June 26, 2017

Before SpaceX, McGregor TX Facility Produced Bombs and Lots of Them (Source: KWTX)
Today it’s home to a rocket testing facility, but as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, the small McLennan County farming community of McGregor played a major part in the Allied war effort as workers there built about one quarter of the bombs dropped during the conflict.

Then through the years different companies and agencies used the same land, and sometimes even the same buildings, to make and test everything from furniture and kitchenware to rocket motors that can carry a human to Mars. It all began after Pearl Harbor when U.S. industrial production went on a fast track to support the war effort overseas and many cities and towns in Central Texas went all out to support the cause, but none had the impact of the material that came out of McGregor, where they made bombs.

The Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant was the first of four such facilities built nationwide starting in 1942, and the first to supply ordnance to the battlefield. (6/23)

Five New Human Physiology Projects Selected for ISS Research (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced five grants have been awarded in response to a funding opportunity focused on human physiology and disease onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Data from this research — which will feature “tissue chips” (or “organs-on-chips”) — will help scientists develop and advance novel technologies to improve human health here on Earth.

These initial five projects are part of a four-year collaboration through which NCATS will provide two-years of initial funding of approximately $6 million, to use tissue chip technology for translational research onboard the ISS National Laboratory. Awardees will be eligible for a subsequent two years of funding, pending availability of funds, based upon performance and achieving milestones for each project. Click here. (6/20)

New Canadian Space Strategy Delayed (Source: SpaceQ)
Canada’s new space strategy will not be unveiled this month as previously expected, but will be delayed until later this summer or early fall, multiple sources tell SpaceQ. There are two primary reasons for the delay.

First, the Space Advisory Board was not announced until mid-April providing it little time to consult with stakeholders and to formulate a report for the government to analyze with feedback incorporated into a new space strategy. As well, there was a greater response to the consultation process than was expected including numerous written submissions. What this all means is the government has a lot input to digest. (6/21)

Public Libraries are Centers for Eclipse Education (Source: Starnet Libraries)
More than two million pairs of eclipse glasses are being distributed free through public libraries in the U.S. for the eclipse of the Sun taking place on August 21, 2017. About 4,800 organizations, including public library branches, bookmobiles, tribal libraries, library consortia, and state libraries, have received a package of free safe-viewing glasses, plus a 24-page information booklet on how best to do public outreach programs about the eclipse.

The project is supported, in part, by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with additional help from Google, National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA. Dr. Robert Kirshner, Chief Program Officer, Science, at the Moore Foundation, adds “The Moore Foundation is pleased to help two million eyes enjoy and understand this astronomical spectacle with astronomical spectacles." (6/21)

June 25, 2017

SpaceX Plans Second Launch in 48 Hours (Source: WIRED)
This Sunday, SpaceX is set to launch its second Falcon 9 of the week. This time, the company is firing a shiny new rocket from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. It’s the fastest turnaround yet for two SpaceX launches, but if it's going to launch as many satellites as it says, there are more rapid-fire liftoffs to come.

After initially being delayed from October—then December, then April—today’s liftoff is actually a bit ahead of schedule. This launch delivers 10 more satellites to the fleet that telecommunications company Iridium is building in low Earth orbit. To get the new satellites situated just-so, the launch window is exact, scheduled for 1:25:14 pm Pacific time. (6/25)

First Spaceport Cup Competition Wraps Up (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
A little worn from southern New Mexico’s desert heat and wind, more than 1,100 aerospace engineering students packed up their bags, loaded up their vans and headed home after completing the first Spaceport America Cup, which wrapped up Saturday.

More than 90 teams of student engineers competed in the event and were judged on their presentations, safety procedures and earned points for coming closest to pre-determined altitudes when launching their rockets. The International Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition moved to Spaceport America this year after having been held in southern Utah for the past six years.

The event, sponsored by The Experimental Sounding Rocket Association and Spaceport America, drew students from universities across the United States as well as abroad. In addition to the competition, students had a chance to network and to meet with representatives from leading aerospace companies from around the world. (6/24)

NASA Rocket Launch From Virginia Foiled Again (Source: WTOP)
According to NASA’s website, within the first 5 ½ minutes of the rocket launch, some parts of the mid-Atlantic will light up with red and blue-green clouds for scientists to track “particle motion in space.” They said the colorful clouds could be visible anywhere between New York and North Carolina, and possibly as far west as Charlottesville, Virginia.

The rocket was originally set to launch on May 31, but due to clouds, winds, poor weather conditions and boats in the hazard area, the launch many have been waiting for still has not lit up the sky. (6/24)

Spaceport America Granted Limited Use of Tax Revenue for Operations (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)
Spaceport America, the government-subsidized operation that promised new business for New Mexico by luring wealthy space travelers but in six years hasn’t had any such flights, won a partial victory Thursday in its pitch to use more tax money to increase its operating budget.

The New Mexico Finance Authority agreed to let the spaceport for one year use extra money from the taxes that shoppers pay in two Southern New Mexico counties. But the spaceport wanted the excess tax money in perpetuity, a proposal that the finance authority declined to grant as its chairman raised questions about the facility’s financial strength. (6/23)

Sleeping in Space (Source: Sleep Review)
In space there is no “up” or “down,” and due to microgravity, astronauts are weightless. Though NASA astronauts are allotted 8 hours every 24 hours for sleep, they have to overcome the unique challenges of sleep in space in order to maintain their sleep health.

Currently, astronauts on the ISS are the only ones who do any space travel. The ISS has 13 rooms, 2 bathrooms, is the size of a football field, and has a mass of roughly 1 million pounds. It orbits about 200 miles above Earth and travels 17,000 miles per hour. That means every 90 minutes, the ISS does a full rotation around Earth, which means the astronauts get to see the sun rise and set every 90 minutes. Talk about potential circadian rhythm disorder!

Astronauts sleep in sleeping bags with straps fixed to the wall of cubbies. They endure constant noise from the over 52 computers, 40 fans, and 100+ other machines. Also, since they are being pulled away equally in all directions, it is impossible for them to sleep curled in the popular fetal position. Click here. (6/23)

Space Museum in Central Kansas Was Worth the 20 Hour Drive (Source: Gizmodo)
Hutchinson, Kansas isn’t the kind of place you’d wind up if you weren’t looking to. The placid prairie town sits a solid hour’s drive south of I-70, the interstate that most travelers use to blow across 425 miles of Kansas cornfield and cattle pasture as quickly as possible. But as soon as I entered the silver-roofed museum, which is flanked by an authentic Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle and a Gemini-Titan II rocket, I knew the extra hours of driving were going to be worth it. After all, how often is one greeted at the door by a Blackbird spy plane?

For fans of spaceflight, military history, and standing awestruck next to the most powerful flying machines ever built, the Cosmosphere, home to the largest international collection of Cold War space artifacts on the planet, just gets better from there. The museum’s expansive entryway not only houses a flown SR-71 Blackbird from 1966—the year the famous spy plane officially joined the US Air Force—but also a scale replica of the Space Shuttle Endeavor, and the twisted remains of an engine thrust chamber from the Saturn V rocket. (6/23)

Huntsville's U.S. Space & Rocket Center to Get State-of-the-Art Planetarium (Source: Huntsville Times)
A new "state-of-the-art planetarium" is planned for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the center announced Friday. The center's current SpaceDome IMAX Theater will be renovated into the new facility, the center said. Intuitive and Research Technology Corp. will partner with the center's foundation in the renovation "to include planetary and advanced digital theater technology," a press release said. The target opening date is in 2019 in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (6/23)

‘They’re just like us’: Middle-School Girls Get Unique SpaceX Visit (Source: Daily Breeze)
It’s rare to get a tour of SpaceX’s rocket-making Hawthorne headquarters, let alone one-on-one chats with its engineers. But some Hawthorne middle-school girls who got just such an invitation recently were in awe of the work being done in their neighborhood. “It was pretty surreal,” 13-year-old Bella Freire said. “Usually, you see rockets in magazines but not up-close and personal. Seeing people work on them is amazing. It makes me feel really small.”

“Because you have few women in this field, we’re trying to empower women to be vocal for themselves and have confidence in their technical abilities,” said Damaris Toepel, the lead integration and test engineer for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. “In all of the positions I’ve held, it was very common for me to be the only female in the room and, sometimes, I would hold myself back from speaking.” (6/22)

Ready, Set, Dream STEM BIG! - Jacksonville's Taylor Richardson (Source: Lottie)
Taylor Richardson is just 13-years old, and she is one of the most inspirational and ambitious girls we have come across during our Lottie journey so far. She aims to be the first African-American woman to go to Mars, and was one of the youngest children ever accepted to Space Camp! Click here. (6/6)

The Precis: UAE National Space Policy (Source: Space Watch Middle East)
The United Arab Emirates revealed details of its National Space Policy during the 56th Session of the Legal and Subcommittee meeting in Vienna March 27-April 7, 2017. The presentation, which was given by Naser Al-Rashedi of the Space Policy and Regulations Directory of the UAE Space Agency, is the first substantive look of the Policy the UAE has proffered to the public. Click here. (6/23)

June 24, 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Gets Called Out by NASA Over Healing Stickers (Source: CNN)
NASA just called out Goop, the movie star's lifestyle brand, over wearable healing stickers that it promoted on its website. In a post on Thursday, Goop said that the stickers, which are sold by a group called Body Vibes, are "made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut's vitals during wear."

