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Dragon completes trip to ISS

A SpaceX dragon cargo spacecraft is grappled by the station's robotic arm. Credit: NASA

A Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station Wednesday morning.

The station’s robotic arm grappled the Dragon at 6:56 a.m. Eastern and will berth the Dragon to the station later in the morning.

The Dragon, launched two days earlier from Cape Canaveral, is carrying more than 2,250 kilograms of cargo for the station, ranging from scientific experiments to a docking adapter that will be used by future commercial crew vehicles. [NASASpaceFlight.com]


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DigitalGlobe says its WorldView-2 spacecraft is operational after experiencing a “debris causing event.” The U.S. Air Force Joint Space Operations Center said Tuesday it detected the event involving the spacecraft and is tracking eight debris pieces. DigitalGlobe says that, despite the event, the spacecraft is “currently operational and is performing standard maneuvering and imaging tasks,” and released an image the spacecraft took late Tuesday to counter rumors of a catastrophic breakup. The cause of the debris event is under investigation. [SpaceNews]

Customers of Indian launch services doubt the country will ever sign a commercial launch agreement with the United States. Current U.S. policy blocks the export of U.S.-built satellites, or other satellites with U.S. components, to India for launch, although several customers have received waivers to do so. The U.S. and India previously discussed a commercial launch services agreement that would set prices, but those efforts have effectively been abandoned because India perceived a loss of sovereignty. Customers who launch on India’s PSLV expect either the U.S. to regularly grant waivers, or smallsat developers to choose to manufacture their satellites elsewhere to get around the U.S. policy. [SpaceNews]

The new Republican Party platform endorses the use of public-private partnerships for space efforts, a tool used by administrations of both parties.The platform, approved Monday by delegates at the Republican National Convention, said such partnerships “have given us technological progress that has reduced the cost of accessing space,” extending U.S. leadership in space. Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations have used such partnerships for developing commercial cargo and crew systems. The platform also includes more generic language about space similar to what appeared in its 2012 platform. [SpaceNews]

The head of New Mexico’s Spaceport America plans to step down. Christine Anderson sent a letter of resignation to the board of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Tuesday, effective in one month. Anderson took the job more than five years ago, intending to be there for only one year, but stayed on to help develop business at the spaceport as its anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, suffered delays in the development of SpaceShipTwo. “Spaceport America is finally reaching its prime and the momentum must continue,” she wrote in her letter, citing a more diversified business plan for the facility. [AP]

The classified payload for the next Atlas 5 launch has been installed on the rocket. Crews placed the payload for the National Reconnaissance Office mission, designated NROL-61, on top of the Atlas 5 421 at Cape Canaveral in advance of its scheduled July 28 launch. The NRO, following its standard practice, has not disclosed any information about the payload or its mission. [Spaceflight Now]

A Kennedy Space Center contractor is preparing for layoffs if it does not win a new contract. Chenega Security and Support Solutions notified Florida government officials this week it could be forced to lay off 272 employees if it does not win an ongoing competition to provide security services at KSC. The company said the layoffs will not be needed if it wins a follow-on contract, which NASA expects to award within days. [Orlando Sentinel]

A U.S. Postal Service stamp has been honored for going where no stamp has gone before. At a ceremony in Washington Tuesday, Guinness World Records honored a stamp included on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft that flew past Pluto a year ago. The stamp now holds the record for the greatest distance traveled by a postage stamp, at more than five billion kilometers. The stamp was a 1991 stamp of Pluto with the words “Not Yet Explored,” which helped inspire efforts to send a spacecraft there, ultimately resulting with the New Horizons mission. “We canceled that stamp last July when we flew by Pluto,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern. [collectSPACE]

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Dragon completes trip to ISS

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