February 9, 2016

NASA Accused of 'Censoring' its Christian Employees (Source: The Hill)
NASA is embroiled in a religious freedom dispute with Christian employees, who claim they are being censored. The Liberty Institute, which is representing the Christian employees, threatened Monday to sue NASA over what it claims is religious discrimination. At issue is whether a praise and worship club should be allowed to use the name “Jesus” in NASA’s employee newsletter.

NASA told the Christian employees last year the meeting announcement they posted in the newsletter violated the government’s responsibility to remain neutral on religious matters, according to the Institute. The agency did not tell the Christian employees to stop meeting during lunchtime, but did order the club to refrain from using the name “Jesus” in their emails.

The Christian employees hit back Monday, threatening to sue NASA for religious discrimination. They argue their religious speech should be protected because it comes from a group of individual employees and is not the official position of the agency. “It is illegal for the government to censor the name of Jesus from emails authored by employees,” Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for Liberty Institute, said in a statement. (2/8)

McCain: Congress’s Cynical Crony-Capital Gift to Putin (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Two of my fellow senators used a disgraceful ploy that expands U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines. As the 2016 presidential campaign unfolds, the American people’s visceral anger at Washington and the leadership of both parties has been displayed by the broad appeal of “outsider” candidates.

Conservatives frustrated with the failure of too many Republicans to get serious about wasteful government spending are not the only ones who should be angry at the latest example on Capitol Hill. The pork-barrel impulse is so strong that some lawmakers are now trying to have American taxpayers subsidize Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his cronies by extending U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines. (2/8)

Why The U.S. Still Has No Viable Alternatives To Russian Rocket Boosters (Source: NPR)
When it comes to launching top-secret military satellites, the Pentagon relies almost entirely on rocket engines made in Russia. The U.S. has been using Russian rocket boosters for the past 2 decades. "Sometimes you wonder why the Americans are angry, why they're supporting Trump or Sanders or some outsider," said John McCain. "Then all they have to do is look at this process we went through with this 2000-page bill." Click here. (2/8)

GPS and the World's First "Space War" (Source: Scientific American)
Twenty-five years ago U.S.-led Coalition forces launched the world’s first “space war” when they drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. Although the actual fighting did not take place in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS) played a critical role in the Coalition’s rapid dismantling of Saddam Hussein’s military during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Click here. (2/8)

Peculiar 'Cauliflower Rocks' May Hold Clues to Ancient Mars Life (Source: Universe Today)
Evidence of water and a warmer, wetter climate abound on Mars, but did life ever put its stamp on the Red Planet? Rocks may hold the secret. Knobby protuberances of rock discovered by the Spirit Rover in 2008 near the rock outcrop Home Plate in Gusev Crater caught the attention of scientists back on Earth. They look like cauliflower or coral, but were these strange Martian rocks sculpted by microbes, wind or some other process? Click here. (2/8)

Earth-like Planets Have Earth-like Interiors (Source: CfA)
Every school kid learns the basic structure of the Earth: a thin outer crust, a thick mantle, and a Mars-sized core. But is this structure universal? Will rocky exoplanets orbiting other stars have the same three layers? New research suggests that the answer is yes - they will have interiors very similar to Earth. Click here. (2/8)

Lockheed Wins $96M Next-Gen Air Force GPS Satellite Deal (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $96 million contract extension to supply global positioning system satellites until 2019, the military said. The Air Force will spend $6 million this fiscal year in return for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. providing research, testing and development of Global Positioning System III satellites, services and modules, including GPS simulators and training systems. (2/5)

Air Force Turns to Lockheed Martin to Mend Problems with Raytheon's GPS Work (Source: Space News)
The Air Force is turning to Lockheed Martin for help as Raytheon struggles with a new GPS ground system. The service issued a $96 million contract modification Thursday to Lockheed Martin to adapt the existing GPS ground system to support future GPS 3 satellites. Raytheon, the prime contractor for the OCX ground system being developed for GPS 3, has suffered delays, and the new system requires at least two more years of work. (2/8)

SpaceX Re-Starts Florida Manifest with Feb. 24 SES Launch (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator SES on Feb. 8 said it is targeting Feb. 24 for the launch of its SES-9 telecommunications satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full-Thrust rocket, a launch that has been repeatedly delayed since September. Luxembourg-based SES said SpaceX has agreed to modify the SES-9 launch profile to permit the satellite to enter commercial service in before July, as was planned in December, before the latest series of launch delays. (2/8)

NASA ‘Surprised’ By Hybrid Power Study Results (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA is pursuing further studies of a novel, Boeing 737-size hybrid turbo-electric powered airliner following better-than-expected performance results from initial evaluations. Turbo-electric propulsion concepts offer a potential path forward to more efficient aircraft by combining turbine engines with generators that distribute power to electrically driven propulsors. (2/8)

How the Space Fence Will Work (Source: Air & Space)
The concept of a fence arose from the design of the earlier system: a narrow beam that triggers an alert when an object flies through. “Our system has the ability to be steered electronically,” says Bruce. “We track [the object] and immediately create an orbit determination.” The fence will join a surveillance network of radar, telescopes, and a satellite.

When the Space Fence is completed on Kwajalein Atoll, 2,100 miles southwest of Hawaii, it will serve as the first stage in a production line feeding data to the Joint Space Operations Center at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. When the radar detects an object orbiting Earth, it reports to computers that characterize the object and calculate its trajectory. If the item matches one already in the catalog, its record is simply updated; a new object is tracked until its orbit can be estimated and is then added to the catalog. Click here. (2/8)

Sen. Shelby Plays Russian Roulette with America’s Rockets Again (Source: Washington Times)
It is with a terrible sense of deja vu that I find myself again warning American lawmakers about our reliance on Russian rocket engines to loft military satellites. For more than a decade, America’s workhorse rocket, the Atlas V, has been powered with RD-180 engines imported from Russia. While the recklessness of this situation is obvious and Congress previously acted to end it, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama appears determined to maintain our dependence on this ill-conceived partnership. (2/8)

NASA Still Using Lessons from Challenger Disaster (Source: KFOX)
“Every time that we have an accident where we have lost members of our team, we make sure that we understand the lessons from that event and that we pass them on from generation to generation,” Kerrik said. With NASA now pivoting toward a mission to Mars, Kerrik said these lessons aren’t just important, they are critical. That’s because unlike trips to the moon or the International Space Station, Mars is a year away. (2/7)

Super Bowl 50 Has Some Surprising Space Twists (Source: Space.com)
Aside from the astronauts watching Super Bowl 50 from orbit on the International Space Station, there's a bit of space history and technology working behind the scenes for today's game. From to GPS devices that track football players, the final frontier has a key part to play when the Carolina Panthers face off against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

The stadium – which is usually home to the San Francisco 49ers – has eight acres of reclaimed redwood liming the walls and bars in the premier suite level, and rooftop benches and raised planter boxes on the solar terrace. The wood came from Hangar One, a famous area at San Francisco's Moffett Field -- a hotspot for Navy, Air Force and NASA activity. Click here. (2/7)

Why Haven’t We Found Aliens? (Source: GeekWire)
It’s a question that goes back decades: If other civilizations have arisen beyond Earth over the course of billions of years, why haven’t we heard from them? Two kinds of answers have recently come into the spotlight – one kind that’s disheartening, and another kind that’s challenging. Click here. (2/7)

After 100 Years, Scientists are Finally Closing In on Einstein’s Gravity Ripples (Source: Ars Technica)
Because of general relativity, we understand that large masses curve spacetime, kind of like standing in the middle of a trampoline distorts the fabric. When massive, dense objects in space accelerate, such as black holes or neutron stars, they create ripples in the fabric of spacetime. These ripples carry gravitational radiation away from the very massive objects, and the radiation then propagates through the Universe.

Put simply, gravitational waves represent the key to possibly unlocking universal secrets that scientists have grappled with for hundreds of years. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or LIGO, exists to try to measure these subtle ripples. Physicists have theorized about gravitational waves for a century, and they made indirect observations long ago that provided some confirmation. But because measuring gravitational waves requires extraordinary precision, researchers have yet to directly detect them.

Now after nearly four decades of planning, building, and upgrading LIGO facilities in the states of Louisiana and Washington, physicists appear to be close. Click here. (2/8)

February 8, 2016

Florida Tech Accepts Mars Environment Chamber from KSC (Source: FIT Current)
An email came from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center recently, asking Florida Institute of Technology if they would like to take something off their hands: A Mars Environment Chamber that had been languishing in a spare-part junk yard.

