January 20, 2020
Florida Space Industry Leaders to Assemble in Tallahassee on Wednesday (Source: Florida Space Day)
Now in its 27th year, Florida Space Day is an annual event bringing together a broad cross section of Florida’s aerospace community with the Governor, Lt. Governor and State Legislators to discuss the latest developments and importance of America’s space program, and encourage continued support for policies and investments that enable Florida to be a leader in space and to compete effectively for business expansion and job growth opportunities. In fact, the aerospace industry generates billions of dollars in annual economic impact and employs thousands of high-tech workers throughout the state of Florida. To heighten awareness of the value of space to the state and the nation, Florida Space Day participants will return to Tallahassee on January 22, 2020. (1/15)
Space Coast Groups Focus Again on Aerospace Workforce Development (Source: CareerSource Brevard)
CareerSource Brevard, Space Florida, FloridaMakes and the EDC of Florida’s Space Coast are collaborating to advance the region's Aerospace Industry Workforce Development with customized solutions. They have agreed to: define effective career pathways to drive the talent we need; develop the funding and the training programs to build and retain that talent; and drive the talent pipe to the industry by creating a strategic communications and outreach plan.
They invite industry stakeholders to register for the next Aerospace Workforce Workshop to be held on January 30th, 2020. Click here. (1/15)
Florida’s Military and Defense Industry Provides $95 Billion Economic Impact (Source: Enterprise Florida)
Florida’s military and defense industry has a $95 billion economic impact. The study is commissioned by Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) and the Florida Defense Support Task Force (FDSTF). The results mark a $10 billion increase from the 2017 study, making military and defense one of the state’s top economic drivers. The defense sector also provides 914,787 jobs in Florida, an increase of 113,040 jobs during the past two years.
“The results of this study demonstrate that maintaining and protecting military bases and industry in Florida is a win-win for both Florida and the United States,” said Governor DeSantis. “Florida offers unmatched conditions for training air and sea forces with access to some of the highest quality test and training ranges in the country. Florida’s military and defense industry has never been more vital to the economic success of our state.”
Other major results of the study demonstrate that, by region, the defense sector has the greatest impact on Northwest Florida, where one-third of the regional economy comes from military spending. Additionally, defense manufacturing has nearly doubled since 2015 with the aerospace and engineering sectors centered in Brevard and Orange Counties leading the way. Finally, Florida boasts the second largest military retiree population and the third largest veteran population of all 50 states. Florida also receives the fourth largest sum of defense contracts among all states and ranks fifth in the country in the number of military personnel. (1/16)
Made in Space Corporate Headquarters Will Move to Jacksonville (Source: First Coast News)
Made in Space, a company that develops state-of-the-art space manufacturing technology to support space exploration, will be moving their corporate headquarters to Jacksonville. The move will reportedly bring a number of new high-paying jobs and help bring an entirely new technology sector to the First Coast. (1/17)
Governor, Space Florida Highlight Aerospace in Jacksonville (Source: Florida Politics)
A second “major announcement” in a week had Gov. Ron DeSantis returning to Jacksonville Friday. The Governor was at Made in Space, a local company that is relocating its corporate headquarters to the Northeast Florida city. DeSantis and Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello spoke at some length about the company and what it represents. DeSantis described a “great renaissance” of space, with a “reinvigorated” NASA.
“In the next several years,” DeSantis said, “we’re going to put American astronauts on the moon.” Made In Space has made multiple visits to the International Space Station, where equipment made in Jacksonville is of galactic importance. DeSantis suggested the relocation from Silicon Valley to Jacksonville was driven by a more hospitable business climate. Meanwhile, Florida is “working hard” to ensure “skilled labor … at a variety of skill levels” is available.
DeSantis has pushed for the U.S. Space Force to locate in Florida, and Space Florida has been highlighted throughout his first year in office. “I’ve talked to the President, mentioned Space Command,” he added, but thus far no commitment to Canaveral and the Sunshine State from the White House. (1/17)
OneWeb's Florida Factory Now Produces Two Satellites Per Day (Source: OneWeb)
OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, has reached a production rate of two satellites per day from the company’s Florida factory. OneWeb Satellites said it has 34 satellites ready for launch from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Arianespace, OneWeb’s primary launch provider, plans to conduct 10 Soyuz launches for OneWeb this year — two from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, four from Baikonur and four from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome. The first launch is scheduled for February. (1/15)
Leonardo to Open Support Center in Northwest Florida (Source: Santa Rosa Economic Development)
Leonardo, through AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp., will soon build a comprehensive support center at the Whiting Aviation Park in Santa Rosa County after being awarded a contract to replace the navy's fleet of aging training helicopters at NAS Whiting Field. "This facility will not only create jobs for county residents but will also improve the efficiency of NAS Whiting Field. This just goes to show what vision, passion and focus will accomplish.”
William Hunt, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters Philadelphia, went on to say, “Our plan since day one has been to offer the US Navy the training capabilities they asked for, without compromise. We are honored to deliver on that promise, build the new fleet in Philadelphia and maintain it from Milton, Florida.” In partnership with the Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office and Space Florida, an aerospace economic development agency, Leonardo will construct a 100,000 square foot support center that will employ 40 to 50 new employees adding to the area’s robust aviation industry. (1/15)
L3Harris Nabs $12.9M Contract for National Space Defense Center Sustainment (Source: Space Daily)
L3Harris Technologies received a $12.9 million contract modification for National Space Defense Center sustainment effort, the Department of Defense announced. The contract modifies a previous deal for National Space Defense Center sustainment work at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. The deal's announcement comes on the heels of comments by the DoD's undersecretary for defense acquisition and sustainment that space-related acquisitions are not likely to slow down even as the Pentagon restructures the acquisitions bureaucracy. (1/15)
Space Florida Funds Company to Support Pursuit of Increased Space Force Presence (Source: Florida Today)
Florida’s aerospace agency has launched a new front in its effort to make the Sunshine State more enticing as a potential player in the nation’s up-and-coming Space Force. The Space Florida Board of Directors on Thursday approved $200,000 for Satellite Beach-based GTOPS, Inc., a veteran-owned business that provides facilities-support services, to further showcase how military bases and businesses in the state are capable of training and equipping President Donald Trump’s new military branch.
“If you can't make the articulate arguments for what capabilities you've got to support missions, you’ll never get those mission assignments,” Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said after Thursday’s meeting in Tallahassee. Florida officials have often pointed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political ties to Trump as they lobby for the new branch.
Space Florida officials maintain that luring the combatant command or the components that will make up the bulk of the Space Force will require showing that many of the new agency’s functions already exist in some manner at Cape Canaveral and military bases across the state. (1/17)
Space Force First “Pitch Day” at Patrick Air Force Base on March 4 (Source: Space News)
Patrick Air Force Base is hosting the first Space Force “Pitch Day” on March 4, focused on technologies and services for the 45th Space Wing. The wing operates the Eastern Range on the Florida Space Coast. Areas of interest include weather forecast and alert systems, business systems and information technology that facilitate spacelift missions. Click here. (1/14)
Pentagon: Space Force Creation Won't Slow Ongoing Space Acquisitions (Source: Space News)
A Pentagon official said Tuesday the creation of the U.S. Space Force should not slow down space-related acquisitions. Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said that while it may take some time to create the new service's acquisition bureaucracy, she did not expect major programs to slow down as a result of those changes. The defense authorization bill enacted last month calls for a breakup the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and for the transfer of space programs to a new organization led by a principal assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration. (1/15)
How Would the Space Force Wage War? (Source: The Hill)
While the United States Space Force knows how it will fight wars beyond the atmosphere, those plans are so highly classified that industry is not able to build the things that will make war in space possible. “In recent years, Pentagon officials have said future satellites need to be able to defend themselves and be more maneuverable. Most military satellites orbiting the Earth – collectively worth many billions of dollars – are unable to do that, which has prompted military officials to warn that China and Russia could easily shoot them down, jam their signals, or blind their cameras.”
