November 13, 2019

Russia's Space Agency in Talks on Sending Turkish, Egyptian, Saudi Astronauts Into Space (Source: TASS)
Roscosmos is in talks with Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia hashing over the possibility of sending their astronauts into space, Dmitry Rogozin, director of Russia’s state space corporation, told an international forum dubbed "Baikonur is the cradle of world cosmonautics" on Tuesday. "Earlier, it was believed that with the advent of American spacecraft, there would be no need for Soyuz spacecraft anymore, but this turned out to be exactly the opposite."

"And now we see that the Energia corporation, Roscosmos and our Kazakh colleagues have received new requests and seen a new interest from countries seeking to get their first experience on a spaceflight from Baikonur," Rogozin said. "At the moment, we are in talks with other potential participants on this project. These are Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and many other countries." (11/12)

Russia Plans to Launch About 30 Next-Generation Navigation Satellites (Source: Sputnik)
The Russian satellite grouping has 23 operational satellites, with two in maintenance, one spare and one in a flight test phase. The satellites circle the Earth at an altitude of about 11,000 miles and ensure complete coverage of the surface and global signal availability. Russia is planning to launch about 30 global navigation satellites which will be added to its aging navigation satellite constellation, according to revealed documents. According to the documents, 20 carrier rockets will be used to launch 28 satellites in 2021-2030. (11/12)

Russia Plans to Have 20 Remote Sensing Satellites by 2022 (Source: TASS)
Russia plans to start creating a national remote satellite sensing center next year and, by 2022, the country is expected to have about 20 remote sensing satellites on the orbit, said Valery Zaichko, the deputy director of the navigational space systems department of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos. "By 2025, even starting from 2022, we plan to have about 15-20 spacecraft as part of Russia’s orbital group, including for hydrometeorological and radar survey, Zaichko said on Monday, during a conference, headlined ‘Modern challenges for remote sensing of the Earth from space.’

The official said that Russia’s current remote sensing orbital group has 11 satellites, mostly of the Kanopus family. An Elektro-L satellite will be launched by the end of the year. Three more satellites, including Resurs-P and Meteor satellites, are to be put into the orbit by 2020. In the same year, Russia will start creating a space system headlined Arktika (Arctic). (11/12)

Kremlin: $169 Million Stolen Out of $1.4 Billion Allocated for Vostochny Spaceport Construction (Source: TASS)
A total of 11 billion rubles (about $169 million) were stolen during the construction of the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East and only 3.5 billion rubles ($53.8 million) were returned to the state coffers, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. The Kremlin spokesman thus commented on a statement by President Vladimir Putin who said at a government meeting on Monday that dozens of criminal cases and jailings had failed to put things in order at the Vostochny spaceport’s construction site. (11/11)

Indonesia to Build the Nation's First Spaceport in Papua (Source: Jakarta Post)
Indonesia plans to construct its first spaceport in Biak, Papua, to serve as the location of the country’s rocket test launches, the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) has confirmed. “We will build [the spaceport] just like LAPAN’s rocket launch site we have in South Garut [West Java]. However, it will be bigger so that it can be used for larger rocket test launches,” LAPAN flight and aerospace study center head Robertus Heru Trijahyanto said.

Biak was chosen as the place to build the new spaceport because the regency’s vast area was deemed ideal to support LAPAN’s plan to do a larger rocket test launch in 2024, he said. Citing the Karman line ─ the imaginary line marking where space begins ─ Heru said the space border was 100 kilometers above Earth's surface. LAPAN, however, plans to test launch a rocket that could go up to 300 km above Earth. (11/12)

SpaceX Says Upgraded Starlink Satellites Have Better Bandwidth, Beams, and More (Source: Teslarati)
SpaceX successfully launched its second batch of 60 Starlink satellites, featuring a variety of upgrades as part of the move from v0.9 to v1.0 spacecraft. During SpaceX’s launch webcast, the hosts revealed a number of intriguing new details about those upgrades, shedding a bit more light on what exactly has changed. SpaceX said the v1.0 satellites have 4 times the individual bandwidth of the v0.9 spacecraft.  

SpaceX launched its first dedicated Starlink mission in May 2019, placing 60 “v0.9” satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) in what was essentially a beta test at an unprecedented scale. At the time, SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk disseminated a substantial amount of information, essentially taking the veil off of (part of) the company’s Starlink satellite program. In terms of the basics, Starlink v0.9 satellites were said to weigh approximately ~225 kg (500 lb) apiece, although the final mass – said to be the heaviest payload SpaceX had ever launched – suggested that that figure excluded the mass of krypton propellant.

All told, Musk said that the payload weighed ~18.5 tons but never clarified whether that was in imperial or metric units, leaving a potential range of 16,700-18,500 kilograms (36,800-40,800 pounds). In general, Musk was quite confident that SpaceX’s custom-built phased array antennas were effectively the best in the world even in their v0.9 beta-test iteration. Additionally, he noted that inter-satellite optical (i.e. laser) links would have to wait a generation or two before becoming part of the operational constellation. (11/12)

Blue Origin’s Alabama Rocket Engine Plant Shaping Up, and It’s Big (Source:
A new aerial photograph shows the size of the new rocket engine plant Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin is building in Alabama. All 400,000 square feet of the new $200 million plant appear to be roofed in and ready for interior development. The plant will build Blue Origin’s new BE-4 engine for the company’s own rockets and rockets made by nearby United Launch Alliance in Decatur, Ala. ULA supplies rockets mostly for national security launches. The new Alabama plant will employ about 350 people and will also produce Blue Origin’s smaller BE-3 engine.

Bezos has always been interested in space, he told a group of reporters visiting his rocket plant near Seattle in 2016. He has degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from Princeton and said he has been fascinated with space “since I was five years old.” Bezos told reporters then that considers himself “incredibly fortunate” to do that. He “won a lottery called Amazon,” Bezos said, and now “can fulfill my childhood dream.” The rocket plant is not the only connection Blue Origin has to Huntsville. The company is working to retrofit an original Saturn V engine test stand at the Marshall Space Flight Center to test its engines including the ones built in Huntsville. (11/13)

Globalstar and Nokia to Offer African Phone Service (Source: Globalstar)
U.S. satellite operator Globalstar and Nokia have teamed up to provide communications solutions in Africa. The two companies collaborated on a product that links Nokia’s Digital Automation Cloud platform using Globalstar’s S-band spectrum for terrestrial LTE services. Globalstar has market access to use its S-band spectrum for terrestrial networks in South Africa, Mozambique, Gabon, Botswana, and Rwanda. Nokia has become a value-added reseller for Globalstar through their partnership. (11/13)

EU Must Boost Spending in Space or be Squeezed Out (Source: AFP)
The EU needs to boost space funding and improve its strategy to compete with military superpowers and smaller upstarts, a panel of experts told MEPs on Tuesday. The experts, including from the UN and the European Commission, said an estimated 60 percent of the world's economy depends directly or indirectly on "space tools" like satellite imaging, tracking and internet connectivity.

The EU faces competition not only from established players like the US, but also from emerging competitors like China, India, Iran and Singapore. The experts highlighted the increasing willingness of major powers to move the military to the centre of their space strategy. Although the experts said the EU was taking its first timid steps towards a common defence structure, the bloc's funding was dwarfed by the US. (11/13)

Senators Introduce NASA Authorization Bill (Source: Space Daily)
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, R-TX, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, along with ranking member Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ, and Sens. Roger Wicker, R-MS, and Maria Cantwell, D-WA, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the NASA Authorization Act of 2019. This bill expands and improves upon the bipartisan legislation Sen. Cruz introduced in December 2018 and provides NASA the clear direction needed to advance our nation's space initiatives and investments and assert the United States' global leadership in the final frontier. (11/13)

Northrop Grumman Expands Arizona Campus for Missile Defense Work (Source: Phoenix Business Journal)
Northrop Grumman Corp. has opened its expanded Chandler campus as the home for its aerospace launch vehicle business. The 633,000-square-foot campus supports national defense and aerospace projects, including the U.S. missile defense program and satellite launches for the U.S. Air Force, NASA and commercial customers. The bulk of the company’s launch vehicle design, development, manufacturing and testing occurs on this campus.

In September, the Chandler facility started work on a new $1.1 billion contract for missile targets for the U.S. Department of Defense's Missile Defense Agency. Blake Larson, Northrop Grumman's president of Innovation Systems, said the company has a heritage in the state that spans more than three decades, with business continuing to grow rapidly in Arizona. The 47-acre Chandler campus will house more than 2,500 employees. Orbital ATK announced the expansion of its launch vehicles operations with a new Chandler campus in March 2018. The business in Chandler began in the 1980s. (11/13)

BlackSky Secures $50 Million Financing From Intelsat (Source: Space News)
Geospatial data provider BlackSky announced Nov. 12 it has secured a $50 million loan from global communications satellite operator Intelsat. The senior secured loan will finance BlackSky’s infrastructure and product development for commercial and government customers. In addition to the financing deal, O’Toole said, BlackSky and Intelsat are establishing a commercial partnership to jointly develop data and imagery products to be distributed via Intelsat’s communications services. (11/12)

Chinese Rockets Launch Small Satellites (Sources:, Xinhua)
One Chinese rocket launched an imaging smallsat Tuesday night. The Kuaizhou-1A rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 10:40 p.m. Eastern and placed a Jilin-1 satellite into orbit. The satellite is part of a constellation intended to provide data for natural resources and disaster management. The satellite, the 14th in the overall constellation, will produce high-resolution color and multispectral imagery.

Hours later, a second Chinese rocket launched a group of smallsats. The Long March 6 rocket launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 1:35 a.m. Eastern Wednesday carrying five Ningxia-1 satellites. The satellites are part of a remote sensing system being developed by a Chinese company, Ningxia Jingui Information Technology Co., Ltd. (11/13)

Continuing Budget Resolution Threatens NASA and Military Space Projects (Source: Space News)
An extended delay in a final 2020 spending bill could be "debilitating" for military space programs, a Pentagon official warns. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said the funding stalemate is setting back critical space programs that the Air Force included in its fiscal year 2020 budget request, many of which he said are classified. The Air Force, like the rest of the government, is funded under a continuing resolution (CR) set to expire next Friday, although another, one-month CR is expected. An extended CR would also delay plans to establish a Space Force.