Daniel Batcheldor, department head for Florida Tech’s Collage of Science is leading the effort to deliver the chamber to campus. The insulated pressure vessel was made by KSC around 2005 to simulate Martian and Lunar environments for research and instrument testing but funding constraints halted its development. Click here. (12/21)

Russian Official Slams Allegations of Passing Rocket Technology to North Korea (Source: Sputnik)
The South Korean media reported that some parts of the rocket launched last week from North Korea could have come from Russia. In an interview with the Kommersant newspaper on Monday, Rogozin called the allegations of Moscow passing technology onto Pyongyang "complete nonsense and drivel, which is not even half-percent true." (2/8)

NASA Electric Propulsion Technology Could be the Future of Aviation (Source: PBS)
At Edwards Air Force Base in California, NASA has been testing a new technology called distributed electric propulsion. "DEP could mean a fundamental shift in how we design aircraft," said NASA researcher Mark Moore of the Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology Sub-Project based at Langley Research Center. (2/3)

China Tests Electric Airplane in Extreme Cold (Source: CNS)
Liaoning Ruixiang General Aviation Co. put China's first domestically-built electric airplane, the RX1E, through a series of flight tests at extremely low temperatures. "There is no need to be concerned about performance in low temperature as the lithium battery has gone through a thermal insulation process," said company spokesman Zhang Liguo. (2/5)

Now Elon Musk Wants to Build an Electric Plane (Source: Fast Company)
As if his cars, rockets, transportation systems, and batteries weren’t enough, now Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk wants to build an electric plane. "I have been thinking about the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) electric jet a bit more," Musk said. "I think I have something that might close. I'm quite tempted to do something about it." (2/5)

North Korea Now Has Two Satellites in Orbit (Source: AP)
After its launch on Sunday, North Korea now has two satellites orbiting Earth. The second Kwangmyongsong, or "Shining Star," satellite, passed almost directly over California's Levi's Stadium about an hour after the Super Bowl was over. "The pass happened at 8:26 p.m., after the game. I would put it down to nothing more than a coincidence, but an interesting one," said Martyn Williams. (2/8)

Filling in the Details (Source: Space Review)
Passage of a new commercial space bill last year marked the end of one effort, but the beginning of another. Jeff Foust reports on the various reports required by the bill and its implications for future commercial space legislation, either this year or beyond. Click here. (2/8)
The Naming of Onizuka Air Force Station (Source: Space Review)
For decades, military space programs were controlled out of a California facility later renamed after an astronaut killed in the Challenger accident. Joseph T. Page recalls the development, and ultimate demise, of Onizuka Air Force Station. Click here. (2/8)
Rethinking the National Security Space Strategy (Source: Space Review)
Given the growing reliance on, and growing threats to, satellites, some argue that the US government should take a different approach to safeguarding their security. Christopher Stone discusses why the current deterrence approach should be replaced with an alternative. Click here. (2/8)
Preserving our Space Heritage (Source: Space Review)
While some lament the destruction of archaeological artifacts during conflicts in the Middle East, most are unaware of how more recent space-related artifacts are falling apart elsewhere. Anthony French argues that those space relics, on Earth and in space, should be treated with the same respect as more ancient ones. Click here. (2/8)

Photos Show Aftermath of Chinese Rocket Toxic Debris Impact (Source: SpaceFlight 101)
Photos emerged on the Internet of the aftermath of this week’s successful launch of a Long March 3C rocket carrying China’s next Beidou-3 third-generation navigation satellite to orbit. Shown in the images is the scenery immediately following the impact of the twin boosters of the Long March rocket with a large cloud of toxic propellant residuals rising from the wreckage of the spent boosters.

Spectacular photos were captured in Panxian County, about 370 Kilometers downrange from the launch site, where the boosters impacted. The photos, published via the Chinese social media service Weibo, show the aftermath of the booster’s return to Earth in the form of a very large cloud of residual, unburnt propellant released upon impact of the boosters.

The orange-brown color is caused by Nitrogen Tetroxide, used as oxidizer on the boosters, first and second stage of the Long March 3C rocket. Nitrogen Tetroxide, as well as the Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine fuel, are toxic substances and their release can be harmful to humans and the environment. Click here. (2/6)

Indian Man Could be First Recorded Human Fatality Due to a Meteorite (Source: Ars Technica)
Indian officials say a meteorite struck the campus of a private engineering college on Saturday, killing one person. If scientists confirm the explosion was due to a meteorite, it would be the first recorded human fatality due to a falling space rock. According to local reports, a bus driver was killed on Saturday when a meteorite landed in the area where he was walking, damaging the window panes of nearby buses and buildings. Three other people were injured. (2/7)

FAA Releases 2016 Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation (Source: FAA)
The size of the global space industry, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $324 billion. All of this activity would not be possible without orbital launch services. Global launch services is estimated to account for $6 billion of the $324 billion total.

Most of this launch activity is captive; that is, the majority of payload operators have existing agreements with launch service providers or do not otherwise “shop around” for a launch. About a third of this $6 billion represents internationally competed, or commercial, transactions. In 2015, there were a total of 86 orbital launches conducted by service providers in seven countries. Click here. (2/7)

February 7, 2016

North Korea’s Rocket Launch Triggers Missile-Defense Moves (Source: Wall Street Journal)
North Korea’s long-range rocket launch sparked international condemnation and prompted Washington and Seoul to formalize talks over deploying an advanced missile shield to South Korea, a move strongly opposed by China. (1/7)

How Would Asteroid Mining Work? A Visual Guide (Source: The Guardian)
With outer space mining increasingly likely to become reality, firms are drawing up exploration plans. Here’s how one of them, Deep Space Industries, will tackle the job. Click here. (2/6)

Editorial: No Sense in Flushing Investment in Spaceport America (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
It is disappointing but not surprising that state lawmakers have cut the funding requested by Spaceport America for operations in the upcoming fiscal year by more than half, trimming it down to $1 million. Lots of people supporting worthy causes will be disappointed this year when the final budget come out.

Development of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft suffered a tragic setback with a fatal crash in 2014. Testing has resumed, and it is hoped they will be ready to start by next year or in 2018. But it won’t happen at Spaceport America unless we can keep the facility open for the next couple of years.

But it is important to remember we have a $220 million investment in this facility. It is an investment we believe can still pay benefits for the state in the future in bringing high-paying jobs to the spaceport and boosting local tourism. We share frustrations over the wait for Virgin, as well as local issues such as the delay in getting a southern road built to the spaceport. But we believe it makes absolutely no sense to flush away that investment over concerns or frustrations with current management. (2/7)

Moonwalker, Outspoken UFO Enthusiast Ed Mitchell Dead At 85 (Source: Forbes)
Edgar Mitchell, 85, died in a Lake Worth, FL, hospice after a brief illness Feb. 4, the day before the 45-year anniversary of his lunar landing. Of the dozen humans who have walked on the moon, that leaves just seven still alive.

In a culture obsessed with fame and faux celebrity, perhaps Mitchell did not rise to the glib mediocrity of say, a Donald Trump, the Kardashians or a past Super Bowl ad. Then again maybe it was the fact that Mitchell, in addition to his stellar astronaut credentials, was outspoken about the controversial subject of UFOs. Ask any pilot or credible witness who has seen something – it is a no-no to report it. (2/7)

Russia Launches Another GLONASS Navsat Atop Soyuz Rocket (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A Russian Soyuz-2.1b rocket thundered into space from Site 43/4 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the Archangelsk Region of Russia. Its payload was the latest GLONASS-M satellite for the country’s homegrown GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS). Liftoff took place at 7:21 p.m. EST on Saturday Feb. 6 (0:21 GMT on Sunday Feb. 7). (2/7)

Space Companies Restore Florida's Status As Nation's Launch Pad (Source: Fortune)
The Sunshine State will host as many launches this year as during the Apollo-era. Commercial spaceflight companies like SpaceX and ULA plan to launch more than 30 rockets from Florida this year, nearly doubling last year’s rocket traffic along Florida’s famed space coast. Driven by both government-backed science and military missions and climbing demand for commercial satellites, the area’s launch schedule is on pace to rival the headiest days of the space race.

Editor's Note: It's not unusual for such a large number of launches to be on any recent year's initial manifest. But every year the number shrinks substantially as technical delays take their toll. This year's final number will depend largely on whether SpaceX is able to increase their launch tempo. (2/5)

Florida Dem Candidate to Replace Marco Rubio in Senate is a Strong Space Supporter (Source: Florida Politics)
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democratic candidate for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, said Friday that he supports broad but efficient development of a commercial space program and also thinks the U.S. government needs to keep pursuing space for military and intelligence support.

Murphy on Friday was the first U.S. Senate candidate this year to meet with Space Coast business leaders in a closed-door assessment of space policy and development, organized by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, in Melbourne. He spoke with FloridaPolitics.com afterward. Meetings with other Senate candidates are in the works.

He said he came away impressed by the progress of commercial space, heavily funded by NASA and Florida, in helping companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Moon Express and others establish programs. Yet he also suggested commercial space must and likely would become more efficient. Click here. (2/5)

Mars or the Moon? NASA Must Pick One Manned Mission Due to Lack of Funding (Source: Sputnik)
NASA appears to be incapable of simultaneously launching a manned mission to both the moon and Mars, due to a row of technical issues, a lack of financing from Washington and the absence of a clear plan for their space exploration program.