Clearly the Space Force is going to need more capabilities than satellites that can be maneuvered out of the way of threats. But a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite weapon test illustrated the perils of combat in Earth orbit. One could imagine a nightmare scenario that could happen if war were to break out between two super powers, such as the United States and China. China could launch multiple strikes to destroy or cripple those satellites that the United States relies on, not only for its national security, but for its economic life. Such an attack could fill Earth orbit with hurtling debris that would make it impassable indefinitely. (1/13)
Raymond Sworn In as Space Force Chief (Source: Voice of America)
Gen. Jay Raymond will be sworn is as the first head of the Space Force today. Vice President Mike Pence will lead the ceremony at the White House to swear Raymond in as the Chief of Space Operations. Raymond will retain his current position as head of U.S. Space Command, which was reestablished last year. (1/14)
Washington National Cathedral Dedicates Bible for Newly Formed U.S. Space Force (Source: Washington Post)
Religious leaders blessed a King James Bible at Washington National Cathedral on Sunday to be used by the newly formed United States Space Force, including for swearing-in ceremonies, a cathedral spokeswoman said. During the three-minute ceremony, the Right Rev. Carl Wright, the Episcopal Church’s bishop suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, said in part: “May this Bible guard and guide all those who purpose that the final frontier be a place where God will triumph over evil, where love will triumph over hate, and where life will triumph over death.”
The ceremony also was overseen by the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, and Maj. Gen. Steven A. Schaick, chief of chaplains for the U.S. Air Force. The Space Force, the sixth branch of the U.S. military, was created in December as part of a defense bill signed by President Trump. The force is designed to defend American interests in space, such as satellites used for GPS, communications and missile defense. The Bible was donated by the Museum of the Bible in Washington. (1/12)
Group Criticizes Blessing of 'Official Bible' for Space Force (Source: The Hill)
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemned the blessing of an "official Bible" for the swearing-in of commanders of the newly created Space Force. The group issued its statement after Washington National Cathedral held a ceremony to bless an “official” King James Bible on Sunday and tweeted that it “will be used to swear in all commanders of America’s newest military branch.” A spokesperson for the cathedral told The Hill that the Bible, donated by the Museum of the Bible in Washington, will be used to swear in Gen. John Raymond as the first chief of space operations.
It was unclear if the Bible is to be used for every commander in the branch or just its top leaders, Military.com noted. But the ceremony included mentions of blessing Trump, Raymond and “all the men and women of the newly created United States Space Force, wherever they may go.” Several people as well as the MRFF denounced the designation, saying officers are not usually required to use religious texts to take an oath of office and that the move could ostracize non-Christians. The MRFF has promised to take the matter to federal court in Northern Virginia if it cannot settle it through the Defense Department’s “administrative remedies.” (1/13)
Space-Superiority Exercise Concluded Successfully on U.S. Space Force Birthday (Source: USSF)
Space Flag, the Department of Defense’s premier exercise for training space forces, successfully concluded its eighth exercise iteration (Space Flag 20-1) at the Boeing Virtual Warfare Center on Dec. 20. The two-week exercise started Dec. 9 under the auspices of the former Air Force Space Command, but finished on the very day the U.S. Space Force was established upon President Trump’s signing of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Space Flag represents a fundamental pivot from viewing space as a benign environment to viewing space as a contested domain of warfare. This critical exercise provides an educational environment where our space warfighters are challenged to defend, fight, and win in space against a thinking adversary in potential future conflicts. (1/16)
Pentagon Seeks Commercial Satellite Imagery Analytics (Source: Space News)
The Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is looking for proposals from companies that can provide commercial remote sensing imagery and data analytics services. The project, called "Peacetime Indications and Warning," is an effort to supplement the military’s own remote sensing capabilities with commercial products. DIU is interested in a wide range of options, from conventional imagery to hyperspectral, synthetic aperture radar and radio-frequency services. Imagery and data will be collected during an 18-month pilot program and will be made accessible for use as training data sets to support the development of artificial intelligence algorithms. (1/14)
Rand Study: Air Force Should Pick Three Launchers (Source: Space News)
An independent study concluded the U.S. Air Force should support three, rather than two, launch companies in the near future. The study by the Rand Corporation does not recommend that the Air Force change its decision to award national security launch contracts to just two providers later this year, but concludes that the Air Force should find a way to keep a third company in the market in the event of delays in development of new vehicles. Four companies are competing for the contracts, three of which are offering new launch vehicles. The report said that historical data suggests that the first launches of those vehicles could slip by a year or more. The Rand report also noted that uncertainty about the size of the commercial launch market could warrant keeping a third company in the mix. (1/13)
What is the Significance of Space Force on Florida Launches? (Source: Florida Today)
In this excerpt from FLORIDA TODAY's Eye on Brevard, space reporter Emre Kelly explains that not much has changed with the changed with new military branch. Click here. (1/15)
Launch Schedule: Upcoming Florida Rocket Launches and Landings (Source: Florida Today)
Florida's Space Coast is slated to see high-profile launches this year, including the first uncrewed and crewed demonstration flights spearheaded by SpaceX and Boeing. Several commercial launches are expected, too. Click here. (1/16)
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Gears Up for a Busy and Historic Early 2020 (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com
For the first half of 2020, Antares will launch the Cygnus NG-13 mission to the International Space Station, Minotaur will launch a National Reconnaissance Payload, and Rocket Lab will launch their maiden flight from Launch Complex-2 (LC-2) on their Electron rocket. The next Minotaur IV mission, launching from Pad-0B will launch a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. The NROL-129 mission and is scheduled for no earlier than Feb 15. Rocket Lab’s first flight out of LC-2, called STP-27RM for the US Air Force is scheduled for around the summer of 2020.
Wallops may also gain another tenant in the Astra rocket. Astra Space Inc is aiming to launch a small satellite rocket, listing the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (Kodiak Launch Complex) and Wallops as its launch sites. The move to Wallops is understood to be related to a competition arranged by DARPA, subject to the vehicle conducting one successful flight, which has yet to be achieved.
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility has been in existence on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for 75 years. Before the establishment of Wallops as a launch site, the nearby airfield was part of NAAS Chincoteague, a U.S. Navy Auxiliary Air Station where pilots, including former President George H.W. Bush trained for aircraft carrier operations during World War II. Wallops was established as a launch site in 1945 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics or NACA, the predecessor to NASA. At the time, Wallops was known as the Pilotless Aircraft Research Station. When NACA became NASA in 1958, Wallops became known as Wallops Station. (1/13)
SpaceX Plans Next Starlink Launch NET January 21 (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX is planning another launch of Starlink satellites next week. The company could launch another set of 60 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 as soon as Jan. 21, just two weeks after the previous Starlink launch and two days after the company launches another Falcon 9 on an in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX officials have previously discussed conducting as many as 24 Starlink launches in 2020 as the company seeks to accelerate the deployment of that system and begin initial commercial services. (1/15)
SpaceX Aces Crew Dragon Launch Abort Test, Destroys Rocket On Purpose (Source: Space.com)
SpaceX just took a giant leap forward in its quest to launch astronauts. The private spaceflight company intentionally destroyed one of its rockets on Sunday (Jan. 19) as part of a crucial test of its new Crew Dragon capsule's launch escape system.
The uncrewed test, known as an in-flight abort (IFA) test, is the last major hurdle SpaceX needed to clear before Crew Dragon can begin to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Originally scheduled to launch on Saturday (Jan. 18), the unpiloted crew capsule was grounded for 24 hours due to unfavorable weather conditions at both the launch site and the Crew Dragon recovery zone, the Atlantic Ocean just off the Florida coast. (1/19)
Boeing Starliner Returns to Kennedy Space Center (Source: WESH)
Boeing’s Starliner spaceship, back at the Kennedy Space Center after a troubled first flight, is getting a workover meant to put it back in space as soon as possible. The Starliner, though battle scarred, may fly again this year. The spaceship is charred from its return to Earth in December. Newly released onboard views show a simulated astronaut lit up by the fireworks from the 3,000 degree entry into the atmosphere just before landing. The landing came only two days after liftoff; the mission cut short because the capsule’s timer was off, and its thrusters used up their fuel too soon.
Boeing engineers are beginning a thorough review of the flight. They’ll go so far as removing the ship’s outer skin. They’re hoping to confirm that there’s little to fix before the ship is qualified to fly real astronauts. It’s slated for a mission toward the end of the calendar year. It’s the second planned Boeing astronaut flight, meaning the first would have to come in the next few months. Boeing hopes the timing problem will be resolved quickly, and that they will be able to fly astronauts soon. (1/15)
Boeing Starliner Will Require "Minimal" Refurbishment Before Next Mission (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft that flew a shortened test flight last month will need only "minimal" refurbishment before it's ready for its next mission. Boeing engineers said Wednesday that the spacecraft, now back at the Kennedy Space Center, shows little external wear from its two-day orbital flight and likely will need on a modest amount of work to prepare it for its next mission, a crewed operational mission to the ISS. The cause of the timer anomaly that caused the flight to be shortened from more than a week to just two days remains under investigation. (1/16)
NASA Rings In Busy New Year in Florida to Prepare for Artemis Missions (Source: Space Daily)
NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will have a busy year preparing facilities, ground support equipment and space hardware for the launch of Artemis I, the first uncrewed launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft. In 2020, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) activities will ramp up as launch hardware arrives and teams put systems in place for Artemis I and II missions.