An extended CR could also hurt NASA's ability to get humans back to the moon by 2024. An agency official said Tuesday that NASA is starting to review proposals submitted last week for human-rated lunar landers, with the goal of awarding initial contracts in January. That schedule, though, could be pushed back if a final 2020 spending bill isn't in place by then. NASA sought $1 billion for lunar lander work in a budget amendment in May, but the House provided no funding for it in its spending bill while the Senate provided less than $750 million. (11/13)

OneWeb Seeks Dismissal of Intelsat Lawsuit (Source: Space News)
OneWeb and its largest investor, SoftBank, are seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Intelsat. That suit, filed in a New York court in September, argued that OneWeb and SoftBank breached contracts, committed fraud and conspired to steal confidential and proprietary information. OneWeb terminated a deal with Intelsat where Intelsat would have exclusive rights to OneWeb's capacity in four industry sectors. OneWeb and SoftBank say the suit should be dismissed since a finalized purchase agreement and a service-level agreement was never reached. (11/13)

Study: 12-Satellite Imagery Constellation Could Deploy for $300 Million (Source: Space News)
A new study concludes that a high-resolution imagery constellation is less expensive than ever. The study, announced Wednesday at the NewSpace Europe conference in Luxembourg, concluded a 12-satellite constellation, producing imagery at a resolution of one meter, can be deployed for $300 million. The study by RRE Ventures and PJT Partners, a New York investment bank, concluded there is still strong demand for Earth imagery despite a proliferation of satellite systems because of a desire for fast revisit times. (11/13)

Virgin Galactic Announces Third Quarter Results (Source: Virgin Galactic)
Third quarter results for VG reflect the three months ended September 30, 2019, prior to the closing on October 25, 2019 of the recent business combination (the “Business Combination”) between VG’s predecessor, VGH, LLC, and Social Capital Hedosophia, a public investment vehicle. The Business Combination provided net proceeds to VG of over $430 million, which VG intends to use to fund its operations. Pre-transaction owners of VGH, LLC retained over 58% ownership of VG following the Business Combination.

Recent business highlights include the transition of approximately 60% of Virgin Galactic operations personnel from the headquarters in Mojave to Spaceport America, located in New Mexico. The company achieved several operational milestones at Spaceport America, including the relocation of mothership VMS Eve, completing installation of the ground infrastructure, ground tests of all systems to ensure they are flight-ready and unveiling the operational hubs of Spaceport America as open and operational. (11/12)

November 12, 2019

WFIRST Passes Design Review, But Costs a Continued Concern (Source: Space News)
NASA's WFIRST space telescope passed its preliminary design review amid uncertainty about its budget. The mission completed the review at the beginning of the month, and NASA officials say that development of the infrared space telescope is on track for a launch in 2025. NASA's fiscal year 2020 budget included no funding for WFIRST, but both House and Senate versions of appropriations bills do fund the mission. One complication is that the lower amount of funding for WFIRST in the Senate bill could force NASA to replan the mission and potentially delay its launch. (11/12)

Putin Complains of Continued Corruption at Vostochny Spaceport (Source: TASS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin complained about corruption in the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Putin said Monday that even convictions have failed to stop companies from embezzling the government. "However, things have not been put in order there the way it should have been done," he said. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, responded by saying that those who were responsible for that corruption "have long been removed from the construction site and are serving their prison terms." A government report estimates that, of the $1.4 billion allocated for spaceport construction, $169 million was stolen by companies involved in that work, with only $53.8 million recovered to date. (11/12)

Japanese Asteroid Probe Ready to Return Home, With Samples (Source: Asahi Shimbun)
Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft will begin its journey back to Earth this week. Project officials said Tuesday that the spacecraft will use its electric propulsion system to depart the vicinity of the asteroid Ryugu this week, beginning a journey back to Earth that will take about a year. The spacecraft is returning samples it collected from the surface of the asteroid earlier this year. (11/12)

Brit Poll Sees Pessimism on Earth's Future (Source: Press Association)
A new poll claims more than a third of Britons expect humans will have to live in space because of deteriorating conditions on Earth. The British poll, published Monday, said that 37% concluded that humans will have to move off the planet because it will become uninhabitable. The poll also found that 29% of people would pay to go to space "if it were easily accessible to the general public" but that only 18% would use their savings to do so. The poll was commissioned by Asgardia, the quixotic Earth-based "space nation." (11/12)

We May Finally Understand the Moments Before the Big Bang (Source: Live Science)
There's a hole in the story of how our universe came to be. First, the universe inflated rapidly, like a balloon. Then, everything went boom. But how those two periods are connected has eluded physicists. Now, a new study suggests a way to link the two epochs. In the first period,  the universe grew from an almost infinitely small point to nearly an octillion (that's a 1 followed by 27 zeros) times that in size in less than a trillionth of a second.

This inflation period was followed by a more gradual, but violent, period of expansion we know as the Big Bang. During the Big Bang, an incredibly hot fireball of fundamental particles — such as protons, neutrons and electrons — expanded and cooled to form the atoms, stars and galaxies we see today. The Big Bang theory, which describes cosmic inflation, remains the most widely supported explanation of how our universe began, yet scientists are still perplexed by how these wholly different periods of expansion are connected. To solve this cosmic conundrum, a team of researchers simulated the critical transition between cosmic inflation and the Big Bang — a period they call "reheating."

When the universe expanded in a flash of a second during cosmic inflation, all the existing matter was spread out, leaving the universe a cold and empty place, devoid of the hot soup of particles needed to ignite the Big Bang. During the reheating period, the energy propelling inflation is believed to decay into particles, said Rachel Nguyen. "Once those particles are produced, they bounce around and knock into each other, transferring momentum and energy," Nguyen told Live Science. "And that's what thermalizes and reheats the universe to set the initial conditions for the Big Bang." (11/11)

Combining Satellites, Radar Provides Path for Better Forecasts (Source: Space Daily)
Every minute counts when it comes to predicting severe weather. Combing data from cutting-edge geostationary satellites and traditional weather radar created a path toward earlier, more accurate warnings, according to researchers who studied supercell thuderstorms in the Midwest. "We know satellites have an advantage in producing forecasts earlier, and radar has more confidence in where clouds should be and where thunderstorms will be moving. The question was whether these two types of observations would complement each other if combined together. We found, for at least one severe weather event, assimilating satellite and radar simultaneously leads to the best forecasts." (11/12)

Sizing NASA’s Future Spacesuits (Source: Aviation Week)
Advanced digital modeling of the human form that incorporates 3D and motion body scans holds great promise for the design and development of new generations of spacesuits, according to Bonnie Dunbar, a retired five-time NASA space shuttle astronaut Dunbar leads an effort she describes as “a bit science fiction” to improve the fit and mobility of the garments at the Texas A&M University Aerospace Human Systems Laboratory (AHSL). (11/11)

SpaceX Faces Competitors in Race to Build Internet-Satellite Constellation (Source: Space Daily)
SpaceX's new batch of satellites brings the Starlink constellation population to 120. As part of its satellite Internet operation, SpaceX plans to launch some 12,000 satellites over the next half-decade. SpaceX isn't the only company trying to build a satellite constellation capable of providing global Internet coverage. Last winter, OneWeb launched six small satellites. Tests confirmed the mini constellation produces a serviceable signal, and the company expects to launch another 60 satellites in early 2020.

OneWeb, which is targeting an initial constellation population of 650, and later 2,000, expects to begin offering service in the Arctic by the end of 2020 and global coverage in 2021. There's more competition on the way. Richard Branson's Virgin Group, Boeing, Amazon and LeoSat Enterprises, a Washington, D.C., company are all in the early stages of pursuing satellite Internet constellations. As the newest space race heats up, some veterans of the communications industry may be experiencing deja vu.

"There were around a dozen constellations that were launched in the 1990s. Some of these are still around, but most went bankrupt or folded." Most of the early ventures failed because ground-based systems grew quickly and efficiently, meeting the needs of most consumers in the United States and other developed economies. Over the last twenty years, tremendous gains have been made both in satellite and communications technologies. The innovations of terrestrial communications systems, specifically cellular communications technologies, have yielded smaller, cheaper and more efficient components -- antennas, dishes, transmitters -- which have been rather easily adapted for use in space. (11/11)

Near-Earth Space Governance is All About the Money (Source: Space Review)
The growth of commercial space activities is placing new pressures on existing governance regimes in space on topics ranging from space traffic management to export control. Adam Routh argues that the solution is not new treaties but rather a growing network of bilateral agreements that address those concerns. Click here. (11/11)
Commercial Cargo’s Next Phase (Source: Space Review)
The launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station earlier this month marked the start of a new round of NASA contracts to support the ISS. Jeff Foust reports on the changes existing companies are making to their cargo vehicles as well as one new entrant. Click here. (11/11)
China’s Earth-Moon Space Economic Zone Venture (Source: Space Review)
Chinese officials recently discussed a long-term vision of an economic zone spanning from the Earth to the Moon and Mars that they believe could be worth $10 trillion by 2050. Ajey Lele examines if that concept seems credible for the Chinese to achieve. Click here. (11/11)

Lunar Cubesat Mission Could Locate Ice to Sustain Human Presence (Source: Space Daily)
As we venture forward to the Moon and establish a sustained lunar presence, finding and understanding water on the lunar surface becomes increasingly important. Lunar water is largely in the form of, but not necessarily limited to, water ice. Astronauts on the Moon could use this ice for various crew needs, potentially including rocket fuel.

The Lunar IceCube mission, led by Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, will study water distribution and interaction on the Moon. The mission will carry a NASA instrument called Broadband InfraRed Compact High-Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES) to investigate the distribution of water and other organic volatiles. NASA scientists will use this data to understand where the water is on the Moon, its origins and how we can use it. (11/11)

Advanced Electric Propulsion Tthruster for NASA's Gateway Achieves Full Power Demonstration (Source: Space Daily)
Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA recently demonstrated an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster at full power for the first time, achieving an important program milestone. Aerojet Rocketdyne-developed AEPS thrusters are slated to be used on the Power and Propulsion Element of NASA's Gateway, the agency's orbiting lunar outpost for robotic and human exploration operations in deep space.

