December 1, 2020

Russian Spaceport Officials are Being Sacked Left and Right (Source: Ars Technica)
The controversial leader of Russia's space enterprises, Dmitry Rogozin, has continued a spree of firings that have seen many of the nation's top spaceport officials fired, arrested, or both. Most recently, on November 27, Russian media reported that Rogozin fired the leader of the Center for Exploitation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure, which administers all of Russia’s spaceports.

Andrei Okhlopkov, the leader of this Roscosmos subsidiary, had previously faced a reprimand from Rogozin for "repeated shortcomings in his work." The spaceport organization has more than 12,000 employees. Earlier this month, Rogozin also fired Vladimir Zhuk, chief engineer of the center that administers Russian spaceports. According to Russian media reports, Zhuk was then arrested for abusing his authority in signing off on water supply contracts.

Several other key officials connected with the Vostochny Cosmodrome—under development since 2011 and intended to reduce Russia's reliance on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan—have also been recently let go. These include Vostochny head Evgeny Rogoz (fired and under house arrest), Vostochny Director Roman Bobkov (fired and arrested), and Defense Ministry Inspector General Dmitriy Fomintsev (arrested). Construction of the spaceport has been riven with corruption, often through embezzlement, and overall cost estimates of the facility have increased to more than $7.5 billion. (12/1)

China Lands Chang’e-5 Spacecraft on Moon to Gather Lunar Rocks and Soil (Source: New York Times)
China has landed a robotic spacecraft on the moon, Xinhua, the official statenews agency reported on Tuesday. The probe will spend two days gathering rocks and dirt from the lunar surface, with the goal of returning the first cache of moon samples to Earth since 1976.

The spacecraft, Chang’e-5, was the third successful uncrewed moon landing by China since 2013, when Chang’e-3 and its Yutu rover became China’s first visitor to make a lunar soft landing. In 2019, Chang’e-4 landed on the moon’s far side, the first spacecraft from Earth to ever do that. At least three more Chang’e moon landers are planned for the coming decade, ahead of China’s aspiration of building a moon base for astronauts in the 2030s. (12/1)

Chief Engineer at Vostochny Arrested (Source: Kommersant)
The criminal case against the 50-year-old director for the operation of Vostochny spaceport infrastructure - Vladimir Zhuk, was initiated on November 23 by the third department for the investigation of crimes at Vostochny under Part 1 of Art. 285 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of office). On the same day, Mr. Zhuk was detained and placed in a temporary detention center.

The court concluded that Mr. Zhuk is accused of committing an intentional crime of average gravity directed against state power and the interests of the civil service, for which a penalty of up to four years' imprisonment is provided. In addition, it turned out that he does not have a permanent place of residence in the Amur Region. The court agreed with the position of the investigation that, while at large, the chief engineer of JSC TSENKI could hide from law enforcement agencies, destroy evidence and otherwise obstruct the proceedings in the criminal case. (11/26)

Orion Component Failure May Delay Project For Months or More (Source: The Verge)
A malfunctioning component in the Orion spacecraft assembled for the Artemis 1 mission could take up to a year to repair. A component in one of eight power and data units failed, engineers reported in early November. The units are located in an adapter between the crew capsule and service module, and are difficult to access. Replacing the unit could take up to a year if engineers decide to demate the two modules, although an alternative, but untried, repair approach could be done in four months. NASA and Orion's prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, could also decide to fly the unit as-is because of redundancy in the unit. (12/1)

SES to Support Advanced Battle Management System (Source: Space News)
SES will provide satellite connectivity services for a military internet of things system. SES said Monday it will join a pool of vendors who will compete to provide communications services for the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) program, an Air Force project that seeks to connect weapon systems and command centers so they can share data. ABMS is one piece of a larger Pentagon effort to build a military internet of things known as Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control. SpaceX's Starlink system has also been selected to provide satellite-based communications for the ABMS. (12/1)

NASA Considers Options for Replacing Arecibo Capability (Source: Space News)
NASA is considering options to replace the planetary radar capability that will be lost at Arecibo. The NSF announced in November it will be decommissioning the giant radio telescope there because of damage that is unsafe to repair. NASA has used Arecibo as a planetary radar, including for tracking and characterizing near Earth asteroids. At a committee meeting Monday, agency officials said another planetary radar in California can provide some, but not all, the capabilities lost at Arecibo. NASA is starting to look into options for future planetary radar systems. That may include possible collaboration with the Space Force, which could use a radar for tracking objects in cislunar space. (12/1)

Launchspace Plans Debris Collection Satellites (Source: Space News)
Launchspace Technologies is continuing to work on concepts for tracking and collecting orbital debris. The company announced plans in 2017 to fly "Debris Collection Unit" satellites into equatorial orbits to sweep up debris too small to be tracked. The company plans to test the technology in 2022 by mounting it onto the external Bartolomeo platform on the International Space Station. Launchspace is also proposing a constellation of satellites equipped with sensors into equatorial low-Earth orbit to keep track of other satellites in low Earth and geostationary orbits in addition to monitoring orbital debris and other threats. The company is still working to secure funding for these proposed satellite systems. (12/1)

Space Force and AFRL Plan Lunar Satellite (Source: Breaking Defense)
The Space Force and Air Force Research Lab are developing a smallsat to demonstrate operations in lunar orbit. The Defense Deep Space Sentinel (D2S2) satellite would launch in late 2022 and test "extreme orbit mobility" by moving from geostationary orbit to the moon through an electric propulsion system. Once in a lunar orbit, D2S2 would test a camera that could image the lunar surface as well as provide "situational awareness" in cislunar space. (12/1)

NASA Picks Masten and Virgin Galactic to Carry Suborbital Flight Experiments (Source: NASA)
NASA has awarded contracts to two companies for suborbital flight services. Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic won the contract to provide flight services through the agency's Flight Opportunities program, which provides rides for science and technology demonstration payloads on suborbital vehicles, high-altitude balloon and parabolic aircraft flights. The total value of the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract, which runs through July 2023, is $45 million. (12/1)

Huge Solar Flare Flared on Sunday (Source:
The sun has generated the strongest solar flare seen in three years. The medium-class M4.4 flare took place Sunday and comes as the sun is starting a new cycle of activity. The flare had little impact on Earth, although the fact that the region of the sun where the flare took place was just starting to rotate into view from Earth may have mitigated its effects. (12/1)

Collapse Delivers Death Blow to Arecibo Radio Dish (Source: Cosmic Log)
The Arecibo radio telescope’s 900-ton instrument platform fell into the 1,000-foot-wide antenna dish Tuesay morning, adding to previous damage and putting Puerto Rico’s iconic scientific structure beyond repair. The National Science Foundation, which funds the Arecibo Observatory through a management contract with the University of Central Florida, said no injuries were caused by the collapse.

Today’s collapse delivered the killing blow to the current telescope. Seth Panchanathan said “our focus is now on assessing the damage, finding ways to restore operations at other parts of the observatory, and working to continue supporting the scientific community, and the people of Puerto Rico.” (12/1)

November 30, 2020

Virgin Orbit Planning Second LauncherOne Mission for December (Source: Space News)
Virgin Orbit is preparing to perform a second flight of its LauncherOne small launch vehicle in the second half of December, carrying a set of NASA-sponsored cubesats. A Nov. 24 “Local Notice to Mariners” by the U.S. Coast Guard stated that Virgin Orbit “will conduct hazardous operations” offshore from San Nicolas Island, California, between Dec. 18 and 21. Those operations will take place during a four-hour window that opens at 1 p.m. Eastern.

The notice does not explicitly state that a launch will take place, but Virgin Orbit used the same language in a Coast Guard notice for its first orbital launch attempt in May. That earlier notice, which also cited “hazardous operations,” had the same four-hour window and location for the operations. The company has not announced a formal launch date yet, but has stated it intends to carry out a second launch before the end of the year. (11/27)

LIA Aerospace Plans Space Launches From Argentina (Source: LIA Aerospace)
We are making the small sat Launch Vehicle of the future. State of the art technology mixed with the right amount of creativity and smart choices make the best possible design to meet the expectations of the growing market of Launch Vehicles. We will take advantage of the earth's rotation by launching our rockets from the Argentine Atlantic Coast -specifically from Punta Indio, Bahía Blanca and Puerto Deseado-. It's also a strategic geographical location due to its low demographic density. All this adds up to reducing costs and launching times! Click here. (11/29)

FCC's Pai To Step Down On Inauguration Day (Source: Law360)
Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced Monday he will depart the agency on president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration day, ending his four-year chairmanship that saw a contentious deregulation of net neutrality policies as well as major crackdowns on illegal robocallers and Chinese telecom equipment. (11/30)

Seraphim Space Fund Backs New Forms of Intelligence, Adding Opteran to the Portfolio (Source: Seraphim)
A UK startup called Opteran is forging a paradigm shift in intelligence that is not based on today’s Deep Learning AI, which is simply sophisticated deterministic pattern matching. A hardware approach to address the limitations of today’s Deep Learning AI to empower smaller, lighter, ultra-low power, more accurate solutions that offer efficiency on the edge of the network – importantly without the training data required by AI.