Launch countdown simulations will continue to ramp up in 2020 to train and certify the launch control team for Artemis missions. The types of simulations will build on one another and will walk through the final portions of the launch countdown sequence, called the terminal countdown. Integrated simulations will tie in all NASA centers working the mission to ensure all members of the team are ready to work together, including Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, and the SLS Engineering Support Center at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Simulations will begin at the end of January and will occur up through one week before launch, with an average of one training exercise each month. (1/15)
Clearwater Facility to Build Electronics for Orion Spacecraft (Source: Fox13 Tampa Bay)
The road to Mars runs through Clearwater. At least, that was part of the message Friday as Lockheed Martin and Honeywell in Clearwater signed a long-term contract to work on NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The Orion vehicle is set to take humans back to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program and eventually could fly people to Mars. But money earmarked for space is spent here on Earth.
As Representative Charlie Crist put it, space is powering Florida’s economy. In fact, he said, this deal and the ensuing missions are nothing less than our future. “The spacecraft that will be taking Americans back to the moon is being partly built right here in our backyard and that’s incredible,” Rep. Crist offered. “It’s an incredible opportunity for Pinellas manufacturers, technicians, and engineers to be part of a new era in American space exploration.” (1/17)
Connecticut Firm Gets $320M Contract to Build Orion Spacecraft Equipment (Source: Hartford Business Journal)
Windsor Locks manufacturer Collins Aerospace will provide equipment for NASA’s Orion spacecraft fleet under a new $320 million contract with Maryland-based defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin. As part of the deal, Collins, a division of Farmington-based United Technologies Corp., will make equipment for spacecraft meant to bring humans to the moon by 2024, and establish a sustained presence on the moon to prepare for missions to Mars, according to Collins. (1/15)
Ohio Will Help US Get Back to the Moon and Beyond (Source: Columbus Dispatch)
We’re explorers. It’s what humans do. Throughout our history, we’ve left the relative comfort of our homes in search of resources, discovery and knowledge. We’ll trek across vast mountains, sail uncharted oceans, take to the sky and hurtle across the expanse of space in our never-ending quest to explore. It’s this innate desire that brings us to the next frontier in human exploration: the Artemis program and our missions to the moon. Some say we don’t need the moon; they believe we need to go directly to Mars. But we need the moon if we are to successfully send humans to Mars.
And unlike Apollo, NASA’s Artemis program will send the first woman and next man to the moon in 2024 to establish a long-term human presence, creating a proving ground where we can learn from our closest cosmic neighbor. There, we’ll better understand how to live and work in deep space, we’ll develop the tools and processes needed for extended exploration, and we’ll use the moon’s resources, namely its vast amounts of ice, to produce the fundamental chemical elements required for space travel. This lunar education is the only thing that can truly prepare us for Mars. (1/15)
Spaceships Don’t Go to the Moon Until They’ve Gone Through Ohio (Source: NASA)
From the South, to the Midwest, to infinity and beyond. The Orion spacecraft for Artemis I has several stops to make before heading out into the expanse, and it can’t go to the Moon until it stops in Ohio. It landed at the Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport on Nov. 24, and then it was transferred to Plum Brook Station where it will undergo a series of environmental tests over the next four months to make sure it’s ready for space. The 40-degree-and-extremely-windy weather couldn’t stop the massive crowd at Mansfield from waiting hours to see the Super Guppy land.
Families huddled together as they waited, some decked out in NASA gear, including one astronaut costume complete with a helmet. Despite the delays, about 1,500 people held out to watch the bulbous airplane touch down. After Orion safely made it to Ohio, the next step was transporting it 41 miles to Plum Brook Station. It was loaded onto a massive truck to make the trip, and the drive lasted several hours as it slowly maneuvered the rural route to the facility. The 130-foot, 38-wheel truck hit a peak speed of about 20 miles per hour. It was the largest load ever driven through the state, and more than 700 utility lines were raised or moved in preparation to let the vehicle pass. Click here. (12/11)
NASA Astronauts Replace ISS Batteries During 7.5 Hour Spacewalk (Source: Space.com)
Two NASA astronauts replaced batteries outside the International Space Station during a spacewalk Wednesday. Jessica Meir and Christina Koch spent seven and a half hours outside the station, resuming work to replace batteries in the station's power system that had been postponed when a battery charging unit malfunctioned after an October spacewalk. The work was successful despite a problem with a camera and light mounted on Koch's helmet that required Meir to remove it early in the spacewalk. The two astronauts are scheduled to perform another spacewalk Monday to complete the battery replacement work. (1/16)
Helmet Trouble Strikes 2nd All-Female Spacewalk (Source: AP)
Spacewalking astronauts had to make do with fewer lights and camera views from one helmet Wednesday while performing critical battery work outside the International Space Station. It was the second pairing of NASA’s Jessica Meir and Christina Koch outside the orbiting lab. Last October, they teamed up for the world’s first all-female spacewalk.
The women were just getting started on battery replacements when Koch’s camera and light unit came loose and they couldn’t get it back on her helmet. Mission Control told them to just take it off, rather than waste any more time, and continue the spacewalk. “Just be careful,” Mission Control urged Koch. “You’re missing that additional protection.” Koch later assured flight controllers that she had enough good light. The astronauts ended up completing all their tasks and even jumped ahead, putting two new batteries in and pulling four old ones out. The spacewalk lasted 7 1/2 hours. (1/15)
This Year May Finally Fulfill the Promise of Private Human Spaceflight (Source: Ars Technica)
This year could see the fulfillment of a number of long-promised achievements in human spaceflight. For the first time, private companies could launch humans into orbit in 2020, and two different companies could send paying tourists on suborbital missions. The aerospace community has been watching and waiting for these milestones for years, but 2020 is probably the year for both.
We may also see a number of new rocket debuts this year, both big and small. A record number of missions—four—are also due to launch to Mars from four different space agencies. That's just the beginning of what promises to be an exciting year; here's a look at what we're most eagerly anticipating in the coming 11.5 months. Click here. (1/15)
Commercial Spaceflight is No Longer a Pipe Dream. Here's What's Next (Source: CNN)
The last decade gave rise to more than 500 startups in the commercial spaceflight sector, prompting analysts to dub it one of the most exciting new markets to watch. Investors have put more than $25 billion into makers of satellites, rockets and other space innovations since 2009, according to a report published Tuesday by investment firm Space Angels. This year could bring even more attention to the industry, as young companies continue to evolve from wannabes with pitch decks into legitimate businesses.
Instead of chasing angel investments and seed funding, some are graduating to growth capital or attracting more mainstream backers. One or two established startups might even file for an IPO, some investors speculate, potentially giving the industry more credibility on Wall Street. But just like any maturing industry, some companies will go bankrupt, others will join forces to survive and some could be snapped up by bigger competitors.
Venture capitalists only began making significant investments in space startups in the past few years. So the "new space" industry, as some call it, is still very young and has a lot to prove. But Wall Street banks, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, predict the global space economy could grow to $1 trillion or more over the next two decades. If the space sector's visionaries have their way, the next decade will see unprecedented business activity in space. (1/17)
A Freshly Cooked Meal In Space? It Could Happen Sooner Than You Think (Source: Forbes)
With both NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and Virgin Galactic on track to launch crew into space this year, the 2020s are on track to become the decade of space tourism. In anticipation of the industry’s expansion, companies such as Bigelow Aerospace have gone as far as to design hotels that will house private space travelers during their stays on orbit. Virgin Galactic, in turn, has a waiting list more than 600 people long for its first suborbital tourist flights.
As a 2010 study by The Tauri Group found, the main customer base for private spaceflight is high net-worth individuals, many of whom are seeking a new luxury travel experience after patronizing the world’s finest hotels and resorts. These individuals, who are willing to pay between $250,000 and $25M USD for a private spaceflight experience, are accustomed to white glove treatment: Not only are they visiting a destination when they travel, but they expect the cream of the crop in accommodation, amenities, and dining during their stay. (1/16)
Space Tourism: How Far Has the Industry Come? (Source: The Week)
According to data from marketstudyreport.com, the space tourism market is expected to be worth $1.18bn (£900m) by 2024. Blue Origin is attempting to build a lunar landing system in a bid to deliver the US government’s goal of taking humans to the Moon by 2024. SpaceX is prioritizing lunar travel too, and last September unveiled its Starship Mk1 - a prototype for the firm’s reusable launch system - which is capable of carrying up to 100 people to the Moon, Mars or other destinations in space or around Earth, as Space.com reported at the time. Click here. (1/17)
Moonstruck: Japanese Billionaire's Girlfriend Entrants Top 20,000 (Source: Reuters)
Applications to become Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa's girlfriend have topped 20,000, streaming service AbemaTV said on Thursday, ahead of its documentary on his search for a "life partner" to take on his moon voyage. Maezawa, who will be the first private passenger on Elon Musk's SpaceX, has already generated huge social media buzz with a $9 million giveaway to his followers that secured his position as Japan's foremost Twitter celebrity.