The state-of-the-art AEPS Hall thruster operated at 12.5 kilowatts (kW) as part of its final conditioning sequence during testing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The thruster demonstrated stable operation at power levels ranging from 4.2 kW to 12.5 kW. Full electric propulsion thruster string integration will take place early next year. (11/11)

The Growing Problem of Space Debris (Source: Interesting Engineering)
In 1958, the Space Age officially began with the launch of humanity's first artificial satellite - known as Sputnik 1. Constructed and orbited by the Soviet Union, this satellite was a simple technology demonstrator designed to emit radio pulses. However, the impact its deployment had was much more far-reaching than that. Not only was this a pivotal moment in the history of human spaceflight, and a big scare for the West, it was also the first of thousands of satellites to be launched from Earth.

Today, roughly sixty years later, some 8,950 satellites have been launched by more than 40 nations into orbit. Based on the most recent estimates, about 5,000 of these satellites remain in orbit, though most have reached the end of their lifespan. Only around 1,950 of these satellites remain operational while the rest have become space debris. These now-defunct satellites are joined by thousands of bits of debris, which are collectively referred to as "space junk".

Given the situation, there are those who have advocated for a "No New Launches" policy. However, a 2005 study conducted by the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office (ODPO) found that even if no future launches occurred, collisions between existing objects would still increase the debris population at a rate faster than atmospheric drag would remove objects. This scenario highlights the need for an active debris removal (ADR) program. This would need to consist of mitigation strategies being adopted at the earliest phases of mission planning, and remediation strategies that call for the deorbiting of debris. (11/2)

November 11, 2019

SpaceX Launches its Falcon 9 Rocket with 60 Starlink Satellites on Veterans Day (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Nov. 11. The rocket carried 60 Starlink communications satellites for SpaceX. This was the fourth use of the Falcon-9 first stage, and the second use of the rocket's fairing. Te Falcon 9’s first stage supported the Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and Nusantara Satu missions, and the fairing was previously flown on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat6A mission earlier this year.

Following stage separation, SpaceX landed the Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Recovery of the two fairing halves was originally planned by called off on the day prior to launch. (11/11)

Telesat Postpones Constellation Manufacturer Selection (Source: Space News)
Telesat will postpone the selection of a manufacturer for its satellite constellation until next year. Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg said last week that decision, which had been expected this year, will now come in the first quarter of 2020. That decision was originally between Airbus Defence and Space and a team of Maxar Technologies and Thales Alenia Space, but Maxar and Thales have split and are now competing separately. Goldberg didn't say in an earnings call if that split was a factor in Telesat's decision to push back a selection. (11/11)

Kepler Demonstrates Polar Coverage (Source: SpaceQ)
Kepler demonstrated the ability of its satellite system to provide high-bandwidth communications in polar regions. The Canadian company said a German icebreaker participating in a scientific expedition near the North Pole was able to communicate with Kepler's two demonstration satellites at a rate of 100 megabits per second. Kepler said the demonstration showed the potential of its planned constellation to provide store-and-forward communications of large amounts of data. (11/11)

New Russian Medium Lift Rocket Ready in Mid-2020s (Source: Space News)
A new Russian medium-lift rocket won't enter commercial service until the mid-2020s. GK Launch Services said in a recent interview that the Soyuz-5 rocket likely won't be commercially available in 2026, with flight tests scheduled to begin in 2023. The current design of the vehicle makes use of versions of existing rocket engines, including the RD-171 engine in its first stage, and launches from Baikonur will use facilities originally developed for the Zenit rocket. The Soyuz-5 will be able to place up to 17.3 tons in low Earth orbit and 5 tons in geostationary transfer orbit, but the company isn't disclosing a price for the rocket. (11/11)

Space Industry Works with Government in New Info Sharing Center (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
The acknowledgement of space assets as critical infrastructure has enabled the establishment of the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center to help ward off cyberthreats. "We think this is a great opportunity for us to be able to bring some of that expertise in -- in how you protect data and how you move data around and the threats that go along with that -- to the ISAC," said Chris Bogdan, who leads Booz Allen Hamilton's aerospace unit.

There are about two dozen ISACs within the US. These nonprofit organizations essentially act as an industry go-between, sharing knowledge about cybersecurity and other threats. “Because these ISACs are sector-focused and member-driven, they can select the specific cyberthreat information and perform analysis on what is particularly relevant to the industry in which the members operate.” But until this year there was no ISAC dedicated to space. (11/8)

NASA Scientists Detect Huge Thermonuclear Blast Deep in Space (Source: Science Alert)
NASA recently detected a massive thermonuclear explosion coming from outer space. The culprit seems to be a distant pulsar, the space agency reports, which is the stellar remains of a star that blew up in a supernova but was too small to form a black hole. NASA spotted the burst because it sent out an intense beam of x-rays that got picked up by the agency's orbital observatory NICER. All in all, it serves as a potent reminder: space is an extremely dangerous, extremely metal place. (11/10)

Virgin Galactic’s IPO Launches a Pivotal Phase for Space Tourism (Source: Quartz)
The route to success in the space tourism industry is bound to be a wild ride and Branson is hoping his first mover advantage will bring healthy returns in the long run. Indeed, this high-risk venture could well pay off–it’s just a question of when. Although it has yet to fly any paying passengers and is currently loss making, Virgin Galactic aims to be profitable by 2021, based on completing 115 flights that generate $210m in revenue. By 2023, it is forecasting revenues of $590m and expects to have flown more than 3,000 passengers.

Since that number is a tiny portion of the target market of high net-worth individuals with assets of at least $10m, its projections could well be achievable. And, currently, Virgin Galactic appears to be ahead of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in fulfilling the vision of space tourism. While Virgin Galactic has failed to deliver on expectations in the past–it missed its own targets for flights commencing and experienced a catastrophic accident in 2014–it has more recently made substantial progress. (11/8)

University of Florida Lab Investigates Space Debris (Source: MIT Technology Review)
On a sweltering day in August, in a windowless strip mall office in north-central Florida, Rafael Carrasquilla and a dozen other students wore surgical gloves as they picked through piles of dust with tweezers. They were hunting for tiny slivers of carbon fiber only millimeters long, almost invisible to the naked eye. There were no ventilation fans, no sneezing or sudden movements at the lab bench. When they found one, they logged its appearance in a database, bagged it, tagged it, and placed it among tens of thousands of others painstakingly organized in ranks of plastic bins.

Carrasquilla leads the fragment characterization effort for the University of Florida, part of a NASA-led experiment called DebriSat that began in 2011. DebriSat was created to answer a question: What happens when a piece of orbital debris slams into a satellite at thousands of miles per hour? If such a collision occurs in orbit, it’s impossible to keep track of the resulting chaos. The only way to answer that question with confidence is to cause a catastrophic impact in a laboratory down here on Earth, where conditions can be carefully controlled and results meticulously catalogued.

Orbital debris comes in many shapes and sizes, from fragments similar to those Carrasquilla’s group was analyzing to full-size rocket boosters left in space. In orbit, even miniature fragments are capable of damaging satellites or penetrating space suits. Kinetic energy increases with the square of an object’s velocity—and impacts in orbit typically happen at over 20,000 miles per hour, so that even tiny carbon-fiber needles can cause damage. “The biggest mission-ending risk to operational spacecraft comes from small, millimeter-size orbital debris, not big fat objects,” says NASA's Jer Chyi “JC” Liou. Click here. (11/11)

There’s Growing Evidence That the Universe Is Connected by Giant Structures (Source: Motherboard)
Galaxies within a few million light years of each other can gravitationally affect each other in predictable ways, but scientists have observed mysterious patterns between distant galaxies that transcend those local interactions. These discoveries hint at the enigmatic influence of so-called “large-scale structures” which, as the name suggests, are the biggest known objects in the universe. These dim structures are made of hydrogen gas and dark matter and take the form of filaments, sheets, and knots that link galaxies in a vast network called the cosmic web.

We know these structures have major implications for the evolution and movements of galaxies, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of the root dynamics driving them. Scientists are eager to acquire these new details because some of these phenomena challenge the most fundamental ideas about the universe. “That’s actually the reason why everybody is always studying these large-scale structures,” says Noam Libeskind, a cosmographer. “It’s a way of probing and constraining the laws of gravity and the nature of matter, dark matter, dark energy, and the universe.”

For instance, a study published in The Astrophysical Journal in October found that hundreds of galaxies were rotating in sync with the motions of galaxies that were tens of millions of light years away. “This discovery is quite new and unexpected,” said lead author Joon Hyeop Lee, an astronomer at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, in an email. “I have never seen any previous report of observations or any prediction from numerical simulations, exactly related to this phenomenon.” (11/11)

The Space Artist Who Saw Pluto Before NASA (Source: Guardian)
On 7 November, David Hardy opens a new exhibition called Visions of Space alongside 19 fellow space artists. Space art (or astronomical art) is an art movement just like modernism or impressionism. Its early pioneers included American artist , who painted what he saw in a telescope, and French astronomer-artist Lucien Rudaux, who made an atlas of the Milky Way – and created impossibly accurate paintings of Mars in the 1920s and 1930s. Together, they’re known as the Fathers of Modern Space Art. Click here. (11/11)

November 10, 2019

NASA Scientist Shows Dinosaurs Roamed Earth on The Other Side of The Milky Way (Source: Science Alert)
When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, the planet was on a completely different side of the galaxy. A new animation by NASA scientist Jessie Christiansen shows just how long the dinosaurs' reign lasted, and how short the era of humans has been in comparison, by tracing our solar system's movement through the Milky Way. Our Sun orbits the galaxy's centre, completing its rotation every 250 million years or so. So Christiansen's animation shows that last time our Solar System was at its current point in the galaxy, the Triassic Period was in full swing and dinosaurs were just beginning to emerge.

