Latest Space News
Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:38:00 +0100
The U.S. Air Force Materiel Command has awarded Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) a contract with an initial value of up to $375 million over six years to sustain and modernize the Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System, or AOC WS. Under the contract, Raytheon will update the existing AOC WS baseline software and develop and deploy new software upgrades to improve air and space command and control operations. Air and Space Operations Centers provide a strategic capability for the U.S. Air F...
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 22:05:00 +0100
ViaSat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global broadband services and technology company, today confirmed the scheduled launch date for the ViaSat-2 satellite is June 1, 2017. The ViaSat-2 satellite will launch aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite will be sent into geostationary transfer orbit by the launch vehicle and will provide broadband services from an orbital slot located at 69.9o west longitude. ...
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:00:00 +0100
Vencore, Inc. announced today that it was awarded a prime position on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Multi-Intelligence Analytical and Collection Support Services (MACSS) program. The multiple award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract is valued at $980 million with a performance period of five years. NGA is both a combat support and an intelligence agency of the United States government, with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributi...
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:30:00 +0100
After nearly 13 years in orbit around Saturn, the international Cassini-Huygens mission is about to begin its final chapter: the spacecraft will perform a series of daring dives between the planet and its rings, leading to a dramatic final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on 15 September. On 22 April, Cassini successfully executed its 127th and final close flyby of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The manoeuvre put the spacecraft onto its 'grand finale' trajectory: a series of 22 orbits, each ...
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:15:00 +0100
Thanks to some high-tech improvements, ESA's radio dish in Argentina will be ready to receive the rising torrent of scientific data beamed back by future missions exploring deep in our Solar System. Since 2012, ESA's deep-space tracking station at Malargue, about 1200 km west of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has provided critical links to some of Europe's most important missions, including ExoMars, Mars Express, Gaia and Rosetta. The data-gathering capabilities of upcoming exploration missions ...
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:26:00 +0100
The fifth Lockheed Martin (NYSE-LMT)-built Mobile User Objective System ( MUOS -5) satellite is now delivering secure, beyond-line-of-sight communications to troops with legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radios. The U.S. Navy, working with Army Forces Strategic Command, configured one of MUOS-5's two communications payloads - its legacy UHF payload - to provide additional support for the Navy's legacy UHF satellite communications mission. Today, narrowband UHF communications is used by every ...
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:09:00 +0100
If anything should break in space, let it be records. The astronauts of Expedition 50 have done just that by setting a new record for most time spent on scientific research on the International Space Station. ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, and cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky, Andrei Borisenko and Sergei Ryzhikov clocked a combined 99 hours of science in the week of 6 March. To put this into perspective, astronauts average a 40 hour working week sp...
Sat, 22 Apr 2017 15:45:00 +0100
Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that its CygnusTM spacecraft successfully completed rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station earlier today. Known as OA-7, the mission marks the company's seventh cargo delivery mission under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-1) contract. The OA-7 Cygnus spacecraft is named the "S.S. John Glenn" in keeping with Orbital ATK's tradition to name its Cygnus spacecraft in honor of...
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 11:00:00 +0100
Thanks to social media and the power of citizen scientists chasing the northern lights, a new feature was discovered recently. Nobody knew what this strange ribbon of purple light was, so ... it was called Steve. ESA's Swarm magnetic field mission has now also met Steve and is helping to understand the nature of this new-found feature. Speaking at the recent Swarm science meeting in Canada, Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary explained how this new finding couldn't have happened 20...
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:00:00 +0100
With the help of an automated supernova-hunting pipeline and a galaxy sitting 2 billion light years away from Earth that's acting as a "magnifying glass,'' astronomers have captured multiple images of a Type Ia supernova-the brilliant explosion of a star-appearing in four different locations on the sky. So far this is the only Type Ia discovered that has exhibited this effect. This phenomenon called 'gravitational lensing' is an effect of Einstein's Theory of Relativity-mass bends light. This...
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:29:00 +0100
After a six-hour flight, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos arrived at the International Space Station at 9:18 a.m. EDT Thursday where they will continue important scientific research. The two launched aboard a Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:13 a.m. (1:13 p.m. Baikonur time), orbited Earth four times, and docked at the space station. The arrival of Fischer and Yurchikhin increased the sta...
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:16:00 +0100
This stunning cosmic pairing of the two very different looking spiral galaxies NGC 4302 and NGC 4298 was imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The image brilliantly captures their warm stellar glow and brown, mottled patterns of dust. As a perfect demonstration of Hubble's capabilities, this spectacular view has been released as part of the telescope's 27th anniversary celebrations. Since its launch on 24 April 1990, Hubble has been nothing short of a revolution in astronomy. The fir...
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 00:47:00 +0100
NASA has selected 399 research and technology proposals from 277 American small businesses and 44 research institutions that will enable NASA's future missions into deep space, and advancements in aviation and science, while also benefiting the U.S. economy. The awards have a total value of approximately $49.9 million. The agency received 1,621 proposals in response to its 2017 solicitation for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program...
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 19:00:00 +0100
An exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth may be the new holder of the title "best place to look for signs of life beyond the Solar System". Using ESO's HARPS instrument at La Silla, and other telescopes around the world, an international team of astronomers discovered a "super-Earth" orbiting in the habitable zone around the faint star LHS 1140. This world is a little larger and much more massive than the Earth and has likely retained most of its atmosphere. This, along w...
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:00:00 +0100
The testing of the Launch and Checkout System for the Global Positioning System Next-Generation Operational Control System, known as GPS OCX, scored high with a pass rate of 97.7 percent and is now transitioning from the Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) factory to Schriever Air Force Base. The LCS, which performs early orbit checkout, will next go through complete site-specific qualification and acceptance testing, including qualification and verification of the system's external interfaces and perform...
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:33:00 +0100
Military Satellite Communications Satellite and communication technology has been rapidly evolving in recent years, and show no signs of slowing down. And the same can be said for the ever-changing threat landscape, which is particularly true in the case of military satellite communications. Combatting future threats and enabling the nation's armed forces to succeed requires robust and secure satellite communications. This is why we are organizing the MILSATCOM Summit where top space...
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:23:00 +0100
Madrid -  Thales Alenia Space completes delivery of panels for South Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2 satellites Madrid, April 18, 2017 – Thales Alenia Space has sent South Korea the third of three panels making up the communications payloads on the two GEO-KOMPSAT-2 satellites being built by Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). This last panel will be integrated in the GK2B satellite, and follows the two panels already delivered by the company at the end of last year for the GK2A satellite. ...
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 01:00:00 +0100
This new report, now available on ASDReports, the Governmental Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Solutions Market Report 2017-2027: Leading National Markets, Submarkets (Systems Engineering, Solution Design & Support/COTS Software Solutions & Deployment/Analytical Services & Products), Digital Mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Cloud-Based Geo-Analytics & Geo-Data Exploitation For Defence & Homeland Security indicates that the global GEOINT solutions market will see over $12bn in spen...
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 01:00:00 +0100
This new report, now available on ASDReports, the Aerospace & Defence Telemetry Market 2017-2027: Regional and National Market Forecasts, Leading Companies, and Market by Component (Receiver, Transmitter, Antenna), by Sensor (Global Positioning System, Load Cell, Torque, Weather Prediction, Others) & By Region (North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, RoW) indicates that the global Aerospace and Defence Telemetry market will see $1.9bn in spending in 2017. The lead analyst of the report said: "Th...
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:53:00 +0100
The International Space Station will be capable of dozens of new scientific investigations from NASA and around the world when Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft delivers more than 7,600 pounds of cargo Saturday, April 22. Orbital ATK's seventh cargo delivery flight to the station launched at 11:11 a.m. EDT Tuesday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Expedition 51 astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Spa...
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April 24, 2017

Flat Budgets in Store for NASA (Source: Space News)
NASA is facing the prospect of five years of flat budgets without inflation adjustments, putting the pinch on research funding. At a microgravity research meeting Wednesday, Gale Allen, acting chief scientist at NASA, said the agency has been advised to expect those flat budgets for the next five years, which, without keeping pace with inflation, would result in an effective cut of $3.4 billion over that time. That, she warned, could put pressure on technology development and research programs, which she noted have traditionally been the "bankers" for other programs seeking funding in tough budget times. (4/19)

A Republican Favorite, NASA Escapes Trump’s Budget Ax (Source: Roll Call)
Space exploration was left relatively unscathed when President Donald Trump released his first budget request in March — especially when compared with other science and technology programs. The National Institutes of Health, NOAA, climate change initiatives and energy research were all significantly cut in the budget outline, but NASA funding barely received a scratch with a $19.1 billion line item for fiscal 2018. That proposed 0.8 percent reduction compared to fiscal 2017 annualized levels is a much smaller decrease than the proposed changes to the other science programs.

