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NASA announced three cargo contract awards to ensure robust and affordable transportation of critical supplies, scientific experiments and commercial payloads to and from the International Space Station (ISS) through at least 2024. NASA selected Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX to continue and expand upon its successful public-private partnerships with American companies to obtain reliable cargo resupply services for the ISS.

“CSF congratulates NASA, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, and their spaceport partners, Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) and Florida’s Cape Canaveral Spaceport launch and landing site, on their commitment to resupply the ISS through 2024,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “The ISS is a critical laboratory for scientific and technological research that will enable U.S. human space exploration beyond LEO, as well as a dynamic commercial marketplace for technology demonstrations and SmallSat deployments. These Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contracts will not only expand ISS users’ access to greater cargo capability, but also provide increased schedule certainty and mission flexibility to ensure the fullest possible utilization of the ISS’s revolutionary capabilities, while creating resupply capacity for future private sector stations in LEO as well.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.

For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Jane Kinney at jane@commercialspaceflight.org or at (469) 879 – 9503.

Washington D.C. –  SpaceX accomplished an incredible achievement yesterday evening when the first stage of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket landed safely on solid ground in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

About three minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s second stage separated in the upper atmosphere and went on to place 11 communications satellites, made by the Sierra Nevada Corporation, into an orbit 400 kilometers high for ORBCOMM. The vehicle’s first stage adjusted its trajectory, reentered the atmosphere and performed a soft, precision landing.  This marks the first time in history any part of an orbital rocket has achieved a land landing.

“It is clear that all of the time and hard work SpaceX spent upgrading the Falcon 9 paid off in this return to flight,” said Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “This comes on the heels of Blue Origin’s monumental landing in November and demonstrates the rapid advancements being made in our industry.  This progress over the past year is a testament to the incredible leaps forward towards complete reusability. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for us.”

Traditionally, the first stage of a rocket is disposed of after launch, removing an opportunity to reuse valuable hardware. But by landing and recovering the first stage, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Masten and others have an opportunity to refurbish and reuse the first stage on future launches. The Commercial space industry is looking to normalize a business cycle of reusability in an effort to drive down launch costs and make spaceflight more accessible.

Washington, D.C. – Today Congress unveiled the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill (Senate amendment to H.R. 2029), comprehensive legislation that allocates spending for the federal government for the current fiscal year.  Reflecting the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s top priorities, the bill includes funding and guidance for all NASA programs and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).

“I want to extend my thanks and congratulations to lawmakers for their hard work in crafting this bill. Also, I would like to commend the House and Senate Appropriators for continuing to work with us throughout this entire process to responsibly support NASA’s public-private partnerships and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation to maintain the United State’s competitive edge in space,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “The funding levels in this legislation reaffirms strong bipartisan, bicameral support for public-private partnerships that harness commercial space capabilities to help build a sustainable American expansion into the solar system from the edge of space to low-Earth orbit and beyond.”

This bill funds NASA at $19.285 billion in FY 2016, an increase of $1.3 billion above FY 2015. Within the NASA portfolio, the bill fully funds the Commercial Crew Program to enable the United States to achieve safe, reliable, and independent human access to the International Space Station by 2017. The bill also includes critical monies to initiate development of a habitation augmentation module which will maximize the potential of the SLS and Orion deep space exploration architecture starting with their launch in 2018. The bill fully funds the Flight Opportunities program to enable affordable testing of new technologies necessary for future exploration plans, and provides critical training opportunities needed to sustain a skilled workforce. Finally, the bill provides funds for the 21st Century Space Launch Complex for all NASA-owned launch facilities to ensure that vital infrastructure for NASA missions are eligible for critical upgrades.

The bill also provides $17.8 million, and increase of $1.2 million over FY 15, for FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, plus $2 million for Commercial Space Transportation Safety, and $2 million within Research, Engineering and Development to better integrate commercial launch and reentry “traffic” with the National Airspace System. FAA AST plays a critical role in providing timely review and approval of launch and reentry licenses, experimental and spaceport licenses for the commercial space industry. CSF applauds the increase in funding for AST, but their budget will continue to constrain their ability to fulfill their responsibilities to industry as it is projected to grow. It is critical that FAA AST have the resources it needs to work with the industry in a manner that will continue to promote growth, and ensure public safety.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.

For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Jane Kinney at Jane@commercialspaceflight.org or 202.715.2928.

Washington, D.C. — Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) Member Blue Origin celebrated a remarkable milestone yesterday, announcing that it safely and successfully completed a controlled, vertical return of the New Shepard rocket booster to its West Texas launch pad after reaching a planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 km). The fully-reusable spacecraft is designed to carry astronauts on a suborbital spaceflight to experience weightlessness and view the Earth through the largest windows to ever fly in space. The New Shepard vehicle also expands access and capabilities for suborbital researchers through NASA STMD’s Flight Opportunities Program.

