Connect with us

Aerospace

Court filing outlines Blue Origin’s case against NASA SpaceX lunar lander award

Published

on

WASHINGTON — Blue Origin is seeking to overturn NASA’s award of a lunar lander contract to SpaceX by arguing that SpaceX’s proposal failed to meet requirements for reviews that made it “unawardable.”

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims released Sept. 22 a significantly redacted version of Blue Origin’s complaint filed with the court Aug. 13. The complaint is effectively an appeal of the company’s protest of the Human Landing System (HLS) award to SpaceX that the Government Accountability Office rejected July 30.

The core of Blue Origin’s argument is that NASA ignored a requirement that bidders include a flight readiness review (FRR) before the launch of each element of the lander systems. Blue Origin alleges that SpaceX did not include FRRs before each “tanker” Starship launch, carrying propellant that would fuel the lander Starship. NASA, in later negotiations with SpaceX, did require an FRR before each type of Starship launch, but that also failed to meet the requirements of the solicitation, according to Blue Origin.

Failure to meet that requirement was a deficiency that Blue Origin argues should have disqualified SpaceX from an HLS award. “The Agency’s decision to select SpaceX’s deficient proposal for initial, conditional award, was irrational and in direct violation of the Solicitation’s ground rules stating ‘Offerors are hereby notified that proposals evaluated as having one or more deficiencies are unawardable,’” it stated in the complaint (emphasis in original.)

“We stand by our position that NASA selected a proposal that was not in compliance with the solicitation. There’s serious safety issues around that, and that waiver of material requirements prejudiced us and Dynetics,” Megan Mitchell, vice president of government relations at Blue Origin, said in an interview.

The GAO, in the public version of its decision on the Blue Origin and Dynetics bid protests released Aug. 10, agreed that NASA erred in not requiring an FRR before every launch of a lander element. However, it did not sustain the protests because it found no evidence that the companies “could or would have changed their proposals to substantially increase their likelihood of receiving the award had they known of the waiver of the FRR requirement.”

Blue Origin disagreed. “Had Blue Origin known the Agency would waive the FRR requirements and other requirements that greatly impact schedule and risk, Blue Origin would have engineered and proposed an entirely different architecture with corresponding differences in technical, management, and price ratings,” it claims. It does not elaborate on what architecture would have been, although the passage that follows in the document is redacted.

The complaint also took issue with the negotiations NASA undertook with SpaceX after it selected it, which included addressing the FRR issue. The agency considered that a “post-selection negotiation” but Blue Origin argues those should be considered “discussions” under federal acquisition law, which would then have required NASA to hold similar discussions with the other bidders, allowing them to also revise their proposals.

“Had the Agency held discussions with Blue Origin and revealed its funding limitations to Blue Origin, as it did with SpaceX, Blue Origin would have lowered it price to meet those funding limitations,” the company states in the complaint. “Blue Origin also would have enhanced its technical and management proposal, and modified its payment schedule to fix purported advanced payments.”

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment on the issues raised in the complaint, but in a tweet SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk rejected the claims about FRRs. “We always do flight readiness reviews! This argument makes no sense.”

Many of the details in the complaint are redacted. In one case, Blue Origin appears to suggest another deficiency in SpaceX’s proposal. “In addition to SpaceX’s failure to meet Solicitation requirements for FRRs, SpaceX also failed” but most of the rest of the paragraph that follows is redacted until the final sentence. “NASA completely overlooked this error and did not assess SpaceX any weaknesses for failure to meet this requirement.”

The redaction process was a source of frustration for Blue Origin, which had hoped to get a version of its complaint released as soon as late August. “The other parties to the case are redacting significant portions of our filing,” Mitchell said in an interview before the release of the redacted version. The company’s lawyers were working with the court “in making sure the documents are not over-redacted.”

Blue Origin’s suit suspended work on NASA’s award to SpaceX through the end of October, part of an agreement among the parties of the suit for an expedited review of the case. Blue Origin asked the court in its complaint to block further work on SpaceX’s award, direct NASA to open discussions with all the bidders and making a new selection, and pay Blue Origin’s legal fees.