A panel of experts revealed that NASA is capable of developing only one major human spaceflight mission at a time, and must make a tough choice between projected flights to Mars and the moon. The announcement was made during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. (2/6)

North Korea Moves Up Planned Rocket Launch To Next Week (Source: NPR)
North Korea has announced it will be firing a rocket into orbit next week — moving up a launch originally planned for later this month. Pyongyang told the U.N. International Maritime organization the launch will be held between Feb. 7 and 14. It had previously been scheduled for sometime between Feb. 8 and 25. (2/6)

Hawaii Judge Sends TMT Back to Land Board (Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald)
A judge on Thursday cleared the way for a new round of hearings by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea. The Hilo Circuit Judge instructed the attorney for Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and several other appellants to prepare an order vacating a May 5, 2014, ruling that the permitting process employed for the $1.4 billion observatory project by BLNR was valid and the appellants due process rights weren’t violated by the process. (2/6)

Space Center Houston Drives Greater Houston Economy, Jobs (Source: Space Center Houston)
The growth of a major attraction is making a big impact. A new economic study reports Space Center Houston has a $73 million annual economic impact on the greater Houston area and plays a significant role in generating jobs and millions of dollars in personal income.

“The museum plays a vital role in the region by bringing tourism dollars and stimulating the workforce,” said the center’s President and CEO Richard E. Allen Jr. “Globally, it is inspiring creativity and innovation in people from all over the world. With our hands-on educational programs, we’re exciting young minds and inspiring them to think about a possible future career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” (2/5)

What a Space Pioneer Can Teach Businesses About Success (Source: Phoenix Business Journal)
All of us understand instinctively what a pioneer is. Those adventurous folks who keep pushing boundaries in order to transform life as we know it. In the realm of planetary exploration, spacecraft design and celestial navigation, no one better fits that description than Robert Farquhar, who passed away last October at the age of 83.

Bob was the real deal — a visionary and true genius in his field. Before he came to work for us at KinetX Aerospace, he worked at Lockheed, NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. A man of great tenacity, he wasn’t afraid to take calculated risks and never took no for an answer, especially when people didn’t give him a good enough reason why something couldn’t be done. Click here. (2/5)

Space Florida: Aerospace is Thriving with Support From Governor and Legislature (Source: Space Florida)
Today, week, when Florida Space Day participants visit the legislature as they have for well over 20 years, Space Florida would like to take the opportunity to thank the Governor and Florida legislature for their tremendous support of the industry through the power of Florida’s unique economic development toolkit. The aerospace industry in Florida is thriving, with much more to come.

Since inception through June 2015, Space Florida, through the policy and financial support of the state, has created more than $600 million in Florida labor income with over 1900 high wage jobs created to date and 7095 future jobs committed. At present 26 major projects have resulted in $128 million in capital investments with those companies having invested an additional $1.2 billion of their own capital within the state. (2/3)

China Conducts Final Tests on Most Powerful Homegrown Rocket (Source: Space Daily)
China's largest and most powerful rocket the Long March 5 underwent final tests at the Wen-chang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan province. The rocket's first flight will be conducted in September, according to a senior project manager. The Long March 5 is China's latest and most technologically advanced rocket. The tests were conducted for more than 130 days of September last year. (2/7)

North Korea Fires Long-Range Rocket Carrying Satellite (Source: Sputnik)
North Korea has launched a long-range rocket from a launch site in the country’s northwest, media reported Sunday. The rocket is believed to have range of over 10,000 kilometers (6,213 miles). Earlier this week, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) confirmed it had received North Korea’s notification of plans to launch a satellite between February 8 and 25. Pyongyang later changed the launch dates by one day. (2/7)

Falcon Heavy in 2016, Astronauts in 2017 (Source: Florida Today)
According to SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX still plans to debut its heavy-lift Falcon Heavy rocket at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (at LC-39A) sometime this year, and to fly a test of its Dragon crew abort system for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Shotwell said the company will launch astronauts in 2017. (2/6)

What a Space Pioneer Can Teach Businesses About Success (Source: Phoenix Business Journal)
All of us understand instinctively what a pioneer is. Those adventurous folks who keep pushing boundaries in order to transform life as we know it. In the realm of planetary exploration, spacecraft design and celestial navigation, no one better fits that description than Robert Farquhar, who passed away last October at the age of 83. Click here. (2/5)

Editorial: New Mexico Has Too Much Invested to Give Up on Spaceport (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
The reality is that anticipated revenues haven’t materialized because the fledgling commercial space industry hasn’t taken off as quickly as hoped. Anderson projects the spaceport will be self-sustaining within a year of regular Virgin Galactic flight activity.

While the state waits for that to happen, taxpayers are left propping up the Spaceport, which has security, maintenance and administrative needs whether it’s used by enough clients or not. That’s a hard expense to swallow, considering the many other worthy competitors for state funding.

Yet, having come this far and investing this much, New Mexico can’t afford to simply abandon Spaceport America. Some amount of new funding or still more budget cuts will be needed as the state tries to find new customers and hopes for greater success by the companies trying to privatize space travel. (2/6)

February 6, 2016

Pictures: Red Huber's NASA and Nature (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Orlando Sentinel photographer Red Huber found the convergence of the natural world and NASA’s space shuttles many times during the 30-year span of the program. Click here. (2/5)

Congress Wants Detailed Plan for Mars (Source: Space News)
With a presidential transition looming, Congress wants NASA to better explain its plans for sending humans to Mars. At a House space subcommittee hearing earlier this week, members said NASA needed to provide more details in order to give the plan a better chance of surviving into the next administration. That was echoed by a panel of witnesses, which did not include NASA officials. Members also used the hearing to criticize NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission plans, while defending continued work on the SLS and Orion programs. (2/4)

AIA Supports Palazzo for Aerospace Caucus (Source: Sun Herald)
AIA has come out in support of the appointment of Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-MS, as the co-chairman of the House Aerospace Caucus. "Aerospace Industries Association is delighted that Congressman Steven Palazzo has agreed to serve as one of the House Aerospace Caucus co-chairs," said AIA President and CEO David Melcher.

"He is an enthusiastic supporter of the aerospace and defense industry, and his service in the House on the Appropriations Committee and as part of the Majority Whip Team will be key to addressing the difficult issues facing our nation and our industry." (2/4)

NASA Weighing Dual launches of Europa Orbiter and Lander (Source: Space News)
Faced with a congressional mandate to add a lander to a planned mission to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, NASA is considering launching the lander separately from the main mission. Agency officials said they are considering how to add a lander to a mission under development to make multiple flybys of Europa, even though the lander will weigh significantly more than the main “clipper” spacecraft. (2/5)

GAO Slams Air Force's Upgrade Of $285M Contract Bid (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Air Force had “no reasonable basis” to re-evaluate a $285 million bid proposal, originally deemed unacceptable, as adequate and in fact the best value for operations, support and maintenance work the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the GAO said in a decision published Wednesday. The GAO sided with ASRC's bid protest in finding that awardee Aleut O&M Services only adequately addressed one out of four fatal failings identified in its initial proposal. (2/4)

NASA Team Demonstrates Loading of Swedish 'Green' Propellant (Source: Space Daily)
A NASA team has successfully demonstrated the handling and loading of a new-fangled, Swedish-developed "green propellant" that smells like glass cleaner, looks like chardonnay, but has proven powerful enough to propel a satellite. As part of an international agreement with the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB), the team simulated a flight-vehicle loading operation with LMP-103S Green Propellant at Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. (2/5)

Rosetta's Comet Is Fluffy Dust to the Core (Source: Space.com)
Gravity measurements taken by the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft show the body of comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is about 75 percent dust and 25 percent ice all the way through, research published Wednesday shows. The European spacecraft put itself into orbit around 67P on Aug. 6, 2014, and three months later dispatched a lander, Philae, to the surface of the comet.

By measuring slight shifts in radio waves transmitted to and from Rosetta, scientists were able to determine how the comet's gravity affected the spacecraft. They found that 67P is a highly porous body with about four times more dust than ice by mass, and twice as much dust as ice by volume. The density is consistent throughout the nucleus, without large voids. The discovery supports previous findings by two other Rosetta science teams. (2/5)

ULA, Air Force Launch Final GPS 2F Satellite (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force kicked off a two-launch, six-day stretch by lifting the last in the 2F series of GPS satellites Feb. 5 into geosynchronous orbit from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The satellite launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. ULA officials said the launch included a new suite of avionics, flight software and ground systems as part of long-standing company initiative to reduce cost and improve reliability. (2/5)

With its Mirror Complete, Giant Space Telescope On Track for 2018 Launch (Source: Ars Technica)
After years of delays and cost overruns, the James Webb Space Telescope is finally coming together. This week the 18th and final primary mirror segment of the telescope was installed onto the support structure at Goddard Space Flight Center. From here, additional optics must be installed, and the telescope requires testing to ensure it can withstand the forces of a rocket launch anticipated in late 2018.

Each of the hexagon-shaped mirrors weighs 40 kg and spans 1.3 meters. After launch, the telescope will be flown to the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system, about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. From there, it will begin observations. When deployed in space, the telescope will have a 6.5-meter diameter. (2/5)

Advanced Space Propulsion Startup Shuts Down (Source: Space News)
A Colorado company that said last year it had achieved a technological breakthrough in space transportation has decided to shut down, citing the high costs and risks associated with further development. Escape Dynamics of Broomfield, Colorado, announced on its website recently that it decided to wind down its operations because its “external propulsion” technology was not attractive enough to potential investors to fund its continued development.

