August 13, 2018
Parker Solar Probe Launches From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A spacecraft designed to unlock the mysteries of the Sun was sent on its way early Sunday in a fiery liftoff from Cape Canaveral. United Launch Alliance sent the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe into the night sky, setting it on a voyage that will bring it within 3.8 million miles of our Solar System’s star at the highest speeds ever attained by a human-made device. The Delta IV Heavy lit the sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on time at 3:31 a.m., engulfing the launch pad with flames as it slowly took flight. (8/12)
SpaceX Launches Indonesian Satellite From Florida, Lands Block-5 Booster on Drone Ship (Source: Space News)
SpaceX successfully launched an Indonesian communications satellite overnight on a reflown Falcon 9. The rocket lifted off at 1:18 a.m. Eastern Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and deployed the Merah Putih satellite 32 minutes later. The satellite, built by SSL for Telkom Indonesia, carries 60 C-band transponders and will operate at 108 degrees east. The launch was the first time that a Block 5 Falcon 9 first stage was reflown, with the stage making a successful landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. (8/7)
VP Pence Announces First Steps Toward Space Force (Source: Space News)
The debate is over. The United States will have a Space Force as a separate branch of the military. In a joint appearance at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary James Mattis, Vice President Mike Pence laid out the Trump administration’s plan to create a U.S. Space Force. It was only seven weeks ago that President Trump directed DoD to begin the process. The president has made it a priority to “restore America’s proud history of leadership in space,” Pence said.
The report lays out four steps that it will take to start the reorganization the military with a goal of creating a fully independent Space Force within a few years, depending on how quickly Congress moves to pass legislation. Things could get contentious on Capitol Hill as the Space Force issue has taken a more partisan tone. Although Democrats have supported the idea in the past, some may withdraw support depending on the outcome of the mid-term election in November.
Without any new legislation and using existing authorities, DoD will establish several of the component parts of the Space Force. The second phase requires Congress to combine these components into the sixth branch of the armed forces. Click here. (8/8)
Expert Says Space Force Essential to Protect Our Way of Life (Source: KABC)
President Trump has officially directed the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the U.S. military in space and says he expects it to be in place by 2020. It’s the administration’s third Space Policy Directive, and aims to protect our satellites and ensure American dominance in the final frontier. Retired US Navy Captain and vice president Jerry Hendrix, with the national security consultancy Telemus Group, says it’s absolutely needed to safeguard our way of life.
“United States economy runs through space. GPS, which is part and parcel of everything we do, from our cell phones and figuring out where we’re at, and the idea of the central timing, knowing what time it is, all these things runs through space. US military has been very defendant on space and our enemies, Russia and China recognize that the weak link in the way of war is space.” (8/10)
Trump Wants a Space Force — But We Already Have an Air Force Space Command (Source: Space.com)
President Donald Trump's administration is pushing to form a U.S. Space Force, a new military branch, but how would that agency differ from the Air Force Space Command, which already oversees much of the country's defense assets in space?
In 1982, the U.S. Air Force established the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) to provide "space capabilities" for spaceflight missions, navigation, satellite communications, missile warning and space control. The AFSPC has units at Air Force bases all over the United States. These units provide space capabilities including "services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of DOD, NASA and commercial launches" of satellites, according to AFSPC's website.
But if the AFSPC is already dedicated to space, why do we need a Space Force? Michael Dodge, an assistant professor in the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota, likened the creation of a Space Force with the birth of the Air Force in the 20th century. The early version of the U.S. Air Force existed as the U.S. Army Air Corps, an aerial warfare sector of the U.S. Army. But as planes continued to advance technologically and find their way into mainstream travel, "Congress decided they needed to have a new branch of the military," Dodge said. (8/10)
Ex-Astronaut: Trump's Plan for a Space Force 'Redundant,' 'Wasteful' (Source: The Hill)
Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly says President Trump's plan for a military branch with jurisdiction over outer space is "redundant" and "wasteful." Kelly, who participated in several NASA missions to the International Space Station, said during an interview Thursday on MSNBC that Trump is the only person who thinks a "Space Force" is a good idea.
"The only person that I’ve heard say this is a fantastic idea is the commander in chief, the president of the United States," Kelly said. "Everybody else says it’s redundant, it's wasteful." ... "There is a threat out there," he added, "but it's being handled by the U.S. Air Force today, doesn't make sense to build a whole other level of bureaucracy in an incredibly bureaucratic [Defense Department]," he added. (8/9)
What Are We Cutting for the $8 Billion Space Force? (Source: NowThis)
Trump and Pence want $8 billion for the space force. Meanwhile, Trump proposed $3.7 billion in cuts to education, $17 billion in cuts to food stamps, and $6.6 billion in cuts to housing. (8/9)
Trump Campaign Cashing In on Space Force Plan (Source: Newsweek)
Plans by the Trump campaign to cash in on the creation of the Space Force as a new branch of the U.S. military by selling merchandise about it were called “wrong” and a violation of the norm by a former White House ethics czar. On the day Vice President Mike Pence unveiled the Space Force plans at the Pentagon, the Trump campaign emailed supporters encouraging them vote on their favorite logo for the new branch with a view to creating merchandise using whichever wins.
"President Trump wants a SPACE FORCE—a groundbreaking endeavor for the future of America and the final frontier," read the email from Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale. "As a way to celebrate President Trump's huge announcement, our campaign will be selling a new line of gear." But Norman Eisen, President Obama’s ethics czar and now chair of the board at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington campaign, told Newsweek it gives the appearance Trump is making government decisions “influenced by merchandising opportunities.” (8/10)
Why the Space Force Is Just Like Trump University (Source: The Atlantic)
Late Thursday morning, after playing a round of golf and firing off an angry missive about the Russia investigation, Donald Trump tweeted this: "Space Force all the way!" The tweet is a perfect synecdoche for the program in question: short, punchy, and memorable, but ultimately substance-free.
The Space Force and the White House’s rollout for it are the most focused exercises in Trumpian branding the nation has seen since the president took office, a project reminiscent of Trump University. Trump is selling the public one idea-—a glitzy, pathbreaking new wing of government—-and giving it instead a potentially kludgy reorganization of existing government functions.
Such salesmanship is not new for Trump. The branding of the Space Force resembles nothing so much as Trump University. In that program, Trump gussied up a series of drab, clichéd get-rich-quick real-estate seminars by giving it the name and crest of a full-fledged university and promising “handpicked” instructors. It was not a university, nor were the instructors handpicked. In depositions about the project, Trump proved far removed from any of the actual operations. (8/10)
Space Force Logo Push Smells Like Trump Steaks (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Trump Administration rolled out plans Thursday for the creation of Space Force, a new military branch deigned to keep us from getting blasted into submission by Russian or Chinese satellites. To drum up support, the PAC behind getting Trump re-elected is asking Americans to vote for the logo and offered six candidates.
I’m all for prevailing in an intergalactic war, but something smells funny here. Six designs were sent out via email to supporters by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. I don’t know enough Space Force and future of intergalactic defense needs to have an opinion. I do find it amusing that, like Trump Steaks and Trump University, the president is turning space defense into a marketing ploy. It’s so… Trumpian. (8/10)
Trump’s Space Force Plan Is Already Making the Military Desperate and Dumb (Source: Daily Beast)
The Trump administration's plan to establish a separate branch of the U.S. military for space operations has experts scratching their heads in confusion. The proposal for a so-called Space Force also seems to have inspired a desperate scramble by the U.S. Air Force, which currently leads military space operations, to justify its manpower and funding.
To that end, Carlton Everhart — the general in charge of Air Mobility Command, which oversees the Air Force's transport planes — has proposed a frankly bizarre scheme to boost military supplies into orbit and then drop them to U.S. forces in distant war zones. Experts said the orbital supply runs would be enormously expensive and impractical. "It seems like an answer in search of a problem and willfully misunderstanding how orbital mechanics works," said Victoria Samson. (8/9)
Utah Could Play Key Role in Space Force (Source: Deseret News)
Rep. Rob Bishop says Utah and especially Hill Air Force Base could play a key role in President Donald Trump's newly announced plans for a Space Force. "The fact that Utah has been a prime player in space and the aerospace industry and space exploration for so long simply means we have a lot of expertise here in the state that I'm pretty sure will probably be exploited and used," the Utah Republican said. Bishop, whose district includes Hill, said he has yet to be sold on the need to create a new branch of the military by 2020 to defend the United States in space, currently the responsibility of the Air Force. (8/9)
The GPS Satellite Praised by Mike Pence for Space Force Is Delayed Yet Again (Source: Bloomberg)
Announcing plans for a new U.S. Space Force on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence singled out the Pentagon’s “new generation of jam-resistant GPS and communication satellites” as a harbinger of the push to “secure American leadership in space.” But the advanced satellite has been hobbled by four years of delivery delays. And now the launch the first of the new satellites -- originally planned for April 2014 -- has slipped once again, according to the Air Force.
The service said earlier this year that it delayed the launch of the first GPS III satellite, part of a $5.4 billion program, to October at the earliest, from May. The service said it needed to complete final reviews of the upgraded rocket that Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to use to boost it into orbit. That schedule’s slipped again, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center said in a statement to Bloomberg News. The launch date “has been officially moved by mutual agreement” to December “to complete qualification testing and” one-time validation of SpaceX’s new Falcon 9 Block design, the command said. (8/10)
DOD Bans Geolocation Features on Tech Devices Due to Security Risk (Source: ABC News)
The Department of Defense is prohibiting personnel from using geolocation features on their devices while serving in certain locations after concerns that the information transmitted from such devices was jeopardizing the security of American forces around the world, including those deployed in classified or sensitive areas.
The new policy, which is effective immediately, follows reports from earlier this year that some wearable electronic devices, like the popular Fitbit, can convey users' GPS coordinates in the form of publicly available online maps that display the most frequently trafficked routes of users who allowed their location to be shared. (8/7)
FAA Mulls Recommendations For Planned GPS Interference (Source: Aviation Week)
The FAA says it is studying the recommendations a special committee issued earlier this year to better notify aircraft operators of planned GPS signal interference events caused by Defense Department testing. Loss or degradation of GPS signal reception because of interference could affect pilots’ use of GPS-based required navigation performance (RNP) procedures, disable terrain awareness and warning systems and degrade pitch and roll accuracy of GPS-aided attitude and heading reference systems, among other issues.
