October 16, 2017
Atlas V Rocket Launches Another Secret US Spy Satellite, From Florida (Source: Space.com)
The United States has launched its second secret spy satellite in less than three weeks. The NROL-52 satellite soared into orbit on Oct. 15 atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, which lifted off at 3:28 a.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.The launch came after more than a week of delays due to weather and a suspect telemetry transmitter that had to be replaced. (10/15)
Could Blue Origin — a ULA partner — Become a Rival for National Security Space Launches? (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Jeff Bezos might be evolving into a competitor to United Launch Alliance. Blue Origin is talking with the U.S. Air Force about getting into national security launch missions, according to the rocket company’s CEO, Bob Smith. “Our New Glenn launch vehicle will be more capable than existing launch vehicles flying today, and can be used not only for human spaceflight and other commercial missions, but also for civil and national security payloads,” Smith said.
“Therefore, we are in early discussions with the national security community and NASA about how to certify New Glenn for their use.” That signals a change from the Blue Origin’s previous public stance that it would be a ULA supplier on national security missions. ULA is partnering with Blue Origin on the development the BE-4 engine that could power ULA’s Vulcan rockets.
“We have been aware of this for quite some time and it does not affect our relationship with respect to the Vulcan engine,” said Jessica Rye, ULA spokeswoman, when asked about the news. Bezos has described Blue Origin as focused on launching commercial space missions and space tourism, and its national security involvement would be in supplying BE-4 engines to ULA. (10/9)
SpaceX Deploys Iridium Satellites, Lands First Stage, After California Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, followed by touchdown of the booster’s first stage on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. The 229-foot-tall rocket deployed the third batch of 10 next-generation Iridium voice and data relay satellites.
It was the 14th Falcon 9 flight of the year, and the 42nd launch of a Falcon 9 rocket overall since 2010. The landing on SpaceX’s drone ship — “Just Read the Instructions” — marked the 17th time SpaceX has recovered one of its first stage boosters intact. (10/9)
Iridium Launch Moves SpaceX Closer to 2017 Target (Source: Bloomberg)
Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched its 14th Falcon 9 rocket of the year, bringing the company a step closer to the 20 to 24 total missions it’s targeted for 2017. In addition to contracts with commercial satellite operators and the U.S. military, SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to resupply the International Space Station and a second pact valued at as much as $2.6 billion to eventually transport crews to the orbiting lab. (10/10)
SpaceX Launches and Lands Another Falcon From the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
A Falcon 9 launched a communications satellite Wednesday evening on SpaceX's second mission in less than three days. The rocket lifted off from a Kennedy Space Center launch pad carrying the SES-11/EchoStar-105 satellite. The launch was the third to use a previously flown first stage, with a successful landing on a droneship offshore. (10/11)
SpaceX Flies its Third “Flight Proven” Rocket (Source: Ars Technica)
This was only the third time SpaceX has launched what it terms a "flight proven" booster. Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES has been one of SpaceX's most faithful customers, having previously employed a used booster. SES has repeatedly demonstrated confidence in the rocket company's ability to make reusable launch technology safe. And with three successful reuse flights, it will probably become easier for SpaceX to find customers for future "flight proven" rockets. (10/11)
Regulatory Filings Suggest SpaceX Plans November Launch with Mystery Payload (Source: Spaceflight Now)
Information found in federal regulatory filings suggests SpaceX plans to conduct a Falcon 9 rocket launch as soon as mid-November with an unidentified payload that has so far escaped public disclosure.
It is unusual for such a mission to remain secret so close to launch, and there has been no public claim of ownership for the payload — codenamed Zuma — from any government or commercial institution. SpaceX did not respond to questions on the mission Saturday, but an application submitted by the launch company to the Federal Communications Commission says the flight will use a Falcon 9 booster launched from pad 39A at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (10/15)
|Estimating the Cost of BFR (Source: Space Review)
When Elon Musk discussed his revised BFR launch system recently, he disclosed few details about its costs. Sam Dinkin estimates the capital costs and operating costs for the BFR for use for Mars or point-to-point Earth flights. Click here. (10/9)
Japan's H-2 Rocket Launches Navigation Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Japan launched a satellite late Monday that will complete a navigation augmentation system. The H-2A launched from the Tanegashima Space Center at 6:01 p.m. Eastern and released the Michibiki 4 into its planned transfer orbit nearly a half-hour later. The satellite will join three others in geosynchronous orbit that transmit signals to augment the GPS system, providing coverage in areas where buildings or terrain can block GPS signals. (10/10)
Japan Seeks Major Efficiency and Cost Improvements for H3 Rocket (Source: Nikkei)
JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will start H3 rocket operations in FY-2020, and will increase the maximum number of annual launches from 6~7 in the current H2A rocket to “more than 10.” Government missions have been the main launches from H2A, but in the H3, they intend to increase launches of commercial satellites.
They are confident that this will be possible by appealing H3’s low price and Japanese technical superiority. H2A has conducted 29 consecutive launch successes since 2003, and the overall success rate of 97% is higher than any other rocket in the world. Six H2A’s were launched in 2016. However, Japan's H3 is limited to the launch site in Tanegashima. To better compete against US and European rockets, JAXA and MHI will try to improve efficiencies of launcher preparation activities at Tanegashima.
“[With H3] we want to achieve an interval of 30 days or less between two launches.” The H2A launch performed in March 2017 shortened the period to 52 days. They need to cut it in half for H3. H3 development was started 4 years ago. H2A was developed almost 20 years ago. Where H3 goes may be showing us the future of Japan’s space industry. (10/7)
Russia May Adjust Space Program to Construct Super-Heavy Carrier Rocket (Source: Space Daily)
Russia may adjust its federal space program to facilitate funding of the construction of a super-heavy-lift launch vehicle (SHLLV), General Director of Russia's Rocket and Space Corporation Energia Vladimir Solntsev said on Tuesday. Solntsev said that Energia is jointly working with Roscosmos "on proposals to amend the federal space program" to get the necessary funding for the project.
"We are very hopeful that this will happen this year. Then, the next stage will be to strike a government contract with Roscosmos to develop a draft design of the super heavy-lift launch vehicle," Solntsev said.
According to Energia's head, the draft designing process will be underway between 2018 and 2019. So far, the experts have already made a preliminary estimate of the designing works, which are expected to be carried out jointly by several companies. (10/10)
ILS Hopes Smaller Proton Rocket Can Compete with Falcon 9 (Source: Space News)
International Launch Services hopes to compete directly with SpaceX's Falcon 9 using the new Proton Medium rocket. The company expects the Proton Medium, which lacks the third stage of the existing Proton and can place 5 to 5.7 metric tons into geostationary transfer orbit, to be price-competitive with the Falcon 9. ILS hopes that Proton Medium can serve the "sweet spot" of the commercial launch market, and help it win business. ILS has only one commercial Proton launch on its manifest for 2018. (10/13)
Russian Rockot Rocket Rockets Science Satellite to Space (Source: BBC)
A Russian rocket launched a European Earth sciences satellite early this morning. The Rockot lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 5:27 a.m. Eastern carrying the Sentinel-5P satellite. The spacecraft is designed to demonstrate the ability to monitor air quality for use on later Sentinel-5 satellites. The satellite is the latest in the overall Copernicus program of Earth-observation spacecraft by the European Space Agency and the European Union. (10/13)
Russia Plans Extra-Speedy Cargo Trip to ISS (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A Progress spacecraft will launch a test of a speedy transit to the ISS. The Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress MS-07 spacecraft is scheduled to launch Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:32 a.m. Eastern. This launch will be the first test of a two-orbit rendezvous with the ISS, with the Progress arriving at the station just three hours after launch. Most Progress and Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS fly a four-orbit approach to the ISS, which itself is a recent change from transits that took two days to reach the station after launch. (10/11)
Rare Last-Minute Scrub for Russian Cargo Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Less than a minute before it was to take to the skies to deliver the Progress MS-07 cargo freighter to the International Space Station, an unknown issue with the Soyuz 2.1a launch vehicle prompted a rare scrub for the Russian space agency’s workhorse rocket. Liftoff was expected at 5:32 a.m. EDT on Oct. 12 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (10/13)
Russian Progress Cargo Ship Blasts Off on Regular-Speed Trip to ISS (Source: CBS)
A Russian Progress cargo ship blasted off from Kazakhstan Saturday and set off after the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver 2.9 tons of propellant, water and crew supplies. The launch was originally planned for Thursday, but a last-second glitch prevented main engine ignition and the flight was aborted pending a review. The problem was quickly corrected and the booster was cleared for a second try Saturday.
Because of the launch delay, plans to test an accelerated two-orbit rendezvous were put on hold, ruled out for Saturday's flight due to the changing position of the station in its orbit. (10/14)
Virgin Galactic Founder Says Spaceflights Could be Months Away (Source: KOB4)
For more than a decade, Virgin Galactic has worked to launch commercial spaceflights from southern New Mexico's Spaceport America. Could they now be just months away from their goal? Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson says they could go into space in about three months, and he thinks he himself could be in space in six months. Business Insider reports that he made the comments at a forum in Finland. (10/10)
Virgin Expects Powered Flight Tests This Year (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
The president of Virgin Galactic says the company expects to begin powered flight tests of SpaceShipTwo by the end of this year. Speaking at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in New Mexico Thursday, Mike Moses said that "we hope to be in space by the end of this year" with powered test flights of the vehicle. The second SpaceShipTwo has been performing a series of glide flights leading up to the start of powered flights. Company founder Richard Branson recently said the company was "hopefully about three months" from reaching space, and "maybe six months" before Branson himself could fly. (10/13)
General Atomics Considers Railgun for Microsatellite Launches (Source: Space News)
One company thinks it has the solution to launching smallsats: a railgun. General Atomics, the company best known for building the Predator drone, is getting into the smallsat market through its acquisition of Huntsville-based Miltec last February. General Atomics is working on cubesats but hopes to scale up to larger smallsats, principally for defense customers. General Atomics is also looking at electromagnetic railgun technologies for launching smallsats, which could be far less expensive than rockets, but the company acknowledges there are many hurdles to developing such a system.