The wearables, which cost about $60 for a pack of 10, come "pre-programmed to an ideal frequency" and "promote healing" by tackling "imbalances," the website claimed. But NASA told CNNMoney it doesn't use carbon material to line its suits, and its current spacesuit has no carbon fibers in it at all. Goop removed the NASA mention from its post after the outlet's story went up. (6/22)

ESA Seeks to Privatize Spaceplane Program (Source: Space News)
ESA is seeking to privatize its Space Rider uncrewed spaceplane under development. Space Rider is being developed by Thales Alenia Space and Lockheed Martin, with a first test flight scheduled for 2020 on a Vega-C rocket. Five more test flights would follow as Arianespace, who would operate the spaceplane commercially, decides how many reusable vehicles to build for commercial flights. ESA foresees using Space Rider to fly microgravity research and other payloads for an estimated $9,200 per kilogram. (6/23)

India Launches 31 Satellites with PSLV (Source: The Hindu)
India launched a PSLV carrying 31 satellites overnight. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Thursday night. The rocket placed into a sun-synchronous orbit a Cartosat-2 Earth imaging satellite as well as 30 smallsat secondary payloads, including eight satellites for Spire and three for Sky and Space Global. (6/23)

Key Members of Congress Push for Military Space Corps (Source: Space News)
The leadership of the Air Force and key members of the House Armed Services Committee are at odds over establishing a "Space Corps." Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee, pushed back against criticism of his Space Corps proposal by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff.

At a markup of a defense authorization bill Thursday, Rogers responded to Air Force comments that a Space Corps was not needed. "I have to say I've been shocked by the response by the Air Force leadership," he said, saying he would press ahead with language in the bill that would create a Space Corps within the Air Force. (6/23)

OneWeb First to Get FCC Approval for Broadband Constellation (Source: Washington Post)
OneWeb has won FCC approval for its broadband satellite constellation. The FCC said Thursday it approved plans by OneWeb to provide broadband services in the United States, a key milestone in the company's development of its satellite system. The FCC added it is examining several other applications for satellite constellations to provide similar services in the U.S. (6/23)

ESA Contracts for Eight More Galileo Satellites (Source: BBC)
OHB and Surrey Satellite have won a contract for another eight Galileo navigation satellites. The companies signed the contract Thursday with the European Space Agency, which procures the satellites on behalf of the EU. The companies won the contract despite Brexit-related complications for U.K.-based SSTL, which will require some kind of agreement to allow the company to continue working on classified parts of the Galileo payload after the country exits the EU. (6/23)

BulgariaSat Made Possible by SpaceX Pricing (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The CEO of BulgariaSat said the launch of his venture's first satellite would not be possible without SpaceX. Maxim Zayakov said the reduced launch costs offered by SpaceX made the satellite project feasible. The SSL-built satellite is scheduled for launch this afternoon on a Falcon 9 from Florida. (6/23)

ESA Developing New Reusable Rocket Engine (Source: Space News)
ESA has started funding a new reusable engine. The agency has provided a first tranche of funding for Prometheus, an engine being developed by ArianeGroup that uses liquid oxygen and methane propellants and promises to cost one-tenth the price of the Vulcain 2 engine used on the Ariane 5. Prometheus is on track to begin test firings in 2020, although ESA does not contemplate using it in future launch vehicles until 2030. (6/23)

U.S. Astronauts May Continue to Launch Aboard Soyuz Into 2020 (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
According to a report from the Russian news agency TASS, not only will U.S. astronauts launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in a Soyuz spacecraft through 2019, but also there is a strong possibility that Boeing will engage their Russian counterpart to continue the service through 2020.

Though Russia may be the only ride to the ISS, NASA has options from which to choose to buy those seats. Should further delays to Commercial Crew threaten to impact operations of the station, NASA may very well have to procure more seats on the Russian spacecraft. However, they might not necessarily have to contract those flights with Russia directly.

In fact, NASA may be gearing up to ask their Boeing partner to call in the Soyuz seats they were awarded as part of a $320 million judgment the American company received in a legal dispute with Energia over Sea Launch. Indeed, Boeing has already sold some of their seats to NASA for flights in 2017 and 2018, and the space agency has inked an option to procure three more seats in 2019. (6/23)

Recycled Falcon-9 Survives Very Challenging Landing (Source: Popular Science)
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lofted a Bulgarian communications satellite into space from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Friday. While BulgariaSat-1 was still making its way into its proper orbit, the first stage of the rocket returned for a landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You. SpaceX has landed its boosters on drone ships many times before, but this one was a particular challenge.

The rocket, which was refurbished after its first launch in January of this year, had to send BulgariaSat-1 into a particularly high orbit today. That means the booster had to endure extra heat—and thus extra jostling—while crashing back into Earth’s atmosphere. The land wasn't super smooth, but the rocket survived, and that's pretty impressive. (6/23)

Russia Launches Defense Satellite at Plesetsk Spaceport (Source: Tass)
A Soyuz-2.1v carrier rocket with a Russian defense ministry’s satellite has been launched from the Plesetsk space center, the ministry’s press service said on Friday. This was the third launch of the Soyuz-2.1v rocket, which is currently undergoing flight development tests at the Plesetsk space center. The first Soyuz-2.1v launch was successfully conducted in December 2013, and the second - in December 2015. (6/23)

National Security Needs Robust Commercial Space (Source: Niskanen)
Recently, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act (ASCFEA) was introduced to reform domestic oversight of certain commercial space activities. As outlined in a previous post, this bill tackles two issues: (1) it reforms oversight of commercial remote sensing; and (2) it introduces certification for missions that currently stand outside of America’s regulatory regime.

The bill is a major step in the right direction, particularly for the commercial outer space industry. One of the questions that has arisen, however, is how the bill would affect America’s national security. Ever since commercial companies first embarked on activities in outer space, there have been concerns about how their actions would interact with America’s national security apparatus in orbit. With an anticipated increase in commercial activity, these interactions have only grown in importance. (6/23)

Space Tourism Could Help Boost Science and Health Research (Source: The Conversation)
The announcement of the draft Spaceflight Bill in the Queen’s Speech will allow the development of spaceports in the UK. This could see members of the paying public launched into space as tourists, or taking sub-orbital flights from London to New York in just 45 minutes.

Such adventures will be made possible through futuristic spaceplanes, as are already in development by companies such as Virgin Galactic, that will enable us mere mortals to experience weightlessness. If this sounds only of interest to those who can afford the six-figure ticket price, it also has major implications for scientific discovery. Space travel-related research has probably already had a more substantial positive impact on your life than you realise, and this announcement could increase this still further.

Space agencies such as ESA and NASA currently provide access to simulated microgravity for scientific research using parabolic flights. These allow human physiology research to be carried out more easily than on the International Space Station, but the time spent in microgravity is very short. Spaceplanes may provide longer sessions, which could enable more comprehensive research to inform the design of experiments into the longer-term physiological changes from spaceflight. (6/23)

Commercial Balloons in the Stratosphere Could Monitor Hurricanes and Scan for Solar Storms (Source: Science)
Scientific ballooning isn't new. NASA has been in the business since 1982, when it assumed control of the National Scientific Ballooning Facility. The $38 million office flies about 10 to 15 balloons per year, lofting scientific payloads for a fraction of the cost of a satellite launch. But they tend to be one-off experiments with wayward paths that drift in the winds.

In contrast, World View and Raven Aerostar, a company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that also offers research balloon flights, intend to steer their balloons, keeping them in stable positions that could boost a number of earth science applications. They hope to undercut NASA, whose balloon missions cost several million dollars, with flights for just a few hundred thousand dollars. Just as SpaceX and Blue Origin are privatizing access to low-Earth orbit, so, too, are these balloon companies trying to commercialize the stratosphere.

"You want to put a telescope up? You want to do atmospheric monitoring? You want to study the sun? You want to look down on the oceans or land?" asks planetary scientist Alan Stern, World View's chief scientist. "Across these and a whole series of other research fields there are just immense applications." (6/23)

Chicken Sandwich Flight to Near-Space Delayed Again (Source: Space.com)
World View has not yet announced a new launch window for the KFC flight. Representatives said the launch will likely happen sometime after Monday (June 26). A high-altitude balloon flight that would have carried a chicken sandwich to the edge of space has been delayed again, due to wind conditions on the ground.

Today (June 22), World View Enterprises was scheduled to launch one of its Stratollite high-altitude balloon systems on a four-day test flight carrying a peculiar payload: chicken sandwich from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The launch was also delayed from its original launch date, June 21, because of weather conditions. (6/23)

House Lawmakers Endorse Reusable Rockets for Military Purposes (Source: Ars Technica)
The US Congress has begun the "markup" process to consider budget appropriations for fiscal year 2018, and on Thursday, the House subcommittee overseeing Strategic Forces held a hearing for the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill provides funding for the military, including the Air Force, which oversees efforts to launch spy and communications satellites, as well as other national defense payloads.