In addition to the suit, Mitchell said Blue Origin is continuing to lobby Congress to provide additional funding so that NASA can make a second HLS award. That funding was not included in either the standard annual appropriations bill in the House or the House’s version of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, but she said the company was hopeful Senate versions of those bills will offer additional HLS funding. “We’ve got a lot of different irons in the fire.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson referred to the case when asked in a Sept. 21 call with reporters about the ability to meet the goal of returning humans to the moon by 2024 on the Artemis 3 mission. “If you have a coin, you can flip it as to what’s going to happen in the legal wrangling that’s going on right now,” he said. “What is the federal judge going to decide? When is he going to decide? What are the further legal possibilities about that?”

“Once we know better about things like that, then we can answer on Artemis 3.”


PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spacenews.com/court-filing-outlines-blue-origins-case-against-nasa-spacex-lunar-lander-award/

Aerospace

China launches classified space debris mitigation technology satellite

Published

on

Shijian-21 lifts off atop a Long March 3B from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, at 9:27 a.m. local time, October 24.

China launched the Shijian-21 satellite from Xichang late Saturday with the stated aim of testing space debris mitigation technologies.

SpaceNews

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spacenews.com/china-launches-classified-space-debris-mitigation-technology-satellite/

Continue Reading

Aerospace

Arianespace breaks payload mass record on final Ariane 5 launch before Webb

Published

on


An Ariane 5 rocket lifts off from the Guiana Space Center with the SES 17 and Syracuse 4A communications satellites. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/S. Martin

A European Ariane 5 rocket fired into space Saturday night from French Guiana with a commercial broadband satellite for SES and a French military telecom craft, setting a new payload mass record for geostationary transfer orbit on the final Ariane 5 flight before launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in December.

Running a day late after a ground system issue forced a 24-hour delay from Friday, teams pumped cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the Ariane 5 launcher’s main stage and upper stage Saturday afternoon on the ELA-3 launch pad at the Guiana Space Center in South America.

The Ariane 5’s countdown stopped five minutes before the rocket’s first launch opportunity Saturday night. After a 67-minute hold to allow engineers to analyze pressure readings in the Ariane 5’s main stage, the countdown resumed and the rocket’s Vulcain 2 main engine flashed to life at 10:10 p.m. EDT (0210 GMT).

Seven seconds later, the Ariane 5’s twin solid rocket boosters ignited to propel the launcher off the pad with 2.9 million pounds of thrust.

The Ariane 5 lifted off at 11:10 p.m. local time in French Guiana, darting though a cloud layer as it accelerated due east from the spaceport on the northern coast of South America.

The rocket jettisoned its two spent solid rocket booster casings nearly two-and-a-half minutes into the mission. The Ariane 5’s  Swiss-made payload shroud released in two halves moments later, once the rocket climbed above the dense, lower layers of the atmosphere.

The main stage continued firing its Vulcain 2 main engine until nearly nine minutes into the flight, before switching off and dropping away to fall back into the atmosphere off the coast of Africa.

An upper stage powered by a hydrogen-fueled HM7B engine ignited for a 16-minute burn to inject the SES 17 and Syracuse 4A satellites into an oval-shaped geostationary transfer orbit stretching nearly 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the planet.

The Ariane 5 released each satellite right on time, first deploying the SES 17 spacecraft from the upper position on the rocket’s dual-payload stack nearly 30 minutes after liftoff. After casting off an adapter structure, the Ariane 5 deployed Syracuse 4A about nine minutes later.

The SES 17 satellite during integration and testing at Thales Alenia Space’s factory in Cannes, France. Credit: Marie-Ange Sanguy / Thales Alenia Space

Arianespace, the French company that manages Ariane 5 launch operations, declared success on the mission. Designated VA255 in Arianespace’s flight sequence, the launch Saturday night was the 111th flight of an Ariane 5 rocket since 1996, and the 255th mission overall with the Ariane rocket family.

Built Thales Alenia Space, the SES 17 communications satellite will provide internet connectivity to airline passengers over the Americas, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean for SES of Luxembourg. The fully fueled satellite weighed 14,133 pounds (6,411 kilograms) at launch, according to Arianespace’s launch press kit.

SES 17 is the largest satellite ever procured by SES, and the largest spacecraft ever built by Thales. It carries a new digital payload controller, developed in a public-private partnership with ESA, that is capable of re-programming the satellites’s nearly 200 spot beams, adjusting power and frequency allocations to respond to changing customer needs.

“Thanks to Arianespace, SES-17 is now on its way to orbit,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “We are looking forward to SES customers being able to leverage the high throughput, global reach and low-latency of SES’s multi-orbit, interoperable Ka-band satellite network comprising SES-17 and our upcoming O3b mPOWER constellation.”