Loss of GPS in an aircraft equipped to report its position by automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) “Out,” a capability the FAA requires by 2020, causes that aircraft to be lost as a target for onboard ADS-B “In” systems, affects aircraft depending on satellite-based augmentation systems for precision approaches and presents a problem for the FAA’s strategy to decommission some secondary surveillance radars (SSR) as ADS-B becomes its primary means of surveillance. (8/1)
DOD Considers "Space Development Agency" to Improve Procurement (Source: Space News)
One proposal that has been floated by DoD is to create an entirely new procurement organization like a Space Development Agency to take over satellites and launch vehicle programs. “There’s people at DoD that want to do a fundamental new start,” said Charles Miller, president of NexGen Space and a longtime space entrepreneur. In space, the culture has to change. “They need to set up a new agency with new values, optimized for partnering with commercial space ventures,” Miller said. “If they don’t it will fail.” (8/7)
Hyten: U.S. Needs Plan to Modernize Space Launch Infrastructure (Source: Space News)
The U.S. government continues to pour money into aging launch ranges and delaying much needed modernization, Air Force Gen. John Hyten said. As commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Hyten is not responsible for launch ranges but he does have strong feelings on the matter. His comments came in response to a question about the rise of commercial space launch and the crunch faced by government agencies when they try to book ranges for test programs.
Hyten said it is a serious problem because most of the ranges where launches are conducted — Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Eastern Range) in Florida; Vandenberg Air Force Base (Western Range) in California, and the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico — are operating inefficiently due to their outdated technology.
Many ranges are not equipped to handle modern space launch technologies like GPS metric tracking and autonomous flight termination systems. “We’re still structured in this old range construct,” said Hyten. Until they are modernized, operations at ranges will be restricted. And as commercial launch activity picks, the capacity shortage will get worse. “We have to move into a 21st century range so these new capabilities can come on,” said Hyten. Click here. (8/7)
Griffin: Space-Based Missile Defense Can Be Done (Source: Breaking Defense)
Some 35 years after Ronald Reagan’s famous Star Wars speech, the Pentagon’s R&D chief said that space-based missile defenses are technically feasible and reasonably affordable. Since Reagan’s day, technology has advanced enough that putting both sensors and shooters in space is not only possible but “relatively easy,” Undersecretary for Research & Engineering Mike Griffin said. What’s more, past estimates of the cost of space-based interceptors have been “unrealistically,” even “naively” high.
Specifically, Griffin said the US “absolutely” needs space-based sensors to detect low-flying hypersonic cruise missiles, a new threat that’s much harder to spot from orbit than ICBMs. And he said we probably need space-based interceptors to shoot down high-flying ballistic missiles during the boost phase, the period before the warheads separate from the rocket.
Note these are two different functions with two different types of targets. Space-based interceptors would not work against hypersonic cruise missiles, Griffin said. They fly too low, deep in the atmosphere, so any munition you shoot at them from space would have to be hardened against the heat of atmospheric reentry, which he called prohibitively difficult. “It may not be a bridge too far, but it’s a pretty far away bridge.” (8/8)
U.S. Would Need a Megaconstellation to Counter China’s Hypersonic Weapons (Source: Space News)
The Pentagon admittedly is already five to 10 years behind in the development of an anti-missile system to thwart advanced hypersonic weapons that are now being tested by China and Russia. The good news for the Defense Department is that the commercial space technology boom that is fueling the development of megaconstellations could help the military reach that goal.
The Pentagon is studying options to build a space-based surveillance network to fill blind spots in the nation’s current defenses — which were designed to counter ballistic missiles that fly on a predictable arch-shaped pattern. To detect and track hypersonic weapons — which fly into space at supersonic speeds and then descend back down to Earth directly on top of targets — the answer is a large constellation of small satellites. “Our response has to be a proliferated space sensor layer, possibly based off commercial space developments,” said Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin. (8/9)
Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Tests Rocket Booster for Hypersonic Vehicle (Source: Flight Global)
Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully completed two hot-fire tests of a rocket motor designed to boost an air-launched tactical glide hypersonic vehicle during its initial phase of flight. The tests, which were done under simulated extreme cold and hot conditions, took place on an undisclosed “recent” date at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Edwards AFB in California, Aerojet Rocketdyne said.
The motors were tested at extreme temperatures to verify they would perform as expected across the full range of anticipated operational conditions, the company says. In a boost glide hypersonic system, a rocket accelerates its payload to high speeds; the payload then separates from the rocket and glides unpowered to its destination at hypersonic speeds up to Mach 20. (8/7)
Russia Looks to Hurt U.S. in Space After New Sanctions (Source: Daily Beast)
Russia’s retaliation to new U.S. sanctions is likely going to place American access to space at risk. To get heavy payloads into orbit, American rockets like the Atlas V use Russia’s powerful RD-180 engine—an engine that previous rounds of U.S. sanctions have studiously exempted. But now, following the Trump administration’s decision to retaliate for the Kremlin poisoning a former spy and his daughter, Russian officials are threatening to block sales of the RD-180 to the Americans.
Russian lawmaker Sergei Ryabukhin, who heads the budget committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, responded to the new sanctions by vowing: “The United States needs to finally understand that it’s useless to fight with Russia, including with the help of sanctions.” According to the Russian news agency RIA, Ryabukhin found a place to hit Washington where it’s soft: the rocket engine. Losing access to the RD-180 would make American access to space—something Donald Trump desires enough to create a separate military service branch devoted to it—much more complicated. The engine helps get everything from satellites to astronauts into orbit. (8/9)
Russia Is Slowly Declining As a Space Superpower (Source: Defense One)
The first country to launch a satellite is losing its space advantage to leakers, competitors like SpaceX, and most importantly to China. July was a tough month for the Russian space program. First came the arrest of scientist Viktor Kudryavtsev for allegedly leaking information on the development of hypersonic missiles to a member of NATO. Shortly thereafter, a second scientist was arrested on similar charges of leaking technology information, this time allegedly to Vietnam.
That may just be the start; the Federal Security Service, or FSB, is reportedly investigating a dozen more people in Kudryavtsev’s office. “The damage from [the alleged leaking] is unlikely to be stronger than the transfer to China of the technology of manned space exploration.” Complaints about Chinese acquisition of Russian rocket technology have become a common refrain in Russian state media.
“Today Russia is still competitive when it comes to space lift, but has big issues given the advancements made by SpaceX. However, much of the profit in the space market from what I understand, and the way it is discussed by Russian industry leadership, is not in space lift at all, but in additive assembly and satellites” said Koffman. “As such, SpaceX is de facto eating away, and will likely displace Russia, from a segment of the market that is not especially profitable and much of the value lies elsewhere,” he said. (8/5)
Putin Pushes Again for Improvements to Russian Space Competitiveness (Source: TASS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the Russian space industry to improve its quality and pricing. Speaking at a meeting of Russian space industry executives Wednesday, Putin said Russian industry "must achieve sustainable growth of quality" while being competitive in price on the global market. He also called for greater financial stability among companies in the field as well as more efforts to hire more young professionals. (8/8)
|NASA Doesn’t Have the Funds to Get to Mars Alone, Ted Cruz Says (Source: Ars Technica)
On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spent the morning at Houston's Johnson Space Center for a ceremony announcing the nine astronauts who will fly aboard NASA's first commercial crew missions. During the visit, Cruz burnished his space credentials, noting that nearly full funding for the commercial crew program by Congress coincided with his selection as chairman of the Senate committee that oversees NASA in 2015.
Recently, Sen. Cruz said that—while he does not oppose the Trump administration's plan to use the Moon as a proving ground for human exploration in deep space—NASA's goal must remain Mars, with human landings in the 2030s. "Let me be clear," he said at a committee hearing last month. "Mars is today the focal point of our national space program. And if American boots are to be the first to set foot on its surface, it will define a new generation. Generation Mars.”
"The innovation that we're seeing from SpaceX and from private companies across the board is much of the reason for the optimism we see concerning space," Cruz said. "We need competition and entrepreneurs inventing and innovating. You know, just a few years ago the concept of reusable rockets, rockets that could land and be used again, would have seemed like science fiction. Now we're seeing that done. That's the kind of innovation it's going to take to get to Mars and beyond, and it is only through robust competition in the private sector that we'll see that happen." (8/7)
SpaceX Convenes Mars Mission Workshop (Source: Ars Technica)
SpaceX is convening an invitation-only meeting to discuss its plans for Mars missions. The company is hosting a two-day "Mars Workshop" at the University of Colorado Boulder Tuesday and Wednesday with several dozen scientists and engineers, including officials from NASA's Mars exploration program, expected to attend. The workshop is intended to discuss how people will be able to live and work on Mars to enable SpaceX's vision of a multiplanetary species. (8/7)
Sorry Elon Musk, But it's Now Clear That Colonizing Mars is Unlikely (Source: Space Daily)
Space X and Tesla founder Elon Musk has a vision for colonizing Mars, based on a big rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there. This was seen as highly ambitious but technically challenging in several ways. Planetary protection rules and the difficulties of terraforming (making the planet hospitable by, for example, warming it up) and dealing with the harsh radiation were quoted as severe obstacles.
Undeterred, Musk took a first step towards his aim in February this year with the launch of a Tesla roadster car into an orbit travelling beyond Mars on the first Falcon Heavy rocket. This dramatically illustrated the increasing launch capability for future missions made available by partnerships between commercial and government agencies. But six months later, the plans have started to look more like fantasy. We have since learned that there could be life beneath Mars' surface and that it may be impossible to terraform its surface. (8/6)
Here's How NASA Created America's Private Space Industry (Source: Vice)
When you think about cutting-edge spaceflight in 2018, SpaceX is probably the first name that comes to mind. If you're a wonk, maybe Orbital ATK, or Blue Origin, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. What you're probably not thinking of is NASA.
NASA was established by the federal government during the Cold War to project American prestige and beat the Soviets, all in the name of space science. But the agency’s image peaked around the time Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, and its image fell victim to a series of failed space missions, deep funding cuts to research, and changing political will.
For over a decade, NASA has been steadily ceding exploration of the cosmos to for-profit companies, its public profile fading with each new SpaceX launch. But without NASA, America’s private space industry probably wouldn't have gotten off the ground in the first place. (8/8)
The Evolution of the Big Falcon Rocket (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
On September 29th, 2017, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled detailed plans of the Big Falcon Rocket at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. It was a follow-up speech to the prior year’s presentation when he first discussed the architecture of what was then called the Interplanetary Transport System. In his highly anticipated speech, Musk laid out the detailed plans for a two stage rocket to enable the colonization of Mars, a moon base, and hypersonic long-distance travel on Earth.