Opteran is a neuromorphic computing spin-out from the University of Sheffield (UK) leveraging £7m in grant funding and 8 years of research to emulate the brain structures of a honey bee onto silicon chips to provide computer vision, object sensing/avoidance, and ultimately autonomy for machines. The company is a graduate of Seraphim Space Camp #5, building a strong syndicate of investors alongside Seraphim Space Fund including IQ Capital, Join Capital and Episode 1 Ventures. (11/27)

The Solar Discs That Could Power Earth (Source: BBC)
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, so there’s a lot at stake. From rising global temperatures to shifting weather patterns, the impacts of climate change are already being felt around the globe. Overcoming this challenge will require radical changes to how we generate and consume energy. Renewable energy technologies have developed drastically in recent years, with improved efficiency and lower cost. But one major barrier to their uptake is the fact that they don’t provide a constant supply of energy.

Wind and solar farms only produce energy when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining – but we need electricity around the clock, every day. Ultimately, we need a way to store energy on a large scale before we can make the switch to renewable sources. A possible way around this would be to generate solar energy in space. There are many advantages to this. A space-based solar power station could orbit to face the Sun 24 hours a day. The Earth’s atmosphere also absorbs and reflects some of the Sun’s light, so solar cells above the atmosphere will receive more sunlight and produce more energy. (11/26)

Smallsat Market More Than Quadruples in the 2020s, Euroconsult Finds (Source: SpaceWatch)
The market for small satellites is growing exponentially in the next decade, the latest Euroconsult smallsat report found. In its “Prospects for the Small Satellite Market”, Euroconsult forecasts that two mega-constellations will account for half of the smallsats to be launched between 2020 and 2029, yet only for one fifth of the total smallsat market value due to economies of scale, mass manufacturing and batch launches.

The 2020s are predicted to be the decade of small satellites with an annual average of 1,000 smallsats to be launched, Euroconsult said. In 2019, the number of smallsat launches amounted to 385, generating a market value of $2.8 billion, the study found, of which 70 percent was for the manufacturing and 30 percent for the launches. (11/30)

Aerion Supersonic Partners with Spire Global on Weather Intelligence (Source: Aerion)
Aerion Supersonic, the leader in supersonic technology, and Spire Global, Inc., a space-powered Earth information company, today announced a collaboration to support Aerion’s Boomless CruiseTM technology for the AS2, the first-ever privately built supersonic commercial aircraft. Aerion will use Spire Data and forecasting capabilities to facilitate the AS2 flying supersonically without delivering a sonic boom to ground level. In addition, Spire technology will also enable significant reduction in unwanted high-altitude contrails. (11/23)

Nüwa, the Design for a Self-Sustaining City on Mars (Source: InHabitat)
As part of scientific work for a competition organized by the Mars Society, an American non-profit dedicated to exploring the Red Planet, architecture firm Abiboo has unveiled design concepts for a sustainable city on Mars. The project, called Nüwa, ranked as a finalist among 175 projects submitted from around the world for the 2020 competition. Click here. (11/23)

Weather Delays Soyuz Launch From French Guiana (Source: Arianespace)
Weather has delayed a Soyuz launch from French Guiana. Controllers scrubbed a launch attempt Sunday night of the Soyuz 2 rocket minutes before its scheduled liftoff, citing lightning in the area. Weather concerns also postponed a launch attempt Saturday. Arianespace said the launch is now scheduled for no earlier than 8:33 p.m. Eastern tonight. The rocket is carrying the Falcon Eye 2 imaging satellite for the United Arab Emirates. (11/30)

Axelspace Developing Four Satellites for Earth Observation (Source: Space News)
Earth observation company Axelspace plans to launch four satellites early next year. The company said the four satellites will launch on a Soyuz-2 rocket in March from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, joining the company's first satellite, launched in 2018. The satellites provide medium-resolution imagery for customers seeking to detect changes in agricultural fields and forests in addition to tracking economic trends and conducting environment monitoring. (11/30)

Russia: Indian Satellite Nearly Impacts Russian Satellite (Source: India Today)
Russia claimed an Indian satellite passed dangerously close to one of its own last week. Roscosmos said Friday that India's Cartosat-2F satellite passed within 224 meters of Russia's Kanopus-V satellite. Both are Earth imaging satellites in sun-synchronous orbits. The Indian space agency ISRO disputed that claim, stating that by their calculations the two satellites came no closer than 420 meters. ISRO would have performed a collision avoidance maneuver had the satellites been predicted to come within 150 meters of each other. (11/30)

Canada Working with NASA on Lunar Payloads (Source: Space News)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is working with NASA to fly payloads, including a small rover, to the moon. CSA announced Friday it selected six proposals for lunar science payloads for initial feasibility studies. The agency is also preparing to seek proposals for the development of a 30-kilogram rover that would fly to the moon on a NASA-sponsored commercial lander mission in the mid-2020s, carrying both NASA and CSA payloads. The efforts are part of a five-year Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program to support lunar science and technology development, in addition to the country's development of a robotic arm for the lunar Gateway. (11/30)

Earth May Have Captured a 1960s-Era Rocket Booster (Source: NASA)
Earth has captured a tiny object from its orbit around the Sun and will keep it as a temporary satellite for a few months before it escapes back to a solar orbit. But the object is likely not an asteroid; it's probably the Centaur upper stage rocket booster that helped lift NASA's ill-fated Surveyor 2 spacecraft toward the Moon in 1966. This story of celestial catch-and-release begins with the detection of an unknown object by the NASA-funded Pan-STARRS1 survey telescope on Maui in September.

Astronomers at Pan-STARRS noticed that this object followed a slight but distinctly curved path in the sky, which is a sign of its proximity to Earth. The apparent curvature is caused by the rotation of the observer around Earth's axis as our planet spins. Assumed to be an asteroid orbiting the Sun, the object was given a standard designation by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts: 2020 SO. But scientists at the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA JPL saw the object's orbit and suspected it was not a normal asteroid. (11/12)

November 29, 2020

Japan Launches Joint Military, Scientific Optical Data Relay Satellite (Source:
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan plans launched an H-IIA rocket on Sunday, 29 November to deploy a top secret communications satellite to support the country’s reconnaissance and scientific programs. Liftoff occurred at the start of a two-hour window that opened at 16:25 local time (07:25 UTC or 02:25 EST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The Optical Data Relay Satellite payload aboard this mission will be used to relay data collected by Japan’s fleet of Information Gathering Satellites (IGS) – including both optical and radar-imaging reconnaissance spacecraft – back to Earth for analysis. It is a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), who will also use the spacecraft to collect data from scientific satellites in low Earth orbit. (11/29)

OneWeb to Strengthen Security Tie with India (Source: The Telegraph)
The rescue of the satellite operator OneWeb will forge closer security links between India and the Western “Five Eyes” alliance, according to the billionaire who teamed up with the Government on the groundbreaking deal. The telecoms tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal, one of India’s richest men, said OneWeb can be at the heart of new relationship between the world’s largest democracy and the Five Eyes, a longstanding intelligence partnership between Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Mr Mittal said: “While India is not a part of the Five Eyes alliance, the fact is India is a democracy cherished by the UK and the US. “OneWeb has big programmes with the Ministry of Defence and US Department of Defence. From that big alliance that the UK is part of, India can be brought into discussions in sharing intelligence, building critical applications around OneWeb, so these countries can collaborate against terror.” (11/28)

Space Weather Experts Give Go-Ahead on When to Launch and Avoid Disaster (Source; Washington Examiner)
Atmospheric conditions for a NASA human launch versus commercial clients, including SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and soon, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin all have different criteria. The customer makes the final decision on whether to launch after evaluating the information compiled by the 45th Weather Squadron. “The Weather Squadron is truly an enabler,” ULA Director and General Manager of Launch Operations Tony Taliancich told the Washington Examiner.

“They give us data that allows us to launch when otherwise we might not be able to,” he said. “We've defined a very clear set of requirements to make sure that the rocket can deal with the winds, the cross-shear from the winds, and the rain and that it's protected from any potential lightning strike.” Each rocket is also different, from ULA’s Delta rockets to SpaceX’s Falcon rockets to the New Glenn rockets developed by Blue Origin. The payload also matters in the risk assessment of whether to launch or not. (11/28)

In Call With Troops, Trump Basks in Space Force Achievement (Source: Space News)
During a video teleconference with members of the military on his last Thanksgiving as commander in chief, President Trump touted his efforts to establish the Space Force, calling the newest branch of the armed services “a very important thing to me.” Trump spoke Nov. 26 from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room with officers representing units from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force and Coast Guard. The Space Force officer on the call was Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, commander of the 11th Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. (11/28)

Canada Developing Lunar Rover and Science Payloads (Source: Space News)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is moving ahead on efforts to develop lunar science payloads and a small rover that could fly to the moon on a NASA-sponsored lander mission. The CSA announced Nov. 27 it awarded six contracts with a total value of $2.9 million Canadian ($2.2 million) to five companies and universities for initial “Phase 0” studies of lunar science instruments. The instruments range from spectrometers and particle telescopes to an “agriculture feasibility” payload. (11/28)

Polar Scientists Wary of Impending Satellite Gap (Source: BBC)
There is going to be a gap of several years in our ability to measure the thickness of ice at the top and bottom of the world, scientists are warning. The only two satellites dedicated to observing the poles are almost certain to die before replacements are flown. This could leave us blind to some important changes in the Arctic and the Antarctic as the climate warms. The researchers have raised their concerns with the European Commission and the European Space Agency. (11/28)

World-First Real-Time link Between GEO and LEO Satellites (Source: Inmarsat)
After a five-year collaboration, together with Addvalue Innovation, we are pleased to announce the Commercial Service Introduction (CSI) of our Inter-satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) service, following successful demonstration of the first live data connectivity between customer Capella Space’s Control Center and its recently launched Sequoia satellite at low earth orbit. This success paves the way for satellites in low earth orbits to continuously maintain communications with the ground, receiving and transmitting data on demand and in real-time. (11/23)

Winners Announced for US/UK Partnered International Space Pitch Day (Source: USSF)
U.S Space Force’s Space And Missile Systems Center,  (SMC) along with its partners have announced the winners of International Space Pitch Day (ISPD). Small tech companies and start-ups from multiple countries had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of several U.S., U.K. and N.A.T.O. allied defense leaders on Nov. 16, 2020.

