related activities. The bill recommends $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), matching the request, for a total of $708.1 billion in discretionary defense spending in FY19. Continue reading
by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.
With much fanfare, SpaceX successfully conducted a test launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket. The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 3:45 p.m. EST (8:45 p.m. UTC) on February 6. Following launch, the Falcon Heavy successfully placed its payload, one of CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadsters, into its intended orbit. Two of the three boosters also returned for a successful landing. The one small mark against the mission was the failure to land the core stage on SpaceX’s ocean barge. Continue reading
In a 71 to 34 vote, the Mexican Senate approved the Internal Security Law, which gives the Mexican armed forces a legal framework to conduct internal security operations. Proponents of the law say it will give the military the ability to support police in combating criminal networks that have hurt Mexico, while opponents believe it will lead to increased human rights abuses. Continue reading