When compared with former President Barack Obama’s last budget request, which asked Congress to appropriate $18.3 billion during fiscal 2017, the Trump request actually represents an $800 million increase. So, then, why? A simple answer is that NASA enjoys strong support from key Republican appropriators as well as GOP congressional leadership, even if Trump has not said much in the past about the space agency. (4/18)

National Marches for Science and Climate Include Florida Events (Source: Florida Today)
Our new president seems to be following a path in favor of fake news and science denial. He has awakened a global protest movement against his fake science, fake facts and numerous outright lies. It has culminated in a People’s March for Science scheduled for April 22 in Washington, D.C., and nationwide. In Brevard County, a march begins at 11 a.m. at the American Space Museum at 308 Pine Street in Titusville. At 1 p.m. the march moves to Space View Park, where topics will include the science behind the space program.

It will stress the need for using real science to guide us into a safer future. April 29 brings another big national event, the People’s Climate March, sponsored by the climate change organization 350.org. These are welcome events, planned to counter the fake news and fake science so widely affecting current politics. (4/21)

Scientists, Feeling Under Siege, March Against Trump Policies (Source: New York Times)
Thousands of scientists and their supporters, feeling increasingly threatened by the policies of President Trump, gathered Saturday in Washington under rainy skies for what they called the March for Science, abandoning a tradition of keeping the sciences out of politics and calling on the public to stand up for scientific enterprise.

As the marchers trekked shoulder-to-shoulder toward the Capitol, the street echoed with their calls: “Save the E.P.A.” and “Save the N.I.H.” as well as their chants celebrating science, “Who run the world? Nerds,” and “If you like beer, thank yeast and scientists!” Some carried signs that showed rising oceans and polar bears in peril and faces of famous scientists like Mae Jamison, Rosalind Franklin and Marie Curie, and others touted a checklist of the diseases Americans no longer get thanks to vaccines.

Its organizers were motivated by Mr. Trump, who as a presidential candidate disparaged climate change as a hoax and cast suspicions on the safety of vaccines. Their resolve deepened, they said, when the president appointed cabinet members who seemed hostile to the sciences. He also proposed a budget with severe cuts for agencies like the National Institutes of Health — which would lose 18 percent of their funding in his blueprint — and the Environmental Protection Agency, which faces a 31 percent budget cut and the elimination of a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 employees. (4/22)

How President Trump Could Jumpstart Space Settlements (Source: Federalist)
If President Trump wants to truly lead the United States and world into the exploration and settlement of the solar system, he needs to do something different and game-changing. He also needs to shift the federal government’s focus away from building spaceships and rockets and towards its much more basic legal responsibilities, especially when its citizens wish to establish their mark in new territories. Click here. (4/18)

Which Comes First for a New National Space Council: Organization or Vision? (Source: Space Review)
As the Trump Administration continues to show interest in reestablishing the National Space Council, many wonder what such an entity can achieve. Roger Handberg argues that it will depend if the council is preceded by an overarching vision for the country’s space policy. Click here. (4/17) 

Trump to Call ISS (Source: NASA)
Astronaut Peggy Whitson will celebrate breaking a spaceflight record on the ISS Monday with a call from President Trump. The president, along with Ivanka Trump and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, plan to call Whitson Monday when she breaks the NASA record of 534 cumulative days in space. NASA and the Department of Education plan to encourage classrooms across the country to tune in to the call on NASA TV. (4/19)

An Alternative Architecture for Deep Space Exploration Using SLS and Orion (Source: Space Review)
NASA has started to disclose more details about how the Space Launch System and Orion can be used in the 2020s to develop a “gateway” in cislunar space to support operations of a transport vehicle for missions eventually to Mars. Ari Allyn-Feuer explains some issues with that architecture and proposes an alternative, and potentially more effective, approach. Click here. (4/17)

NASA Rocket Engineers Torture SLS Parts in Key Structural Tests (Source: Huntsville Times)
The center leading development of NASA's new deep space rocket brought reporters to watch from the control room one of the first structural tests qualifying parts of SLS for flight.  Under way are tests of the adapters that connect the upper stage of the new rocket to the core stage and the Orion capsule to the upper stage. Also in the test stack is the cryogenic propulsion stage that will lift Orion further into space after the core boosters get it off the ground.

The hardware mounted on one of several new test stands built at Marshall for SLS mimics the upper half of the rocket minus the Orion capsule. All of the test hardware was built at Marshall and nearby Decatur. A system of 28 pistons plays the part of the atmosphere by squeezing, twisting and bending the test pack. Attached to all of this are 1,900 sensors feeding floods of data through more than 100 miles of cable between test stand and control room. (4/20)

NASA Set an Ignominious Record Last Week (Source: Ars Technica)
No humans have launched into space from US soil for more than five years, when space shuttle Atlantis made its final voyage. Since that spacecraft landed on July 21, 2011, a total of 2,098 days have passed. Former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale noted on Twitter Tuesday that this gap has now surpassed the previous longest US spaceflight gap—2,089 days—which occurred between the end of the Apollo program and the first space shuttle mission. (4/18)

New Commercial Crew Vehicles Could Serve As Space Station 'Lifeboats' (Source: Space.com)
New commercial crew spacecraft for the International Space Station will be able to do more than just carry astronauts to the orbiting lab: They will also serve as temporary shelters, or even fly crew home, if there is an emergency in space, according to NASA. Currently, in dangerous situations, such as when a piece of orbital debris threatens the space station, crewmembers take shelter in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. 

And if a medical emergency were to arise that could not be handled in orbit, the crew would head back to Earth in the Soyuz craft. The SpaceX Dragon and the Boeing CST-100 commercial crew spacecraft are both set to start crewed flights as early as next year, and NASA is working to ensure that these new spacecraft will serve most of the Russian spacecraft's protective functions, agency officials said

"The scenarios that would call for the spacecraft to operate as space-borne lifeboats have not occurred on the International Space Station before, but mission planners have long made sure they are prepared," NASA officials added.  "An electrical issue or ammonia leak on the space station could call for astronauts to shelter inside a Commercial Crew Program spacecraft long enough to correct the problem." (4/21)

Senate Hearing to Focus on Expanding US Free Enterprise in Space (Source: Senate Commerce Committee)
The Senate will hold a hearing next week on "expanding American free enterprise in space." The hearing next Wednesday, by the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, will include as witnesses the heads of Bigelow Aerospace, Blue Origin, Made In Space and Virgin Galactic. The hearing is intended in part to examine "potential regulatory barriers" that could be addressed in future bills. (4/20)

Let's Shoot for the Moon - Yes, Again...This Time for Economic Development (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The ink was not yet dry on the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced that he was going to work on a new NASA Authorization bill that will chart a long-term course for the space agency. Speaking to the Commercial Space Federation in Washington, D.C., last month, Cruz also said he will work on a new commercial space transportation bill that will build on the success of the 2015 Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. 

Cruz, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space, will be in the position to determine where and, almost as important, how and why America will go into space for the foreseeable future. He also will be able to correct some of the mistakes of the past that have hampered the American civil space program for the past 10 or so years. (4/22)

Factories of the Future Could Float in Space (Source: Popular Science)
This past summer, a plane went into a stomach-churning ascent and plunge 30,000 feet over the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was not thrill-seeking, but something more genuinely daring: for about 25 seconds at a time, the parabolic flight lifted the occupants into a state of simulated weightlessness, allowing a high-tech printer to spit out cardiac stem cells into a two-chambered, simplified structure of an infant’s heart.

Impressive though this may be, it’s just a brick in the road toward an even bolder goal. Executives at nScrypt (the makers of the stem cell printer), Bioficial Organs (the ink provider), and Techshot (who thought up the heart experiment) are planning to print beating heart patches aboard the International Space Station by 2019. The printer will fly up on a commercial rocket.