The show's application site now includes a "love diagnostic test" where potential entrants can test their compatibility with the entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank Group Corp last year. Multiple-choice questions include "If you rode in a private jet where would you go?" and "If Maezawa farted in front of you what would you say?", with users presented with a photo of the billionaire varying from happy to sad depending on their score. (1/16)
The Best Way to Make a Profit as an Aerospace Company is to Fail (Source: Quartz)
Americans haven’t gone to outer space on American-made rockets for almost a decade—since July 8, 2011, to be precise. NASA has paid up to $81.7 million per seat to get American astronauts into orbit onboard Russian Soyuz capsules. Meanwhile, China has moved ahead on its plans to dominate space and the vast resources beyond our atmosphere by 2049, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of the revolution that put China’s Communist Party in power. As international political analyst Namrata Goswami has pointed out, China has met every one of its space program’s target dates.
For years, the space military industrial complex, or SMIC—a hugely profitable coalition called the Space Exploration Alliance, made up of a handful of American defense companies including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing, among other suppliers—has promoted and funded programs that have guaranteed Americans cannot get to space using American vehicles. The SMIC is also making it nearly impossible for Americans to follow up on something they accomplished 50 years ago: Getting Americans to the moon, that centrally resource-rich frontier on which China threatens to outpace us in its claims. Click here. (1/13)
SpaceX Just Blew Up a Starship Tank on Purpose (Source: Teslarati)
Before dawn on January 10th, SpaceX technicians and engineers intentionally blew up a miniature Starship tank in order to test recently-upgraded manufacturing and assembly methods, likely to be used to build the first Starships bound for flight tests and orbit. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk quickly weighed in on Twitter later the same day, revealing some crucial details about the Starship tank test and effectively confirming that it was a success. While somewhat unintuitive, this is the second time SpaceX has intentionally destroyed largely completed Starship hardware in order to determine the limits of the company’s current methods of production and assembly.
Most notably, on November 20th, SpaceX is believed to have intentionally overpressurized the Starship Mk1 prototype in a very similar – albeit larger-scale – test, destroying the vehicle and sending its top tank dome flying hundreds of feet into the air. It’s generally believed that SpaceX (or perhaps even just Musk) decided that Starship Mk1 was not fit to fly, leading the company to switch gears and deem the prototype a “manufacturing pathfinder” rather than the first Starship to fly – which Musk had explicitly stated just a few months prior. (1/12)
Elon Musk Drops Details for SpaceX Mars Mega-Colony (Source: C/Net)
The first SpaceX Starship orbital prototypes aren't even built yet, but Elon Musk already has big plans for his company's spacecraft, which includes turning humans into an interplanetary species with a presence on Mars. He crunched some of the numbers he has in mind on Twitter on Thursday. Musk doesn't just want to launch a few intrepid souls to Mars, he wants to send a whole new nation. He tossed out a goal of building 100 Starships per year to send about 100,000 people from Earth to Mars every time the planets' orbits line up favorably.
Musk's vision involves loading 1,000 Starships into orbit and then sending them off over the course of a month around prime time for a minimal commute. Travelers would still be looking at spending months on board before reaching the Red Planet. When asked how people would be selected for the Red Planet move, Musk tweeted, "Needs to be such that anyone can go if they want, with loans available for those who don't have money." So perhaps you could pay off your SpaceX loans with a sweet terraforming gig.
In the meantime, Musk is stockpiling money for a reason. "Helping to pay for this is why I'm accumulating assets on Earth," he tweeted. The company is currently building Starships designed to reach Earth orbit after a series of successful "hopper" prototype tests. The reusable spacecraft could have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, enabling them to make round-trip journeys between the planets. (1/16)
Bezos and the Idea of a Factory in Space (Source: Live Mint)
As the prime mover of Blue Origin, a space venture, he has touched upon extra-planetary manufacturing as a concept earlier, notably in the context of a space carrier the company is developing to haul cargo to the moon. However, a lunar factory was taken as just another pie-in-the-sky—cool, but a little too dreamy. But what if it can be done? And what if it actually makes sense?
Consider the state of space rivalry. While Elon Musk’s SpaceX has lowered flight costs with easily-reusable crafts for space tourism, Blue Origin is reported to have a strategic edge with heavy payload lifting, the kind that would be needed to set up a production unit on some other celestial body. Conceivably, the big set-up challenge would involve getting equipment up there, exactly what Bezos’s company appears to be working on. As for land acquisition, while no government can lay claim to extraterrestrial land and resources under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, there is nobody out there to enforce it either, which means that finders get to be keepers. (1/15)
Blue Origin, OneWeb, SpaceX Lead Space Funding Race (Source: CNBC)
Space companies raised a record amount of funding in 2019. A report Tuesday by investment firm Space Angels concluded that companies in the industry raised $5.8 billion in nearly 200 rounds last year. That dollar amount is dominated by funds raised by Blue Origin, OneWeb and SpaceX, but the report found nearly three-fourths of all the rounds went to smaller early-stage investments, accounting for $686 million. Chad Anderson, CEO of Space Angels, said he expects several "pure-play" space companies to go public this year, but declined to name any likely candidates to do so. (1/15)
Sierra Nevada Explores New Applications for Dream Chaser (Source: Space News)
Sierra Nevada Corp. is examining other applications of its Dream Chaser vehicle. In a call with reporters last week, company executives said one area of focus is the vehicle's "Shooting Star" cargo module attached to the aft end of Dream Chaser, increasing the vehicle's cargo capacity to the station and enabling the disposal of cargo from the station. That module could be repurposed for a variety of applications, from transporting cargo to the lunar Gateway to serving as a small habitation module. The company remains interested in developing a crewed version of Dream Chaser as well, but has set no timetable for its development. (1/14)
Sierra Nevada Eyes 2021 Launch of Dream Chaser Space Plane (Source: Space.com)
The Colorado-based spaceflight company is on track for a 2021 launch debut of its robotic Dream Chaser space plane, even as the firm shoots for the moon under NASA's Artemis program, Sierra Nevada representatives said. Dream Chaser is set to become the next addition to the fleet of uncrewed cargo vehicles that ferry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). (Four different freighters currently do the job: Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft, SpaceX's Cargo Dragon, Russia's Progress spacecraft and Japan's HTV ship.)
Dream Chaser was originally designed to carry humans, but its first delivery will be a cargo resupply mission to the space station. In 2014, SNC lost out to SpaceX and Boeing for NASA contracts to launch astronauts. However, in 2016, NASA selected Dream Chaser for its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract, awarding Sierra Nevada a deal for six cargo missions to the space station by 2024. (1/16)
Virgin Galactic Continues Work on Fleet of SpaceShipTwo Vehicles (Source: Space News)
Virgin Galactic is making progress in the development of its next SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane, although the company is saying little about when its existing SpaceShipTwo will be ready to resume test flights. Virgin Galactic announced that the next SpaceShipTwo vehicle achieved a milestone called “weight on wheels,” where the vehicle supported itself solely using its landing gear. All the major structural elements of the vehicle are also in place.
The company said that this vehicle reached the “weight on wheels” stage of completion “considerably faster” than for the previous vehicle, VSS Unity, although it did not quantify how much faster the production went. The company credited the faster production to “a more efficient, modular assembly process, as well as experience curve benefits.” (1/13)
Virgin Galactic Enters Its Next Phase (Source: Seeking Alpha)
Virgin Galactic appears to have made it through initial post-IPO/post-SPAC skepticism. The management team have worked the analyst community to good effect, securing lofty price targets amongst tier-1 investment banks. The company is now in a period of relative capital-markets quiet before commercial operations begin. We think that approaching commercial launch, the stock will be driven by sentiment, spaceplane construction milestones, and degree of interest in ticket sales.