“While microwave propulsion is feasible and is capable of efficiency and performance surpassing chemical rockets, the cost of completing the R&D all the way through operations makes the concept economically unattractive for our team at this time,” the company stated in a brief note posted on its website. (2/5)

India to Have Its Own GPS System Soon (Source: The Hindu)
The country will soon have its own Global Positioning System (GPS), albeit on a lower geographical scale, within the next few months once the last two remaining Cartosat satellites of the seven satellite constellation are put into the orbit by March end, said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar on Wednesday. (2/4)

Which Would Kill You Faster: Living on Mars or Living on Venus? (Source: Popular Mechanics)
We all think of Mars as the next step in crewed space exploration and the first step in extraterrestrial colonization. But should we? Maybe there'sa better option a little closer by. PBS's terrific series Space Time has tackled the subject of how we might go about colonizing Venus, but this new video puts it head-to-head with Mars on the "how quickly and how painfully will it kill you" scale.

Both will kill you to death at the drop of a hat, but despite the fact that Venus is hellishly hot and rains sulfuric acid, it's got advantages over Big Red in more ways than one. While venturing outside on either planet will cause you to pass out almost immediately and then die shortly thereafter, Venus's high points include an atmosphere that can better protect you from radiation and a gravity that's almost identical to Earth's.

And it's closer too. I'm not quite sure I'd rather live on a cloud city where it rains acid over the long-time sci-fi future of colonizing the fourth rock from the sun, but I will say it sounds better than I expected. (2/4)

Rubio Says China is 'Practicing How to Blow Up Our Satellites' (Source: Politifact)
The 2016 presidential campaign has inspired discussion of plenty of scary foreign-policy scenarios, from ISIS attacks to cyber warfare. But at a Feb. 3 town hall in Manchester, N.H., Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio offered one we hadn’t heard much about – the possibility that China could blow an American satellite out of the sky.

China, Rubio said, is "practicing how to blow up our satellites." Experts told PolitiFact that Rubio is basically right. "Regrettably true," Michael Krepon, a space-policy expert and co-founder of the Stimson Center, said of the claim. (2/4)

NASA Offers More Details on Cargo Contract Decision (Source: Space News)
NASA documents about the selection of commercial cargo contracts announced in January show that SpaceX had the highest technical ratings of the three winning companies, but also, by one metric, the highest price. The agency awarded contracts to Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station.

NASA evaluated the CRS-2 proposals on three major factors: price, past performance and “mission suitability,” which examines the bidder’s technical and management approach as well as use of small businesses. NASA weighted price approximately the same as the combination of mission suitability and past performance, with mission suitability alone more important than past performance. Click here. (2/5)

Team France Prepares Satellite and Launch Export Battles for 2016 (Source: Space News)
The French space agency concluded its annual internal seminar on international outreach, a meeting that is as much an order of battle on behalf of France’s space industry as a review of future bilateral space-research partnerships.

The U.S. dollar’s current strength against the euro and the temporary sidelining of the U.S. Export-Import Bank are likely to facilitate Team France’s efforts to win government Earth observation satellites and government or private-sector telecommunications satellite contracts.

CNES on the civil side and the French Defense Ministry – led by an unusually active Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian – on the military side constitute the sharp end of the French space-diplomacy spear. French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have been more than willing to provide the diplomatic polish. (2/5)

Congress Seeks More Details on NASA’s Mars Plans as Presidential Transition Looms (Source: Space News)
With a change in administrations less than a year away, members of Congress called on NASA to refine its human exploration plans in order to better survive the transition, while also defending two key elements of those plans.

At a Feb. 3 hearing of the House Science space subcommittee, members and witnesses argued that NASA needs to provide more details about its long-term goal of sending humans to Mars to keep that program on track when the next president takes office. Click here. (2/4)

Pentagon Disputes ULA Claim on Why it Didn’t Bid for GPS 3 Launch (2/4)
When United Launch Alliance announced Nov. 16 it would not bid on the U.S. Air Force’s first competitive launch contract in a decade, the company said it did not have the right accounting system to assemble a “compliant proposal.” But a Pentagon agency had approved ULA’s accounting system 10 days earlier, according to U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.

ULA cited several reasons for not bidding, including concerns about its future rights to  Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines for national security launches and an inability to certify that funds from other government programs would not contribute to the launch of the Air Force’s second GPS 3 satellite. Editor's Note: I had speculated earlier that ULA did not bid on this contract because it was very improbable that SpaceX wouldn't win it. (2/4)

Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, 85, Dies in West Palm Beach (Source: Palm Beach Post)
Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, who was part of the Apollo 14 space crew that flew to the moon in 1971, died late Thursday in West Palm Beach, according to his family. Mitchell, 85, lived in suburban Lake Worth and died at a local hospice at about 10 p.m. Thursday, his daughter, former West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell told The Palm Beach Post. (2/5)

February 5, 2016

40 More Beidou Satellites for China (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch nearly 40 navigation satellites over the next five years. Officials said those plans include launching 18 satellites by the end of 2018 as China expands its Beidou system from regional to global coverage. China launched the 21st Beidou satellite on Monday. (2/3)

Foxx Calls for Predictable FAA Funding (Source: The Hill)
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Tuesday called for predictable funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, which will see its budget expire on March 31. "We're concerned obviously because we don't know what's on the other side of March," Foxx said. Today, the House of Representatives Transportation Committee is expected to make public its proposed funding bill for the agency. (2/2)

Pentagon Chief Says U.S. Keeping Eye on North Korea's Missile Program (Source: Reuters)
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday the U.S. military was keeping a vigilant eye on North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and was continually expanding its defenses against a possible missile attack by Pyongyang. Carter said the US was on track to expand the number of ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska and Hawaii to 44 from 30, and improve their quality, but no further interceptor expansion was planned for now. (2/4)

Feds Plead for 'Certainty' in FAA Funding (Source: The Hill)
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx pleaded Tuesday for "certainty" and "predictability" in the Federal Aviation Administration's funding as lawmakers are preparing to debate a new funding measure for the agency.  The House Transportation Committee is expected to unveil its bill to reauthorize the FAA's funding on Wednesday. The agency's funding is set to expire on March 31, and lawmakers are bogged down in a debate about a controversial plan to separate the nation's air traffic control system from the FAA. (2/2)

Experts Suggest NASA Should Probably just Scrap the Mars Mission (Source: Fusion)
Paul Spudis, a senior scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, came down especially harshly on the space agency. “America’s civil space program is in disarray, with many aspirations and hopes but few concrete, realizable plans for future missions or strategic direction,” he said, adding that NASA lacks what it needs to pull off the mission. Click here. (2/4) http://fusion.net/story/264210/science-committee-mars-hearing/

Galactic Center's Gamma Rays Unlikely to Originate from Dark Matter (Source: Space Daily)
Bursts of gamma rays from the center of our galaxy are not likely to be signals of dark matter but rather other astrophysical phenomena such as fast-rotating stars called millisecond pulsars, according to two new studies, one from a team based at Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and another based in the Netherlands.

Previous studies suggested that gamma rays coming from the dense region of space in the inner Milky Way galaxy could be caused when invisible dark matter particles collide. But using new statistical analysis methods, the two research teams independently found that the gamma ray signals are uncharacteristic of those expected from dark matter. (2/4)

OneWeb Eyes Space Coast for Satellite Factory (Source: Florida Today)
A company with plans to launch a mega-constellation of 900 small satellites to expand high-speed Internet access around the globe is considering building the spacecraft here on the Space Coast. Sources confirmed OneWeb, which has partnered with Airbus Defense and Space to build the satellites, is the venture that Space Florida last week said was contemplating a “major aerospace presence” in Florida.

During a board meeting in Tallahassee that referred only to the potential deal’s code name, Project Sabal, Space Florida said the company wanted to build a $36 million manufacturing facility and could bring 250 jobs with an average salary of $86,000. The state has proposed contributing $17.5 million toward the facility where OneWeb’s small satellites, each less than 330 pounds, would be built at a rapid clip.

Editor's Note: OneWeb intends to use Virgin Galactic's satellite launcher to deliver the OneWeb birds into orbit. Manufacturing the satellites near the spaceport may make Florida the launch site of choice for Virgin Galactic...which should provide another reason for Florida to put incentive money on the table. (2/4)

February 4, 2016

Millionaires Want Sex in Space, Space Adventures is OK With the Idea (Source: Tech Insider)
The only private company that's launching people into space is often asked by its customers whether they can facilitate some zero-gravity hanky panky. That's according to Tom Shelley, the president of Virginia-based Space Adventures, which has arranged eight successful launches of private citizens into orbit since 2001.

No one has yet been able to pull that one off, at least not on a Space Adventures flight. And both NASA and the Russian space agency vehemently deny any of their crew members have either. But that didn't stop internet pornography company PornHub from launching a crowdfunding campaign last year to capture the deed on tape (the campaign was unsuccessful).