During the event, ten start-ups successfully secured same-day contracts and a slice of the $1M pot, to fast-track the development of their innovations. This marks the first time two nations have come together to award defense contracts based around a pitch-style event and the first time two nations have awarded joint defense innovation contracts to foreign companies. Fifteen companies were able to pitch their innovative ideas during the private pitch day on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. The winners were announced shortly after the culmination of public pitching by all the companies on Nov. 17, 2020. Click here. (11/28)

Cyprus Could be a Rocky Testing Ground for Mars (Source: Times of Malta)
International and Cypriot experts on Friday discussed a research project to test space equipment on the Mediterranean island before sending it to Mars to measure the age of its rocks, officials said. Planetologists and geologists arrived in Cyprus earlier this month to test out the equipment in the Troodos mountains, which officials say has geological similarities with the red planet.

The project is funded by the European Commission and on Friday a first meeting involving the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO) and the Geological Surveys Department got underway. The rock-measuring project is "very innovative since there are no previous accurate measurements of the age of the rocks of Mars from previous missions", it added in a statement. It noted however that "the geology of the Troodos Mountains has a lot in common with the rocks of Mars". (11/28)

November 28, 2020

SpaceX Starlink Just Won a Huge Customer (Source: Motley Fool)
On Saturday, Oct. 24, SpaceX crossed the finish line, achieving the 800 Starlink broadband internet satellites in orbit it needed to offer "moderate" internet coverage to large portions of Earth's surface. Just two days later, the company officially opened up Starlink to "beta" subscribers, advertising 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s broadband internet service for prices as low as $99 a month (plus a $499 hardware fee). Demand for the new service in the U.S. has reportedly been brisk, and demand in Canada is about to get even brisker -- because just this month, regulators approved Starlink to offer internet service in Canada as well.

How important is this to Canada, and is $99 for as little as 50 mbps internet speeds really a good deal? With Comcast offering 200 mbps for under $50 in metro locales in the U.S. you might not think so, but here's the thing: Listening in on tweets from elated Canadian (future) customers, and hearing their lamentations about being forced to pay, for example, $46 a month (presumably Canadian) for 6 mbps, $75 for 5 mbps, or even $95 for a measly 2 mbps, it's pretty clear that the service Starlink is offering will be a big improvement for a lot of rural users. (11/26)

Gilmour Space and Northrop Grumman sign MoU to Grow Sovereign Capabilities in Australia (Source: Space Daily)
Australian rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with global aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corporation to work on developing sovereign space capabilities in Australia. "Northrop Grumman aims to lead industry support in developing Australian sovereign space capabilities to help meet the needs of defence and realise the Australian Space Agency vision," said Chris Deeble, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. (11/25)

Canada's Escape From Planet Earth? (Source: Maclean's)
By the time you read this, one of three things has happened: you have witnessed America re-elect a neo-fascist, and you are concerned; or, you have witnessed America decline to re-elect a neo-fascist, and the neo-fascist is angry, and his followers are angrier still, and you are concerned; or, Russia has bombed every post office in Pennsylvania and you are too busy watching footage of roving street militias to read this. In any event, whatever happens/has happened on Nov. 3, this is certain: after that date our country remains uneasy about our proximity to the country directly below us and, upon careful reflection, decides the time is right for Canada to commence exploring its options for colonizing the moon.

Luckily, this seems a good opportunity to do so, because the most important international agreement regarding space exploration has just been signed: the Artemis Accords. Now, the Artemis Accords aren’t strictly designed to facilitate moon colonization (which is, granted, not 100 per cent legal), but as they regulate space exploration, they’re currently the closest thing we have to a launchpad for the 38 million or so of our prospective lunar colonists. Here are the new rules, then, for “exploring” the moon.

Among other things, we’d have to: land only for peaceful purposes (Canada’s previous exploration/colonization efforts may compromise our credibility on this point, but presumably observers will be reassured by the obligingly unthreatening status of our defence spending); be transparent about our moon business (“We’re just here for the meteor views!”); “utilize current interoperability standards for space-based infrastructure” (I don’t know what any of that means, and it is doubtful a space law enforcement officer would either); help other countries’ space personnel in distress (fine, but unnecessary—wherever they’re from, and however far it is from the United States, space personnel will be relieved to be somewhere further). (11/25)

Danish Billionaire Backs Shetland Spaceport (Source: The Herald)
The Danish billionaire objecting to a spaceport near his Highland estate has invested almost £1.5m in a rival site on Shetland. Anders Povlsen, Scotland’s biggest landowner, has boosted a proposed space centre on Unst, which is currently lagging in the race to be Scotland’s first vertical rocket launch site. The £1.43m investment is being made by Mr Povlsen’s company Wild Ventures Ltd, which said it wanted spaceports built “in the right place”. (11/27)

The U.S.-China Split in Space (Source: Axios)
China has a flourishing space program with big ambitions. The nation is expected to build a space station in orbit in the coming years and eventually plans to send people to the Moon. Those plans run in parallel to U.S. ambitions to send people back to the lunar surface as the International Space Station program comes to an end.

Both nations also have strong military presences in orbit: China's tests of its anti-satellite weapons worry many U.S. space watchers that the nation doesn't adhere to widely accepted norms in orbit. The U.S. relies on spy satellites and other assets in space to fight wars. Unlike arrangements with other U.S. allies and adversaries that have so far held peace between powers in space, NASA and China are prevented from cooperating in space without congressional approval under the Wolf Amendment, first passed in 2011.

This separation in space means the U.S. and China sometimes pursue different technologies and goals, and build separate international collaborations. Still, the U.S. space program as a whole is stronger and is likely to remain so, says Matthew Daniels. But the U.S.-China separation in space "may have long-term costs that exceed their benefits to America," the report says. If the U.S. is focused on international leadership and managing risk in space, "some narrow relaxation" of policies may be needed, he writes. (11/27)

Chinese Space Program Marches Ahead: Implications for India (Source: ORF)
Several important developments in the Chinese space program over the last ten months of 2020 are noteworthy and require careful analysis to ascertain their implications for India. Three areas are: i) Chinese space launch rates, ii) China’s collaboration with foreign space startups in the development of low-cost satellite propulsion fuel, and iii) China’s reportedly successful test of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).

In all these three segments, the Chinese space programme appears to have made progress this past year. Each of these milestones suggest that a raging pandemic — which originated in China — has had very little adverse effect, allowing the Chinese to insulate their space programme from the worst effects of COVID-19. (11/27)

China to Build Lunar Research Station Prototype (Source: Space Daily)
China plans to build a prototype for a lunar scientific research station in the fourth phase of the country's lunar exploration program, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of the program. The prototype, which will consist of multiple detectors operating in lunar orbit and on the lunar surface, will be capable of conducting scientific and technological research on the moon, as well as technical verification of lunar resource exploration and utilization, said Wu.

With the planned prototype, Chinese scientists will seek cooperation with their international counterparts to build an international lunar scientific research station, said Wu, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

On Tuesday, China launched the Chang'e-5 spacecraft to collect and return samples from the moon, the country's first attempt to retrieve samples from an extraterrestrial body. It marked the end of the third phase of China's lunar exploration program. According to the plan of the fourth phase of the program, the Chang'e-7 spacecraft will conduct a comprehensive exploration of the moon's Antarctic topography, material composition and space environment, said Wu. The Chang'e-8 spacecraft will be tasked with conducting further scientific tests as well as the verification of key technologies, the scientist added. (11/27)

China Plans to Launch New Space Science Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch a space telescope for research in electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves in December, according to the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The telescope, Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-sky Monitor (GECAM), will be launched from the Xichang spaceport The GECAM mission is composed of two small satellites, and it will focus on detecting electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves, high-energy radiation from fast radio bursts, various gamma-ray bursts, and magnetar flares. (11/27)

China's Mighty Long March 9 Rocket Set to Debut in 2030 (Source: China Daily)
The China National Space Administration has revealed design specifications about the Long March 9, a super-heavy carrier rocket that will likely become one of the world's largest and mightiest launch vehicles. Xu Hongliang, secretary-general of the administration, said that the Long March 9 is in the research and development stage and is expected to enter service around 2030.