We have no reason to expect sentiment alone to fall. Space as a concept will we think continue to be marketed heavily through the next couple years, not least because NASA will need public support for its big spending SLS rocket, its Artemis moon program and so on. They don't quite have to sell war bonds to fund these things - Congress will supply money - but it makes Congress' life easier if there is public support behind all things space. It is no coincidence that if you walk around toy stores right now - physical and virtual - space has arisen as a theme more than at any time we can remember since the Apollo and Shuttle eras. (1/13)
Virgin Galactic Promotes Palermo to COO (Source: Virgin Galactic)
Virgin Galactic has appointed a longtime executive as its first chief operating officer. Enrico Palermo started Wednesday as COO while keeping his previous job as president of The Spaceship Company, Virgin's wholly owned manufacturing subsidiary. Palermo, who has been with Virgin for 13 years, will "lead the execution of specific company strategies and initiatives" in his new role as COO, the company said. (1/16)
SpinLaunch Raises $35 Million (Source: Space News)
SpinLaunch has raised another $35 million to help it develop an alternative launch technology. The company said it raised the new round from a number of venture capital firms, including Airbus Ventures, the VC arm of Airbus. SpinLaunch has raised $80 million to date to develop what it describes as a "large mass accelerator to provide on demand launches of small satellites" at higher frequencies and lower costs than conventional technologies. SpinLaunch has shared few technical details about its system, but expects to have a prototype system completed later this year at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (1/17)
Rocket Lab to Open California Headquarters Soon (Source: Rocket Lab)
Rocket Lab will open a new U.S. headquarters in Long Beach, California. The company announced Tuesday it is building that facility now, and expects it to be completed in the second quarter. The new headquarters facility will host production of Electron rockets and their Rutherford main engines, as well as satellites based on its Photon bus announced last year. Long Beach is already home to another small launch vehicle company, Virgin Orbit. (1/15)
Collaboration on Development of Next-Generation Rapid Launch Space Systems (Source: Space Daily)
The Air Force Research Laboratory and ABL Space Systems are collaborating to develop and test rocket propulsion elements for use in launch vehicles thanks to a 3-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) both organizations have agreed to. The CRADA, which was finalized July 10, 2019, focuses on research and development collaboration efforts that will transform the standard methods for rocket testing and launch operations and mature the technology base for more dynamic, robust and rapid launch operations.
Members from AFRL's Rocket Propulsion Division at Edwards AFB, California, and ABL, a privately-owned corporation in El Segundo, California, agreed on the collaborative effort with the final signatures of Dr. Shawn H. Phillips, chief of AFRL's Rocket Propulsion Division, and Harrison O'Hanley, Chief Executive Officer of ABL. AFRL will now be able to evaluate the test data provided by ABL as well evaluate rapid launch capability for current and future Air Force mission needs. In this collaboration, AFRL will be able to mature responsive launch operations with test data and studies that can be used for vehicle trajectory, sizing, payload performance and the overall launch system capability. (1/10)
AFRL Tests Launch Tech For ‘Austere’ Sites (Source: Breaking Defense)
The traditional image of a rocket launch involves looming gantries, big concrete pads, sprawling bases and it’s all fixed in place. Which can make places like Vandenberg Air Force Base very tempting targets in wartime. To complicate that otherwise simple calculus, the Air Force Research Laboratory is teaming with California startup ABL Space Systems to investigate launching satellites from remote and inhospitable areas, as well as rapid manufacturing techniques that could see rockets delivered almost on-demand.
The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with ABL for testing of its truck-launched RF-1 rocket addresses concerns that an adversary would target the handful of fixed launching sites in the US. It also bears relevance to Air Force, and presumably now Space Force, interests in injecting resiliency and into the vulnerable national security space architecture.
If the CRADA agreement proves beneficial, “ABL could be a provider of a new capability” to the Air Force and/or Space Force, Nils Sedano, technical advisor of the liquid engines branch at AFRL’s Rocket Propulsion Division at Edwards AFB, told Breaking D in an email. The Air Force “is obtaining technical test data of their propulsion and vehicle developments and being able to use it to further investigate the implementation of Additive Manufacturing upon Rocket Propulsion systems,” he explained. (1/16)
Treaty's End Could Jeopardize US. Satellites (Source: Space News)
The end of an arms control agreement could put American satellites in jeopardy. A report by the Aerospace Corporation released Wednesday notes that if the New Start arms control agreement is allowed to expire in 2021, limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear arms will cease as well as prohibitions on interference with space-based "national technical means" that are used to verify treaty compliance. The United States might have to prepare for the possibility that Russia could try to interfere with both U.S. government and commercial remote sensing assets, the report argued. It could also mean that, without the on-site inspections currently allowed under the treaty, space assets will be in greater demand to monitor Russian nuclear programs, pulling those satellites away from other uses. (1/16)
China Reveals Space Plan for 2020 (Source: Xinhua)
China will smash its record for space launches in 2020. The country is going to send more than 60 spacecraft into orbit via over 40 launches this year, according to a plan released Friday in Beijing. "This year will continue to see intensive launches," said Shang Zhi, director of the Space Department of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), at a press conference, where a blue book setting out China's space achievements and future missions was released.
According to Shang, there are three major missions, mainly focusing on the completion of the BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System, the lunar exploration and the network of Gaofen observation satellites. Two geostationary orbit BeiDou satellites will be sent into space in the first half of 2020. The Chang'e-5 lunar probe, which is expected to bring moon samples back to Earth, and China's first Mars probe are also planned to be launched this year. In addition, three new types of carrier rockets, which are the Long March-5B, Long March-7A and Long March-8, will make their maiden flights in 2020. (1/17)
China Plans 39 Million-Mile Race to Mars to Catch Up With NASA (Source: Bloomberg)
China is taking its rivalry with the U.S. to another planet. The Chinese space agency is preparing a mid-year mission to Mars, marking the most ambitious project on an exploration checklist intended to achieve equal footing with NASA and transform the nation’s technological know-how. Landing the unmanned probe on the red planet would cap President Xi Jinping’s push to make China a superpower in space. The nation already has rovers on the moon, and it’s making bold plans to operate an orbiting space station, establish a lunar base and explore asteroids by the 2030s.
“It’s about prestige, the demonstration of technological prowess on the world stage,” said Emily Lakdawalla, a solar system specialist at The Planetary Society nonprofit foundation. “If they can stick the landing, they will accomplish something amazing.” Chinese scientists have plenty of company as they look at least 39 million miles away at what’s called Huoxing, or “fire star,” in Mandarin. Thanks to Mars and Earth being closer in orbit, a phenomenon that happens only every 26 months, this promises to be a breakthrough year for exploring the planet that has fueled countless science-fiction tales. (1/18)
China’s Space Dream On Track (Source: Space Review)
China’s Long March 5 rocket successfully returned to flight in late December after a failure nearly two and a half years ago. Namrata Goswami explains that this shows that that country’s lunar ambitions, including eventual human missions to the Moon, need to be taken seriously. Click here. (1/13)
China Launches 5G Satellite (Source: Space News)
China launched an experimental 5G communications satellite Wednesday night. A Kuaizhou-1A solid launch vehicle lifted off from a mobile platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 10:02 p.m. Eastern and placed the Yinhe-1 (Galaxy-1) technology verification satellite into low Earth orbit. The satellite, developed by Chinese company Galaxy Space, is expected to test Q/V- and Ka-band communications at up to 10 gigabits per second. The satellite is part of plans to establish a global 5G constellation based on the "low-cost, high-performance" Galaxy-1 small satellite platform. (1/16)
China Launches Smallsats on Long March 2D (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
China launched several smallsats Tuesday night. A Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 9:53 p.m. Eastern, carrying as its primary payload the Kuanfu-1 remote sensing satellite, part of a constellation called Jilin-1. The rocket carried several other satellites, including two imaging satellites for Argentine company Satellogic. (1/15)
Argentine Smallsats Hitch Ride with Chinese Payloads on Long March Rocket (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Two Earth-imaging microsatellites built and owned by the Argentine company Satellogic launched on a Long March 2D rocket from China Wednesday, sharing a ride into orbit with two Chinese spacecraft. The ÑuSat 7 and 8 satellites — each about 45 kilograms (100 pounds) — lifted off on a two-stage, liquid-fueled Long March 2D rocket from the Taiyuan launch base in northern China’s Shanxi province. (1/15)
Russia’s New Super-Heavy Rocket to be Cheaper Than US Space Launch System (Source: TASS)
Russia’s new super-heavy carrier rocket Yenisei will be cheaper than the US Space Launch System (SLS), Head of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin wrote on his Twitter. "Our super-heavy rocket will cost considerably less than the American SLS but it is necessary to lay groundwork already today for the solutions that will make the Yenisei even more competitive," he said.