The design featured an enormous Booster that would be powered by 31 Raptor engines, planned to be the world’s most advanced and highest pressure chemical rocket engine. Following stage separation, the booster would return to Earth and land near or on the launch pad.
There were three variants of the rocket’s second stage planned: a Spaceship, Tanker and Cargo Lifter. The primary of which, the BFR Spaceship, was also the colonization vehicle and that could carry up to 100 passengers and a hundred tonnes of cargo. One possible use of the Spaceship was as the world’s first hypersonic passenger transport vehicle, which would enable travel between any two points on Earth in under an hour. Its primary envisioned mission, however, was to be a colonization vehicle for the Moon, Mars and beyond. Click here. (8/9)
Here’s What SpaceX Must Do to Win the Commercial Crew Race (Source: Ars Technica)
On Friday, when NASA announced the nine astronauts who would fly aboard the first commercial crew missions, Kathy Lueders sat among the audience clapping. Certainly for the manager of the space agency's commercial crew program, this was a happy day. But much hard work remains before the flights actually take place, and Lueders knows this more than anyone. Ultimately, she bears responsibility for ensuring that these men and women would have the safest possible flights.
“We’ve got to keep going,” she said later Friday, in an interview following the astronaut announcement ceremony. “I kind of feel like we’re having the party before the flight.” First up for SpaceX is the uncrewed mission, Demo-1, presently targeted for November. SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, has expressed confidence in the company’s ability to make this deadline. However, she admitted last Friday that, “Predicting launch dates can make a liar out of anyone.” Click here. (8/8)
NASA Signs Off on SpaceX’s “Load-and-Go” Procedure for Crew Launches (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The NASA manager overseeing development of Boeing and SpaceX’s commercial crew ferry ships says the space agency has approved SpaceX’s proposal to strap in astronauts atop Falcon 9 rockets, then fuel the launchers in the final hour of the countdown as the company does for its uncrewed missions.
The “load-and-go” procedure has become standard for SpaceX’s satellite launches, in which an automatic countdown sequencer commands chilled kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen to flow into the Falcon 9 rocket in the final minutes before liftoff.
“From a program standpoint, we went through a pretty extensive process where we laid out the different options for loading the crew, and assessing how the vehicles have been designed, and what the trades were,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, in an interview Friday. “That came to the program in June, and after looking at it, we felt like the current baseline plan for how SpaceX plans to load the crews meets our requirements.” (8/9)
Boeing Crew Sees Starliner on Space Coast as Company Prepares for 2019 Launch (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
“The first thing I noticed is that they are looking kind of like our trainers,” NASA Astronaut Nicole Mann said. In the former processing facility for NASA’s space shuttle, workers put some touches onto three capsules, in varying stages of construction and completion, that will carry astronauts into space.
Mann is one of two first-timers in a crew of five who will be among the first people to fly into space from U.S. soil since 2011. The crew has spent part of this week on Florida’s Space Coast, meeting personnel who have helped build and test the hardware that will carry them into space.
Mann will ride alongside Ferguson and Boe to the International Space Station aboard the Starliner’s first crewed space flight in mid-2019. The trio will take off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Space Coast. The crew has gone through several launch simulations this week, looking to perfect the sequence that will ready the spacecraft for flight. (8/9)
NASA Announces New Partnerships to Develop Space Exploration Technologies (Source: NASA)
NASA is partnering with six U.S. companies to develop 10 “tipping point” technologies that have the potential to significantly benefit the commercial space economy and future NASA missions, including lunar lander and deep space rocket engine technologies.
Selections are based on the agency’s third competitive Tipping Point solicitation, and have a combined total award value of approximately $44 million – a significant investment in the U.S. space industry. A technology is considered at a “tipping point” if investment in a ground or flight demonstration will result in significantly maturing the technology and improving the company’s ability to bring it to market.
This solicitation targeted three Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) strategic technology focus areas: Expand Utilization of Space, Enable Efficient and Safe Transportation Into and Through Space, and Increase Access to Planetary Surfaces. Winners include Blue Origin, SSL, ULA, Paragon, Frontier Aerospace, and Astrobotic. Click here. (8/8)
NASA Awards Six Companies $44 Million to Develop New Space Exploration Technologies (Source: Houston Chronicle)
In an effort to expand NASA's space exploration goals, the agency is funding 10 commercial projects such as new technologies for lunar lander propulsion and deep space rocket engines. NASA will disperse up to $44 million across the 10 projects, chosen because they "have the potential to significantly benefit the commercial space economy and future NASA missions," according to a space agency statement.
These are projects, Jim Reuter said, that may not have been developed without the agency's help. Six companies, including Blue Origin, were awarded funds. Three of the 10 projects -- being developed by Washington-based Blue Origin, Colorado-based United Launch Alliance and Pennsylvania-based Astrobotic Technology -- received $10 million each, while the rest received smaller quantities. Click here. (8/8)
The Search for Life in Congress (Source: Space Review)
A Senate committee held a hearing last week about NASA’s efforts to search for life beyond Earth. Jeff Foust reports that the hearing covered a lot more ground than just the state of astrobiology research at the agency. Click here. (8/7)
Americans Think NASA Should Focus on Climate Change. Trump Doesn’t (Source: Bloomberg)
NASA’s focus should not be on the cosmos but on Earth, according to a wide-ranging Bloomberg poll of Americans’ views on space. Observing the climate should be NASA’s “top priority,” according to 43 percent of those surveyed, who chose from six possible options. One-quarter said the agency should monitor asteroids and other space objects. Only 3 percent said NASA’s top focus should be sending astronauts to the moon, while a mere 8 percent said a human trip to Mars or other planets should be the agency’s main goal.
The findings point to a stark contrast with NASA’s current focus on human spaceflight and deep-space exploration, as the agency works on a lunar orbital platform for the early 2020s and a mission to Mars in the 2030s. The poll was conducted for Bloomberg Businessweek by research firm Morning Consult, which surveyed 2,202 U.S. adults in July. Under the Obama administration, NASA’s Earth Science program saw the fastest growth of any science division at the agency, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (8/1)
We're Going to Die in Record Numbers as Heatwaves Bake The World, First Global Study Shows (Source: Science Alert)
Mounting science is painting a very bleak picture of a future of soaring temperatures, and the accompanying death toll those soaring temperatures will demand. New research has given us the first solid prediction of how more heatwaves like the one that's struck Europe this year will affect future death rates, finding tropical heatwaves in some areas could one day send the mortality rate skyrocketing by as much as 2,000 percent. (8/2)
NASA Administrator Discusses NASA’s Future During Stop at KSC (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine paid his first visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on a two-day stop that began on Monday, Aug. 6 and concluded today (Aug. 7). The visit comes just days before one of the most important NASA missions of the year is poised to get underway.
Bridenstine reviewed various facilities at the 34 mile (55 kilometer) long and roughly six miles (9.7 kilometers) wide center. NASA is currently working to conduct the first launch of its super-heavy Space Launch System rocket and the second flight of the crew-rated Orion spacecraft (Exploration Mission 1). This mission is currently slated for 2020.
The agency has also helped private aerospace companies to revolutionize the manner in which space exploration. Under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services Program, some 23 cargo runs made to the International Space Station via Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft (a Dragon spacecraft also conducted a test flight to the orbiting lab under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contract). It is hoped the first crewed flights of these missions will begin in the 2019-2020 time frame. (8/8)
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Meets with Aerospace Industry Leaders in Brevard County (Source: Space Florida)
The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) and Space Florida hosted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for an industry leader’s roundtable discussion. James Frederick “Jim” Bridenstine was nominated by President Donald Trump, confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and sworn in as NASA’s 13th administrator on April 23, 2018.
Representatives from aerospace companies discussed the significant role Brevard County and Kennedy Space Center hold in future aerospace programs. The roundtable consisted of an open dialogue bringing awareness to the aerospace industry on the Space Coast and outlining the support needed to remain competitive.
With the diversification of the aerospace industry over the last decade, not only can companies launch rockets from the Space Coast, now they can also perform engineering, manufacturing, assembly, testing, and landing of their spacecraft from this convenient location. (8/7)
Across the U.S., the Spaceport Race Is On (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Camden County, Ga., played a bit part in aerospace history as home to a 1960s plant that built and tested NASA rocket motors. Now, county leaders want to revive that heritage with a new commercial spaceport. “We can be part of the new space race in the 21st Century,” said Steve Howard, project leader and the Camden County administrator.
Companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are investing millions trying to lead the way in a space gold rush. The Trump administration has emphasized a growing role for the private sector in space exploration and this week presented a plan for a sixth military branch dedicated to space. Local and state officials across the U.S. are trying to get in on the action.
There are now 10 licensed commercial spaceports in the U.S., from Alaska to Florida, double the number in 2004. Some of them grew out of existing government launch sites. At least two other proposed spaceports are under federal review: Spaceport Camden and Spaceport Colorado. Despite the enthusiasm, the commercial sector is still nascent. Some facilities have hosted only a few launches, or none at all. “I would caution against irrational exuberance,” said Frank Slazer. Click here. (8/11)
Space Florida Proposes Launch, Landing Pads at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
An experimental space plane and other small rockets could blast off from a new pad at Kennedy Space Center, and boosters could begin landing at the spaceport, under state proposals now under review by NASA. Space Florida wants to develop Launch Complex 48 to support Boeing’s Phantom Express, the winner of a competition to demonstrate quick-turnaround launches for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
In addition, the state has proposed building three landing pads at KSC to provide more options for SpaceX or Blue Origin boosters returning from space, and possibly other reusable vehicles. “We see a need,” said Jim Kuzma, senior vice president and general manager at Space Florida. “We’re continuing to assess anywhere where we think the infrastructure is going to be stressed as the launch cadence continues to increase.”
Launch Complex 48 would be tucked in between KSC’s pad 39A, now operated by SpaceX, and Launch Complex 41 to the south, the home of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. The landing pads would be located near the northern edge of the center’s secure perimeter. Both sites are highlighted in KSC’s master plan as available to be developed for those uses, and NASA had solicited interest. Each project would be subject to further environmental review. Click here. (8/5)
Space Florida Offers Cash Prizes for Aviation and Aerospace Ventures (Source: Space Florida)
The Florida Venture Forum in partnership with Space Florida invites you to attend the first Florida Aviation & Aerospace Capital Forum on November 14th, 2018 at the Guidewell Innovation Center in Lake Nona, Florida. $100,000 in total prize money to be awarded by Space Florida. Three awards to be given to the top presenting companies, as determined by an onsite team of investor judges. Prize money to be divided as follows: $50,000 to the first place winner, $30,000 to the second place winner and $20,000 to the third place winner. Click here. (8/8)
Florida Congressman Posey Focuses on Bridge to Spaceport (Source: Rep. Posey)
Even as we succeed in attaining our vision of a 21st Century Spaceport, we must keep our attention on the infrastructure essential to the viability of the Kennedy Space Center and the strength of our national security assets at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Journeys to space depend on being able to bring supplies critical to our space missions across a bridge over the Indian River Lagoon. New industries and jobs continue to come to Exploration Park. Many activities at the Space Center and the Park are critical to our national defense.