Many of the most iconic dinosaurs roamed Earth when the planet was in a very different part of the Milky Way. Christiansen got the idea to illustrate this history when she was leading a stargazing party at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Attendees were astonished when she mentioned that our Solar System had been across the galaxy when dinosaurs roamed. (11/8)

NASA Unveils its First Electric Airplane - a Work In Progress (Source: MSN)
NASA, most prominent for its many Florida-launched exploits into space, showcased an early version of its first all-electric experimental aircraft, the X-57 "Maxwell," on Friday at its lesser-known aeronautics lab in the California desert. Adapted from a Italian-made Tecnam P2006T twin-engine propeller plane, the X-57 has been under development since 2015 and remains at least a year away from its first test flight in the skies over Edward Air Force Base. But after attaching the two largest of 14 electric motors that will ultimately propel the plane - powered by specially designed lithium ion batteries - NASA deemed the Maxwell ready for its first public preview. (11/8)

Russian Scientists Propose Creation of Separate ISS Module for Sports, Medicine (Source: Sputnik)
The Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Science (IBMP RAS) considers it necessary to create a special module for sports and medical experiments at the International Space Station (ISS), IBMP deputy chief designer Yevgenia Yarmanova said. Currently, all gym machines of the Russian ISS segment are located in the Zvezda module, which also has sleeping cabins, a toilet, a central control pad and a dining table. (11/10)

Astronomers Worry About the Brightness of SpaceX's Starlink Satellite Megaconstellation (Source:
SpaceX is planning to launch the second installment of its Starlink megaconstellation on Monday (Nov. 11), and astronomers are waiting to see — well, precisely what they will see. When the company launched its first set of Starlink internet satellites in May, those with their eyes attuned to the night sky immediately realized that the objects were incredibly bright. Professional astronomers worried the satellites would interfere with scientific observations and amateur appreciation of the stars.

"That first few nights, it was like, 'Holy not-publishable-word,'" Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told "That kind of was the wake-up call." SpaceX reassured astronomers that once the satellites settled into place, they would stop masquerading as the stars they are named for. McDowell wanted to confirm the accuracy of Musk's statement, so he asked an email Listserv of amateur astronomers to wait for the first batch of Starlink satellites to reach their final orbit, then compare the brightness of specific satellites to the stars around them.

Those observations started in July. McDowell hasn't completed an exhaustive analysis, but he said the preliminary results are concerning, with Starlink satellites regularly clocking in at magnitudes between 4 and 7, which is bright enough to see without a telescope. "The bottom-line answer is, you can consistently see these things," he said. The initial Starlink launch carried 60 satellites, but that's just a tiny fraction of what SpaceX has described as its long-term plan, of launching tens of thousands of the devices in orbit. "It's not going to be just the occasional interference, it's going to be continual." (11/10)

Next Three-Man Soyuz Crew Training to Have Space Station to Themselves (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The next three-man crew to launch on a Soyuz rocket — comprising two Russian cosmonauts and a veteran NASA astronaut — is training to have the International Space Station to themselves after their arrival at the orbiting research outpost in April, at least until new U.S. commercial crew ships enter service. The next Soyuz crew is scheduled to launch April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to kick off an expedition planned to last around six-and-a-half months.

Cosmonaut Nikolai Tikhonov will command the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft, and Andrei Babkin will serve as the primary flight engineer. Both will launch on their first space missions. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy — making this third spaceflight — will join Tikhonov and Babkin on the Soyuz launch. Cassidy will become commander of the space station’s Expedition 63 crew once the Soyuz docks with the orbiting complex. “What we’re preparing for … is a six-month duration where it’s just the three of us,” Cassidy said. (11/9)

North Korea Targeted ISRO in Cyberattack (Source: The Quint)
A day after reports emerged suggesting that it was not just the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant but also ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) that was warned on 3 September of a possible cyber breach by a data-theft malware, the national space agency has confirmed that they were alerted. While an official at ISRO did say that they were alerted by CERT-In, he also added that their systems were “unaffected”. The alert of a possible intrusion into ISRO’s systems came during India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission, that commenced on 22 July and ended on 7 September. (11/8)

Spaceport America a Smart Oil-Boom Investment (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
I count myself fortunate to have been involved with Spaceport America since the early days, back in 2005. Even then, we knew Spaceport America held unlimited opportunity for New Mexico. We also knew it would require patience for that opportunity to come to fruition. Now, we see that potential in reach as we look ahead to 2020 and Virgin Galactic’s inaugural commercial space flight.

Commercial space tourism will be a world-changing industry. Those who travel into suborbital space will come back as astronauts. This opportunity is a dream come true for people worldwide. Currently, there are more people signed up to fly with Virgin Galactic than there are certified astronauts in the world. This means that people worldwide will be flocking to New Mexico in droves to fulfill their bucket-list experience of flying into space, and they’ll bring family and friends with them.

Not only will Virgin Galactic’s first – and subsequent – flights place New Mexico in the international spotlight, generating an incredible tourism boom, but they will also pave the way for additional growth and expansion. We can only imagine the many exciting space developments that will evolve from Spaceport America – vertical rockets carrying payloads into suborbital space, research projects evaluating the effects of space on things animate and inanimate, high-speed inter-spaceport travel, retrieving and reclaiming space junk and debris, rapid troop deployment and surely much more. (11/10)

Shetland Space Center Entrepreneur in Row Over £600k Public Loan (Source: Daily Record)
A businessman vying to build the UK’s first spaceport transferred a £610,000 public loan to another of his firms before it was liquidated. Former RAF officer Frank Strang’s Shetland FM, which managed accommodation for offshore workers in Shetland, collapsed last month with a huge sum outstanding to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The Scottish Government finance quango gave his Sella Ness-based firm the loan in 2017.

Last week, it said it could take legal action to recover the owed money. But father-of-two Strang, who is also the boss of Shetland Space Centre (SSC), has insisted he will pay back the loan. Latest accounts for Shetland FM – a facilities management firm based at Sella Ness on the main island in the Shetlands – show it transferred the six-figure loan to another of Strang’s companies, Saxa Vord Limited, in July 2017. Both companies list him and wife Deborah, 54, as being the only officers for the firms. The following December, Saxa Vord Limited changed its ownership structure so that it was largely owned by Temily Holdings Limited, which in turn is owned by his children Emily and Thomas. (11/10)

Orbiting Hotel With $5M Luxury Suites Needs Investors to Get Off the Ground (Source: Fox Business)
The billions it will cost to build the planet’s first luxury hotel in low Earth orbit could be well spent if the developers can prove that private space construction is possible and profitable. That’s the gamble that the Gateway Foundation is making with its Werner Von Braun Hotel, with an eye toward building even larger facilities like a spaceport and convincing other space-faring companies that it has the technology needed for megastructures such as orbiting factories and power plants.

It remains to be seen whether investors will get behind the idea. As an industry, space tourism is in its infancy. Nevertheless, space-based business is expected to be worth billions of dollars a year, according to several analyses. “We need to get investors to see how money can be made,” said John Blincow, president of Gateway and CEO of Orbital Assembly. “Von Braun is key to that because it’s a big hotel.” (11/9)

Is the UAE Set to See More Startups in the Space Sector? (Source: Gulf Business)
In the past two years alone, UAE investments in space have exceeded Dhs22bn, leading to the establishment of 57 space-related entities and the creation of 1,500 jobs. Much of that spending has been governmental – but there’s also been support for startups. Some of that has come in the form of open competitions to encourage the best startup talent to come forward. For instance, last year the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre’s (MBRSC) Innovation Challenge gave $60,000 to the top three out of 15 finalists.

Simply going to space is not enough for the UAE – there are also ambitious initiatives such as establishing a human colony on Mars by 2117. But before that, a probe is planned to be sent to the Red Planet in 2020 as part of the Hope Mars Mission. Should the probe make it to Mars (by 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE), it’ll be the first sent by an Arab country. All these initiatives mean plenty of opportunity for startups – and again, they also require enormous amounts of financial investment and investment in new technologies. (11/9)

One Man’s Mistake, Missing Backups and Complete Reboot: The Tale of Europe’s Galileo Satellites Going Dark (Source: The Register)
Key details about the failure of Europe’s Galileo satellite system over the summer have started to emerge - and it’s not pretty. While one key official has sought to blame a single individual for the system going dark, insiders warn that organizational chaos, excessive secrecy and some unusual self-regulation is as much to blame.

Combined with those problems, a battle between European organizations over the satellite system, and a delayed independent report into the July cock-up, means things aren’t looking good for Europe’s answer to America’s GPS system. A much needed shake-up may be on its way. In mid-July, the agency in charge of the network of 26 satellites, the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (EGSA), warned of a “service degradation” but assured everyone that it would quickly be resolved.

It wasn’t resolved however, and six days later the system was not only still down but getting increasingly inaccurate, with satellites reporting that they were in completely different positions in orbit than they were supposed to be - a big problem for a system whose entire purpose is to provide state-of-the-art positional accuracy to within 20 centimeters. Billions of organizations, individuals, phones, apps and so on from across the globe simply stopped listening to Galileo. It’s hard to imagine a bigger mess, aside from the satellites crashing down to Earth. (11/8)

November 9, 2019

FAA Sets December Release of Environmental Impact Study on Spaceport Camden (Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle)
Sponsors looking to build a commercial spaceport in southeastern Georgia won't get a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of this year as they were hoping, but it likely will be close. The FAA announced Thursday it plans to release the final version of an environmental impact study on the proposed Spaceport Camden on Dec. 16. A record of decision on the project – a prerequisite for issuing the launch license – would follow no earlier than 30 days later, which would move the awarding of the license into January.

Officials in Camden County, Ga., where Spaceport Camden would be located, said Thursday they're glad the schedule is that close to the original timetable. "Given the complexities involved in an environmental impact statement and the number of federal agencies involved, the FAA has done a remarkable job of adhering to its estimated timeline," said Camden County Administrator Steve Howard, who also serves as project lead for the spaceport.

Spaceport Camden supporters at the state and local levels are counting on the project to create up to 2,000 jobs and help convince the next generation of aerospace engineers, many of whom graduate from Georgia Tech, to stay in Georgia to pursue their careers. The project has the backing of Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia's congressional delegation. (11/7)

NASA Cleaning Up Toxic Legacy in Florida as New Tenants Move In at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Bloomberg)
NASA is still working to clean up the toxic legacy of its space launch program, even as it shifts into a role as landlord for commercial space projects from SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Northrop Grumman. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is becoming a commercial spaceport after decades of hosting only the federal government’s space shuttle program. Commercial tenants’ activities, like OneWeb’s satellite manufacturing facility and Blue Origin’s rocket factory, have grown over the past few years.

Michael J. Deliz, remediation program manager at the center, said its new goal is to provide “environmentally unencumbered lands” for the NASA program and the center’s tenants. While the center has spent 25 years cleaning up after space launch activities, Deliz expects new concerns, like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), to also pose challenges. At the center, trichloroethylene was commonly used to clean spaceflight equipment. When the remediation program started in 1994, best practices for disposing of trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, included dumping it in sandy soil, said Deliz, who spoke at the 25th annual Florida Remediation Conference in Orlando.