The super-heavy rocket will be 93 meters tall, have a liftoff weight of 4,140 metric tons and a thrust power of 5,760 tons. Its core stage will be about 10 meters in diameter, Xu said at the Wenchang International Aviation and Aerospace Forum's opening ceremony on Tuesday. The craft will be so powerful that it will be able to transport spacecraft with a combined weight of 140 tons to a low-Earth orbit hundreds of kilometers above the planet, he said. (11/26)

Japan’s New H3 Launcher Delayed by Rocket Engine Component Issues (Source: Space News)
The first launches of the new Japanese H3 launch vehicle are being delayed by issues with two components of the rocket’s main engine. The Japanese space agency JAXA said that problems were found with the new LE-9 engine’s combustion chamber and turbopump. JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) were aiming to hold the inaugural launch by the end of 2020 before the discovery of issues in May. This led JAXA to announce in September that the first flight would slip to some time in Japanese fiscal year 2021, beginning April 1, 2021. The rocket’s second launch likewise slipped to Japanese fiscal year 2022. (11/27)

NASA Can't Decide Whether Astronauts Should Wash Their Underwear (Source: New Scientist)
NASA and Procter & Gamble (P&G) have signed an agreement to develop the first detergent for washing clothes in space – despite a long-standing recommendation against astronauts doing their own laundry. While astronauts wear spacesuits when working outside the International Space Station (ISS), they wear ordinary clothes most of the time. Once these are too dirty to be worn, they are then either returned to Earth as rubbish or ejected along with other waste in a capsule to burn up in the atmosphere. (11/26)

Russian Space Agency Set to Begin Discussing ISS Lifespan with NASA in Early 2021 (Source: TASS)
Consultations on the International Space Station (ISS) lifespan will begin in early 2021. According Roscosmos, the ISS lifespan depends both on technical and political issues. "One way or another, we plan to commence consultations with NASA and other partners on these issues," Roscosmos underscored.

Previously, the Scientific Russia website published a portion of the speech of ISS Russian segment flight manager Vladimir Solovyov, who claimed that there is a number of seriously damaged elements on the station that begin to fail. Solovyov noted that exponential failure of multiple modules on the ISS is expected after 2025, adding that further funding of the station may require about 10 to 15 billion rubles ($132 million to $198 million). (11/26)

Air Force Academy Looks to Become a Place for Space (Source: Air Force Magazine)
The U.S. Air Force Academy has long been the training ground for cadets headed for careers in military space. But with the creation of a Space Force, the Colorado school is looking to expand the opportunities available to space-minded students. "Where do you go if you want to be a pilot? I think most people would say, you go to the Air Force Academy if you want to fly in the United States Air Force,” said Col. Jeffrey H. Greenwood, USAFA’s Space Force liaison. “I want that same mentality of, if you want to serve in the United States Space Force.”

The Space Force, which falls under the Department of the Air Force, does not currently plan to establish its own service academy. Instead, USAFA brought in Greenwood in July to change up the space education experience. He’s modeling the Space Force detachment on the Marine Corps’ presence at the U.S. Naval Academy, alongside about 30 USAFA staffers who form the core of the school’s new Space Force detachment. (11/25)

Firehawk Aerospace Raises $2M for Next Generation Rocket Engines (Source: Space Daily)
Firehawk Aerospace, a rocket propulsion startup, has closed a $2 million seed round. The round is led by members of the Victorum Capital Club and includes additional investments from Achieve Capital and Harlow Capital Management. "Firehawk Aerospace has achieved a new level of performance for hybrid rocket engines through our patented 3D-printed rocket fuel," said Will Edwards, Co-Founder and CEO. "Firehawk Aerospace will provide a safe, reliable, and affordable rocket engine to power the next-generation of satellite launchers, guided reconnaisance systems, lunar transport systems, and manned space systems."

Firehawk Aerospace is providing customizable propulsion systems to make the future of space transportation safer and more accessible. The funds will be used to test Firehawk's engine at operational scale, grow its partnerships with leading government and commercial entities around the world, and expand its research and manufacturing facilities to Texas and Oklahoma. (11/27)

Defects in Mitochondria May Explain Many Health Problems Observed During Space Travel (Source: Space Daily)
For space exploration to be successful, it's vital to understand - and find ways to address - underlying causes of the health issues that have been observed in astronauts who have spent extended periods of time off world. These problems include loss of bone and muscle mass, immune dysfunction, and heart and liver problems. Using data collected from a number of different resources, a multidisciplinary team is reporting discovery of a common thread that drives this damage: mitochondrial dysfunction. The researchers used a systems approach to look at widespread alterations affecting biological function. (11/26)

Space Travel Can Adversely Impact Energy Production in a Cell (Source: Space Daily)
Studies of both mice and humans who have traveled into space reveal that critical parts of a cell's energy production machinery, the mitochondria, can be made dysfunctional due to changes in gravity, radiation exposure and other factors. These findings are part of an extensive research effort across many scientific disciplines to look at the health effects of travel into space. The research has implications for future space travel as well as how metabolic changes due to space travel could inform medical science on earth. (11/26)

How Can Space Improve Urban Planning? (Source: ESA)
Representatives of the city of Milan in Italy and the municipality of Baia Mare in Romania will join ESA engineers to identify how information gleaned from space can help cities to function smoothly. Andrea Aliscioni, Director of the Integrated Water Service Division for the Municipality of Milan, will explain how the city uses highly localised satellite data to monitor the health of its sewerage networks. He will be joined by Piero Pelizzaro, Chief Resilience Officer for the Municipality of Milan.

Meanwhile Sorin Pop of the Municipality of Baia Mare in Romania will describe the region’s efforts to create a smart, post-industrial regenerative ecosystem by reintroducing green plants. The system employs satellite data on biomass to conduct soil analysis from space. (11/26)

November 27, 2020

Spanish Science Minister Calls for Better Regulation of Private Space Activities (Source: Sputnik)
The increased activity of private companies in space and the ensuing potential conflict of interests with public agencies has revealed the urgent need for an appropriate legal framework, said Pedro Duque, a former astronaut who now heads the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. "I think we need to stick to the working scheme of cooperation with the private sector in this area. The private sector is often developing the technology and it becomes part of the market and then the public sector has to engage in regulations so that the exploitation is reasonable", the minister said. (11/26)

Proof of Solar Thermal Propulsion: The Key to Interstellar Travel (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory are prototyping a previously theoretical rocket design that could someday take spacecraft to interstellar space. Their plan? Use heat from the sun, rather than combustion, to power a rocket engine. Unlike a traditional engine that's mounted on the rear end of a rocket, the experimental solar-powered engine takes the shape of a flat shield made from black carbon foam. The engine would double as a heat shield, protecting the probe from the sun’s powerful rays, while coils of tubing filled with hydrogen lying beneath the surface absorb heat from the sun. (11/23)

Chief of Space Operations Discusses Need for Outreach to Partners, State of Space Force (Source: DoD)
The importance of space to the modern world cannot be underestimated, and the U.S. Space Force will be key to defending the ultimate "high ground," said Space Force Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, the chief of space operations for the new service. Other nations are realizing the crucial role of space, as well, and the general is meeting with allies and partners to build on long-established military-to-military relationships. Click here. (11/25)

The Biology of Spaceflight (Source: Cell)
As humankind reaches for the stars to journey to the next frontier in space, research on spaceflight biology is critical for understanding how living systems, including human health, may be affected by spaceflight and space exploration. This special collection on the biology of spaceflight, published in Cell and other Cell Press journals, includes research articles, short communications, and a review article that cover studies with model systems and astronaut samples. Click here. (11/25)

Israel's Next Satellite: A Smartphone in Space (Source: Israel Hayom)
Work is on track to develop and build Israel's next-generation communications satellite, ensuring that Israel will retain its independence in the critical domain of space-based communications, executives from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which is building the satellite, said. IAI announced on Jan. 3 that it had signed an agreement with the Israeli government for the development and construction of Israel's next communications satellite, dubbed "Dror 1."

"The Dror 1 is intended to meet the satellite communication needs of Israel for the next fifteen years," IAI said in a statement. The satellite "is comprised primarily of local Israeli technologies developed at IAI, including an advanced digital communication payload." ... "This is a fully digital satellite that can upload applications. It can broadcast data from one antenna and receive from another," said Shlomi Sudri. (11/26)

Black Holes So Big We Don't Know How They Form Could Be Hiding in the Universe (Source: Live Science)
Black holes can get big … really big. But just how big? It's possible they could top out at over a trillion times more massive than the sun. That's 10 times bigger than the largest known black hole so far. But could these monsters truly exist in our universe? A team of researchers has come up with a plan to go hunting for them. And if they exist, they could help us solve the mysteries of how the first stars appeared in the cosmos.

Astronomers have long been hunting for outliers: black holes smaller than five solar masses or in between stellar and supermassive black hole size. But a new paper (not yet peer-reviewed) poses a completely different kind of question: What if we took the biggest black holes and turned them up to 11? This entirely new class of black holes, would dwarf the supermassives. These "stupendously large black holes" would start at a trillion solar masses (10 times bigger than the current largest known black hole) and could possibly be even bigger. (9/28)

Musk Promoted Coronavirus Misinformation for Months, Then His Own Infection Kept Him From NASA Launch (Source: Business Insider)
Elon Musk's recent tweets revealed either a deep misunderstanding of how coronavirus testing and infection work, or a refusal to accept it. It wasn't the first time."The coronavirus panic is dumb," Musk tweeted on March 6. In the case of his own test results, Musk was not acknowledging the FDA's guidance about the antigen test he took. The agency says that in the case of a positive result, antigen tests "are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection."

