November 2, 2015
Atlas V Rocket Blasts Off From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: MyNews13)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Saturday afternoon. The Atlas V carried a GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force into orbit. It’s called the GPS IIF-11 and is the 11th in a series of 12 satellites designed to improve navigational data for troops around the world. (10/31)
Water Leak Delayed Atlas Launch to Saturday (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With slightly more than 16 hours before launch, ULA was forced to slightly postpone the launch of the 11th Block IIF GPS satellite due to a leak in ground support equipment located at Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. A leak was discovered in a ground support equipment valve for launch pad water suppression system. The launch has been rescheduled for Oct. 31. The launch window is 12:13-12:32 p.m. EDT. (10/29)
NASA Picks Atlas for TRDS Launch from Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the agency’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) mission. The mission will launch in October 2017 aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The total cost for NASA to launch TDRS-M is approximately $132.4 million, which includes the launch service, spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry, and other launch support requirements. (10/30)
Atlas Price Cut Helps Orbital ATK Shake Off Antares Failure (Source: Space News)
Satellite and rocket builder Orbital ATK on Oct. 27 said it had already benefited from price cuts to the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in its contract for a March 2016 launch of Orbital’s Cygnus space station cargo transporter.
Orbital Chief Executive David W. Thompson declined to detail the reductions the company was able to secure for the launch but said ULA’s announced effort to bring Atlas 5 prices down from $150 million to something closer to $100 million was confirmed with the new contract. ULA is “serious about getting Atlas down to [those] levels. … We certainly saw some of that” in booking the March 2016 flight, Thompson said. (10/28)
Cape Canaveral Spaceport On Track for 19 Launches in 2015 (Source: SPACErePORT)
If ULA and SpaceX conduct the four launches they still have planned this year, the Cape Canaveral Spaceport will have achieved 19 launches in 2015. That's compared to a manifest of up to 24 launches that were forecast for the year in January 2015. At most, we'll see nine ULA Atlas-5, two ULA Delta-2, and eight SpaceX Falcon-9 launches.
Despite falling short of its 24-launch target, the 19-launch total is part of a steady trend, with 16 in 2014 and 10 in 2013, 2012 and 2011. One published manifest for 2016 currently includes 19 launches, seven Atlas-5, three Delta-4, eight Falcon-9, and one Falcon-Heavy. That is a partial-year manifest, likely to grow if SpaceX finds its groove and dramatically increases its tempo. Space Florida suspects that we could see more than 30 launches in 2016.
I count 17 launches for 2015 from Kazakhstan's Baikonur spaceport (Proton, Soyuz, Zenit) and 11 for 2015 from French Guiana's Kourou spaceport (Ariane, Vega, Soyuz). If ULA and SpaceX launch at least three of those four remaining missions before January, the Cape Canaveral Spaceport will win the prize for busiest spaceport of 2015. (10/30)
Cape Canaveral: The World's Busiest and Most Capable Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
With a growing annual launch manifest, several new launch service providers seeking access to launch facilities, and Eastern Range improvements that will facilitate increased throughput, the Cape Canaveral Spaceport is postured to once again become the world's busiest spaceport. In addition to having more launches, the spaceport is also becoming significantly more capable.
Consider the mission options: launches and landings, orbital and suborbital, manned and unmanned, vertical and horizontal, ground launch and air launch, large and small, high and low inclination, expendable and reusable, commercial and government. No other spaceport has this breadth of capabilities, and the ready support of multiple federal and state agencies, contractors, suppliers, and space-trained workers. (10/30)
Port Canaveral Decides to Pursue Rail Line Through Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Port Canaveral commissioners approved a plan to move forward with efforts to establish a cargo rail link through Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. They voted to enter into a "joint endeavor" with Gilbane/Renaurt/Larkin/Mid-Atlantic Railway Services Group, which also could involve increased port cargo facilities, an industrial park and an office park on Air Force land.
The port and the group will work on pursuing an enhanced-use lease agreement with the Air Force. Port officials are hoping that working with the Renuart/Larkin principal Gene Renuart, a retired Air Force four-star general, will help in the port's discussions with Air Force officials. Renuart’s nearly 39-year Air Force career culminated as commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.
Editor’s Note: This rail property is also Space Florida territory, as established by the Florida Legislature (where they also designated the combined KSC and CCAFS as the “Cape Canaveral Spaceport”). The spaceport authority's support or approval may also be required for this rail line, if they choose to exercise their role. (10/29)
Northrop Grumman Win Helps Space Coast Rebound From Shuttle Retirement (Source: Florida Today)
Northrop Grumman's winning the contract to build the next generation Air Force stealth bomber contract is a big financial victory for Florida's Space Coast. As a result, Northrop is expected to add 1,500 local engineering and program management jobs, with an average wage of $100,000, between now and 2019 and to make an overall capital investment of $500 million at it facility at Melbourne International Airport. The estimated economic impact of Northrop's expansion in Brevard is $294 million annually.
"It's hard to overstate the impact this project could have," said Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida's Center for Economic Competitiveness. Snaith added: "That number of jobs with that average pay will have a significant impact on the regional economy. That'll be a significant step towards rebuilding the space and aviation sectors on the Space Coast, which have struggled somewhat since the shuttle came to an end. This would be a huge step forward." (10/28)
RocketStar Plans Test Launch From KSC's LC-39C (Source: SPACErePORT)
RocketStar, a New York-based launcher startup, plans to develop a small single-stage satellite launch vehicle using an aerospike engine design that will be produced using additive manufacturing (3-D printing). The company plans to launch from Launch Complex 39C, the small-vehicle pad that NASA has situated on the perimeter of LC-39B at Kennedy Space Center.
RocketStar is now working with the Air Force and NASA to gain approval for a series of subscale-vehicle suborbital test launches from LC-39C (or another location, if necessary). The first would occur in mid-November using a five-foot long solid-fuel vehicle to demonstrate the aerospike design with a flight intended to break the sound barrier and reach 10,000 feet altitude.
A second test in 2016 would feature a liquid-fueled version that they hope will reach 100 km altitude. The company is awaiting safety approvals now for their first test launch. Given the size of the vehicle, their backup plan is to launch from a Central Florida ranch under FAA "amateur class" launch rules. (10/26)
Inaugural Launch of Small-Class Rocket On Hold in Hawaii (Source: SpaceFlightNow)
The maiden test flight of a new rail-guided launcher from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, which was scheduled for Thursday, has been delayed while engineers resolve issues encountered in pre-launch preparations. The mission, managed by the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space office, will carry 13 spacecraft into orbit after blasting off from Kauai, Hawaii, aboard a Super Strypi launcher, a three-stage vehicle based on a sounding rocket design and sized as a dedicated ride for small satellites. (10/29)
Latest ORS-4 Launch Delay Reinforces Government Watchdog’s Assessment (Source: Space News)
Just days before the scheduled Oct. 29 inaugural launch of a rocket intended to launch small satellites on relatively short notice, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged that the mission had been delayed, again, until further notice.
As if on cue, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report Oct. 29 saying none of several Defense Department efforts to field quick-reaction launch vehicles has advanced past the development stage. Among the programs cited in the report was the just-postponed Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-4 mission, which features a rail-launched rocket dubbed Super Strypi.
For more than a decade, the Defense Department has been working on what it calls “responsive launch” capability, which would allow it to launch satellites or payloads into orbit on relatively short notice. Lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned about the lack of progress in ORS efforts. (10/30)
Pro-Business Groups Ask Hawaii Governor to Move Forward on Telescope Construction (Source: KITV)
Nearly a year since a ceremonial groundbreaking took place atop Mauna Kea for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, progress remains stalled. On Sunday, fourteen pro-business groups expressed their displeasure over the lack of any headway and demanded Gov. David Ige provide “safe passage” so the $1.4 billion telescope can be built. The groups include various chambers of commerce as well as pro-union trade groups.
The letter addresses the positive impacts of TMT, such as jobs and support of high-tech industry, but also appears to blame Ige for not enforcing the rule of law. "We have been enforcing,” the governor said, “(But), obviously we want to be sensitive to cultural perspectives. The reason for the emergency rules being adopted was to assure that we had the rules in place that would allow us to enforce." (10/30)
Mauna Kea Fiber Optics Cable Network Damaged (Source: KITV)
Hawaii police are investigating damage to a fiber optics cable network on Mauna Kea. Police say an employee with Mauna Kea Observatories Support Services reported the damage on Thursday. The employee notified police after an investigation into what caused a malfunction of a buried fiber optical line linking observatories to the University of Hawaii network on June 24.
That's also the date when hundreds of protesters on the mountain blocked crews from resuming construction on a controversial telescope. Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred oppose the Thirty Meter Telescope. (10/28)
What Makes a Volcano Sacred? (Source: The Atlantic)
Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a tremendous shield volcano, the second largest in our solar system. Measuring from its base on the ocean bed, it is the tallest mountain on Earth. But Mauna Kea is just a baby by geologic standards, among the newest volcanoes on a 40-million-year-old archipelago’s youngest island.
At the time when Mauna Kea formed, the global population of human ancestors numbered in the tens of thousands. And it wasn’t until sometime between 300 A.D. and 800 A.D. that ocean-faring voyagers crossed the Pacific in double-hulled canoes to make their home in the Hawaiian Islands. To subsequent generations of Native Hawaiians, Mauna Kea was and had always been a temple.