The remediation program has found concentrations of TCE as high as 300,000 parts per billion in groundwater at the Kennedy Space Center, according to Deliz. The Environmental Protection Agency considers less than 5 parts per billion to be safe for drinking water. (11/7)

Meet the Scientist Who Thinks We All Exist in Multiple Universes (Source: The Next Web)
According to Carroll, this theory raises philosophical problems in regards to how you treat and treat the copies of you other branches because they’re originated from us. “They share the same memories as you and they have every right to be thought of as ‘you,’ but they’re separate people in a different universe. The number of universal branches increases over time, and the older you get, the more versions of ‘you’ there are.”

To better understand this, Carroll dumbs it down to being “much like a Star Trek teleporter that malfunctions and makes two copies of you — they’re both real, but they’re gonna live different lives and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Carroll argues that your identity over time is like a branching tree where there’s many possibilities for the future. But once one version of you has branched, there’s no way to communicate with them. “But they’re definitely there and they’re as real as you are according to this interpretation.”

According to Carroll, he doesn’t think a new self is formed by every single tiny decision you make or don’t make in life. “You didn’t decide to have a pizza or hamburger one evening and in one branch, you end up having pizza, and the other branches you had a hamburger — it’s only when you measure quantum mechanical systems that new worlds are created.” (11/8)

Florida Aerospace Forum Showcases Expanding Space-Related Technology (Source: Space Daily)
New players in Florida's rapidly expanding aerospace industry came together Wednesday in a funding competition that included innovative ideas ranging from space debris detection to a specialized antennas for small satellites. "We believe this is one of very few events like this in the U.S. where new companies focused on aerospace compete for investment," said Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, the state's marketing and development agency for space.

Sixteen companies competed for $100,000 in investments at the second annual Florida Aerospace Capital Forum in Orlando's Lake Nona suburb. Boca Raton, Fla.,-based Launchspace Technologies Corp. pitched its system for detecting and removing orbiting space debris, which has been identified by federal agencies as a growing problem. Another company, Rockledge, Fla.-based Helical Communication Technologies, presented a new design for antennas on small satellites, which is a market that is expanding exponentially.

Aerial drones that can scan disaster zones, such as a hurricane landfall area, are the product of Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Censys Technologies. The system can help insurance firms avoid millions of dollars in fraud by scanning homes for damage, said Trevor Perrott, the president and CEO. InitWeather, of Melbourne Beach, Fla., uses artificial intelligence and advanced data collection technology to develop more accurate weather forecasts for the aerospace industry. Sensatek Propulsion Technology, of Daytona Beach, produces wireless sensors for measuring temperature, pressure and strain in extreme environments such as rocket launch pads. Click here. (11/8)

Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act Signed Into Law (Source: House Science Committee)
The White House announced that President Trump signed H.R. 1396, the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act. Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) was the lead sponsor in the Senate. "Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Christine Darden, and all the women of NASA and NACA will now receive the recognition they deserve for their great accomplishments in the successes of the United States space program.” (11/8)

The Case Against Sending Animals Into Space (Source: Forbes)
Before humans actually went into space, one of the prevailing theories of the perils of space flight was that humans might not be able to survive long periods of weightlessness, NASA has noted. The American space agency points out that both American and Russian scientists utilized animals - mainly monkeys, chimps and dogs - in order to test each country's ability to launch a living organism into space and bring it back alive and unharmed.

While we rightly laud the courage of human astronauts, Lori Marino says, we need to remember that the path was paved for them by other animals who were not fortunate enough to reap the rewards of their service. Does that also go for family pets who might want to follow their humans into space?  “Animals should not be taken into space, full stop,” said Marino.

Space travel in the near future is going to be, at best, severely uncomfortable and compromising for human astronauts, Marino notes. But while human astronauts know what they are getting into, other animals do not, she says. “We do not have the right to put the lives of other animals at risk for our purposes,” said Marino. (11/7)

Air Force to Require Cybersecurity Audits of Commercial Satellite Communications Providers (Source: Space News)
The Air Force starting in 2020 will rate the cybersecurity of commercial satellite communications providers in an effort to increase the protection of military networks. The new program is called Infrastructure Asset Pre-Assessment (IA-Pre) and will be run by the Air Force Space Command’s commercial satellite communications office, Andrew D’Uva, president of Providence Access Company, said Nov. 7 at the CyberSat 2019 conference.

D’Uva is a consultant who represents a coalition of satellite operators that provide services to the U.S. government. “Since Air Force Space Command has taken over commercial satcom acquisition, they have started to think about cybersecurity in their end to end solutions,” D’Uva said. (11/8)

India Has a New Planetary Target in Mind: Venus (Source:
India has launched just three planetary-science spacecraft, but the country is already eyeing a new destination: Venus. Scientists and engineers at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have sent plans for a Venus orbiter to the Indian national government and are hoping they'll get approval to go ahead with the mission. The spacecraft could launch in just a few years and would carry more than a dozen instruments. "The major objective is to map the Venusian surface and subsurface," Nigar Shaji, an ISRO scientist, told a group of Venus experts during a meeting held this week in Colorado. (11/8)

Blue Origin’s New Glenn Rocket and Blue Moon Lander Proposed … as Lego Toys (Source: GeekWire)
Which will go into commercial service first: Blue Origin’s orbital-class New Glenn rocket and Blue Moon lunar lander, or the Lego toy versions? The answer will depend not only on how much progress Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ space venture makes on the real things, but on how many people support the Lego Ideas project as well. The 2,670-piece set would include a 1:110 scale version of the two-stage New Glenn and the human-capable variant of the Blue Moon lander, plus extras including a launch tower, rovers and a satellite. The rocket would be about 40 inches high. (11/8)

An Investor’s Guide to Space, Wall Street’s Next Trillion-Dollar Industry (Source: CNBC)
Space tourism venture Virgin Galactic debuts with much fanfare at the New York Stock Exchange last month, with institutional investors taking notice. CNBC simplifies investors’ opportunity in space into four categories: human spaceflight, national security, satellite communications, and imagery and data analysis. “While [the feedback cycle] might take a bit longer, I do think it will have the same return on your investment as a software company,” Bessemer Venture Partners’ Tess Hatch tells CNBC.

All Four Engines Are Attached to the SLS Core Stage for Artemis I Mission (Source: NASA)
All four RS-25 engines were structurally mated to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for Artemis I, the first mission of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft. To complete assembly of the rocket stage, engineers and technicians are now integrating the propulsion and electrical systems within the structure. The completed core stage with all four RS-25 engines attached is the largest rocket stage NASA has built since the Saturn V stages for the Apollo Program that first sent Americans to the Moon. (11/8)

'What We're Going to Need to Live and Work in Space' (Source: Politico)
When Rob Meyerson took over as president of Blue Origin in 2003, the upstart spacecraft company had just 10 employees. When he left a year ago to establish his own management consulting firm, the workforce had grown to more than 1,500. Now the aerospace engineer has a new focus: enlisting construction firms, mining companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and even the hospitality industry to begin thinking about the role they can play in the economic development of the moon -- or as he puts it, "What we need to live and work in space." Click here. (11/8)

Pence Plants a 'Moon Tree' But Will It Grow? (Source: Politico)
The small crowd of space enthusiasts chanted the traditional launch countdown — "" — as Vice President Mike Pence heaved a gold-plated shovel filled with earth over the roots of an American sycamore sapling. But he wasn't planting just any tree on a sunny but brisk Washington morning. It was a "moon tree," the direct descendant of seeds that were flown around the moon almost 50 years ago. “This tree will begin to grow here at the Naval Observatory today just as American leadership in space is growing once again,” Pence said on Friday as space CEOs and administration officials looked on. (11/8)

What It Takes to be a Space Pilot (Source: Discover)
With the expansion of commercial space exploration, more pilots will be needed to guide spacecraft beyond the bounds of Earth. These pilots come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: lots of flying experience.  Here’s a look at what it takes to become a space pilot. Flying into space is a coveted job. That demand means companies are able to choose the most qualified pilots. And at the top of the list of qualifications: hours in flight.

“The more experience you have, the more likely you are to have encountered situations that are more challenging,” says David Mackay, chief pilot for Virgin Galactic. Being able to handle those unexpected situations could mean the difference between life or death if something goes wrong with the spacecraft. Most commercial space pilots start out as test pilots — airplane pilots specially trained to test out new and experimental aircraft. (11/8)

November 8, 2019

All Four RS-25 Shuttle Veterans Installed Into SLS Core Stage (Source:
In a major milestone for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), all four RS-25 engines – veterans of the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) – have been installed into the core stage of the rocket that will conduct the maiden flight of NASA’s new monster rocket on the Artemis-1 mission. SLS will use the full inventory of flight-proven Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSMEs), or RS-25Ds, before exhausting the stock and moving to the RS-25E. (11/8)

Suitcase-Sized Asteroid Explorer (Source: ESA)
This replica model of ESA’s ‘Miniaturised Asteroid Remote Geophysical Observer’, or M-Argo, was on display at the Agency’s recent Antennas workshop. It is the one of numerous small missions planned as part of ESA’s Technology Strategy, being presented at this month’s Space19+ Council at Ministerial Level. This is a suitcase-sized nanospacecraft based on the CubeSat design employing standardised 10 cm cubic units within which electronic boards can be stacked and subsystems attached. M-Argo is a 12-unit CubeSat – with a 22 x 22 x 34 cm body – that would hitch a ride on the launch of a larger space mission whose trajectory takes it beyond Earth orbit, such as astronomy missions to a Sun–Earth Lagrange point. (7/11)

OneWeb’s First Big Deployment Launch Slips To January (Source: Space News)
OneWeb has delayed the beginning of its regular launch campaign by a month to allow more testing of its small broadband satellites. “We are taking the utmost care to prepare for launch and therefore are taking a few extra weeks to conduct additional tests on the satellites which will be shipped in December for launch,” OneWeb said in a statement to SpaceNews. “We are targeting our next launch for mid-to-late January and remain on track for monthly launches thereafter and to begin service in the Arctic in late 2020 and global coverage in 2021.”