As part of the process, Arizona Republican Trent Franks offered an amendment that stated the government should move rapidly to evaluate the potential use of reusable space launch vehicles such as those being flown by SpaceX. Co-sponsored by New Jersey Democrat Donald Norcross, the amendment passed on a voice vote. (6/23)

June 23, 2017

Scientists Fear Mars Trip Could Be a Suicide Mission (Source: Business Insider)
Going to Mars may be more dangerous than we thought. The major problem is high-energy space radiation. Scientists know that cosmic rays can damage DNA. They had just overlooked how bad it could get. A team re-examined how damaged DNA can cause cancer. They then estimated levels of radiation exposure in space and on Mars. Their results are devastating. The risk of cancer on Mars is twice as high as previously thought.

It comes down to how damaged DNA spreads throughout the body. A detailed study in mice reveals a sinister side to radiation. Damaged DNA doesn't just keep to itself. It sends signals to nearby healthy cells, which triggers the healthy cells to mutate, which could cause more cancer. Previous models hadn't accounted for this domino effect. Even radiation shielding only moderately reduces the risk. Luckily on Earth, we're protected from this danger. (6/20)

Slowdown in Satellite Orders Triggers Layoffs at Space Systems Loral (Source: Space News)
Citing a long-term drought in satellite orders, Space Systems Loral has laid off a number of employees at its California satellite manufacturing facility. SSL President John Celli said an “extended slowdown” in orders for geostationary orbit communications satellites led the company to this round of layoffs. “With fewer satellites coming into the factory we have to make reductions to remain competitive.” (6/23)

SpaceX Wants to Lease More Land at Port Canaveral for Falcon 9 First Stages (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX wants to lease more land at Port Canaveral for rocket-related storage needs, according to documents previewing a future Canaveral Port Authority Board meeting. Commissioners on June 28 will consider a four-year, nine-month lease with SpaceX for nearly 2.2 acres of vacant land which sits next to the company's already operational facility for previously flown Falcon 9 first stages. (6/22)

Growing Up With an Astronaut Dad (Source: WMFE)
Buzz Aldrin is obsessed with Mars. The second human to walk on the moon is now developing a plan to send humans to live permanently on the red planet. The Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Tech is hoping to fine-tune that vision with research and workshops with experts. Buzz Aldrin’s son, Andy Aldrin, is the Director of the Institute. He spoke with 90.7’s space reporter Brendan Byrne about the sociological challenges of living on Mars. Click here. (6/2)

June 22, 2017

How Well Have Climate Models Done in the Upper Atmosphere? (Source: Ars Technica)
If people who reject climate science ever point to actual data, you can just about bet the farm it will be data from satellite measurements of upper-atmosphere temperatures. At least until the record-setting global heat in 2015 and 2016, some of the satellite data was amenable to the claim that global warming had magically ended in 1998.

That was always nonsense, involving cherry-picking a start year and ignoring ongoing corrections to the complex satellite measurements. That said, it is certainly fair to compare the satellite records to climate models to see what we can learn. A group of researchers led by Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory carried out a careful analysis of those models and several satellite records of temperature in the upper troposphere, about 5 to 10 kilometers (3 to 6 miles) above the surface. Click here. (6/21)

Spaceport America Talks Commercial Space Flights, Introduces New Tenants (Source: KFOX)
New Mexico is getting closer to commercial space travel, according to officials at the Spaceport America facility in Truth or Consequences. Flights to space on Virgin Galactic were supposed to begin in 2014, but were delayed. On Wednesday, Spaceport America announced it's vision and direction ahead. They talked about how the facility is being used and about commercial space flights.

"We have access to space 24/7," said Dan Hicks, CEO at Spaceport America. He said more companies are becoming interested in the site for space testing. "One of the key attributes we have is restricted airspace," he said. "So from surface to unlimited, we have a partnership with White Sands Missile Range and the Department of Defense." (6/21)

NASA Completes Study of Future 'Ice Giant' Mission Concepts (Source: NASA)
A NASA-led and NASA-sponsored study of potential future missions to the mysterious "ice giant" planets Uranus and Neptune has been released -- the first in a series of mission studies NASA will conduct in support of the next Planetary Science Decadal Survey. The results of this and future studies will be used as the Decadal Survey deliberates on NASA's planetary science priorities from 2022-2032. The study identifies the scientific questions an ice giant mission should address, and discusses various instruments, spacecraft, flight-paths and technologies that could be used.

"This study argues the importance of exploring at least one of these planets and its entire environment, which includes surprisingly dynamic icy moons, rings and bizarre magnetic fields," said Mark Hofstadter of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, one of the two co-chairs of the science team that produced the report. The European Space Agency (ESA) also participated in the study. (6/20)

Harris Corporation Delivers Advanced Weather Satellite Instrument to South Korea (Source: Harris)
Harris Corp. has delivered an advanced digital weather satellite instrument to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute that will help forecasters safeguard people in the region from typhoons and other severe weather. The Harris-built Advanced Meteorological Imager, or AMI, will be integrated into the next-generation GEO-KOMPSAT-2A weather satellite, scheduled to launch in 2018. The AMI will deliver images with three times more data and four times the resolution at refresh rates five times faster than currently available in the region. (6/21)

New Company to Start Test Flights from Spaceport America (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Officials with a company operating at Spaceport America said Wednesday they'll start test flights next week on a system to eventually take tiny payloads, including satellites, to suborbital space. The company, Pipeline2Space, or P2S, discussed its plans during the second day of the Spaceport America Cup, a rocket competition that's drawn roughly 1,000 college students to the southeastern Sierra County-based spaceport this week.

P2S plans to build an underground tube that will be used to fire a small capsules into the atmosphere and eventually suborbital space, said Mark Russell, CEO and co-founder of the company. The advantage is that the capsule at ground level already is traveling fast, while most other types of launches start with no speed. The idea is to reduce the cost and the accessibility of launching small payloads, he said. (6/22)

Minotaur Launch at Space Florida Pad Delayed to September (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The launch of a space surveillance satellite has been postponed by up to two months. The launch of the SensorSat spacecraft on a Minotaur 4, previously scheduled for mid-July from Space Florida's Launch Complex 46 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, is now planned for some time between the end of August and mid-September. SensorSat, also known as ORS-5, is a mission by the Operationally Responsive Space office to track satellites and other objects in geostationary orbit. The Air Force did not disclose the reason for the delay. (6/22)

SES: Drifting Satellite Not a Threat to Nearby Satellites (Source: Space News)
SES says its malfunctioning AMC-9 satellite does not pose a risk to other satellites in geostationary orbit. The spacecraft, which suffered a "significant anomaly" June 17, is slowly drifting westward in GEO on a stable and predictable trajectory, and does not pose a collision hazard to nearby satellites. The spacecraft is being tracked by SES and others, including the Space Data Association, who says it will notify other satellite operators should AMC-9 come close to their satellites. (6/22)

Airbus Signs-On for Two Vega C Missions (Source: Space News)
Airbus will be the first commercial customer for the Vega-C launch vehicle. Airbus signed a contract this week for two Vega-C launches, each carrying two Earth-imaging satellites. Those launches are scheduled for mid-2020. Vega-C is an upgraded version of the existing Vega small launch vehicle, whose first launch is planned for 2019. (6/22)

Smallsats Have Role as Larger Satellites Become Targets for Attack (Source: Space News)
Smallsats could provide an insurance policy for larger national security space systems. During a panel discussion Wednesday, advocates for small satellites and small launch vehicles argued that such systems could deter attacks on larger systems in the event of a conflict, or supplement or replace them as needed. Those systems could be developed for one to two percent of current investment in national security space systems. Smallsats have long been proposed as a responsive solution for national security, but panelists said increasing capabilities of smallsats make that approach more feasible than ever. (6/22)

Luxembourg Links with ESA on Asteroid Exploration (Source: Govt. of Luxembourg)
Luxembourg has signed an agreement with the European Space Agency on space resources. The agreement, signed this week at the Paris Air Show, will include a feasibility assessment and analysis of technical maturity by ESA of asteroid exploration and utilization. Luxembourg, an ESA member state, has its own space resources initiative, funding investment in asteroid mining companies and other efforts to support the field. (6/22)

US Industrial Base at Risk for key Rocket Motor Ingredient (Source: Defense News)
A California Republican congressman included a provision near the bottom of a proposed act dealing with domestic strategic materials that would restrict companies manufacturing rocket motors for DOD and NASA to source its oxidizer for its solid-propellant rocket boosters from within the U.S. The only problem is there is just one U.S. company that manufactures the key chemical compound known as ammonium perchlorate, or AP, and industry isn’t happy that its flexibility to obtain the best priced substance through competition outside of the U.S. could be in jeopardy.

Rep. Duncan Hunter introduced a bill called the Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security Act, or the METALS Act, that would help domestic producers of strategic and critical materials. Some in industry are arguing the legislation is an earmark to help a now struggling business — American Pacific (AMPAC), owned by the Huntsmans of Utah — with political ties to the Trump administration. Both Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne buy ammonium perchlorate from AMPAC. There are several programs that get AP from other countries that would be in jeopardy should such a provision pass. (6/21)

Astronauts in Orbit Around Alien Planets Should Explore Surfaces With Robots and VR (Source: Motherboard)
“The historical presumption is that exploration means ‘boots on the ground.’ But we’ve gone way beyond that.” When we imagine crewed missions to worlds beyond Earth, we tend to presume they will involve landing humans on alien planetary surfaces. We want to see the first footprints in the red soil of Mars, for instance, or to return astronauts to the Moon to wander the lunar wilds.