In the Kumulipo, the ancient chant that tells the story of how the Hawaiian Islands and the Hawaiian people came to be, the volcano is considered kino lau, the physical form of the gods. Mauna Kea is the son of Wākea, the sky father, and of Papahānaumoku, the Earth mother. (10/30)
PISCES Unveils Basalt Landing Pad in Hawaii (Source: Big Island Now)
On Wednesday morning, Big Island Now got an exclusive on the ground look at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems’ new lunar landing pad site, located at Puna Rock in Kea’au. The construction project, which began during the fall, was recently completed through a partnership between PISCES and the NASA.
PISCES Helelani rover, outfitted with a robotic arm, demonstrated how the landing pad would be built using basalt concrete, which was has also been tested along Kinoole Avenue in Hilo, near the Lincoln Park tennis courts. The rover’s method of placing basalt pavers on the site is hoped to be one day used in space. (10/29)
Three Reasons Why Seattle’s Big on Space Ventures (Source: GeekWire)
What is it about Seattle that’s led some folks to call it the “Silicon Valley of space,” and how far can space entrepreneurs go in the next 20 years? Jason Andrews, the CEO of Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc., listed three reasons why Seattle is up there with Southern California, Silicon Valley, Texas and Florida’s Space Coast when it comes to commercial spaceflight.
First, there’s access to software developers: Space operations have become much more computerized, and that means space-minded entrepreneurs can draw upon the talent fostered by Microsoft, Amazon and other tech titans. Second, there’s access to the experts on big data. The next generation of small satellites will be sending down huge volumes of data. Third, there’s access to capital. Seattle investors have set the pace. Click here. (10/31)
NASA, Orbital Differ on Root Cause of Antares Launch Failure (Source: Space News)
A NASA investigation into last year’s failure of an Orbital ATK Antares launch vehicle could not identify a single technical root cause of the accident, a conclusion at odds with Orbital’s own investigation. An executive summary of a NASA Independent Review Team (IRT) report concluded there was an explosion in the liquid oxygen turbopump in one of the two AJ-26 engines.
The explosion was triggered when rotating and stationary components in part of the turbopump came into contact. “This frictional rubbing led to ignition and fire” in the turbopump, and thus the explosion, the report states. The report could not determine what caused the turbopump problem in the first place. “The IRT was not able to isolate a single technical root cause.” the report states. Instead, investigators identified three potential root causes, “any one or a combination of which could have resulted in the E15 failure.”
One potential root cause was an “inadequate design robustness” of the engine. Acceptance testing of the engines was not sufficient to detect those problems, according to the report. A second potential root cause was foreign object debris, in the form of silica and titanium, found in the engine after the accident. The final potential root cause was a manufacturing defect with the engine, similar to one found in another AJ-26 engine that exploded on a test stand during acceptance testing in May 2014. (10/29)
Orbital ATK Ramps Up Testing Ahead of 2016 Antares Return to Flight (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, has become a scene of increased activity with Orbital ATK engineers hard at work preparing their medium-class Antares booster with a much-anticipated return-to-flight.
Orbital ATK must successfully complete several major milestones. First up is a pad hot-fire test. This should serve to validate if the NPO Energomash RD-181 rocket engines can effectively be used with pad-0A in its current configuration. Along with an updated rocket (now designated Antares 2) and a refurbished launch pad, the Cygnus cargo module is also getting some upgrades. (10/28)
Looking Back a Year and a Decade (Source: Space Review)
This week is the first anniversary of both the Antares launch failure and the SpaceShipTwo accident, two major setbacks for the commercial space industry. Jeff Foust reports on the progress the companies involved in those accidents are making as they return to flight, as well as the gradual progress of the industry in general. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2853/1 to view the article. (10/26)
Launch Failures: Titan Groundhog Day (Source: Space Review)
In 1986, a Titan launch failed spectacularly just seconds after liftoff. Wayne Eleazer discusses why that launch failed and how it demonstrated systemic problems with the production of its solid rocket motors. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2852/1 to view the article. (10/26)
Aerojet Confident in Long-Shot Contest Against Bezos’s Space Company (Source: Washington Post)
Aerojet Rocketdyne, an engine builder with roots in the earliest years of space flight, is taking an increasingly aggressive stand to try to get its product into the rocket being designed by ULA for government launches. ULA has long had a monopoly on launching national security satellites for the Pentagon and intelligence community.
Company executives said they are confident that they will ultimately be able to convince ULA that their engine is the better option. Aerojet has invested a lot of time and money into the development of an engine, and if ULA doesn’t buy it, it’s not clear who would. So the company is not giving up on what may be a long-shot bid.
Van Kleeck said that Aerojet has been working on its engine for years and would hit the 2019 target that ULA has said is its goal. She also said that the AR-1 is more versatile than Blue’s engine, the BE-4, because it would work in the Atlas V as well as the Vulcan, the rocket ULA is developing. (10/27)
Meet XCOR’s Latest Invention: The Trunnel (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A while ago, I mentioned that XCOR had developed some cool things that it hadn’t publicized yet. Here’s one of them. Meet the trunnel. XCOR has modified a Ford F-250 pickup so that it conduct tests with a one-third scale model Lynx on the Mojave runway at 100 mph. Click here. (10/27)
Astrobotic Adds Another Google Lunar X Prize Team to Its Lander (Source: Space News)
Astrobotic Technology, a Pittsburgh-based company competing in the Google Lunar X Prize, announced Oct. 27 it will fly another team’s rover to the moon on its mission, now planned for late 2017. Astrobotic said it will carry Uni, a five-kilogram rover being developed by Team AngelicvM of Chile, on its lunar lander. The agreement between the teams is similar to one Astrobotic announced in February with Japan’s Team Hakuto, with the teams sharing the cost of the overall mission and any prize money they win. (10/27)
Welcome to the Ghost Town That Virgin Galactic Built (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Five years from now, this hunk of remote ground will be the place for shuttling tourists to suborbital space, launching small satellites, and serving as a hub for all things new space. Or so the tenants of Spaceport America and the New Mexico state government hope. But right now, the easiest thing to notice about Spaceport America is that it's empty. There's a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo in an otherwise empty hangar and a garage full of firetrucks for emergencies that aren't happening yet. Click here. (10/27)
Balloon-Based Space Tourism a Big Step Closer to Becoming a Reality (Source: Space.com)
Arizona-based World View Enterprises, which aims to loft paying customers to the stratosphere beneath a giant balloon, launched an uncrewed test flight on Oct. 26. The company sent a 10-percent-scale version of its passenger capsule to an altitude of 100,475 feet (30,624 meters) above the town of Page in northern Arizona. You can see an amazing video of the flight here. (10/28)
Private Spaceflight Industry Aims to Shake Off a Rough Year (Source: Space.com)
It's been a tough year for private spaceflight, but the leaders of the burgeoning industry are determined to bounce back. Over the past 12 months, robotic resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) launched by both Orbital ATK and SpaceX failed, and Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo broke apart during a test flight, killing the vehicle's co-pilot and seriously wounding its pilot.
These accidents have slowed the progress of commercial spaceflight, but the industry is far from grounded. Orbital ATK and SpaceX plan to be flying again before the year is out, for example, and Virgin Galactic is nearly finished building SpaceShipTwo number two. "We're still pushing the frontier here — and it's hard, but it's worth it," said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. (10/27)
House and Senate Reach Agreement on Commercial Space Legislation (Source: Space Policy Online)
House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a compromise version of commercial space legislation that passed the House and Senate earlier this year. Details of the compromise have not been made public, but the revised bill could be voted on soon.
The Senate bill, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (S. 1297) passed in August. The House bill, Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act (H.R. 2262), passed in May. The House and Senate versions have many differences, but Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), the new chair of the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, recently characterized them as minor. Click here. (10/29)
Simulating a Starliner at Boeing (Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Imagine that you’re just learning to drive a car, but your first hour behind the wheel is spent hurtling through traffic on Interstate 70. A scary thought? That, says Pete Meisinger, is a little bit like what new astronauts experience. Their first minutes actually doing the job are spent riding a rocket into space. “It’s a very sensory-overload experience,” he said.
Meisinger’s job is to make that rocket ride seem as familiar as possible. A physicist with a doctorate, he is Boeing’s program manager for space vehicle simulators in St. Louis. That means creating flight trainers for astronauts on Boeing’s new Starliner spacecraft. The goal is to make the on-the-ground training so realistic that “off-nominal conditions” — “trouble” in engineer-speak — get handled smoothly. “No part of the experience should be a surprise to an astronaut,” Meisinger said.
The Starliner will be built at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. St. Louis’ main contributions are simulators, both for the astronauts and the on-the-ground flight controllers. The simulators are now being designed. Much of what happens in a Starliner launching, from liftoff to docking with the ISS, will be automated. “The system is designed for flight without any crew at all,” said Meisinger, and a cargo version of the Starliner will do just that. (10/26)
NASA’s Orion Moves on to Full-Scale Assembly and Testing at KSC (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA's new, crew-rated Orion spacecraft is set to undergo full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and testing after completing most of its Critical Design Review (CDR). The review, carried out on Oct. 21 to determine the vehicle's readiness to conduct the first mission Orion will fly integrated with the agency's new super heavy-lift booster - the Space Launch System or "SLS." That flight, Exploration Mission 1 - is currently scheduled to take place sometime late in 2018. (10/26)
ULA Delivers SLS Upper Stage Test Article to Boeing (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Oct. 26, 2015, United Launch Alliance symbolically handed over the first test version of the Space Launch System (SLS) upper stage to Boeing, the primary contractor for the SLS first (core) stage and avionics. The hand-over marked a critical step toward the massive rocket's first flight. (10/28)
Budget Deal Adds $80 Billion (Source: Washington Post)
A two-year budget deal announced late Monday would increase spending for defense and other programs. The budget bill, filed just before midnight Monday, provides an additional $80 billion over the next two years, split evenly between defense and other discretionary programs. The bill also raises the debt ceiling until March 2017. The House is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday, just before House Speaker John Boehner resigns at the end of this week. (10/27)
A New Budget Deal and a Best Case NASA Budget for 2016 (Source: Planetary Society)
On Wednesday, the House passed a budget deal that provides small increases to federal spending and raises the nation's debt limit through 2017. The Senate appears likely to pass this measure next week. Robert Greenstein at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has an excellent rundown of what's in the deal.
