New Mexico's 2017 Space News Archives
New Mexico Space  News 2017 Archives
December 20: The New Mexico Spaceport Authority announced that 2017 has been Spaceport America's busiest year ever. Activities included 14 vertical launches, 2 balloon flights to test Boeing equipment, and horizontal flight tests of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo mothership. In addition, 1100 students took part in the weeklong Spaceport America Cup, launching 60 rockets.

December 18
: The Italian Space Agency signed a letter of intent to fly suborbital experiments aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo at Spaceport America beginning in 2019.

December 6
: Virgin Galactic announced that in 2018, 85 employees and their families will relocate to New Mexico to ramp up operations at Spaceport America. This will triple the number of Virgin Galactic employees working in the state.

November 10
: The Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. in Los Alamos, NM, is doing subcontract work on a NASA-funded project to develop nuclear thermal propulsion rocket technology.

November 8
: Virgin Galactic is increasing its number of full-time employees in New Mexico to 30 by the end of 2017. After some additional testing of the new SpaceShipTwo in California, testing will be moved to Spaceport America.

November 4
: A team from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech) launched a Mustang 6A suborbital rocket at Spaceport America. The third launch by a New Mexico Tech team successfully tested "several newly designed and innovative subsystems."
October 25: A state-of-the-art solid rocket motor manufacturing and test facility have been completed at Spaceport America. Engineering.com reports that the facility will be used to produce military-grade rocket motors for the government as well as UP Aerospace's commercial orbital launch vehicles.

October 25
: A contractor has been selected to improve the southern access road to Spaceport America. This will provide a shorter route from the Las Cruces/El Paso area.

October 24
: Virgin Galactic announced the FAA has added Spaceport America as an approved launch site in its operator license.

October 9
: Using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, two teams independently found the universe's missing "visible" matter. Models predict the existence of twice as much visible matter (as opposed to dark matter) as had previously been detected. The newly detected matter exists in the hot, diffuse gas between galaxies. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey was conducted at the Very Large Array radiotelescope in New Mexico.

September 21
: Las Cruces-based ARCA Space Corp. announced that its innovatiave linear aerospike engine is ready to start ground tests. When those tests are completed, the engine will be integrated with the company's Demonstrator 3 rocket for a suborbital test flight at Spaceport America.

September 21
: New Mexico's three Representatives and two Senators are encouraging Boeing to conduct the Phantom Express development contract at Spaceport America (SPA) with support of White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Phantom Express is an autonomous, experimental spaceplane designed to transform the future of rapid, reusable space launch for small satellites. It is also known as the US Military's XS-1 Space Plane.

September 7
: Virgin Galactic's George Whitesides said the company has two more SpaceShipTwo vehicles under construction. Meanwhile, the second ship, Unity, has at least one more unpowered flight test before beginning powered flight tests.

September 1
: Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque announced successful implementation of an environmentally friendly method of testing rocket parts' ability to withstand the shock from stage separation during flight. The new method uses a nitrogen-powered gas gun to shoot a steel projectile into a steel beam and then transfers the impact energy to the part being tested. It replaces the former method of using explosives encased in lead, which required significant environmental cleanup.

August 29: The state of New Mexico established a Bioscience Authority, a public-private partnership that willhelp establish measures to evaluate how prepared the state's cities and towns are to foster bioscience companies. By statutory requirement, the 13-member group includes the executive director of Spaceport America.

August 29
: Astronomers using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico measured the magnetic field of a galaxy 5 billion light years from Earth. The galaxy has a large-scale, coherent magnetic field, which provides information about how galactic magnetic fields are formed and evolve over long periods of time.

August 29
: Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories used their unique Z machine to study the accretion disk of matter surrounding a black hole. The Z machine, the most energetic laboratory X-ray source on Earth, can duplicate the X-rays surrounding black holes. The experiments disproved the Resonant Auger Destruction assumption.

August 16
: NASA has awarded Santa Fe-based Solstar Space Co. two spaceflights aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle to test/demonstrate the first ever commercial internet service and WiFi operation in space. NASA has also commissioned Solstar to create a commercial internet system for the ISS.

August 4
: Virgin Galactic conducted the sixth glide test flight of SpaceShipTwo Unity in what it described as a "dry run" for upcoming powered flights. During this 10-minute flight, the ship carried a nearly intact propulsion system, with only the solid fuel engine casing replaced with ballast.

July 7
: NASA announced that it has selected New Mexico State University to receive grants for two projects: "Autonomous Structural Composites for Next Generation Unmanned Aircraft Systems" and "On-Orbit Structural Health Monitoring of Space Vehicles."

June 21: The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that Spaceport America tenant Pipeline2Space will begin test launches in the next week. The company intends to send small capsules to suborbital space using a pneumatic tube launch system. Visit the P2S website to see how you can send your small cargo to space!