An article published Wednesday in Science Robotics challenges this narrative and offers up a significantly safer and cheaper alternative—"exploration telepresence." Led by Dan Lester, a research scientist at the US consulting firm Exinetics, the piece explores the idea of putting telerobotic sensory components on the surface of alien planets, which would be operated in real-time by crews orbiting those worlds.

"Exploration telepresence is about putting human presence and activity where it's really hard to put humans," Lester told me over the phone. "I would certainly never say to do it instead of landing," he added. "I think landing humans [on other planets] would be wonderful. What I'm saying is that this is a strategy that ought to be thought about as we move in that direction." (6/21)

Graduates from Florida Universities Make More Money (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
A recent study shows that over 90 percent of Florida graduates from the Class of 2015 found jobs within one year of finishing their bachelor's degrees. Median wages for graduates of Florida universities increased to $39,100 in 2015, up from $36,300 in 2014, according to the Florida Board of Governors.
Graduates in the engineering field made the most money, with a median salary of $58,600, while graduates in the biological sciences earned the least, at $29,500, since many continue on to graduate school, according to the study. In addition, 30 percent of graduates pursued additional degrees and, of those students, 74 percent were enrolled in school and working at the same time. (6/21)

Boeing Plans Huge Investment, More Jobs in Alabama (Sources: Made in Alabama, Birmingham Business Journal)
By 2020, Boeing hopes to have added 400 more jobs and invested $70 million to grow its operations in Huntsville, according to Made in Alabama. Boeing’s Alabama operations are centered at two main facilities in Huntsville, located in the Jetplex Industrial Park and at Redstone Gateway.

Expansion of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Seeker facility in Huntsville. The 28,000-square-foot facility will include machinery and other capabilities to support the missile defense program for the U.S. Army. Other Boeing operations in Alabama include the Huntsville Design Center, which supports 20 major programs such as the new 777X, 737 Max, 787 and more, and Boeing Research & Technology, a research center that develops future aerospace solutions for defense and commercial businesses.

Huntsville also is home to NASA’s Space Launch System program, where Boeing is responsible for the design, development, testing and manufacture of the core and upper stages, as well as the avionics for the nation’s next-generation rocket to transport people and cargo to deep space. (6/20)

Market Forecast Sees Big Data In Space (Source: Euroconsult)
Around 100 new geostationary high-throughput satellites (HTS) are expected to launch between now and 2025, but about 60 of those have yet to be ordered, according to a new study from Euroconsult. The research firm expects HTS capacity in orbit will reach almost 2,000 Gbps by 2018, and roughly 3,600 Gbps by 2020. Should the non-geosynchronous HTS programs of SES/O3b, SpaceX, LeoSat, Telesat and OneWeb all succeed, Euroconsult estimates they would add another 40 terabits per second of capacity. Euroconsult anticipates at least one new NGSO-HTS system will launch by 2025, and charts demand for NGSO-HTS capacity, led today by O3b, as growing at an average pace of over 40 percent per year. (6/21)

SpaceX in Texas: 4 Years Late, $35M in Subsidies Short (Source: El Rrun Rrun)
Someone asked Elon Musk what he saw when he looked out at the water off Boca Chica Beach. "The future," Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez said that Musk had answered. But Martinez didn't hear the rest of what Musk said that day.
"The future...$35 million in public subsidies," Musk finished. And so we remain suspended in space as we breathlessly await the coming of the SpaceX launch station.
But meanwhile, we are pegging the lengthening of the city airport runways for SpaceX, the construction by Cameron County of an amphitheater at Isla Blanca Park so they can see the satellite launches, the courses at UTRGV-TSC to start training aerospace engineers, and the support of the Brownsville Independent School District with a space-based curriculum to start educating the future astronauts who will take off from Boca Chica Beach for Mars and beyond as the huckster billionaire promised.

The local EDC fell over itself telling us about the 600 well-paying jobs it would bring to Brownsville. Even McAllen and Harlingen chipped in. And what have we got after all that? SpaceX claimed it would generate 210 transient jobs and 110 full-time jobs by 2017. Well, it's 2017 and five years into the "plan" the only thing out at Boca Chica are mounds of dirt. There are no jobs. There are no rocket launches. Maybe if we give it a couple more years something will happen. Here's a photo of the site (6/9)

Iridium Open to Reused Falcon 9s if it Means SpaceX Can Speed Schedule (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium is willing to use pre-flown Falcon 9 first stage boosters for missions during the second half of its fleet replacement if SpaceX can show that reuse will shorten Iridium’s wait for launches.

Iridium is launching 75 of its 81 second-generation Iridium Next satellites using eight Falcon 9 launches, the first of which took place Jan. 14. In a conference call with reporters June 19, Desch said Iridium’s original contract with SpaceX calls for new Falcon 9s for each mission, but if SpaceX can improve its launch schedule with pre-flown stages, Iridium would consider them for missions in 2018. (6/20)

Roscosmos Subsidiary Gets SmallSat Launch Role (Source: Space News)
Russian company Glavkosmos seeks to become a major smallsat launch provider. The company, a subsidiary of Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, will fly 72 smallsats as secondary payloads on a Soyuz launch next month, and plans to launch about 40 more on two Soyuz launches in December. Glavkosmos expects to to provide secondary payload opportunities on three more Soyuz missions in 2018 and on a continuing basis thereafter, competing primarily with India's PSLV for smallsat missions. (6/21)

DOD Laments Risk Aversion in Space Systems (Source: Space News)
The commander of U.S. Strategic Command said that the country needs to be willing to accept risk if it is to remain a world power in space. "We've lost the ability to go fast, test, and fail," said Gen. John Hyten Tuesday. He noted the speed at which the U.S. developed early ICBMs and launch systems in the early Space Age despite numerous failures. He also criticized the media coverage of a Blue Origin engine testing mishap last month: "Blue Origin just had a failure. Son of a gun. That’s part of learning." (6/21)

China's Tencent Pours Capital Into Space Startups (Source: Bloomberg)
China's social media giant, Tencent, has started focusing its venture capital investment on startups developing technology for use in space. The company has taken stakes in Planetary Resources, which aims to mine asteroids; satellite imagery company Satellogic; and Moon Express, which plans to put drones on the moon. (6/20)

Showdown Looms Over Trump's Pick to Head Ex-Im Bank (Source: Politico)
One of the Senate’s most bipartisan committees is about to engage in a political battle over President Donald Trump's nomination of former Rep. Scott Garrett to lead the Export-Import Bank. The White House formally tapped the New Jersey Republican Monday to head the agency over the objections of Democrats, who have tried to convince the administration to back off from plans to appoint one of the bank's biggest critics to be its president.

Before he can be confirmed by the Senate, Garrett will need to be vetted by the Banking Committee, where Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and ranking member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have attempted to work hand-in-hand over the last several months. (6/20)

June 21, 2017

House Panel Takes First Step Toward Military “Space Corps” (Source: Space News)
Lawmakers on Tuesday took the first step towards establishing a ‘Space Corps’ within the Air Force — similar to the way the Marine Corps functions in the Navy — by drafting legislation that would require the new organization to be set up by January 1, 2019.

As the House Armed Services Committee prepares to vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the strategic forces subcommittee — which oversees military space matters — released its proposed additions to the bill. The subcommittee has scheduled a formal legislative mark-up session for Thursday. (6/20)

B612 Studying Smallsat Missions to Search for Near Earth Objects (Source: Space News)
The B612 Foundation, which once sought to privately develop a large space observatory to search for potentially hazardous near Earth objects (NEOs), is now studying an alternative approach that uses much smaller spacecraft.

The organization unveiled plans in 2012 for Sentinel, a spacecraft that would go into a Venus-like orbit around the sun, looking back towards Earth orbit to detect NEOs that could post a collision risk to the Earth. The foundation said at the time that it believed Sentinel was the best way to achieve a congressionally-mandated goal of detecting at least 90 percent of potentially hazardous objects at least 140 meters in diameter. (6/20)

Europe Selects Grand Gravity Mission (Source: BBC)
It is set to be one of the major science projects of the 2030s.
The European Space Agency has just given the green light to the LISA mission to detect gravitational waves. This will see lasers bounced between three identical satellites separated by 2.5 million km.

By looking for tiny perturbations in these light beams, the trio hope to catch the warping of space-time that is generated by cataclysmic events such as the merger of gargantuan black holes. (6/20)

Hawking Urges Moon Landing to 'Elevate Humanity' (Source: BBC)
Prof Stephen Hawking has called for leading nations to send astronauts to the Moon by 2020. They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years' time and send people to Mars by 2025. Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space program, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose. "Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity," he said. (6/20)

KFC Chicken Sandwich's Balloon Flight to Near-Space Is Delayed (Source: Space.com)
The launch of a stratospheric balloon carrying a fast-food chicken sandwich to the edge of space has been delayed until June 22. The sandwich's four-day flight is a promotional stunt for Kentucky Fried Chicken, but it will serve as a valuable test for World View Enterprises, the company developing high-altitude balloons for applications ranging from weather monitoring to tourism. This is the first long-duration flight of the company's Stratollite balloon vehicle. (6/20)

These Scientists Want To Build a Better Astronaut (Source: NBC)
Life on the International Space Station has proven that long-term existence in low gravity wears on the body: muscles and bones weaken. Vision gets fuzzy. Even genes seem to change, with some turning on or off in unusual patterns. And only some genes return to normal when the astronaut comes home. In addition, the cosmic radiation that bombards spaceships and the unprotected surfaces of other planets has caused dementia and other issues in mice and rats.