This is potentially very good news for NASA. With an agreement on top-level spending, Congress can focus on filling in the details for funding NASA next year via the normal appropriations process. This will help to avoid the spectre of a full year continuing resolution—a continuation of last year's budget which would have had serious impacts on many NASA missions, particularly planetary exploration.
Importantly, it also undoes much of the sequestration cuts and increases overall spending for the non-defense side of the federal government by $25 billion. (10/28)
Global Government Investment in Space to Top $80 Billion by 2024 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
According to Euroconsult’s newly released report, Government Space Programs: Strategic Outlook, Benchmarks & Forecasts, a new growth cycle in government space spending is expected to start and average 2.1% over the next ten years worldwide, reaching $81.4 billion by 2024. Click here. (10/28)
The International Code of Conduct (Source: Space Review)
A recent effort to negotiate an international code of conduct for outer space activities failed at the UN. Michael Listner examines some issues about the latest draft of the code and what its future prospects might be. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2851/1 to view the article. (10/26)
Forging a New Consensus on America’s Future in Space (Source: Center for American Progress)
From the Apollo moon landings to the International Space Station, America’s human space exploration achievements have inspired awe and admiration the world over. They have represented the best of the nation’s skill, ambition, and imagination.
But however much these accomplishments have transcended their origins, they ultimately rest on a foundation of geopolitical conditions and considerations. It is difficult to imagine the Apollo mission without the Cold War and equally hard to conceive of the International Space Station without the end of the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Today, the United States faces a set of geopolitical conditions and considerations that makes it possible to forge a new national consensus on human spaceflight. While the circumstances are not identical to those that bred Apollo or the International Space Station, there are powerful incentives for the United States to undertake a bold, difficult, and constructive national project in space to show that America is still a society capable of impressive feats that benefit all of humanity. (10/28)
FAA's Nield Endorses ESA's Moon Village, But with Commercial Partners (Source: Space Policy Online)
The head of the FAA commercial space office, George Nield, endorsed the Moon village concept espoused by European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner, but called for inclusion of the commercial sector, not only governments, in building and operating it.
Woerner has been advocating for construction of a village -- Lunarville -- on the far side of the Moon where telescopes emplaced there would be protected from the light and noise of Earth. The concept envisions use of inflatable modules and 3D printing to build additional infrastructure using lunar resources -- called In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). Crops would be grown in greenhouses to support researchers rotating on regular schedules. (10/24)
Editorial: Don’t Shoot Down the U.S. Space Industrial Base (Source: Space News)
The commercial satellite industry was pioneered in the US, and the market was dominated by US industry until Congress in 1999 enacted an ill-considered, draconian export control regime — which treated commercial satellites the same as munitions — and nearly decimated the industry. After the restrictions were put in place, the US share of global satellite manufacturing dropped from 65 percent to as low as 30 percent, and the market share of US launch service providers was also impacted adversely.
Now that we’ve had sensible export control reform for almost two years, our domestic industry is starting to get back on its feet. But another bad policy move could once again result in legislators shooting this vital industry down. American companies and thousands of workers are being harmed by Congress’ failure to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im). Since July 1, Ex-Im has been unable to do what it has done for 81 years: provide loan guarantees to American exporters to help seal deals in cases when the private sector is unable or unwilling to assume credit risks. (10/26)
House Takes Step to Revive Export-Import Bank (Source: AP)
The House has taken the first steps to revive the U.S. Export-Import Bank nearly four months after its charter expired. The vote Monday was 246-177 and set the stage for additional votes on Tuesday. Democrats joined forces with establishment-backed Republicans in a rarely used procedural step — a petition to dislodge the bill from a panel controlled by a bank opponent. (10/26)
House Bill Revives Ex-Im Bank Over Conservative Opposition (Source: AP)
A strong coalition of establishment-backed Republicans and House Democrats voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to revive the Export-Import Bank, dealing a defeat to tea party conservatives and Speaker-to-be Paul Ryan.
The House approved the measure 313-118 as 127 Republicans joined with virtually every Democrat to support the bank, whose charter expired June 30. Since then, the bank has been unable to approve new applications to fulfill its mission of helping overseas buyers get financing to purchase U.S. exports like airplanes and heavy equipment. Supporters say the bank helps sustain tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. The legislation's fate is uncertain in the Senate. (10/27)
The House Science Committee is Worse Than the Benghazi Committee (Source: Vox)
Last Thursday, the nation watched with a mix of amusement and horror as the House Benghazi committee spent 11 hours grilling Hillary Clinton on a bizarre farrago of issues, many of which bore only tangential connection to the Benghazi attack. Between McCarthy's accidental truth telling, an ex-staffer confirming the worst reports about the committee, and another House Republican conceding the obvious, it has become clear that the Benghazi committee is a thoroughly partisan political endeavor.
The thing is: The Benghazi committee is not even the worst committee in the House. I'd argue that the House science committee, under the chairmanship of Lamar Smith (R-TX), deserves that superlative for its open-ended, Orwellian attempts to intimidate some of the nation's leading scientists and scientific institutions. Click here. (10/26)
Republicans Outraged Over NASA Earth Science Programs… That Reagan Began (Source: Ars Technica)
Perhaps the biggest budget battle this spring in NASA policy concerned earth science, and after slumbering this summer, that fight could soon return to prominence thanks to the new Congressional budget deal. Whereas President Obama sought to increase NASA’s budget for earth science in this fiscal year, Republicans in Congress sought to slash it by hundreds of millions of dollars.
From a historical perspective, the staunch Republican opposition to studying climate and weather changes on Earth is surprising. Both Presidents Reagan and the first George Bush supported robust plans to study Earth from space, and the fleet of satellites in orbit today are one of the main space legacies of their terms in office. (10/29)
NASA Finds Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater Than Losses (Source: Space Daily)
A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers. The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.
According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008. (10/31)
NASA's GRACE Satellites Evaluate Drought in Southeast Brazil (Source: Space Daily)
Empty water reservoirs, severe water rationing, and electrical blackouts are the new status quo in major cities across southeastern Brazil where the worst drought in 35 years has desiccated the region. A new NASA study estimates that the region has lost an average 15 trillion gallons of water per year from 2012 to 2015.
Augusto Getirana, a hydrologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, analyzed the amount water stored in aquifers and rivers across Brazil from 2002 to 2015, interested in understanding the depth of the current drought. (10/29)
NASA Speaker Recalls How Hurricane Katrina Threatened Space Program (Source: NASA)
When Hurricane Katrina came ashore 10 years ago, not only did the Category 4 storm do catastrophic damage to cities along the Gulf Coast, it also endangered the operations of two NASA facilities that were critical to the Space Shuttle Program.
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, David Throckmorton will present "In the Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Katrina — The NASA Experience" at 2 p.m. in the Pearl Young Theater. Throckmorton was deputy director of NASA's Stennis Space Center – located less than 50 miles from New Orleans – when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. (10/30)
Editorial: Time for Action on Commercial Weather Data (Source: Space News)
Commercial space-based weather satellites, owned and operated by private companies, can augment the federal government’s weather data, be assimilated into our numerical weather models, and substantially improve our ability to predict severe weather. This is my firm conviction.
I represent the state of Oklahoma. My constituents year after year find their lives threatened by severe storms and tornadoes. They deserve to have the best possible weather data available to protect their lives and property. The House Science environment subcommittee that I chair has vigorously encouraged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to explore these options.
In September, NOAA released a draft Commercial Space Policy, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. While I have some concerns about the policy as drafted, I believe this is a positive step toward NOAA procuring the services of commercial weather data satellite firms and integrating them into the weather enterprise. (10/26)
NGA Considers Commercial Imagery Strategy (Source: Space News)
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is considering working with companies operating Earth imaging smallsats. In a strategy document released Monday, NGA said it was evaluating a variety of approaches to working with companies like Skybox Imaging, Planet Labs and BlackSky Global, who are developing constellations of smallsats for commercial Earth imaging applications. NGA may award initial contracts with companies like them as soon as 2017, but those efforts would not affect its current EnhancedView contract with DigitalGlobe. (10/27)
NGA To Weigh Smallsat Options Under New Commercial Strategy (Source: Space News)
The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) could request funding as early as next year to begin experimenting with the different imagery products becoming available from a new generation of commercial satellite operators and data analytics firms. According to a strategy document, the NGA envisions eventually entering into a variety of contracting schemes with the newcomers, many funded by Silicon Valley venture capital. (10/26)
Establishing Priorities for Earth Observation Satellites (Source: Space Daily)
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers NASA a framework for prioritizing satellite observations and measurements of Earth based on their scientific value.