OneWeb spokeswoman Katie Dowd said by email that the company will be launching at least 30 satellites with each Soyuz mission. She declined to specify exactly how many will launch on the January mission. OneWeb launched its first six satellites in February on a Soyuz rocket through European launch provider Arianespace. That launch was delayed for more than six months, largely to allow for additional satellite testing. (11/8)

NASA Does Not Deny the “over $2 Billion” Cost of a Single SLS Launch (Source: Ars Technica)
For the first time, a government cost estimate of building and flying a single Space Launch System rocket in a given year has been released. This estimate of "over $2 billion" came in the form of a letter from the White House to the Senate Appropriations Committee. In the nearly decade-long development of the SLS rocket, NASA officials have studiously avoided providing a so-called "production and operations" cost. This is partly because it can be difficult to estimate flight costs during development, but also very likely because doing so might give lawmakers who have backed the project some measure of sticker shock.

A fully expendable version of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which has two-thirds of the lift capacity of a Block 1 version of the SLS rocket, can be bought today for $150 million. After publication of the White House letter, the agency did not deny the estimate that producing and flying one SLS rocket in a given year—which is the production capacity core stage contractor Boeing may be able to reach by the early 2020s—will be more than $2 billion. The first SLS launch could come in 2021. (11/8)

The FAA's Challenge to Accommodate the Commercial Spaceflight Boom (Source: Politico)
America is enjoying the economic and social benefits of dramatic advances in two critical industries: air and space transportation. Commercial space transportation is demonstrating the long-awaited potential of higher flight rates, lower operating costs, and diversity in capability—all of which are helping to expand the spaceflight industry. But increased airspace activities means that the FAA’s ability to manage diverse users in a finite amount of airspace must dramatically change .

The FAA currently segregates large amounts of airspace, sometimes for long periods of time, for commercial space launch-and-recovery operations to ensure the safety of the flying public and personnel on the ground. Segregating too much airspace for too long could potentially lead to major aviation schedule disruptions and inefficient use of airspace. The FAA must invest now in developing new air traffic management tools for managing the airspace around space transportation activities. And safety is absolutely necessary but does not have to come at the cost of efficiency.

The status quo cannot continue and the private sector must help the FAA innovate to minimize any negative impacts of the growing commercial aviation and space industries. Ultimately, that will require some degree of integration of spaceflight into the national airspace system, while recognizing that spaceflight is different from aviation. (11/8)

NASA's Coating Technology Could Help Resolve Lunar Dust Challenge (Source: Space Daily)
An advanced coating now being tested aboard the International Space Station for use on satellite components could also help NASA solve one of its thorniest challenges: how to keep the Moon's irregularly shaped, razor-sharp dust grains from adhering to virtually everything they touch, including astronauts' spacesuits.

Although the coating wasn't originally conceived for lunar dust busting, "it's compelling for this application," said Bill Farrell, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who heads a NASA-sponsored research organization, Dynamic Response of the Environments at Asteroids, the Moon, and moons of Mars, or DREAM2, which studies the lunar and Martian environments. The agency considers lunar dust to be among the top challenges to mitigate as it aims to establish sustainable exploration of the Moon by 2028 under its Artemis Program. (11/6)

Iran to Launch Three Domestically-made Satellites in Near Future (Source: Sputnik)
In October, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi said that Iran intended to send an astronaut into space, adding that Tehran would hold talks with Russia on the issue as foreign assistance would be needed. The head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) Morteza Barari has announced that Iran plans to launch three satellites in the near future.

"Following the implementation of the country's second decade-long space development program, three satellites are being developed to be ultimately put into orbit," Barari, who is also Iran's Deputy Minister of Communication and Information Technology, said on Sunday. According to the senior official, the newly emerging space technology field has grown by 139 percent in 10 years, leading to "major" developments in the country's economy. (11/5)

Russia: US Refuses to Discuss Russian-Chinese Idea Against Space Militarization (Source: Sputnik)
The United States has been refusing to launch negotiations on the initiative of Russia and China on preventing an arms race in space, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. "The United States remains practically the only side that refuses to launch discussions on the initiative introduced by Russia and China at the Conference on Disarmament and Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space," Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel late on Friday.

Moscow and Beijing have offered to draft a binding international document that would outline guarantees that no weapons would be placed in orbit around the Earth and would include measures to prevent an arms race in space. Lavrov noted that for nearly 20 years, Russia has been working on the creation of a verification mechanism for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) but the United States had been blocking the creation of such mechanism. (11/5)

Paragon Wins $2M Contract Under NASA Tipping Point Program (Source: Space News)
Paragon Space Development Corp. was awarded a new contract as part of NASA's Tipping Point Program. Th $2 million contract concerns the Shape Memory Alloys for Regulating Thermal control systems in Space (SMARTS) radiator. SMARTS promises the high thermal turndown and low mass that is needed to enable operations in the extreme range of environments that NASA and commercial space entities plan to explore.

Paragon will be leading an experienced team supported by Boeing, Texas A and M, NASA's Glenn Research Center, and NASA Johnson Space Center to develop a thermal control system for lunar missions that maintains acceptable operating temperatures throughout the Moon's day and night cycle. The design of this system could be adapted for crewed missions to Mars. (11/6)

Space Coast Apprenticeship Consortium to Host National Apprenticeship Week Event in Titusville (Source: SCCAP)
As part of National Apprenticeship Week, the Space Coast Apprenticeship Consortium will be hosting a Space Coast Consortium Open House and Networking Event from 5:30 – 7:15 pm on Thursday, November 14, 2019. The event will take place at the Knight’s Armament Function Hall in Titusville, Florida. Parents, students, community stakeholders, local dignitaries and the press are invited to attend this open house event. This event is open first-come, first-serve until we reach our maximum capacity of 100 people. (11/7)

FOMS Produces Optical Fibers on ISS (Source: Space News)
A company said it's had success producing high-quality optical fibers on the ISS. Fiber Optic Manufacturing in Space (FOMS) said Thursday experiments flown on the station earlier this year showed that its equipment, using a material called ZBLAN, could produce better fibers in microgravity than on the ground. FOMS is one of three companies working on producing such ZBLAN fibers in microgravity, a product some think could be a "killer app" for in-space manufacturing. (11/7)

Heart Cells Work Different in Space (Source:
Human heart cells function differently in microgravity. Research performed on the ISS examined how human heart cells adapted to the lack of gravity. Scientists found that the cells quickly changed their beating pattern and how they recycled calcium. The cells returned to normal patterns 10 days after returning to Earth. Scientists said they were surprised how quickly the heart cells adapted to the microgravity environment, which could aid research for improving astronaut health on long-duration missions. (11/7)

DIA Expects Russian or Chinese Anti-Satellite Aggression (Source: Space News)
The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) says it's only a matter of time before China or Russia use anti-satellite weapons against U.S. assets. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of DIA, ran through a list of capabilities, including surface-to-air missiles, lasers, electronic jammers, co-orbital maneuvering satellites and malware, that Russia and China have developed and continue to advance in a conference speech Thursday. Ashley said that this "rather negative picture" is something the space industry and the public at large cannot ignore, which is why the Defense Department has been pushing to make more unclassified information available about these ASAT capabilities. (11/7)

Boeing: Misplaced Pin Doomed Parachute Deployment (Source: Space News)
Boeing says a misplaced pin prevented one of three parachutes from deploying during a pad abort test of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle Monday. In a call with reporters Thursday, Boeing said a pin connecting a pilot parachute with a main parachute was not properly installed, preventing the pilot chute from deploying the main one. Technicians have already worked to confirm that similar pins are properly installed on the parachutes in the Starliner scheduled to launch an uncrewed test flight next month. Boeing said an initial review of the data from that test confirmed that all other aspects of the flight went as planned. (11/7)

Ursa Raises $15 Million for Space Imagery Data Products (Source: Space News)
Geospatial analytics company Ursa Space Systems has raised a $15 million Series B round. The company says it will use the funding, in a round led by Razor's Edge Ventures, to develop new data products. Ursa uses synthetic aperture radar imagery to produce a variety of data products, and is seeing new interest from areas like supply chain management, logistics and insurance. (11/7)

Vega Returns to Flight in Early 2020 (Source: Space News)
Avio expects the Vega small launch vehicle to return to flight by March. In an earnings call Thursday, Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo said the payload for that launch, the first since a July launch failure, is still being determined. Ranzo said the first launch of the upgraded Vega C rocket, previously planned for March, is now expected some time in the first half of 2020. Avio expects that the ESA ministerial meeting later this month will approve programs to improve the competitiveness of the rocket, such as technologies to reduce the cost of the vehicle. (11/7)

SpaceX's Next Starlink Launch Will Make it One of the Top Satellite Operators in the World (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX will expand on its well-known telecommunications ambitions Monday with the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, but the company will also quietly cross a significant threshold and become the second-largest satellite operator in the world — on top of its already dominant position as a launch provider.

The 9:55 a.m. liftoff from Launch Complex 40 will take 60 more of the company’s Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit as part of the program designed to beam internet connectivity down to the ground, pushing the constellation’s total size to 120 after a debut launch in May. That will put it above heavyweights like NASA, the Air Force, and Iridium when it comes to the sheer number of spacecraft on orbit.

SpaceX plans on putting thousands of its own Starlink spacecraft into orbit – possibly up to 40,000 and beyond – then continually refreshing the constellation as some are lost to orbital decay. Despite the challenges and high costs with deploying a system of this magnitude, CEO Elon Musk sees it as a way to pay for his company’s future deep-space initiatives, like the Starship vehicle and Super Heavy booster. He also hopes it increases internet connectivity to underserved regions of the world. (11/8)

Kennedy Space Center Awarded a "Purple Heart" for Support of Veterans (Source: Florida Today)
On Thursday, Kennedy Space Center was the first NASA facility in the country to be named a "Purple Heart Entity" in a ceremony held at the KSC Training Auditorium. “Being the first Purple Heart space center, it’s such an honor,” KSC Associate Director Kelvin Manning said before a packed auditorium that included 20 Purple Heart winners in the audience. KSC was given the honor by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a congressionally chartered veterans group comprised solely of men and women who are combat wounded veterans. (11/7)

November 7, 2019

Senators Seek ISS Life Extension (Source: Space News)
A bipartisan group of senators introduced a NASA authorization bill Wednesday that would extend the life of the International Space Station. The bill, whose lead sponsor is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), would authorize ISS operations to be extended from 2024 to 2030, while directing NASA to assist increased commercial activities in low Earth orbit. The bill also supports the ISS by extending a waiver to sanctions under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act so that the agency can continue to work with Russia through 2030.

