It’s a Mess Up There!

By Richard Sterk, Defense Electronics Analyst, Forecast International.

An Ever Increasing Number of Items Are Orbiting the Earth
Source: NASA

Until somewhat recently, space was a peaceful domain where orbital and flying craft were unprotected, but adversaries are now developing systems to counter advantages.  Traffic is building in space, as many new entrants have joined the ranks of spacefaring nations and counter‑space capabilities are becoming more of a concern. The United States must adapt its satellite constellations in response to such growing threats and elevate its game in space situational awareness. Continue reading

NASA Finally Sets a Direction Under President Trump, But Will Its Plans Make It Through Congress?

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

This artist rendering shows an aerial view of the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity configuration SLS from the launchpad. Funding for the SLS will continue. Source: NASA

America’s preeminent space agency is proposing a major change in focus for FY19. Along with the rest of the federal government, NASA released its fiscal year 2019 budget request on February 13. While NASA’s budget faced few changes in President Donald Trump’s FY18 budget request, for FY19 NASA is looking to shift its priorities and thereby change how its funding is spent. Continue reading

NASA’s FY18 Budget Allotment Offers a Few Surprises, Though Agency is Largely Unscathed

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

NASA’s Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV)

President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 18 federal budget proposal – released on May 23 –  includes a few surprises for NASA.  While much has been made of the many cuts to social programs in the president’s budget, NASA’s funding remains largely unchanged – with a few notable exceptions. Continue reading

Reusable Launch Vehicles Remain Appealing

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

RLV-TD blasting off on 5-23-2016

RLV-TD blasting off on 5-23-2016

 

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully launched a reusable launch vehicle demonstrator, dubbed the RLV-TD.  The RLV-TD is a delta-winged spacecraft designed to lift off vertically and land horizontally.  Its reusability reduces launch costs. Continue reading

NSF’s Gravitational Wave Detection Could Encourage Adoption of $1.4 Billion NGO Mission

By Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Gravitational waves. Source - NASA

Gravitational waves. Source – NASA

For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves. The detection was made on September 14, 2015, by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). LIGO encompasses a pair of ground-based observatories in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana – both of which are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The discovery was confirmed on February 11, 2016. Continue reading

Launch Failure Won’t Be a Long-Term Setback for SpaceX

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

SpaceX Falcon

SpaceX Falcon

On June 27, a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon cargo spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) broke apart shortly after launch. The launch vehicle lifted off at 10:21 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral launch site.

The Dragon capsule, the seventh launched under NASA’s Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract, was carrying supplies to the ISS, including food, scientific equipment, and station hardware. One of the more important pieces of equipment being carried was the International Docking Adaptor-1 (IDA-1), part of a universal docking system being developed by NASA so more companies can take part in ISS operations. The Dragon also carried eight CubeSats for Planet Labs. Continue reading

Ambitious Human Spaceflight Plans Driving the Launch Industry

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV)

NASA’s Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV)

Over the next 10 years, the launch industry will be greatly shaped by how the United States pursues its ambitious space exploration goals. After the Columbia disaster in 2003, then-U.S. President George W. Bush set a new course for human space exploration in the United States. Under Bush’s plan, which eventually became known as Project Constellation, U.S. astronauts would return to the moon and eventually land on Mars. To meet the goals of that program, NASA began development of a new and two new heavy-lift launch vehicles – one that would carry the CEV and a larger one that would carry supplies for lunar and Martian exploration.

Continue reading

Mars Exploration Programs Hit Major Milestones

by Bill Ostrove, Forecast International.

Curiosity rover

Curiosity rover (Source: NASA)

Human efforts to explore the Red Planet scored several major achievements last month – nitrogen was detected, a rover surpassed the marathon mark in distance traveled and a spacecraft topped six months in orbit. The accomplishments cover three missions, two from the U.S. and one from India.

Continue reading