Scientist Ting Wu, who directs Harvard Medical School's Consortium for Space Genetics, sees genetics as a solution to these problems. But first, scientists must learn to manipulate genes to fix themselves.

Unless we resolve the genetic damage caused by space travel, missions will be limited to areas within close proximity of Earth, says Wu, whose own research suggests it may some day be possible to turn on a repair mechanism hidden deep within our genes. They are now considering how to find — or build — an astronaut that's genetically equipped to withstand the damages caused by low gravity and space radiation. (6/20)

Waiting for Liftoff at Spaceport America (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)
The concept of space tourism was all the rage when Spaceport America was pitched to New Mexico taxpayers a decade ago as a gateway for rich adventurers willing to pay $250,000 for a ride to the heavens. But as the state has waited year after year for the first of what were supposed to be regular flights into space from the nearly $220 million facility, people behind the program are reimagining it more as a hub for the commercial spaceflight industry rather than space tourism.

That change in approach could require pouring millions more in public money into a place that plenty of critics have called one of state government’s biggest boondoggles. Dan Hicks, new executive director of the spaceport, says the spaceport must construct additional facilities and offer more services to draw more business.

The sting of the spaceport’s dawdling start is especially strong in this struggling community. Sierra County, which includes Truth or Consequences, approved a special tax to 10 years ago to help pay for the spaceport in the so-far unfulfilled hopes of reaping the benefits of expanded tourism from the rich and famous. (6/17)

Magnetic Space Tug Could Target Dead Satellites (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Derelict satellites could in future be grappled and removed from key orbits around Earth with a space tug using magnetic forces. This same magnetic attraction or repulsion is also being considered as a safe method for multiple satellites to maintain close formations in space.

Such satellite swarms are being considered for future astronomy or Earth-observing missions – if their relative positions can stay stable they could act as a single giant telescope. To combat space debris, interest is growing in plucking entire satellites from space. The biggest challenge is to grapple and secure such uncontrolled, rapidly tumbling objects, typically of several tonnes.

Multiple techniques are being investigated, including robotic arms, nets and harpoons. Now researcher Emilien Fabacher of the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace, part of the University of Toulouse in France, has added another method to the list: magnetic grappling. (6/20)

Alba Orbital Wins ESA Contract to Build Space Unicorn (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Alba Orbital, the world leaders in PocketQube technology, today announced their second major contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and build the Unicorn-2 satellite platform for turnkey In-Orbit demonstration and In-Orbit verification.

“This is Alba Orbital’s second contract with the European Space Agency and is great news for Alba Orbital and the Scottish space industry.” said Andrew Paliwoda, Business Development Manager, Alba Orbital “It clearly demonstrates the success of Alba Orbital as a startup and our expertise within research, Alba Orbital are going from strength to strength and are ready to offer innovative space solutions to the industry”. (6/20)

Government Space Spending Dips to $62.2 Billion (Source: Parabolic Arc)
According to Euroconsult’s newly released research report, Government Space Programs: Benchmarks, Profiles & Forecasts to 2026, global space budgets totaled $62.2 billion in 2016, down 2% from the previous year. Governments launched 75 satellites, less than the historical peak of 2015 but in line with the last five year average.

“The good news is that 2017 should mark a turning point with budgets recovering growth after five years of erosion,” said Steve Bochinger, COO at Euroconsult and editor of the report. “The last few years were marked by opposing trends between countries boosting their spending and those forced to apply cost-cutting measures. Most countries, especially the leading ones, should converge into a new investment cycle that should drive up investments in space programs globally for the coming years.” (6/20)

Milky Way’s Loner Status Upheld (Source: Science News)
If the Milky Way exists in the biggest cosmic void ever observed, that could solve a puzzling mismatch between ways to measure how fast the universe is expanding. Observations of 120,000 galaxies bolstering the Milky Way’s loner status were presented by Benjamin Hoscheit June 7. Building on earlier work by his adviser, University of Wisconsin‒Madison astronomer Amy Barger, Hoscheit and Barger measured how the density of galaxies changed with distance from the Milky Way.

In agreement with the earlier study, the pair found that the Milky Way has far fewer neighbors than it should. There was a rise in density about 1 billion light-years out, suggesting the Milky Way resides in an abyss about 2 billion light-years wide. Simulations of how cosmic structures form suggest that most galaxies clump along dense filaments of dark matter, which are separated by vast cosmic voids.

If the Milky Way lives in such a void, it could help explain why the universe seems to be expanding at different rates depending on how it’s measured. Measurements based on the cosmic microwave background, the earliest light in the universe, suggest one rate of expansion, while measurements of nearby supernovas suggest a faster one. (6/7)

Russia Expects Cooperation with NASA, ESA on Cislunar Gateway (Source: Tass)
The head of the Roscosmos said he expects Russia to cooperate with NASA and ESA on development of a cislunar "gateway" station. Igor Komarov, speaking at the Paris Air Show Monday, said he expected Roscosmos to participate in the Deep Space Gateway, NASA's concept for a crew-tended facility to would operate in lunar orbit or elsewhere in cislunar space to serve as a testbed for later missions to Mars. Komarov said specific roles for Roscosmos and other agencies in the project have yet to be determined. (6/20)

UK Company Gets $1.4M for Satellite Component Business (Source: Space Applications Catapult)
A British developer of deployable space structures has raised more than $1 million in an oversubscribed funding round. Oxford Space Systems raised $1.4 million in the round from existing investors and Space Angels. The company is developing technologies for deployable antennas, boom and panels for small satellites, and recently successfully tested its AstroTube boom technology in space. (6/20)

Brexit Uncertainty Worries UK Space Start-Ups (Source: Space News)
The United Kingdom’s space start-up sector is blossoming. The U.K. government has committed to capturing 10 percent of the global space market by 2030 and is pouring support into emerging enterprises including spaceports, small satellite makers and application developers. However, the continuing uncertainty around Brexit concerns companies.

At the U.K. Space Conference in Manchester, several companies announced bold new plans for constellations of small satellites, as well as successes with innovative satellite platforms. At that time, the U.K. was bracing for a June 8 election that was meant to strengthen the position of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May as she pushes for the so-called hard Brexit. Earlier surveys suggested that hard Brexit is something most technology companies, those in space included, would prefer to avoid. (6/20)

Mastracchio Joins Orbital ATK (Source: Orbital ATK)
Orbital ATK has hired a NASA astronaut to work on its commercial cargo program. Rick Mastracchio has joined the company as senior director of operations for its Commercial Resupply Services program of delivering cargo to the ISS. Mastracchio flew on three shuttle missions and one ISS expedition. (6/20)

Neutron Star Instrument Finds Home on ISS (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
An instrument to study neutron stars is now installed on the ISS. The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, flew to the station on a Dragon cargo mission earlier this month, and the station's robotic arm installed the instrument on the station's truss last week. NICER consists of an array of X-ray mirrors to collect and measure the energy of arriving X-ray photons emitted by neutron stars. (6/20)

Arianespace Orderbook Stretches Into the 50s (Source: Flight Global)
Vega has flown nine perfect missions since its maiden outing in 2012. Its tenth flight – carrying two EO satellites to different orbits – is scheduled for this summer. And, with another two flights to geostationary orbit booked for its Ariane 5 heavy lifter, the Arianespace orderbook now stands at €4.8 billion ($5.3 billion), with 53 launches for 28 customers: 18 using Ariane 5, 25 for the mid-weight Soyuz and 10 for Vega/Vega C. (6/20)

The Journey to Mars Seems to be Pretty Much Dead (Source: Ars Technica)
The exploration of most of the Solar System enjoys widespread support from Congress, and evidently the Trump administration as well. NASA's "mid-year report" video celebrates the announcement of the Lucy and Psyche missions to asteroids, Cassini's exploits at the Saturn system, Juno's scientific discoveries at Jupiter, and the Hubble Space Telescope's apparent confirmation of plumes on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa.

However, the video makes no mention of Mars at all, the planet where NASA has by far the most assets of any world other than Earth—several rovers and orbiters studying the Red Planet's surface and atmosphere for clues of its past habitability for life. NASA has made a number of significant discoveries about Mars this year, such as confirming the absence of carbonate in rocks there. But none merit mention in the promotional video. (6/20)

June 20, 2017

Air Force Contractor Looks To Nix Subcontractor's $9M Suit (Source: Law360)
An Air Force contractor asked a Florida federal judge Friday to toss a suit over $9 million in compensation for subcontract work it says was never completed, saying the subcontractor’s claim is based on a deliberate misreading of the agreement for work on a space launch operations support contract. Yang Enterprises Inc. last year hit prime contractor Space Coast Launch Services LLC with a breach of contract lawsuit in Florida federal court, accusing the company of underpaying it $9 million. Space Coast Launch Services this week told the judge that Yang Enterprises never completed the work in question. (6/19)

Big Rocket, Multiple Launches Among China’s Moonshot Choices (Source: Aviation Week)
Building an enormous rocket is one way to get to the Moon, and the Chinese, penciling a manned lunar mission for the 2030s, may well choose that option. But the possibility of launching the equipment in several shots and assembling the pieces in space also seems to be under study. Preliminary work is underway on the super-heavy launcher, on a schedule that now has been loosened. The mighty rocket, if developed, could fly in 2028 as previously targeted, or maybe two years later. (6/16)

Space Flight Bill Could Create ‘Thriving Hub’ in Scotland (Source: The Scotsman)
A space flight bill to be included in the Queen’s Speech could see Scotland become “a thriving hub” for the industry, according to the secretary of state for Scotland. New powers would see the launch of satellites from the UK for the first time, horizontal flights to the edge of space for scientific experiments and the creation of spaceports across the UK.