Private spaceflight companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX have been criticized as vanity projects for plutocrats surfing on taxpayer investments. But the emergence of these companies has led to nose-diving prices for sending goods and equipment into space. (4/15)
 
US Versus UN – Asteroid Mining (Source: ERAU Avion)
Asteroid mining is the extraction of valuable resources from asteroids in outer space. While the idea of asteroid mining is not particularly new, with the first written reference found in the 1898 book “Edison’s Conquest of Mars,” by Garrett Serviss, the idea did not gain real traction in the scientific community until recently.

The interest in asteroid mining is not limited to scientists, however, since at least two US companies are currently researching the idea and its feasibility. Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries are two notable American companies that are exploring asteroid mining.

The interest is so high that the United States recently passed a law that contains an article that directly concerns asteroid mining and legalizes it. This law is the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA), which was signed into law by President Obama in 2015. (4/18)

'Friends of NASA Plumbrook' Make Case for Continued Funding (Source: Sandusky Register)
Each year, the Friends of NASA Plum Brook make personal visits to the Ohio congressional delegation in Washington in addition to visiting with our state lawmakers in Columbus. We recently returned from our seventh annual trip to Washington to advocate on behalf of the unique, world class aerospace testing done here.

When the organization was first formed, the objective of our visits was very simple. Plum Brook was unknown to many of our lawmakers. Our job was to educate them about the importance of the station and why it makes sense to fund its parent, the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

There is a constant threat to federal facilities. Those that are forgotten, or are unable to justify their existence, face uncertain futures. We never ask for funding without making a compelling reason why. The testing that takes place at Plum Brook is beneficial to national security and mission safety — and it actually saves tax dollars. (4/17)

Midland TX Praised for Cooperation on Radar Facility (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
What started several years ago as a prototype made of PVC pipe and chicken wire has become reality, thanks to a bit of help from the Midland Development Corp. and the city of Midland. A small ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday at the MDC offices to officially celebrate the completion of LeoLabs’ Midland Space Radar, located on city-owned property in Winkler County known as the T-Bar Ranch.

The radar is the first in the worldwide network LeoLabs is looking to build to map space debris hurtling around in low Earth orbit. “We’re building a worldwide radar network to act as infrastructure for the entire global space community,” CEO Dan Ceperley said. “The Midland Space Radar is the first radar built to provide commercial tracking services. It’s the first radar we built as a company.”

There is a lot of space debris in low Earth orbit, and it threatens to damage multimillion-dollar satellites if collisions occur. Even a piece of junk the size of a dime can ruin equipment. The MDC board in September 2016 agreed to enter into a promotional agreement with LeoLabs for $60,000 to be paid in equal installments over the course of five years. Ceperley said the partnership and project moved quickly because the MDC is in tune with the needs of space startups. (4/18)

On Key Controversial Issues, Hawaii Not as Divided as it Appears (Source: Hawaii News Now)
A new poll sheds light on some of the most controversial issues facing the state, and shows opinions aren't as divided as some might think. When it comes to the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, 72 percent of likely voters said they supported it. On the Big Island, 68 percent of residents said they favored it, 15 percent more than two years ago. (4/19)

New Mexico Company Plans Aerospike Rocket Launch From Virginia Next Year (Source: KRQE)
Throughout history, no rocket that blasted off from earth has ever made it into orbit without using at least one separate booster to help get its payload there. ARCA Space Corporation in Las Cruces hopes to make some history a year from now when they launch their first Haas 2CA rocket from Wallops Island, VA and place a small satellite into orbit, using no separate booster stages.

The idea of designing revolutionary space vehicles has been a dream for ARCA founder Dumitru Popescu since creating ARCA during his days as an aerospace engineering student in Bucharest, Romania in 1998. “Since then, our clear goal was to build space rocket, and rockets that are able to put satellites into orbit and someday, even people into orbit,” he said.

For propulsion, the Hass 2CA uses an old idea that NASA and the military explored decades ago. It’s s called a linear aerospike engine. ARCA also does away with cryogenic fuels, the traditional super-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen used by many space vehicles today. Instead, the Haas 2CA will use kerosene and hydrogen peroxide, which do not need to be kept cold. Between the engine and the fuels, Popescu says his engine is 30 percent more fuel efficient than today’s traditional engines. (4/18)

Arizona-Based Vector Surging Ahead on All Fronts (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
Vector Space Systems is hurtling ahead on all fronts as it moves to build out its Tucson rocket factory and start commercial rocket launches as soon as next year. Opened just last year, Vector is building small rockets to launch a growing class of micro-satellites into orbit. In just the past month or so, the company has raised millions of dollars from investors, prepared to pick a builder for its planned rocket factory south of Tucson International Airport and has identified possible future launch sites including Cape Canaveral.

Vector is looking to raise a total of around $50 million from investors to get the company going. Most recently, Vector raised $4.5 million in capital in a bridge round of funding ahead of a Series A investment round of $15 million to $20 million, which is expected to close in a couple of months, Cantrell said. 

During a visit to Florida’s Cape Canaveral in March, the company placed a mockup of its Vector-R rocket in the NASA Now exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The company also announced in late March that it will conduct a suborbital test flight of the Vector-R rocket this summer in Camden County, Georgia, on the coast near the Florida border. The county is still working to win approval for launches from the Federal Aviation Administration. Click here. (4/22) 

ULA Atlas Lifts Cygnus for Orbital ATK (Source: CBS)
ULA successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft on an Atlas 5 this morning. The launch of the Cygnus, on a mission designated OA-7, flew from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The Cygnus is carrying more than 3,400 kilograms of cargo for the station, and will arrive at the station Saturday. (4/18)

NASA Decision Could Shift More Virginia Antares Launches to Florida Atlas Launches (Source: Space News)
Orbital ATK could launch future Cygnus missions on Atlas 5 vehicles depending on NASA's needs. The company's follow-on cargo contract with NASA gives the agency the option of choosing to launch Cygnus spacecraft on either the Atlas 5 or its own Antares rocket. Orbital ATK expects to hear from NASA "soon" about the mix of vehicles it wants to use on that contract.

Orbital ATK originally planned to launch all its Cygnus missions on its current contract on the Antares, but an October 2014 failure led it to use the Atlas 5 for two missions. It selected the Atlas 5 for this mission, despite having returned the Antares to flight last fall, in order to meet NASA needs for additional cargo. (4/18)

SpaceX Next Up on Eastern Range with Falcon 9 NRO Launch (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX is next up at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport as it targets April 30 for the launch of a classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite. A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch with NROL-76, the first dedicated SpaceX mission for the NRO, during a two-hour window that opens at 7 a.m. A first stage landing at the spaceport is expected shortly after liftoff. (4/21)

SpaceX's Next Launch to Mark Start of New Era (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
An upcoming launch of a government spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office will mark the first time the U.S. Department of Defense has used SpaceX for a mission. For at least the last six years, that arena has been the exclusive domain of competitor United Launch Alliance, which also launches regularly from Florida.

The satellite is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than April 30. The NRO revealed in May that it had awarded SpaceX the upcoming launch. The mission will reflect a new area of competition for SpaceX and ULA, two of the main launch providers from the Space Coast. That could mean more business for Florida.

“This satellite was going to launch from Florida anyway,” said Dale Ketcham, Space Florida’s chief of strategic alliances. “But it reflects more competition. That will drive down prices and could result in it being cheaper to get into space, meaning more launches. Competition is a good thing.” (4/19)

How the US is Gearing Up as Fear of a Space War Mounts (Source: CNBC)
Tapping Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch some of its satellites is only the beginning in a larger top-to-bottom rethink of the way the U.S. Air Force approaches its operations in space. Air Force officials want to move faster when addressing emerging threats and future missions in orbit, and it's increasingly looking to start-ups to address a deepening sense that America's dominance in space is eroding. Click here. (4/20) 

Time for the U.S. Air Force to Prepare for Preemption in Space (Source: War is Boring)
There are few strategic concepts as hotly debated as anticipatory self-defense—or preemption. This is particularly the case when considering military action in space. As Colin Gray observes above, preemption should not be considered controversial, because it is based upon hundreds of years of customary international law.

Despite this historic precedence, the United States still has much to do before preemption in space is, in fact, a viable means of protecting national interests. These discussions are especially needed as space grows more contested, degraded and operationally limited. While being perhaps counterintuitive, developing the concepts of preemption well before conflict occurs enhances deterrence and promotes international peace and stability.