"If we were able to arrange it, we wouldn't have a problem with it," Shelley says, laughing. "Some of the crew might." Even if sex did happen in space, Shelley thinks his clients probably wouldn't disclose that to the public. And besides concerns of privacy, a couple in space may have bigger issues when it comes to sex in that environment. Click here. (2/3)

Fly Direct to Australia From an Airport Near You – Via Space (Source: The Herald)
There may be an ongoing battle to save the airport in Plymouth, but travellers could be one day be taking direct flights to Australia via space – from a short hop away in Newquay. Newquay could become part of a global network of intercontinental airports for space planes if it wins the bid to become the UK Spaceport.

Contenders in Britain's own space race took part in a "speed dating" session at the Mayfair headquarters of the Royal Aeronautical Society yesterday. Newquay Aerohub and five other candidate sites are vying to be the first home of British space flight. If Newquay gets the green light, thousands of visitors could flock to Cornwall as early as 2018 to witness Britain's first home-grown spaceplane launch. (2/3)

Corporate Welfare — Pima County Style (Source: Tuscon Local Media)
What part of “no” did supervisor Bronson, Elias, Valadez and Carroll not understand when over 190,000 Pima County voters overwhelmingly rejected $815 million in county bond proposals? Didn’t you, the voters,  say, “no borrowing money to fund business start-ups and tourism related investments?” I know I heard you, and that’s why I voted “no” at Tuesday’s board meeting to not borrow $16 million to fund World View’s balloon tourism spaceport. Click here. (2/3)

World View a Win-Win for County (Source: Tuscon Local Media)
The Board of Supervisors on Jan. 19 approved an economic incentive package for an innovative commercial spaceflight company that is a win-win for the company and for our county. Pima County will build World View a headquarters and manufacturing facility and it will lease it from us for 20 years. The company has the option to buy it after 10 years, or lease if for the full 20. After 20 years, they can buy it for a nominal fee because they will have paid $23 million in lease payments, which is $3 million more than it will cost us to build it, once interest is factored in. (2/3)

Can the Commercial Space Industry and National Parks Get Along? (Source: Outside)
Spaceports and wildlife refuges have traditionally gone hand in hand. But with so many new commercial launch sites in the works, it's time to ask whether nature can handle the 21st century space race. Click here. (2/3)

Rocket Fired From the Outer Hebrides to Outer Space (Source: Press and Journal)
Scotland has boldly gone into space with the first rocket to leave the Earth’s atmosphere from UK soil fired from a missile range in Outer Hebrides. It happened in October during an international military exercise in the Atlantic. The aim of At Sea Demonstration 15 was to test the ability of warships to defend themselves. (2/4)

Buzz Aldrin: The Next Giant Leap for Space Exploration (Source: Washington Post)
When I peer into the future, I see Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars — a comprehensive and immediate plan for human spaceflight. The overall objectives of this plan are to sequentially evolve international contributions of shared exploration beyond low Earth orbit and toward international crew landings on Mars by 2040. This plan can grow to enable a permanent settlement on the Red Planet to be up and operating in the following years and decades. Click here. (2/3)

SpaceX Will Modify its Falcon 9 Rocket Based on Tests of its Landed Vehicle (Source: The Verge)
SpaceX will be making modifications to its Falcon 9 rocket based on what the company learned from re-igniting the engines on the vehicle it landed. That's according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, who spoke about the state of the company today at the Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC. Shotwell didn't specify what those modifications will be, but said the changes will make the vehicle "even more robust" for its ascent into space. (2/4)

Congressional Republicans Pan NASA Asteroid Mission (Source: USA Today)
Congressional Republicans continued to express bewilderment and displeasure on Wednesday with an administration plan to send astronauts to an asteroid as part of a stepping-stone approach to a Mars mission. NASA’s Asteroid Retrieval Mission is “uninspiring… unjustified and… just a time-wasting distraction,” Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said at a hearing.

“It is a mission without the support necessary to make it a reality in the nine months remaining in the Obama administration,” he said. "Virtually every witness we've ever had come before this committee has said we need to have a lunar base as part of the stepping stone," said Rep. Bill Posey, whose central Florida district includes Kennedy Space Center. "The only ones we haven't yet got that through (to) is NASA." (2/3)

Congressional Committee Says NASA’s Mars Mission is in Critical Need of a Plan (Source: The Verge)
At a special hearing today, members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tore apart NASA's Journey to Mars initiative, claiming the program needs a much more defined plan and clear, achievable milestones to work. Those in attendance also doubted the feasibility of a long-term Mars mission; they cited the massive amount of money needed for the trip — much more than NASA currently receives year to year — as well as a significant leap in technological development.

Because of these enormous challenges, a few witnesses at the hearing suggested that NASA either rethink its approach or divert its attention to a Moon mission instead. Above all, Congress members and the three expert witnesses who testified argued that NASA lacks a clear road map for Mars. Editor's Note: I've come to think that a Moon base is the right next step (maybe after an asteroid mission). Budget pressures would make any Mars mission a one-time flag-planting deal. (2/3)

Virginians Push for Small Satellite Initiative During Aerospace Day (Source: VSGC)
The Small Sat Virginia Initiative proposed and led by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) would create a Small Satellite Economic Cluster in the Commonwealth that can take advantage of the new business, jobs creation and research opportunities that the emerging and rapidly growing small satellite sector offers. It pulls together the Commonwealth’s strong NASA, Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, DOD, industry and university assets to ensure that Virginia is well poised to embrace this explosively growing, technology disrupting sector. Click here. (2/3)

Harris Cuts CapRock Staff, Takes Impairment Charge as Satcom Energy Market Falls (Source: Space News)
Harris Corp. plans further workforce reductions at its CapRock Communications satellite services division in the face of the decline in satellite-bandwidth demand from energy exploration companies as crude-oil prices test multi-year lows, Harris officials said Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.

Melbourne, Florida-based Harris said it is booking a $367 million non-cash impairment charge to reflect CapRock’s reduced business prospects. CapRock’s staff will be cut by 20 percent. Combined with a previous round of layoffs, CapRock ultimately will count 35 percent fewer employees as Harris re-sizes it for long-term profitability. (2/4)

SpaceX Seeks to Accelerate Falcon 9 Production and Launch Rates This Year (Source: Space News)
SpaceX plans to ramp up the production and launch of its Falcon 9 rocket this year while introducing its Falcon Heavy rocket and completing a key test of its commercial crew vehicle, the company’s president said Feb. 3.

“It’s a really interesting year for us,” Gwynne Shotwell said in a speech at the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference, citing work on the company’s launch vehicles, Dragon spacecraft and launch facilities.

One area of emphasis was accelerating the production and launch rate for the Falcon 9. “We’ve had the luxury in years past of having to build only a few rockets a year,” she said, “so we really weren’t in a production mode.” Last year would have been the first to require a high production rate of the rocket, she said, had it not been for the June launch failure that halted flights for nearly six months. (2/4)

Tehran Hosts Ceremony to Celebrate Space Industry Achievements (Source: PressTV)
The Iranian capital Tehran has hosted a ceremony celebrating the domestic achievements made in the space industry. Press TV’s Yusef Jalali has attended the event and filed this report. Editor's Note: Last year brought reports that Iran had canceled its space program. (2/4)

Vandenberg Air Force Base Facing Busy Launch Year In 2016 (Source: NoozHawk)
Vandenberg Air Force Base is gearing up for a busy — and compressed—year of launches, a top officer said Wednesday afternoon, outlining upcoming history-making moments for the installation. Col. J. Christopher Moss, 30th Space Wing commander, spoke during an annual joint luncheon of the Santa Maria and Lompoc Chambers of Commerce at the Pacific Coast Club on base.

“2016 is really shaping up be another exciting year,” he said. So far, the base has conducted two launches, with a third, a Delta 4 with top-secret payload, just a week away. The base expects to have as many as 11 blastoffs in 2016, compared to seven last year. (2/3)

Camden County: Deep Water, Deep Space (Source: Georgia Trend)
Camden County sits at the extreme southeast end of Georgia where the state ends and the Atlantic Ocean and Florida begin. While it may seem a long drive from anywhere, this coastal county is on the front line of America’s national defense and may soon become a gateway to outer space as well. Click here. (2/3)

Proposal Would Create Hawaiian Science ‘Subzones’ (Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald)
Several Big Island lawmakers are backing legislation that would establish seven “science and technology research subzones,” including one covering Mauna Kea’s astronomy precinct. The 21-page bill would give the state Board of Land and Natural Resources authority over subzone activities in Conservation Districts, such as those covering the mountain, and would appear to simplify rules for building within those areas.