PCR tests, meanwhile, take longer to process but are the gold standard for diagnosis. Musk was still awaiting his PCR results when he started tweeting. He still has not shared those results, but he said on November 18 that he "def" had the coronavirus. In the months preceding his diagnosis, Musk insisted that the virus was not very deadly, that young people weren't vulnerable, and that doctors were misattributing deaths to COVID-19 instead of other causes. He sent employees back to work at his California Tesla factory.

But then, just days before Musk's rocket company made history, biological reality seemed to strike the second-richest person on Earth. Musk may finally be coming around to the truth of this pandemic. He did not, however, respond to Business Insider's request for comment. In a September interview on the podcast "Sway," Musk told interviewer Kara Swisher that he would not get the COVID-19 vaccine, nor want his family to do so. The reason he gave was that he was "not at risk for COVID, nor are my kids." He didn't elaborate further on that stance, and he didn't acknowledge that even if you are healthy, young, and less likely to experience severe symptoms, getting vaccinated can prevent you from spreading the virus to someone more vulnerable. (11/26)

European Space Agency Signs $102 Million Deal to Bring Space Trash Home (Source: New York Post)
The European Space Agency says it is signing a 86 million-euro ($102 million) contract with a Swiss start-up company to bring a large piece of orbital trash back to Earth. The agency said Thursday that the deal with ClearSpace SA will lead to the “first active debris removal mission” in 2025, in which a custom-made spacecraft will capture and bring down part of a rocket once used to deliver a satellite into orbit. (11/26)

Earth Just Got 2,000 Light-Years Closer to Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole (Source: C/Net)
At the center of the our galaxy there's a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A*. It has a mass roughly 4 million times that of our sun. Great news! It turns out scientists have discovered that we're 2,000 light-years closer to Sagittarius A* than we thought. This doesn't mean we're currently on a collision course with a black hole. No, it's simply the result of a more accurate model of the Milky Way based on new data.

Over the last 15 years, a Japanese radio astronomy project, VERA, has been gathering data. Using a technique called interferometry, VERA gathered data from telescopes across Japan and combined them with data from other existing projects to create what is essentially the most accurate map of the Milky Way yet. By pinpointing the location and velocity of around 99 specific points in our galaxy, VERA has concluded that the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A, at the center of our galaxy, is actually 25,800 light-years from Earth -- almost 2,000 light-years closer than what we previously believed. (11/26)

Scientists, Students Demand Action to Keep Arecibo Radio Telescope Operating (Source: ABC)
After the National Scientific Foundation (NSF) announced last Thursday the demolition and decommission of the iconic Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, scientists, experts and many Puerto Ricans have taken to digital platforms to plead with the government to save the 57-year-old observatory. Many including researchers and students are using #SaveTheAreciboObservatory and #WhatAreciboMeansToMe hashtags to share the observatory's impact in their lives and the scientific world. A Twitter account called Save the Arecibo Observatory has also been created.

"#WhatAreciboMeansToMe: More than a telescope," Kevin Ortiz, a physics student at the University of Puerto Rico, wrote on Twitter. For him, the observatory has had "an incalculable impact in the communities of PR." Organizations including the Planetary Society are also joining the conversation on social media. "Arecibo Observatory touched the lives of so many people. Its scientific achievements enriched our understanding of the universe and helped protect our planet from asteroids," the organization said in a tweet. (11/26)

SpaceX Uses Booster Seventh Time on Starlink Launch (Source: Space Daily)
SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 first-stage boosters for a record seventh time Tuesday night as the company launched more of its Starlink satellites from Florida. The rocket booster for the mission flew on four other Starlink launches, most recently in August, and two missions for other satellite companies. (11/24)

The Universe is Expanding Too Fast, and That Could Rewrite Cosmology (Source: New Scientist)   
There is something seriously wrong with our understanding of the cosmos. When we measure the rate at which the universe is expanding, we get different results depending on whether we extrapolate from the early universe or look at exploding stars in nearby galaxies. The discrepancy means that everything is speeding apart more quickly than we expect. The problem originally surfaced a few years ago, and the hope was that it would fade away with more precise observations. In fact, the latest measurements have made it impossible to ignore.

Cosmologists have been scrabbling for answers. They have played around with the properties of dark energy and dark matter, those two well-known, yet still mysterious, components of our standard model of cosmology. They have imagined all manner of new exotic ingredients – all to no avail.

The conclusion could hardly be starker. Our best model of the cosmos, a seemingly serenely sailing ship, might be holed beneath the water line. That has led some researchers to suggest taking the ultimate step: abandoning that ship and building a new standard model from the ground up, based on a revised understanding of gravity. (11/25)

Vega Failure Shouldn't Be Dismissed as a Vehicle Processing Error (Source: Quartz)
Last week saw the failure of a Vega rocket blamed on a manufacturing error when two cables were inadvertently swapped. Dave Rutkowski wrote in to say that it’s not so obvious that the problem wasn’t in the vehicle design. “Proper design would have keyed the connectors differently so they could not be swapped,” Rutkowski says. “As an example, the Ford oval that appears on the rear deck of all Fords is a plastic piece with three (not two) tabs that fit into three body holes,” he continues. “The holes are not symmetrically spaced so the oval can be inserted only one way.” Sometimes the path to excellent execution is just a better plan! (11/25)

Relativity's Valuation Linked to Manufacturing (Source: Quartz)
At this point, Relativity has raised more than $680 million, which is more than SpaceX or Rocket Lab required to get their first vehicles in orbit. Ellis says his company’s focus on its factory of the future explains some of the difference in timing and capital requirements. “We are intentionally understanding that we have to build the world’s largest 3D printing factory for aerospace,” Ellis says. “It’s like going from on-premise server to cloud, or going from internal combustion to electric. What Relativity is doing is at the forefront of the tradition to software-designed manufacturing.”

China to Begin Construction of Its Space Station Next Year (Source: Sputnik)
China is set to begin construction of its orbital space station next year, deputy head of the Chang Zheng 5 (Long March 5) launch vehicle project of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Qu Yiguang, told reporters. "Since the appearance of the Chang Zheng 5 launch vehicle, it has been determined that it will carry out the mission of launching China's largest spacecraft," Qu said. "Starting next year, we are going to start carrying out launches as part of the mission to build our country's space station," the official said. (11/25)

Moon Mission Tasked with Number of Firsts for China (Source: Space Daily)
The Chang'e 5 lunar mission will need to overcome a succession of challenges and difficulties before it can be declared a complete success, project insiders said. Mission spokesman Pei Zhaoyu said Chang'e 5 will be the first Chinese spacecraft to carry out sample collection and launch operations on an extraterrestrial body, and these maneuvers will be extremely demanding and sophisticated in terms of technology and engineering complexity.

After the samples are collected and packed into the ascender, it will need to be lifted into lunar orbit to rendezvous and dock with the combined orbiter and re-entry capsule in an exceptionally accurate, delicate manner. Otherwise, it will be damaged and fail to deliver the samples, he added. The last challenge, he said, will emerge during the re-entry process as the re-entry capsule will descend through Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 11.2 kilometers per second, much faster than almost all previous Chinese spacecraft. (11/25)

MOXIE Could Help Future Rockets Launch Off Mars (Source: Space Daily)
NASA's Perseverance rover carries a device to convert Martian air into oxygen that, if produced on a larger scale, could be used not just for breathing, but also for fuel. One of the hardest things about sending astronauts to Mars will be getting them home. Launching a rocket off the surface of the Red Planet will require industrial quantities of oxygen, a crucial part of propellant: A crew of four would need about 55,000 pounds (25 metric tons) of it to produce thrust from 15,000 pounds (7 metric tons) of rocket fuel.

That's a lot of propellant. But instead of shipping all that oxygen, what if the crew could make it out of thin (Martian) air? A first-generation oxygen generator aboard NASA's Perseverance rover will test technology for doing exactly that. The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE, is an experimental instrument that stands apart from Perseverance's primary science. One of the rover's main purposes is capturing returnable rock samples that could carry signs of ancient microbial life. (11/25)

November 26, 2020

Dark Matter, Unexplained (Source: Vox)
The beautiful challenge of stargazing is keeping this all in mind: Every small thing we see in the night sky is immense, but what’s even more immense is the unseen, the unknown. Though physicists have been trying to figure out what dark matter is for decades, the detectors they built to find it have gone silent year after year. It makes some wonder: Have they been chasing a ghost? Dark matter might not be real. Instead, there could be something more deeply flawed in physicists’ understanding of gravity that would explain it away. Still, the search, fueled by faith in scientific observations, continues, despite the possibility that dark matter may never be found. (11/25)

For the First Time, Scientists Detect the Ghostly Signal That Reveals the Engine of the Universe (Source: NBC)
Scientists reported that they’ve made the first detection of almost-ethereal particles called neutrinos that can be traced to carbon-nitrogen-oxygen fusion, known as the CNO cycle, inside the sun. It’s a landmark finding that confirms theoretical predictions from the 1930s, and it’s being hailed as one of the greatest discoveries in physics of the new millenium. The scientists used the ultrasensitive Borexino detector at the INFN’s Gran Sasso particle physics laboratory in central Italy – the largest underground research center in the world, deep beneath the Apennine Mountains, about 65 miles northeast of Rome.

