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04/20/2018

Upper Composite Being Readied for Transfer to the Launch Pad

Yesterday the encapsulation of the fairing was finalized and the fairing mission logos glued on the fairing. At the end of the evening everybody signed the fairing and wrote personal wishes on the sticker.

The movement of the space head (Upper Composite) to the general hall is the main event on our plan today. Just before moving all parties made their last pictures and said goodbye. The first big group of people is leaving Plesetsk today.

Tomorrow Upper Composite will be transported to the launch site and integrated on the Rockot 2nd stage.

http://www.eurockot.com/2018/04/upper-composite-being-readied-for-transfer-to-the-launch-pad/
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Can anyone -- and that includes you, NASA -- explain the flight schedule of SLS?

Prior to Congress' recent largess, EM-1 was supposed to fly uncrewed followed 3 long years later by EM-2, and the 1B configuration featuring the EUS. There was supposed to be a 3-year hiatus between EM-1 and EM-2 because of the need to modify the launch platform to accommodate the SLS 1B. Lord knows that span would have stretched into 4 or 5 or 7 or 10 years. Or never. Who knows.

BUT, with the funds to build an SLS 1B-capable launch platform, NASA can continue to launch the SLS 1 block with the ICPS upper stage. The launch cadence and EM-2 could be moved up accordingly, which means humans to BEO sooner IF the ICPS is human rated. More time and money.

BUT, then we have Center Director Todd May telling NASA employees about new plans for the first four SLS flights to be on identical rockets (Block 1 presumably) without crew. The first launch would be in 2021 and the first launch with a crew (Block 1B, I guess) would be EM-5 in mid-2020s.

BUT, then the SLS 1 configuration doesn't allow co-manifesting of "gateway" components, so either a dedicated SLS flight, or more likely, a commercial rocket (NG, FH, BFR?) will be used to launch the "gateway."

I mean, whose on first? More money for a dedicated 1B mobile platform could wind up delaying crewed SLS missions. 

Am I missing something? Or is NASA HQ just as confused as I am?

The unexpected funding for a second ML has opened up many options. It will take NASA some time to sort out what to do. This is a positive thing, not bad.

Just because NASA could launch four Block 1 before Block 1B doesn't mean they have to. My guess would be EM-1 and one or two cargo flights. Get a head start on LOP-G with SLS or commercial launchers before the first crewed flight.
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I'm hoping that Jim Bridenstine can shake things up a little and restore some clarity and sanity to the schedule. Otherwise; this whole project is as cluster-eFFed as it appears to be :'(

Regardless what condition you think the SLS program is in, as a member of the committee that oversees NASA in the House of Representatives Bridenstine would share credit and/or blame for where the program is at today.

So I wouldn't expect him to push for major changes...
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SpaceX Missions Section / Re: Launch, Land, and Relaunch Party Thread
« Last post by Lar on Today at 02:24 PM »
Okay. That's going a bit too far, CJ. Why would SpaceX consider reusing the MVac nozzle stiffener or the Dragon nose cone?
You may have missed where you are?

Speaking of missing things, I missed this when it first came out.

On-Orbit Status 04-03-2018:
...

Video Channels Image Quality – Yesterday, ground teams noticed Downlink (DL) channels 5 and 6 appeared to be pixelated and grainy.  The images looked Picasso-like or psychedelic.    A video channel reset cleared the images.   Ground teams are investigating the anomalous signature.   

Check for monoliths.
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Other US Launchers / Re: US Launch Schedule
« Last post by ChrisGebhardt on Today at 02:22 PM »
OK.  Where does the Starliner uncrewed demo flight moving to NET November 2018 information come from?  Again, I have people on Twitter seeing this as an official update from NSF, and I can't find any reference anywhere in the Starliner or Commercial Crew threads for this.
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There will be a crew change for this mission... Tikhonov will not fly.

The question now is: why is Tikhonov bumped from the crew again?
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Okay, it looks like Spacex is going to try to recover 2nd stages (with party balloons!). Let's assume they succeed. Let's also assume they succeed in recovering fairings.

What's left before the F9 is fully reusable? The Dragon nosecone, but Dragon 2 looks like it doesn't jettison the nosecone, so that will be solved.

I think all that's left is the MVAC engine bell stiffner ring? Is that going to be the roadblock to full reusability? There's gotta be a way!
Clearly, what's needed is some Rube Goldberg engineering! Could they buy a military surplus AWACS plane to track it, and a deep-sea submersible to retrieve it? Or deploy a few square miles of Aerogel to catch it? 

Hrmmm. Shuttle used to cover its RCS nozzles with butcher paper while on the pad, and they'd come off during liftoff. Does F9 do the same? If so, there's another reuse engineering target!

Okay. That's going a bit too far, CJ. Why would SpaceX consider reusing the MVac nozzle stiffener or the Dragon nose cone?
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Tweets from Marcia Smith:
Quote
The House will vote on H.R. 2809,.the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act, as amended, on Tuesday. 
It is on the "suspension calendar" -- an expedited voting process for bills that are not expected to be controversial. A 2/3 vote is required for passage.

Here is the current text of HR 2809. the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act that will be voted on by the House
 on April 24.

https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180423/HR2809.pdf
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A launch time has been posted for May 4th: 2000-2225 GMT (4:00-6:25 p.m. EDT)

Thanks, thats fantastic news :) This launch is arguably more important than FH (arguably because I think it is but most might not agree). I am on a business trip that day but should be home by that time. :)
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Quote
Moreover, and quite excitingly, the OA-9E Cygnus might be the first U.S. commercial vehicle to reboost the orbit of the International Space Station.  Speaking to the NASA Advisory Council last month, Ms. Gatens related that there is a potential Detailed Test Objective (DTO) in work for OA-9E to use Cygnus’ thrusters to perform an ISS reboost.

If the DTO is approved and executed, Cygnus will become the first U.S. spacecraft to perform a reboost of the ISS since the Space Shuttle fleet was retired seven years ago.

How exactly would that work in practice given the berthing location of Cygnus?

We're working on that.
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