The bill directs NASA to have the Block 1B version of the Space Launch System ready by the third flight of the rocket, a faster timetable than NASA currently plans. The bill authorizes several programs and missions, from NASA's education office to the WFIRST astronomy mission, than NASA has sought to cancel. The Senate Commerce Committee will mark up the bill next Wednesday. (11/7)

OMB: Spending Bill Falls Short of Funding Artemis Goals (Source: Space News)
The White House warned Senate appropriators last month that funding levels in a spending bill then under consideration would keep NASA from returning humans to the moon by 2024. The letter from the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget said that the $1.6 billion allocated for exploration R&D programs, including lunar landers and the lunar Gateway, is far short of the $2.3 billion requested. Full funding of that program, the letter stated, is required "to support the Administration's goal of returning to the Moon by 2024."

The letter also sought relief from language requiring Europa Clipper launch on an SLS, stating that NASA needed all the available SLS rockets for exploration programs and that the agency could save as much as $1.5 billion by launching the mission on a commercial vehicle. (11/7)

Air Force Pitch Day Pitchers Get $22.5 Million (Source: Space News)
The first Air Force Space Pitch Day concluded with the award of $22.5 million in contracts and the potential for additional funding in the future. After awarding $750,000 SBIR phase two awards to 30 companies attending the event, Air Force panels selected 15 companies to submit proposals for an additional $750,000 or $2.25 million. The Air Force is likely to continue to award SBIR phase two money through pitch days, officials said, because they introduce Air Force officers responsible for fielding technology to the companies developing it. (11/7)

Army Seeks Non-GPS Navigation Options (Source: Space News)
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is reviewing proposals for systems that could allow Army troops to navigate without the need for GPS. DIU received 25 proposals for the Dismounted Assured PNT [position, navigation and timing] System (DAPS), where companies offered commercially available handheld products that require minimum or no additional development. Some of the alternatives to GPS proposed include inertial navigation, optical navigation and radiofrequency navigation from communications satellite signals. Under a separate program, the Army is buying devices to be installed in ground vehicles so they can operate in GPS-denied or degraded environments. (11/7)

UN Committee Approves Russian Resolutions to Ban Space Weapons (Source: Interfax)
A United Nations committee approved three resolutions regarding a space "arms race" sponsored by Russia. The resolutions called for a ban on the placement of weapons in outer space and development of transparency and confidence-building measures. The United States voted against the resolutions, as it has in the past, while stating it seeks to keep space free of armed conflict. (11/7)

Apollo Lunar Sample Container Opened (Source: CollectSpace)
Scientists opened a lunar sample this week that had been sealed since the Apollo program. The sample tube, containing lunar rocks and regolith, was collected during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 but never opened until now. NASA announced plans earlier this year to give scientists access to sealed samples like this so that modern instrumentation could be used to gain new insights about the moon in preparation for future human missions there. (11/7)

Why We’re Helping a Student Satellite Get to Space (Source: Medium)
Getting to space is hard. But that’s where the rubber meets the road. For students to get the full benefit of learning how to build hardware, they have to actually fly it. We’ve been fortunate to see a huge uptick in student groups getting to build cubesats over the past few years, but finding a launch to space is still the missing piece. Funding sources for space launches are few and far between. Even with NASA’s help, many cubesats still are left sitting on the ground.

My co-founder Ryan McLinko and I are enthusiastic about all things space, so it makes sense that we met in 2006 through SEDS — Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Ryan went on to be chapter president at MIT, just as I’d led the Purdue chapter, and we’ve both stayed deeply involved with the organization ever since. For decades, SEDS has nurtured undergraduate and graduate students’ passion for aerospace engineering at universities around the world, and championed a mission we both firmly believe in — that there’s no better way to learn than just building things. (11/6)

Five Things We’ve Learned Since Voyager 2 Left the Solar System (Source: MIT Technology Review)
Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977—16 days before its twin, Voyager 1, which exited the solar system’s northern hemisphere in 2012 . Voyager 2 was sent on a longer journey that allowed it to make encounters with Uranus and Neptune, and to this day it’s the only spacecraft to have visited these planets up close. The spacecraft was able to analyse the makeup of solar winds, the composition and behavior of plasma particles, the interaction of cosmic rays, the structure and direction of magnetic fields, and other traits that define the edges of the solar system.

1. The bubble is leaking—both ways. Material from the solar bubble was discovered in interstellar space. 2. The boundary of the bubble is more uniform than we thought. 3. The makeup of the heliopause itself can vary by location. 4. The sun’s influence goes beyond the solar system. 5. This was the Voyager program’s final major milestone. (11/4)

SpaceX and Boeing Still Need a Parachute That Always Works (Source: WIRED)
These tests are meant to demonstrate the capsules’ ability to handle a suborbital emergency. If something goes seriously wrong while the astronauts are perched on top of a rocket, the capsules are supposed to jettison them to safety. Passing these tests is a major milestone as the two companies race to be the first to ferry NASA astronauts to space. But getting an astronaut safely off the pad doesn’t count for much if you can’t bring them just as safely back to Earth. And for that you need lots of big parachutes that are guaranteed to work every time—which is trickier than it sounds.

“Parachutes remain a challenging area for both providers,” an Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel report on Boeing and SpaceX’s commercial crew programs noted earlier this year. “Both providers have experienced technical challenges, albeit different ones, related to the deployment and performance of their parachute systems.” Each company is going through a different certification process for their commercial crew program, but the parachutes ultimately face the same fundamental challenges. They have to withstand extreme forces as they slow a 10 ton vehicle from over 100 mph to a running pace.

The parachutes used in Boeing’s Starliner are a scaled-down version of legacy parachute designs developed by NASA nearly 20 years ago as part of the Constellation program. Since the design of Boeing’s parachute system is so similar to NASA’s, the company had to perform fewer tests to demonstrate the system’s safety compared to SpaceX. SpaceX has developed and tested three different canopy designs, relying on special high-strength fabrics and custom stitching patterns to keep the canopy from getting shredded. Its Mark 2 parachute helped successfully bring a Crew Dragon capsule back from its first (uncrewed) orbital mission earlier this year. "The Mark 3 parachutes are possibly 10 times safer," Musk said. (11/5)

How Can Africa Make Better Use of Space Applications? (Source: Space Daily)
'Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management in Africa: Challenges, Applications, Partnerships' is the title of the first conference focusing on 'Space applications in Africa'. It has been organised by the United Nations, the University of Bonn and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).

Approximately 100 participants have convened on the UN Campus in Bonn for the conference, which is taking place from 6 to 8 November 2019. It is being hosted by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, (UNOOSA), in particular the United Nations Platform for SPace-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (Zentrum fur Fernerkundung der Landoberflache; ZFL) at the University of Bonn and DLR. (11/7)

Starlink Launch Will Reuse a Falcon Heavy Fairing for the First Time (Source: Teslarati)
SpaceX has announced that a thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster successfully completed a static fire test ahead of the company’s first launch in three months, set to be Starlink’s ‘v1.0’ launch debut. In a twist, SpaceX says that the mission will be the first to reuse a full payload fairing, recovered after Falcon Heavy Block 5’s April 2019 launch debut. Neither of the two fairing halves recovered after Falcon Heavy Block 5’s Arabsat 6A mission were actually caught by fairing recovery ship Ms. Tree (formerly Mr. Steven). Instead, both halves gently landed in the Atlantic Ocean – more than 1000 km (620 mi) off the coast of Florida – and were carefully lifted onto different recovery ships. (11/5)

Beijing Eyes Creating First Earth-Moon Economic Zone (Source: Space Daily)
China has been actively investing in space exploration in recent years, with its latest achievement being the successful launch of a drone that landed on the far side of the Moon and conducted several experiments there. Beijing is already planning future lunar missions, including a manned one. Director of the Science and Technology Commission of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Bao Weimin has announced that Beijing is considering creating the first Earth-Moon economic zone by 2050.

According to him, China is planning to invest in studies on how much it would cost for the idea to come to fruition, as well as for the deployment of a transportation system linking Earth and its natural satellite. How big is the role that Beijing is hoping to play in the potential trade route between the two cosmic bodies? Industry insiders, asked by the Global Times media outlet, say that such an economic zone could generate around $10 trillion a year. Bao Weimin, in turn, stressed that space exploration has huge economic potential. (11/7)

November 6, 2019

SpaceX Connects Brownsville to a New World of Space Enthusiasts (Source: Houston Chronicle)
SpaceX moved into the Brownsville area with a promise to create jobs and spur the local economy. Those benefits have come slowly, but billionaire Elon Musk’s commercial space company has provided other rewards by connecting local residents to a global community beyond their South Texas hometown — a community united around a vision for the space-faring future.

It’s a message Musk emphasized during a recent event in Boca Chica, where he unveiled the Starship Mk1 prototype that will be launched about 12 miles into the sky in the near future. Later iterations of the spaceship would be launched into orbit and ultimately paired with the Super Heavy Rocket to help make humans a multi-planetary species. “There are many troubles in the world,” Musk said. “And these are important and we need to solve them, but we also need things that make us excited to be alive. That make us glad to wake up in the morning and be fired up about the future.”

The excitement has even affected Maria Pointer, who is fighting SpaceX over the impact its plans have had on her property and the amount the company has offered to buy her home of 16 years. Pointer admitted that she can’t help but marvel at the activities next door, where both the Starship Mk1 and its predecessor the Starhopper were assembled. She’s dubbed the facility the Boca Chica Rocket Shipyard. (11/5)

China’s Bold Sspace Program Flourishing (Source: Asia Times)
On October 1, 2019 China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. President Xi Jinping took the opportunity to proclaim that “no force will stop or shake China or its people from achieving its goals” of becoming the primary global power. Outer space is an integral part of Xi’s China dream of broadcasting Chinese power and influence, and a critical component of his Civil-Military Integration Strategy. Consequently, by October 1, 2049, when China celebrates its 100th year of existence, outer space presence and military space capacity will play a key role.