Barry Taniguchi, a Big Island businessman who circulated the bill among lawmakers, said it was drafted by a group of telescope supporters in Hilo concerned about the future of astronomy on the mountain following the loss of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s land use permit. He declined to name the other people involved. Representatives of the University of Hawaii, which holds the master lease for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, and Mauna Kea observatories said they didn’t draft the bill. (2/3)

Senator Shelby Protects Alabama's Role in Rocket Production (Source: Huntsville Times)
With the growing threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups around the world who want to do us harm, it is important now more than ever that our leaders prioritize keeping us safe. Alabama plays a key role in that goal by being the home to where our nation's most secure, reliable, and advanced rockets are built. In Decatur, ULA builds the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets which launch our nation's military, NASA, and commercial satellites into space. The ULA plant employs or directly contracts with close to 1,000 Alabamians.

Fortunately for Alabama and our national security, Senator Richard Shelby recently put a stop to a provision pushed by a powerful western Senator at the behest of one of President Obama's top donors, Elon Musk, who owns SpaceX, a ULA competitor. The provision prematurely restricted the military use, but not NASA or commercial use, of the foreign made RD-180 engine used on ULA rockets. Click here. (2/3)

OneWeb Satellite Startup to Set up Manufacturing in Florida (Source: Wall Street Journal)
OneWeb Ltd., the ambitious small-satellite startup backed by Airbus Group SE and other prominent companies, has decided to set up assembly and testing facilities in Florida, according to Matthew O’Connell, its recently appointed chief executive. (2/3)

Virgin Galactic Satellite Launch Plans Advance with 747 Modifications (Source: Flight Global)
Speaking today at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, VG’s executive vice president of spaceport and program development, Jonathan Firth, revealed the former-Virgin Atlantic 747, acquired in December by the launch operation, is now in Waco undergoing a D-check and will be transferred to San Antonio for modification as a carrier aircraft. (2/3)

Audi Rockets to Super Boel 50 with Apollo Astronaut-Themed Ad (Source: Collect Space)
A new TV commercial set to air during the Super Bowl blends the imagery of NASA's Apollo program with the score of David Bowie's "Starman" to challenge car buyers to "choose the moon." Audi on Wednesday debuted its astronaut-themed ad, "Commander," which is scheduled to run Sunday during the first quarter of the game between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers football teams. Click here. (2/3)

U.S. Private Space Companies Plan Surge in Launches This Year (Source: Reuters)
U.S. private space companies SpaceX and United Launch Alliance have scheduled more than 30 launches from Florida this year, up from 18 last year, according to company and Air Force officials. The jump in planned launches reflects increasing demand for commercial communications and imaging satellites, as well as business from the U.S. military, ISS cargo ships and a NASA asteroid sample return mission. SpaceX and ULA fly from pads at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

“We want to be able to fly every week, for sure, if not multiple times in a week,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said at a webcast commercial space conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. The launch rate is expected to continue to climb as new companies, including Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, enters the market later this decade. Click here.

Editor's Note: One of Florida's new challenges is to work with the Air Force, FAA and NASA to enable the kind of high throughput that these companies will need at the spaceport. This could mean technology and process improvements for the Eastern Range, and/or establishing an FAA alternative to the Eastern Range. Ideally, such improvements would render SpaceX's Texas spaceport obsolete, unneeded because the Cape Canaveral Spaceport can handle all of the company's needs more efficiently. (2/3)

Aerospace Engineers Abound in Northwest Florida and the Space Coast (Source: Studer)
The Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin metro area is ranked 10th in the nation for the concentration of aerospace engineers, according to 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Aerospace business clusters in Northwest Florida serve six military installations and support extensive aerospace-related research and development. In Florida, the region is second only to Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, the state's "Space Coast." Click here. (12/28)

Largest Rocky World Found (Source: Science News)
When it comes to big balls of rock, exoplanet BD+20594b might have all other known worlds beat. At roughly half the diameter of Neptune, BD+20594b is 100 percent rock, researchers suggest online January 28 at arXiv.org. The planet seems to defy recent calculations that indicate a planet this large should be gassy. BD+20594b sits about 500 light-years away in the constellation Aries. The planet is about 16 times as massive as Earth but just a little over twice as wide. (2/3)

China to Launch Nearly 40 Beidou Navigation Satellites in Five Years (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch nearly 40 Beidou navigation satellites in the next five years to support its global navigation and positioning network, a spokesperson said. By the end of 2018, another 18 satellites will be put into orbit for Beidou's navigation service, said Ran Chengqi, spokesperson of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System and also director of the China Satellite Navigation Office. (2/3)

Russian Spacewalk Marks End of ESA's Exposed Space Chemistry (Source: ESA)
ESA’s Expose facility was retrieved today from outside the International Space Station by cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergei Volkov, who were completing a spacewalk to place new experiments on the outpost’s hull. Expose is a series of chemistry laboratories that place samples in the harsh environment of space unprotected. Subjected to vacuum, radiation, temperature differences and the full blast of our Sun’s energy, 46 species of small organisms and over 150 organic compounds have returned after spending 18 months bolted to the Zvezda module. (2/3)

Russia to Deliver Three Advanced Spacesuits to ISS in 2016 (Source: Sputnik)
Earlier this week, a source in the Russian space industry told RIA Novosti that Russian cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergei Volkov, who completed their first spacewalk of 2016 earlier in the day, were supposed to wear the newest Orlan-MKS spacesuits during the event. However, the suits were not delivered in time, and the cosmonauts wore an earlier model of the spacesuits, Orlan-MK. The Orlan-MKS is the fifth generation spacesuit which features automated environmental control systems, as well as as polyurethane seals to increase the lifespan of the suits. (2/3)

Earth May Be Buzzed by an Asteroid in March (Source: C/Net)
Once again, NASA is disappointing doomsday prophets with its data-and-science obsession. The space agency said on Tuesday that an asteroid spotted for the first time just a few years ago could make a very close pass by Earth next month but that it won't smash into us.

Asteroid 2013 TX68 will make its latest close pass by Earth on March 5. The 100-foot (30 meters) long space rock could fly by at the comfortable distance of 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or a little too close for comfort at just 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers). (2/3)

February 3, 2016

Japan Readies to 'Destroy' North Korea Rocket (Source: Aljazeera)
Japan vowed on Wednesday to shoot down any missiles or rockets fired over its territory after North Korea announced plans to launch a satellite in the coming days. "Today the defense minister issued an order" to destroy any projectiles if "confirmed that it will fall on Japanese territory", the defense ministry said in a statement.

North Korea on Tuesday informed international organisations of its plans to launch an Earth observation satellite on a rocket between February 8-25. Last month, North Korea announced it tested a hydrogen bomb - the reclusive country's fourth nuclear test. (2/3)

North Korea Confirms Satellite Launch Plans (Source: Washington Post)
North Korea confirmed Tuesday it plans to launch a satellite this month, heightening tensions with the West. The North Korean government issued a notice that it plans to launch an observation satellite between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25.

The drop zones for two of the rocket's stages are like those from a launch in late 2012, suggesting North Korea plans to use a similar rocket as that earlier flight. While North Korea claims its space program is for peaceful purposes, the United States and many other nations believe that program is used to develop technology for long-range ballistic missiles. (2/2)

New Commercial Space Legislation Unlikely this Year (Source: Space News)
After passing a major commercial space bill in 2015, agencies and Congress expect to spend 2016 developing and reviewing reports required by the act. The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, signed into law in November, requires a dozen reports in the next year, half of which are the responsibility of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

While the FAA is advocating for some new initiatives, such as taking on space traffic management responsibilities, congressional staff said at a conference Tuesday they are primarily in a listening mode this year, planning to review the reports before deciding on future legislative steps.

The reports, like the bill itself, span a wide range of topics, from streamlining the commercial launch licensing process and the development of industry consensus standards to implementation of the act’s provision that grants U.S. citizens rights to resources they extract from the moon or other celestial bodies. Another report required by the act examines the creation of an “improved framework” for space traffic management. (2/3)

Luxembourg Launches Commercial Space Effort (Source: Financial Times)
The government of Luxembourg is launching a new space resources initiative Wednesday. The Space Resources project will include developing a regulatory framework in the small European nation that will ensure companies have rights to resources they extract from asteroids, similar to provisions in a recently-passed U.S. law. The project may also include government investment in companies with asteroid mining plans such as Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources. (2/2)

Lockheed Martin Picked to Build Japanese Satellite (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin won a commercial satellite contract Wednesday from a Japanese company. Sky Perfect JSat Corporation ordered the JCSat-17 from Lockheed Martin for delivery in 2019 to serve East Asia. The satellite, based on Lockheed's A2100 bus, will carry an S-band payload with on-board processing to redirect capacity as needed. JCSat-17 is the eighth satellite Sky Perfect JSat has ordered from Lockheed Martin, making Japan Lockheed's biggest market for commercial satellites in recent years. (2/2)

NASA Brushes Off Claims One Of Its Drones Was Hacked (Source: Forbes)
NASA  today denied a group affiliated with the Anonymous hacking collective hacked one of the space agency’s drones. The government body said it also believes the 250GB of data the Anonsec crew said it had stolen through a lengthy compromise of the NASA network appeared to be information that was already public.

Anonsec took credit for a breach of NASA on Sunday, posting on Pastebin the data included 150GB of drone logs as well as names, emails and numbers for just over 2400 staff. The data is now hosted on a number of servers. The group also claimed to have acquired “semi-partial control” of a NASA drone during a flight over the Pacific, namely one of NASA’s two Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft used for high-altitude, long-duration data collection.