June 20-24
: The first annual Spaceport America Cup took place. It is an event of the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition for student rocketry teams. Over 110 teams from colleges and universities in eleven countries launched solid, liquid, and hybrid rockets to target altitudes of 10,000 and 30,000 feet. On June 24, ULA successfully launched its 53-foot-tall Future Heavy rocket.

June 16
: Several publications ran stories about ARCA Space Corporation's upcoming launch of its Demonstrator 3 rocket in August at Spaceport America. It will be the first flight test of an aerospike engine, a design that had been considered for the space shuttle. ARCA expects the test flight to reach an altitude of 62 miles. The company plans to use the aerospike engine on its single-stage-to-orbit Haas 2CA rocket, which will be capable of launching small satellites from inland spaceports.

June 1
: Virgin Galactic's fifth successful glide test had an "emphasis on proving the spaceship's handling qualities, particularly at low speeds, with more weight on board than previously, and with a centre of gravity shifted towards the back of the vehicle."

May 1
: Virgin Galactic conducted the fourth glide test of the new SpaceShipTwo. The flight included the first flight test of the vehicle's feathering system, in which the twin tail booms are raised to stabilize reentry from space.

April 27
: The National Space Society announced an upcoming launch of student experiments in its Enterprise In Space program. Middle school students from St. Louis, Missouri, 3-D printed a container to hold their experiments including using the launch heat to melt crayons into space art and exposing maple tree seeds to the space environment. Postgraduate students developed a biological microgravity experiment. The experiments will be launched from Spaceport America on a reusable suborbital SARGE rocket built by EXOS in late May.

March 28
: ARCA Space Corporation, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, unveiled its new single-stage rocket, the Haas 2CA. It is capable of launching payloads up to 220 pounds to low-Earth orbit. It will be the first rocket ever to place itself completely into orbit and will be capable of in-orbit refueling for its highly efficient, hydrogen-peroxide and kerosene engine. ARCA is in discussions with Spaceport America about possibly launching from the southern New Mexico spaceport.

March 10
: A successful test of the parachute system for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was conducted at Spaceport America. The CST-100 Starliner is being developed under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. It is designed to carry up to seven passengers to low-Earth orbit.

March 8
: Albuquerque-based solar cell and panel manufacturer SolAero announced that its products are powering 90 percent of the 104 satellites launched February 15 by the Indian Space Research Organization. The SolAero CEO further said that 58 percent of all satellites manufactured globally in 2016 used the company's products.

March 4
: Students with the University of Southern California's Rocket Propulsion Laboratory set a record at Spaceport America for altitude achieved by an all-student designed and built rocket. Their Fathom II rocket reached an altitude of 144,000 feet---more than 27 miles.

February 24:
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity successfully completed its third glide-flight test. Rocket-powered tests will begin later this year.

February 22:
The University of New Mexico's School of Engineering received a 5-year, $7 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to study, design, and build new materials and devices for electronics in space.

February 14:
Spaceport America announced a program allowing New Mexico schools (K-12) to take free virtual field trips and live streaming of STEM content. For information see the Spaceport America website.

January 24, 2017: Virgin Galactic tweeted an invitation to view their current job openings at https://t.co/ZgX5PHln6o. Eleven jobs are available at their New Mexico in Las Cruces and Spaceport America.

December 20: The New Mexico Spaceport Authority announced that 2017 has been Spaceport America's busiest year ever. Activities included 14 vertical launches, 2 balloon flights to test Boeing equipment, and horizontal flight tests of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo mothership. In addition, 1100 students took part in the weeklong Spaceport America Cup, launching 60 rockets.

December 18
: The Italian Space Agency signed a letter of intent to fly suborbital experiments aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo at Spaceport America beginning in 2019.

December 6
: Virgin Galactic announced that in 2018, 85 employees and their families will relocate to New Mexico to ramp up operations at Spaceport America. This will triple the number of Virgin Galactic employees working in the state.

November 10
: The Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. in Los Alamos, NM, is doing subcontract work on a NASA-funded project to develop nuclear thermal propulsion rocket technology.

November 8
: Virgin Galactic is increasing its number of full-time employees in New Mexico to 30 by the end of 2017. After some additional testing of the new SpaceShipTwo in California, testing will be moved to Spaceport America.

November 4
: A team from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech) launched a Mustang 6A suborbital rocket at Spaceport America. The third launch by a New Mexico Tech team successfully tested "several newly designed and innovative subsystems."


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Photo Credits
Robert Goddard towing one of his rockets to the launch site near Roswell about 1931, courtesy of NASA.

WhiteKnightTwo carrying SpaceShipTwo at Spaceport America runway dedication flyover, photo by Loretta Hall.
Photo Credits
Robert Goddard towing one of his rockets to the launch site near Roswell about 1931, courtesy of NASA.

WhiteKnightTwo carrying SpaceShipTwo at Spaceport America runway dedication flyover, photo by Loretta Hall.

Unless otherwise credited, all material on this site is © Loretta Hall 2010-2018.
Unless otherwise credited, all material on this site is © Loretta Hall 2010-2017.