NASA's Earth Science Division conducts a coordinated series of satellite and airborne missions for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. Data from these observations are used to understand Earth as an integrated system and to support critical societal applications, including resource management, weather forecasts, climate projections, agricultural production, and natural-disaster response.
Like all federal agencies, NASA is operating in a constrained budgetary environment that necessitates making difficult choices among competing priorities for investment. For the Earth Science Division, this challenge is exacerbated by increasing demands for the information provided by its programs and missions, as well as by congressional and executive branch direction to undertake responsibility for sustaining a number of measurements that were formerly supported by other federal agencies. (10/27)
The Nation Prepares for Extreme Space Weather (Source: Space Daily)
A severe solar storm could disrupt the nation's power grid for months, potentially leading to widespread blackouts. Resulting damage and disruption for such an event could cost more than $1 trillion, with a full recovery time taking months to years, according to the National Academy of Sciences.
Today marks a significant advancement towards improving our nation's preparedness for extreme space weather events. A newly published National Space Weather Strategy identifies high-level priorities and goals for the nation, while an accompanying Action Plan outlines how federal agencies will implement the strategy. (10/30)
Traces of Enormous Solar Storms in the Ice of Greenland and Antarctica (Source: Lund University)
Solar storms and the particles they release result in spectacular phenomena such as auroras, but they can also pose a serious risk to our society. In extreme cases they have caused major power outages, and they could also lead to breakdowns of satellites and communication systems.
According to a study published today in Nature Communications, solar storms could be much more powerful than previously assumed. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now confirmed that Earth was hit by two extreme solar storms more than 1000 years ago. “If such enormous solar storms would hit Earth today, they could have devastating effects on our power supply, satellites and communication systems”, says Raimund Muscheler at the Department of Geology, Lund University.
A team of researchers have been looking for traces of solar storms in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. Everywhere on Earth you can find traces of cosmic rays from the Galaxy and the sun, such as low levels of radioactive carbon. A few years ago researchers found traces of a rapid increase of radioactive carbon in tree rings from the periods AD 774/775 and AD 993/994. The cause for these increases was, however, debated. (10/26)
Air Force Considers Outsourcing of Satellite Operations (Source: Space News)
Several companies are interested in taking over operations of a fleet of military communications satellites. At least four companies identified interest in a request for information issued by the Air Force last month regarding outsourcing operations of the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) program. Those companies include Intelsat General, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Northrop Grumman and SGT. The Air Force could commercialize WGS operations as soon as next year. (10/27)
Bolden's Plan to Save Earth by Leaving for Mars (Source: Inverse)
Bolden began his speech by emphasizing the shift in perspective that has fueled NASA’s latest string of big discoveries and larger plans for space exploration. He referenced the Greek fable of the astrologer Thales, who fell into a well while gazing at the stars. Bolden thinks the old approach to space exploration was a lot like this, where scientists would seem to get lost while investigating outer space and forget about what was happening around them on Earth. Click here. (10/28)
NASA Relies On Asteroid Mission To Demo Mars Tech (Source: Aviation Week)
Managers assigned to the development of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, a precursor to the agency’s human Mars exploration plans, believe they can place two astronauts launched aboard a Space Launch System/Orion combination in proximity to a 20-ton boulder robotically plucked from an asteroid and maneuvered into lunar orbit. (10/26)
Where Should NASA Land Humans on Mars? (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
With NASA's full commitment to sending humans to Mars as its top priority mission, the space agency has begun discussions with scientists on the question, Where on Mars? Space agency officials are holding a three-day workshop this week in Houston with a gathering of interested scientists to trying to figure out where the first human astronauts should land. (10/27)
Methane-Powered Engine Key to Next Generation Landers (Source: Space Daily)
NASA tested components for an engine that could be used for Mars landers powered with methane, a fuel that has never before propelled a NASA spacecraft. A spectacular blue flame erupted as a rocket engine thruster roared to life in a series of tests recently at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The blue flame, not typical of most engine tests, was the signature of the thruster's fuel - methane.
Methane is a promising fuel for the journey to Mars. Methane - more stable than liquid hydrogen, today's most common rocket fuel - can also be stored at more manageable temperatures. Methane may be recovered or created from local resources, using in-situ resource utilization (ISRU).
With a storage temperature similar to that of liquid oxygen - the oxidizer for methane-powered engines - methane's storage tanks will require less insulation, leading to more affordable tanks. Methane is also denser than liquid hydrogen, which allows for smaller tanks. (10/29)
Wall-Less Hall Thruster May Power Future Deep Space Missions (Source: AIP)
Hall thrusters are advanced electric rocket engines primarily used for station-keeping and attitude control of geosynchronous communication satellites and space probes. Recently, the launch of two satellites based on an all-electric bus has marked the debut of a new era - one in which Hall thrusters could be used not just to adjust orbits, but to power the voyage as well.
Consuming 100 million times less propellant or fuels than conventional chemical rockets, a Hall thruster is an attractive candidate for exploring Mars, asteroids and the edge of the solar system. By saving fuel the thruster could leave room for spacecraft and send a large amount of cargo in support of space missions. However, the current lifespan of Hall thrusters, which is around 10,000 operation hours, is too short for most space explorations, which require at least 50,000 operation hours. (10/27)
Professor Working on Hybrid Engine Technology (Source: Daily Lobo)
A UNM professor is developing a hybrid engine, combining the advantages of chemical rocket and electric propulsion to make travel in space less time consuming and more energy efficient. Peter Vorobieff, a professor of mechanical engineering, is working on this project in collaboration with Dark Sea Industries, a local aerospace company targeted at introducing new propulsion technologies to access space.
Vorobieff and his team are trying to combine the advantages of both chemical and ion propulsion by ionizing the discharge of air breathing or a chemical route. That would allow them to have much higher velocity with the same amount of fuel, he said. He said the project has received a small grant from New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program and the scientists are applying for more funds. (10/30)
Lockheed Finishes Building Asteroid Sample Return Craft (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin finished assembling NASA’s Osiris-Rex asteroid sample retrieval spacecraft, which now will undergo five months of testing to ensure it is space worthy. The spacecraft will undergo vibration and acoustic tests to ensure it can survive the harsh forces of a rocket launch, after which it will be placed in thermal vacuum chamber that mimics the airlessness and temperature swings of space. (10/26)
India Developing Green Propellants (Source: The Hindu)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is developing a range of environment-friendly propellants to power its launch vehicles and satellite thrusters. Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), K. Sivan said here on Thursday that efforts were on to develop a green monopropellant based on ammonium dinitramide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (HAN) as a replacement for hydrazine. (10/30)
Fire at ISRO Facility Damages Lab, Equipment (Source: Web India)
The Electro Optical Lab of the Space Application Center of ISRO, where several space mission-related equipment and camera lenses are tested, has been affected due to a fire caused by short circuit today. The Lab itself has been affected due to the heavy smoke deposit and heat caused by the fire. The duct of air conditioning plant, its wires and other delicate electric equipments and panels have been destroyed by the fire and the smoke. (10/30)
Malaysia Intends to Send Second Astronaut to ISS (Source: Malaysia Kini)
The Malaysian government intends to send a second astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) to conduct scientific research by next year-end. To this effect, the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry will submit a proposal to the government, says Deputy Minister Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah.
He said the ministry was currently working out the details through meetings, discussions and consultations with scientists, academics and those involved in determining the appropriate types of research to be carried out by the nation’s second astronaut. (10/30)
One African’s Personal Space Race Turns Vermin Into Astronauts (Source: Wal Street Journal)
The mission: Put a rat in space. For 10 years, Congo’s best-known rocket expert has been launching projectiles from yam farms here near the village of Menkao. His ground-control center, a corrugated-metal shed with a weather vane, contains a row of aging 11-inch televisions and desktop computers with floppy drives.
There are relics of past flights, like the Ovaltine can in which a local rat nearly became the first Congolese animal to touch the stratosphere. None of five craft engineered by the rocketeer, 45-year-old Jean-Patrice Keka, have reached space from the launch zone he built with his own money, two hours by dirt road from the capital of Kinshasa.
But Mr. Keka’s next creation, Troposphere VI, is more advanced. He designed the three-stage-engine rocket, nicknaming it Soso Pembe or “white rooster,” to power 120 miles up, 60 miles beyond what is considered the inner boundary of outer space. There will be passengers aboard the spaceship, six years in the making, when he launches it next year: “A few mosquitoes, a few flies,” he says, and another rat. Click here. (10/30)
Israel Accepted to UN Space Committee, Despite Arab Pressure (Source: Israel National News)
Despite pressure from Arab countries, Israel on was accepted on Thursday as a member in the United Nations space committee. The decision to accept Israel to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space passed by a majority of 117 votes in favor and one against and is a great victory for the Israeli delegation to the UN, especially after Syria exerted pressure in an attempt to prevent Israel’s entry.