But NASA disagreed, sending the following statement to FORBES: “Control of our Global Hawk aircraft was not compromised. NASA has no evidence to indicate the alleged hacked data are anything other than already publicly available data. NASA takes cybersecurity very seriously and will continue to fully investigate all of these allegations.” (2/2)

SpaceX Offers Details on Texas Launch Site Progress (Source: SPACErePORT)
During the FAA space transportation conference this week, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell gave an update on the company's ongoing development of a new commercial launch site on the Texas coast. She said the site's sand is less stable than they had anticipated and will require two years of "dirt work" (delivery and compacting of dirt from other locations) to build up the launch pad area. The company will then pour a "concrete mountain" for the raised launch pad. This suggest the first launch there won't occur until late 2017 or 2018. (2/3)

Russia Could Have a Deep Space Monopoly (Source: Daily Beast)
When America’s Hubble telescope falls to Earth, Russia could be the only country with a set of ultraviolet space eyes—that’s if its Spektr UF ever makes it into orbit. The Russian space agency is scrambling to finish a high-tech orbital telescope designed to peer into the depths of space at distant stars, seeing everything in ultraviolet wavelengths that are invisible to the naked eye.

The 50-foot-long Spektr UF—in development since the late 1980s—could become the world’s only large, sophisticated ultraviolet space telescope if and when it finally achieves orbit, an event Moscow’s space administrators have tentatively scheduled for 2021. That’s because the current orbital telescope with ultraviolet capability—America’s 26-year-old Hubble—could decommission as early as 2020 and fall to Earth in a carefully orchestrated “controlled descent.” (2/3)

South Korea Warns North Against Satellite Launch (Source: BBC)
South Korea has warned the North it will "pay a harsh price" if it goes ahead with its plan to launch a satellite into space. North Korea said on Tuesday it intended to carry out the launch between 8 and 25 February. Critics say it is a cover for a test of ballistic missile technology. (2/3)

Why a Mars Landing Could be Terrible for Science (Source: Washington Post)
Imagine a field geologist hiking a dusty landscape. She spies a ridge of rock, climbs to it, whacks off a protruding bit with a hammer. She stoops to pick up the broken piece, turning its freshly fractured face upward. From its color and crystals, she deduces its composition. She drops the rock and makes a note in her field notebook. Then she walks on.

On Earth, this whole process takes only minutes. On Mars, where robots substitute for human geologists, the same operation takes a day, sometimes several. Mars scientists eagerly anticipate a time when we’ll see human geologists walking on Mars, using their brains and hands to rapidly increase the rate at which we learn about Mars’s past. But by their very presence, human astronauts could endanger our search for life on Mars, contaminating the planet with the throngs of Earth life we bring with us. (2/3)

New Mexico Bill Would Prevent Use of Bond Revenues for Spaceport America Operations (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Legislation by Sen. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, to prohibit the spaceport from using excess bond revenue for operating expenses would be a death knell for the facility, Spaceport America Chief Executive Officer Christine Anderson said. "If we lost it this year, frankly we’d probably have to close the doors. I’m not being over-dramatic when I say that,” Anderson said. Click here. (2/2)

Pentagon Budget Will Do “Even More” for Space Protection (Source: Space News)
The White House’s 2017 budget request will build on the Pentagon’s $5.5 billion initiative to protect national security satellites in space, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said. Last year, the Defense Department said it shifted $5.5 billion over five years to improve space surveillance and bolster the Air Force’s ability to protect military satellites from potential Russian or Chinese attacks. (2/3)

Air Force Creates New Unit to Watch over US Satellites (Source: Defense One)
The Air Force is creating a Space Mission Force that will include 352 people watching over US military satellites. "In our case, we're looking at threats that are within the next year or two," said Lt. Col. Toby Doran. "We're really not looking to the five- or 10-year threat. ... What are the concerns in the immediate future that we need to focus on so we are prepared for immediate threats?" (2/1)

NASA's Planetary Defense Office Watches Out for the Future of Earth (Source: Scientific American)
NASA's new Planetary Defense Coordination Office will manage efforts to deal with near-Earth objects that could threaten the planet. "Our job is to look for that and identify a NEO as far in advance as we can," said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer. "Doing so means we have the maximum amount of time to appropriately deal with the object, be it a small impactor or something that's larger, calling for a kinetic impactor mission, or whatever needs to be done." (2/1)

Arianespace Prepares for Ownership and Operational Overhaul (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch company, which for 35 years has had a stable relationship to its industrial shareholders and government backers, is preparing for a major change in direction this fall as it becomes a 74-percent-owned subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers.

It remains unclear what changes will be made to the company. ASL officials have said they would keep the Arianespace brand name and allow it to continue to operate as a separate entity, with its own headquarters and branch offices.

But the pressure to reduce costs that is forcing an overhaul of Europe’s entire rocket industry will almost certainly affect Arianespace and its 313 employees. The key development is the coming of the new-generation Ariane 6 rocket, to replace Ariane 5 starting in 2020; and the Vega-C, an upgrade of the current Vega small-satellite launcher. (2/2)

NASA Eyes Large-Scale Aircraft Demo, 2017 Budget Allowing (Source: Aviation Week)
With Congress boosting NASA’s miserly budget for aeronautics research two years in a row, there is a nascent hope among senior managers that the agency can plan for its first large-scale aircraft demonstrator in decades.

The question is which aircraft? Although a supersonic low-boom flight demonstrator (LBFD) is the most mature concept, NASA has several other potential candidates that might resonate more with Congress and potential partners such as the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) looking for a transport concept that has military as well as commercial application.

With an increase of $100 million in fiscal 2015 and almost $70 million in 2016, NASA’s aeronautics leadership is hoping that somewhere around $650 million a year is the new baseline for its civil aviation research. Whether that belief prevails will not be known until the Obama administration presents its fiscal 2017 budget request on Feb. 9. (2/2)

Israel's Space Program Lagging Behind, as Iran's Surges Forward (Source: Jerusalem Post)
Inadequate investment and research in Israel's civilian space program will have a harmful knock-on effect on military space industries, experts have warned during a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday. Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Abraham Assael, CEO of the Institute, also described how the lifting of sanctions on Iran will speed up Tehran's space program, and missile development.

"Even the low budget of the Israel Space Agency cannot be implemented. We need to leverage the great achievements of military space programs towards civilian applications, so that budgets can have double uses. Without civilian licenses, which are the norm in the world, this simply will not work." The Israel Space Agency's current annual budget stands at 15 million dollars, matching the size of the Mexican, Swiss, and South African programs. Click here. (2/2)

Bring Your Valentine to Spaceport America (Source: Spaceport America)
On the evening of February 13th, after checking into one of our local eclectic hotels with access to rejuvenating hot springs mineral baths, join us for an intimate reception at the Spaceport America Visitor Center. Later you will depart to the Stargazing Party location in nearby Elephant Butte. Click here. (2/2)

NASA to Deploy Army of Science Satellites on Orion's First Mission (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
While NASA's Space Launch System and Orion capsule's primary mission will be to send humans into deep space and eventually to Mars, a secondary mission was revealed today. Along for the ride will be 13 small satellites called CubeSats that will be deployed on Exploration Mission-1 in 2018. That unmanned mission that will send the Orion capsule out to the moon will also allow for the placement of 13 science experiments from a variety of sources into deep space. Click here. (2/2)

Russia to Close Rokot Program Under New Space Program Draft (Source: Tass)
Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos will launch two Rokot carrier rockets converted from ICBMs as part of the federal space program for 2016-2026 that will be its last launches, according to a draft document. According to the draft federal space program that will be submitted to the government, the two Rokot carrier rockets will be launched from the Plesetsk military space center to orbit three Gonets-M communications satellites each. (2/2)

February 2, 2016

Hawaii Event Recognizes Onizuka as Museum Prepares to Close (Source: West Hawaii Today)
The Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center’s last event on Sunday attracted astronauts, family, friends and first-time visitors. “The last 30 years, it’s really gone by fast,” said Ellison’s brother, Claude, in opening remarks to a packed room, stairwell and platform.

The museum honors Ellison Onizuka, one of seven astronauts killed in the Challenger disaster on Jan. 28, 1986. The museum also sought to expand interest in science learning and space exploration. Although the museum will remain open into March, many people came because as it was the last event for the museum. (2/1)

Camden County Could Become Commercial Georgia ‘Space Coast’ Site (Source: WABE)
Georgia could soon have its own space coast. Officials in Camden County, in the southeastern corner of the state, hope to build a commercial spaceport where companies could launch rockets. This is one of several spaceports either being proposed or already being built around the country as rural areas hope to cash in on the private space race.

