October 8, 2015

SpaceX Can't Dodge Layoff Class Action, But Trims Sister Suit (Source: Law360)
A California judge on Wednesday refused to end a putative class action alleging SpaceX laid off hundreds of workers last year without a state-mandated warning and shorted their final paychecks, agreeing only to cut a fraud claim from a related suit. The two suits both contended that SpaceX had ordered the mass layoffs of between 200 and 400 workers in July 2014 without giving advance notice to them, in violation of California's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. (10/7)

NASA Tests Crew Exit Strategy for Orion (Source: NASA)
When astronauts come home in Orion from deep-space missions, they’ll need a strategy for a safe and efficient exit. At NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are performing a series of tests Oct. 6-8 to evaluate the most efficient way for astronauts to get out of the spacecraft after weeks or months away from Earth.

During the three-day testing, personnel are simulating arriving to a spacecraft floating in the Pacific Ocean and what it will take to assist the crew as they exit. They will also evaluate the layout of equipment inside the spacecraft that affects exit and the gear used during the recovery process. (10/7)

Orbital ATK Books Second Atlas Launch From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Orbital ATK took advantage of a delayed weather satellite mission to book its second Atlas launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft. That launch, scheduled for March, uses a launch slot originally assigned to the GOES-R weather satellite, whose launch has been delayed to late 2016. Orbital plans to resume launches of its Antares rocket for Cygnus missions in May. (10/7)

Missile Warning Satellite Added to List Available for SpaceX Launch Bids (Source: Space News)
A missile warning satellite will be included in upcoming EELV-class launch competitions. Most of the missions being set aside for competition between ULA and SpaceX are for GPS satellites, but one mission will be for a Space Based Infrared System mission warning satellite, and another for payload identified only as Air Force Space Command 9. Proposals for the first of those missions, a GPS 3 satellite, are due next month. (10/7)

NASA to Announce CubeSat Launch Contract Winners (Source: NASA)
NASA will announce next week the winners of launch contracts awarded last week. NASA said Wednesday that it will hold a press conference Oct. 14 to discuss the contracts it awarded for Venture Class Launch Services, covering the dedicated launch of cubesats. According to procurement documents, NASA awarded contracts Sept. 30 to Firefly Space Systems, Rocket Lab and Virgin Galactic, with a total value of about $17 million. (10/7)

SECAF Now is DOD's Principal Advisor for Space (Source: USAF)
The Secretary of the Air Force is now formally the Defense Department's principal advisor for space. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work named Deborah Lee James to the newly-created position, formerly known as the executive agent for space, in a memo this week. The revised position gives James greater oversight of Defense Department space activities. The announcement was not unexpected, as a draft memo announcing the appointment circulated last month. (10/7)

Mars Obiter Could Link to Sample Return Mission (Source: Space News)
A Mars orbiter mission NASA is studying for the early 2020s could play a role in a broader sample return effort. The orbiter, planned for launch as soon as 2022, would serve primarily as a telecommunications relay and carry some science instruments. The orbiter could also carry mechanisms to capture samples lofted from the Martian surface by an ascent vehicle, preparing them for transport to Earth. There is no budget yet for that orbiter, and NASA requested no funds for it in its 2016 budget proposal. (10/7)

Spaceport Colorado Submitting FAA License Application This Month (Source: Flight Global)
A Colorado airport plans to submit its application for an FAA spaceport license this month. The director of Front Range Airport, near Denver, said the airport expects to have its application completed and submitted to the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation this month, starting a 180-day review period. The airport hopes to attract spaceplane operators, but acknowledges potential challenges in operations given that Denver International Airport is only several kilometers away. (10/7)

ISS Cubesat Deployer Hits Another Snag (Source: SpaceRef)
The deployment of this week's final two Cubesats from the Kibo lab module is on hold today. More Cubesats were released overnight and this morning from a deployer mechanism attached to the Kibo lab module. However, the final pair of Cubesats failed to deploy today due to interference with a latch on the deployer. Payload controllers are investigating the issue to determine a future release date of the Cubesats. This week's Cubesats due for release included 14 Dove sats from Planet Labs and two European Cubesats. (10/8)