Through this significant landing, Blue Origin has demonstrated the technical viability of reusability, a revolutionary approach to spaceflight that counts fellow CSF Member’s Masten Space Systems and SpaceX among its pioneers.  Reusable rocketry holds the promise of driving down launch costs and decreasing turn-around time.

“This is yet another example that confirms the USA’s successful equation for a 21st century space industry: innovative regulatory framework combined with open access to NASA’s institutional knowledge and commercial ingenuity, perseverance, and patience can achieve great things,” said Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

“Through the flexible regulatory framework prescribed by the recently-passed CSLCA, spacecraft designers have leeway to design safe and innovative vehicles, like Blue Origin’s New Shepard, that continue to push the bounds of our technological advancement in space,” added CSF Executive Director Tommy Sanford. “Supporting a regulatory environment that catalyzes innovation and ingenuity in design was Congress’s intent with the CSLCA and, as the recent flight of New Shepard demonstrates, it clearly payed off.”

Washington D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bi-partisan, bicameral U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA, or H.R. 2262 as amended), which represents one of the most significant modernizations of commercial space policy and regulatory legislation since the original Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA) was enacted in 1984. CSF applauds Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Representatives Brian Babin (R-TX), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Bill Posey (R-FL), Steve Knight (R-CA), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Randy Weber (R-TX), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Donna Edwards (D-MD) for their leadership and vision in contributing to, cosponsoring, or advancing this much-needed and comprehensive legislation.

This bill is a fair and equitable compromise that resulted from months of hard work and negotiations among Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate to harmonize language from the House-passed SPACE Act of 2015 with provisions from S. 1297, the Senate’s commercial space legislation. It reflects Majority Leader McCarthy and Chairman Smith’s vision for commercial spaceflight, while addressing issues raised by Democratic leaders during deliberations on the bill.

Today the House passed this compromise bill by voice vote, indicating broad support for this legislation across the political spectrum. This new legislation sets the stage for the continued growth and expansion of the space transportation industry, while enabling rapid advances in safety for spaceflight participants. It also promotes investments in new commercial space applications, promising future spaceflight capabilities that will benefit all Americans.

“The members of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation commend Majority Leader McCarthy, Chairman Smith, as well as all their cosponsors, and all of their staff for the many contributions and the perseverance in advancing this bi-partisan legislation that will ensure America remains the leading force in the economic development of space, from safe and reliable space transportation for cargo and humans, to the exploration and utilization of space resources,” CSF President Eric Stallmer said. “CSF looks forward to the President signing this critical bill into law.”

Washington D.C. – Last night the Senate passed the bi-partisan U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA, or H.R. 2262 as amended), which represents one of the most significant modernizations of commercial space policy and regulatory legislation since the original Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA) was enacted in 1984. CSF applauds Senators John Thune (R-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gary Peters (D-MI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tom Udall (D-NM) for their leadership and vision in authoring and co-sponsoring this much-needed and comprehensive legislation.

CSLA was last updated in 2004, creating a regulatory framework for commercial human spaceflight that resulted in a wave of investment, innovation, jobs and economic growth for the U.S. This new legislation sets the stage for the continued growth and expansion of the space transportation industry, while enabling rapid advances in safety for spaceflight participants. It also promotes investments in new commercial space applications, promising future spaceflight capabilities that will benefit all Americans.

“The members of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation commend Senators Thune, Nelson, Cruz, Peters, as well as all their cosponsors, for their leadership and perseverance in passing this critical piece of bipartisan legislation to ensure that America remains the leader in space,” CSF President Eric Stallmer said. “CSF looks forward to quick action on this bill in the House of Representatives when it returns next week.”

CSF President Eric Stallmer released the following statement calling on Congress to quickly pass H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act:

“CSF applauds the House and Senate negotiators for the tremendous work and effort they put into crafting the bipartisan, bicameral U.S Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262). When the CSLA was updated 11 years ago, Congress codified a regulatory regime that led to an unparalleled level of investment, innovation, and economic growth in the commercial space industry. This new legislation sets the stage for the continued growth and expansion of this industry, while enabling rapid advances in safety.  It incentivizes further investments in innovation and the development of spaceflight capabilities that will benefit all Americans.  For these reasons, and many more, CSF calls on Congress to quickly pass H.R. 2262, the bipartisan bill that will ensure that America remains the leader in space.”