Diplomat Hadas Meitzad, who led the efforts on behalf of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations said on Thursday, "This is an important victory for Israeli diplomacy. The advanced capabilities of the State of Israel in the field of space, combined with a complex and sensitive diplomatic process, resulted in Israel’s acceptance into the prestigious organization." Israel's accession to the space committee involved complex and sensitive diplomatic maneuvering, as the Arab states have thwarted Israel's admission to the organization in the past. (10/30)
China Launches Earth Observation Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
China successfully launched one of the nation's Long March 2D rockets on Monday, lifting the Tianhui-1C mapping satellite into orbit. Liftoff took place from the Launch Area 4 (LA-4) at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu. (10/26)
Eutelsat To Pay Full Price of Ariane 5 Mission, Inks Russian Multilaunch Deal with ILS (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat has signed a multilaunch agreement with International Launch Services for Proton rocket missions between 2016 and 2023 in a deal that helps restore the Russian vehicle’s credibility in a commercial market that recently has been dominated by Europe’s Ariane 5 and SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
Eutelsat earlier announced its intention to forgo a co-passenger and purchase an entire Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket for its Eutelsat 65 West A satellite, to be stationed over Latin America. Eutelsat said its decision to pay more for a dedicated launch — Ariane 5 typically launches two geostationary-orbiting satellites at once — was made to capture the opportunity of having the satellite in service before the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro. (10/30)
Europe-Russia Lunar Mission Will Make Them Friends Again (Source: Space Daily)
Despite the current freeze in relations between Russia and the West, the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, plan to launch a probe to the Moon's southern pole to look for water and the raw materials necessary for making fuel and oxygen. The mission, Luna 27, which is set for launch in 2020, is the first step towards the establishment of a permanent base on the Moon. (10/21)
Russia Slates Manned Moon Landing for 2029 (Source: Sputnik)
A manned lunar landing by Russian cosmonauts is planned for 2029, the head of the Russian Space Agency Energia said Tuesday. “A manned flight to the moon and lunar landing is planned for 2029,” Vladimir Solntsev said. The Energia chief, a spacecraft components manufacturer, said Russian scientists were building a new spacecraft made of composites specifically for moon missions. Its maiden flight is scheduled for 2021. (10/27)
Russian Moon Mission Would Need 4 Angara-A5V Launches (Source: Space Daily)
Organizing for Russian cosmonauts to fly to the Moon will require four launches of Angara-?5V heavy-class carrier rockets during the initial stage of the mission, head of Russia's Energia space corporation Vladimir Solntsev said. On Tuesday, Solntsev said that a manned lunar landing by Russian cosmonauts is planned for 2029, while a maiden flight of a new spacecraft made of composites specifically for moon missions is scheduled for 2021. (10/30)
Russia Postpones Maiden Flight of its Progress-MS Spacecraft (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Russia decided to delay the first launch of the newest version of its flagship Progress cargo craft. The RKK Energia company, which manufactures the spacecraft, revealed on Tuesday, Oct. 27, that the maiden flight of the Progress-MS vehicle will be postponed for a month – until Dec. 21, 2015. Extra checks are needed to make sure that there is no repeat of the Progress M-27M spacecraft launch mishap on April 28 of this year and to complete all the work linked with this accident. (10/29)
With Extended Deadline, Russia Still Hopes to Accelerate Spaceport (Source: Tass)
Russia's deputy prime minister wants work on the country's new launch site to accelerate despite winning a schedule reprieve. Dmitry Rogozin told officials in charge of the Vostochny Cosmodrome that he believes they have "relaxed" after President Vladimir Putin recently shifted the spaceport's construction deadline from the end of this year to April 2016. Of particular concern to Rogozin was the slow pace of efforts to hook up utilities to spaceport facilities. (10/25)
Russian Investigators Through with Vostochny Spaceport $84 Million Fraud (Source: Tass)
Russia’s Investigative Committee has completed its probe into a $84 million fraud affair at the Vostochny spaceport construction project. The two men involved in the criminal case are the former CEO of the Dalspetsstroi contractor, Yuri Khrizman, and the contractor’s chief accountant, Vladimir Ashikhmin.
"According to the investigators Khrizman and Ashikhmin in 2011-2013 illegally spent 5.16 billion roubles of the 22.6 billion roubles disbursed in advance payments under eleven state contracts for building Vostochny spaceport facilities. The funds were illegally used to repay Dalspetstroi’s liabilities under earlier loans, which resulted in great material losses for the Russian budget," Markin said.
Also, misuse of budget money greatly delayed construction work in 2011-2013, in other words, disrupted the implementation of a presidential decree concerning federal programs, Markin said. (10/26)
Russia Signs Contract With Eutelsat to Launch Satellites Through 2023 (Source: Sputnik)
A subsidiary of Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center signed a contract with Eutelsat, the French-based satellite provider, to put the companies satellites into orbit during the period of 2016-2023, Russia's space agency Roscosmos said in a statement Thursday.
From the Russian side, the contract was signed by Khrunichev's subsidiary the International Launch Services (ILS) company. The first launch under the contract will put a Eutelsat 9B satellite, designed to provide digital television and data services in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, into orbit. (10/29)
Russia to Open Four New Glonass Stations Abroad (Source: Sputnik)
"We now have five stations outside Russia that are already open for the monitoring and signal relay ground segment. We will open four stations in the near future, talks are underway with other countries," Rogozin said at a meeting with the Russian president and members of the cabinet. He added that Glonass satellites will have an extended service life of 10 years, rather than the current seven. (10/28)
Russia Plans to Grant Private Companies Access to Space Services Market (Source: Sputnik)
Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, will allow private companies access to the market of space services by 2020, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Tuesday. “By 2020, we plan to form an effective system of support for Russian corporations on the market of space services and allow private companies onto the market,” Rogozin said. (10/27)
CIS Countries Plan Joint Institute for Space Research (Source: Space Daily)
The representatives of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Azerbaijan agreed on multilateral cooperation, an interstate system for space monitoring of emergency situations, as well as an interregional satellite communication system. A protocol on CIS countries cooperation that includes an agreement to establish a Joint Institute for Space Research, was signed on Friday, Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said. (10/26)
Russia Delays ISS Cargo Mission (Source: Tass)
The launch of a Russian cargo spacecraft has been postponed a month. Vladimir Solntsev, president of RSC Energia, said Tuesday that the launch of the first Progress-MS vehicle, an upgraded version of Progress-M cargo spacecraft, will slip from Nov. 21 to Dec. 21. Solntsev said the delay was required to complete work to correct problems from a failed Progress launch in April. That launch, like the upcoming Progress launch, use Soyuz-2 rockets, while two Progress missions since the failure used older Soyuz-U rockets. (10/27)
All-Female Russian Crew Starts Moon Mission Test (Source: Space Daily)
Six Russian women on Wednesday clambered into a mock spaceship to begin a unique experiment testing how an all-female crew would interact on a trip to the Moon and back. For eight days, the female volunteers will live inside a wood-paneled suite of rooms at Moscow's Institute of Biomedical Problems, renowned for its wacky research into the psychological and physical effects of space travel.
The institute in 2010 locked six male international volunteers in an isolation experiment lasting 520 days, to simulate a flight to Mars and back. "Such a crew is taking part for the first time in a simulation experiment. It's interesting for us to see what is special about the way a female crew communicates," said Sergei Ponomaryov, the experiment's supervisor.
"It will be particularly interesting in terms of psychology," said the institute's director Igor Ushakov. "I'd like to wish you a lack of conflicts, even though they say that in one kitchen, two housewives find it hard to live together," he added. (10/28)
Female Scientists Asked How They Will Cope Without Men or Makeup in Space (Source: Fusion)
Institute director Igor Ushakov said, per Phys.org, that “it will be particularly interesting in terms of psychology,” adding, “they say that in one kitchen, two housewives find it hard to live together.” Hm. Highly-trained scientists are not housewives!
During a press conference prior to the start of the ground mission, the crew members answered questions on their mission. Questions like: How will you deal with being without makeup for eight days? How will you cope with not being around men? These are very bad questions.
The women, however, handled both with grace. “We are doing work. When you’re doing your work, you don’t think about men and women,” said Anna Kussmaul. Plus, said Darya Komissarova, “We are very beautiful without makeup.” Well played. (10/28)
After 7 Months, is Scott Kelly Wondering What He’s Gotten Into? (Source: Ars Technica)
After seven months in space, Michael Lopez-Alegria missed the little things about his home on Earth, which spun lazily just 250 miles below the International Space Station. Drinking a beer. Taking a shower. Lying down to go to sleep. Even so, up until the end of his then-record-setting spaceflight in 2007, Lopez-Alegria suffered the minor annoyances of living in space as the “price of admission” to the best room in the universe.
Today, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is probably going through some of these same emotions as he matches Lopez-Alegria’s 215-day spaceflight, en route to spending nearly a full year on the space station. During his unprecedented mission for a US astronaut, Kelly has garnered much attention. Earlier in October, President Obama called him for Astronomy Night at the White House, saying, “You’re setting a record that’s nothing to sneeze at.” (10/29)
How Filthy is the ISS? (Source: Washington Post)
Let’s face it: Floating 220 miles above Earth in a sealed space station for months doesn’t sound like the most sanitary venture. After all, even inhabitants of the junkiest dwellings on land have the benefit of occasional fresh air. Earlier this year, astronaut Scott Kelly described the International Space Station’s singular aroma as something akin to a mixture of antiseptic and garbage.
There's no positive way to spin that one. But how clean (or dirty) is the International Space Station? New research on the spacecraft’s unique bacterial population contains some reassuring news — and a few icky insights. In their quest to characterize the cleanliness of the ISS, scientists from NASA studied a HEPA filter that had been on the craft for 40 months. They also got their hands on two bags of dust from the ISS vacuum cleaner.