Editor's Note: This has long been considered a possibility, but the extreme stresses of near-instantaneous zero-to-orbital velocity, and the requirement to circularize the orbit (with moving parts operable after the launch stresses) have made this a difficult nut to crack. (10/13)
Aphelion Orbitals Launches Cubesat Store, Updates Low-Cost Launcher Development Progress (Source: Cision)
Aphelion Orbitals announces significant progress toward the company's goal of becoming the premier supplier of reliable, low-cost small satellite hardware and launch services. Aphelion currently has a selection of cubesat structural chassis and solar cells as the initial offerings in our Cassiopeia product line. Also available is the Lite version of Aphelion's flagship Cubesat operating system, based on NASA's proven Core Flight Executive framework.
Aphelion continues to make progress with launch system development. We have added industry veterans to Aphelion's propulsion team and recently refined the design for Trailblazer, our suborbital rocket, to use low-cost hydrogen peroxide and RP-1 propellants. These room-temperature, storable fuels promise to greatly streamline operations, increase reliability, reduce cost and enable Trailblazer to launch from practically any launch site in the world.
Targeting its inaugural test flight in the first half of 2018, Trailblazer will be capable of sending a 20 kg payload to over 100 miles above sea level. Trailblazer will also serve as the foundation for the second stage of Aphelion's cubesat launch vehicle. Powered by a liquid methane, liquid oxygen first stage, Feynman will enter service by 2021 and offer regularly scheduled, airline-style flight booking with a one-month lead time. (10/6)
Space Coast-Based Rocket Crafters Adds Board Member (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Rocket Crafters announced that Dale Coxwell, CEO of Coastal Steel Manufacturing is joining its Board of Advisors. Coxwell is also the executive vice president and owner of Coastal Steel, on Florida's Space Coast.
Coxwell’s steel companies specialize in complex structures and components with a customer base that includes aerospace and defense. “Under Dale’s leadership, Coastal Steel Manufacturing has become a strategic partner in Rocket Crafters’ journey to change the way we access space. His team and facilities are at the center of our test stand and testing efforts. His advice will be important as we move forward,” said Sid Gutierrez, Rocket Crafters chairman and CEO. (10/10)
Virgin Galactic Could Still Be With Us By The End Of 2018 (Source: OneNews Page)
Branson, the multi-billionaire entrepreneur who has turned Virgin to just about everything over the years – air travel, cola, video games, credit cards, gambling sites – has always intended to bring space tourism to the masses, and it seems that his mooted Virgin Galactic plans are set to do just that. In fact, Branson himself plans to leave Earth through such technology sooner than many may have expected. Branson hopes to be up in the stratosphere and beyond within six months – and that Virgin Galactic itself is still on target to see launch by the end of 2018.
He’s remained hugely optimistic, advising that his ‘love of space’ is spurring the project on. Branson is confident about Virgin Galactic but an exact timeframe for launch will remain to be seen. A-List stars such as Brad Pitt who have signed up for the maiden voyage have reportedly paid somewhere in the region of $250,000 to go beyond Earth and into the stars themselves – but really – can you blame them? Stay tuned for more news on space tourism as we know it! (10/13)
Richard Branson Won't Fly in Space in 6 Months, Virgin Galactic President Says (Source: Space.com)
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson most likely won't be going to space in the next six months, despite his recent statement that he'd be "very disappointed" otherwise.
Mike Moses, president of Virgin Galactic, said yesterday (Oct. 12) that while the company plans to have one of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicles reach altitudes of more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth's surface within the next three months, it's unlikely that passengers — including Branson — will be on board in less than half a year. (10/13)
The Final Frontier is Reachable (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Last week, in his first meeting with the space council, VP Pence proved he's taking the job seriously, bluntly describing how America had become lost in space. He broadly outlined a plan to reclaim the nation's place in the final frontier. In an era when commercial enterprises like SpaceX and Blue Origin are capturing headlines, Pence made it abundantly clear the U.S. government is serious about reclaiming the high ground. He called for the U.S. "to maintain a constant commercial, human presence in low-Earth orbit." And he called for a return to the moon as a foundation for sending Americans "to Mars and beyond."
That sounds great, but veterans of America's space program have good reason to be skeptical. Other administrations have spewed lofty rhetoric about flying to the moon and Mars, but their promises have turned out to be science fiction. President Obama even talked about landing on an asteroid, forcing the space agency to waste a lot of time and effort on a cockamamie idea that didn't have a prayer of getting off the ground.
Pence needs to seriously consider an idea backed by a member of Houston's congressional delegation that would help shield NASA from the shifting winds of presidential politics. U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, suggests appointing its administrators to ten year terms, like FBI directors. The administrator and an independent board, Culberson proposes, also would submit budgets directly to Congress to insulate the agency from the whims of the executive branch. (10/11)
Time’s Up for Spaceport America (Source: NM Politics)
One of the cruelest manifestations of illogical thinking is the sunk-cost fallacy. The irrational belief that a bad investment will, one day, pay off, if we just hold on a little longer, has led to plenty of sorrow in the private sector. In the public sector, though, it’s taxpayers who are victimized when bureaucrats and elected officials refuse to walk away from failed projects once hailed as “economic development.” “Spaceport America” is probably New Mexico’s worst example of the sunk-cost fallacy.
The facility broke ground in June 2009 and “opened” in October 2011. Its “anchor tenant” is Virgin Galactic. Owned by U.K. mega-mogul Richard Branson (net worth, according to Forbes: $5.1 billion), the company aims to send tourists on brief, suborbital trips into space. Virgin Galactic once hoped to launch their first customers as soon as 2008. Almost a decade later, no tourists have soared into the wild black yonder from New Mexico. And despite regular promises that other firms will soon make use of the spaceport, activity there remains essentially nil.
The facility’s dismal performance is a bitter pill for the Land of Enchantment’s taxpayers. It was built with hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing, made possible by the state’s severance tax and a special gross receipts tax imposed on Doña Ana and Sierra counties. Of nearly $12 million in expenses in the 2016 fiscal year, less than 19 percent was covered by rent and user fees. (10/14)
Canadian Spaceport Not ‘Pie in the Sky’ (Source: The Chronicle Herald)
“We’re doing the best we can,” Stephen Matier, president of Maritime Launch Services, said Thursday. “That’s all I can tell you.” Matier’s big dream is to build a spaceport just outside Canso from which Ukrainian-built rockets would carry satellites into orbit.
The March announcement took the entire country by surprise, as it would be Canada’s first spaceport since the Churchill Research Range closed in Manitoba in 1984. That site only launched suborbital rockets. Maritime Launch’s proposal would allow companies to put satellites into a desirable sun-synchronous orbit using Cyclone 4M rockets.
While northern Nova Scotia is well accustomed to sizing up the big plans of the oil and gas, pulp and paper and shipping industries, the business of launching satellites is beyond most people’s field of understanding. (10/13)
Cornwall Spaceport Team Jets to Los Angeles for Crunch Talks (Source: Cornwall Live)
A delegation has flown to Los Angeles on a £30,000 taxpayer-funded trip in an attempt to woo support to build Europe’s first spaceport in Cornwall.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is leading Cornwall’s bid to establish Spaceport Cornwall across two sites at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Earth Station. A six-strong team representing the Cornwall bid arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday ahead of a series of meetings with potential investors. Newquay is among five UK sites vying to become the first spaceport in Europe as the Government aims to meet the growing interest in space tourism.
Editor's Note: Good luck convincing investors that suborbital space tourism remains a hot item. Until Virgin Galactic and/or Blue Origin begin revenue flights, I doubt anyone will get a handle on the market demand. Then there's the question of whether any other companies can enter a market dominated by these two US based competitors. (10/9)
Investment for Spaceport in Cornwall to Lift Off? (Source: Pirate FM)
It looks like we could have lift-off for investment in a spaceport for Cornwall. A trade mission to North America has reported strong interest from potential investors. The delegation led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, met with several last week. The group was also given the chance to visit spaceport facilities in California and New Mexico. The LEP is leading a bid to establish a spaceport at Cornwall Airport Newquay. It is in response to a Government drive to have a commercial launch facility in the UK by 2020.
The spaceport could offer horizontal take-off facilities for satellite launches, research missions and human space flight, with space tracking capabilities available from Goonhilly Earth Station. Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the LEP, was part of the delegation and said: “We’ve got strong interest from potential spaceport operators and investors who view Cornwall as an ideal location to access the European commercial space market for horizontal satellite launch, spaceflight research and human spaceflight. (10/11)
Will SpaceX, Boeing See More Delays In ISS Launch Schedules? (Source: Nasdaq)
In 2014, NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to develop American vehicles for astronauts. NASA had originally envisioned both companies competing in test flights and being certificated for manned missions by the end of 2017. But the scheduled for unmanned and manned tests has slipped, and most recently Boeing's unmanned test was pushed back to August 2018 from June 2018, and its crewed test was delayed to November 2018 from August 2018.