A number of Scottish sites have expressed an interest in the project, including Prestwick, Machrihanish and Stornoway. Scottish secretary David Mundell said: “This new legislation on space ports will be a giant leap forward for Scotland’s ambitious space and satellite sector. It will give each of our potential spaceports a fantastic opportunity to establish Scotland as a thriving hub for commercial spaceflight. (6/20)

Government Announces Bill to Boost UK Space Sector (Source: Politics Home)
Ministers have announced plans for three bills to boost infrastructure in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech: one on the next phase of HS2 from the Midlands to the north west, one to encourage more people to use electric cars, and one on spaceflight technology. The Government will lay out its legislative agenda for the next two years tomorrow, with the process of transferring European Union laws onto the UK statute book via the Great Repeal Bill expected to dominate much of the parliamentary business over that period.

“The powers will allow the launch of satellites from the UK for the first time, horizontal flights to the edge of space for scientific experiments and the establishment and operation of spaceports in regions across the UK,” the Government said of the bill. “The legislation will ensure the UK can take advantage of these new markets, overcome dependence on foreign launch services and benefit from the development of new spaceports and supply chains.” The UK's space sector is worth an estimated £13.7bn a year to the economy already. (6/20)

Lessons On Designing An Interstellar Probe (Source: Forbes)
Engineering full-scale interstellar probes will likely require new materials, new tech and a whole new set of design parameters. But most of all it will require speed. Today’s fastest spacecraft --- NASA’s New Horizons, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 --- all still only travel at a fraction of one percent of light. And even at one percent of lightspeed, it would take 400 years to get to the next star over. Therein, lies the rub.

“There's a well-known problem in deep space travel, the Wait equation,” said Jeff Greason of Tau Zero Foundation, a non-profit group currently working on interstellar and advanced propulsion technologies. “The value of investing in something today that won't return science for 400 years is very low.” It makes no sense to launch a probe to another star if the spacecraft is traveling at only one percent of light , says Greason. That’s because by the time the 400-year probe got there, he says, it would have long been passed by faster, later probes. That’s one reason The Tau Zero Foundation is focusing on improving propulsion technologies first.

“It’s far easier to make an interstellar mission take twenty years than it is to figure out how to build, and how to fund a 200-year mission,” said Greason. But there are also other challenges. “The real challenges are in the lack of maintenance and redundancy , in protecting the craft from erosion by interstellar dust and gas at such high speeds,” said Greason. There’s also the need to work out how to make such craft both autonomous and capable of communications back to Earth. (6/20)

SES AMC-9 Now a 'Zombie' Satellite (Source: Advanced Television)
SES-owned satellite AMC-9, which suffered a “major anomaly” on Saturday morning is probably lost, according to sources at SES. While not yet confirmed as being totally lost, the short-term prognosis does not look good. A previous ‘zombie’ satellite was Galaxy-15 which went adrift back in April 2010, and slowly started drifting into the orbital space of adjacent satellites from its designated orbital slot. More information should emerge as the technicians and engineers get a better idea as to what is happening to the satellite in orbit. (6/20)

UAE Teachers Participate in Honeywell Educators at Space Academy Astronaut Training Program (Source: Arabian Aerospace)
Honeywell and long-term partner, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) are welcoming four UAE-based teachers amongst 200 middle school teachers from 33 countries and 45 U.S. states and territories to the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA). Over the course of two consecutive weeks, from June 14 to 27, teachers will experience a unique opportunity to re-ignite their passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. (6/19)

British Startup Offers Low-Cost Cubesat Services (Source: Space News)
A British startup says that it can build and launch cubesats for a fraction of the cost of traditional approaches, a concept that has won support from the European Space Agency. Open Cosmos, a company based in Harwell, England, offers spacecraft design, launch and related services for cubesats as large as 12 units. The company says its all-inclusive costs start at £500,000 ($637,000) for a 3U cubesat, which it claims is as little as one-tenth the cost of alternative providers. (6/19)

Get Ready for Major Traffic Jams During the 2017 Solar Eclipse (Source: Space.com)
With just about two months to go before the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, one big question is: Just how many people intend to travel into the path of totality, which stretches from Oregon to South Carolina? "Imagine 20 Woodstock festivals occurring simultaneously across the nation," said Michael Zeiler, an eclipse cartographer who estimates conservatively that between 1.85 million and 7.4 million people may commute into the path. But unlike a concert, there are no ticket sales for the eclipse, so no one has a definitive count of how many people will attend. The only thing experts can do is speculate. (6/19)

China's Cargo Spacecraft Completes Second docking with Space Lab (source: Xinhua)
China's Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft completed its second docking with Tiangong-2 space lab at 2:55 p.m. Monday, after flying around the space lab. Tianzhou-1 separated from Tiangong-2 on Monday morning and remained at distance of five kilometers behind the space lab for about 90 minutes. Then, it was commanded to fly around Tiangong-2 from behind to a distance of five kilometers in front of the space lab. During the flight, both Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 turned in a semicircle. (6/19)

Ten Ways that Astronauts are Helping You Stay Healthy (Source: The Conversation)
Astronauts on the International Space Station are growing crystals that could help develop new drugs for use on Earth. Here are ten healthcare technologies that have already come from space. Click here. (6/19) https://theconversation.com/ten-ways-that-astronauts-are-helping-you-stay-healthy-78220

This New NASA Astronaut Has a Powerful Message for Girls in STEM (Source: Fortune)
NASA, it turns out, doesn't leave voicemail messages. When Kayla Barron, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was waiting to hear whether NASA had selected her for its next class of astronaut candidates, she actually missed the selection committee's first call. "It was a horrifying experience," she told Fortune. "It was the most important call of my life."

Once Barron, 29, connected with NASA, she found out that the selection committee, after a rigorous, months-long evaluation process, had selected her as one of its 12 new recruits—from the biggest-ever pool of applicants: 18,300. Barron says she stands apart from her classmates in that she just recently came to see the astronaut program as a concrete goal. From the Navy, she didn't see a straight path to NASA. Click here. (6/19)

Why Is the Speed of Light So Slow? (Source: Space.com)
In 2015, a team of Scottish scientists announced they had found a way to slow the speed of light. By sending photons through a special mask, the researchers altered their shape. In this malformed state, these infinitesimal particles of light traveled slower than normal photons. The difference in speed was almost imperceptible, but the accomplishment itself was stunning! At 299,792,458 meters per second, the speed of light has stood as an unbreakable, unchangeable speed limit. No longer. But why would anybody want to slow down the speed of light? After all, it's already slow enough! Click here. (6/19)

Buckyballs Mysteriously Show Up in Cold Space and Warp Starlight (Source: New Scientist)
Recent discoveries have shown that the chemical reactions between stars can build the constituents of biological molecules like amino acids and sugars. These substances, raining from space, may have contributed to the origin of life on Earth. But these reactions are intricate and hard to track, leaving us searching for beacons – a molecule we understand that could help us navigate through the fog. This is where the small stuff becomes a big deal. Hang on as we zoom down.

To envision a buckyball bouncing around in outer space, picture it like a little football: 60 atoms of carbon arranged in a rough sphere. But, even after astronomers began to look for fullerenes in space, they took two and a half decades to find. It wasn’t until 2010 that a team led by Jan Cami at the University of Western Ontario in Canada found their spectral signatures in the colorful gas around a dying star.

Since then, traces of fullerenes have popped up again and again in many different environments. A 2015 paper argued that their presence in the Milky Way may even explain weird spectral features of interstellar space – certain wavelengths of light from distant stars that are being mysteriously absorbed on the way to us. These features have been unexplained for over a century. (6/19)

International Space Station Tries Out New Kind of Solar Array (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The crew of the International Space Station deployed the Roll-Out Solar Array, a new type of solar panel array. Other solar arrays on the ISS use a rigid panel design. The ROSA array deploys more like a party favor and is more compact. The new array will be tested for strength and durability with the potential to become the go-to array on future satellite designs. It’s more compact and lightweight than current designs. The experimental array will remain in place for seven days, and then be sent back to Earth in SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle that arrived earlier in June to the ISS. (6/19)

110 Student Rocketry Teams Will Compete in 'Spaceport America Cup' (Source: Space.com)
Companies all over the United States will be hunting for new rocketeers to hire during the inaugural Spaceport America Cup this week, where students will fire their rocket creations as high as 30,000 feet (9,150 meters). The competition features 110 teams that will try to fire an 8.8-lb. (4 kilograms) payload to either 10,000 feet or 30,000 feet (3,050 or 9,150 m), depending on the system they chose. The flight operations cap several days of activities that include ample opportunity to network with future employers. (6/19)

Virginia Spaceport Plan Hones In on Rrockets, Drones and Student Satellites (Source: Daily Press)
Last month, when Gov. Terry McAuliffe made headlines and history by flying aboard an unpiloted Centaur aircraft on the Eastern Shore, it did more than officially kick off the state's new $5 million drone runway. It also ticked a key box in Virginia Space's five-year strategic plan to expand its operations and customer base at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport by adding aerial and submersible drone research and development.