NASA Tournament Lab to Collaborate on Human Habitation in Space (Source: Space Daily)
The global innovation firm NineSigma announced two Innovation Challenges they will run for NASA Tournament Lab; the Space Suit Textile Testing Challenge in collaboration with the Advanced Space Suit Project team and the In-Situ Materials Challenge in collaboration with the Kennedy Space Center and Swamp Works. The challenges leverage open innovation, advancing visionary aspirations for life in space, and interplanetary travel.

The Space Suit Textile Testing Challenge, which launched on October 5, 2015, seeks to develop standard test methodologies for assessing the wear performance of environmental protection garment (EPG) textiles for planetary exploration and offers three prizes of $5,000 for winning submissions. (10/8)

Where to Look for Life (Source: Space Daily)
Powerful telescopes are coming soon. Where exactly shall we point them? Astronomers with the University of Washington's Virtual Planetary Laboratory have created a way to compare and rank exoplanets to help prioritize which of the thousands discovered warrant close inspection in the search for life beyond Earth.

The new metric, called the "habitability index for transiting planets," is introduced in a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal by UW astronomy professors Rory Barnes and Victoria Meadows, with research assistant and co-author Nicole Evans. (10/8)

Dream Chaser Preparing for Second Free-Flight Test and First Orbital Test (Source: SNC)
In anticipation of a second phase of flight testing, Sierra Nevada Corp. has announced significant updates to two Dream Chaser spacecraft currently in development. The spacecraft are the atmospheric engineering test article (ETA) and the advanced composite orbital vehicle, which when tested will undergo a suborbital and orbital flight regimen, respectively.

“The SNC team is readying the ETA in order to begin the second phase of atmospheric flight testing early next year and our strategic partner, Lockheed Martin, is leveraging best practices in tooling and composites to manufacture the first orbital Dream Chaser spacecraft,” said Mark. N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president, SNC’s Space Systems. “Both efforts have been ongoing simultaneously and we are very pleased with the progress to date.” (10/7)

Google’s $30m Race to the Moon is Ready for Lift-Off (Source: TNW News)
Israeli non-profit space exploration company SpaceIL has announced that it’s become the first company to successfully deliver a launch contract in pursuit of Google’s $30 million lunar XPRIZE payout. Google has supported the lunar XPRIZE initiative since 2007 to try and spur “a new era of affordable access to the moon and beyond.”

In order to nab the $20 million first prize, a team needs to land a privately funded rover on the moon that’s capable of transmitting HD video and images back to earth, and that can travel at least 500 meters. Teams also have to prove that 90 percent of their funding came from private sources to qualify. The second team to successfully complete the challenge will get a $5 million prize, and the rest of the cash is split across other smaller challenges. (10/7)

Infographic: NASA's Upcoming Exploration Missions (Source: Futurism)
Click here for an infographic describing 11 upcoming NASA missions. (10/7)

Buzz Aldrin: 'Earth Isn't the Only World for Us Anymore' (Source: Aol)
Since the Apollo 11 landing in July 1969, I have had a long-held belief that Earth isn't the only world for us anymore. In my view, we must all strive for a continuously expanding human presence in space. Secondly, I see America's global leadership role in space as one that that translates into it being a global "team player" for space. That includes the U.S. collaborating with India, China, South Korea and other spacefaring nations to strengthen an American-led international permanence on the planet Mars. (10/6)

October 7, 2015

Israeli Google Lunar X Prize Team Books Rocket (Source: BBC)
Israeli team SpaceIL has booked a rocket ride to send a probe to the Moon as part of the Google Lunar X Prize. It is the first group in the competition to formally lodge a verified launch contract with the competition's organizers. That is significant because it will trigger an extension in the prize's deadline to the end of 2017.

