Human Space Exploration Update:  (October 24 – Nov 11, 2016)

President-elect Trump


International Space Station


Orion and Space Launch System

  • Navy Supports Orion:  Navy prepares for recovering NASA’s Orion Capsule  Off San Diego, the Navy has joined with NASA in preparing for the future Pacific Ocean recovery of the space agency’s Orion crew exploration capsule. The next test launch of Orion, Exploration Mission-1, will send an unmanned capsule lofted atop a Space Launch System rocket on a journey around the moon and back to Earth for re-entry and an ocean splashdown. EM-1 is planned for late 2018. Piloted Orion missions are to follow.


Commercial Space Transportation

  •   Starliner:  Launch abort engines for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner undergo testing  Test firing of the Aerojet Rocketdyne engines in California’s Mojave Desert are helping to prepare Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner for NASA contracted missions that will transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
  •  Orbital ATK Resupply:  NASA said to opt for Atlas V rocket to ease short-term concerns over Space Station supplies  Orbital ATK’s next NASA contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station will lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in February or March, according to the Journal report.  The move comes after Orbital’s recovery from an October 2014 launch failure of the company’s Antares rocket. The Antares resumed Orbital Cygnus re-supply missions to the station in October using a new rocket engine. The Atlas, however, can boost more cargo.  (See also:  Orbital ATK’s OA-5 Cygnus spacecraft arrives at the ISS)
  •  SpaceX:  Musk predicts mid-December return to flight for Falcon 9   SpaceX founder Elon Musk pointed to a mid-December return to flight for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, following an investigation into a Sept. 1 launch pad explosion of a Falcon 9 during preparations for a pre-launch engine firing. Musk pointed to the formation of helium ice within the Falcon 9’s second stage liquid oxygen propellant tank as the cause of the blast.
  • Dream Chaser:  Dream Chaser  Sierra Nevada announced its selection of the Midland International Air & Space Port to serve as the primary landing site for the NASA contracted re-supply missions it will launch to the International Space Station. Sierra Nevada, along with Orbital ATK and SpaceX, is to begin cargo deliveries by 2020 under a new NASA agreement. In Midland, city officials are hopeful the deal will lead to new economic development. Sierra’s Dream Chaser is a reusable lifting body designed to make automated landings on runways stretching to 8,000 feet.


Space Budgets, Policy, Missions, Benefits, International …


Citizens for Space Exploration – a pro-space, taxpayer, grassroots advocacy group ( ) – has travelled to Washington, D.C. the past 25 years to meet face-to-face with Members/staff of Congress to discuss the value of America’s investment in space exploration. In order to sustain that dialogue on a regular basis, Citizens distributes “Space Exploration Update” to Congressional offices on a weekly basis.  The intent is to provide an easy, quick way to stay abreast of key human space exploration program and policy developments. 

Human Space Exploration Update:  (October 4-21, 2016)