The team compared its data to debris from NASA cleanrooms on Earth. Skin bacteria called Actinobacteria were much more prevalent on the ISS — not surprising for a place that serves as a full-time astronaut apartment. Samples from the vacuum bags boasted critters like Staphylococcus, which can cause diseases ranging from food poisoning to skin infections. The findings suggest that astronauts pick up more skin microorganisms with their vacuums than with their filters — and that the air being circulated through the ISS is much cleaner than its surfaces. (10/27)
Countermeasures Sought to Address the #1 Risk to Humans in Space (Source: SMARTCAP)
Small U.S.-based companies developing countermeasures to protect healthy tissue from the effects of radiation exposures may be eligible for a unique funding opportunity offered through the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). NSBRI's Industry Forum is soliciting applications for its Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP).
Physical or magnetic shielding from space radiation, particularly protecting against high energy galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and sudden solar particle events (SPEs), is not currently feasible. Hence, the development and validation of biological countermeasures are required to protect astronauts against the adverse effects of ionizing radiation during long-duration space travel. Ionizing radiation affects a plurality of organ systems.
It is highly unlikely that one countermeasure will address all facets of radiation toxicity. Hence, applicants should focus on certain tissue-specific effects. Of particular interest are foods, pharmaceuticals, drinks or nutraceuticals that protect the gastrointestinal tract, the brain, the lung, the heart, and the immune and hematopoietic systems from insults due to radiation and other environmental influences. (10/26)
Why an Upcoming Spacewalk Will Be So Difficult (Source: TIME)
A spacecraft that knows how to repair or maintain itself hasn’t been built yet. That’s especially problematic when the one in question is the International Space Station (ISS)—which is larger than a football field, weighs nearly one million lbs. (454,000 kg) and required 115 different spaceflights just to get its components into orbit and properly assembled.
After 15 years of continuous occupancy, the ISS is in need of one of its periodic upgrades, and on Wednesday, astronauts and first-time space-walkers Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren will step outside to perform that much-needed work.
Doing basic handyman work is radically different in space—and radically more dangerous too—and Kelly and Lindgren have been preparing for months for their orbital service call. Many of the basic protocols of any spacewalk are worked out far in advance of a mission, with practice sessions in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL). (10/26)
Virtual Reality System to Fly in Space Brings Non-Astronauts Aboard ISS (Source: Space Daily)
For the first time ever, a virtual reality recording system will be flown in space. The project, announced by Deep Space Industries (DSI), will use a spherical video capture system to create a virtual reality float-through tour of the International Space Station's science lab.
Feeding into the exciting growth of VR systems created by Oculus Rift, Sony, and Samsung, this project, initiated by DSI, is a cooperative effort with Thrillbox, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), managers of the ISS U.S.
National Laboratory. This innovative partnership will allow, for the first time, anyone with a VR headset to have a fully immersive astronaut experience aboard the International Space Station. Additionally, CASIS will use the spherical video to familiarize potential researchers with the scientific facilities on the ISS National Lab. (10/29)
This is How You Get Wasted in Space (Source: Aol)
Houston, we have liftoff ... and a stiff cocktail. We're closer than we think to the days of commercial space travel — and not just if you're Lance Bass. But one big problem? You can't drink so easily up there — try to pour one out and your cosmo might float about the cabin, threatening to spill all over your shiny new spacesuit. Click here. (10/28)
Halloween Asteroid is the Least of our Nightmares (Source: Tech Insider)
A skyscraper-sized asteroid will speed past Earth from an uncomfortably close distance this Halloween. Although 310,000 miles away may not sound close, the giant space rock is zooming by only a little farther away than the moon is from the Earth — close enough to spot with an amateur telescope, says NASA. It's also important to remember the 1,300-foot-wide asteroid, called 2015 TB145, is moving about 45 times faster than a speeding bullet.
NASA's formal way of cataloging such threats is through its near-Earth object (NEO) observation program. If an asteroid or comet passes within 1.3 astronomical units of the sun (1 au is 93 million miles, or the distance from the Earth to the sun), then NASA carefully tracks it as an NEO. As of October 24, we've discovered 13,271 NEOs, 877 of them more than 1 kilometer wide, 1,637 of them classified as potentially hazardous to Earth. (10/27)
Spacecraft Discovers Thousands of Doomed Comets (Source: Space Daily)
For an astronomer, discovering a comet can be the highlight of a lifetime. Great comets carry the names of their discoverers into history. Comet Halley, Comet Lovejoy, Comet Hale-Bopp are just a few examples... . Imagine the frustration, though, if every time you discovered a comet, it was rapidly destroyed. Believe it or not, this is what happens almost every day to the most prolific comet hunter of all time.
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, better known as "SOHO", is a joint project of the European Space Agency, or ESA, and NASA. Orbiting the sun at 1.5 million km, or 932,000 miles from Earth, the distant observatory has just discovered its 3000th comet-more than any other spacecraft or astronomer. And, just about all of SOHO's comets have been destroyed. (10/27)
Oxygen Found on Comet in Rosetta Mission: 'Most Surprising Discovery So Far' (Source: LA Times)
Scientists from the Rosetta mission have found oxygen in the atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a discovery that could change our understanding of how the solar system formed. The molecular oxygen (O2) was detected by the ROSINA mass spectrometer, one of a suite of instruments aboard the Rosetta spacecraft that has been traveling with the comet since August 2014.
The revelation came as quite a shock. "The first time we saw it, we all went a little bit into denial because molecular oxygen was really not expected to be found on a comet," said Kathrin Altwegg, the project leader for ROSINA, the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis. "It is actually the most surprising discovery we have made so far on 67P." (10/29)
Cassini Makes Closest Dive Into Enceladus Plumes (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
In an effort to better understand hydrothermal activity inside Saturn's moon Enceladus, which is believed to harbor a global subsurface ocean, NASA's Cassini spacecraft conducted a daring plunge into the moon's icy plumes on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The spacecraft flew within 30 miles (50 km) of the moon's surface, taking pictures and collecting samples that scientists hope will answer questions about Enceladus' habitability for primitive life. (10/29)
NASA Spacecraft to Dive Into Icy Geyser on Enceladus (Source: Ars Technica)
On Wednesday, a school-bus sized spacecraft will dive out of the inky blackness of space more than one billion kilometers from Earth and zip through an icy plume that springs from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Less than one-sixth the size of Earth’s moon—Enceladus has become one of the most intriguing bodies in the Solar System.
The spacecraft will not be able to determine whether anything lives in Enceladus’ global ocean, as its spectrometer can only detect molecules up to 100 atomic mass units. But the probe will be able to characterize the plume and help scientists devise a future orbiting mission to the tiny, icy world, one that will be equipped to find life. (10/27)
First Shots of Cassini's Enceladus Flyby (Source: WIRED)
Thirty miles is not very far. Shoot, on vast cosmic scales where distance is measured in terms of how far light travels in a year, being thirty miles from anything is basically like touching. And yet thirty miles is all that was between the spacecraft Cassini and the Saturnian moon Enceladus on October 28. Or more importantly, 30 miles was the minuscule distance between Cassini’s camera and the moon’s icy, fractured surface. That space was not a vacuum. Enceladus is constantly spewing water from a subsurface ocean—or oceans. Click here. (10/30)
Astrophysicists Find Jupiter Likely Bumped Giant Planet from Solar System (Source: Phys.Org)
Astrophysicists at the University of Toronto have found that a close encounter with Jupiter about four billion years ago may have resulted in another planet's ejection from the Solar System altogether. Planet ejections occur as a result of a close planetary encounter in which one of the objects accelerates so much that it breaks free from the massive gravitational pull of the Sun.
However, earlier studies which proposed that giant planets could possibly eject one another did not consider the effect such violent encounters would have on minor bodies, such as the known moons of the giant planets, and their orbits.
So Cloutier and his colleagues turned their attention to moons and orbits, developing computer simulations based on the modern-day trajectories of Callisto and lapetus, the regular moons orbiting around Jupiter and Saturn respectively. They then measured the likelihood of each one producing its current orbit in the event that its host planet was responsible for ejecting the hypothetical planet, an incident which would have caused significant disturbance to each moon's original orbit. (10/29)
NASA Astrophysics Chief Wants To Put $1 Billion Missions Out for Competition (Source: Space News)
NASA’s Astrophysics Division should emulate the planetary science division and fund a line of competitively selected missions costing roughly $1 billion, the agency’s top astrophysics official told astronomers Oct. 21. “I’m a big fan of an Astrophysics Probe line that’s analogous to the planetary science New Frontiers line,” said NASA Astrophysics Director Paul Hertz. (10/27)
Mystery Bright Spots Could be First Glimpse of Another Universe (Source: New Scientist)
Data from ESA’s Planck telescope could be giving us our first glimpse of another universe, with different physics, bumping up against our own. That’s the tentative conclusion of an analysis by Ranga-Ram Chary. Armed with Planck’s painstaking map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – light lingering from the hot, soupy state of the early universe – Chary revealed an eerie glow that could be due to matter from a neighboring universe leaking into ours.
This sort of collision should be possible, according to modern cosmological theories that suggest the universe we see is just one bubble among many. Such a multiverse may be a consequence of cosmic inflation, the widely accepted idea that the early universe expanded exponentially in the slimmest fraction of a second after the big bang. (10/29)
Birth of Universe Modeled in Massive Data Simulation (Source: Space Daily)
Researchers are sifting through an avalanche of data produced by one of the largest cosmological simulations ever performed, led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.