The Roscosmos chief said he agreed with SpaceX founder Elon Musk who had earlier stated that the launch cost of an SLS heavy carrier rocket, which Boeing was developing for delivering astronauts to the Moon, was too high. As the Roscosmos chief said, even the United States with its powerful economy would find it difficult to bear such expenses. (1/17)
Russia Plans Budget Increase for New Crewed Spacecraft (Source: Sputnik)
Roscosmos plans to increase spending on a next-generation crewed spacecraft. Procurement documents state that Roscosmos plans to spend 8 billion rubles ($130 million) on the Oryol spacecraft starting in 2021. The vehicle, formerly known as Federation, is intended to eventually replace the Soyuz spacecraft in transporting cosmonauts to low Earth orbit and, later, to the moon. RSC Energia will build two prototypes of Oryol, one of which will be launched on an uncrewed flight on the Angara-A5 rocket in 2023. (1/14)
Russian Spy Satellite Has Broken Up in Space (Source: Space Daily)
Russia launched the Kosmos-2491 military satellite into orbit in 2013, with few details made available regarding its capabilities and mission, leading to speculation about its true purpose. Russia's Kosmos-2491 military satellite may has disintegrated in space, either by accident or after deliberately self-destructing, Harvard-Smithsonian astronomer Jonathan McDowell believes. Earlier, the US Air Force's Project Space Track reported that ten fragments thought to be the remnants of the Kosmos-2491 military satellite, assigned the numbers 44912-44913 and 44987-44994, were observed orbiting at altitudes between 1,329 to 1,699 km. (1/14)
Russian Satellites to Monitor Iran After Attack on US Bases, Plane Crash (Source: Sputnik)
Russian space agency Roscosmos is planning to use its satellites to monitor the situation in Iran following its recent missile attack on US bases in Iraq and the Ukrainian Boeing crash, according to a statement published on the organization's website on Thursday. The statement, which gives updates on Roscosmos' satellite monitoring operations, also said that the agency planned to monitor the Australian bushfires, and floods in Indonesia, Israel, and the Italian city of Venice, among other natural disasters.
The tragic crash involved a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800, bound for Kiev, and happened on Wednesday near Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport shortly after take-off. All 176 people on board were killed. On the same day, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps started an operation to retaliate against the US for killing one of its top generals, Qasem Soleimani, in Iraq, launching dozens of missiles at the country's Ain Al Asad and Erbil airbases. The attack caused no casualties. (1/10)
'Space Unites Us': First Iranian-American Astronaut Reaches for Stars (Source: Space Daily)
Jasmin "Jaws" Moghbeli earned her fierce nickname during her time as a decorated helicopter gunship pilot who flew more than 150 missions in Afghanistan. The Marine Corps major, MIT graduate and college basketball player can now add another accomplishment to her burgeoning resume: the first Iranian-American astronaut.
Speaking to AFP after graduating in NASA's latest cohort, the 36-year-old immigrant said she hoped her example might help inspire others from similar backgrounds. "I would love for everyone to be able to be inspired by everyone, but it is a little easier to be inspired by someone who looks like you or has something in common with you, so I do hope there is that influence," she said. She and her brother were born in Germany to Iranian parents, architecture students who had fled their native country after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. (1/12)
UAE Satellite Switches to Soyuz Rocket (Source: Space News)
A United Arab Emirates reconnaissance satellite will launch on a Soyuz rocket rather than a Vega. Arianespace said the Falcon Eye 2 satellite will launch on a Soyuz rocket in March rather than wait for the smaller Vega rocket to return to flight. The Vega has been grounded since a July launch failure that resulted in the loss of the UAE's Falcon Eye 1 satellite. Both Arianespace and Airbus, manufacturer of Falcon Eye, said the switch was related to launch schedules and not a lack of trust in the Vega. (1/14)
Space Industry is Important for Driving UAE Sustainable Development (Source: Gulf Today)
As part of its participation in Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2020, the UAE Space Agency discussed its continuous efforts for achieving a sustainable future, both through space exploration as well as the implementation of innovative space technologies. The Agency engaged with the youth and encouraged them to enter the space sector, stressing their role in developing space technologies and utilizing space resources to build a sustainable and bright future on Earth.
Influential delegates from the UAE Space Agency were involved in panel discussions, workshops, networking lunches, and start-up hubs, where they shared insights on the importance of the space industry for driving sustainable development. They took part in the Future Sustainability Summit, Youth4Sustainability Forum, Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy and the Climate Innovation Exchange (CLiX), which the UAE Space Agency is a strategic partner of. (1/17)
Kiwi Startup Dawn Aerospace Considers Sending Rockets Into Space From Oamaru (Source: Stuff)
Reusable rockets could be taking off from the Otago town of Oamaru and heading into space later this year. Representatives of New Zealand-based startup Dawn Aerospace have signed an agreement with the Waitaki District Council to launch test flights of unmanned rocket-propelled space planes from Oamaru Airport. Dawn Aerospace co-founder James Powell said the site was chosen because of its stable weather, supportive local government and community, and proximity to the company's base in Christchurch. (1/16)
Luxembourg Establishes Space Industry Venture Fund (Source: Space News)
The government of Luxembourg has invested in a new fund intended to support space startups, a move that will be one of the last for the country’s most prominent backer of the industry. The government invested an undisclosed amount into Orbital Ventures, a new fund based in the country. The fund, the government said in a statement, will invest in “early stage space companies with ground-breaking ideas and technologies.” Other investors in the fund include several financial firms, European space companies OHB and SES, and Promus Ventures, an American venture fund that has invested in a number of space startups. (1/17)
ESA Seeks New Agreement With European Union (Source: Space News)
The head of the European Space Agency said a priority for him this year is negotiating a new cooperative agreement with the European Union. Jan Woerner said he hopes to complete later this year a new financial framework partnership agreement with the EU governing joint work on the Copernicus and Galileo programs. EU's next space budget, starting in 2021, is uncertain after a proposal last month to slash the prior proposed budget of 16.9 billion euros over seven years by up to 25%, but Woerner said that should not affect ESA's roles in those programs. Woerner and others added at the meeting they were optimistic the ExoMars 2020 mission would launch this summer after recent successful tests of a revised parachute system for the lander. (1/16)
Europe’s Arianespace Launches Two Satellites (Source: Space News)
Arianespace started a busy 2020 with the launch Thursday of two communications satellites. An Ariane 5 lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana, at 4:05 p.m. Eastern and deployed the Eutelsat Konnect and GSAT-30 satellites into geostationary transfer orbits. Eutelsat Konnect is the first satellite to use the Neosat bus intended to reduce the cost of advanced communications satellites. The spacecraft will provide Ka-band services for Europe and Africa. GSAT-30 was built by the Indian space agency ISRO to replace the existing INSAT-4A satellite. The launch is the first of as many as 22 missions Arianespace expects to conduct this year. (1/17)
Bermuda Seeks Space Industry Role (Source: Royal Gazette)
Bermuda will host a space sustainability workshop next week as it seeks a bigger role in the space industry. The invitation-only workshop next week, held in conjunction with the Secure World Foundation, will bring together government and industry leaders to discuss space industry development and space sustainability issues. The effort is part of a broader strategy of diversifying Bermuda's economy. (1/16)
NOAA to Update Space Weather Capabilities (Source: Space News)
NOAA is preparing to update its aging fleet of space weather instruments. Congress provided NOAA funding in the 2020 budget for Space Weather Follow On (SWFO), a satellite destined for the Earth-sun L-1 point that will carry instruments such as a Compact Coronagraph to monitor solar activity. SWFO is scheduled to fly in 2024 as a secondary payload on the launch of NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe mission. NOAA is preparing to send a second Compact Coronagraph into orbit in 2024 on the GOES-U weather satellite. (1/14)
Aeolus Winds Now in Daily Weather Forecasts (Source: Space Daily)
ESA's Aeolus satellite has been returning profiles of Earth's winds since 3 September 2018, just after it was launched - and after months of careful testing these measurements are considered so good that the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is now using them in their forecasts. The decision to include new measurements in weather forecasts is never taken lightly; it takes a lot of work to understand the data properly and ensure that they are of good quality.
It is extremely unusual for a completely new type of satellite data to be ready for practical use in forecasts so soon after launch. Nevertheless, this extraordinary satellite has surpassed expectations and, as of today, Aeolus will be improving our forecasts, from one-day forecasts to those forecasting the weather more than a week ahead. (1/13)
Two New Satellites Will Launch This Year to Track Earth's Rising Oceans (Source: Space.com)
Two new satellites will provide more detailed information about rising sea levels and other ocean changes on Earth. Launching in November, the Sentinel-6/Jason Continuity of Service mission (Jason-CS) will be the longest-running Earth observation mission dedicated to studying the rising oceans. The spacecraft will provide the most sensitive water level measurements as it reveals details about rising oceans, helping to build nearly 40 years of sea level records.