As McAuliffe said at the time: "I want Virginia to own the land and the air and the water." But Aubrey Layne, head of the Virginia Department of Transportation, said the state's 2017-2022 strategic plan for the spaceport pushes a measured approach to getting there. VDOT oversees Virginia Space. That approach includes building on anchor tenant Orbital ATK and its NASA commercial contracts to resupply the International Space Station and avoiding pricey "pie-in-the-sky" dreams.

"We put almost $150 million in pads out there for our customer, Orbital, going to the space station," Layne said. "And yet, the board kept saying, 'Well, we've got to get the next one. Can we get (SpaceX's) Elon Musk? Can we get those guys here?' Well, that would have required additional hundreds of millions of dollars." Now, after years of investment by Virginia taxpayers, he said, the spaceport has finally matured from a startup to a going concern. In that time, Layne said, "two things have evolved: NASA has said, 'We want you to concentrate on this low-Earth orbit space. We don't see, long-term, there being humans (launching) out of there. Human spaceflight.'" (6/19)

Arianespace Vega to Launch Italian Earth-Observation Spacecraft in 2018 (Source: Space News)
European launch provider Arianespace will launch a remote-sensing satellite for the Italian Space Agency (ASI)  in mid-2018 using the Italian-made Vega rocket, Arianespace announced June 19. OHB Italia, manufacturer of the Precursore Iperspettrale della Missione Applicativa, or PRISMA satellite, signed the launch contract on behalf of ASI. Arianespace will launch the satellite into a 615-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit. (6/19)

US Mint Reveals Proposed Designs for 'Tails Side' of Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Coins (Source: CollectSpace)
The United States Mint has taken its first "small steps" toward striking coins to commemorate a half-century since the first moon landing. As called for by Congress in legislation approved late last year, the U.S. Mint will issue curved gold, silver and clad metal coins to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in July 2019. The proceeds from the sale of the coins will benefit the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and the National Air and Space Museum. Click here. (6/20)

What It's Like to Become a NASA Astronaut: 10 Surprising Facts (Source: Space.com)
Being an astronaut is a tremendous commitment. Astronaut candidates — who tend to be selected in their 30s and 40s — usually leave prestigious careers for a chance at being an astronaut, starting again at the bottom of the rung. Training means long days at work and lots of travel. There's also no guarantee they'll make it into space.

Yet, more than 18,000 Americans competed in this round of NASA's astronaut selection. The new candidates will be announced Wednesday (June 7), and will report for basic training in August. Here's what it takes to be a NASA astronaut and what happens after the selection. Click here. (6/19)

June 19, 2017

Chinese Launch Misses Mark with Satellite Placement (Source: GB Times)
An upper stage malfunction has left a Chinese satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit after a launch Sunday. The Long March 3B lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 12:12 p.m. Eastern carrying the Chinasat-9A satellite. It was not until early Monday, though, that Chinese officials announced that the third stage of the rocket malfunctioned, leaving the satellite in a lower orbit than planned. Officials did not provide additional details about the satellite's orbit, but did state that the satellite had deployed its solar panels and was functioning normally. (6/19)

SpaceX Delays Florida Launch to Replace Fairing Valve (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX has postponed the launch of a Bulgarian communications satellite until Friday, setting up a "doubleheader" with a West Coast launch. SpaceX said Sunday it was delaying the Falcon 9 launch of BulgariaSat-1, previously scheduled for Monday, until at least Friday to replace a valve in the rocket's payload fairing. SpaceX said that, despite the delay in this launch from Florida, it was still targeting a Sunday launch of 10 Iridium Next satellites on a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (6/18)

XCOR Chief Gets DOD Job (Space News)
The White House has nominated the president and CEO of XCOR Aerospace to a top Pentagon position. The administration announced late Friday that it has nominated Jay Gibson to be Deputy Chief Management Officer within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a position responsible for management of business systems within the Defense Department. Gibson had been head of XCOR Aerospace, a developer of rocket engines and the Lynx suborbital spaceplane, since March 2015. During that time, the company halted work on Lynx to focus on engine work. (6/19)

Few Teachers Believe Students Interested in Subjects That Would Lead to Space Exploration Careers (Source: Space Daily)
A strong future Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce is vital to sending humans to Mars, yet a new survey commissioned by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) shows about a third of U.S. middle school and high school teachers (36 percent) see enthusiasm from their students about STEM learning.

To help address these findings, today the company unveiled new resources as part of its Generation Beyond program, including a space-themed curriculum and new app that simulates what it's like to explore the surface of Mars. NASA is planning to send a crew to Mars in the 2030s. To meet tomorrow's ambitious goals, the country will need thousands of today's students to follow career paths that will create the next generations of scientists, engineers and space explorers. (6/19)

Full-Scale Crew Dragon Recovery Trainer Being Built at KSC (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The evolution in Dragon design has been shaped by the CRS contract drawing a line between a cargo version and a crew version. Dragon v1 has been responsible for delivering 10 cargo shipments to the International Space Station (ISS). Crew Dragon, or Dragon v2, will fly crews to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) as early as 2018.

At the Kennedy Space Center, engineers are building a full-scale model, or Recovery Trainer, of the Crew Dragon capsule with the aid of the Kennedy Prototype Lab, which has a history of providing fast solutions to complex design challenges. SpaceX is putting the finishing engineering touches into the Recovery Trainer to ensure that it will float identically to how an actual Dragon v2 will with a crew present.

The Crew Dragon can carry up to seven astronauts, which makes evacuation more challenging. Two escape hatches and other various components within the Recovery Trainer will be present to better reflect a real-world environment for astronaut crew and Pararescuemen, also known as PJs. USAF Pararescuemen will be required to enter the water to assist in any number of rescue scenarios where a crew may or may not be able to assist in their own recovery. (6/19)

Rocket Scientist Says Space the Place for Budding Entrepreneurs (Source: Irish Times)
The man behind one of the world’s first rocket launches from a private site has called on Irish spacetech firms to focus on small satellites if they want to get ahead. Peter Beck, chief executive and founder of Rocket Lab, said money is no longer an obstacle for companies who want to build their own satellites.

Rocket Lab, whose mission it to remove barriers to commercial space by providing frequent-launch opportunities, last month successfully launched a low-cost battery-powered 3-D printed rocket called Electron into orbit from New Zealand’s remote Mahia Peninsula. The maiden flight was one of three tests the company is undertaking this year.

At full production Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times per annum. In comparison, there were 22 launches last year from the US, and 82 internationally. Starting price for flights start at about $5 million, with already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight. (6/15)

Spacecraft to Launch, Land at Cape Canaveral — and it's Not SpaceX or Blue Origin (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
An aerospace manufacturer will build a reusable spaceplane the size of a business jet that will launch from and land at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Boeing won the contract — valued at $146 million — with DARPA last month to build the spaceplane called the XS-1, or the Phantom Express. Vertical takeoff of the plane is scheduled for 2020, and the goal is for it to launch daily, with the ability to carry satellites to low Earth orbit.

Reusable rockets are becoming a staple for rocket companies to help lower the cost of launches and to be competitive in a growing commercial market. However, some experts have said we're still a long way off from used rocket totally changing the cost of launches. "I’ve been hearing the argument about reusability and they say it’s the path to the future, but we’re a long way off. Here's why: If you look at the economics of it, cost benefits only work if you get up to 50, 60 or 70 units a year, and then it starts to pay for itself,” said Vector's Jim Cantrell. (6/15)

Craig Technologies Wins NASA SLS Stage Adapter Role (Source: Craig Technologies)
Craig Technologies is part of the winning team that will be building the Universal Stage Adapter (USA) for NASA’s Space Launch System as a subcontractor to Dynetics, Inc. The USA will connect the Orion spacecraft to SLS and provides additional cargo space for future launch configurations.

The stage adapter is 32.4 feet tall and 27.6 feet in diameter at its largest point, and will provide environmental control to payloads during ground operations, launch and ascent, while also accommodating the electrical and communication paths between the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) and Orion.

The Dynetics Team will design, develop, test, evaluate, produce and deliver the first universal stage adapter for the second integrated mission of SLS and Orion, known as Exploration Mission-2, or EM-2. This mission will be the first test flight with crew aboard NASA’s new deep space exploration systems. (6/19)

SpaceX's Mars-Colony Rocket Could Make "Pinpoint Landing" at Launch Pad (Source: Space.com)
SpaceX has already brought a Falcon 9 booster safely down to Earth 11 times during orbital launches, on each occasion successfully targeting a relatively small landing zone: either the deck of a robotic ship at sea or a pad on terra firma near the launch site.