To win, a team must land on the Moon, roam at least 500m, and return hi-res video and images to Earth.
SpaceIL intends to go to the lunar surface with a hopping probe in the second half of 2017, using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to send it on its way. The Israeli team's spacecraft will be a primary payload on a multi-mission launch. (10/7)

Exploiting the Commercial Value of Space – An Indian Entrepreneur Perspective (Source: NewSpace India)
In India, space activities were initiated in 1962, with the setting up of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR). Initially, space research was conducted in India mainly with the help of sounding rockets. Space research activities acquired prominence with the establishment of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969 and the formation of Space Commission and Department of Space in 1972. Click here. (10/7)

Crisafulli: Future of Space Bright in Brevard (Source: Florida Today)
For more than 50 years, Brevard County has been known to the world as Florida's Space Coast. When I was 9, I remember standing outside, watching the sky in awe as the space shuttle Columbia launched into space, kicking off a new, exciting era of space development. That all ended when the shuttle program was retired and the Constellation program was canceled, devastating our community. Thousands of jobs were lost. Homes were foreclosed. Loved ones moved away in search of work.

Since being elected to the Florida House, I have worked tirelessly with my colleagues in the Legislature to restore Florida's prominence in space. While we have made significant progress in recent years to strengthen the space industry, Florida must continue to focus on this critical industry to ensure our state remains the launching pad to the stars.

The Legislature is not alone in this endeavor — incredible partners such as Gov. Rick Scott, Space Florida, Enterprise Florida, the Brevard County Commission and the Economic Development Commission of the Space Coast — are committed to maintaining state's leadership in space. The two keys to this effort have been diversifying and expanding the commercial aerospace industry and strengthening Space Florida, our state's space agency. Click here. (10/7)

China Launches First Commercial-Use Earth Imaging Satellite (Source: GB Times)
China has sent its first commercial use remote sensing satellite into orbit after a successful launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Wednesday. A Long March 2C rocket launched the Jilin 1 satellite constellation, which consists of a primary high definition optical satellite, as well as two Lingqiao video satellites and a fourth, LQSat, to test space technology. (10/7)

Space Junk: The French Factor (Source: The Globalist)
France by itself is the fourth-biggest contributor to “space junk” including spent rockets, retired satellites and fragments from old missions – all of which can damage or destroy satellites and the international space station. Just over 500 cataloged objects are attributable to France alone, representing just 3% of the total number in orbit. France distantly trails the top three, the former USSR, the US and China. (10/6)

Space Junk: The Asia Factor (Source: The Globalist)
China is the world’s third-biggest contributor to space debris, behind former Soviet countries and the United States. This debris, including spent rockets, retired satellites and fragments from old missions can damage or destroy satellites and the international space station. A total of 3,706 debris items (or 22% of the global total) attributable to China had been cataloged as of July 1, 2015, according to the United States Space Surveillance Network. (10/7)

Russian Space Enthusiast Raises 1 Million Rubles to Prove U.S. Moon Landing (Source: Moscow Times)
When Vitaly Yegorov watched in awe as NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars three years ago, he never could have imagined his fascination with space would one day lead to the genesis of his own satellite — and a 1 million ruble campaign to dispel a popular Russian conspiracy theory that the U.S. moon landings were faked.

Yegorov, 33, a Moscow-based PR specialist, proposed building a satellite to go into lunar orbit and take high-resolution photographs of the moon’s surface to document evidence of the landing of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, as well as the Luna and Lunokhod Soviet-era space missions. The project made the headlines in Russia this week after the amount of money raised via the Boomstarter.ru crowdfunding platform reached 1 million rubles ($15,400) in only five days.

Yegorov initially planned to raise 800,000 rubles ($12,100) when he launched a crowdfunding campaign on Oct. 1, but on Monday he wrote on Facebook that the campaign had “reached a million,” which was 200,000 rubles more than he had asked for. (10/6)

Follow in Astronauts' Footprints with Tour of JSC (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Houston, we have a problem. Most people know the Bayou City is home to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, but fewer realize those familiar words, repeated most notably in the movie "Apollo 13," were misquoted. (Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert Jr. actually said, "Houston, we've had a problem here.")