SpaceX's uncrewed mission was delayed to April 2018 from February 2018 and its manned test from to August 2018 from June 2018. But even the delayed timeline is starting to look ambitious. "I think we have a shot at 2018" for the flights with crew, said NASA's Kathryn Lueders. "There's a lot of things that have to go exactly right. I think the big challenge is to make sure that we give them the time ... if everything doesn't go exactly right, to be able to fix any problems that we have." (10/13)
Citing Safety, NASA Panel Advises Building a New, Costly Mobile Launcher at KSC (Source: Ars Technica)
A NASA advisory group thinks the agency should build a replacement for a mobile launch platform yet to be used. The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, at a recent meeting, said it was concerned that modifications to the mobile launch platform after the first launch of the Space Launch System will create a long gap that poses a safety risk to the overall SLS program.
The platform, originally built for Constellation, will need changes after the first SLS launch to accommodate the larger Block 1B version of the rocket, which will be used on second and subsequent SLS missions. The gap between the first and second SLS launches could be reduced, the panel argued, if NASA started now on building a new mobile launch platform designed for the Block 1B version of SLS. (10/11)
NASA Fueling Tests Underway at KSC Ahead of Space Launch System Debut (Source: Florida Today)
Testing of two massive propellant storage spheres is underway at Kennedy Space Center ahead of the planned 2019 liftoff of the agency's Space Launch System rocket. Several trucks arrived at KSC in early October to offload liquid oxygen into a cryogenic sphere at pad 39B and chill it down in preparation of propellant storage. Over the next several months, trucks will continue to load about 40,000 gallons of liquid oxygen two days a week into the 900,000 gallon capacity sphere.
The nearby liquid hydrogen storage sphere, meanwhile, will play host to the same operations beginning in November. When both tanks are filled to the halfway mark, teams in the Launch Control Center, which is attached to the Vehicle Assembly Building, will perform pressurization tests. Fuels will remain in the tanks for additional testing in mid-2018. (10/13)
First Four Space Launch System Flight Engines Ready To Rumble (Source: NASA)
The flight preparations for the four engines that will power NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) on its first integrated flight with Orion are complete and the engines are assembled and ready to be joined to the deep space rocket’s core stage. All five structures that form the massive core stage for the rocket have been built including the engine section where the RS-25 engines will be attached. (10/11)
Small Businesses Hope Push to Mars Will Help Space Coast Economy (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
When the shuttle program came to a close, the Space Coast faced a bleak economic forecast. Now, as things heat up in Cape Canaveral, small business owners say they are waiting for the economy to takeoff. Click here. (10/11)
As Space Race Targets Mars, Florida’s Space Coast is Ready for Takeoff (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
As the next generation of the space race sets its sights on Mars, Florida’s Space Coast hopes to reap the benefits with a return to what put it on the map. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin lead the charge with Mars as their target destination. We explore their fight to be first and the other players weighing in. Click here. (10/10)
Florida in Talks to Bring New Launch System to Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida is negotiating with an unspecified company to bring a new system to Cape Canaveral to demonstrate an ability to perform frequent launches. If it bases operations on the Space Coast, the company referred to by the code name Project First Down over four years would bring an estimated 254 jobs with an average salary of $80,000.
“It strategically positions Florida in a good program going forward, as a preparation for what we hope will become the kind of launch cadence that we’ve been predicting five to 10 years out,” said Space Florida's Frank DiBello. The company is a “credit-worthy, going concern with industry experience” and is evaluating multiple states with active spaceports, said Howard Haug, Space Florida's executive vice president, treasurer and chief investment officer.
“Competition among the various states is keen,” he said. “The company expects to select a location within the next couple of weeks, thus time is of the essence.” Haug said the company would commit to the Cape if Space Florida partnered in a $30 million investment that includes a deal to finance long-lead equipment worth $13 million. Space Florida’s board unanimously approved proceeding with the negotiations. (10/9)
Is Space Florida Preparing Incentives for Experimental Spaceplane? (Source: Florida Today)
"The project is expected to run at least four years, will be a significant user of Space Florida facilities, and will act as a pathfinder for high-volume launch capability at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport," said Haug. Although the project is being kept confidential for now, William Dymond said he could vouch for the company’s credit-worthiness.
The project might involve a military program known as the Experimental Spaceplane 1, or XS-1, for which DARPA earlier this year awarded Boeing a $146 million contract. The XS-1 aims to fly 10 times in 10 days, with a series of 12 to 15 flights planned in 2020. The goal is to reduce mission costs to as little as $5 million. Boeing's business jet-sized Phantom Express would lift off vertically and then return to a runway, while an upper stage delivered payloads weighing up to 3,000 pounds to orbit.
DARPA, however, has already said the program would fly from the Cape, suggesting there was no multi-state competition. Boeing, though, said in May it was “evaluating proposals” and would announce its launch and landing site later. Air Force maps have notionally identified Complexes 16 and 20 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport as potential launch sites, and the former shuttle runway, now operated by Space Florida, could serve as a landing site. (10/9)
Industry and Government Differ on Future of FAA Commercial Space Office (Source: Space News)
While much of industry would like to see an office that licenses commercial spaceflight activities moved out of the FAA, a new GAO report finds little support for doing so within government. The Oct. 5 report found split opinions on whether the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, or AST, should be transferred to an independent office under the Secretary of Transportation, where it originally existed.
In recent years, some in the industry have argued for returning AST to its position outside of the FAA, arguing that the small office lacks influence on issues such as managing airspace for launches. FAA officials argued that moving AST out of the FAA “could make it more difficult for FAA offices to coordinate on commercial space activities." They also minimized concerns about airspace conflicts, noting advances in airspace management would minimize airspace closures for launches in the future.
Industry advocates for moving AST argued that moving the office outside FAA could allow it to develop regulations more efficiently, and also give it more resources. However, officials from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation cautioned that such a move would not guarantee AST additional resources for rulemaking and other activity, and would also require the office to pay for support services that the FAA provides today. (10/9)
Will Air Travel Get Faster? Future NASA Planes Could Cross Country in One Hour (Source: Newsweek)
A gram of boron nitride nanotubes material costs $1,000—but it could transport you across the country in under an hour. A team of engineers from NASA and Binghamton University are investigating the mechanical properties of a nanotube made of boron nitride, a combination of boron and nitrogen. In particular, the team wanted to investigate the ability of these structures to withstand heat.
The study examined whether the properties of the material would change in a high-temperature environment. “We found that there is no change in mechanical properties with boron nitrate nanotubes,” says Changhong Ke, a mechanical engineer at Binghamton University and senior author on the study, published recently in Scientific Reports.
The work has a particular relevance to air travel. Currently, certain airplane structures use carbon nanotubes, a strong, lightweight structure that can withstand temperatures up to 450 degrees Celsius. But as this study showed, boron nitride nanotubes, which are similar in function, can withstand 900 degrees Celsius, temperatures that extremely fast airplanes need to be equipped to handle. (10/12)
Elon Musk Explains How Big Rocket’s Short Hops Will Lead to Giant Leaps (Source: GeekWire)
SpaceX CEO says he “chickened out” and made the design for the monster spaceship he’s planning to send to Mars a little less monstrous — in order to make the concept a lot more realistic. He also confirmed that testing for the BFR, euphemistically known as the “Big Falcon Rocket,” would begin with suborbital short-hop tests on Earth.
Musk says the BFR would be used not only to send settlers to Mars starting in the 2020s, but also to go on trips to the moon and other interplanetary destinations, deploy and retrieve satellites in Earth orbit, and take passengers on suborbital space trips anywhere on Earth in an hour or less. In short, for any space mission that SpaceX has in mind. Click here.
Editor's Note: SpaceX's emerging plan for BFR suborbital hops means more momentum for high-speed point-to-point transport industry, mixing a vertical launch/landing concept with the growing number of supersonic horizontal launch/landing craft now planned. There's a LinkedIn Group following this stuff here. (10/14)
USAF Searching for Hypersonic Vehicle Materials (Source: Flight Global)
The US Air Force Research Laboratory is searching for leading edge materials for reusable and expendable hypersonic vehicles to support its high speed strike weapon program.
Air Force Materiel Command will consider thermal performance as it selects the material, according to the $2.3 million contract award to Integration Innovation posted 27 September on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Based in Huntsville, Alabama, Integration Innovation Integration has previously worked with the Defense Department and NASA on thermal protection systems supporting hypersonic vehicles. (10/13)
DARPA Awards Aerojet Rocketdyne Contract to Develop Hypersonic Advanced Full Range Engine (Source: SpaceRef)
Aerojet Rocketdyne has entered into an agreement with DARPA to develop and ground test an innovative propulsion system under the agency’s Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program.
The primary goal of the AFRE program is to develop and ground demonstrate a reusable hydrocarbon propulsion system that can seamlessly operate in a reliable and affordable manner over the full range of speeds between takeoff and hypersonic cruise to enable responsive hypersonic aircraft for a variety of military missions. (10/9)
Missile Demand Keeps US Rocket Motor Production Humming (Source: Space News)
Demand for advanced missiles is fueling investments in rocket motors. An Orbital ATK executive said that interest in hypersonic missiles and those with a longer range is supporting work on solid rocket motor technologies. That is helping shore up an industrial base for such motors weakened when the space shuttle program, a major consumer of solid motors, was retired.