The simulation, run on the Titan supercomputer at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, modeled the evolution of the universe from just 50 million years after the Big Bang to the present day - from its earliest infancy to its current adulthood. Over the course of 13.8 billion years, the matter in the universe clumped together to form galaxies, stars and planets; but we're not sure precisely how. (10/29)
How Synthetic Lifeforms Will Help Us Survive On and Off Earth (Source: Motherboard)
According to NASA astrobiologist Lynn Rothschild, a specialist in synthetic biology, we shouldn’t pin all of our Martian dreams on terraforming alone. A more precise word, Rothschild said, would be “ecopoiesis,” which refers to the process of seeding a new ecosystem into a sterile environment. It’s like a scaled down version of terraforming that can be localized to certain regions.
For instance, the Palikir crater, where the latest evidence of flowing water was found, would be a candidate site for a new enclosed ecosystem. Successful ecopoiesis on Mars, even if restricted to a local scale, would be a major step in the road to human colonization, and Rothschild is optimistic that it will one day be achieved with the help of synthetic lifeforms.
“Going forth from planet Earth, synthetic biology will be even more important, because now you’re dealing with environments in which nothing has evolved,” she told me. “If you’re on Mars, it’s a lot colder and there’s more radiation. Synthetic biology has the potential to make organisms that are more resistant to radiation or temperature extremes or whatever.” (10/25)
New Worlds to be Named by Popular Vote (and Their Stars Too!) (Source: The Conversation)
Twenty years ago this month, astronomers announced the discovery of the first planet found orbiting an ordinary star, one quite similar to our sun but a few billion years older. The star was 51 Pegasi and its planet was designated 51 Pegasi b. Now it’s up to you to give them both new names.
The public vote has been organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) via its NameExoWorlds program. The IAU governs the names given to astronomical objects, a role it began in 1922 when it standardized and formally recognized the 88 constellations that map the entire sky. (10/26)
What Would an Alien Megastructure Look Like? Sci-Fi Authors Weigh In (Source: Space.com)
A star is dimming for reasons that astronomers can't explain. Observations by NASA's Kepler space telescope revealed that the star KIC 8462852, which lies about 1,500 light-years from Earth, dimmed dramatically and strangely several times over the past few years. Researchers aren't sure what's going on, and they have posited that some sort of light-blocking "alien megastructure" is a possible — though unlikely — explanation. Click here. (10/27)
Study Reveals Origin of Organic Matter in Apollo Lunar Samples (Source: Space Daily)
A team of NASA-funded scientists has solved an enduring mystery from the Apollo missions to the moon - the origin of organic matter found in lunar samples returned to Earth. Samples of the lunar soil brought back by the Apollo astronauts contain low levels of organic matter in the form of amino acids. Certain amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, essential molecules used by life to build structures like hair and skin and to regulate chemical reactions.
One of the key new capabilities of the Goddard Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory was instrumentation with high enough sensitivity to determine the isotopic composition of an amino acid molecule, according to Elsila. This capability enabled the team to say terrestrial contamination was the primary source of the lunar amino acids. (10/29)
Lunar Conspiracy: the People Who Stole the Moon – in Pictures (Source: Guardian)
After the Apollo missions, Richard Nixon donated 270 moon rocks to the world. Now, only 180 are accounted for – the rest are missing. There’s a market in fakes, plus an undercover operation called Lunar Eclipse to track down the forgers. Photographer Annabel Elgar has trooped all over the world to track down the remaining rocks for her series Cheating the Moon. But which are real and which are fakes? Click here. (10/28)
Someone in Alabama Sold a Priceless Lunar Rover for Scrap Metal (Source: Motherboard)
During the Apollo missions, NASA only made a handful of lunar rovers. Three of them are still sitting on the surface of the moon. One of them is at the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. And another was recently smashed into bits in an Alabama junkyard. According to documents acquired as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, a priceless lunar rover prototype designed for the Apollo missions was sold to a junkyard in Alabama for scrap metal sometime last year.
A US Air Force Historian who happened to be passing through the small town of Blountsville, Alabama spotted the rover in the backyard of the person who ultimately ended up selling it, and alerted NASA in February of 2014. NASA apparently dragged its feet in recovering the rover, however: By December, it had been destroyed. (10/27)
Lunar Rover Lost... and Found: NASA Moon Buggy Saved by Scrap Dealer (Source: CollectSpace)
A prototype lunar rover that was sold to a scrapyard and reported by NASA to be lost has now been found and may be heading to auction. Just one day after the online magazine Motherboard broke the story about the thought-to-be-scrapped moon rover on Oct. 27, the 50-year-old NASA artifact popped up in the classifieds section of an Alabama newspaper.
"Special Auction," declared the black-and-white ad placed in The Arab Tribune. "Original prototype for the first moon buggy!" The coincidental timing of the ad aside, it was the first public indication that the rover, a predecessor to the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) driven by the Apollo astronauts on the moon, still existed. According to the NASA paperwork obtained by Motherboard, the space agency had given up on recovering the early LRV for "historical and educational purposes" after it had learned it had been sold for scrap. (10/28)
3 Convicted For Smuggling $30M In Electronics To Russia (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday said that it had secured convictions in New York federal court against three people accused of illegally exporting more than $30 million worth of sensitive microelectronics used in weapons and surveillance systems bound for Russian intelligence and military services.
A jury on Monday convicted Alexander Posobilov, Shavkat Abdullaev and Anastasia Diatlova on all counts, which included illegally exporting controlled microelectronics to Russia and conspiracy to do so, the DOJ said. Posobilov was also convicted of conspiracy to launder money. (10/27)
Former NASA Langley Employee Pleads Guilty in Federal Case (Source: Daily Press)
A former NASA Langley Research Center employee pleaded guilty to violating a NASA regulation by allowing a foreign national unrestricted access to a company computer. Glenn Woodell entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor count and was sentenced to six months probation and a $500 fine. The charge stems from Woodell allowing Bo Jiang, who worked as a contractor at NASA Langley, access to a computer of a deceased NASA employee in 2011. (10/30)
Colorado Lawmakers Eager to See New Space Ops Center Built Out (Source: Space News)
Three Colorado lawmakers have urged senior government officials use rapid acquisition authority to expedite the establishment of a new space operations center that will experiment with warfighting techniques.
In an Oct. 22 letter, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R), and Sens. Michael Bennett (D) and Cory Gardner (R), tasked Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and Stephanie O’Sullivan, principal deputy to the director of national intelligence, to move quickly on a space battle management center known as the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, or JICSpOC. The JICSpOC is housed at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (10/26)
Coalition for [Deep] Space Exploration Restructures with New Leader (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Coalition for Space Exploration, an ad-hoc organization of space industry businesses and advocacy groups, today announced it is taking formal steps to provide a single, unified voice for the deep-space exploration industry. The organization is seeking 501 (c) 6 status, appointing an executive director and changing the name of the organization to the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration.
“Continued investment in deep-space exploration systems and science missions is critical to U.S. leadership at home and abroad. Because it is multi-faceted, it requires long-term assurance from the nation, industry, suppliers and advocacy groups to push for future missions and to sustain robust support,” said Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, the Coalition’s new executive director.
Dittmar is a 25-year veteran of the space industry specializing in strategy, public engagement and space policy. She was a member of the Human Spaceflight Committee at the National Research Council, and currently serves as a member of the Space Studies Board of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. As CEO of her own consultancy firm, she has guided defense, aerospace and technology firms while providing insight into legislative, regulatory and political processes at national and regional levels. (10/29)
'The Martian' Author Talks Mars One, Other Topics (Source: Daily Beast)
Mars One doesn’t have enough money to colonize Nebraska, let alone Mars. Their plan for generating revenue is a reality TV show. But just think about the numbers. They estimate that the trip will cost $36 billion. It’s simply not possible to make that much from TV. The program with the highest television revenue ever is the Summer Olympics. It’s broadcast every four years for 16 days and makes about 4 billion in revenue worldwide. Click here. (11/1)
Stott Lands in Oldsmar for Presentation (Source: Oldsmar Connect)
Rule number one of being a journalist is to always remain impartial. But occasionally, that rule is broken. This reporter was guilty of being a little, well, star struck recently, when I had the opportunity to meet former NASA astronaut Nicole Stott. Stott, who spent 28 years working for NASA, was the featured speaker at a luncheon for the Caladesi chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at East Lake Woodlands Country Club on October 19. (10/30)
The Real Story of The Secret Space Station (Source: Daily Beast)
In the late 1960s, the Air Force came close to completing a spacecraft capable of snapping photos of the Soviet Union in unprecedented detail. But this wasn’t just another satellite. As its name indicates, the Manned Orbital Laboratory was designed to carry a crew of two military astronauts who would have lived aboard the spacecraft during its 40-day missions orbiting hundreds of miles over Earth, pointing the craft’s huge, powerful telescopes and sophisticated radar at targets down below. Click here. (10/31)
Own Half a Kilobyte of Space and Computing History With Gemini 3 RAM Chip (Source: NBC)
Computing and space history buffs alike will appreciate this RAM chip from 1965, part of the first computer that ever flew on a manned space mission (Gemini 3) and is now up for auction. It's 4,096 bits, or half a kilobyte — so it isn't exactly state of the art. But at the time it was an indispensable part of the control system, and now it's a beautiful artifact of the earliest days of computing. (10/26)
ULA Shuffles Leadership (Source: Denver Business Journal)
ULA CEO Tory Bruno revealed the Colorado rocket-launch company’s new roster of executives, many hired since summer to guide a leaner ULA that’s developing a new line of rockets. Bruno became CEO nearly 15 months ago, promising to remake the rocket giant into a smaller company that’s better able to adapt to an era of tighter defense spending and competition from SpaceX and others.