A joint U.S.-European satellite mission, S6 follows in the footsteps of a trio of missions (TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Ocean Surface Topography/Jason-2, and Jason-3) that have measured how sea levels have risen over the past 30 years. The preceding spacecraft revealed that Earth's oceans rose by an average of 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) in the 1990s, increasing to 0.13 inches (3.4 mm) today. (1/12)
Euroconsult Forecasts Satellite Demand to Experience a Four-Fold Increase Over the Next 10 Years (Source: Space Daily)
In its latest analysis of satellite manufacturing and launch services, Satellites to be Built and Launched by 2028, Euroconsult projects that the satellite market will experience a radical transformation in the quantity, value and mass of the satellites to be built and launched with a four-fold increase in the number of satellites at a yearly average of 990 satellites to be launched, compared to a yearly average of 230 satellites in the previous decade. The market will reach $292 billion over the next decade. This reflects a 28 percent increase over the previous decade which totaled $228 billion in revenues. (1/14)
Environmental Law Could Halt Megaconstellations (Source: Scientific American)
A law student argues that environmental law could be used to halt the launch of megaconstellations like SpaceX's Starlink. In a paper to be published in a Vanderbilt University law journal, a student there says that the FCC may have unlawfully granted a license to SpaceX for Starlink by not performing an environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The FCC has long had a categorical exclusion to performing such reviews, but the paper argues that an environmental review is required because of the potential impacts on the night sky caused by thousands of satellites. It's not clear if any astronomers or other organizations plan to pursue lawsuits to halt the launches and force an environmental review, though. (1/17)
You Can’t Take the Sky From Me (Source: Space Review)
Plans by SpaceX and other companies to deploy megaconstellations of satellites have alarmed astronomers, who worry that such satellites could interfere with their observations. Arwen Rimmer argues that such satellites should be a concern to anyone who looks up into the night sky, not just professional astronomers. Click here. (1/13)
Length of Satellite De-Orbit Rule Debated (Source: Space News)
The current 25-year rule for deorbiting satellites is still useful provided operators are willing to comply with it. Many in the space industry have called for reducing that guideline to as little as 5-10 years because of the growing number of satellites in low Earth orbit. However, in a conference presentation Tuesday the chief scientist for NASA's orbital debris office said that models of the orbital debris population show that changing that guideline alone would do little to limit the growth of orbital debris. A bigger factor is increasing the compliance to the existing 25-year guideline, which today less than 50% of all satellites in low Earth orbit adhere to. (1/15)
Solar Array Failure Drops Eutelsat 5 Capacity to 45% (Source: Eutelsat)
Eutelsat said it's lost more than half the capacity of a satellite launched in October. The company announced Friday that the Eutelsat 5 West B satellite will have only 45% of its projected capacity because of the failure of one of its two solar arrays, a problem first reported shortly after launch. The satellite, expected to enter service later this month, will still operate for its full lifetime, and the company said it has "a number of mitigation actions" planned for affected customers. The Northrop Grumman-built satellite is insured for $192 million. (1/17)
Spire Releases Cubesat GNSS Data (Source: Space News)
Spire has released the first data from a pair of experimental cubesats. The two satellites, launched in December, collect Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) reflectometry data, measuring GPS and other navigation systems' signals that reflect off the Earth's surface. Those satellites, the company says, can measure soil moisture and ocean wind conditions, and can serve applications such as weather forecasting, agriculture, drought monitoring and flood prediction. (1/16)
TriSept Buys Orbex Launch (Source: Space News)
Satellite integrator TriSept has purchased a launch of an Orbex rocket. That deal, announced Tuesday, covers the launch of an Orbex Prime small launch vehicle from the spaceport under development near Sutherland, Scotland, in 2022. TriSept's rideshare mission is likely to send up to 20 cubesats and microsatellites into orbit. Orbex Prime, designed to place up to 150 kilograms into a sun-synchronous orbit, is scheduled to make its first launch in late 2021. (1/15)
RUAG Space: High-Tech-Mechanisms for New Generation of All-Electric Satellites (Source: RUAG)
Eutelsat KONNECT satellite has been launched on 16 January on board an European Ariane 5 rocket. The satellite will provide broadband internet services to Africa. For this new generation of European telecommunications satellites, RUAG Space produced mechanisms that point the satellite's electrical engines. The electric propulsion is necessary to bring the satellite exactly into its position and to maintain this position over the lifetime of several years. “To have designed and produced such a complex mechanism in a very short time frame is an extraordinary technical achievement,” says Peter Guggenbach, Executive Vice President RUAG Space. “Our mechanisms are a key element of this new type of all-electric satellite.”
The all-electric Eutelsat KONNECT spacecraft is the first satellite built on the new Spacebus Neo platform from Thales Alenia Space. Electric engines consume significantly less fuel than chemical engines, for example. The Electric Propulsion Pointing Mechanisms (EPPM) were delivered from RUAG Space to Thales Alenia Space, the satellite builder. The mechanisms will be mounted on Eutelsat KONNECT satellite. In total RUAG Space developed and produced 12 mechanisms at its site in Vienna, Austria. (1/18)
Scientists Sent Mighty Mice To Space To Improve Treatments Back On Earth (Source: NPR)
In early December at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, two anxious scientists were about to send 20 years of research into orbit. "I feel like our heart and soul is going up in that thing," Dr. Emily Germain-Lee told her husband, Dr. Se-Jin Lee, as they waited arm-in-arm for a SpaceX rocket to launch. A few seconds later the spacecraft took off, transporting some very unusual mice to the International Space Station, where they would spend more than a month in near zero gravity.
Ordinarily, that would cause the animals' bones to weaken and their muscles to atrophy. But Lee and Germain-Lee, a power couple in the research world, were hoping that wouldn't happen with these mice. The couple hope that what they learn from these mice will lead to new treatments for millions of people with conditions that weaken muscles and bones. Among those who might eventually benefit: children with muscular dystrophy or brittle bone disease, cancer patients with muscle wasting, bedridden patients recovering from hip fractures, older people whose bones and muscles have become dangerously weak, and astronauts on long space voyages. (1/16)
NASA-Funded Space Radiation Studies Could Save Astronauts' Lives (Source: Space Daily)
Physicists are teaming up with computer scientists in a NASA-funded study to help predict solar flares and radiation that can disable spacecraft and potentially kill astronauts. NASA has awarded a $550,000 grant to the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne to begin the three-year machine learning project next month. Computer algorithms will analyze data and imagery from the sun and solar system radiation.
The space agency's goal is to identify warning signs that precede solar radiation events and to better understand their length and severity. Scientists say is important to monitor solar activity and restrict spacewalks when radiation levels are dangerously high. As NASA plans a base on the moon and trips to Mars, the space agency is ramping up space radiation studies. Radiation from solar energy can affect astronauts, spacecraft electronics, signals from GPS satellites and even commercial jetliners on polar routes. High doses of space radiation could make astronauts too sick to function well enough to get home. (1/17)
Could Future Homes on the Moon and Mars Be Made of Fungi? (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Science fiction often imagines our future on Mars and other planets as run by machines, with metallic cities and flying cars rising above dunes of red sand. But the reality may be even stranger – and “greener.” Instead of habitats made of metal and glass, NASA is exploring technologies that could grow structures out of fungi to become our future homes in the stars, and perhaps lead to more sustainable ways of living on Earth as well.
The myco-architecture project out of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley is prototyping technologies that could “grow” habitats on the Moon, Mars and beyond out of life – specifically, fungi and the unseen underground threads that make up the main part of the fungus, known as mycelia.
Ultimately, the project envisions a future where human explorers can bring a compact habitat built out of a lightweight material with dormant fungi that will last on long journeys to places like Mars. Upon arrival, by unfolding that basic structure and simply adding water, the fungi will be able to grow around that framework into a fully functional human habitat – all while being safely contained within the habitat to avoid contaminating the Martian environment. (1/18)
Why Improved Registration is Essential for Public and Private Activities on the Moon (Source: Space Review)
Existing treaties may be ill-equipped to deal with the surge in both government and commercial missions to the Moon. Dennis O’Brien discusses what changes a recent white paper recommended to one agreement regarding the registration of such missions. Click here. (1/13)
A Mars Sample-Return Mission is Coming. Scientists Want the Public to Know What to Expect (Source: Space.com)
The first pristine pieces of Mars won't be coming down to Earth for at least another decade, but the time to start preparing society for the epic arrival is now, scientists say. NASA's 2020 Mars rover is scheduled to launch in July of this year and land inside the Red Planet's 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater next February. The six-wheeled robot will do a variety of work once it gets there, but its headline task is hunting for signs of ancient Mars life.