The future of missiles and propulsion technology is about going “further and faster,” Pat Nolan, vice president of Orbital ATK, said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. Orbital ATK has a hot production line for rocket motors that power some of the military’s most widely used missiles like the Hellfire. (10/10)
Hypersonic Missiles Being Developed by US, Russia and China Could Spark War (Source: The Independent)
World powers developing hypersonic missiles must ensure they do not fall into the hands of rogue regimes which could use them to threaten the globe, researchers have warned. The fast-moving weapons are “a new class of threat” because they are being designed to evade missile defense systems, and would give nations less time to respond to attacks, a study by the RAND Corporation think tank has claimed.
If the technology were to spread uncontrolled, countries might set their defenses on a “hair trigger” and increase the chances of missile-based strategic war breaking out, the authors said. “Hypersonic missile proliferation would increase the chances of strategic war. It would give nations an incentive to become trigger-happy.” (10/7)
Moon, Milspace, and Beyond (Source: Space Review)
Last week the National Space Council held the first meeting since being reestablished earlier this year. Jeff Foust reports on what the council discussed and whether this iteration of the council will be different from its predecessors. Click here. (10/9)
Pence Visits Mojave Spaceport (Source: Bakersfield Californian)
Vice President Mike Pence plans to visit a commercial spaceport today. Pence is scheduled to visit the Mojave Air and Space Port, including facilities there owned by Stratolaunch and Virgin Galactic. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House majority leader whose district includes Mojave, will host Pence for the visit, part of a fundraising trip to California by the vice president. Pence, who chairs the new National Space Council, has previously visited several NASA centers. (10/10)
VP Pence Visits Virgin Galactic and Stratolaunch at Mojave Spaceport (Source: Ridgecrest Independent)
Vice President Mike Pence visited commercial space companies during a brief stop Tuesday in Mojave, California. Pence visited facilities used by Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic, as well as Stratolaunch Systems, during a two-hour visit to the Mojave Air and Space Port. "Mojave is very much a part of the infrastructure of American space exploration today," Pence said in comments during the visit. (10/11)
For a Successful National Space Council Revival, the Best Man Must Always Win (Source: TownHall.com)
If the first-in-a-quarter-century meeting last week of the National Space Council was indeed President Trump’s effort to ramp up our national space program and provide benefits for all, then good. But if it is as some perceived – a gauzy send-up to resume the practice of shoveling taxpayer dollars to Washington’s official Friends of the Industry – then we should have no part of it.
The idea of the National Space Council is a good one. A new generation of technology demands a new look at space and the benefits it can bring us. The idea of bringing together leaders in the civil, commercial and military space industries to discuss key issues and ways they might work together to advance U.S. interests in space and protect the country from the ever-increasing danger of cyber-attacks is sound. (10/10)
If Mike Pence Wants to Send NASA Back to the Moon, He'll Need to Find a Way to Pay For It (Source: The Verge)
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence announced a bold new mission for NASA: creating a sustained human presence, perhaps like a lunar base, on the Moon’s surface. It’s a big change for the agency, which has been focused on going to Mars for the last seven years. But just saying NASA is going to do something isn’t enough for the space agency to actually accomplish a task. Ambitious programs require extra money and sustained commitment from Congress in order to become a reality.
Fortunately, NASA is already working on new hardware for deep space missions that could be used to go to the Moon. For the last decade, the space agency has been developing a giant rocket called the Space Launch System, and a crew capsule called Orion to take people to Mars, and those vehicles could easily be used to take astronauts to the lunar surface instead. But establishing a sustained presence on the Moon is going to require the creation of a lunar lander, habitats, life support systems, and more. And all of that will require extra money and time to make. At one point, NASA estimated a return to the Moon would cost upwards of $100 billion. Click here. (10/10)
Trump Space Plans Could Restore U.S. Optimism (Source: USA Today)
As we enter a new period of change — this one marked by the twin phenomena of explosive commercial growth and increased space militarization — it’s a good idea to have someone in the White House thinking about this stuff, and coordinating it.
That said, space policy is, to my mind, one of the Obama administration’s greatest successes. Simply by mostly leaving things alone, except to clear a few legal and regulatory hurdles, the Obama administration, as The Washington Post noted, brought capitalism to outer space. And there’s a lesson in that for the Trump administration.
Expansion into an open frontier means that people are less likely to engage in zero-sum thinking. Opening a frontier also opens minds. As Samuel Eliot Morison wrote in his classic biography of Christopher Columbus, when Columbus set sail in 1492, Europe was in a funk. Christian civilization was shrinking and dividing, cynicism was widespread, and people were growing cynical and desperate. All that changed in short order. (10/9)
Donald Trump Should Stop Obsessing Over the Moon (Source: Slate)
Donald Trump wants to go to the moon. Since being elected president, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have offered vague but repeated hints that the administration was interested in sending American astronauts back to it, and finally, at the inaugural meeting of the newly resurrected National Space Council on Oct. 5, they made this desire explicit.
You can’t say the devil is in the details, because there are no details. As Casey Dreier, the director of space policy at the Planetary Society, the nonprofit dedicated to advancing space exploration and research, put it: “At this point, I just have more questions than opinions, because there’s not much to form an opinion off of. My biggest question is, to what end are we going to the moon? What is the purpose?”
There’s no clear answer to that. Despite Pence’s stepping-stone comment, going back to the moon does very little to help strengthen the human journey to Mars and worlds beyond. It’s doubtful the government could properly fund such a venture. All of Trump and Pence’s moon talk may sound exciting, but they are sorely mistaken if they believe returning to the moon is easy. (10/13)
It's Time for America to Stop Staring at the Pavement and Aim for the Stars Again (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Since Apollo, human space flight has been limited to within Earth’s orbit. When the space shuttle program ended in 2011, so did America’s manned space flights. Nowadays our astronauts bum rides from Russia to get back and forth from the International Space Station.
So, it was exciting to hear Vice President Pence address a recently resurrected National Space Council. He told the gathered that the U.S. would regain its leadership role in space exploration by returning to the moon as early as next year and eventually sending a manned mission to Mars. With a sense of urgency, he warned of the advances China and Russia have made in space technology and said the U.S. needed to address these emerging threats.
We applaud the administration’s goals to return to space. Exploring the unknown is part of who we are as humans. And the advancements by China and Russia add a new sense of urgency to our renewed commitment to space research. Yes, there will always be ample reasons to spend money elsewhere. But no matter how much we spend, there will always be a need for more. Reaching for the stars with one hand is just as important as extending the other to help our fellow humans. (10/13)
Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop Taking the Long View to the Stars (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
While NASA and commercial operators plan to send human beings beyond low-Earth orbit, the participants of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) spent this past week contemplating something incomparably more ambitious: seeking practical ways to travel to the stars.
The TVIW Chairman Les Johnson is a NASA physicist by day and a science fiction writer and interstellar visionary in his free time. Given that the exploration of the Solar System will be the work of generations, if not centuries, might TVIW not be getting a little ahead of themselves? Johnson told Spaceflight Insider: “Not at all. We’re providing the long-term vision… Can we do it today? No. Can we begin developing the technologies needed? Yes. Can we think about flying precursor missions today? Yes.”
The practical question Johnson and the other approximately 150 TVIW attendees asked was, “What can be done now?” They realize that launching even a tiny payload to the nearest star—Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light-years away—requires considerable development and expense. (10/13)
New Congressional NASA Caucus to Include Floridians Bill Posey, Charlie Crist, Alcee Hastings (Source: Florida Politics)
Florida U.S. Reps. Bill Posey, Charlie Crist, and Alcee Hastings are joining a newly-formed, bipartisan Congressional NASA Caucus to promote the space agency’s agenda, research and budgetary needs.
The caucus, announced Wednesday, is distinctly different from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and its Subcommittee on Space, as Crist, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, and Posey, a Rockledge Republican, are members of both of those committees, while Hastings, a Miami Gardens Democrat, is not. Likewise, Republican U.S. Reps. Neal Dunn of Panama City and Dan Webster of Lake County are members of the full committee, and Webster of the subcommittee, but are not charter members of the caucus.
The caucus is being co-chaired U.S. Reps. Steve Knight, a California Republican, and Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat, indicative of NASA’s broad national reach with its facilities. The 23-member caucus also has members from Indiana, Mississippi, Michigan, Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Maryland and Colorado. “The NASA caucus will be instrumental in educating members of Congress about the importance of maintaining our leadership in space and shaping legislation affecting our nation’s space program,” Posey said. (10/11)
Republicans are for the Moon? Democrats are for Mars? A Look at the Artificial Divide (Source: Astralytical)
In an age of hyper-partisanship in U.S. politics, it is tempting to categorize every federal government initiative as promoted by one of the two major political parties. NASA has long benefited from being generally nonpartisan, mostly supported and sometimes criticized by members of both parties.
An area of frustration has been the lack of stability in NASA human space exploration direction and budget, especially the decision to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit (LEO), that is, to a celestial destination beyond an orbiting space station. Presidential administrations sometimes shift direction by creating a new NASA human spaceflight policy, and Congress shapes the policy’s actual form with budget allocation and approval.