Such tidbits abound in displays that take a fascinating look at the past, present and future of America's exploration of the skies at Space Center Houston, a Smithsonian Affiliate museum that has become one of the city's top attractions. Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of the Johnson center, but it is a nonprofit, owned and operated by the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation and not a part of NASA.

A general admission ticket will allow you to see the world's largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples, as well as more than 400 space artifacts in the center's permanent and traveling exhibits. If you're a space buff like me, you'll want to take the museum's Level 9 Tour, an in-depth, behind-the-scenes experience that lasts about five hours. It costs $89.95, plus a $1.50 service charge if you buy your ticket online. (10/6)

China Launches Cube Satellites for Civil Aircraft Tracking (Source: Xinhua)
China has successfully launched three cube satellites (CubeSats), which are expected to help track civil aircraft and ships and avoid tragedies like missing flight MH370. The three CubeSats in a mission coded STU-2 were launched on Sept. 25 and have entered their designed orbit, according to the mission's chief designer, Wu Shufan.

The three spacecraft are equipped with polar region observation cameras as well as automatic identification system (AIS) receivers for information from ships and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) receivers for messages sent from civil flights. (10/7)

India Facing Space Workforce Challenge (Source: New Indian Express)
India is facing dearth of new talent in space research, and scientists and scientific institutions should engage with students more often to identify and groom a new crop of scientists, said Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) former chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair. “The nation is facing a big challenge in the form of shortage of new talents in space research. Most of our achievements in the field are the contributions of scientists who entered the field in 1960s and 1970s,” he said. (10/7)

Wallops Island Launch Will Test Rocket-Making Method (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
A launch tonight from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility will test a way to make rockets lighter and space travel less costly. The 40-foot Black Brant IX will take off between 7 and 9 p.m. and fly for nine minutes up to 160 miles above the Atlantic Ocean before splashing down miles offshore. Clouds of red, blue and green from gases released during the test of an ejection system will be visible from the ground in Hampton Roads.

Wallops Flight Facility typically launches 10 suborbital rockets, or sounding rockets, each year to experiment on the latest in space travel, spokesman Keith Koehler said. (10/7)

Space Travel for the 1%: Virgin Galactic's $250,000 Tickets Haunt New Mexico Town (Source: Guardian)
More than 700 people have bought $250,000 tickets for Virgin Galactic, which promises to take them on 2.5-hour journey 68 miles above the earth to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. Virgin Galactic’s proposed launch site, Spaceport America, broke ground in southern New Mexico’s high desert in 2009 with almost a quarter of a billion dollars from taxpayers, $76m of which came from the two local counties that contain its 27 square miles.

The state’s support for Spaceport America is supposed to eventually enable Justin Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun – who might be the first astronauts with only high school-level educations – to take up the gauntlet of the Neil Armstrongs and Chris Hadfields of the past era.

But since the Virgin Galactic crash last fall, the high-tech facility has sat largely vacant. A $200m boondoggle mouldering in the New Mexican desert, some have called it. Virgin Galactic, which had expected to fly tourists as early as 2009, will no longer speculate when people will be allowed to fly. State senator George Muñoz, who has described the Spaceport Authority as “throwing money every way the wind blows”, says it’s long past time the state cut its losses and got out of the game. (10/4)

Could This Tough Bacteria Survive on Mars? (Source: Discovery)
The last thing scientists searching for life on Mars want to find is a colony of hitchhiking microbes from Earth. To that end, an experiment poised to begin week aims to put some of the planet’s most tenacious bacteria through an ultimate survivors’ challenge.