The detection caps off decades of study of the sun’s neutrinos by the Borexino project, and reveals for the first time the main nuclear reaction that most stars use to fuse hydrogen into helium. “It’s really a breakthrough for solar and stellar physics,” said Gioacchino Ranucci of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), one of the researchers on the project since it began in 1990. (11/25)

Intelligent Life Really Can't Exist Anywhere Else (Source: Popular Mechanics)
In newly published research from Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute, scientists study the likelihood of key times for evolution of life on Earth and conclude that it would be virtually impossible for that life to evolve the same way somewhere else. Life has come a very long way in a very short time on Earth, relatively speaking—and scientists say that represents even more improbable luck for intelligent life that is rare to begin with.

For decades, scientists and even philosophers have chased many explanations for the Fermi paradox. How, in an infinitely big universe, can we be the only intelligent life we’ve ever encountered? Even on Earth itself, they wonder, how are we the only species that ever has evolved advanced intelligence? There are countless naturally occurring, but extremely lucky ways in which Earth is special, sheltered, protected, and encouraged to have evolved life. (11/24)

Amateur Astronomer Alberto Caballero Finds Possible Source of Wow! Signal (Source:
Amateur astronomer Alberto Caballero has found a small amount of evidence for a source of the notorious Wow! signal. Back in 1977, astronomers working with the Big Ear Radio Telescope recorded a unique signal from somewhere in space. It was so strong and unusual that one of the workers on the team, Jerry Ehman, famously scrawled the word Wow! on the printout. Despite years of work and many man hours, no one has ever been able to trace the source of the signal or explain the strong, unique signal, which lasted for all of 72 seconds.

In this new effort, Caballero reasoned that if the source was some other life form, it would likely be living on an exoplanet—and if that were the case, it would stand to reason that such a life form might be living on a planet similar to Earth—one circling its own sun-like star. Pursuing this logic, Caballero began searching the publicly available Gaia database for just such a star. The Gaia database has been assembled by a team working at the Gaia observatory run by the European Space Agency. Launched back in 2013, the project has worked steadily on assembling the best map of the night sky ever created.

To date, the ESA team has mapped approximately 1.3 billion stars. In studying his search results, Caballero found what appears to fit the bill—a star (2MASS 19281982-2640123) that is very nearly a mirror image of the sun—and is located in the part of the sky where the Wow! signal originated. (11/24)

Earth Had a Minimoon for Nearly Three Years Before it Drifted Away (Source: New Scientist)
Earlier this year, astronomers found a minimoon orbiting Earth. It has now drifted away, but we should soon be able to detect more of these miniature companions. When astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona spotted a dim object called 2020 CD3 hurtling across the sky in February, they couldn’t be sure if it was a minimoon or an artificial object like a rocket booster.

Over the following few months, Grigori Fedorets at Queen’s University Belfast in the UK and his colleagues used a series of telescopes around the world to take more measurements of the object and figure out what it was. They found that it had a diameter of about 1.2 metres. Based on its colour and brightness, it was probably made of silicate rock, like many rocks in the asteroid belt. The researchers also traced back its orbit in an effort to find out where it might have come from before it was caught in Earth’s orbit about 2.7 years earlier. (11/23)

Teamwork Advances Quiet Supersonic Technology (Source: NASA)
Two NASA centers on opposite sides of the country are finding new ways to work together to support the agency’s mission to develop quiet supersonic technology, in spite of thousands of miles of distance and a global pandemic. Using their available labs, Kennedy Space Center in Florida is building tools in collaboration with Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, which NASA will use in support of the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane, or QueSST.

A project under NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate called SCHAMROQ, which stands for Schlieren, Airborne Measurements, and Range Operations for QueSST, is preparing the tools and test techniques to execute these tests at Armstrong. When a reduced capacity to develop these tools materialized during the COVID-19 pandemic, Armstrong turned to Kennedy to provide a helping hand, and to help ensure the project’s progress.

These tools include the Shock Sensing Probe, a device that will evaluate the characteristics of the X-59's shockwaves while in flight, a schlieren photography technique to visualize the X-59's shockwaves as they distort light through a camera, and a navigation software that will allow pilots to fly accurately during X-59 tests. (11/24)

Space Force: Ahead of Its Time or Dreadfully Premature? (Source: Cato Institute)
Outer space is a strategically important and increasingly crowded place. A growing number of countries depend on unfettered access to outer space to run their economies and protect their security interests. Modern militaries also rely on space‐​based sensors and communications to function effectively on the battlefield, provide early warning of nuclear attack, and keep tabs on potential adversaries in peacetime.

The growing strategic importance of outer space encouraged the United States to establish its first new military branch since 1947: the U.S. Space Force. The Space Force, which will celebrate its first birthday in December, will be heavily laden with advanced technology, but will it have the right organizational characteristics and firm foundation of strategic thinking to take advantage of its capabilities? Is the Space Force ahead of its time, or is its creation as an independent service dreadfully premature?

In a forthcoming Cato Institute policy analysis, Robert Farley argues that the Space Force lacks both a clearly defined organizational culture and a clear strategic purpose, which will hamstring the newly created service. Please join us for a virtual policy forum with the report’s author and two leading space policy experts to discuss the report and debate its findings. (11/25)

Audit Report Blasts Spaceport America's Former Director (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Spaceport America's former director, Dan Hicks, is described as an incompetent and bullying boss who intercepted staff email, manipulated procurement rules and backdated authorization requests for travel using taxpayer funds, among other allegations, in a scathing 362-page forensic audit report by New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón. The audit concludes that Hicks may have violated criminal and administrative statutes over the years he served as the spaceport's CEO. (11/24)

Why Blue Origin is Slower Than SpaceX (Source: YouTube)
One reason Blue Origin is moving slowly is because it is obsessed with things exactly right. But is it perfection at the cost of rapid progress? But Elon Musk says if things are not failing, you're not innovating enough. Click here to view the video. (11/19)

Artemis I Launch Preparations Are Stacking Up (Source: NASA)
NASA has stacked the first piece of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on the mobile launcher in preparation for the Artemis I launch next year. At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers lowered the first of 10 segments into place Nov. 21 for the twin solid rocket boosters that will power the first flight of the agency’s new deep space rocket. Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight to test the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon with the Artemis program. (11/24)

November 25, 2020

UAE Hopes Tiny lunar Rover Will Discover Unexplored Parts of the Moon (Source: CNN)
It is an elite club of just three nations: the US, Russia and China -- the only countries to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon. Now, the United Arab Emirates is trying to join them, announcing an unmanned moon mission planned for 2024. The UAE's mission is designed as a stepping stone towards the exploration of Mars, which the Gulf nation is targeting with its Mars 2117 project. Earlier this year, the project took off with the launch of a probe -- named Al Amal, or "Hope" -- due to reach the red planet's orbit in February 2021.

The new lunar mission involves a small rover, to be built entirely at Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC). Inaugurated in 2006, the center has already designed and built Earth-orbit satellites under an all-Emirati team, but the rover is its most ambitious technological undertaking to date. The rover -- named Rashid in honor of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former ruler of Dubai and father of the current sheik -- is currently in the design phase. It will be built in 2022 and tested the following year, ahead of the 2024 mission launch. (11/25)

Solar Power Stations in Space Could be the Answer to Our Energy Needs (Source: Space Daily)
It sounds like science fiction: giant solar power stations floating in space that beam down enormous amounts of energy to Earth. And for a long time, the concept - first developed in the 1920s - was mainly an inspiration for writers. A century later, however, scientists are making huge strides in turning the concept into reality. The European Space Agency has realised the potential of these efforts and is now looking to fund such projects, predicting that the first industrial resource we will get from space is "beamed power."

Renewable energy technologies have developed drastically in recent years, with improved efficiency and lower cost. But one major barrier to their uptake is the fact that they don't provide a constant supply of energy. Wind and solar farms only produce energy when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining - but we need electricity around the clock, every day. Ultimately, we need a way to store energy on a large scale before we can make the switch to renewable sources. A possible way around this would be to generate solar energy in space. A space-based solar power station could orbit to face the Sun 24 hours a day. (11/22)

How Will Joe Biden Handle Outer Space? (Source: National Review)
Even Trump’s critics will admit his administration has been great for space. Though reactions to the creation of the Space Force were mixed, its strategic importance hardly needs defending in light of China’s and Russia’s increased space capabilities. Other areas — reactivating the National Space Council, promoting the commercialization of space, and revitalizing NASA — have been generally lauded as victories. When it comes to space policy, Biden has much to live up to. How will he fare?

We can afford a little optimism here. After all, Biden has a history of supporting space initiatives. He almost certainly won’t pull the plug on the Space Force. While the timeline for various Artemis Program missions will be pushed back (and space-policy experts already believed dates for key missions were motivated more by politics than sound engineering and logistics), it’s unlikely these will be shuttered, either. Biden won’t go full steam ahead into space the way Trump did, but neither is he looking to reverse recent progress. (11/25)

To Lead in Space, America Must Lead in Space Collaboration (Source: Politico)
Space is an increasingly crowded, democratized and contested environment. More than 60 countries now have space budgets, and more than 70 own or operate satellites in orbit. Myriad private organizations are launching satellites, including many smaller satellites that nevertheless have significant capabilities. Government agencies are vying for jurisdiction over space issues. Amid all this, Russia and China are investing in capabilities to threaten U.S. and international satellites.