It can be tempting to oversimplify the politics of NASA human spaceflight destinations beyond LEO. Some look at the surface level of recent history and conclude Republicans prefer returning NASA astronauts to the Moon and Democrats prefer sending NASA astronauts to Mars. This oversimplification goes nowhere in reality. Click here. (10/9)
NASA Has Big Plans for the Moon, and It's Not the Only One (Source: NBC)
In Jim Bridenstine’s vision, the moon will soon host a bustling development of mining operations, robot geologists, video broadcasters, and a small but growing human outpost — all supported by a mix of commercial and government interests. That’s a bold claim, considering there has been only one soft landing on the moon in the last four decades. But Bridenstine is hardly alone in his starry optimism. Click here. (10/9)
Moon Express and NanoRacks Partner on Lunar Payload Solutions (Source: Space News)
Moon Express and NanoRacks will partner on providing commercial lunar payload solutions. The companies announced an agreement Tuesday whereby NanoRacks will provide sales, marketing and technical support for payloads flying on the series of lunar landers under development by Moon Express. NanoRacks plans to use the lessons learned from flying payloads to the ISS to demonstrate there is a commercial market for payloads to the moon. (10/11)
NASA Studying Potential Cooperation on Russian Lunar Science Mission (Source: Space News)
NASA is in discussions about potential roles it could play on an upcoming series of Russian robotic lunar missions, including landers and sample return spacecraft. Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, told attendees of the annual meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) here Oct. 11 that he recently returned from a trip to Russia that included talks about cooperation on those future Russian lunar missions. (10/13)
Russian Space Research Institute Announces July 2020 Date for Mission to Mars (Source: Space Daily)
According to the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute, the launch of the ExoMars-2020 mission, which will send a European rover to the red planet, is scheduled for July 24, 2020. The launch of the ExoMars-2020 mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is tentatively scheduled for July 24, 2020, said the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute (IKI) laboratory. (10/10)
Space Radiation Won't Stop NASA's Human Exploration (Source: NASA JSC)
While it's true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it's also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet.
"Some people think that radiation will keep NASA from sending people to Mars, but that's not the current situation," said, Pat Troutman, NASA Human Exploration Strategic Analysis Lead. "When we add the various mitigation techniques up, we are optimistic it will lead to a successful Mars mission with a healthy crew that will live a very long and productive life after they return to Earth."
Space radiation is quite different and more dangerous than radiation on Earth. Even though the International Space Station sits just within Earth's protective magnetic field, astronauts receive over ten times the radiation than what's naturally occurring on Earth. Outside the magnetic field there are galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), solar particle events (SPEs) and the Van Allen Belts, which contain trapped space radiation. (10/13)
With Mock Space Capsule, Researchers Partner with NASA to Study Astronaut Fitness (Source: Space Daily)
A mock space capsule has landed in Kansas State University's Ice Hall. In this built-to-scale model of the Orion spacecraft, "astronauts" practice emergency escape maneuvers while a university kinesiology team studies their health and fitness levels. It's all part of NASA's plan for further human exploration of the solar system, from a Mars mission to a deep space mission.
The university research team - led by Carl Ade, assistant professor of exercise physiology, and Thomas Barstow, professor of exercise physiology - has partnered with the Johnson Space Center in Houston to tackle a major challenge for these long-duration space missions: the return to earth. (10/3)
Lying in Bed for the Sake of Science (Source: NASA JSC)
Twelve volunteers will arrive this week at the German Space Agency's (DLR) Institute of Aerospace Medicine's envihab facility to lie in bed for a month in the name of science. NASA's Human Research Program, in partnership with DLR, is sponsoring investigations in this study to observe and analyze the effects of fluid pressure on astronauts' eyes and optic nerves.
This study, known as VaPER, is part of NASA's Flight Analogs Program. An analog environment is a situation on Earth that produces effects on the body similar to those experienced in space, both physical, mental and emotional. These studies are expected to help advance humans from lower-Earth orbit missions into deep space exploration. (10/10)
Ion Thruster Prototype Breaks Records in Tests, Could Send Humans to Mars (Source: Space.com)
A thruster that's being developed for a future NASA mission to Mars broke several records during recent tests, suggesting that the technology is on track to take humans to the Red Planet within the next 20 years, project team members said.
The X3 thruster, which was designed by researchers at the University of Michigan in cooperation with NASA and the U.S. Air Force, is a Hall thruster — a system that propels spacecraft by accelerating a stream of electrically charged atoms, known as ions. In the recent demonstration conducted at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio, the X3 broke records for the maximum power output, thrust and operating current achieved by a Hall thruster to date. (10/13)
Inside Knowledge About Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Could Lead To World-Changing Technology (Source: HuffPost)
Something extraordinary is about to be revealed. Former high-level officials and scientists with deep black experience who have always remained in the shadows are now stepping into the light. These insiders have long-standing connections to government agencies which may have programs investigating unidentifed aerial phenomena (UAP). They intend to move into the private sector and to make all declassified information, and any future knowledge, available for all to see.
The team includes a 25-year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations; a Lockheed Martin Program Director for Advanced Systems at “Skunk Works”; a former deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; a DoD Senior Intelligence officer who, among other sensitive responsibilities, ran a Pentagon aerospace “threat identification” program focusing on unidentified aerial technologies. And well placed and experienced professionals, from Intelligence and high academic positions, are also on board. Click here. (10/10)
To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (Source: The Academy)
The public interest in the outer edges of science and the understanding of phenomena has always been suffocated by mainstream ideology and bureaucratic constraint. We believe there are transformative discoveries within our reach that will revolutionize the human experience, but they can only be accomplished through the unrestricted support of breakthrough research, discovery and innovation.
To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science has mobilized a team of the most experienced, connected and passionately curious minds from the US intelligence community, including the CIA and Department of Defense that have been operating under the shadows of top-secrecy for decades.
The team members all share a common thread of frustration and determination to disrupt the status quo, wanting to use their expertise and credibility to bring transformative science and engineering out of the shadows and collaborate with global citizens to apply that knowledge in a way that benefits humanity. Click here. (10/13)
Space Travel's Existential Question (Source: The Atlantic)
Have we become too squeamish about the inevitable human cost of exploration? After each fatal incident, the nation has responded with shock and grief. These explorers—our explorers, Earth’s explorers—paid for that exploration with their lives. Questions arose. Some—How did this happen?—are left to inspectors and investigators. But others—How big a cost are humans willing to bear to leave the planet?—lie in the public domain. The answers seem to have changed throughout the decades, as space travel seemed to evolve from something novel to something routine.
Americans may become more tolerant of the loss of astronaut life. If they don’t, the government and private industry might not be able to make the leap at all. We all know people probably will die on these new missions, especially if they become commonplace, as many hope. What no one knows is how we will all respond to those losses. (10/11)
When Going to Space Becomes Your Normal Commute (Source: CNET)
Astronaut training companies that specifically cater to commercial clients are beginning to crop up, heralding a shift in the demographics of human spaceflight. Only 554 astronauts have visited space as of October 2017, and the vast majority of them represent federal space agencies like NASA, Roscosmos, or the European Space Agency. They are selected based on their aptitude to complete the scientific and engineering objectives of those governmental organizations, and are also generally viewed as role models for their home countries.
Commercial astronauts may be graded on completely different criteria, and their lifestyles and duties in space could vary significantly from those of the crews on the International Space Station (ISS). Science fiction has already flirted with this distinction in films like "Alien," which takes place on the commercial space freighter "Nostromo," or "Moon," set on a helium-3 mining base on the lunar surface owned by a company with unorthodox employee contract terms.
The coming diversification of the astronaut population beyond governmental employees will no doubt alter the image and experience of the spacefaring profession. Once emerging commercial space industries like space tourism or interplanetary mining start to materialize, it might be more common to see people with backgrounds in hospitality or industrial labor take to the orbital lifestyle. (10/11)
Morgan Stanley Predicts Space Industry Will Triple in Size (Source: CNBC)
SpaceX launched its 15th rocket this year on Wednesday, the National Space Council met last week for the first time in nearly a quarter-century and satellites the size of shoeboxes are vaulting into orbit. The cost of space access is plummeting. Morgan Stanley estimates the space industry, worth about $350 billion today, will grow into an economy worth more than $1.1 trillion by 2040, a team of analysts wrote in a note Thursday. Click here. (10/12)
Can SpaceX Grow to a $50 Billion Enterprise? (Source: CNBC)
A new report predicts SpaceX could become a $50 billion company. The report by a team of Morgan Stanley analysts said that the growth in the company's value would come through the development of a satellite broadband system that could generate far more cash than its launch business. A recent funding round valued SpaceX at $21 billion. SpaceX has no plans for an initial public offering of stock, but the Morgan Stanley report concluded it is "reasonable" to consider the company doing so in the future to raise money for future projects. (10/13)
Chicago Companies Launch Plans for Business in Outer Space (Source: Chicago Tribune)
Picture people living in outer space, breathing inside helmets, going about their daily activities. What are they wearing? At a cosmic cocktail party, are they drinking champagne? Lee Anderson needed to know. The Chicago-based fashion designer keeps a sketch pad full of fashion astronauts, as she calls them, in which she explores the idea of what an average person would wear in an otherworldly atmosphere.
It’s the intersection of fashion and space — something the founder of outerwear design company Starkweather has thought about a lot. As the space industry develops, Anderson wants her company to link the creative and scientific sides. Anderson’s not the only entrepreneur looking toward the stars. From one- to two-person startups to Fortune 500 companies, firms throughout the Chicago area are eyeing outer space as their next market. Click here. (10/13)
How Singapore Can Be a Space Power, with Small Satellites (Source: Channel NewsAsia)
In 1957, the first man-made satellite was launched into space by the Soviet Union. Since mankind’s first foray into space, we have not looked back.