Four million spores of Bacillus pumilus SAFR-032, a highly resilient strain of bacteria, will ride a helium balloon to the edge of space so they can bask in the frigid cold, extreme low pressure and intense solar ultraviolet radiation at the edge of space. Click here. (10/9)

Congress Bullied NASA Into Diverting Funds to Fix Virginia Spaceport (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Yesterday, the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority reported that major repairs to Wallops are complete. It seemed to be happy news, as work crews fixed the site on time and within budget. Yet not all is well. Some, including the NASA inspector general, are scratching their heads about how it came to pass that NASA paid so much money to fix the facility.

Read the IG's report and it seems that Virginia Congressmen backed NASA into a corner, pushing the space agency to pay millions of dollars in repairs that the agency was not liable for. NASA routed millions in extra funds to its commercial space partners in Virginia—money that came from other space operations programs.

In December, Congress passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act. In it there is one line item, written by four Virginia congressmen and submitted through an appropriations committee, in which Congress directed NASA to reallocate $20 million from the agency's budget to fund repairs at Wallops. Not too shabby on Virginia's part—your tenant breaks a launch pad, you get the feds to buy you a new one. (10/6)

Dream Chaser Still Fighting for Her Place in Space (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spaceplane is still holding on to the hope of flying missions for NASA despite losing out on the role of a Commercial Crew carrier for the agency. Although little information has been heard about the future of the spacecraft of late, SNC is hoping to win favor from NASA in the upcoming award of the Cargo Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract.

When SNC lost out in NASA’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract – with the Agency choosing SpaceX’s Dragon 2 and Boeing’s Starliner – observers feared for the fate of the little spaceplane. SNC’s immediate reaction was to release part of its Dream Chaser workforce, raising fears Dream Chaser would soon have her wings clipped. However, SNC claimed it would press forward with their plans for the spacecraft that was never exclusively designed for transporting NASA astronauts to and from the ISS.

The forward plan involved finishing work under NASA’s CCDev-2 contract obligations while attempting to attract commercial customers and other space agencies into the fold. (10/6)

American Leadership in Space 2.0 (Source: Space News)
A lot of rhetoric has been thrown around over the last several years about how the United States is “falling behind” in space and ceding its leadership role. This rather pessimistic assessment is largely based on the status of U.S. government space programs. NASA’s current human space exploration program is perceived as a shadow of its glory days of the 1960s, and U.S. national security space capabilities no longer have the same relative advantage over near-peers as in the late 1990s and early 2000s after the fall of the Soviet Union.

However, taking a broader perspective of space activities leads to a much different conclusion: The United States is doing more in space than ever before, and in ways that no other country can match.

The main driver for this new leadership is the commercial space sector, not the U.S. government. Instead of attempting to recapture “Space 1.0” leadership by focusing purely on stronger U.S. government space programs, another possible strategy is to develop a “Space 2.0” approach and focus on encouraging, shaping and leveraging the commercial space sector to help propel it into the future. Click here. (10/6)

World View's Balloon-Based Space Tourism to Lift Off in 2017 (Source: Space.com)
A new type of space tourism is set to lift off two years from now, without the aid of a rocket. Arizona-based World View Enterprises aims to start launching paying customers to the stratosphere in 2017 beneath a giant balloon, for $75,000 per seat. Passengers will spend two hours at an altitude of 100,000 feet (30,500 meters), where they'll be able to see the blackness of space and the curvature of Earth, company representatives say. (10/6)

Would You Rather Be Stranded on Mars or the Moon? (Source: Space.com)
A successful Google Lunar XPrize would result in cost-effective and reliable access to the moon, allowing for the development of new methods of discovering and using space resources and, in the long term, helping to expand human civilization into space. 

But if you were to be stranded on one or the other, which would you pick? Just for fun, we asked our CEO, Peter Diamandis, whether he would rather be stranded on the moon or on Mars. In this video, hear what he had to say. (10/6)

How NASA Helped Make The Martian's User Interfaces Realer Than Real (Source: Gizmodo)
Filmmakers have invented fanciful spaceship technology for more than a hundred years. But for The Martian, director Ridley Scott went the opposite direction: He asked actual space explorers to help them imagine the technology of the near future.