Specifically, America needs a better understanding of what is occurring in space, what constitutes a hostile action or intent, and a fully developed plan for discussing preemption with the international community to make preemption a viable strategic option. (4/22)

Terrifying North Korean Missiles are Fake and Were Wobbling During Parade (Source: News.com.au)
Terrifying new missiles proudly unveiled in a parade by North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un may be fake, experts claim. The weapons, unveiled during a parade marking 105 years since the state’s found Kim Il-sung was born, caused fears around the world that the secretive nation’s nuke program is far more advanced than previously thought.

But Chad O’Carroll, managing director of specialist service NK News, expressed doubts after seeing the nose cone of one of the final group of missiles “wobbled quite noticeably”, reports The Sun. And Lee Il-Woo, a senior analyst at the private Korea Defence Network, told AFP: “I suspect they all might be mock-ups aimed to impress the outside world.” (4/17)

North Korea's Missile Launch 'May Have Been Thwarted by US Cyber Attack' (Source: Sydney Morning Herald)
North Korea's botched missile test on Sunday may have been disrupted by a secretive US program of cyber and electronic warfare designed to sabotage launches. The attempted test, and a weekend parade of Pyongyang's military hardware, prompted international condemnation and an American promise of further action if the hermit state failed to end its provocations.

It came as the US's national security adviser confirmed for the first time that Washington was working with China to rein in North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang spent the weekend showing off its arsenal of ballistic missiles alongside thousands of goose-stepping troops in a military parade. But the regime suffered a humiliating setback when a test-launched medium-range missile exploded four to five seconds into its flight. Its destruction raised immediate suspicions that it had fallen victim to sabotage.

"It could have failed because the system is not competent enough to make it work, but there is a very strong belief that the US - through cyber methods - has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail," Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, told the BBC. (4/17)

Washington Continues Space Cooperation with Moscow (Source: Tass)
"Despite political disagreements, which we are all aware of, we keep working hard to continue the cooperation," said US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, who visited the Flight Control Center in the town of Korolyov near Moscow to watch the launch of the Russian Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. He also said that the two countries should continue to work together as they explored the future. (4/20)

Capsule Carrying American and Russian Astronauts Blasts Off (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A Soyuz space capsule blasted off Thursday for the International Space Station, carrying an American astronaut making his first space flight and a veteran Russian cosmonaut. NASA's Jack Fischer and Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin lifted off from the Russia-leased launch facility in Kazakhstan. They reached orbit about nine minutes later. They were to travel six hours before docking at the space station. (4/20)

No, Russia Isn’t Sending a Terminator Robot to ISS (Source: Ars Technica)
The reports this weekend were breathless. Mashable said Russia was sending a "death dealing" robot with the power to shoot guns to the International Space Station. Pravda reported that the Russian cyborg, Fyodor, had frightened the West. It was like the Terminator, only in space, and only for reals.

In reality, probably not. The stories were written after the Russian deputy prime minister overseeing military and space activities, Dmitry Rogozin, posted on Facebook and Twitter about the country's humanoid robot, Fyodor. Rogozin was proud that the robot had demonstrated the ability to shoot from both hands. "Fine motor skills and decision-making algorithms are still being improved," he tweeted. (4/17)

The Roscosmos View of the Future of Human Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
There’s been considerable speculation about Russia’s plans for the future of the ISS as well as potential participation in missions to the Moon and Mars. Jeff Foust reports on what the head of Roscosmos recently said about those issues in a rare press conference with Western reporters. Click here. (4/17)
 
Slow Going in Kazakhstan for Russian Baiterek Partnership (Source: Space Daily)
The director of the joint Kazakh-Russian enterprise JSC Baiterek said that the creation of a carrier rocket for the joint Russian-Kazakh Baiterek Space Complex at the Baikonur cosmodrome will approximately cost Russia $500 million, while the Kazakh side will finance the modernization of the existing facilities at the cosmodrome.

The creation of a carrier rocket for the joint Russian-Kazakh Baiterek Space Complex at the Baikonur cosmodrome will approximately cost Russia $500 million, while the Kazakh side will finance the modernization of the existing facilities at the cosmodrome, Oleg Balitsky, the director of the joint Kazakh-Russian enterprise JSC Baiterek, said.

Russia and Kazakhstan have been implementing the Baiterek project since 2004. The project prescribes the construction of the infrastructure which will allow to launch environmentally friendly rocket carriers, instead of Proton rocket carriers, which use fuel with toxic components. (4/19)

Slow Going in India for Human Spaceflight (Source: PTI)
More than a decade after Indian scientists recommended the country pursue human spaceflight, its space agency has made little progress. At a November 2006 meeting organized by the Indian space agency ISRO, scientists recommended that the country develop a human spaceflight capability. In the intervening decade, though, ISRO has made little progress on such a program beyond demonstrating some technologies for spacecraft reentry. The head of ISRO said that satellite programs to provide communications and other services remain a higher priority. (4/19)

India Plans Moon Mining by 2030 to Meet Energy Needs (Source: Live Mint)
From launching 104 satellites at one go, enabling commercial roll out of lithium-ion batteries, to taking the lead in providing energy security, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is firing on all cylinders. Apart from planning for manned missions to Moon, Mars and even aircraft development, ISRO is now working on a plan to help India meet its energy needs from the Moon by 2030.

The premier space agency, credited with launching 225 satellites till date, plans to mine Helium-3 rich lunar dust, generate energy and transport it back to Earth. This lunar dust mining plan comes in the backdrop of India’s plan to cut down import dependence in hydrocarbons by 10 percentage points by 2022. India’s energy demand growth is expected to outpace that of the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, according to the latest BP Energy Outlook.

ISRO’s success on this front will also help reduce pollutants and India’s fuel imports. This assumes significance given India’s energy import bill of around $150 billion, which is expected to reach $300 billion by 2030. India imports around 80% of its oil and 18% of its natural gas requirements. India imported 202 million tonnes of oil in 2015-16. (4/20)

ISRO Is Not Going to Mine the Moon for Helium-3 (Source: The Wire)
On April 20, 2017, Livemint reported that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has plans to mine helium-3 from the Moon to help manage India’s energy needs. Even if we supposed that it did, they would be grossly premature. There is neither the technology anywhere in the world to use helium-3 to generate energy nor are the legal and logistical hurdles fully understood.

The report is referring to comments made by the noted space scientist Sivathanu Pillai at the Observer Research Foundation’s Kalpana Chawla Space Policy Dialogue 2017, held in New Delhi in February. Those who attended the conference say that Pillai had said mining helium-3 from the Moon was possible – but that he didn’t say anything about ISRO planning to do it. (4/22)

India Plans Joint Venture Approach to PSLV Rocket Production (Source: PTI)
India's space agency is planning to develop a joint venture with industry to produce launch vehicles. The joint venture, which would involve up to half a dozen companies and many more subcontractors, would build the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles that have become the workhorse for the Indian space program. The first PSLV launch by that joint venture is planned for 2020 or 2021. (4/17)

India's Next Rocket Will Be a Game Changer (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
The Indian Space Research Organization plans to undertake next month the first developmental flight of a “game changer” rocket capable of launching 4,000-kg satellites from the Sriharikota spaceport, its chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said. ISRO’s rockets can currently launch satellites weighing up to 2.2 tonnes; it depends on international launchers for heavier satellites.

“Next month, we have scheduled the launch of GSLV-Mk III-D1,” Mr Kumar said. The second developmental flight could come within a year. “By the time two developmental flights are over, we will be working towards more launches so that it (GSLV-Mk III) becomes operational,” he said. ISRO views operationalization of this rocket as a “game changer” for it, he said. (4/20)

Japan Plans Several More Launches This Year (Source: Nikkei)
Japan plans a record number of launches in its new fiscal year. The Japanese space agency JAXA has eight launches scheduled for the 2017 fiscal year that started April 1, which would break the record of six set in fiscal year 2016. The first of those launches, an H-2A carrying a Michibiki navigation satellite, is scheduled for June 1. Other launches include satellites for climate change studies and reconnaissance and a cargo spacecraft to the ISS. (4/17)

International Coalition Set Up to Promote Space Cooperation (Source: Xinhua)
A coalition was established Sunday in northwest China's Shaanxi Province to promote innovation and cooperation on space exploration under the Belt and Road Initiative. The coalition, set up in the provincial capital of Xi'an, encompasses 48 universities, research institutes and academic organizations at home and abroad. It was initiated by the Chinese Society of Astronautics and Xi'an-based Northwestern Polytechnical University.