Camden County administrator and lead Spaceport Camden booster Steve Howard says whenever he presents the idea to an audience, he always starts off with a question: “What did Camden County, Georgia and Frank Sinatra have in common in 1965?” Then he pulls out a Life Magazine with Sinatra on the cover and flips to page 73, where there’s a full page article about a rocket test that happened in Camden County, conducted by the chemical company Thiokol, which had a plant there. (2/1)

Successful Launch Expands China’s Beidou Navigation System (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A new addition to China’s Beidou navigation network launched Monday on top of a Long March 3C rocket, which injected the satellite into an orbit more than 13,000 miles above Earth several hours later. The Beidou spacecraft will test inter-satellite communications links with other members of the Chinese navigation constellation and support the system’s growth from regional coverage over China to a global positioning provider. (2/2)

UK Spaceport Bid is Poised on Launchpad (Source: The Courier)
Leuchars is very much in it to win it as the race to host Europe’s first commercial spaceport heats up this week. It is T minus two days and counting until six sites still in the running to host the out-of-this-world facility go head-to-head at a conference in London. And even though no decisions will be made at the event on Wednesday, the gathering is expected to give some indication as to who the strongest contenders are likely to be. (2/1)

Campbeltown Case for Spaceport in Contest This Week (Source: Forargyll)
The privatization of space exploration isn’t new. Much of the US’ work in space is already accomplished through government contracts with private companies: Lockheed Martin won the contract to build and launch the New Horizons probe, and NASA chose SpaceX and a few of its rivals to resupply the ISS through 2024. Still, the primary objective for these projects was to serve the interests of science and discovery rather than the goals of the companies, which is why a growing trend toward commercialization is so notable.

Billion-dollar government investments into the space program have long been rationalized in academic terms, as steps toward figuring out humankind’s place in the universe. Economic spillovers stemming from space innovation — satellite technologies, memory foam mattresses and Michael Phelps’s swimwear, to name a few — served as retroactive justifications.

But for many, a deeper philosophical justification came from proving that a liberal market economy could match up in greatness to the government-led system of the Soviet Union. As Communist powers began making great strides in space exploration in the mid-20th century, President Kennedy pushed to keep pace. Despite limited market incentives to expand space exploration, it was the US that got to the moon first — a major ideological win for the liberal world. Click here. (2/1)

Space Travel is Nearing the Bounds of Affordability (Source: Tech Insider)
Perhaps within the next five to ten years, an average Joe could check off "experience space travel" from their bucket list, according to Tom Shelley, the president of Virginia-based company Space Adventures. That's all due to a number of factors, including the increase in companies working on different ways to get people there, and recent breakthroughs in reusable rockets by companies like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX. Click here. (2/1)

NASA’s ‘Super Guppy’ Delivers EM-1 Orion to Kennedy Space Center (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
One of NASA's more unique aircraft touched down at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. Safely cocooned within the aircraft's cavernous interior - was the pressure vessel for the Orion spacecraft selected to carry out Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) - the first integrated flight of Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (2/1)

NASA Stole the Rocket Countdown From a 1929 Film (Source: Atlas Obscura)
In the mid-1920s, Germany had a bad case of rocket fever. Still getting over the trauma of World War I, and unsure how to reconcile the power of new technology with the power of old-school spirituality, the public turned to space travel as a literal escapist fantasy, writes media scholar Katharina Loew.

The surprise bestseller of the decade was a popularized version of Die Rakete zu den Palnetenräumen (By Rocket into Planetary Space), a Transylvanian high school teacher’s rejected dissertation that argued scientifically for the possibility of space travel. What followed was a historic collaboration between art and science. For each obstacle that faced the spacefaring characters—rocket design, oxygen shortages, zero gravity—Oberth would calculate the most probable solution, and Lang and his crew would make it happen.

As the astronauts lie in their bunks, eyes wide and jaws tense, the screen cuts to an announcement: “Noch 10 Sekunden-!”—10 seconds remaining! The mission leader grips the firing lever—”Noch 6 Sekunden!” The numbers get bigger, filling the screen: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, JETZT! Now! The lever lowers, and the rocket blasts out of the water. Nearly a hundred years later, it still gets the heart pumping. (2/1)

Election 2016: Keep Tabs on the Presidential Candidates' Space Plans (Source: Space.com)
You can now keep track of everything the 2016 presidential candidates say about spaceflight and exploration, thanks to the nonprofit Planetary Society. The Planetary Society is cataloguing the space-related statements made by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other contenders as the presidential primary election events get into full swing. Click here. (2/1)

Todd May Named Marshall Space Flight Center Director (Source: NASA)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Todd May director of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. May was appointed Marshall deputy director in August 2015 and has been serving as acting director since the Nov. 13, 2015 retirement of Patrick Scheuermann.

As director, May will lead one of NASA's largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees, an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion and a broad spectrum of human spaceflight, science and technology development missions. (2/1)

What Will Power Tomorrow's Spacecraft? (Source: BBC)
Power systems are a critical part of a spacecraft. They need to be able to operate in extreme environments and be utterly reliable. Yet, with the ever-increasing power demands of more complex spacecraft, what does the future hold for their power technologies?

The latest mobile phones can barely last a day without the need to be plugged into a power socket. Yet the Voyager space probe, which was launched 38 years ago, is still sending us information from beyond the edges of our solar system. The Voyager probes are capable of efficiently processing 81,000 instructions every second, but the average smartphone is more than 7,000 times faster. Click here. (2/1)

China Shares Vivid Photos of the Moon's Surface with the World. Why Now? (Source: CSM)
To see hundreds upon hundreds of true color, high definition photos of the moon's surface, just ask China. The typically secretive China National Space Administration recently made images from its successful moon landing available to the public for download.

Though the images were captured back in December 2013 by cameras on the Chang’e-3 lander and Yutu rover, they demonstrate a still-impressive achievement: China's mission to the moon's surface was the first successful soft landing in 37 years, and China was only the third country to achieve it, after Russia and the United States. Click here. (2/1)

NASA and Facebook Offer Taste of What it's Like to Stand on Mars (Source: CSM)
NASA, with the help of Facebook, has made it possible to view a 360 degree video of the Martian terrain through the eyes of its intrepid rover, Curiosity.

The space agency used technology created by the social network to string together 57 images taken by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover while it was examining dunes along the Bagnold field on the Red Planet, which is along the rover's route up the lower slope of Mount Sharp. These dunes surround the mountain's northwestern edge, with some as tall as a two-story building and wide as a football field, according to NASA. Click here. (2/1)

University of Calgary Receives Funding Boost for Space Science (Source: CTV News)
Canada's Space Agency is investing $1.4 million in funding for space research and four projects at the University of Calgary will benefit from the awards. The awards were given to four Earth-Space projects at the University of Calgary, three at the University of Alberta and one at the University of Waterloo. (2/1)

NASA Considers Europa Mission Alternatives (Source: Space News)
NASA is considering launching a congressionally mandated Europa lander separately from a spacecraft already under development. The fiscal year 2016 appropriations bill directs NASA to fly a mission to the icy moon of Jupiter that consists of an orbiter and a lander, launching them on an SLS by 2022. NASA officials said Monday that adding the mass of the lander to the "clipper" mission under development would not only require an SLS, but force the mission to use a slower trajectory to reach Jupiter. One option under consideration is to continue with development of the clipper mission for launch in 2022, to be followed by a lander mission. (2/2)

Orion Arrives at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The next Orion spacecraft flew to Florida Monday inside a cargo airplane. NASA used a Super Guppy aircraft to transport the Orion pressure vessel from New Orleans, where it was put together at the Michoud Assembly Facility, to the Kennedy Space Center. The pressure vessel will be outfitted with the spacecraft's other key subsystems in the coming months at KSC. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch on an uncrewed test flight in late 2018 on an SLS. (2/1)

Russians Skeptical of Reusable Launchers (Source: Tass)
The main Russian space research institute is skeptical about the prospects for reusable launch vehicles. A spokesman for TsNIIMash said that the institute's research suggests the economic feasibility of reusable vehicles "is not obvious" despite recent technical achievements by Blue Origin and SpaceX. "The designers are still to demonstrate the real costs of production and of making reusable stages for re-launching," the institute's spokesman added. (2/2)

Bezos Still Ready to Launch Trump (Source: Nieman Lab)
If Donald Trump is looking to make a getaway from Iowa, Jeff Bezos is still offering a ride. Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, held a town hall meeting with staff Monday where he reiterated an offer he made to Trump in December: a seat on a future flight on one of his Blue Origin launch vehicles. "My offer to send Donald to space still stands," Bezos said, according to tweets from several Post employees attending the meeting. Trump, who finished second in the Iowa Republican Party caucuses Monday night, had criticized Bezos and his various business ventures back in December. (2/2)

Face it, America: The Space Shuttle was a Total Failure (Source: Fusion)
If you ever get to see one of the retired space shuttles up close, you will be struck by how rickety it looks. Just go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles or the Intrepid Museum in New York. Walking under the wings or by the cockpit’s windows, you get the unmistakable impression that this incredible piece of engineering is, at best, sketchy.

It is a miracle, and not in a good way. It is surprisingly tiny and appears cobbled together, with slightly deformed bulkheads, uneven rivets and burned tiles on its underside. In all, it seems custom-built and handmade and not nearly as sturdy as an airliner. Click here. (2/1)