The crowding of space reflects its enormous potential, but also necessitates action to ensure its sustainability. In the next presidential term, the U.S. will face high-level decisions on critical space policy issues with long-lasting implications. Strategies that earned the U.S. space preeminence in the 20th century won’t keep us ahead in this century. We need new methods to achieve this. At a high level, we recommend an emphasis on stronger collaboration across the space enterprise to realize this potential and address those challenges. Click here. (11/25)

SpaceX Starlink Launch/Landing a Milestone (Source: Space News)
SpaceX launched another set of Starlink satellites Tuesday night on the 100th flight of the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 9:13 p.m. Eastern and deployed the 60 satellites 15 minutes later. The rocket's first stage, making a record-setting seventh launch, landed on a droneship in the Atlantic. This flight marked the 100th launch of the Falcon 9, including one launch failure in 2015.

With the launch, SpaceX now has nearly 900 Starlink satellites in orbit and plans to expand a beta test of its broadband internet service early next year. SpaceX also recently requested permission from the FCC to launch a set of Starlink satellites into a polar orbit to provide service in Alaska as the FCC reviews a broader modification of the Starlink constellation the company filed with the FCC earlier this year. (11/25)

Telesat and Loral Units Combine as Telesat Subsidiaries (Source: Space News)
Telesat will combine with Loral Space and Communications to become a publicly traded company. The Canadian operator said that, under an agreement with Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board, Telesat Canada and Loral will become subsidiaries of Telesat Corp., and be traded on the Nasdaq exchange by the second or third quarter of 2021. Telesat executives had previously hinted they were considering a public offering as a means of raising money for the company's LEO constellation. (11/25)

Space Force Seeks Alternative Launch Services (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Space Force is interested in alternatives to traditional launch services. Col. Robert Bongiovi, the director of the Space Force's launch enterprise, said his office is trying to gain better insight into the next wave of space innovation and figure out how the military could acquire those capabilities. His office issued a request for information earlier this month regarding planned investments that would support space mobility and logistics. That could include in-space tugs for moving satellites to their desired orbits and possibly the use of launch systems for point-to-point cargo delivery on Earth, although officials acknowledged that they didn't have the insight to determine if that was feasible. (11/25)

SpaceX Starship Readies for Suborbital Flight (Source: Space News)
SpaceX says it's ready to perform a suborbital flight of its Starship vehicle. The company performed a static-fire test Tuesday of the Starship SN8 prototype at Boca Chica, Texas, after which company CEO Elon Musk declared that the vehicle was ready for a flight next week to an altitude of 15 kilometers. Musk acknowledged the risk of that test flight, giving it only a one-in-three chance of success. Starship ultimately will be launched atop a booster called Super Heavy. The FAA announced Monday that it was starting an environmental review of the Starship/Super Heavy system because that much larger system falls outside the scope of the original environmental review for the Boca Chica site. (11/25)

China's Moon Probe Tweaks Trajectory (Source: Xinhua)
China's Chang'e-5 spacecraft tweaked its trajectory toward the moon Tuesday. The spacecraft fired its main engine for two seconds at 9:06 a.m. Eastern while at a distance of 160,000 kilometers from Earth. The spacecraft is in good condition, officials reported, but provided few other details about the status of or plans for the mission. (11/25)

Congress Concerned About China's Lunar Effort (Source: Politico)
China on Monday launched its mission to collect samples from the lunar surface and return them to Earth, a feat that only two countries — the U.S. and the Soviet Union — have accomplished. Long term, China hopes the mission paves the way for future missions and eventually a lunar research station near the middle of this decade. The moon rocks, which would be the first collected since the 1970s, should be returned to Earth in mid-December.

But the attempt is raising concern for some members of Congress who worry America is losing its leadership position, and with it the ability to set norms of behavior. Rep. Frank Lucas, the top Science Committee Republican, called the mission “a significant step” towards establishment of a permanent Chinese presence on the moon.

“The nation that leads in space will dictate the rules of the road for future technological development and exploration, and the influence of the People’s Liberation Army in the [Chinese Community Party’s] space program makes China a particularly irresponsible and dangerous candidate,” he said in a statement. “We can no longer take America’s leadership in space for granted.” (11/25)

Another Hint at Dark Energy (Source: Nature)
A "twisting" of the cosmic microwave background could be a hint of what dark energy is. Scientists said they have detected a changing direction of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background that is consistent with one model for dark energy that describes it as an exotic substance known as a "quintessence field." That is an alternative to more widely accepted models that dark energy is an intrinsic part of space, and could mean that its role in accelerating the expansion of the universe could change over time. Other researchers, however, cautioned that the measurements, made using data from ESA's Planck mission, may not be statistically significant. (11/25)

SpaceX May Spend Billions to Outsource Starlink Satellite-Dish Production, Losing $2K on Each Unit (Source: Business Insider)
SpaceX recently launched a public beta test for Starlink, its growing network of internet-beaming satellites. Test subscribers pay $100 per month for broadbandlike service, plus a $500 fee for a starter kit that includes a "UFO on a stick" user terminal, or satellite dish. But each user terminal contains a phased-array antenna, which industry experts say can't be made for less than $1,000.

SpaceX hired STMicroelectronics to manufacture Starlink user terminals, says a person with knowledge of the agreement. The contract with the Swiss-headquartered manufacturing giant calls for the production of 1 million terminals and may be worth billions of dollars, the person said. Musk has said Starlink's "most difficult technical challenge" is making that hardware at scale and, specifically, making it affordable. (11/25)

NASA Uses Powerful Supercomputers and AI to Map Earth's Trees, Discovers Billions of Trees in West African Drylands (Source: SciTech Daily)
Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and international collaborators demonstrated a new method for mapping the location and size of trees growing outside of forests, discovering billions of trees in arid and semi-arid regions and laying the groundwork for more accurate global measurement of carbon storage on land.

Using powerful supercomputers and machine learning algorithms, the team mapped the crown diameter – the width of a tree when viewed from above – of more than 1.8 billion trees across an area of more than 500,000 square miles, or 1,300,000 square kilometers. The team mapped how tree crown diameter, coverage, and density varied depending on rainfall and land use. (11/22)

Why San Antonio Leaders Think the City Has a Shot at Landing the Space Command (Source: San Antonio Report)
On Thursday, the Air Force announced Port San Antonio was among six finalists to house the Space Command, a functional command of the Space Force, which was established in December 2019 by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. It was the news San Antonio leaders had been working toward. Recognizing the potential economic boon the command could deliver, 50 cities submitted proposals in a bidding process that allowed any state with large military bases to compete for the command, which is currently based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

Gen. Juan Ayala, a retired Marine Corps officer and director of military and veteran affairs for the City of San Antonio, was the first person to get the call that the Port had made the cut. San Antonio had made it onto a shortlist that the delegation was expecting to include 10 contenders, not just six, and Ayala believes the D.C. visit is what caught the attention of decision-makers. “A four-star general looked at me said, ‘He’s the only mayor from a city that’s come down to see us,’” Ayala said. “That was a great effort by our team to pull that off and I think it made a difference.” (11/23)

Spacecraft With Precious Asteroid Cargo Is Almost Home After 5-Billion Km Trek (Source: Science Alert)
Hayabusa2 carries with it a cargo unbelievably rare, precious, and hard-won - at least 100 milligrams of material collected from the surface of asteroid Ryugu. It will drop the capsule containing the sample to Earth, the spacecraft itself continuing on to visit more asteroid targets. Hayabusa2's return will mark a milestone in a remarkable feat of space science, a total journey of around 5.24 billion kilometers. Asteroid Ryugu - formerly known as 1999 JU3 - is on an elliptical orbit that carries it just inside Earth's orbital path around the Sun, and out almost as far as Mars' orbit.

The capsule is expected to descend between 3.30 AM and 4.30 AM ACDT (Australian Central Daylight Time) on 6 December 2020, creating a brilliant fireball produced by the heat of atmospheric entry. A special heat shield will protect the capsule from temperatures around 3,000 degrees Celsius (5,400 degrees Fahrenheit). After deploying its parachute, it is expected to land within a 100 square kilometer region within the Woomera Protected Area. (11/23)

Faint 'Super-Planet' Discovered by Radio Telescope for the 1st Time (Source:
Scientists have discovered a cold, faint "super-planet" that has remained elusive to traditional infrared survey methods. Observations from the Low-Frequency Array, or LOFAR radio telescope, revealed a brown dwarf, which researchers have designated BDR J1750+3809 and nicknamed Elegast. Brown dwarfs are sometimes referred to as failed stars or super-planets because they are too small to be considered stars, yet too big to be considered planets. (11/22)

Swamp Watch: Pentagon Reports $5B in Improper Payments to Civilian Workforce (Source: Federal News Network)
The Defense Department’s latest financial statement shows the Pentagon made nearly $5 billion worth of improper payments in its civilian payroll accounts last year, a massive increase from previous years in which the department reported almost none. In its annual financial report, released last week, DoD said the startling increase was mainly because of a “new sampling plan and testing methodology” financial management officials began implementing in the civilian pay accounts in 2020.