To make The Martian, which arrived in theaters this weekend, Scott asked NASA to advise the people who are normally in charge of only imagining what technology will look like in 200 years–from the film’s set designers to its graphic designers. Click here. (10/6)

NASA Selects Student Teams for 2016 High-Powered Rocket Launch Challenge (Source: NASA)
NASA selected 54 student teams from across the nation to participate in the 2015-2016 NASA Student Launch challenge, to be held April 13-17 near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Student Launch is a research-based, experiential exploration activity, requiring an eight-month commitment to design, construct, test, launch and successfully recover a reusable rocket and its scientific or engineering payload.

Teams were chosen based on a comprehensive review of their proposal, which outlines their vehicle, its recovery system, payload, safety and educational engagement plans. A complete list of the 2016 Student Launch teams can be found here. Editor's Note: Seven of the teams are from Florida universities and high schools. (10/6)

Astronaut Smartwatch App in Wins NASA Competition (Source: Wareable)
NASA has selected the winner of its crowdsourced astronaut app competition - B by UX designer Ignacio Calvo and mechanical engineer Jocelyn Richard. NASA's Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation asked for designs for a smartwatch app that astronauts aboard the International Space Station can use with day to day work and the winning pair bagged $1,500.

Since the contest opened in August NASA has received 237 entries via Freelancer.com showing mock-ups of how the app would work and look based on a Samsung Gear 2 as the hardware reference. The single smartwatch app shows a crew timeline as well as cautions and warnings, communication status of vehicles and timers for ISS procedures. Astronauts currently use laptops and iPads to view timelines and warning information. (10/6)

Neutrino Scientists Win Nobel (Source: RSAS)
A nearly massless particle won two physicists a massive prize. Takaaki Kajita of the Univ. of Tokyo and Arthur B. McDonald of Queen's Univ. in Canada shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics Tuesday for discovering a phenomenon called neutrino oscillation that demonstrates that neutrinos have a very small mass. The oscillation phenomenon explained why scientists detected only a third of the neutrinos they expected the sun to emit. (10/6)

AIA: US Aerospace Industrial Base is Running Out of Time (Source: AIA)
With the news that a $1.1 billion order for Boeing jetliners by a South African airline is at risk of cancellation, and the announcements of three lost US commercial satellite sales, it is clear that the failure of Congress to reauthorize the US Export-Import Bank is causing the American aerospace industry to lose ground against its foreign competitors, and potentially thousands of workers to lose their jobs. The price for delay of the vote to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank is going up every second, and our nation will ultimately bear the cost. Hold the vote and reauthorize the Export-Import Bank! (10/5)

Submarine Crews Hold Clues to Coping with Extended Space Flight (Source: AP)
NASA is using a Navy submarine laboratory to study effects of long space flights, as the agency eyes a Mars mission in coming decades. "We have a shared interest with the Navy in team resilience," said NASA's Brandon Vessey. "When you stick people together for a long period of time, how are they going to do?" (10/5)

Spaceport America Supports STEM Education (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
One of the foundational objectives of Spaceport America is to encourage and promote education, particularly STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Our interest is both self-serving and altruistic. We rely on the availability of employees with highly developed skills in many of the STEM fields to operate and maintain our high-tech facility, and so we work to “fill the pipeline” with future employees.

At the same time, as individuals who possess STEM skills, spaceport staff members believe it is our responsibility to encourage everyone to achieve a level of STEM proficiency, to assist them in that endeavor, and to encourage students to make one of the STEM fields their life’s work.