Today, there are more than 6,000 satellites in space. In the earlier decades of satellite development, the key players were governments, especially those of large countries, whose use for satellites were primarily for weather monitoring, remote sensing of environmental conditions and surveillance.
In recent years, many commercial applications have emerged, such as the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites for asset tracking, and the provision of satellite television programs, telecommunication services and internet services. With its many applications, the annual market revenue for the satellite industry stands around US$260 billion. (10/9)
Australia and America: A Partnership for the Space Age (Source: Space.com)
Exotic though it may be, and romanticized though it often is, Australia is more than a distant country and a faraway continent. It is in fact a land of technological innovation, international diversity and urban sophistication. It is as relevant, economically and culturally, to Asia as it is to America, with top research universities, distinguished doctors, professors and scientists, in addition to a nationwide interest in space-based research.
Today, all of Australia is aglow with interest in space-based research. Australians and Americans have an opportunity to go beyond symbolic (albeit powerful) gestures; together, we can enlighten the minds and expand the horizons of teachers and students from Adelaide to Austin, from Melbourne to Miami, from Sydney to San Francisco, from Perth to Portland, Oregon, and Portland, Maine. (10/13)
Human Cost of Australia's Space Industry May be Indigenous Communities (Source: Crikey)
The Woomera rocket range was established in 1956 for the purpose of weapons testing, in partnership with Britain, creating jobs for the entire town of Woomera (indeed, creating the township itself) and for many in outback towns close by. It was the site of the nation's first satellite launch and, over many years, collaborations with NASA and other space agencies to observe space and launch rockets.
From the beginning, the Woomera Prohibited Area, as it is now known, has been run by the Australian military and used for the intertwined purposes of developing machines for space exploration and technologies for defence. It’s perhaps no accident that Woomera was also the site of an immigration detention center between 1999-2003, playing a visceral role in Australia’s secretive, punitive border protection policies that are still an international human rights scandal over 20 years later. (10/11)
Spending $80M to Win $20M: TeamIndus and their Moon Journey (Source: BW Disrupt)
There are five teams remaining in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition: two American teams, one Israeli, and a Japanese team relying on TeamIndus to deliver their rover to the Moon. Sheelika Ravishankar, Jedi Master for marketing and outreach says, “At this point Israel’s SpaceIL and TeamIndus appear to be leading the Google Lunar XPRIZE shortlisted teams…while there are many things that need to come together over the next few months, we are optimistic we can be the first team to make this happen.”
This program will not recover investments even if they win the Grand Prize. On the Google Lunar XPRIZE website: “The Google Lunar XPRIZE teams are estimating their complete missions will cost between $5 Million and $80 Million including launch, soft landing on the Moon and surface operations...” For all parties concerned, the Money and the Moon are merely symbolic of the great potential privatization of the aerospace sector holds. (10/10)
More Than £3m Invested in UK Space Exploration (Source: Gov.UK)
The UK Space Agency has awarded more than £3 million to UK researchers to support the exploration of life on Mars and examine the polar regions of the Moon. A further £230,000 of funding has been awarded to studies into experiments that could be built and flown to the International Space Station (ISS), which could potentially support future human exploration of space. (10/10)
Luxembourg Sings Agreement with UAE on Space Resource Collaboration (Source: SpaceResources)
The government of Luxembourg signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Arab Emirates on space resources issues. The agreement, signed in Luxembourg Tuesday, covers bilateral cooperation on space issues, with an emphasis on utilization of space resources. That includes plans to "regularly consult on questions of international governance of space" in support of common positions. Luxembourg passed a law earlier this year providing companies there with rights to space resources they extract, while the UAE is also considering space resources legislation. (10/11)
Build on the Outer Space Treaty (Source: Nature)
On 10 October 1967, the Outer Space Treaty went into force. Agreed on during a golden age of cooperation between the then-dominant superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, the treaty deems space a domain to be shared by all nations. It states: “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.”
The treaty gave rise to a series of others that govern space today: the Rescue Agreement (1968), the Liability Convention (1972), the Registration Convention (1976) and the Moon Agreement (1984). Although the United States and Soviet Union declined to sign the Moon Agreement, to avoid having to share lunar resources and technologies, most issues were seemingly covered — liability for damage caused by space objects, the safety and rescue of spacecraft and astronauts, and the rules governing the exploitation of space resources and settling disputes.
A lot has changed since. Launch costs have plummeted — from US$20,000 to send one kilogram into orbit in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries to as little as $5,000 now. And more nations, people, businesses and organizations are seeking to establish themselves in space. 'NewSpace' entities — non-governmental actors, often with commercial interests and financed through personal wealth — are diversifying the space landscape, with motivations ranging from human settlement to economic development. Click here. (10/9)
It’s Time to Reevaluate Export Controls on Commercial Spacecraft (Source: Fair Observer)
As America’s commercial space sector blossoms, opportunities abound for private industry to secure a controlling lead in the growing and globalizing space market. However, the US government, wary of the “dual-use” civil-military nature of space systems, restricts the export of many space technologies through tightly-controlled export lists. As the commercialization of outer space continues, the way the government perceives and controls space technology will need to shift.
With advanced space systems becoming more common in the commercial and international arenas, a reevaluation of space technology export controls is increasingly warranted. These lists should be gradually reformed to lift the constraints on export and overseas use of emerging systems such as commercial crewed spacecraft — with incorporation of careful exceptions that maintain governance over the proliferation of overtly weapon-related technologies.
Stringent export controls is a major point of contention for America’s commercial space sector. Restrictions on the sale and export of space technology enables emerging foreign competitors to develop, sell and capture a significant share of the space system market without American competition. The United States’ industrial competitiveness is weakened as a result, with only marginal national security or foreign policy benefit gained. Click here. (10/10)
Asteroid Flyby Gives NASA Practice for Tracking (Source: Space.com)
A small asteroid made a close flyby of Earth Thursday, providing a test for telescopes designed to track such objects. Asteroid 2012 TC4 passed 42,000 kilometers from the Earth early Thursday. The asteroid, estimated to be 10 to 15 meters across, posed no impact threat to the Earth. The flyby, though, offered a test of various telescope systems used for tracking near Earth asteroids. (10/13)
World's Biggest Radio Telescope Detects Two Pulsars During Trial Run (Source: Newsweek)
The world’s biggest single-dish radio telescope has detected two pulsars during its trial run, scientists have confirmed.
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), located in a rural part of China’s Guizhou province, achieved first light—the first use of a telescope—in September 2016. Once fully operational, the telescope will be used to try to solve some of the universe’s biggest mysteries. One of its primary missions is to detect interstellar communication signals, or, put simply, messages from alien civilizations.
Another primary goal is to observe pulsars—rotating neutron stars. These are some of the densest objects in the universe. They are the remnants of the gravitational collapse of massive stars, cramming about 1.4 solar masses' worth of matter into a sphere measuring just 12 miles across. On Earth, a teaspoon of matter from a neutron star would weigh over 1 billion tons. (10/10)
A Gamma Ray Burst Observed in Unprecedented Detail (Source: IAC)
Gamma ray bursts are among the most energetic and explosive events in the universe. They are so fleeting, lasting from a few milliseconds to about a minute that to observe them accurately has been, until now, a difficult task. Using several ground-based and satellite telescopes, among them the robotic telescope MASTER-IAC, researchers have observed one of these explosions with unprecedented detail.
The event, named GRB160625B, revealed key details about the initial phase of the gamma ray explosion and the evolution of the huge jets of matter and energy which form as a result of it. In a matter of seconds the burst can emit as much energy as the sun during its whole lifetime. For that reason we are very interested to know how these phenomena occur.
The observations revealed some of the unknown details about the process in which a gamma ray explosion evolves while a dying star collapses and turns into a black hole. In the first place the data suggest that the black hole produces a strong magnetic field, which at the beginning controls the jets in which energy is emitted. Then when the magnetic field decays the matter takes control and starts to dominate the jets. (10/13)
Suborbital Flight's Sensors Observe Solar Nanoflare X-Rays (Source: Space.com)
The sun's upper atmosphere may be heated by (relatively) tiny explosions on its surface. Observations of the sun performed during a sounding rocket flight detected powerful x-ray emissions over a region where no flares were visible. Scientists believe that these x-ray emissions are linked to "nanoflares" too small to be seen but each still producing energy equivalent to 10 gigatons of TNT. They could explain why the sun's corona is heated to temperatures of one million degrees Celsius, even though the sun's photosphere is only about 5,500 degrees. (10/10)
Bizarre Dwarf Planet Haumea Has Rings (Source: Scientific American)
Scientists have discovered a ring system around the dwarf planet Haumea. Earlier this year, Haumea passed between Earth and a distant star, allowing planetary scientists to get a better idea of the dwarf planet's shape and size. Haumea is at least twice as long in one direction as it is in the other, which makes it look more like a river rock than a respectable planet. Scientists think Haumea's incredibly fast rotation may have spun it into this shape. A day on Haumea lasts only 4 hours, making it the fastest-spinning large object known to exist in the solar system.