Tian Yulong, secretary-general of China National Space Administration, said the alliance will boost exchanges on space innovation between its members and help joint training of high-caliber professionals. China designated April 24 as Space Day last year to mark the anniversary of the country's first satellite launch Dongfanghong-1 in 1970. Xi'an, home to more than 200 aerospace research centers and enterprises, will hold major celebrations on Monday. (4/22)

China Launches to Space Station (Source: GB Times)
China launched its first cargo resupply spacecraft Thursday on a mission to test docking and refueling technologies. A Long March 7 rocket lifted off from the Wenchang spaceport and placed the Tainzhou-1 spacecraft into orbit. The spacecraft, the first in a new line of spacecraft designed to eventually support a Chinese space station, will dock with the uncrewed Tiangong-2 laboratory module in orbit to test automated docking technologies and refueling of the lab module by the cargo spacecraft. Tianzhou-1 also carries experiments it will perform for three months after completing initial docking and refueling tests. (4/20)

Africa Looks to Space to Power its Science, Tech, and Military Ambitions (Source: Quartz)
In January, Ethiopia became the latest African nation to look skyward and declare its ambitions in space. The country’s ministry of science and technology announced that it will launch a satellite into orbit in three to five years to better develop its weather-monitoring capabilities. This follows the 2015 launch of a privately-funded, multi-million dollar astronomical observatory in the Entoto hills overlooking Addis Ababa—the only one of its kind in the region.

That bigger picture is a realization among African countries of the value space technology holds for economic development, job creation—and military aspirations. Many African nations lack the human expertise or capital to fund these projects.

But for those that do, information gleaned from satellites has the potential to improve agriculture, guard tropical forests from deforestation, forestall climate change, improve disaster planning, and provide internet to rural communities. These investments can also offset the long-term costs of purchasing and maintaining satellites from foreign governments. (4/18)

Australia’s Back in the Satellite Business with a New Launch (Source: The Conversation)
The first Australian-built satellites to be launched in 15 years took off this week from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Unlike the enormous satellites Australia uses for telecommunications, each of these new satellites is the size of a loaf of bread. But although small, they may provide a key step in enabling Australia’s entry into the global satellite market.

Three types of cubesats are the Australian contribution to the international QB50 mission, in which 36 satellites from different institutions around the world will carry instruments provided by the Von Karman Institute (VKI) to examine the lower thermosphere. This is a very interesting part of the atmosphere for several reasons, such as the way it disturbs GPS measurements. (4/17)

First Look Inside NASA’s New Australian Deep Space Complex (Source: news.com.au)
In a valley near Canberra is a hidden complex that will help land the first people on Mars. The Deep Space Communication Complex, operated by the CSIRO on behalf of NASA, is now home to seven satellite dishes, two command centers and a museum, sprawled out over 157 hectares of land in a lush green valley, about 45km south west of Australia’s capital city.

Streets that run through the site have space themed names. Access to the compound, which is mostly restricted to the public, is via a long and winding road through immaculate countryside where sheep-dotted hilltops touch the clouds and Autumn leaves flitter around freshwater lakes. But the location of the complex — on land leased by the ACT government — was not chosen for its beauty. 

The hills surrounding the valley shield it from “line of sight radio noise” caused by electronics including mobile phones and televisions. This noise has the potential to interfere with signals transmitted between the satellite dishes and space crafts “hundreds of billions of kilometers away”. Mobile phones on site must be switched to ‘flight mode’. A ‘no-fly’ zone for aircraft is in place with the exclusion area spanning 15km. Click here. (4/21) 

Israel’s Space Program Innovates to Beat Geopolitical Struggles (Source: Red Herring)
Israel has long had to combat politics with innovation. The nation, which in recent years has become known as ‘Silicon Wadi’, has spun out some of the world’s best high-tech firms in fields like cybersecurity and agriculture, that have grown directly as a result of its many geopolitical binds.

Few industries have faced as stark a showdown as Israel’s space program. Conventional rocket launches, for example, are directed with the rotation of the earth to save fuel. Such launches would put Israel’s craft in the airspace of Iran, a longtime enemy, which has vowed to blow any Israeli objects out of the sky.

With regards to the satellites those rockets almost always carry, Israel has also become a world leader. Israel has made its satellites smaller, and smarter, than the majority of the competition. Nanosatellites have become so commonplace that this month a team of Israeli high-school kids built a 4lb device launched as part of the EU’s QB50 thermosphere research program. (4/20)

Israeli Finalist in Google’s $20 Million Moon Race Won’t Make it to the Starting Line (Source: Quartz)
The Google Lunar XPrize, a contest offering $20 million to the first private team to send a robot to the moon—and explore the lunar surface for the first time since China’s space agency landed a rover in 2014—is now down to four competitors with just over eight months until the race comes to an end.

SpaceIL, formed by veterans of the Israeli tech sector, will not be able to launch by the year-end deadline set by the race’s organizers, according to Spaceflight Industries, the space transport company hired to carry the team’s spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket launch it purchased from SpaceX. A Spaceflight executive tells Quartz that SpaceIL’s rocket is still in the launch queue but will be unable to launch before 2018, effectively scotching SpaceIL’s chance at the contest barring a last-minute extension to the deadline. (4/21)

Brits Could Launch Into Space from Wales in Just 3 Years (Source: Daily Mail)
Tourists wanting to holiday in space could be set to blast off in just three years from a remote field in Wales. Mission chiefs see sleepy Snowdonia as the UK's answer to Cape Canaveral in Florida - and have drawn up plans to make it the country's first spaceport. They say the destination is leading Britain's space race and could be ready to launch commercial trips to space in 2020. (4/17)

UK Spaceport Backers in Investor Talks (Source: Newquay Voice)
The body behind the plans to establish a spaceport at Cornwall Airport Newquay is in talks with four potential investors. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is looking to secure funding from partners as it prepares to capture a share of the £25 billion global spaceflight launch market.

Aerohub Enterprise Zone manager, Miles Carden, is holding the discussions following the Government inviting joint bids from potential Spaceport launch sites and space vehicle system operators to set up the UK’s first commercial spaceport by 2020. There is up to £10 million being made available from the Government to make the UK the first place in Europe where commercial space operators can launch small satellites into orbit and offer spaceplane flights for science and tourism.

Cornwall’s bid will be seeking up to £10 million of investment to upgrade facilities, which would include a Spaceplane Systems Integration Facility comprising a hangar and clean rooms to cater for satellite and future flight technologies. The LEP is leading Cornwall’s bid to establish Spaceport Cornwall across two sites at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Earth Station, which together offer an “unrivaled” combination of horizontal launch, monitoring and tracking facilities. (4/21)

Brexit Raises Question Mark Over UK’s Role in Some European Space Projects (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The future participation of major segments of Britain’s space industry in Europe’s Galileo navigation system and Copernicus environmental network, two multibillion-dollar flagship programs with dozens of satellites, is sure to be a significant part of negotiations as the UK withdraws from the European Union, according to a member of the European Commission.

European officials want to rely on producers within the European Union for the block’s major programs, according to Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the European Commission’s senior space official. Britain’s departure from the EU could leave some of the country’s space companies locked out of the Galileo and Copernicus programs, officials said.

Britain’s future role in space projects managed by the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is “one chapter of the negotiations that will be really important for the UK, from their perspective, because they have quite a powerful industry and they participate in our programs,” Bieńkowska said. (4/15)

Canadian Spaceport Project Hinges on Moose Count (Source: The Chronicle Herald)
Before you launch a rocket, you need to count the moose. Maritime Launch Services, the company that hopes to build a spaceport on a parcel of Nova Scotia land that juts into the ocean, must first complete an environmental review — including counting seasonal numbers of local flora and fauna — before the province agrees to the project.