Unfortunately, an engineering study warned that the NASA-owned Route 405 bridge over the Lagoon might not be able to support spacecraft transporters and other heavy freight as soon as 2021. We simply cannot allow that to happen. I worked hard with my colleagues to include language in the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act that will empower the Secretary of Defense and NASA to construct a new bridge. This provision will ensure that we have modernized infrastructure to support the growing space industry at KSC and Exploration Park, and will also serve as an alternate route to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as well as incidentally improve hurricane evacuation from the area. (8/6)
Cocoa Beach Retesting Groundwater Containing Cancer-Causing Chemicals (Source: Click Orlando)
With cancer-causing chemicals detected in groundwater and traces of chemicals in drinking water in communities near Patrick Air Force Base, Cocoa Beach officials said the city will do more testing in the next two weeks. City Manager Jim McKnight said the testing will be done at the same five sites that were tested last month, including the sewage plan, golf course, other neighborhoods and Port Canaveral.
Chemical levels found in Cocoa Beach groundwater were much higher than those found in Satellite Beach. Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach officials met with the U.S. Air Force last week. "Patrick Air Force Base has some responsibility here, since they appear to be the main source, by preliminary testing, of what we're dealing with," McKnight said. "I think the tough questions are yet to come." (8/6)
NASA Study Raises Jobs Concerns at Wallops Island (Source: WBOC)
An ongoing NASA study seeking efficiencies at the Wallops Flight Facility has some worried about potential job cuts there. NASA Goddard, which operates the facility, said it's performing a 90-day study on ways to improve the "synergistic relationship" between Wallops and the main Goddard campus that is scheduled to be completed in October. That has local officials concerned that the results of the study could lead to job cuts at Wallops and deter companies from expanding there. (8/5)
NASA Official: 'No Threat to Wallops' Closing (Source: DelMarVa Now)
Jay Pittman stood up at the conclusion of the quarterly luncheon meeting of the Wallops Island Regional Alliance on Wednesday and quietly spoke these three words to a packed room: "There's no threat." The assistant director for strategy and integration at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt repeated those words several times during the next few minutes.
Rumors spreading the previous Friday had sparked news media inquiries that led NASA to release an official statement about a study designed to explore ways to improve the relationship and increase efficiencies between NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's sister facilities in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Island, Virginia. Wallops Flight Facility spokesman Keith Koehler said Friday the 90-day study will wrap up by late October, and is not expected to have any impact on the Wallops facility before then.
Still, the official statement only served to increase concerns that "efficiencies" was code for "closing Wallops Island Flight Facility." Peter Bale said he would like to see the Wallops Flight Facility separated from Greenbelt and Goddard to become an independent facility. Around 1,200 people currently work at Wallops, including 280 civil service workers and more than 900 independent contractors, Koehler said, adding that the NASA Wallops annual budget is around $250 million. An economic study prepared by BEACON at Salisbury University in 2011 lists the total economic impact at that time as more than $395 million. (8/10)
World View Balloon Explosion Caused Nearly Half a Million Dollars in Damage at County-Owned Incentive-Funded Building (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
The explosion of a stratospheric balloon during ground testing by World View Enterprises at Spaceport Tucson last December caused more than $475,000 in damages to the company’s county-owned building, more than double the initial estimates, according to a new report to the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
World View’s insurance carrier paid the full cost of the repairs, which were initially pegged at about $200,000, according to a memo to the board prepared by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry in response to queries from Supervisor Ally Miller. World View’s own independent investigation found that the explosion was caused by static electricity and that the company’s preflight safety review “incorrectly assessed both the probability and possible consequences of an explosive event during deflation.” (8/5)
7,000 Small Satellites to be Launched Over Coming Decade (Source: Space Daily)
According to Euroconsult's latest report, Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, a significant expansion is underway in the smallsat market, both in terms of demand and systems' capabilities. About 7,000 smallsats are due to be launched over the next ten years, i.e. a six-fold increase from the 1,200 units launched over the past decade. About 50 constellations, two of which are mega constellations, account for over 80% of the smallsat count.
"By 2022, an average of 580 smallsats will be launched every year as a result of initial constellation deployment. This compares to an annual average of 190 satellites launched over the past five years. The average will then jump to 850 satellites per year on subsequent years up to 2027 because of the deployment of one mega constellation," said Maxime Puteaux, Senior Consultant at Euroconsult and editor of the report. (8/7)
Aerospace Corp. Lays Out ‘Launch Unit’ Standard for Medium Small Satellites (Source: GeekWire)
Tiny satellites have their own 4-inch CubeSat standard size, and bigger satellites have a size standard as well. But there’s an awkward gap where no one can agree on exactly how big a satellite should be. Until now.
Today the Aerospace Corp. took the wraps off a proposed size and weight standard it calls the “Launch Unit.” According the standard, a Launch-U satellite and its separation system would fill a volume of 45 by 45 by 60 centimeters (1.5 by 1.5 by 2 feet), or about the size of an end table or two carry-on pieces of luggage strapped together. (Or, for that matter, a pirate chest.)
The mass could range from 60 to 80 kilograms (132 to 176 pounds), with a roughly balanced center of gravity, according to a technical paper issued to coincide with the SmallSat Conference here in Logan. For vibration purposes, the payload’s fundamental frequency would have to be above 50 Hz in any direction. (8/7)
NASA Announces Initiative to Boost Small Science Satellite Efforts (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The head of NASA’s science programs unveiled an $100 million per year initiative on Monday focused on the use of small satellites that includes data buys from three spacecraft constellation operators.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said the funding would go to targeted space science, technology and educational projects. He made the announcement during a keynote address at the annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah.
A key element of the initiative is the purchase of Earth science data from companies with satellite constellations in Earth orbit. Zurbuchen announced that the first purchases will be made from DigitalGlobe, Planet and Spire. He did not disclose the amounts of the awards. (8/7)
SSL Strategy Chief Says Small Satellites will Enhance Work of Huge Government Spacecraft (Source: Space News)
In the coming years, defense and intelligence agencies will rely on small satellites to enhance the capabilities of large government-owned and -operated spacecraft, said Rob Zitz, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for SSL Government Systems, a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies.
“There will be a period of time where you will have both the exquisite capabilities and the enhancement layer,” said Zitz, who spent more than 30 years working for U.S. intelligence agencies. “I don’t think that’s inappropriate. When you’ve made serious investments in amazing capabilities, you are going to want to wring as much out of those as you can.” (8/7)
Government Agencies Welcome Small Rockets with Contracts, Awards and Reduced Red Tape (Source: Space News)
To prepare for a new generation of small rockets promising dedicated rides to orbit for small satellites, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are setting aside money and trimming oversight.
“Everybody wants a small launch because it’s nice to have your own ride,” Randall Riddle, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center engineer for the Launch Enterprise Small Launch and Targets Division, said at the 2018 Small Payload Rideshare Symposium last month at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
To date, the vast majority of small satellites have piggybacked on large rockets. In recent years, however, dozens of companies around the world have announced plans to offer dedicated rides for spacecraft as small as cubesats, although most of the new rockets promise rides for 200- to 500-kilogram payloads, said Warren Frick. (8/7)
Cybersecurity a Growing Threat for Smallsats (Source: Space News)
Smallsat operators are facing new demands regarding cybersecurity. The author of a report published earlier this year on cybersecurity threats for space systems said that smallst companies would make "a gigantic mistake" if they thought they didn't need to pay attention to those concerns and take measure such as encrypting transmissions and safeguarding ground stations. Smallsat developers, though, say that full-scale cybersecurity measures, like those used for large satellites, could significantly increase the costs of their satellites and make then uneconomical.
NOAA, meanwhile, is taking a measured approach to data protection plans for remote sensing satellites licensed by the agency. The agency is creating a three-tier system for data protection plans, with less stringent requirements for satellites that pose no significant national security or foreign policy risks. (8/8)
Efforts to Develop Small-Scale Rockets are Soaring, but Only a Few Get Off the Ground (Source: GeekWire)
The latest “State of the Industry” report for small orbital-class launch vehicles tracks 101 reported efforts to create such rockets, compared with a mere 31 in 2015. But many of those efforts are defunct or in limbo, Northrop Grumman’s Carlos Niederstrasser said.
“We’re definitely starting to see attrition” in the industry, he said. Niederstrasser said only four small launch vehicles have entered service since 2015: three Chinese rockets and Rocket Lab’s Electron. He also noted that the per-kilogram price for putting a payload in orbit can go as high as $50,000. “These small launch vehicles are not going to be the cheapest way to get into the orbit,” Niederstrasser said. “Their main selling point is convenience. … If you really want the cheapest access to space, you’re still pretty much left with the rideshare domain.” Click here. (8/8)
Posey Legislation Enables Space Support Vehicles (Source: Rep. Posey)
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversees the growth of the commercial space sector, however the FAA has not kept pace with innovative space vehicle designs or vehicles intended for training or research, including simulating launch, reentry, or space flight conditions. With strong bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed my legislation to utilize these new vehicles. In an encouraging legislative move, the House passed this legislation twice, in two separate bills: the FAA reauthorization bill and another bill advanced by the House Science Committee. Doing this increases the odds of these common sense reforms passing the Senate and getting signed into law by the President. (8/6)
Rocket Lab Signs Deal for 10 Dedicated Electron Launches (Source: Parabolic Arc)
US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has signed an agreement with Circle Aerospace for ten dedicated Electron launches, with the first launch scheduled to lift off in Q4 2019.