First, build space capacity for cost effective launch and access. Second, launch its own permanent space station. Third, create capacity to dominate cislunar space. Fourth, once cislunar is secured, develop the capacity for sustainable presence on the moon, to include in-space manufacturing as well as mature space-based solar power technology to power its lunar base and sustain human presence. Finally, once that is accomplished, develop capacity for deep space exploration and resource extraction from asteroids. (11/5)

China to Meet Challenges of Exploring Asteroid, Comet (Source: Xinhua)
Chinese space engineers are tackling the key technologies needed to explore a near-Earth asteroid and a main-belt comet with one space probe. The proposed mission is to send a probe around an asteroid named 2016HO3 and then land on it to collect samples, Huang Jiangchuan, a researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology, recently told the first China Space Science Assembly in Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province.

The probe will then fly back to the proximity of Earth, and release a capsule to return the samples. After that, the probe will continue its journey. With the assistance of the gravity of Earth and Mars, it will finally arrive at the main asteroid belt and orbit comet 133P, Huang said. Asteroid 2016HO3 has a very close relationship with Earth and is known as a "mini moon" or a quasi satellite. It has a diameter of about 40 to 100 meters and a density of about 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter, said Huang. (11/6)

Do We Need a Special Language to Talk to Aliens? (Source: WIRED)
This custom symbolic system begins by introducing ET to numerals, and then progresses to more complex topics like human biology and the planets in our solar system. An earlier version of the language was first sent into space in 1999 and again in 2003 as part of the Cosmic Call messages—a crowd-sourced interstellar messaging project that marked the first serious attempt at interstellar communication since Carl Sagan and Frank Drake sent the Arecibo message into space 25 years earlier.

All of these formal messaging attempts have taken basically the same approach: Teach numerals and basic arithmetic first. But as some recent insights in neurolinguistics suggest, it might not be the best way to greet our alien neighbors. The world’s first interstellar communication system, the lingua cosmica, or Lincos, set the tone for all subsequent attempts by placing basic math at its core. Designed by the Dutch mathematician Hans Freudenthal in 1960, Lincos inspired several other mathematicians and scientists to try their hand at designing extraterrestrial languages. Each system is ultimately an attempt at solving a remarkably complex problem: How do you communicate with an intelligent entity you know nothing about?

The question gets at the nature of intelligence itself. Humans are the only species on Earth endowed with advanced mathematical ability and a fully fledged faculty of language, but are these hallmarks of intelligence or human idiosyncrasies? Is there an aspect of intelligence that is truly universal? Scientists and mathematicians have grappled with these questions for centuries. As the Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner once observed, mathematics is “unreasonably effective” at describing the natural universe, which has led a significant contingent of mathematicians to conclude that math is baked into the fabric of reality. (11/5)

Discovering Extraterrestrial Life Would Be Slow and Uncertain (Source:
Scientists have spent long enough looking for proof of alien life that the little buggers, if they do exist, probably aren't going to be easy to identify. Instead, experts thinking about how to spot life beyond Earth are realizing that they may put humanity in an uncomfortable place of uncertainty. Initial data may raise eyebrows and prompt speculation of alien life, but it likely won't be definitive enough to settle the matter on its own.

"It's probably something that's going to be a slow discovery, not like the little green humanoids arriving here on Earth scaring everybody," Sara Seager, an astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who focuses on detecting exoplanets, said during a panel held last month at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington. "It's probably going to take a long time." Seager added that she thinks that a slow discovery could make it easier for people to process it, and its significance. (11/5)

Boeing Offers SLS-Launched Lunar Lander to NASA (Source: Space News)
Boeing announced Nov. 5 that it has submitted a proposal to NASA to develop a lunar lander that could be launched in a single piece on a Space Launch System rocket. The company said its “Fewest Steps to the Moon” proposal, submitted for NASA’s Human Landing Services program, minimized the number of launches and other “mission critical events” needed to get astronauts to the surface of the moon.

“Using the lift capability of NASA’s Space Launch System Block 1B, we have developed a ‘Fewest Steps to the Moon’ approach that minimizes mission complexity, while offering the safest and most direct path to the lunar surface,” Jim Chilton, senior vice president for space and launch at Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said in a company statement. (11/5)

New Study Says that Dark Energy Could be Growing in Strength (Source: Astronomy)
Dark energy, the mysterious and hypothetical force that scientists think is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate, may actually be growing over time, according to one new study. About 20 years ago, scientists discovered dark energy by measuring the light coming from exploding stars, known as supernovas. Dark energy is thought to permeate all of space and, by continuing to study the light coming from supernovas, scientists have observed the effects of dark energy at great distances in the cosmos. Up until now, researchers have been able to track dark energy’s effects up to about 9 billion years ago. (11/5)

Why Are Parachutes Such a Problem for Space Travel? (Source: Quartz)
The United States is developing more spacecraft to carry people into space than any time in history. You might think the whole rocket full of explosive propellant is the biggest engineering challenge, but right now, it’s the soft landing that’s tricky—because designing parachutes, it turns out, isn’t so easy. The issue, as you might imagine, is physics.

When a parachute is deployed to generate resistance in the atmosphere and slow a falling body, the flow of gas against and around its structure is complex and turbulent, especially at supersonic speeds. The study of that kind of turbulence is one of the most difficult phenomena for physicists to characterize and predict. There is even a $1 million prize available for solving one of its defining equations.

It was certainly a challenge for the Apollo program. “A major difficulty in design and development was the lack of adequate analytical methods for properly predicting dynamic behavior, loads and stresses,” a 1968 NASA paper on the Apollo parachutes concluded. “Development of these prediction methods must precede any major improvements…of future spacecraft systems.” (11/5)

SpaceX Readies for Starlink Launch at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Space News)
SpaceX tested a Falcon 9 Tuesday that will launch the next batch of Starlink satellites next week. The static-fire test of the Falcon 9's first stage engines confirmed that the rocket is ready for a launch next Monday from Cape Canaveral carrying the second set of satellites for the company's broadband satellite constellation. The launch will be the fourth flight of that particular Falcon 9 first stage, and will reuse a payload fairing recovered from a Falcon Heavy launch in April. The launch will be the first for SpaceX in more than three months. [Spaceflight Now]

Musk Surprises at USAF Space Pitch Day (Source: Space News)
Elon Musk used a surprise appearance at an Air Force event Tuesday to emphasize the importance of reusable rockets. Musk, appearing at the Air Force Space Pitch Day in San Francisco, said a fully reusable rocket, like the Starship/Super Heavy system SpaceX is developing, is the "holy grail" of the space industry. Once that vehicle is operational, Musk estimated it would cost the company about $2 million for a single launch that could place 100 to 150 tons into low Earth orbit. (11/6)

Air Force Awards Millions During Space Pitch Day (Source: Space News)
Companies received $9 million yesterday at that Space Pitch Day event. Twelve companies each received $750,000 on the spot during the event organized by the Air Force and Starburst Aerospace, an aerospace startup accelerator. Each team competing for the $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research phase two awards also explained how it would carry its concepts further with an additional $1.5 million or $3 million in Air Force funding. (11/6)

Air Force Considers Using Commercial Broadband Constellations (Source: Space News)
The Air Force is enthusiastic about the potential use of commercial satellite broadband constellations. A program known as Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet, or DEUCSI, recently tried out SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband services and demonstrated download speeds of 610 megabits per second into an aircraft cockpit. An Air Force official said Tuesday that Starlink and similar systems could offer much higher throughput than existing systems for its aircraft. In addition to SpaceX, the Air Force is working with Iridium, O3b, OneWeb and Telesat. (11/6)

UK Spaceport Gets $9.5 Million for Infrastructure (Source: Space News)
The U.K. Space Agency will provide £7.35 million ($9.5 million) to fund improvements at a British airport that seeks to host Virgin Orbit launches. The funding is part of a package of nearly £20 million for infrastructure and other services at Cornwall Airport Newquay, also known as Spaceport Cornwall, for supporting flights of Virgin Orbit's air-launched system. Virgin Orbit said that, pending the status of those upgrades to the airport and regulatory approvals in both the United States and Britain, it could perform its first launches from Cornwall as soon as late 2021. (11/6)

Galileo Outage "Unacceptable" (Source: GPS World)
A European Commission official said the outage of the Galileo navigation satellite system earlier this year was "unacceptable." Pierre Delsaux, deputy director-general of the European Commission, said the week-long outage of the system can't be allowed to happen again. An investigation concluded that human error, compounded by a backup system being out of service, brought down Galileo's position, navigation and timing system. He rejected criticism, though, that the EC was not transparent about the outage, saying a "reasonable amount" of information was provided at the time. (11/6)

Analyst: Virgin Galactic Stock Undervalued (Source: CNBC)
A stock analyst argues that Virgin Galactic's share are undervalued. Vertical Research Partners, the first firm to start covering the stock since it began public trading last week, issued a "buy" rating on the stock, concluding that the company's SpaceShipTwo suborbital system was not as risky as the market apparently believes. Vertical stated that SpaceShipTwo should be as least as safe as the X-15, which had one fatal accident in 199 flights more than a half-century ago. (The program also had a second accident that damaged a vehicle and injured its pilot.) Shares in Virgin Galactic, which had tumbled 20% since last Monday, rose 3.5% in trading Tuesday. (11/6)

New Zealand Hosts Methane Monitor Satellite Program (Source: Reuters)
New Zealand will be the home for a methane-monitoring satellite program. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will partner with the New Zealand Space Agency to locate the control center for the MethaneSAT mission in New Zealand. The satellite, being developed by the EDF for launch in 2022, will track emissions of methane from oil and gas facilities to monitor the release of that greenhouse gas. The New Zealand Space Agency will spend $16.6 million on that mission control center and study how data from MethaneSAT could also be used to track agricultural sources of methane emissions. (11/6)

Iridium Refinances Debt for Second-Gen Satellites (Source: Iridium)
Iridium completed a $1.45 billion refinancing to pay off loans it acquired to purchase its second-generation constellation, which is now in orbit. Iridium borrowed $1.45 billion Nov. 4, which it used, along with cash, to pay back $1.55 billion in export credit loans through Bpifrance Assurance Export. The new loan is due in 2026, and includes a $100 million five-year revolving credit line. "This transaction simplifies Iridium's capital structure and adds financial flexibility to benefit our shareholders," Tom Fitzpatrick, Iridium’s chief financial officer, said. Iridium said the refinancing gives it room to consider “shareholder-friendly activities,” such as share buybacks, dividends and strategic investments, as the company seeks to reduce its overall debt. (11/6)