“We’ve hired a contractor to help us do the study,” MLS president Steve Matier said Monday. “We could conceivably complete that effort at the end of this year... It’s part of the process, and it’s understood. We had a fair sense of what we were getting into.” (4/18)

Arianespace Wins Intelsat Launch Contract (Source: Arianespace)
Arianespace announced a launch contract Thursday with an Intelsat-Sky Perfect JSAT joint venture. Intelsat said it will launch the Horizons 3e satellite for Horizons, the joint venture of Intelsat and Sky Perfect JSAT, on an Ariane 5 in late 2018. The Boeing-built 6,500-kilogram satellite will provide high-throughput communications as part of Intelsat's EpicNG network. (4/21)

Intelsat Extends Deadline Toward Merger Plans with OneWeb (Source: Reuters)
Intelsat is extending a deadline for a debt exchange in order to keep alive a planned merger with OneWeb. Sources said Thursday that the company planned to extend the deadline for bondholders to exchange current bonds with new ones until mid-May. The debt exchange was due to expire late Thursday, but Intelsat confirmed early Friday that it has extended the deadline to May 10. The company required at least 85 percent of current bondholders to participate in the exchange, which is tied to the company's planned merger with OneWeb, but some observers speculate existing bondholders may be holding out for a better deal. (4/20)

Planet Confirms Google Stake as Terra Bella Deal Closes (Source: Space News)
As Planet announced it has completed its acquisition of rival satellite imaging company Terra Bella April 18, it confirmed that Google is now a shareholder in Planet as part of that deal. Planet announced Feb. 3 that it had reached an agreement with Google to acquire Terra Bella. Google had purchased Terra Bella, then known as Skybox Imaging, in 2014 for an estimated $500 million. At the time, both Planet and Google declined to disclose the terms of the deal other than that Google signed a multi-year deal to purchase imagery from Planet.

The deal, though, was rumored to include Google taking a stake in Planet. In an April 18 blog post announcing that the deal had closed, Planet co-founder and chief executive Will Marshall confirmed that. “We’re also delighted to welcome Google as a shareholder and customer,” he wrote. (4/19)

Spaceflight Key In Big Data’s $1 Trillion Economic Impact (Source: Aviation Week)
Planet Labs has achieved its long-awaited “Mission 1” with the launch of 88 tiny “Dove” satellites in one liftoff on Feb. 14 (see video). Now the classic Silicon Valley garage startup can update its imagery of every spot on Earth, every day. The “flock” of satellites the company launched on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle brought the total number of Doves in low Earth orbit to 149. (4/19)

Constellations of Debris (Source: Guardian)
Large constellations of communications satellites could create a dramatic increase in orbital debris. A new study simulating the effects of new satellite systems found that constellations of thousands of satellites could result in a 50 percent increase in the number of collisions between satellites and debris. European officials, holding a conference on space debris this week in Germany, are concerned that such systems may not give much thought to ways to mitigate those risks, such as deorbiting satellites at the end of their lives. (4/17)

Apple Hires Top Google Satellite Executives for New Hardware Team (Source: Bloomberg)
After revolutionizing phones, Apple Inc. is testing self-driving cars and exploring augmented reality. Recent hires suggest the company is now also looking to the skies. The iPhone maker has recruited a pair of top Google satellite executives for a new hardware team, according to people familiar with the matter. John Fenwick, who led Google's spacecraft operations, and Michael Trela, head of satellite engineering, left Alphabet Inc.'s Google for Apple in recent weeks, the people said.

They report to Greg Duffy, co-founder of camera maker Dropcam, who joined Apple earlier this year, the people said. They asked not to be identified talking about Apple's private plans. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment, as did Google. Fenwick, Trela and Duffy didn't respond to requests for comment. These are experts in the demanding, expensive field of satellite design and operation. At the moment, these endeavors typically fall into two fields: satellites for collecting images and those for communications.

In a regulatory filing last year, Boeing detailed a plan to provide broadband access through more than 1,000 satellites in low-earth orbit. Boeing has talked with Apple about being an investor-partner in the project, a person familiar with the situation said. It's unclear if those talks will result in a deal. Industry insiders said Boeing's project was being funded by Apple. (4/21)
 
SpaceX To Launch Cameras To Capture Virtual Reality Videos Of Outer Space (Source: Science World Report)
According to experts, being in space provides a whole new perspective toward the very existence of human beings. It is also an uplifting out-of-the-world experience that supposedly makes astronauts better human beings. In an effort to bring this experience to common people, SpaceX is going to launch a set of cameras that can capture and transmit virtual reality videos of outer space.

The program is aimed toward providing an opportunity to people who can never dream of being astronauts and to see their real place in the universe. SpaceVR has developed a thermos-like device, which is embedded with eight cameras (four at each end). These virtual reality cameras are designed to get a 360-degree view of outer space. SpaceVR is planning to launch the cameras by August, aboard a SpaceX rocket. (4/17)

NOAA Now Authorized to Purchase Commercial Weather Sat Data (Source: Space News)
President Trump signed into law this week a weather bill that formally authorizes commercial satellite weather data efforts. The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act instructs NOAA to proceed with pilot programs to purchase data from commercial satellites to determine if such data can support weather forecasting. NOAA already started on that effort last year using money in a fiscal year 2016 spending bill, awarding pilot contracts to two companies to provide GPS radio occultation data. The act also directs NOAA to carry out a study of future weather satellite needs. (4/21)

How 3D Printing is Changing the Future of the Space Industry (Source: Virgin.com)
In aerospace, parts are complicated, and manufacturing them can be very expensive and time consuming. When rocket engine parts can take up to a year to make, it is very difficult to start a new rocket company and for aerospace companies to be cost effective, innovative and nimble. These barriers to entry are why you don’t see many start-up space companies and why the industry has relied on the same basic engine designs as those built during the Apollo program.

3D printing is changing all that. At Virgin Orbit, we are building a rocket system that will send small satellites into orbit. We aim to open access to space for small satellites to improve life on earth through services such as internet connectivity to the under connected and data for planning, production, disaster mitigation etc. And we are going to use 3D printed rocket engine parts to launch them to space. (4/17)

'Space Fabric' Links Fashion and Engineering (Source: NASA JPL)
Raul Polit Casillas grew up around fabrics. His mother is a fashion designer in Spain, and, at a young age, he was intrigued by how materials are used for design. Now, as a systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, he is still very much in the world of textiles. He and his colleagues are designing advanced woven metal fabrics for use in space. These fabrics could potentially be useful for large antennas and other deployable devices, because the material is foldable and its shape can change quickly. Click here. (4/18) 

NASA Puts $50M Into Creating Fusion Thrusters, Space Robots and Much More (Source: GeekWire)
Fusion-driven rockets, remote control systems for space robots, and satellites that build themselves up in orbit are among the made-in-Washington projects getting a share of $49.9 million in NASA grants. Seven businesses in Washington state will benefit from NASA’s latest round of Small Business Innovation Research grants and Small Business Technology Transfer grants, announced today.

The two programs, known as SBIR and STTR, are aimed at encouraging the development of commercial innovations that could come in handy for NASA’s space missions. (4/19)

NASA Picks STTR Phase I Winners, Including Two Florida Projects (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected 399 research and technology proposals from 277 American small businesses and 44 research institutions that will enable NASA's future missions into deep space, and advancements in aviation and science, while also benefiting the U.S. economy. The awards have a total value of approximately $49.9 million.

The agency received 1,621 proposals in response to its 2017 solicitation for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. From those, NASA selected 338 SBIR and 61 STTR Phase I proposals for contract negotiations. The SBIR Phase I contracts last for six months and STTR Phase I contracts last for 12 months, both with maximum funding of $125,000. The Florida winners include:

Jaycon Systems or Melbourne teamed with Florida Tech of Melbourne for Vision-Based Navigation for Formation Flight onboard ISS; and Streamline Numerics of Gainesville teamed with Stanford University in California for High Performance Simulation Tool for Multiphysics Propulsion Using Fidelity-Adaptive Combustion Modeling. (4/19)

NASA Picks SBIR Phase I Winners, Including 8 From Florida (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected 399 research and technology proposals from 277 American small businesses and 44 research institutions that will enable NASA's future missions into deep space, and advancements in aviation and science, while also benefiting the U.S. economy. The awards have a total value of approximately $49.9 million.