Mars 2020 will do this on the ground in Jezero, which hosted a lake and a river delta billions of years ago. The rover will also collect and cache promising samples for eventual return to Earth, where scientists in well-equipped labs around the world can scrutinize them in exacting detail for any evidence of Martian organisms. (1/13)
Mars Loses Its Water Even Faster Than Anyone Thought (Source: Space.com)
Water might escape Mars more effectively than previously thought, potentially helping to explain how the Red Planet lost its seas, lakes and rivers, a new study finds. Although Mars is now cold and dry, winding river valleys and dry lake beds suggest that water covered much of the Red Planet billions of years ago. What remains of the water on Mars is mostly locked frozen in the Red Planet's polar ice caps, which possess less than 10% of the water that once flowed on the Martian surface, prior work has suggested.
Previous research has also indicated that Martian water mostly escaped into space. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun breaks apart water in Mars' upper atmosphere to form hydrogen and oxygen, and much of this hydrogen then floats off into space, given its extraordinarily light nature and Mars' middling gravity (which is just 40% as strong as Earth's). Recent findings suggested that large amounts of water might regularly make rapid intrusions into Mars' upper atmosphere. To shed light on these events, scientists analyzed data from the Mars-circling Trace Gas Orbiter, which is part of the European-Russian ExoMars program. The scientists focused on the way water was distributed up and down the Martian atmosphere by altitude in 2018 and 2019. (1/9)
Balancing Astronomical Visions with Budgetary Realities (Source: Space Review)
The long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope should finally approach completion this year, as work ramps up on NASA’s next major space telescope, WFIRST. Jeff Foust reports these missions are providing lessons, good and bad, on how to manage flagship missions as astronomers weigh what should come next. Click here. (1/13)
Potential Super-Earth Found Orbiting the Nearest Star From Our Sun (Source: CNN)
In 2016, astronomers found a potentially habitable planet called Proxima b around the star Proxima Centauri, which is only 4.2 light-years from Earth. Now, researchers have traced a second signal they believe belongs to a super-Earth orbiting the same star, increasing the intrigue of this neighboring planetary system and its potential. (1/16)
Strange Objects that "Look Like Gas and Behave Like Stars" Discovered Orbiting Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole (Source: CBS)
The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is always up to something unusual. Now, astronomers have spotted strange new objects close by — and they aren't quite sure what they are. Using 13 years worth of data from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, astronomers were able to identify a new class of objects extremely close to the black hole, Sagittarius A*. The six objects, named G1 through G6, appear to be interacting with the black hole. "These objects look like gas and behave like stars," co-author Andrea Ghez said in a statement. (1/15)
The Oldest Material on Earth Has Been Found in a Meteorite (Source: WESH)
A new study of presolar grains from the Murchison meteorite recovered in Australia has revealed "the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us about how stars formed in our galaxy. They're solid samples of stars." The meteorite was recovered in 1969 and presolar grains were isolated from it. "It starts with crushing fragments of the meteorite down into a powder," said Jennika Greer, study co-author and a graduate student at the Field Museum and the University of Chicago. "Once all the pieces are segregated, it's a kind of paste, and it has a pungent characteristic. It smells like rotten peanut butter."
Dissolving the paste in acid reveals the presolar grains, allowing the researchers to determine their age and the type of star they once belonged to. The researchers were able to measure the exposure of the grains to cosmic rays, highly energized particles zipping through our galaxy. Many of the grains recovered were between 4.6 and 4.9 billion years old, while others were older than 5.5 billion years.
They also learned that seven billion years ago, more stars began forming. "We have more young grains than we expected," Heck said. "Our hypothesis is that the majority of those grains, which are 4.9 to 4.6 billion years old, formed in an episode of enhanced star formation. There was a time before the start of the solar system when more stars formed than normal." Astronomers have argued about the rate of star formation. Some believe it's steady and unchanging, while others believe there are peaks and dips. (1/13)
Earth Bacteria May Have Colonized Other Solar Systems (Source: Cosmos)
Could the Earth be a life-exporting planet? That’s the curious question examined in a recent paper written by Harvard University astronomers Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb. The researchers take a novel twist on the controversial notion of panspermia – the idea, propelled into the mainstream in the early 1970s by astronomers Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, that life might have started on Earth through microbes arriving from space.
The theory is generally discounted, although eminent astrophysicists such as Stephen Hawking conceded it was at least possible, and a major paper published in 2018 revived the topic big-time. In their paper, Siraj and Loeb reverse the standard assumption about the direction of the microbial journey and ask whether it is possible to that at some point Earth-evolved bacteria could have been propelled away from the planet, possibly to be deposited somewhere else in the Milky Way. (1/16)
Plant-Powered Sensor Sends Signal to Space (Source: ESA)
A device that uses electricity generated by plants as its power source has communicated via satellite – a world first. Such sensors could be used to connect everyday objects in remote locations, enabling them to send and receive data as part of the Internet of Things. The device can inform farmers about the conditions of their crops to help increase yield, and enable retailers to gain detailed information about potential harvests. It transmits data on air humidity, soil moisture and temperature, enabling field-by-field reporting from agricultural land, rice fields or other aquatic environments. (1/15)
World's First City Discovered by U.S. Spy Satellite (Source: MSN)
Since humankind first went into space, we've had the ability to look down on the marvels of our civilization. Now, thanks to space technology, we are also able to look at our past to better understand how the dynamic life on our planet has influenced the rise of our species. Old U.S. spy satellite images of the Middle East have unearthed a stunning discovery: the world’s first city, Tell Brak – 4,000 years older than the Great Pyramids. Join us as we travel back 300,000 years to Africa's equatorial zone where Homo sapiens first walked Earth. Click here. (1/12)
NASA Pays Tribute, Says Goodbye to One of Agency’s Great Observatories (Source: NASA)
NASA will host a live program at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Jan. 22, to celebrate the far-reaching legacy of the agency’s Spitzer Space Telescope – a mission that, after 16 years of amazing discoveries, soon will come to an end. The event will air live on NASA Television, Facebook Live, Ustream, YouTube, Twitter and the agency's website. Experts on the program will include NASA’s Director of Astrophysics Paul Hertz and, from the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Spitzer Project Scientist Mike Werner, astrophysicist Farisa Morales, current Mission Manager Joseph Hunt, and former Mission Manager Suzanne Dodd. (1/15)
The Cold War Plan to Build Earth's Largest Telescope (Source: Supercluster)
Tucked away in the rolling foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, Sugar Grove, West Virginia is a picture-perfect small American town. Stroll down the tree-lined main street and you’ll find a daycare center and a bowling alley. A few blocks away there’s a gymnasium lined with pennants and a hobbyshop for woodworking. The houses have freshly painted clapboards and white picket fences. The town is textbook Americana—and for the last four years it’s been entirely deserted.
Sugar Grove didn’t always seem like it was plucked from a Twilight Zone episode. If you visited the town 50 years ago, you’d have found it to be a hive of activity. You see, Sugar Grove was always a military facility. It was built in the 1950s to house the families of soldiers working on a top secret project just up the road. Here, in a secluded clearing of dense national forest, Navy personnel were toiling away on what would have become the largest radio telescope ever built. At the time, the project was conceived as an unprecedented piece of intelligence infrastructure that would enlist the moon itself as an ally in the struggle against Soviet communism.
Today, there is little evidence the Sugar Grove telescope ever existed. Most documents pertaining to its plans remain classified by the National Reconnaissance Office. As for the telescope itself, the only clues that construction ever began are a few steel struts rising from an anonymous concrete pad. (1/13)
Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC Designated as National Civil Engineering Landmark (Source: Florida Today)
The American Society of Civil Engineers has named the Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC as a national historic civil engineering landmark in a ceremony Friday at KSC. Click here. (1/13)
Astronaut Stars in Olay's Super Bowl Ad to 'Make Space for Women' (Source: CollectSpace)
A former NASA astronaut is starring in a Super Bowl ad to help "make space for women." Nicole Stott, who logged more than 100 days on three flights to the International Space Station, is set to appear in Olay's 30-second Big Game spot to promote the skin care company's partnership with the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code.
"On a mission to #MakeSpaceForWomen," wrote Stott on Facebook. "Thanks to Olay for encouraging and supporting young women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]." The campaign aims to increase the number of women in science and technology fields, including computer science, to close the gender gap that exists today. For every post on Twitter that includes the hashtag #MakeSpaceForWomen through the day after Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2), Olay will donate $1 (up to $500,000) to Girls Who Code. (1/16)
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