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NASA astronaut may have extended stay on ISS

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WASHINGTON — A NASA astronaut flying to the International Space Station in April could spend up to a year on the station, an extended stay that he said he was “enthusiastic” about.

NASA announced March 9 that Mark Vande Hei would fly on the Soyuz MS-18 mission to the space station, launching April 9. He will fly with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov.

In a typical mission scenario, the three would stay on the station for about six months, returning after the next crew arrives on Soyuz MS-19 in October. However, Roscosmos officials have discussed filming a movie on the station in October, sending up director Klim Shipenko and an actress to be selected during an ongoing competition on Soyuz MS-19 along with commander Anton Shkaplerov. Shipenko and the actress would return on Soyuz MS-18 with Novitsky, commander of that mission, requiring Dubrov and Vande Hei to stay on the station until as late as April 2022, when the next Soyuz crew rotation mission launches.

Vande Hei, in a call with reporters March 15, acknowledged he may stay on the station for longer than six months. “It all depends on whether those tourists go up on the spacecraft in the fall, because they would take my seat back,” he said.

He said he welcomes the chance for an extended stay on the ISS. “Honestly, for me it’s just an opportunity for a new life experience. I’ve never been in space longer than six months,” he said, a reference to his first mission to the ISS, which lasted from September 2017 through February 2018. “I’m really enthusiastic about it.”

That uncertain duration is not the only unusual aspect about the mission. NASA acquired the seat not by purchasing it directly from Roscosmos, as it has in the past, but instead through an exchange with commercial spaceflight company Axiom Space, which obtained the seat from Roscosmos in a deal the terms of which neither Roscosmos nor Axiom disclosed. Axiom will receive a seat on a NASA commercial crew mission to the ISS, likely in 2023, in exchange for the Soyuz seat.

Vande Hei said he was not involved in the negotiations for the seat. “I’m sure it was a very complicated, challenging thing to work out. I know a lot of effort went into making it happen,” he said. “I’m really happy it worked out the way it did, and I’m also very happy that I did not have to deal with all those details.”

Vande Hei started training last year as a backup to Kate Rubins, the NASA astronaut who flew to the station on the Soyuz MS-17 mission last October, then “flowed right into” training for Soyuz MS-18. “The only thing that was uncertain was whether or not I actually launch as a result of doing the training,” he said.

Roscosmos originally announced that Sergei Korsakov would accompany Novitsky and Dubrov on Soyuz MS-18. Vande Hei trained with those three for months, he said, knowing that only three of the four people would fly. “We were ready for whatever contingency,” he said.

Because of that uncertainty, he said he had been managing his expectations about whether he would launch. “I was trying not to get too emotional, too excited about the fact that I may be launching in April,” he said. “I only realized that I had been doing that when I felt super excited when it was actually finalized.”

Roscosmos went as far to make two versions of the Soyuz MS-18 mission patch, one with Vande Hei’s name — seen in February in photos of training activities by Novitsky and Dubrov — and one with Korsakov’s name. In a show of comradery, Vande Hei said he wore the version of the patch with Korsakov’s name while Korsakov wore the patch with Vande Hei’s name. “I will always consider him to be a part of our team,” he said of Korsakov.

Russian media reported that Roscosmos is considering assigning Korsakov to a future Crew Dragon mission once NASA and Roscosmos finalize an agreement about the exchange of seats between Soyuz and commercial crew vehicles.

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Source: https://spacenews.com/nasa-astronaut-may-have-extended-stay-on-iss/

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Virgin Galactic unveils new spaceship for its growing fleet

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Virgin Galactic has unveiled the company’s first SpaceShip III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine.

The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term.

VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing colour and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space.

Leveraging a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.

As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the SpaceShip III class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.

VSS Imagine is unveiled ahead of VSS Unity’s next test flight, which is planned for May 2021.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, commented: “Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight. Congratulations to our dedicated team who worked so brilliantly to achieve this milestone.”

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, added: “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves. As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”

www.virgingalactic.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/virgin-galactic-unveils-new-spaceship-for-its-growing-fleet/

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

Hexcel has announced its role within the recently launched UK-based project called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

The composites company will join lead partner GKN Aerospace and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the UK supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Hexcel will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast cure prepreg system that will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs.

In addition to its new fast curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional dry carbon reinforcements and HiMax multiaxial non-crimp fabrics reinforcements.

The ASCEND project will allow Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists, and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and liquid composite moulding solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture.

The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialize new technologies utilizing the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Hexcel, said “We are  proud to be part of the ASCEND program, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive vehicles possible. This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax, and HiTape technologies.”

The ASCEND partners working alongside Hexcel include Assyst Bulmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, DES Composites, FAR-UK, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, The National Composites Centre, Solvay Composite Technologies, Rafinex, and Sigmatex (UK).

Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.

www.hexcel.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/hexcel-joins-ascend-project/

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes extends landing gear kits contract with Magellan

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes division has extended its component supply contract with Canada-based supplier Magellan Aerospace.

Under this long-term contract, Magellan will continue to supply landing gear kits and structural components for Boeing platforms such as the 737, 767, and 777.

The contract extension also shows that Magellan meets Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ cost, quality and performance requirements.

Magellan business development, marketing and contract vice-president Haydn Martin said: “Securing this major business extension for key Boeing platforms is foundational for our New York and Kitchener facilities as the aerospace industry works to recover from the impact of the global pandemic.

“The confidence that Boeing has placed in Magellan is significant and demonstrates our ability to offer our customers comprehensive and reliable solutions.”

For Boeing, the company is using a vertical integration strategy that leverages global resources in Ontario, New York City, and India.

It has also made significant investments across all its facilities regarding manufacturing technology and the workforce to enhance its competitiveness worldwide.

Magellan will deliver these kits and hardware from its facilities in Kitchener, Ontario and New York City, New York. The company will also produce an extra supply of kits to reduce production risk.

Deliveries will be made directly to Boeing’s assembly facilities in Renton and Everett, Washington, US.

Last month, Magellan signed a five-year renewal agreement with Avio Aero to supply magnesium and aluminium castings.

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/boeing-commercial-aircraft-magellan/

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ZeroAvia raises new funding for hydrogen-electric engine development

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Zero-emission aviation firm ZeroAvia has raised $24.3m in new funding to support the development of a 2MW hydrogen-electric engine.

Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, an existing investor, led the latest funding round and was joined by new investor British Airways.

Other investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ, also joined the financing.

The financing takes the company’s total private investment to more than $53m while the total funding raised is close to $74m since its formation.

ZeroAvia’s funding comes a few months after the UK Government, through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK, announced a $16.3m (£12.3m) grant to deliver a 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft in the market by 2023.

The new funding will accelerate the hydrogen-electric powertrain development for a ten to 20-seater regional aircraft.

ZeroAvia aims to commercialise the engine as early as 2024. The company aims to enter the more than 50-seater commercial aircraft segment by 2026.

The funding will also de-risk the company ambition to power a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

ZeroAvia CEO and founder Val Miftakhov said: “This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale.

“With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology.”

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/zeroavia-electric-raising-funds/

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