Most surprisingly, the scientists learned that Haumea has rings. The night Haumea crossed in front of the distant star, Santos Sanz and team leader José Luis Ortiz, also of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, looked at the new data. "We started to see something weird in the light curve," Santos Sanz said. The light dimmed just before and after Haumea passed in front of the star, as if something else were obscuring it. (10/11)
Ancient Asteroid Impact Exposes the Moon’s Interior (Source: Purdue University)
Scientists have long assumed that all the planets in our solar system look the same beneath the surface, but a study published in Geology on Oct. 4 tells a different story. “The mantle of the earth is made mostly of a mineral called olivine, and the assumption is usually that all planets are like the Earth,” said Jay Melosh at Purdue University. “But when we look at the spectral signature of rocks exposed deep below the moon’s surface, we don’t see olivine; we see orthopyroxene.”
Around 4 billion years ago, an asteroid collided with the moon and created the largest and deepest impact on the moon: the South Pole-Aitken basin. The collision exposed lunar mantle in the basin and splashed up material onto the far side of the moon.
Melosh’s group used remote sensing to identify what minerals compose the splashed-up material. When sunlight hits the moon, it interacts with materials on the surface; because different materials absorb different wavelengths of light, researchers can tell what materials are on the surface by looking at the reflected signal. (10/4)
Preserving Historic Sites on the Moon (Source: Air & Space)
Michelle Hanlon is the co-founder of For All Moonkind, a nonprofit established in June that seeks to preserve the six Apollo lunar landing sites—including Tranquility Base—by having them classified as world heritage sites. Click here. (10/10)
Meet the X-Ray Visionary Looking for Signs of Life on Mars (Source: WIRED)
Abigail Allwood is a translator. But instead of reading ancient texts, she reads ancient rocks, and for the past decade, the Australian astrobiologist has been exploring the most remote wilderness on earth in search of microscopic fingerprints of life.
She uses a tool called the PIXL, which she invented as a postdoc: It fires a hair’s-width x-ray beam at a rock. That energy stirs up the atoms on the surface, which then shoot back their own distinct x-rays. Combined, those x-rays create finely detailed maps of the rock, potentially revealing the past presence of microbes. She previously used the method to study rocks in Australia’s Pilbara region. "I stood barefoot on a seashore that was formed 3.45 billion years ago,” she says. Click here. (10/9)
NASA Glenn Tests Solar Electric Propulsion Thruster for Journey to Metal World (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA is preparing to travel to a world unlike any other it has visited before. The agency has sent spacecraft to terrestrial planets, gaseous planets, icy moons, and rocky asteroids. Now, following its approval as a Discovery mission in February of this year, a spacecraft set for launch in 2022 will visit the main-belt asteroid Psyche, a metal world that scientists believe is made almost entirely of nickel and iron.
The nickel-iron makeup of Psyche suggests that it may be the exposed core of an early protoplanet, torn apart by hit-and-run collisions during the early history of the Solar System.
“Psyche is a unique body because it is, by far, the largest metal asteroid out there; it’s about the size of Massachusetts,” said David Oh, the mission’s lead project systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) via a news release. “By exploring Psyche, we’ll learn about the formation of the planets, how planetary cores are formed and, just as important, we’ll be exploring a new type of world.” (10/9)
The Missions Proposed for the New Frontiers Program (Source: Space Review)
NASA will select several finalists this fall in the competition for the next New Frontiers medium-class planetary science mission. Van Kane examines what is known about the dozen proposals submitted for missions from the Moon to Saturn. Click here. (10/9)
GAO Addresses Problems with Plutonium Production for NASA Missions (Source: Space News)
A GAO report warns of ongoing challenges to the production of plutonium for NASA missions. The report, released last week and tied to a House space subcommittee hearing, said that current stockpiles of plutonium-238 are sufficient for NASA needs into the mid-2020s. NASA and the Department of Energy have been working to restart production of the isotope, used for power systems for NASA missions, but the GAO report said that DOE needed to overcome several issues in order to meet its goal of producing 1.5 kilograms of plutonium a year by 2025. (10/10)
ASRC Tests 3D-Printed Propellant Injector (Source: Space News)
A Maryland company has tested a 3D-printed component that could be used in future engines. ASRC said it test-fired a subscale propellant injector made using additive manufacturing techniques. The work was supported by a U.S. Air Force contract to fund development of technologies that could be used in engines intended to end reliance on the Russian-built RD-180. It's unclear if the technology will ultimately be used in either Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR1 or Blue Origin's BE-4, the two contenders to be used on United Launch Alliance's Vulcan rocket. (10/10)
Half the Universe’s Missing Matter Has Just Been Finally Found (Source: New Scientist)
The missing links between galaxies have finally been found. This is the first detection of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe – protons, neutrons and electrons – unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space. Our models of the universe also say there should be about twice as much ordinary matter out there, compared with what we have observed so far.
Two separate teams found the missing matter – made of particles called baryons rather than dark matter – linking galaxies together through filaments of hot, diffuse gas. “The missing baryon problem is solved,” says Hideki Tanimura. Because the gas is so tenuous and not quite hot enough for X-ray telescopes to pick up, nobody had been able to see it before. So the two groups had to find another way to definitively show that these threads of gas are really there.
Both teams took advantage of a phenomenon called the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect that occurs when light left over from the big bang passes through hot gas. As the light travels, some of it scatters off the electrons in the gas, leaving a dim patch in the cosmic microwave background – our snapshot of the remnants from the birth of the cosmos. (10/9)
Electric Thrusters Slowly (But Efficiently) Deliver Eutelsat to Intended Orbit (Source: Space News)
The largest commercial satellite to rely exclusively on electric propulsion has made it to its final orbit in record time. Eutelsat-172b, built by Airbus Defence and Space for Eutelsat, arrived at its location in geostationary orbit this week, only about four months after its launch on an Ariane 5. The satellite weighed three and a half tons at launch, and used electric propulsion exclusively to go from its transfer orbit to geostationary orbit. Airbus says that if the spacecraft used conventional chemical propulsion it could have arrived in geostationary orbit in a week, but would have weighed nearly two tons more. (10/13)
New Mexico Company Plans Internet Service for Blue Origin Spaceflight Participants (Source: Space News)
A New Mexico company plans to offer internet access on New Shepard suborbital spaceflights. Solstar Space said it will test its communications system on two flights of Blue Origin's suborbital vehicle next year as part of NASA's Flight Opportunities program. That system, called the Schmitt Space Communicator after Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, will provide internet access for experiments flying on the vehicle, and could be used by future suborbital space tourists as well. (10/11)
DiBello: Space Jam Offers Hope for Technology's Future (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Space Florida is this state’s spaceport authority, not unlike the authority at Orlando International Airport or Port Canaveral. As CEO, it is my job to highlight those areas of Florida’s aerospace industrial and technical capacity to business decision-makers considering the establishment or relocation of new aerospace programs or research projects. Few efforts on behalf of Florida’s economic future are as encouraging as our engagement in an event that occurred in Orlando recently.
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School at Universal Studios hosted the fourth annual Indie Galactic Space Jam. As in previous years, Space Florida was proud to participate. Well more than 100 of the most talented young people in the state, each pursuing difficult technical fields, gathered to have a blast, while at the same time helping to further consolidate this region’s stature as an IT hot spot.
Elon Musk has long identified game development as a critical competency he seeks in the evolution and maturation of SpaceX. Ideally, the growth and continued nurturing of this and other IT proficiencies are helping to transform the perception of the state of Florida and its ability to assure economic success to new and existing businesses well into this still-new century. (10/11)
UCF Students Building Satellite Destined for Space (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
University of Central Florida researchers and their students have started to build a small satellite that will head into space next year to study the process that forms planets. In 2015, NASA funded the project, known as Q-PACE, or CubeSat Particle Aggregation and Collision Experiment. The cubesat will conduct more than 100 experiments while in orbit, with the work expected to be documented using a high-speed camera. The date and vehicle to be used for the launch has not been finalized yet. (10/12)
UCF Football Game Devoted to Space Exploration (Source: UCF)
The University of Central Florida was founded in 1963 as Florida Technological University, with the mission of supporting the growing United States space program at nearby Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The university's motto, “Reach for the Stars,” represented its promising aerospace education in engineering, electronics and other technological professions.
The UCF football team's October 14 game will be dedicated to space exploration and will honor some of the universities space research and researchers. The team's uniform will also feature some space flourishes. Click here. (10/11)
Energy Awareness Month to Focus on Solar Power (Source: NASA)
At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, experts continue to find ways to be more energy efficient and encourage the center's employees to do the same. To highlight these efforts, KSC's Spaceport Integration and Services has set October as Energy Awareness Month.
"We want to not only focus on what we're doing here at Kennedy, but help employees know what they can do on an individual basis," said Nick Murdock, Energy and Water manager at KSC. It's more than simply remembering to turn out the lights when you go home at the end of the day. According to Murdock, Energy Awareness Month will include messages for general energy awareness, speakers and presentations on being more energy aware. (10/2)
International Observe The Moon Night - October 28, 2017 (Source: EarthSky)
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter – with support from NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) and the Lunar and Planetary Institute – are sponsoring an International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) on October 28, 2017. Go to the InOMN website to find information about how to host, register, and evaluate your InOMN event, look for an InOMN event near you, and share pictures and highlights from InOMN. (10/9)
Is Space Cool Again? (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In their day, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were hailed as heroes. They were rock stars. Kids dreamed about walking in their footsteps — literally. There is no doubt that space was cool in the 1950s and '60s, but has the renewed interest in space travel sparked imaginations today? Click here. (10/11)
Spaceflight Federation Welcomes New Board Leadership and Member Companies (Source: CSF)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) has elected new Officers for the 2017-2018 year and approved two new Associate member companies. Dr. Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute was elected for a second term as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company was elected as the board’s Vice-Chair, and Karina Drees, CEO and General Manager of Mojave Air & Space Port, was elected as the CSF Treasurer.