The agency received 1,621 proposals in response to its 2017 solicitation for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. From those, NASA selected 338 SBIR and 61 STTR Phase I proposals for contract negotiations. The SBIR Phase I contracts last for six months and STTR Phase I contracts last for 12 months, both with maximum funding of $125,000. The Florida winners include:

Innovative Space Technologies of Orlando for Ultra-Lightweight Multifunctional Magnesium Alloy Shielding Structures; Interdisciplinary Consulting Corp. of Gainesville for Fast Response, Fiber-Optic Micromachined Five-Hole Probe for Three-Dimensional Flow Measurements in Harsh Environments; Interdisciplinary Consulting Corp. of Gainesville for High Channel Count, High Density Microphone Arrays for Wind Tunnel Environments; Mainstream Engineering of Rockledge for High Lift Heat Pump; Micro Aerospace Solutions of Melbourne for Affordable Integrated GPS-Actuator GN&C System for Small Launch Vehicles; R Cubed Engineering of Palmetto for High Integrity GPS Solution for Trusted Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B); Troxel Aerospace Industries of Gainesville for Robust Multicore Middleware; and VINMA Systems of West Melbourne for Resiliency Evaluation, Assessment and Contingency Tools. (4/19)

Terminal Velocity Launches Test Spacecraft on Atlas ISS Mission (Source: Terminal Velocity)
The first RED-Data2 spacecraft of Atlanta-based Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) have been successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) to begin an approximately 100-day mission in space. The three small spacecraft lifted off yesterday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard the Cygnus cargo vessel S.S. John Glenn, and will dock with the ISS on April 22nd. The RED-Data2 research mission to study the performance of advanced heat shields is expected to begin after approximately 100 days in space, during the reentry and disposal phase of Cygnus' mission.

TVA's RED-Data2 units are designed to record critical onboard engineering data from spacecraft reentering the atmosphere. The first three RED-Data2 flight units are configured to evaluate the performance of different heat shield materials and thermal protection systems that may be used on future U.S. space missions. The RED-Data2 units are carrying instrumentation and embedded thermocouples to record heat shield performance at high temperatures following their separation from the Cygnus cargo vessel. (4/19)

Why NASA is Expanding its 'Veggie' Space Program (Source: CSM)
The ability to raise plants in cosmic conditions has been a NASA priority for years. Future human expeditions to Mars would require a reliable food supply that would have to remain viable for extended periods both during the trip to, and on the surface of, the Red Planet. Experiments like APH will be an important testing ground for determining the optimal techniques for preparing veggies outside the confines of Earth, says Chris Wolverton, a professor of botany at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, who currently has a NASA grant to study plant gravity sensing on the ISS.

"In the near-term, most experts expect astronauts will take the food they need for basic sustenance with them from the Earth," Dr. Wolverton tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email. "Plants, especially leafy greens, are experts at taking up chemical elements and creating vitamins and other micronutrients that humans need to stay healthy." The new Advanced Plant Habitat is actually an expansion of a previous NASA initiative from 2015, known as the Vegetable Production System (dubbed "Veggie"). The Veggie program soon produced lettuce for the ISS crew, the first food grown by NASA in space specifically for astronauts to eat.

The success of Veggie encouraged scientists to go even farther with the APH initiative. While the Veggie system relied on enclosed plants processing unfiltered air from inside the station, APH will allow astronauts to more fully control the environment inside the growing chamber. APH will also be equipped with a brighter array of LEDs, including diodes that emit white and infrared light, to potentially quadruple the output of the Veggie system. (4/19)

Russian Cosmonauts to Try Fermenting Milk on ISS to Prepare for Long Flights (Source: Sputnik)
Russian cosmonauts will try fermenting milk on the International Space Station (ISS) to produce dairy foods and beverages they hope will sustain space travelers during future long flights outside Earth's orbit, Fyodor Yurchikhin, who will fly to the ISS on Thursday, told reporters.

Probiotic products, such as kefir, a creamy drink made of cow’s milk and traditionally consumed in Russia, contains live bacteria that are believed to have favorable health effects. "It’s not just about whether we can make kefir," Yurchikhin said. "These experiments will prepare us for future long-haul flights to other planets. Our ability to make food in space will lead to payload weight savings." (4/19)

Astronaut's Daughter, Pilot Selected to Train to be Germany's First Woman in Space (Source: CollectSpace)
The daughter of a veteran astronaut and an experienced fighter pilot have been announced as the finalists in a privately-conducted search for Germany's first woman to fly into space.

Insa Thiele-Eich, a meteorologist and daughter of German astronaut Gerhard Thiele, and Nicola Baumann, a German united armed forces fighter pilot, were presented in Berlin on Wednesday (April 19) as the candidates for a privately-financed, ten-day flight to the International Space Station. In the course of their training over the next two years, one of the two women will be selected to launch to the orbiting laboratory, with the other serving as her backup. (4/19)

NASA JPL Uses Space Tech to Battle Breast Cancer (Source: Stat)
For decades, scientists here at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have sent spacecraft deep into the solar system. Now, they’re exploring another mysterious terrain: the human breast. “It’s very simple. If JPL has a bunch of technology — to get to the moon, to look for life on Europa — and that has any benefit for medicine and health, then we have a responsibility to share that benefit with the public,” said Leon Alkalai.

Dr. Susan Love, a well-known surgeon and advocate for breast cancer research, was trying to understand the microbiome of breast ducts — the channels under the skin that carry milk to the nipple. (The breast was one of the organs left out of the federally funded Human Microbiome Project.) Since almost all breast cancers originate in the ducts, Love has been keen to map them and to determine if they harbor any infectious agents that may play a role in breast cancer.

In a fortuitous coincidence, one of the scientists immersed in planetary protection at JPL, Parag Vaishampayan, had spent his postdoctoral training in Berkeley studying how a mother shares her microbiome with her infant, possibly through breastfeeding. While many biologists have long assumed the breast and ducts to be sterile, Vaishampayan knew otherwise. (4/18)

More Microbiome ‘Science’ with Former NASA Researcher (Source: New York Times)
This short film is, in many ways, a happy accident. It started with a chance meeting, as a former NASA scientist running a lab out of his apartment started talking to us about an experiment: Would it be possible, he wondered, to completely eradicate the ecosystem of bacteria living in and on his body and replace it with someone else’s? Click here. (4/18)

Planet Hunters Named in TIME’s Top 100 Most Influential People (Source: NASA)
Three extraordinary planet-hunters have been recognized by TIME Magazine as this year’s top 100 most influential people: Natalie Batalha from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; Michael Gillon from the University of Liège in Belgium; and Guillem Anglada-Escudé from the Queen Mary University in London.

“It is truly exciting to see these planet-hunters among the other movers and the shakers of the world,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics division director at Headquarters in Washington. “These scientists have transformed the world’s understanding of our place in the universe, and NASA congratulates them for their well-deserved recognition.” (4/20)

The Five Best Exoplanets in the Galaxy to Check for Alien Life (Source: New Scientist)
There’s another “Earth-like” world in our galaxy. Today, Jason Dittmann at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and his colleagues announced the discovery of LHS 1140b, a rocky, temperate super-Earth orbiting a small nearby star.

Most of the worlds we have spotted so far are either blazing hellscapes or frozen tundras. But a few, like LHS 1140b, reside in the habitable zones around their stars – where they could theoretically retain liquid water – giving them the potential to host life as we know it. Click here. (4/20) 

New Super-Sized Earth May be Close Enough to Detect Signs of Life (Source: USA Today)
Scientists have found a planet the size of a jumbo Earth circling a nearby star, meaning it is one of the handful of worlds where astronomers' sensors might be powerful enough to detect signs of life. The new planet, known as LHS 1140b, receives enough starlight to allow for liquid water, a prerequisite for life on Earth. It lies 39 light years from our solar system — not exactly in the backyard, but close enough that telescopes now under construction may be able to spot oxygen molecules swarming around it.