Headquartered in Dubai, Circle Aerospace is a new turnkey launch brokerage and satellite development company serving to catalyze the growth of a commercial space and small satellite industry across the United Arab Emirates and wider Gulf Cooperation Council nations (GCC). Circle Aerospace offers full-spectrum, bespoke orbital solutions, including the design, build, and launch of payloads for customers worldwide. (8/7)
Rocket Lab Schedules Delayed Launch in November (Source: Space News)
Rocket Lab plans to resume Electron launches in November after making changes to a problematic component. The company said it's rescheduled a launch, originally scheduled for April and then delayed to late June, for early November, and will follow it in December with another launch carrying a set of smallsats under a NASA contract. Company CEO Peter Beck said Rocket Lab decided to modify a motor controller that caused the problems, and work to make those changes and perform testing pushed the next launch opportunity to November. Beck added that the company plans to select a U.S. launch site for Electron "very shortly." (8/7)
Rocket Lab Chooses RUAG Space as Preferred Supplier (Source: SpaceRef)
Today, Rocket Lab of Huntington Beach, Calif., an independent developer and manufacturer of small launch vehicles, and RUAG Space, a leading product supplier for satellites and launchers, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) creating a new agreement in the small launcher market, in support of flying RUAG separation systems on the Electron Launch Vehicle.
Rocket Lab, the developer of the world’s first fully carbon composite orbital launch vehicle, Electron, powered by 3D printed, electric pump-fed engines selected RUAG Space as its preferred supplier to provide a 15” microsatellite separation system for future missions of its Electron Small Launch Vehicles (SLV). These adapters connect satellites and rockets during the launch, and ensure a smooth separation in orbit. The new partnership was announced at the 2018 SmallSat Conference in Logan, Utah with representatives from both companies coming together to celebrate the agreement. (8/9)
Blue Origin Shows Off BE-3U Upper-Stage Rocket Engine as its Many Efforts Ramp Up (Source: GeekWire)
Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is sharing a short video clip featuring the lesser-known rocket engine for its orbital-class New Glenn rocket. The spotlight on the hydrogen-fueled BE-3U engine comes amid reports that Blue Origin is rapidly ramping up its New Glenn development program — and amid questions over whether Blue Origin can start launching New Glenn by the end of 2020, as originally planned.
The company's main priorities include getting New Glenn off the ground, which will require the completion of development and testing of the vacuum-rated, 150,000-pound-thrust BE-3U engine as well as the more powerful BE-4 first-stage engine, which is fueled with liquefied natural gas and should provide 550,000 pounds of liftoff thrust.
At last report, the BE-4 development effort was hitting its marks with engine qualification due by the end of the year. And in today’s posting to Twitter and Instagram, Blue Origin said the BE-3U has “completed over 700 seconds of test time” (8/10)
Stratolaunch Rolls Out for Taxi Test #3 at Mojave Spaceport (Source: Parabolic Arc)
From the Stratolaunch team on Friday at Mojave, California: "We are rolling out this morning for Taxi Test #3. We plan to conduct 5 Taxi Tests prior to First Flight." (8/10)
Copenhagen Suborbitals Launches Nexø II Rocket (Source: HobbySpace)
The non-profit, all-volunteer group Copenhagen Suborbitals today successfully launched their Nexø II rocket from a floating platform in the Baltic Sea. The liquid fueled propulsion system appeared to work well and the rocket returned via parachute for a soft splashdown. Here is a video. (8/4)
SpaceX Rideshare Launch to Carry 70+ Satellites (Source: Space News)
Spaceflight Inc. says it will launch its "dedicated rideshare" mission of more than 70 satellites on a Falcon 9 this fall. The company announced Monday it was moving into final preparations for the launch, starting to integrate the 71 smallsats that will fly on the SSO-A mission. The launch is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Among the customers for the launch is Planet, which will launch two SkySat high-resolution and several Dove medium-resolution satellites, along with several other companies and government and university customers. (8/5)
Loft Plans "Condosat" Mission with 21 Partners (Source: Space News)
Loft Orbital announced a team of 21 partners to support its goal of operating "condosat" missions. The partners will cover satellite manufacturing, launch, ground services, payloads and data analytics. Loft Orbital raised $3.2 million last year to develop small satellites that carry multiple payloads for customers that don't want to operate their own spacecraft. (8/7)
Vega’s Long-Awaited (Small) Successes (Source: Space News)
Although the mostly Italian Vega rocket was added to the Arianespace family in 2012, it’s only recently achieved tangible success in wooing the smallest spacecraft operators. The reasons are twofold. First, Vega is about to get an adapter that can fit cubesats and microsats up to 400 kilograms inside the rocket’s payload fairing. The second is lower prices.
This year, Arianespace signed four customers for the first flight the new adapter, the Small Spacecraft Mission System, or SMSS. The customers — U.S. smallsat launch aggregator Spaceflight Inc., Dutch satellite builder Innovative Solutions in Space, Italian satellite builder Sitael and Italian startup D-Orbit — are due to launch on SSMS’s maiden flight in the first half of 2019.
SSMS is a modular system, and doesn’t have to fill the entire payload fairing, according to Avio. Vega can launch with a smaller SSMS along with a primary payload, allowing flexibility on launch timing. Arianespace has not publicly disclosed how much it charges for Vega missions, but Spaceflight President Curt Blake told SpaceNews in April that newfound attractive pricing convinced the company to contract with Arianespace for the first time ever. (8/8)
Italy's D-Orbit to Launch 10 Cubesats on Vega Rocket (Source: Space News)
Italian company D-Orbit signed a contract Tuesday to launch 10 cubesats for Astrocast. The satellites will be launched as secondary payloads on a Vega rocket in late 2019 or early 2020. Astrocast plans to launch a constellation of 64 satellites to provide connectivity for Internet of Things applications. The contract is the second rideshare deal won by D-Orbit, who is developing an advanced free-flyer cubesat deployer system for future missions. (8/7)
Ursa Major Aims to Disrupt Launcher Vertical Integration Trend (Source: Space News)
Colorado startup Ursa Major Technologies is building a line of rocket engines that it hopes smallsat launch companies will choose over building their own engines in-house. Ursa Major shipped its first product, a 5,000-pound-force liquid oxygen and kerosene engine called Hadley, to customer Generation Orbit this spring and has begun serial production of the engines while also working on a larger variant.
Founded in 2015, Ursa Major raised $8 million last fall with participation from the Space Angels Network, a syndicate of early-stage investors who have also backed NanoRacks, Made In Space, Planet and other prominent space startups. The company counts former U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and former Northrop Grumman CEO Ronald Sugar as advisers. (8/7)
Spain's PLD Expands for Engine Testing (Source: Space News)
Spanish launch startup PLD Space has signed a new long-term lease for its engine testing facility. The 25-year lease at Teruel Airport in Spain will allow the company to expand the size of its test facility there to support work on its launch vehicles under development. The company's first launcher, the reusable suborbital Arion 1, is slated to make its first launch next year. (8/7)
Terran Orbital Raises $36 Million (Source: Space News)
Smallsat developer Terran Orbital announced Monday it has raised $36 million. The Series B round included Lockheed Martin, Beach Point Capital managed funds and Goldman Sachs as investors. Terran Orbital, which owns smallsat manufacturer Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, will use the funding to complete a new facility in Irvine, California, that will be able to produce up to 150 satellites a year. (8/7)
Goldman, Lockheed Martin Back Company That Makes Tiny Satellites (Source: Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. are backing a company that makes tiny satellites. The two firms took part in a $36 million funding round for Terran Orbital Corp. The company, which has worked with the Pentagon and NASA, manufactures nanosatellites, some of which are small enough to fit in your hand.
With the new cash, Terran Orbital said it will hire staff and buy more equipment for a 40,000-square-foot design and production facility. Satellites have become cheaper and smaller in recent years, and launch costs have fallen, sparking an explosion of new uses. The changes are upending the industry, and Terran is trying to take advantage. (8/6)
ÅAC Clyde Seeks Further Acquisitions (Source: Space News)
A smallsat company formed from the merger of two companies is planning further acquisitions. ÅAC Clyde, the company being formed by Sweden's ÅAC Microtec and Scotland's Clyde Space, expects to acquire more companies in order to build up its capabilities to handle a forecast wave of cubesat orders. ÅAC Microtec CEO Alfonso Barreiro said the company is also looking to establish a presence in the United States to better access demand there for smallsats. (8/7)
France's ThrustMe Gets $2.8M in European Grant Funds for Electric Thrusters (Source: Space News)
French propulsion startup ThrustMe has received $2.8 million from the European Commission. The funding, provided earlier this month through the EC's Horizon 2020 program, will go toward development of a pilot production line for its electric thrusters. The first of those thrusters will fly on an undisclosed satellite next year. (8/8)
Stellar Exploration Develops Bi-Propellant Thruster for Cubesats (Source: Space News)
A new thruster could enable cubesats to carry out deep space missions more effectively. Stellar Exploration developed a miniaturized bi-propellant thruster system that would provide a 12U cubesat with about 2 kilometers per second of delta-V. NASA funded development of the thruster, and Stellar Exploration is proposing using it on a cubesat mission that would fly as a secondary payload on NASA's Psyche mission. That cubesat would use the thruster to enter Mars orbit when Psyche performs a flyby of the planet en route to its asteroid destination. (8/8)
Made In Space Proposes Printing Large Solar Arrays for Small Satellites (Source: Space News)
Made In Space, the Silicon Valley startup focused on additive manufacturing in orbit, plans to boost the power available to small satellites with Archinaut, the company’s in-space manufacturing and assembling technology. “Small satellites have solar panels that produce a kilowatt to a kilowatt and a half,” said Andrew Rush, Made In Space chief executive. “We can give you four to five kilowatts of power.”
Made In Space proposes launching a 150- to 300-kilogram satellite with a tightly-packed solar cell blanket and raw material needed to feed an onboard 3D printer. On orbit, the satellite would manufacture solar arrays optimized for microgravity. Solar arrays built on the ground are reinforced to withstand launch forces, stowed to fit in launch fairings and equipped with mechanisms to deploy in orbit. Instead, the Archinaut solar arrays would be designed for microgravity with a core lattice structure and a robotic arm to integrate the solar array blanket. (8/8)
Lockheed Martin Deploys Augmented Reality for Spacecraft Manufacturing (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin Corp.’s space division is using augmented reality headsets and software to speed up the time it takes for engineers to learn about and conduct manufacturing processes on spacecraft, said Yvonne Hodge, the division’s vice president and chief information officer.
Augmented reality, which superimposes digital content including hologram-like images onto a user’s view of the real world, is becoming a “critical part” of the division’s digital infrastructure, Ms. Hodge said. It’s making one spacecraft production line more efficient and speeding up the time it takes to troubleshoot manufacturing and design issues, as well as reduce the rate of defects. (8/1)
Boeing Supports Capitalization of 3D Printing Company (Source: Boeing)
Boeing participated in a $12.9 million capital raise in 3D printing startup Digital Alloys, Inc., a company developing high-speed, 3D-printing systems that combine multiple metals. The resulting products have better thermal, electrical, magnetic and mechanical properties that "could be used on Boeing products," the company said. More than 60,000 3D-printed parts are in use on Boeing spacecraft, defense and commercial products, Boeing said.