Todd Lindner of Jacksonville Aviation Authority, Tim Hughes of SpaceX, and Taber MacCallum of World View Enterprises were re-elected as Officers of the Board. Bob Richards of Moon Express was elected to serve as a new Officer on the Board. CSF also voted to accept two new Associate members: the University of Colorado Boulder Smead Aerospace, and OneWeb Corporation. (10/12)
Griffin Could Take DOD R&D Post (Source: Defense News)
Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin is under consideration for a Defense Department post. Griffin is said to be the leading candidate to be the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, a new position being created by splitting up the current post of undersecretary of acquisition, technology and logistics. Griffin, who worked at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization in the 1980s, testified on national security space issues last week at the first meeting of the reconstituted National Space Council. (10/10) [Defense News]
Army Concerned with SatComm Security (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Army is concerned its satellite communications systems may be vulnerable to jamming. The Army is looking to the private sector for new products and services to secure satellite communications, after concluding current systems are not able to protect against electronic attacks. An immediate priority, said the general in charge of the Army's Cyber Center of Excellence, is adding anti-jamming capabilities across all its networks, both for communications and for navigation.
The Army is frustrated with the slow pace of modernization of its systems overall, including those that use space capabilities. Speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention Monday, the acting Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff said they are working on the biggest reorganization of the service in 40 years to address threats posed by various countries. That includes, they said, addressing new jamming threats for satellite communications and navigation. (10/10)
Pope to Call ISS (Source: Reuters)
Pope Francis plans to make a call to the heavens — specifically, the International Space Station. The Vatican said Monday that the pope will talk with the station's crew on Oct. 26, but did not disclose what he planned to discuss with the six-person crew. Pope Francis would not be the first pontiff to talk with astronauts on the station: Pope Benedict placed a similar call in 2011. (10/10)
Trump Nominates AccuWeather CEO to Lead Key Climate Agency (Source: Politico)
President Donald Trump has nominated the CEO of AccuWeather to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a key agency in conducting climate research and assessing climate change. Barry Myers has served since 2007 as CEO of AccuWeather, a media company in State College, Pennsylvania, that provides worldwide weather predictions. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in business and received a law degree from Boston University, but has no science training. (10/11)
NASA’s 1st Hispanic Female Flight Director Speaks at GiRL POWER Event (Source: Amarillo.com)
Ginger Kerrick, the first Hispanic female flight director at NASA and a Texas Tech University graduate, was the featured speaker at the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Girl Power. The event is open to girls ages 10 to 13 and their mothers or the female adult in their life.
“We want to empower, educate and prepare young girls for life’s challenges,” said Donna Fansler, executive associate of the Laura W. Bush Institute. GiRL POWER began in 2009 and usually attracts at least 300 girls and mentors. (10/11)
Astronauts Film a Fidget Spinner Trick Video on the ISS (Source: The Verge)
The video features astronauts Mark T. Vande Hei, Joseph Acaba, Randy Bresnik, and Paolo Nespoli spinning a NASA-branded fidget spinner while also spinning themselves in the gravity-free environs of the ISS. There are probably valuable basic physics lessons about friction and Newton’s laws to be gleaned from what they’re doing, but I honestly can’t focus on them because my mind is too affected by the absolutely thumping royalty-free music NASA used for the video. Click here. (10/13)
Out-of-This-World Halloween Party Coming to Kennedy Space Center (Source: Florida Today)
A spooky fusion of space themes and Halloween will take over a conference center at Kennedy Space Center next week. Guests can dress up in costumes, dance and enter into contests during the Saturday, Oct. 21 Celebrate Space party hosted by the National Space Club Florida Committee. Light snacks and a cash bar will be available for the 8 to 11 p.m. event at the Debus Conference Center and Rocket Garden, which is located on Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex property. Tickets are available for $20 per person. Click here. (10/13)
KSC Visitor Complex Game Filled with Errors (Source: The Verge)
A video game at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is designed to teach young people about space exploration, but it’s riddled with factual and typographical errors.
Cosmic Quest, developed by a gaming company called Creative Kingdoms, officially opened at the visitor complex in March 2016. The game costs $19.95, and allows players to “launch a rocket, redirect an asteroid, build a Martian habitat, and perform scientific experiments aboard the International Space Station.” But it doesn’t seem to have been properly vetted.
Cosmic Quest teaches players bad math about the size of solar arrays, and gives false instructions for an important process used to make fuel and water in space. It also screws up the name of a vital chemical element needed to power NASA spacecraft. Among the game’s typos are misspellings of the words “analyze” and “oxide,” and confusing the verb “affect” for the noun “effect.” (10/12)
Sputnik Remembered: The First Race to Space (Source: Space Review)
In the conclusion of his two-part history of the first satellite, Asif Siddiqi discusses the events leading up to the launch of Sputnik and the aftermath of its successful mission. Click here. (10/9)
Satellite Imaging Startup Axelspace: Funding is No Problem For Us Now (Source: Space Intel Report)
Japanese geospatial imaging provider Axelspace, which plans a constellation of 50 100-kilogram medium-resolution optical imaging satellites, says access to capital beyond its successful $17-million first round of funding is not a problem. Yasunori Yamazaki said the company — whose downtown Tokyo offices include a full satellite production facility — has been successful in part because it is already generating revenue from two prototype satellites in orbit.
“We are well-funded, luckily,” Yamasaki said. “We have more [financing] in the pipeline,” Yamasaki said of a future funding round. Axelspace’s 50-satellite satellite constellation is intended to operate in a 600-kilometer orbit with a 2.5-meter ground sampling distance and a 60-kilometer swath width. (10/11)
Raytheon Moves Into Commercial Imaging Market with DigitalGlobe Camera Order (Source: Space News)
DigitalGlobe’s selection of Raytheon Space Systems to manufacture high-resolution imagers for the WorldView Legion constellation shows Raytheon is making headway in its effort to use expertise honed through decades of government work to attract commercial customers. (10/11)
SoftBank: OneWeb is 'Only the First Step' in Connectivity Play (Source: Space Intel Report)
SoftBank’s satellite director said his company’s $1 billion-plus investment in low-orbiting constellation startup OneWeb is just “the first step” in the company’s connectivity strategy. Tetsuji Katayama also said Softbank’s relationship with Intelsat remains strong despite Intelsat bondholders’ rejection of Softbank’s debt-repurchase offer. The bondholder decision did not affect Intelsat’s existing agreements with OneWeb and Softbank. Click here. (10/11)
Iridium Launch Delivers More Harris-Built Aireon Payloads to Space for Air Traffic Management (Source: Aviation Week)
Aireon announced the successful launch and deployment of the third batch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, carrying its space-based automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) payloads. Conducted from Vandenberg Air Force Base with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, this launch has increased the total number of Aireon payloads in orbit to 30.
Another 45 are destined for space in a series of five additional launches planned over the next ten months. Aireon said it is well on its way to become the first to provide global, real-time air traffic surveillance and tracking to air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and aviation stakeholders.
The Aireon payloads from the first two launches, completed on January 14th and June 25th of 2017, have demonstrated the ground-breaking capability to identify aircraft all over world, resulting in more than six billion ADS-B position reports being received in just seven months. (10/11)
SpaceX Seeks FCC Approval to Test Satellite Communications System in Seattle Area (Source: GeekWire)
SpaceX has filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to begin ground testing of a satellite communications system between its facilities in Redmond, Wash., as early as this month.
Redmond is the base of operations for SpaceX’s multibillion-dollar effort to create a 4,425-satellite constellation in low Earth orbit for global broadband internet access and remote imaging. This week’s filing suggests that the company is getting closer to deploying its first prototype satellites. (10/15)
Harris Developing Smaller, More Secure Military SatComm Terminals (Source: Space News)
Secure terminals for military satellite communications are getting smaller. Secure, jam-proof terminals today are typically too large to be carried by forces in the field. Harris Corporation says it's working on terminals the size of a suitcase, and a modem the size of an iPad, that provide anti-jamming capabilities. Work on such systems has taken on new urgency as the Army believes that future battles will involve opponents with more sophisticated technologies to disrupt satellite communications. (10/11)
Honeywell Unveils Plans To Spin Off Pair Of Businesses, Focus on Aerospace (Source: Law360)
Honeywell International Inc. revealed plans Tuesday to spin off its homes product and ADI global distribution business and its transportation systems business, following a strategic portfolio review that came amid pressure from an activist hedge fund. Honeywell said the separation of the businesses, which together account for annualized revenue of about $7.5 billion, into two separate, publicly traded companies is expected to be tax-free to its investors. (10/11)
Donate to SPACErePORT (Source: SPACErePORT)
The SPACErePORT is a free weekly e-newsletter distributed to over 1500 subscribers. It is supplemented by a daily-updated blog (here); a Twitter feed (here) with over 1800 followers; a spaceports-focused LinkedIn Group (here) with over 200 members; and the FastForward supersonic transport LinkedIn Group (here). If you enjoy receiving this stuff, donations are encouraged using the Tip Jar link here. Thanks! (10/16)