“With this discovery we have a world similar to Earth in some aspects, and dissimilar in some others,” says Amaury Triaud of Britain’s University of Cambridge, who was not involved with the research. “This is quite thrilling.” The first subtle signs of the planet’s presence were recorded in 2014, but no one noticed until Jason Dittmann, then at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, re-analyzed the data. “It turns out it was lurking there all along,” says Dittmann, now at MIT. (4/19)

New Study Ranks Hazardous Asteroid Effects from Least to Most Destructive (Source: Space Daily)
If an asteroid struck Earth, which of its effects - scorching heat, flying debris, towering tsunamis - would claim the most lives? A new study has the answer: violent winds and shock waves are the most dangerous effects produced by Earth-impacting asteroids. The study explored seven effects associated with asteroid impacts - heat, pressure shock waves, flying debris, tsunamis, wind blasts, seismic shaking and cratering - and estimated their lethality for varying sizes. The researchers then ranked the effects from most to least deadly, or how many lives were lost to each effect. (4/20)

NASA’s Plan for When the Next Asteroid Strikes Earth (Source: Quartz)
Here’s the scenario: It’s 2016, and about 250 million miles from Earth, a chunk of silicon rock 400 ft in diameter is ripped out of the asteroid belt by the gravity of Jupiter and Mars. As it whizzes through outer space at tens of thousands of miles per hour, it gets closer and closer to Earth.

When ground-based telescopes finally spot the asteroid, tens of millions of miles away, it’s just an unconfirmed data point swept into a constantly growing database at the Minor Planet Center operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Amateur astronomers and international observatories attempt to corroborate the observation, and as more data pours in, the center’s computers calculate the asteroid’s orbit. Click here. (4/19)

NASA Filmed a 'Potentially Hazardous' Asteroid Flying Near Earth as Big as a Skyscraper (Source: Business Insider)
Astronomers on Wednesday night will be keeping a close eye on a big asteroid that's zooming past Earth. Telescopes like the Arecibo Observatory — a huge radio dish built inside of a Puerto Rican sinkhole — have already started filming the tumbling space rock, called 2014 JO25. They are pinging the asteroid with radar and recording the echoes.

NASA said the space rock will fly within about 1.1 million miles of Earth, or roughly 4.6 times the distance from our planet to the moon, on April 19. Astronomers discovered the object about 3 years ago. Because it will fly so close to Earth, it has earned the label of a "potentially hazardous asteroid," or PHA. However, NASA says 2014 JO25 "will fy safely past Earth" and isn't due to swing by again for more than 400 years. (4/19)

Cassini Is Ready to Sacrifice Itself for the Good of the Solar System (Source: WIRED)
NASA’s Cassini orbiter has spent the last 13 years studying Saturn and its moons, but this year, it has to die. Its fuel has run out. With each orbit, it swoops lower and lower, skimming through Saturn’s rings while sinking towards the gas giant’s crushing atmosphere. After passing Titan one last time on April 22nd, the mission will enter its final stage: diving through the unexplored, 1,500 mile-wide space between Saturn and its famous rings. And by mid-September, Cassini’s signal will go silent for the first and final time.

But Cassini’s team is also sacrificing the orbiter to avoid contaminating anything living in the Saturn system. Cassini’s discoveries on Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus—everything from complex organic materials to methane lakes to liquid oceans to hydrothermal reactions— are not only interesting points of comparison to Earth’s systems, but also make those moons look a lot more habitable.

This grand finale isn’t going to be the mission’s final word, either: Cassini will be collecting data right up until September 15th, when the heat and pressure of Saturn’s atmosphere are due to give it an explosive Viking funeral. But as the mission, which was a monument to innovation and international space science cooperation, passes further and further beyond its team’s control, mission scientists are getting a little sniffly. And who could really blame them. (4/19)

Mars Lander Debris Could Impede Sampling Missions (Source: Seeker)
Others are worried about space junk on Mars. A new paper said that debris jettisoned by spacecraft as they land on Mars, such as parachutes and heat shields, could complicate future sample return missions. Those components could cover or damage sample caches that those future missions are intended to retrieve for return to Earth. The paper recommended that those items be jettisoned during landing so that they fall kilometers away to avoid interfering with the mission. (4/17)

NASA Loses Cybersecurity Chief (Source: FNR)
The NASA official responsible for cybersecurity is leaving the agency. Jeannette Hanna-Ruiz, NASA's chief information security officer, will leave NASA at the end of the month, just eight months into the job. Mike Witt, who came to NASA in February as deputy chief information security officer, will take on her job on an acting basis. (4/17)

US Mint to Launch Design Contest for Moon Landing 50th Anniversary Coins (Source: CollectSpace)
The United States Mint is launching an art competition for the design of its 2019 coins marking the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. As signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 16, 2016, Public Law 114-282 authorizes the Secretary of the United States Treasury to strike and issue curved gold, silver and clad metal coins in recognition of the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing. (4/14)

How a NASA Astronaut’s Treasure Map Could Make History (Source: Vanity Fair)
Who wouldn’t be captivated by the idea of fortune and glory hidden right under our very noses? On the Discovery Channel’s new docu-series Cooper’s Treasure, professional treasure hunter Darrell Miklos is on the trail of an unbelievable discovery: a series of shipwrecks—hundreds of them, in fact—discovered by the late astronaut Gordon Cooper during a space expedition. And yes, there is a treasure map. Cooper died somewhat suddenly in 2004 from heart failure—but not before he gave Miklos a life-changing piece of information.

While on the Mercury 9 Faith 7 expedition, Cooper discovered a series of anomalies, which he deduced might be shipwrecks. When he arrived back on Earth, the astronaut began a decades-long research process, making a map of his discoveries and tracking down any information he could about which sunken ships might correspond to the locations he had seen. Now Miklos is picking up the trail where he left off. “I’m probably the only person on the planet that’s in this particular situation,” Miklos told Vanity Fair. “It’s a one-off story. There is nothing like it. I doubt there will be anything like it in the future."

According to Miklos, Cooper said he discovered the treasure while using equipment to spot nuclear threats according to magnetic anomalies. Cooper discovered several anomalies that were too small to be nuclear silos, Miklos explains in the first episode of the series, which premieres April 18. He soon deduced that they must be shipwrecks. (4/17)

Passing in Silence, Passing in Shadows (Source: Space Review)
An updated version of a recent book about the first shuttle mission provides new details about efforts to collect images of the shuttle in orbit by a reconnaissance satellite. Dwayne Day examines those revelations as part of a broader effort to use spysats to spy on other satellites. Click here. (4/17)
 
Drones Creating Thousands of New Jobs in Florida (Source: WFLX)
Thousands of new jobs are coming to every industry in Florida and it's all because of drones. “I can have fun and I can get paid, wooh!” said Shawn Morse. Morse typically gets that reaction when he sells drones to customers from his TB Drones and Hobby Store. St. Petersburg College professors typically get that reaction too when they introduce students to careers with drones. Nearly every industry from emergency workers to realtors are turning to the high-flying contraptions.

St. Pete College keeps adding drone classes for the public and they keep filling up. It's for good reason. The industry is growing wildly fast. Within the next few years, 100,000 new jobs are expected to be added and 1.6 million commercial drones will be in the air helping people run their businesses. (4/20)

Florida Technology Industry Added Nearly 9,600 Jobs in 2016 (Source: Florida Trend)
Florida's technology industry employment grew by an estimated 3.1 percent in 2016 as employers added nearly 9,600 new jobs, according to Cyberstates 2017™, the definitive annual analysis of the nation's tech industry released today by CompTIA, the world's leading technology association.

With an estimated 318,343 workers, Florida ranks fourth among the 50 states for tech industry employment. Technology occupations across all other industries in Florida – the second component of the tech workforce – reached an estimated 318,000. The tech sector accounts for an estimated 6.1 percent ($54.2 billion) of the overall Florida economy. (4/3)

SpaceX's Sex Bias Lawsuit Cost Recovery Bid Throttled Back (Source: Law360)
A California judge ruled Thursday that SpaceX was justified in requesting over $100,000 in litigation costs from a former SpaceX welder after defeating her claims of sexual harassment and bias at trial, but said he would “scale down” the amount to avoid scaring off future employee litigants. The judge issued a written tentative ruling indicating he would partially grant plaintiff Zhoei Teasley's motion to tax the roughly $113,000 SpaceX had requested she pay to cover its litigation. (4/20)

SpaceX Seeks to Benefit From Los Angeles Tunneling (Source: Daily Breeze)
SpaceX might be the next stop for a tunneling machine in Los Angeles. The machine, named Harriet, has been working for the last year on tunnels for a new section of the city's light rail system. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has shown an interest in tunneling technology in recent months, and SpaceX submitted plans to city officials in Hawthorne earlier this month to build a pedestrian tunnel under a busy street linking the company's headquarters with a parking garage. (4/20)
 
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