But these touchdowns could get even more precise when SpaceX starts flying its huge, reusable Mars rockets, which the company is developing to help establish a million-person city on the Red Planet. "If you have been watching the Falcon 9 landings, you will see that they are getting increasingly closer to the bull's-eye," Musk wrote.

"In particular, with the addition of maneuvering thrusters, we think we can actually put the booster right back on the launch stand," he added. "Then, those fins at the base are essentially centering features to take out any minor position mismatch at the launch site." (6/15)

10 New Planets tThat Could Have Life Discovered (Source: USA Today)
en new Earth-size planets that could host liquid water and might have rocky surfaces have been found beyond our own modest solar system by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, scientists said Monday. The new planets’ existence must still be double-checked. But Kepler’s latest haul — which includes a planet that is only slightly larger than Earth and receives the same amount of energy from its sun as Earth — is the latest triumph for Kepler, which has spotted roughly 80% of the planets orbiting stars other than our sun. (6/19)

Lockheed Martin Picks Harris Corp. to Upgrade F-35 Avionics (Source: Harris)
Lockheed Martin has selected Harris Corp. to upgrade mission system avionics for the F-35 Lightning II as part of the Technology Refresh #3 (TR3) program, significantly boosting the aircraft’s data storage, display processing and throughput capabilities. Based on Florida's Space Coast, Harris will provide the Aircraft Memory System (AMS) and Panoramic Cockpit Display Electronic Unit (PCD EU), which are based on open architecture and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. (6/19)

Selecting a New Astronaut Class (Source: Space Review)
Earlier this month, NASA unveiled a new class of 12 astronauts from a record-breaking pool of more than 18,000 applicants. Jeff Foust reports on how NASA carried out that selection process and the future of both new and current astronauts from the point of view of the agency’s former chief astronaut. Click here. (6/19)
Better Than Paris: Space Solar Power (Source: Space Review)
The decision by the White House to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord has been widely criticized. Peter Garretson believes, though, that it opens new opportunities for the United States to invest in alternative technologies, notably space-based solar power, that can address the climate change issue and more. Click here. (6/19)
Interstellar Communication Using Microbial Data Storage: Implications for SETI (Source: Space Review)
Most have assumed the best way to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence is to look for radio or optical communications. However, in the first of a two-part paper, Robert Zubrin argues that other formats may be more effective, with implications both for SETI and astrobiology in general. Click here. (6/19)
Sunlight and Shadow: Putting People on Mars (Source: Space Review)
The decision to send humans to the Moon in the 1960s was in a very different geopolitical environment from the one that exists today when planning human missions to Mars. Mack A. Bradley discusses how to make human Mars exploration relevant when old arguments no longer apply. Click here. (6/19)

How a Soviet Lander Could Help Chinese Astronauts Reach the Moon (Source: Popular Mechanics)
The Chinese space industry is buying the Soviet propulsion system designs originally intended to put humans on the Moon, well-informed sources told Popular Mechanics. As part of this new deal, a Ukrainian firm will recreate the historic engine module developed to land the first Soviet cosmonaut on the Moon ahead of the U.S.

The unique engine system designed in the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic could be crucial for accelerating China's own fledgling effort to land a man on the Moon. As the most complex and challenging part of the lunar lander design, the purchase could save Chinese engineers years of development work. (6/19)

Orbital Access and Spaceport Cornwall form Partnership to Provide Horizontal Launch Services (Source: Rocketeers UK)
Orbital Access Ltd (OAL), a UK based launch systems and aerospace services business, and Spaceport Cornwall have announced their partnership in the development of Spaceport Cornwall and to establish Orbital Access as a principal operator. Spaceport Cornwall comprises Cornwall Airport Newquay, Goonhilly Earth Station and the wider space and aerospace supply chain in Cornwall.

The collaboration is also part of a bid for a grant from the UK Space Agency to establish cost effective end-to-end launch services from an operational UK spaceport by 2020, as set out in the draft UK Spaceflight Bill. OAL has also confirmed the impending establishment of a new office at Goonhilly Earth Station. (6/18)

Alaska Aerospace Company Wants to Launch More Satellites (Source: AP)
An Alaska aerospace company wants to increase number of launches to at least two or three launches per year. Representatives from Alaska Aerospace Corp. spoke about their plans earlier this week at a town hall meeting in Kodiak. The advancement of small-launch vehicles provides an opportunity to send more satellites into space, they said.

"Nobody in the small launch vehicle community has been successful yet to get a small, cheap vehicle operating frequently. But we think the Rocket Labs and a couple other customers that we're talking to are going to be successful over the next year, and then these small guys have a ride they can afford."

There have been 17 launches from the Kodiak launch facility since November 1998. All were government launches, but the company is negotiating with three commercial companies to launch from the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska, King said. (6/18)

Dark Matter Recipe Calls for One Part Superfluid (Source: Quanta)
The simplest and most popular model holds that dark matter is made of weakly interacting particles that move about slowly under the force of gravity. This so-called “cold” dark matter accurately describes large-scale structures like galaxy clusters. However, it doesn’t do a great job at predicting the rotation curves of individual galaxies. Dark matter seems to act differently at this scale.

In the latest effort to resolve this conundrum, two physicists have proposed that dark matter is capable of changing phases at different size scales. Justin Khoury, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, and his former postdoc Lasha Berezhiani, who is now at Princeton University, say that in the cold, dense environment of the galactic halo, dark matter condenses into a superfluid — an exotic quantum state of matter that has zero viscosity.

If dark matter forms a superfluid at the galactic scale, it could give rise to a new force that would account for the observations that don’t fit the cold dark matter model. Yet at the scale of galaxy clusters, the special conditions required for a superfluid state to form don’t exist; here, dark matter behaves like conventional cold dark matter. (6/17)

What Would a Fidget Spinner Do in Space? (Source: Mashable)
Would these fidget spinners just spin forever and ever in weightlessness? The quick answer is: probably not. But to fully answer this question for the ages, we need to get specific and determine exactly where these spinners are.

If the fidget spinners were used somewhere built for humans, like the International Space Station (ISS), then the answer is somewhat easy: The fidget spinners would work very similarly to those spun on Earth. "A spinner on ISS would still be subject to friction and air resistance which would still cause it to stop spinning," NASA spokesman Dan Huot said via email.

Basically, fidget spinners work thanks to nifty low-friction ball bearings that allow the outer mechanism to just spin and spin around its central axis. Even on the Space Station, the (albeit low) friction and air pressure would still slow the spinner down to eventually stop it. Now, once you take the spinner outside into the vacuum of space, things get a little more interesting. (6/17)

Where Do SpaceX and Other Aerospace Companies Find Engineers? On the Race Track (Source: LA Times)
As they hire numerous young engineers, NewSpace companies and more traditional aerospace giants are finding talent in an unlikely place: a college race-car competition. Next week, 100 university teams will bring their prototype race cars to the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) competition in Lincoln, Neb., where they will be judged on design, manufacturing, performance and business logic.

Editor's Note: Florida Tech now has a partnership with Larsen Motorsports to build, maintain and drive jet dragsters. This arrangement was previously with nearby Embry-Riddle (ERAU). ERAU (located next to the Daytona Speedway) also has an EcoCar automotive technology program. Florida has also focused on leveraging the region's computer gaming industry to build its aerospace workforce. (6/16)

Why India Needs a Space Law (Source: The Hindu)
India as a space superpower stands mightier than ever, but a law that protects the country’s sovereign, public and commercial interests is needed. India is today at par with giants such as the United States and Russia. This fact raises only a natural presumption that India must be equalizing with these nations at providing sufficient state laws to regulate this field. Besides, the rate at which India continues to etch its name in the frontiers of space innovations and technological know-how only heightens such a presupposition. (6/18)

Price Wars Among The Big Launchers (Source: Fortune)
SpaceX has not yet launched the Falcon Heavy, its answer to ULA's Delta Heavy, but it has promised launch prices barely higher than those for the Falcon 9. The first Falcon Heavy is expected to launch this year. ULA, under pressure from SpaceX, has continued to push its prices down, announcing this April that it would dropping the cost of Atlas V launches by a third, putting it very close to the cost of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch.

ULA also said it would eliminate nearly a quarter of its workforce by the end of this year as part of cost-cutting.But SpaceX isn’t standing still, either. Its repeated successes since last year in recovering and reusing rocket components may point to even lower future launch costs, and SpaceX is working to scale up launch volume. ULA announced its own reusable rocket initiative in 2015, but Bruno has recently downplayed the potential impact of reusability on launch costs. (6/18)

Musk Thinks He Can Make Getting to Mars Cheaper Than Going to College (Source: Recode)
Sending people to live on Mars may sound outlandish, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is adamant about his plan. And now, we know a little more about how he sees this all coming together. Space technology journal New Space published an article by Musk this week outlining his plans, and Musk tweeted Friday night that changes to the plan are coming.

Here’s what the 16-page paper, available for free online from New Space until next month, tells us: Going to Mars is still too expensive. The people who can afford to go to Mars, and the people who actually want to go, are not the same people at this point. Musk estimates the cost of getting 12 people to Mars to start a colony is about $10 billion per person at this point.

“If we can get the cost of moving to Mars to be roughly equivalent to a median house price in the United States, which is around $200,000, then I think the probability of establishing a self-sustaining civilization is very high,” he writes. “I think it would almost certainly occur.” (6/18)