Boeing HorizonX Ventures, the company's investment arm for emerging tech, joined Digital Alloys' Series B, led by G20 Ventures. Khosla Ventures, an investor in space startups Rocket Lab and Akash Systems also participated in the round, as did Lincoln Electric. (8/8)
Financially Strapped Planetary Resources Gets Set to Auction Off Equipment (Source: GeekWire)
In a fresh sign of the financial straits facing Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company will be auctioning off hundreds of items from its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, ranging from industrial-strength CNC machine tools and 3-D printers to laptops and folding chairs.
“We are preparing to sell some equipment that we’ve identified as not currently needed and easily replaceable,” Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources’ president, CEO and chief asteroid miner, told GeekWire in an email. “This is a result of reducing overhead as we go forward with our smaller team.”
Planetary Resources was founded in its present form in 2012, with initial backing from billionaires including Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Ross Perot Jr. and Charles Simonyi. Over the past six years, the venture has raised tens of millions of dollars and sent two small experimental satellites into orbit. Those missions, Arkyd-3R and Arkyd-6A, were aimed at laying the groundwork for even more ambitious efforts to scout out near-Earth asteroids for valuable resources. (8/7)
UK Company Plans MEO Constellation (Source: Space News)
A British startup is planning a medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite system that will offer "high density" services for selected regions. Methera Global Communications is developing a 16-satellite constellation that will provide broadband services for extremely specific locations, targeting a small number of high-value customers. The company is working on studies of both the satellites and ground terminals, and says it needs $500 million to develop the full system, which could enter service in 2022. (8/5)
Four Satellites a Week to be Launched From New Scottish Spaceport (Source: The Herald)
Around four satellites a week will be launched into orbit from Scotland’s new spaceport within the next 12 years under ambitious plans announced by industry leaders. New figures revealed the UK could launch an estimated 2,000 satellites from the A'Mhoine spaceport in Sutherland between 2021 and 2030. Business Secretary Greg Clark visited the remote site yesterday and said the site would create more than 400 jobs and be worth a potential £3.8billion to the UK economy. (8/9)
UK Spaceport Landowners to Benefit with at Least 1% of All Launch Fees (Source: Press & Journal)
Plans for the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland – creating hundreds of jobs – are taking off as proposals for other potential sites in the Highlands and Islands were not ruled out of contention as other bases. It was revealed yesterday that landowners would benefit from at least one per cent of all launch fees, with a further one percent going to the community. Public consultations are to begin this month on the project at Melness, as it was also revealed a final planning application for the site to become the first launchpad for satellites was expected to be lodged next year.
The spaceport is expected to cost in the region of £17million and is to be developed by HIE, with public consultations to take place later this month. Roy Kirk, of HIE, confirmed discussions and consultations were taking place in preparation for submitting a planning application, expected in late 2019. He added: “There are plenty opportunities here for the local supply chain and we hope to host a supplier day in September/October time. We are keen to hear from local organizations and explore how they can get involved in the project.
“Our plan, which is not yet finalized, has been positive in hearing the help and consideration of the Melness crofters. The plan would be we would take a lease with the Crofters Estate and we would then be the landlord and we would build this facility. “The crofters will certainly get a reasonable rental. One percent of all launch fees will be donated to the landowners, with a further one percent being donated to the community.” (8/10)
Five Decades After Black Arrow, a Reawakening UK Launch Industry Aims for Bullseye (Source: Space News)
On Oct. 28, 1971, a Black Arrow rocket lifted off from the Woomera test range in Australia. The rocket placed into orbit a small satellite called Prospero to study the effects of the space environment on satellites. It marked the first time a British-built rocket placed a satellite into orbit. It was also the last time a British-built rocket placed a satellite in orbit.
The British government canceled the Black Arrow program three months earlier but allowed this final launch to proceed because the rocket had already been shipped to Australia. The United Kingdom became the first country to develop an orbital launch capability, only to give it up.
Now, after years of efforts within the British government, and lobbying by the country’s space industry, the U.K. is taking steps to get back in the launch business. Government officials described how they would re-establish a launch capability, this time using sites in the country but vehicles, in many cases, developed outside of it. Click here. (8/8)
UAE Regulations to Focus on Space Economy (Source: Khaleej Times)
The UAE Space Agency is keen on developing appropriate laws and regulations to attract private sector investors in the country's space industry. The chief of the UAE Space Agency, Dr Mohamed Nasser Al Ahbabi, said they have recently completed a Space Investment Strategy, which aims to encourage local companies to invest in space. He said that investors often consider space as "high risk" and want the proper laws and regulations that will protect them legally.
"We are working on space regulations as well. You have to think about the space economy. Investors want to make sure if they invest, they have the right environment. So we need space regulations and laws to protect the local operator and to encourage foreign investors," Dr Al Ahbabi said. (8/8)
Arrested Bureaucrat Admits to Accepting Bribes in JAXA Corruption Case (Source: The Mainichi)
The former Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology director-general for international affairs arrested on suspicion of taking bribes while on loan to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has largely admitted to the allegations, a related source has disclosed.
It appears that the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office special investigative unit will indict the 57-year-old bureaucrat Kazuaki Kawabata for receiving bribes as early as Aug. 15, when he reaches the limit for his detention period. According to the source, Kawabata denied all the allegations against him when he was arrested on July 26, which included taking bribes in the form of being wined and dined by a former company executive. (8/11)
Israel Likely to Beat India in Moon Mission Race (Source: DNA)
India's ambitious lunar probe mission, Chandrayaan-2, has hit another roadblock due to technical glitches and has been postponed for next year. After several delays, the launch date of Chandrayaan-2 was finally set in October but it has now been shifted February next year.
The new delay may give Israel a chance to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon's surface. Israel, through a non-profit group named SpaceIL, plans to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon in February in the first landing of its kind since 2013.
So far, only four countries - the US, Russia and China - have successfully landed rovers on Moon with last being China's Chang'e 3 in December 2013. If Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is successful in its 'Chandrayaan-2' mission before February, India will be only the fourth country to do so. (8/5)
Syrian Rocket Scientist Apparently Killed by Israeli Agents (Source: New York Times)
Aziz Asbar was one of Syria’s most important rocket scientists, bent on amassing an arsenal of precision-guided missiles that could be launched with pinpoint accuracy against Israeli cities hundreds of miles away. He had free access to the highest levels of the Syrian and Iranian governments, and his own security detail. He led a top-secret weapons-development unit called Sector 4 and was hard at work building an underground weapons factory to replace one destroyed by Israel last year. On Saturday, he was killed by a car bomb — apparently planted by Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. (8/6)
German Astronaut Eager to Step Onto China's Space Station (Source: China Plus)
"China's Space Station is the place I want to go the most and I want to work with different countries' astronauts on China's Space Station in the future," said Matthias Maurer, a German astronaut. The 48-year-old Maurer has spent 6 years learning Chinese in order to work aboard China's Space Station. As part of his preparation, he trained in a maritime-rescue training program organized by Shangdong Province last summer.
This program includes maritime-survival training, maritime-search training, and maritime-rescue by helicopter training, which was designed to prepare astronauts with the skills needed to rescue themselves during the sea landing. During the training program, Maurer worked with a female Italian astronaut and they learned Chinese together. He even gave himself a Chinese name, "Ma Fei". "Fei" means "fly" in Chinese, which indicates his resolution to fly high into space. (7/30)
China Solicits International Cooperation Experiments on Space Station (Source: Xinhua)
China is asking the world to collaborate in experiments on its planned space station so as to promote international space cooperation and sustainable global development. The Committee on Science and Technology Experiments of the Chinese Space Station was established recently under the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).
The offer is open to the entire international community. Proposals and projects can be submitted online (www.css-research.cn) and peer-reviewed. The candidate projects will go through to the China Manned Space Agency. CAST might also provide opportunities to conduct some international cooperation experiments on other spacecraft or satellites, said Zhang. (8/5)
|The Robotic Space Station (Source: Space Review)
Space stations have been associated with crewed facilities since the early days of the Space Age, but can a station carry out missions without people on board? Gordon Roesler argues that advances in robotics technologies enable the creation of uncrewed space stations that can support new missions, and new markets, in Earth orbit and beyond. Click here. (8/7)
Why Goodyear and Delta Faucet are Doing Research in Space (Source: CNN)
Delta Faucet and Goodyear Tire want to give you a better shower and a smoother car ride here on Earth by experimenting with their products in space. Goodyear and Delta Faucet are among a small but growing list of corporations that are investing in spaceborne research, where the microgravity environment offers researchers a unique opportunity to conduct boundary-pushing experiments.
The companies announced last week they will send experiments to the International Space Station later this year, which makes them some of the latest commercial firms to take advantage of the orbiting laboratory and hefty financial assistance that NASA is currently offering. Once on board, astronauts on the space station will carry out the research, which is aimed at creating better eco-friendly shower heads for Delta Faucet and more fuel-efficient tires for Goodyear. Click here. (8/5)
NASA Created a Rare, Exotic State of Matter in Space (Source: FOX News)
NASA has cooled a cloud of rubidium atoms to ten-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, producing the fifth, exotic state of matter in space. The experiment also now holds the record for the coldest object we know of in space, though it isn't yet the coldest thing humanity has ever created. (That record still belongs to a laboratory at MIT.)
The Cold Atom Lab (CAL) is a compact quantum physics machine, a device built to work in the confines of the International Space Station (ISS) that launched into space in May. Now, according to a statement from NASA, the device has produced its first Bose-Einstein condensates, the strange conglomerations of atoms that scientists use to see quantum effects play out at large scales. (8/6)
What Happens When an Astronaut Gets Sick in Space? (Source: Mental Floss)
Astronauts are among the fittest and healthiest people in the world. They're rigorously trained, vetted, and quarantined before they’re allowed up in space—and yet, despite all those precautions, they do sometimes get sick. Apollo 13's Fred Haise, for example, had to deal with a painful kidney infection during the dangerous mission that gave us the phrase "Houston, we have a problem," and one-time astronaut Jake Garn, a Utah senator, got so motion-sick during a 1985 Discovery mission that astronauts now rate their nausea levels on the Garn Scale.