ULA found few new leaders elsewhere in aerospace and other industries to oversee human spaceflight efforts, internal human resources, finance, and information technology. (10/27)
ULA Recruits Stratolaunch Executive in Reorganization (Source: Denver Business Journal)
ULA announced a revamped executive team Tuesday. The 11-person team includes both existing ULA executives, some in new positions, as well as some new hires. Among the new members of the executive team is Gary Wentz, the former head of Stratolaunch, who is now leads ULA's human launch services. The new executive team is part of a corporate restructuring that included the early retirement of a dozen veteran managers earlier this year. (10/27)
Google, Facebook, SpaceX, OneWeb Plan to Beam Internet Everywhere (Source: CNN)
About 57% of the world population is offline — mostly because of unavailable Internet in poor or rural countries. The United Nations set a goal of getting that number down to 50% by the end of 2020. But the U.N. now admits, that's not going to happen. In fact, overall Internet access growth is expected to dip by .5% this year.
For advocates like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, that's bad news. His goal of "connecting everyone" via Internet is "one of the fundamental challenges of our generation," he said. Internet access, he believes, could end extreme poverty. Now Google, Facebook, SpaceX and other outfits plan to beam the Internet from either low-orbiting satellites or high-flying drones and balloons. Here's a quick rundown of four big players. (10/30)
SpaceX President Downplays Commitment To Building Broadband Constellation (Source: Space News)
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell on Oct. 27 downplayed the company’s 4,000-satellite broadband Internet constellation, saying the project remained “very speculative” pending a deeper assessment of its business case. SpaceX’s intentions with respect to a broadband Internet satellite constellation have been the subject of debate and occasional confusion in the industry since Jan. 15, when company Chief Executive Elon Musk announced the opening of a satellite production facility outside Seattle. (10/27)
CASIS Awards Research Agreements to Five Companies (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) announced it has granted research agreements to five businesses in the technology development and remote-sensing industries. The agreements will allow these businesses to access the unique research environment of the ISS National Laboratory to further their individual investigations and offer new cutting-edge solutions and products capable of benefitting life on Earth.
The companies include ACME Advanced Materials (for Silicon Carbide Microgravity Enhanced Electrical Performance), Business Integra (for an SG100 Cloud Computing Payload), Deep Space Industries (for a Spherical Video Tour of the ISS), Ursa Space Systems, (for an ISS-hosted synthetic aperture radar sensor), and Vision Engineering Solutions (for a Space-Based Optical Tracker). Click here for details. (10/26)
Lowe's Teams with Made in Space on 3D Printer (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Lowe’s Innovation Labs has partnered with Made in Space, to become the first to launch a commercial 3D printer to space. The printer, the first permanent additive manufacturing facility for the International Space Station (ISS), will bring tools and technology to astronauts in space. At the same time here on earth, Lowe’s is launching the next-generation Lowe’s Holoroom – an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool that enables customers to envision the room of their dreams. (10/30)
For DigitalGlobe, Government Business Steady But Commercial Disappoints (Source: Space News)
Satellite geospatial imagery and services provider DigitalGlobe on Oct. 29 said it is revamping its commercial strategy in the face of disappointing sales and would focus on profitability and share repurchases to bolster its sagging stock price.
The company said that while its business with the U.S. and other government defense and intelligence agencies was doing well, its investments in specific commercial vertical markets had not paid off and would be scaled back. (10/30)
Boeing Building Mobile Broadcasting Satellite for Chinese Market (Source: Space News)
Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems has begun construction of an L-band mobile broadcasting satellite for the Chinese market under a contract with a New York-based company acting on behalf of a Cayman Islands-based, Hong Kong-traded company affiliated with China Telecom. (10/30)
Exelis Investors End Suit Over $4.75B Sale To Harris (Source: Law360)
Exelis investors leading a suit over the defense technology contractor’s $4.75 billion sale to Harris asked an Indiana federal judge on Friday to approve a settlement with the companies, saying Exelis and Harris have provided documents to show the deal was fair. (10/27)
Orbital ATK Bounces Back with New Satellite Order (Source: Via Satellite)
Orbital ATK joined the list of U.S. satellite manufacturers losing business over absence of the Export Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank), which Congress decided not to reauthorize at the end of June this year. Thompson said the inability to leverage the ECA caused a previous order, the Azerspace 2/Intelsat 38 joint satellite, to go to another manufacturer. That contract went to California-based Space Systems Loral (SSL), of which MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of Canada is the owner.
Thompson did not say who the new satellite order is for, but confirmed it will be based on the company’s GEOstar 2 platform. The win is Orbital ATK’s second for the year, following an award in February for SES 16/GovSat, the first satellite of the newly formed LuxGovSat joint venture between SES and the Luxembourg government. SES 16/GovSat is based on the GEOstar 3 platform. (10/27)
Orbital ATK Reports Quarterly Growth (Source: Orbital ATK)
Orbital ATK reported increased revenue and income in its fiscal third quarter. The company reported a net income of $80 million on revenue of $1.135 billion for the three months ended Oct. 4, slight increases over the same quarter a year ago, before Orbital Sciences and ATK merged. Orbital officials said they are planning to carry out four cargo flights to the ISS over the next year, two launched on Atlas vehicles and two on Orbital's own Antares, and expects to hear the outcome of NASA's new commercial cargo competition as soon as next week. (10/27)
Iridium Delays Deployment of Next-Generation Satellites (Source: Space News)
Iridium is delaying the launch of its first next-generation satellites because of a component issue. The company said Thursday that the launch of the first two Iridium Next satellites on a Dnepr rocket, previously scheduled for December, is now planned for no earlier than April. The company blamed the delay on a problem with a Ka-band transmit/receive module, a component built by ViaSat. Iridium still expects to deploy the entire 72-satellite constellation, primarily using SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, by late 2017. (10/29)
ViaSat Expanding in San Diego (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune)
ViaSat is planning to expand its San Diego headquarters. The company has purchased 23 acres of land across the street from its current campus of buildings, and plans to build additional buildings there as needed. ViaSat, which provides satellite communications services, currently employs nearly 2,000 people at its headquarters, and the additional buildings planned would allow its workforce to double. (10/24)
Florida Aerospace Calendar
Click HERE to suggest new items and corrections.
Nov. 4 – Emerging Technologies & Business Showcase, sponsored by Space Florida, Hyatt Regency at Coral Gables - http://www.spaceflorida.gov/news/2015/07/14/2015-emerging-technologies-and-business-showcase
Nov. 7 – Rocket Ranch Reunion, Merritt Island Moose Lodge, 4:00 p.m. - http://bit.ly/1W7m0TU
Nov. 10 - National Space Club Florida Committee luncheon, featuring Kolcum News and Communications Awards, Radisson Resort at Port Canaveral, 11:30 a.m. - http://bit.ly/68O7Hf
Nov. 10 – Florida Defense Expo, Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville - http://www.fl-dc.com/events/florida-defense-expo/
Nov. 11-13 – 2nd Space Traffic Management Conference, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach - http://commons.erau.edu/stm/
Nov. 18 - Women in Defense event: Speed Networking Event, Career Source Brevard, 5:30 p.m. - http://scwid.org/events/47/update-on-port-canaveral/
Nov. TBD – Falcon-9 launch, SES-9 satellite deployment - Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
TBD - Falcon-9 launch, Orbcomm OG2 satellite deployment - Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Nov. 19 - SCTC Quarterly Dinner & Mini-Expo (Medical Technology), Holiday Inn Melbourne/Viera, 5:30 p.m. - https://sctcbrevard.com/events/
Nov. TBD – Falcon-9 launch, JCSAT 14 satellite deployment, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time: TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Dec. 1-15 – Space Weeks at NASA KSC, sponsored 6th grade student visits to KSC, organized by National Space Club, Florida Committee - http://www.nscfl.org/Default.aspx
Dec. 3 – Atlas-5 launch, Orb-4 cargo delivery to ISS, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, 6:00 p.m. - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Dec. TBD - Falcon-9 launch, CRS-8 cargo delivery to ISS - Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Dec. TBD – Falcon-9 launch, Eutelsat 117 & ABS 2A satellite deployment, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time: TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Dec. 9 - Falcon-9 launch, CRS-9 cargo delivery to ISS - Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Dec. 10 - SCTC Morning TechTalk (Opportunities for Space Commercialization), location TBD, 8:00 a.m. - https://sctcbrevard.com/events/
Feb. 3 – Atlas-5 launch, GPS 2F-12 satellite deployment, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time: TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Feb. 13 - Falcon-9 launch, CRS-10 cargo delivery to ISS - Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time 1:51 p.m. - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Feb. TBD – Falcon-9 launch, Amos 6 satellite deployment, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time: TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Mar. 11 – Atlas-5 launch, GOES-R satellite deployment, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time: TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
Apr. TBD – Falcon Heavy launch demonstration, Kennedy Space Center - Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Time: TBD - http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html
SPACErePORT news and editorial summaries are distilled and organized by me and don’t necessarily reflect my opinions or anyone else's.