Washington D.C. — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomed several new member companies at its Executive Board meeting this week, expanding its membership to more than 60 companies.

Spaceport Camden of Camden County, Georgia joined CSF as an Executive Member. Steve Howard, Spaceport Camden project leader, will represent his organization on the CSF Board of Directors. “CSF’s mission strategically aligns with Camden’s goals, and we are pleased to join other industry leaders as part of this organization,” Howard said.

Also joining as CSF Associate Members are Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI), Kimley-Horn & Associates, MLA Space, Made in Space and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). Space Adventures will be renewing its commitment to CSF as an Associate Member.

Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida, was reelected as the CSF chairman. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute and Jeff Greason of XCOR were elected to serve as officers of the board.  At the meeting, CSF thanked out-going officers, Mark Sirangelo of the Sierra Nevada Corporation and Rob Meyerson of Blue Origin, for their years  of service as officers of the board, and for their continued commitment to the organization as CSF Board of Directors.

“The commercial spaceflight industry continues to strive and grow as witnessed by CSF’s expanding membership and the overwhelming commitment to the organization,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer said. “We are grateful for the continued leadership from the CSF Board and our members and look forward to the exciting year ahead.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.

For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Jane Kinney at Jane@commercialspaceflight.org or 202.715.2928.

Today the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a public hearing to adjudicate the probable cause of last year’s SpaceShipTwo test flight accident, which resulted in an in-flight breakup. NTSB’s investigators and analysts presented their findings, conclusions, and recommendations in a draft report to the NTSB Board members. Throughout the discussion, NTSB staff and Board members praised the industry’s strong commitment to transparency and cooperation during the investigation, which helped lead to a more timely and complete resolution of the accident investigation.

“We cannot undo the unfortunate events that transpired last October,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer, “but we will successfully apply, and in some cases have already applied, the lessons learned to make our entire industry better and safer as a result.”

“CSF welcomes the NTSB’s report, and we pledge our support to promptly carrying out the recommendations given to us by the Board. We also pledge to continue to work with the Congress to ensure FAA AST has the resources necessary to fully address the safety findings and recommendations in the report.”

BACKGROUND:

NTSB’s draft report put forth ten recommendations directed at both the commercial space industry and FAA AST to improve processes, communication, and collaboration within and between one another. Importantly, none of the recommendations include calls for new regulations or additional government regulatory authority.

The NTSB proposes that the Secretary of Transportation utilize his current authority to improve safety through more collaboration with industry. The NTSB’s draft report reaffirms the integrity of the regulatory framework that currently underpins the commercial spaceflight industry. It adds additional credence to the bipartisan effort in Congress to extend the current framework before key provisions expire in September.

NTSB also issued two specific recommendations for CSF as the lead trade association in the industry dedicated to pursuing the highest levels of safety:

1) Advise commercial spaceflight operators to work with local emergency response partners to revise emergency response procedures for planning to ensure that helicopter and other resources are appropriately deployed during flights; and

2) Collaborate with FAA AST to develop and issue human factor guidance for operators to use throughout the design and operation of a vehicle. The guidance should address but not be limited to the human factor issues identified during the SpaceShipTwo accident investigation.

The NTSB Board voted to modify the staff’s draft findings and recommendations and approve them in revised form. The finalized report is expected to be published in the next two to four weeks.

“In his conclusion today, NTSB Chairman Hart reminded us that ‘anybody’s accident is everybody’s accident…when it comes to safety, industry must cooperate and collaborate with each other and with the FAA.’  That partnership among competitors and the government is why the CSF exists; an important dynamic NTSB recognized in issuing two of its recommendations to us today,” Stallmer concluded.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information, please visit http://www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Executive Director Tommy Sanford at tommy@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.715.2924.

Washington D.C. – Planet Labs designs, builds, and operates a large constellation of Earth-imaging satellites, which it frequently iterates and expands on through improved satellite builds. Planet Labs goal is to provide universal access to information about the changing planet through a platform that includes daily satellite Earth-imaging data, along with data from various other sources, including recently incorporated imagery from Landsat 8. Soon they will expand their database further, adding a massive archive of imagery through a proposed acquisition of BlackBridge geospatial companies and its associated RapidEye suite.

Once integrated, RapidEye will add six years and 6 billion square kilometers of Earth imagery to Planet Labs growing database, enabling Planet Labs to bring one of the largest commercial satellite imagery datasets to the web.

“CSF congratulates Planet Labs on their upcoming acquisition,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “This new partnership is an excellent example of the robust and expanding nature of the commercial space industry. Planet Labs’ burgeoning web-based dataset will further enable its customers and users access to timely, affordable, and accurate data that meets their diverse and changing needs.”