Because space missions are on a strict schedule planned far in advance, sick astronauts on a space mission can't just pop down to Earth to see a doctor. But when astronauts fall ill, they don't have to worry—NASA and other space agencies that have missions aboard the ISS are prepared. Click here. (8/9)
What Does Space Travel Do to Your Gut Microbes? (Source: Space.com)
Right now, there are trillions of microscopic, living organisms like bacteria, known as microbes, living in and on your body — but how are these microbes affected by spaceflight? Rodent Research-7 (RR-7), an investigation currently being conducted aboard the International Space Station, aims to find out. In RR-7, researchers are studying the microbes that live in the digestive tract of rodents to see how they respond to spaceflight and how that response, in turn, affects the animals' immune system.
Researchers said they hope that this work — and studies that explore how spaceflight affects microbes — will ensure the health of future astronauts, according to a new statement from NASA. The research can help support future, longer-duration missions. "We want to know the effect of microgravity on the microbiota of mice to begin to understand the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human microbiota. We need to know that before we send humans on long-duration missions to the moon or Mars," said Fred Turek.
There is a growing body of research exploring the relationship between human health and our gut microbes. And, while our understanding of how the immense variety of tiny organisms that inhabit our bodies is evolving, there is a clear connection between our health and our microbes. As noted in the statement from NASA, "disruption of microbial communities has been linked to multiple [human] health problems affecting intestinal, immune, mental and metabolic systems." (8/7)
What Astronauts Really Think About Having Tourists in Space (Source: Travel + Leisure)
Officially, seven private citizens have already been there, each paying from $20 million to $40 million between 2001 and 2009 (before the trips were put on hold) for a ride on a Russian spacecraft and a stay at the International Space Station. Now numerous private companies — including Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX and others — are developing a variety of space tourism programs and out-of-this-world experiences. Some promise earthlings the opportunity to experience weightlessness, while others are selling rocket ship rides and week-long stays at luxury hotels to be built in space.
And while these journeys won’t ever be cheap, carefree, or 100-percent safe, most are already bookable — although details such as departure dates are still to be determined. Another detail not yet determined: what “regular” people who travel into space should be called. Merriam-Webster defines an astronaut as “a person who travels beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.” And while some professional astronauts are fine sharing that title, others suggest a better term for someone who purchases a rocket ride might be “spaceflight participant” or simply “space tourist.”
After all, notes retired NASA astronaut Anna Lee Fisher, “Every passenger on an airplane is not called a pilot.” Whatever citizen astronauts are called, Fisher, one of the “original six” women accepted into NASA’s Astronaut Training Program, and many of her peers don’t seem to have an “I got mine, let’s pull up the ladder now,” attitude when it comes to novices visiting space. Click here. (8/10)
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Makes Safe Return From the ISS (Source: Engadget)
Around a month ago, SpaceX launched one of its Dragon cargo capsules into space, loading it up with supplies destined for the International Space Station. Now, it has made it safely back to Earth, splashing into the Pacific Ocean just after 6PM Eastern. Its return completes the CRS-15 mission, which brought scientific experiments, crew provisions, equipment and other supplies to the ISS. NASA says it will take approximately two days for the capsule to be retrieved and brought back to port, after which the cargo and experiments it returned will be unloaded. (8/3)
To Train for Mars, Head to Hawaii (Source: The Verge)
The astronauts we send to Mars will be spending a lot of time together. Crews will travel for up to a year in a cramped vehicle to reach the Red Planet, stay on the surface of Mars for several months in a tiny habitat, and then spend up to a year to get home in the same spacecraft they came in. That means Mars astronauts will have to work incredibly well with the same group of people, and they’ll need to quickly overcome any disagreements to execute their mission. It’s going to be tough mentally as well as physically.
So how do you pick the right people who can handle the isolation and repetition of a mission to Mars? That’s where HI-SEAS comes in. Operated by the University of Hawaii, HI-SEAS is an analog Mars habitat located on the Big Island of Hawaii. It actually sits on the side of an active volcano, Mauna Loa, where lava has heavily shaped the terrain of the area. The volcanic rock sports various hues of red and orange, creating the feeling that the habitat exists on another world. Click here. (8/10)
Hawaii Supreme Court Rules in Favor of State on Telescope Sublease; No Decision Yet on Land Use Permit (Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald)
The state Supreme Court ruled that a contested case hearing is not required for the Thirty Meter Telescope’s sublease on Maunakea. The unanimous decision released Wednesday overturns a lower court ruling that would have required the state Land Board to grant another quasi-judicial hearing to determine if the $1.4 billion project should be built on the mountain, which some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
E. Kalani Flores requested a contested case hearing for the sublease because of impacts he said the project would have to cultural and traditional practices. The state Land Board later denied the request. Hilo Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled in his favor during an appeal, and issued an order in January 2017 vacating the sublease.
While the high court justices agreed that Flores’ has a substantial interest, they ruled that he didn’t show he would provide evidence that is materially different from what was presented during the other hearings for the project. Flores had participated in the contested cases for the land use permit. (8/8)
Asgardia: The Problems in Building a Space Society (Source: BBC)
As of today, I’m an official citizen of two nations. One is the US, which has 325 million citizens and an area of almost 10 million sq km. The other is Asgardia, which has some 246,000 citizens, but physically exists for now only in the form of a 6lb (2.7kg) bread-box-size satellite floating in low-Earth orbit since November 2017. One day, Asgardia plans to have an enormous “space ark” orbiting our home world, a colony on the Moon, and perhaps even further in the future on other “celestial bodies”, according to the constitution.
The nation’s ‘leader’, Igor Raufovich Ashurbeyli, isn’t joking around. On 25 June in Vienna, Austria, he became Asgardia’s first “Head of Nation”. His face is on the official Asgardia commemorative coin that guests received at the post-inauguration gala dinner. The inauguration ceremony this night in Vienna’s magnificent baroque Hofburg Palace includes trumpet fanfares, a girl choir singing the new Asgardia national anthem, and a pre-recorded message from a Russian astronaut on the International Space Station.
But if you look at the constitution, the head of nation holds the power to disband parliament. Jeremy Saget is one of 146 members of Asgardia’s parliament. The French medical doctor, long interested in space travel and space medicine, says the “kingdom” identity was troubling at first, but he believes in the concept of a constitutional monarchy. “What’s important is someone to set the right tone”, says the MP, who once applied to be an astronaut for the European Union. (8/3)
Is Humanity About To Accidentally Declare Interstellar War On Alien Civilizations? (Source: Forbes)
Perhaps we'll someday send an array of laser-propelled starchips to a star system, hoping to probe and gain more information. After all, the main science goal, as it's been proposed, is to simply take data during arrival and transmit it back. But there are three huge problems with this plan, and combined, they could be tantamount to a declaration of interstellar war.
The first problem is that interstellar space is full of particles, most of which move relatively slowly (at a few hundred km/s) through the galaxy. When they strike this spacecraft, they'll blow holes into it, rendering it into cosmic swiss-cheese in short order.
The second is that there's no reasonable deceleration mechanism. When these spacecrafts arrive at their destination, they'll still be moving at roughly the speeds they took off at. And the third is that aiming to the level-of-precision needed to pass close to (but not collide with) a target planet is virtually impossible. The "cone of uncertainty" for any trajectory will include the planet we're aiming for. (8/7)
Astroethics and Cosmocentrism (Source: Scientific American)
In recent months both Breakthrough Listen and the SETI Institute have sponsored both real and virtual meetings to examine the societal impact should their programs prove successful. Anthropologists, historians, ethicists, philosophers and others are joining the interdisciplinary conversation in a serious way, impelled by the increasing possibility of discovery.
All of this activity gives new urgency to a whole series of ethical questions. Does Mars belong to the Martians, even if the Martians are only microbes? What do we say in response to an alien message, and who speaks for Earth? How do we treat aliens, either remotely or in a “close encounter of the third kind”? In short, whether we discover alien microbes or advanced alien life, we will immediately be faced with the problem of how to interact.
Welcome to the world of astroethics—the contemplation and development of ethical standards for a variety of outer space issues, including terraforming the planets, resource utilization, near-Earth asteroid threats, space exploration, planetary protection—and the discovery of extraterrestrial life. The problems involving E.T. life are particularly fraught, especially if it talks back to us. Before we can act in any situation that involves life, it is first important to assess the moral status of the organisms involved. Click here. (8/8)
In Space 'There Won't be Many Prizes for Second Place' (Source: Politico)
Rapid technological progress makes space more of an opportunity for exploration and discovery than ever before. The commercial opportunities are simply staggering. Visionary investors see new markets across a variety of industries, to include space tourism, space-based wireless internet across the globe, space-based solar power, asteroid mining, and space-based manufacturing. Imagine a world where materials harvested from asteroids are stored in space, used to 3D-print new satellites or space vehicles, without any need for a gravity-defeating launch vehicle to put them into space.
Imagine the impact on humanity if space-based solar power and internet access could fuel and connect the whole world for free. This vision is not a 100-year pipe dream. The components and vision are already here. We only require the national vision, will, and commitment.
As human development of space increases rapidly in the coming years, the U.S. military certainly understands and appreciates its expanded role. As a first step, the military recognizes that our reliance on space creates vulnerabilities that must be actively defended. So as a nation and as a military, we now approach space as an active warfighting domain-an arena of competition and conflict as we pursue sustained advantage. Similarly, the U.S. military will continue to ensure that the security of our homeland and planet-enabled in and through space-endures in perpetuity. (8/10)
It’s Easier to Leave the Solar System Than to Reach the Sun (Source: The Atlantic)
The Parker Solar Probe, a NASA mission, will blast off from the Florida coast in the early-morning hours of Saturday. Next month, the spacecraft will reach Venus, its sidekick on a long journey. Parker will swing past the planet seven times, slowing down with each pass. Eventually the probe will end its rendezvous with Venus and move into a closer orbit around the sun, coming within 3.9 million miles of the sun’s surface to graze its edge. It will be more than seven times closer than any probe has flown before.
As strange as it may sound, it’s much more difficult to reach the sun than it is to leave the solar system altogether. “To get to Mars, you only need to increase slightly your orbital speed. If you need to get to the sun, you basically have to completely slow down your current momentum,” says Yanping Guo, the mission-design and navigation manager for the Parker Solar Probe. Based at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Guo has been working on the probe for about 17 years.