The SES 17 satellite also carries a mechanically pumped loop cooling system, the first such active thermal control loop to be used on a large commercial communications spacecraft. Previous commercial telecom satellites used passive thermal control systems, or heat pipes, to keep their internal electronics at proper temperatures.

The 8,492-pound (3,852-kilogram) Syracuse 4A spacecraft, also built by Thales Alenia Space, will provide communications services for the French military. The satellite will relay secure communications between French military aircraft, armored ground vehicles, and naval vessels, including submarines.

The Syracuse 4 program replaces the Syracuse 3 generation, which comprises two French satellites launched in 2005 and 2006, and a joint spacecraft with Italy that went into orbit in 2015. The Syracuse satellites provide relay services for French military forces deployed and on the move in areas outside the each of terrestrial communications.

“All of these activities require constant, reliable communications, and only space telecommunication can provide that,” and Commander Ludovic Esquivié, Syracuse program officer at French Space Command. “Syracuse … is a secure communication system totally controlled by the armed forces, and hardened against external aggressions.”

The French defense ministry announced in 2019 that the new generation of Syracuse satellites would have cameras to help identify and monitor possible attackers. The Syracuse 4 satellites are also resistant to jamming, and provide higher data relay rates and improved flexibility over the aging Syracuse 3 satellites.

“These satellites are exposed to, or must be capable of dealing with, all kinds of threats, including a nuclear threat, but also threats in terms of cyber security or cyber attacks,” said Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space.

The Syracuse 4A satellite. Credit: DGA

SES 17 and Syracuse 4A will use plasma thrusters over the next few months to circularize their orbits more than 22,000 miles over the equator. Once in geostationary orbit, the satellites will have fixed geographic coverage zones as they more around Earth with the planet’s rotation.

Saturday night’s mission set two records.

The combined launch weight of the SES 17 and Syracuse 4A satellites was 22,626 pounds (10,263 kilograms). The two spacecraft comprised the heaviest payload stack ever to be launched into geostationary transfer orbit, a typical drop-off orbit for large communications satellites.

The Ariane 5 rocket Saturday night flew with a raising cylinder at the base of the payload fairing that increased the launcher’s height by 5 feet (1.5 meters) relative to the standard launcher design. The change gave the rocket a total height of 184 feet (56.3 meters), making it the tallest Ariane 5 to ever fly.

The flight Saturday night helped clear the way for the next Ariane 5 mission to launch the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope.

The Ariane 5 is one of the most reliable launch vehicles in the world, with just one partial failure in its last 97 flights. The European Space Agency is paying for Webb’s launch as part of its contribution to the mission. NASA paid the bulk of Webb’s development costs, and the Canadian Space Agency is the third partner on the observatory.

NASA engineers helped ESA and Arianespace assess the Ariane 5 rocket’s readiness to launch Webb, the most expensive robotic space mission in history. The launch Saturday was the final test before Webb is mounted to the next Ariane 5 for a liftoff scheduled for Dec. 18.

The Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center, which provides oversight for launches carrying NASA science missions to space, took on a consulting role for the James Webb Space Space Telescope.

“I think that helps calm some folks’ feelings, or perhaps perceptions, of why in the world are we launching this on a foreign vehicle,” said Omar Baez, a launch director at Kennedy, in a recent interview with Spaceflight Now.

Baez said he took his first trip to the Ariane 5 launch base in Kourou, French Guiana, two decades ago to start evaluating facilities at the spaceport, which is managed by CNES, the French space agency.

“It’s touchy because you’re going up against Arianespace and CNES, and you’re a foreign agent, but we have worked well together,” Baez said.

He said NASA assigned experts in spacecraft processing, mission integration, and risk management as consultants to work with ESA and Arianespace ahead of Webb’s launch.

“Our risk manager has been following how the French and ESA folks bubble up any problems that Arianespace may have, and it’s very similar to the system we have here, with regard to insight and oversight by government agencies,” Baez said. “So we take credit for some of that insight by seeing that they have the same type of rigor that we show when we fly one of our precious payloads.”

“Ariane 5 demonstrates continuous improvement with each launch,” said Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s director of space transportation, in a statement after Saturday night’s launch. “The success today of launch VA255 and the success of VA254 last July were crucial to move towards Ariane 5’s December launch carrying the James Webb Space Telescope.”

