Aerojet Rocketdyne puts SLS engine computer through its paces

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NASA successfully tested an engine with a new computer that will be used on the Space Launch System.

The static-fire test of the RS-25 engine, which took place at the Stennis Space Center, was the third such test of a new flight controller intended for use on the SLS.

The SLS will use four RS-25 engines, previously flown on the space shuttle, on the core stage of the vehicle. [Aerojet Rocketdyne]


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A Senate subcommittee approved an appropriations bill that provides more than $19.5 billion for NASA in 2018. The commerce, justice and science appropriations subcommittee approved the bill during a brief markup session Tuesday afternoon. The bill increases NASA’s budget by more than $400 million from the White House request, but offers $340 million less than a House bill. The Senate bill includes increases for the Space Launch System and Orion, and restores funding for NASA’s education office. The same bill also provides full funding for NOAA’s weather satellite programs. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill Thursday. [SpaceNews]

A proposed joint venture between satellite connectivity provider Global Eagle Entertainment and a Chinese company has been blocked by U.S. regulators. Global Eagle said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that the companies terminated a pending investment agreement because they could not get approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for the deal. Beijing Shareco Technologies had planned to invest $416 million into Global Eagle for a one-third stake in the company as part of the agreement. CFIUS, which reviews proposed foreign investments in U.S. companies, concluded the deal had unspecified “national security concerns,” according to Global Eagle CEO Jeff Leddy. [SpaceNews]

China is making significant progress towards becoming a major player in space science. The country has a new National Space Science Center and is working on a variety of space science missions, from a recently launched x-ray telescope to moon and Mars spacecraft. Those efforts have been sustained by a surge in spending by the Chinese government, but some Chinese scientists worry about a lack of long-term planning beyond the current five-year plan. [Nature]

Dynetics has hired a former employee as manager of its space division. Mark Fisher returns to Dynetics after working as vice president and general manager at Schafer Aerospace. A 15-year veteran of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Fisher had previously worked at Dynetics as vice president of propulsion. [Dynetics]

Time is running out for Cassini to complete one of its science objectives: measure the length of a day on Saturn. Scientists have planned to use the final phases of Cassini’s mission at Saturn to precisely calculate the planet’s rotational period by measuring the wobble of its magnetic field. However, the magnetic field is almost exactly aligned with its rotational axis, making those measurements more challenging than expected. “We have not been able to resolve the length of day at Saturn so far, but we’re still working on it,” said one scientist. [Space.com]

If you could hear sounds in space, it might sound like a “chorus of alien birds.” A physicist working on NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission has converted the radio waves detected by the spacecraft in the Earth’s magnetosphere into sound waves of the same frequency. The sounds are entertaining, but also help scientists better understand the creation and propagation of those radio waves. [Washington Post]

Leonardo DiCaprio thinks a new series will have the right stuff. The actor will be an executive producer on a remake of The Right Stuff, which National Geographic will produce as a scripted series. The series is expected to span several seasons to follow the Mercury 7 astronauts in the early Space Age. The announcement didn’t disclose when the series would begin to air. [Deadline]