But at least so far, those new methodologies appear to have generated more questions than answers as they unearthed billions of dollars in previously-undiscovered potential payment irregularities. For the overwhelming majority of the $4.916 billion discovered to be improper in the civilian pay arena — 99.1% — auditors aren’t able to say whether they represent overpayments or underpayments. Instead, the department simply doesn’t have the documentation to show whether the payments were authorized at all.

Overall, the new tests showed that nearly 8% of the department’s outlays to its civilian workforce could be improper in one way or another, according to the new data. In 2019, prior to the new sampling and testing processes, the department estimated just 0.14% of its civilian payments were improper. (11/23)

Astronauts on a Mars Mission Will Need to be 'Conscientious' to Work Well Together (Source: CNN)
The astronauts selected for the first human mission to Mars will need to have more than "the right stuff." People on this very long mission will need to possess an eagerness for doing the right thing, too. Conscientiousness, defined as "wishing to do what is right, especially to do one's work or duty well and thoroughly," has emerged as the key trait requirement for astronauts that will live and work on the surface of Mars millions of miles from Earth, according to a new study.

This trait was identified as more important than honesty, humility, emotionality, extroversion, openness and agreeableness. "Conscientiousness, an individual personality trait, can be thought of as a pooled team-resource," said Julia McMenamin, the study's first author and a doctoral student in psychology at Western University in Canada, in a statement. "The more conscientiousness a team is, the better they will likely be at accomplishing tasks."

Conversely, traits like "social loafing," or the habit of a team member putting in less effort than when they work solo, are undesirable in a potential Marstronaut. Traits that seem counterproductive and negative behaviors are likely to cause more trouble and disruptions in a team environment.
The researchers consider these traits and behavior "non-negotiable" for long-duration spaceflight crews. (11/24)

Artemis I Stacks Up (Source: NASA)
The first of 10 pieces of the twin Space Launch System (SLS) rocket boosters for NASA’s Artemis I mission was placed on the mobile launcher Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Engineers used one of five overhead cranes to lift the segment from the VAB’s High Bay 4 to the newly renovated High Bay 3. The component is the bottom section of the booster, known as the aft assembly, which house the system that controls 70% of the steering during the rocket’s initial ascent.

Over several weeks, the other segments will be stacked one at a time and topped with the forward assembly. Launching in 2021, Artemis I will be an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish sustainable lunar exploration by the end of the decade. (11/24)

Stranded US Billionaire Donates to Children's Hospital After Rocket Lab Launch (Source: New Zealand Herald)
US billionaire Gabe Newell has made good on his promise to donate $1 to Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital for every person who watched the livestream of Rocket Lab's latest launch, "Return to Sender". Rocket Lab said this afternoon that $286,000 had been raised for Starship's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, thanks to Newell.

The billionaire became stranded in New Zealand during a 10-day holiday that ran into the March lockdown. He then decided to stay on for a spell. The divorced, 57-year-old father of two says he can get just as much done working remotely from NZ than remotely from his home in Seattle - where he became a multi-millionaire at Microsoft. (11/23)

Search Firm Seeks CEO Candidates for Mojave Spaceport (Source: ADK)
The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the strategic direction and planning, as well as tactical management and execution of goals. The incumbent will manage staff and oversee the activities of finance, operations, maintenance, and construction and is responsible for the day-to-day business operations at the airport/spaceport. Click here. (11/24)

Vandenberg AFB Fails to Land Among Finalists for U.S. Space Command Home (Source: Noozhawk)
Vandenberg Air Force Base in northern Santa Barbara County did not land among the finalists to become home to U.S. Space Command headquarters. The Air Force recently announced six locations remaining in the running. They include Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Offutt AFB, Nebraska; Patrick AFB, Florida; Peterson AFB, Colorado; Port San Antonio, Texas; and Redstone Army Airfield, Alabama.

“While the city of Lompoc is disappointed VAFB was not a finalist for U.S. Space Command headquarters, we are proud of the unified effort and nomination process," Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne said. "The nomination application exemplifies what we already know about our community, VAFB and Central California: It is an amazing place to live and work. I am positive VAFB and Lompoc will still benefit as a key strategic location for Space Command, even though it isn’t the headquarters," Osborne added. (11/23)

FAA Environmental Study for Space Florida's Shuttle Landing Facility Focuses on Dream Chaser (Source: FAA)
The FAA is evaluating Space Florida’s proposal to operate a commercial space reentry site at the SLF at Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida. To operate a commercial space reentry site at the SLF, Space Florida must obtain a Reentry Site Operator License (RSOL) from the FAA. If commercial vehicle operators apply to the FAA for reentry licenses to conduct reentry operations at the SLF, a separate environmental document, tiering off this PEA, would be developed to support the issuance of a reentry license to the prospective reentry operator(s). Click here. (11/24)

Rocket Lab Rocket Recovery a "Complete Success" (Source: Space News)
Rocket Lab said the recovery of an Electron first stage after launch last week was a "complete success." The first stage reentered after stage separation, deployed parachutes and splashed down, where it was recovered by a boat and shipped back to the company's factory. That recovery effort went as planned, Rocket Lab said Monday, but engineers are only starting to examine the condition of the stage. Rocket Lab anticipates performing additional recovery tests over the next year before being ready to reuse a stage. (11/24)

Lockheed Martin's "Nontraditional Partners" Allowed SDA Transport Layer Win (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin credits winning a Space Development Agency (SDA) contract to partnering with other companies.Lockheed won a contract this summer to build 10 satellites for SDA's Transport Layer mesh network that will provide global high-speed broadband to military users. Company executives said they believe they won the contract because they decided to partner with companies like smallsat manufacturer Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems and Telesat U.S. Services, a subsidiary of Canadian satellite operator Telesat. Lockheed executives said those "nontraditional partners" helped the company stand out in the competition, leveraging their expertise in smallsats and development of satellite constellations. (11/24)

NOAA Awards Commercial Weather Satellite Data Contracts (Source: Space News)
NOAA awarded commercial satellite weather data contracts to two companies. The two-year indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contracts issued to GeoOptics and Spire Global have a total ceiling of $23 million. The contracts cover the delivery of radio occultation data for those companies' satellites, which can be used to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts. NOAA has studied the feasibility of acquiring radio occultation data commercially for several years through a pilot program, and concluded in June that such data is of sufficient quality to support NOAA's operational weather forecasting needs. (11/24)

Cabrice Raises $15 Million for Spacecraft Thermal Management (Source: Space News)
Space technology startup Carbice has raised $15 million for thermal management of spacecraft. Downing Ventures, a division of London-based investment management firm Downing LLP, led the Series A round. The company has been developing Carbice Carbon, a carbon nanotube-based material designed to lower device temperatures and dissipate heat. That material is being used on communications and radar imaging satellites for more effective thermal management than traditional techniques, like thermal glue. Carbice plans to use the funding to hire sales and marketing personnel in addition to expanding production to meet demand. (11/24)

Germany Buys Advanced Military GPS Receivers (Source: Space News)
Germany is the first nation that will buy advanced military GPS receivers. The jam-resistant receivers, which receive military or "M-Code" GPS signals, will be delivered to the German military next year. The secretary of the Air Force and the office of the secretary of defense approved the sale of M-Code user equipment to 58 nations, and additional foreign military sales of M-Code user equipment are in the works. (11/24)

Capella Space Uses Inmarsat to Relay SAR Data (Source: Space News)
Capella Space used Inmarsat's satellite network for the first time to task its synthetic aperture radar satellites. Capella relayed commands to its Sequoia satellite through an Inmarsat satellite, which Capella says will allow for real-time tasking of the satellite rather than waiting for it to pass over a ground station. Inmarsat and communications technology firm Addvalue Innovation have developed what they call a commercial Inter-Satellite Data Relay System to allow for continuous communications with satellites in low Earth orbit. (11/24)

Russia Delays Launch for Rocket Problems (Source: TASS)
Russia has delayed the launch of a trio of communications satellites to next week because of a rocket problem. The three Gonets satellites were previously scheduled to launch this week on a Soyuz-2 rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, but that launch has been pushed back to Dec. 3. Unspecified issues with the rocket prompted the delay. (11/24)

Former Vector Chief Starts Phantom Space (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
The former CEO of small launch company Vector is leading a new launch startup. Phantom Space, run by Jim Cantrell, proposes to develop a small launch vehicle along with smallsats and propulsion systems. The company will use engines built by Ursa Major Technologies for the vehicle, designed to place about 450 kilograms into orbit. The new company hasn't disclosed details about funding but expects a first launch in about two years. Phantom Space is based in Tucson, Arizona, where Vector was headquartered before going bankrupt. Vector, now under new ownership, plans to stay in Tucson as well. (11/24)

Growing Interest in Moon Rresources Could Cause Tension (Source: Space Daily)
An international team of scientists led by the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian, has identified a problem with the growing interest in extractable resources on the moon: there aren't enough of them to go around. With no international policies or agreements to decide "who gets what from where," scientists believe tensions, overcrowding, and quick exhaustion of resources to be one possible future for moon mining projects.

"A lot of people think of space as a place of peace and harmony between nations. The problem is there's no law to regulate who gets to use the resources, and there are a significant number of space agencies and others in the private sector that aim to land on the moon within the next five years," said Martin Elvis. "We looked at all the maps of the Moon we could find and found that not very many places had resources of interest, and those that did were very small. That creates a lot of room for conflict over certain resources." (11/24)