The James Webb Space Telescope is seen inside the S5C payload processing facility at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

In their analyses to ensure the Ariane 5 is ready to launch Webb, engineers in Europe and the United States have focused on the rocket’s payload fairing, or nose cone, which protects payloads during the first few minutes of flight through the atmosphere. The shroud jettisons in two pieces a few minutes after launch, exposing satellites for separation from the rocket once in orbit.

JWST will fold up origami-style to fit under the Ariane 5 rocket’s payload shroud, then unfurl solar panels, antennas, a segmented mirror array, and a thermal sunshield the size of a tennis court after separating from the Ariane 5 on the way to an observing post nearly a million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth.

Once in position, JWST’s telescope — the largest ever flown in space — and four science instruments will peer into the distant universe, studying the turbulent aftermath of the Big Bang, the formation of galaxies and the environments of planets around other stars.

The Ariane 5 payload shroud is made by RUAG Space in Switzerland.

Engineers introduced modifications to the Ariane 5’s payload fairing to reduce vibrations imparted on the satellites during separation of the nose cone.

ESA, Arianespace and RUAG also changed the design of vents on the Ariane 5’s payload shroud to address a concern that a depressurization event could damage the Webb observatory when the fairing jettisons after liftoff. Engineers were concerned residual air trapped in Webb’s folded sunshield membranes could cause an “over-stress condition” at the time of fairing separation.

Baez said NASA engineers based at Kennedy Space Center were “very instrumental” in discovering an issue with how the Ariane 5 fairing depressurizes during ascent.

“We were able to, in cooperation with our French partners, instrument the fairing on previous flights that captured that environment and make sure that we had accurate information,” Baez said. “And, in fact, we did find a problem. We had to work on a scheme to be able to vent that fairing properly on its ascent.”

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/10/24/arianespace-breaks-payload-mass-record-on-final-ariane-5-launch-before-webb/

Continue Reading

Aerospace

NASA sets Artemis 1 launch for no earlier than February

Published

on

Orion Artemis 1

NASA officials said they’re now targeting no earlier than February for the Artemis 1 launch as the completed vehicle enters the final phase of launch preparations.

SpaceNews

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spacenews.com/nasa-sets-artemis-1-launch-for-no-earlier-than-february/

Continue Reading

Aerospace

Live coverage: Ariane 5 rocket counting down to launch from French Guiana

Published

on

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of an Ariane 5 rocket with the SES 17 and Syracuse 4A communications satellites. Text updates will appear automatically below; there is no need to reload the page. Follow us on Twitter.

Arianespace’s live video webcast will begin approximately 15 minutes before launch and will be available on this page.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/10/23/live-coverage-ariane-5-rocket-counting-down-to-launch-from-french-guiana/

Continue Reading
Blockchain3 days ago

People’s payment attitude: Why cash Remains the most Common Means of Payment & How Technology and Crypto have more Advantages as a Means of payment

Automotive4 days ago

7 Secrets That Automakers Wish You Don’t Know

Startups3 days ago

The 12 TikTok facts you should know

Supply Chain3 days ago

LPG tubes – what to think about

Energy2 days ago

U Power ties up with Bosch to collaborate on Super Board technology

Gaming4 days ago

New Steam Games You Might Have Missed In August 2021

Blockchain4 days ago

What Is the Best Crypto IRA for Me? Use These 6 Pieces of Criteria to Find Out More

Gaming4 days ago

How do casinos without an account work?

IOT4 days ago

The Benefits of Using IoT SIM Card Technology

Blockchain4 days ago

The Most Profitable Cryptocurrencies on the Market

Gaming4 days ago

Norway will crack down on the unlicensed iGaming market with a new gaming law

Blockchain4 days ago

What does swapping crypto mean?

Energy2 days ago

Piperylene Market Size to Grow by USD 428.50 mn from 2020 to 2024 | Growing Demand for Piperylene-based Adhesives to Boost Growth | Technavio

Energy2 days ago

Notice of Data Security Breach Incident

AR/VR5 days ago

Preview: Little Cities – Delightful City Building on Quest

Blockchain2 days ago

Blockchain & Infrastructure Post-Event Release

Blockchain3 days ago

Week Ahead – Between a rock and a hard place

Cyber Security2 days ago

Ransomware Took a New Twist with US Leading a Law Enforcement Effort to Hack Back

Code2 days ago

How does XML to JSON converter work?

Esports2 days ago

How to get Shiny Zacian and Zamazenta in Pokémon Sword and Shield

Trending