The Parker Solar Probe will experience seven gravity assists from Venus in order to draw closer to the center of the solar system. With each pass, the spacecraft will shed some of Earth’s motion. “Any available launch vehicle—even near-future, the most powerful—it won’t be able to shoot a spacecraft to get to the sun. You must use gravity, and not just a general gravity assist—you have to use the most powerful gravity assist.” (8/10)
Strange 'Rogue Planet' Travels Through Space Alone (Source: CNN)
A strange 200 million-year-old object with the mass of a planet has been discovered 20 light-years from Earth, outside our solar system. The "rogue," as it's referred to by researchers, is producing an unexplained glowing aurora and travels through space alone, without a parent star.
The object, named SIMP J01365663+0933473, has 12.7 times the mass of the gas giant Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. It also has a strong magnetic field that is more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter's.
The temperature on its surface is more than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this sounds hot, it's quite cool compared with the sun's surface temperature of about 9,932 degrees Fahrenheit. (8/7)
Dark Matter Might Be Harder to Detect Because it’s Not From Our Galaxy (Source: New Scientist)
Astronomers recently revealed that our galaxy, the Milky Way, devoured a so-called “sausage” galaxy about 10 billion years ago. Now it seems this sausage might make finding dark matter ever harder. We can’t track dark matter directly because it is invisible and can pass straight through normal matter. But the location of dark matter appears to coincide with regular matter, so we can track its movements by looking to the stars. Click here. (8/2)
Earth’s Moon Could Have Been Habitable 3.5 Billion Years Ago (Source: Air & Space)
Earth’s Moon might have been habitable about one billion years after its formation, when pools of liquid water may have existed on the lunar surface. Today, of course, the Moon has no atmosphere and no liquid water. It’s uninhabitable and certainly lifeless. But 3.5 billion years ago, a billion years after it formed, the lunar environment was quite different.
During this period of extreme outgassing from lunar magma, the Moon is estimated to have had an atmospheric pressure of 10 millibar, or one percent of Earth’s current atmosphere. This is thicker than the current atmosphere on Mars, and would have been substantial enough for liquid water to pool on the lunar surface, perhaps for many millions of years.
Combine this with recent findings that lunar rocks are more water-rich than previously thought, and we can hypothesize that lakes, even an ocean, could have stably existed on the Moon for a substantial amount of time. There is also evidence that the early Moon had a magnetic field, which might have partially protected its surface from solar and cosmic radiation. This would have resulted in a temporarily habitable world, at a time when life on Earth had already gained a foothold. (7/23)
Million-Fold Increase in the Power of Waves Near Jupiter's Moon Ganymede (Source: GFZ)
Listening to electro-magnetic waves around the Earth, converted to sound, is almost like listening to singing and chirping birds at dawn with a crackling camp fire nearby. This is why such waves are called chorus waves. They cause polar lights but also high-energy 'killer' electrons that can damage spacecraft. In a recent study to be published in Nature Communications, the authors describe extraordinary chorus waves around other planets in our solar system.
The scientists led by Yuri Shprits of GFZ and the University of Potsdam report that the power of chorus waves is a million times more intense near the Jovian moon Ganymede, and 100 times more intense near the moon Europa than the average around these planets. These are the new results from a systematic study on Jupiter's wave environment taken from the Galileo Probe spacecraft.
"It's a really surprising and puzzling observation showing that a moon with a magnetic field can create such a tremendous intensification in the power of waves", says the lead author of the study Professor Yuri Shprits of GFZ/ University of Potsdam and who is also affiliated with UCLA. (8/7)
NASA's TESS Spots Comet Prior to Planet Search (Source: NASA/GSFC)
Before NASA's TESS spacecraft started searching for planets around other stars, it spotted a comet orbiting our own sun. During commissioning tests last month, TESS observed comet C/2018 N1, which was discovered in June by another NASA mission, NEOWISE. In a series of images over 17 hours, the comet passed through the spacecraft's field of view. TESS formally started science observations in late July to look for planets orbiting nearby, bright stars. (8/7)
New Horizons Spacecraft Sees Possible Hydrogen Wall at the End of the Solar System (Source: Gizmodo)
As it speeds away from the Sun, the New Horizons mission may be approaching a “wall.” The New Horizons spacecraft, now at a distance nearly four billion miles from Earth and already far beyond Pluto, has measured what appears to be a signature of the furthest reaches of the Sun’s energy—a wall of hydrogen. It nearly matches the same measurement made by the Voyager mission 30 years ago, and offers more information as to the furthest limits of our Sun’s reach.
The Voyager probe measured a similar signature three decades ago. Recent re-analysis demonstrated that Voyager’s scientists probably overestimated the signal’s strength. But once the Voyager data was corrected, New Horizon’s results looked almost exactly the same.
Perhaps the signal is something else, said Gladstone, but the corroboration of the data at least adds credence to its existence, whether it’s coming from the hydrogen wall or some other feature. Scientists plan to observe the signal perhaps twice a year, according to the paper. (8/10)
Anywhere But in the Water (Source: Space Review)
During the early Space Age, capsules carrying astronauts splashed down in the ocean. However, John Charles notes there was consideration of using a version of the mid-air capture system used for retrieving film canisters returned from space as a way of recovering astronauts. Click here. (8/7)
NASA Package That Fell From Sky with Note Mentioning Trump Sparks Alarm in New Jersey (Source: CBS News)
A suspicious package that fell from the sky over New Jersey caused some alarm because it contained a note that mentioned President Donald Trump. South Brunswick police say the package, attached to a parachute, was making a hissing sound and included a note that said: "NASA Atmospheric Research Instrument NOT A BOMB!" If this lands near the President, we at NASA wish him a great round of golf."
Mr. Trump has been staying at his golf club in Bedminster, which is 29 miles away. "The weather researchers were apologetic for any concerns they had raised by the hand written note on the device," police said in a statement. NASA told WNBC-TV the package, which fell on Tuesday, is part of six balloons that were launched to measure ozone. It says a summer student employee wrote the note in a "misguided attempt to be lighthearted," and that the student has been removed from the project. (8/10)
NASA as a Brand (Source: Space Review)
The NASA logo, in both the “meatball” and “worm” variations, is showing up on everything from cheap t-shirts to designer apparel. Dwayne Day examines why the NASA brand has become so popular in recent years. Click here. (8/7)
NASA Awards $2.3 Million in Grants to Minority Serving Institutions to Expand STEM Education (Source: NASA)
NASA's Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) Aerospace Academy (MAA) has selected seven Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) for cooperative agreement awards totaling nearly $2.3 million. The grants will be used to build the interest, skills and knowledge necessary for K-12 students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.
These selections will increase the participation and retention of historically underserved and underrepresented youth in grades K-12 through hands-on STEM activities. Awardees will receive up to $325,000 for a two-year period. MUREP investments enhance the academic, research and technological capabilities of MSIs through multiyear grants. The MUREP Aerospace Academy provides opportunities for participatory and experiential learning activities in formal and informal education settings to connect learners to unique NASA resources. (8/10)
Jacksonville Student Reaching for the Stars (Source: First Coast News)
The sky’s the limit for one Jacksonville college student who is one step closer to his dream of becoming an astronaut. Lee Giat is a junior at University of North Florida, double majoring in astrophysics and communications. Tuesday, he was named a finalist for a trip to Russia. Star City, Russia, to be exact.
“Where astronauts and Russian cosmonauts train,” Giat said. “[The winner will] get to take a ride on the centrifuge and experience G-forces, try astronaut food, put on a space suit and learn how to fly an actual Russian Soyuz rocket.” Giat placed second in the competition last year.
Space makes its way into most aspects of Giat’s life; when he’s not doing school work or working on his YouTube science show, he operates the planetarium at MOSH. Crowd members of all ages can feel his passion as he points out planets and teaches the audience to do the same. (7/31)
Explore New Worlds With JPL’s Open Source Rover (Source: IEEE Spectrum)
I’m not the only person who thinks that JPL’s rovers are incredible, and other rover fans have been pestering the roboticists at JPL for a cute little rover that can be built at home. JPL has been working on this for a little bit, and they’ve just announced the end product of their Open Source Rover project, and it’s “space robots for everyone!”
The Open Source Rover (OSR) was designed at JPL by a very small team: just two student interns and a JPL project lead, plus a bunch of help from experienced JPL robotics engineers. The goal was to make something accessible and affordable, since a previous education outreach rover that JPL had come up with (called ROV-E) was super popular but also cost over US $30,000. The goal with OSR was to decrease the cost an order of magnitude, while keeping it useful and compelling and easy to build, all in just 10 weeks. (8/7)
Meet the People Behind NASA's InSight Mars Lander (Source: NASA)
A new series of videos introduces some of the people leading NASA's InSight, the agency's next mission to Mars. "Behind the Spacecraft" profiles the men and women working on the first mission ever dedicated to studying Mars' deep interior. The InSight spacecraft is on its way to a Nov. 26 landing on the Red Planet. All the videos are available today and will be spotlighted on social media each week over the next three months. Click here. (8/2)
NASA Announces New Deputy Director of Johnson Space Center (Source: NASA)
NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director Mark Geyer announced Wednesday the selection of Vanessa Wyche as the next deputy director of JSC in Houston. Wyche will assist Geyer in leading one of NASA's largest installations, which has nearly 10,000 civil service and contractor employees – including those at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico – and a broad range of human spaceflight activities. (8/8)
Former Sierra Nevada Space Chief Joins Colorado University (Source: Space News)
The former head of Sierra Nevada Corporation's space unit has a new job at the University of Colorado. Mark Sirangelo will be an "entrepreneur-in-resident" at the university's aerospace engineering department, charged with helping create "an entrepreneurial center of gravity for industry" in Colorado. Sirangelo stepped down as head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems in June after about a decade. (8/7)
New Space Camp for Adults Scheduled for Indiana (Source: Clinton County Daily News)
IN Space Adult Camp is your chance to play like a kid, but use your years of knowledge to create adult experiments to travel to the edge of space. This short, but fun camp starts on Friday evening, at 6 p.m. on August 24 with a BBQ Meet and Greet. Get to know your teammates and plan what you will launch. The day will end at 8 p.m. On Saturday, August 25, we meet again at 9 a.m. and begin predicting, building and launching your BalloonSat satellite. We finish the day at 5 p.m. having recovered the platform and evaluating our experiments. This event will be held at the Frankfort Municipal Airport. (8/8)
McAulliffe's 'Lost Lessons' Released (Source: New Hampshire Union Leader)
The "lost lessons" of Challenger astronaut Christa McAulliffe are being carried out on the International Space Station. Astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold recorded lessons that McAulliffe has planned to carry out on the ill-fated Challenger mission in 1986. Those lessons are being released by the Challenger Center. The videos come with lessons plans for teachers to use in the classrooms so that students can observe differences between Earth and space. (8/7)
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