Misc: Aerojet wants to cut spending on AR1 engine + Starfighters trains space travelers + Planet gives ultimatum on Canadian ground station license

NewSpace Watch
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Launch
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February 16, 2018

Aerojet wants to spend less on the AR1 engine program and get more money from the USAF, which doesn’t sound too keen on the idea: Air Force and Aerojet Rocketdyne renegotiating AR1 agreement – SpaceNews.com

[Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC)] did not disclose how such a change in the cost-sharing arrangement would affect overall spending, including the Air Force’s share, on the program, but the center reaffirmed a 2019 deadline for the engine. “Any changes to the RPS OTA would have to be done by mutual agreement and would still require the AR1 to be completed by the end of 2019.”

However, an undated two-page “talking points” memo by the Air Force, circulating on Capitol Hill last month and obtained by SpaceNews, indicated SMC was considering not changing the agreement.

According to the memo, SMC was instead exploring alternative options that would keep AR1 available as a “warm backup” on a slower development track. The memo cited skepticism that Aerojet Rocketdyne could have the engine completed by the end of 2019, as well as progress being made elsewhere in the industry, particularly by the BE-4 engine under development by Blue Origin. That engine started hot-fire tests in October, while Aerojet Rocketdyne has not stated when it expects to begin such tests of its AR1.

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Starfighters Inc. uses F-104 jets to train private astronauts: Inside the First Commercial Astronaut Training Program – Motherboard

Originally developed by the US Air Force in the 50s and used into the late 1990s, the F-104 was the first aircraft able to sustain Mach 2 flight (twice the speed of sound, or around 1,500 miles per hour). It is also able to pull off the runway straight into a 90-degree turn, and can fly to altitudes of around 100,000 feet—about one-third of the way to space proper—making it ideal to simulate launch conditions on a rocket.

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Planet is tired of waiting for a license for its ground station in northern Canada: Planet sets deadline for Canadian ground station license – SpaceNews.com

Planet filed the application with GAC in 2016 for the facility, which was completed early last year. However, the agency has yet to rule on the license application, keeping the company from using the station to receive data from its constellation of Earth imaging satellites.

“If our GAC license has not been granted by June 1, which would mark the two-year anniversary for waiting for a license,” he said, “then we’re just going to pack up and move those antennas.”

Planet has been caught in an unusual regulatory situation. The company applied for, and received, a radiofrequency spectrum license from another ministry, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. However, it also needed the remote sensing license from GAC even though the satellites that will use the ground station are already licensed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

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