There are two major methods by which Spaceport America participates in STEM education. One is our student virtual tour program. Some of us spend part of nearly every Thursday talking with students in Las Cruces Public Schools and taking them on a virtual tour of spaceport facilities. We do this in conjunction with the Challenger Center. Every sixth-grader in the LCPS will participate in a simulated, but in many ways very realistic, space mission at the Challenger Center. (10/5)

NASA Might Pick Two Discovery Missions, But at a Price (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A senior NASA official said the agency could select two new robotic planetary science missions next year for launch in the early 2020s, and the finalists are a Venus orbiter and atmospheric probe, an observatory to search for killer space rocks, and two probes to visit unexplored types of asteroids. NASA managers will judge the proposals on cost, technical readiness and scientific return, then pick one or two for full development as the next robotic probe in the space agency’s Discovery program.

Three of the candidate spacecraft — the two Venus missions and a robot to visit multiple Trojan asteroids — would be manufactured by Lockheed Martin, sources said. The asteroid-hunting telescope would be built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies, while a spacecraft to study the metallic asteroid Psyche is contracted to Space Systems/Loral, according to scientists involved in the missions.

NASA will give the five mission teams $3 million each for year-long studies to lay out detailed mission plans and reduce risks. The space agency said it could pick one or two two of the finalists for full development by September 2016, with launches expected in 2020 or 2021. (10/5)

Cosmic Suds: Huntsville Brewery Creates Space-Themed Beers (Source: Space.com)
In Huntsville, Alabama, home of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, space and rockets are a part of the local culture — even, as it turns out, the beer culture. Dan Perry is a co-owner of the Straight to Ale brewery, based in Huntsville, where he has lived for most of his life. When naming his company's line of beverages, Perry said it just made sense to incorporate NASA and spaceflight.

The company's signature brew is named in honor of Miss Baker, the first monkey sent to space by NASA who successfully returned alive. Other space-based brews include Wernher von Brown Ale (after Wernher von Braun, an early rocket developer for NASA and former director of Marshall). There's also the Laika Russian Imperial Stout, after the Soviet dog Laika, who became the first live animal to orbit the Earth. (10/5)

Starchaser Industries Launches Tempest Rocket (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Early on Monday evening, Sept. 21, 2015, was the launch of Tempest-4, one the rockets built by Starchaser Industries, who are based in Hyde, Greater Manchester, UK. The event took place on the estate of Capesthorne Hall in rural Cheshire. Originally, the launch was scheduled for the early morning, but due to adverse weather conditions, it was pushed back to a later time.

Waiting excitedly were 100s of budding engineers and space enthusiast from more than 20 schools from around the region ready to witness the latest experiment. Most of which are active in the Educational Outreach Programme for schools and other similar entities in the UK. The program, using real examples of rockets and scientific principles, aims to excite and inspire pupils to get interested in Science and Engineering.

Starchaser was founded in 1992 by CEO Steve Bennett, who was also the Director Space Technology Laboratory at the University of Salford. Since early childhood, witnessing the Moon landing on TV was one of many influences that had led to the creation of Starchaser and to develop Steve’s life’s goal to send a manned mission into space. (10/6)

Russia Develops Engine for Future Spaceplane (Source: Space Daily)
Russia's Military Academy of Strategic Missile Forces accomplished the task of developing a power plant for a plane that allows it to alternate between the airbreathing regime during a flight in the atmosphere and rocket propulsion regime during a flight in space, according to an official. Russia's Military Academy of Strategic Missile Forces said Monday its had developed an engine for a prospective dual-purpose spaceplane.

The official stressed that a combined airbreathing-rocket engine with a pulse detonation combustion chamber has a very high thermodynamic efficiency, which would allow to reduce significantly the cost of orbital cargo delivery. According to the academy's preliminary estimation, the production cost of each engine is estimated to be about 90 million rubles ($1.4 million), while the liquid-propellant engines for one-stage rockets cost about 120-140 million. (10/6)

NASA is Now "Pretty Sure" Those Weird White Patches on Ceres are Salt (Source: Science Alert)
For months, NASA scientists (and the rest of us playing along at home) have been puzzling over a series of mysterious bright patches spotted in the middle of a huge crater on the dwarf planet Ceres.

First seen by the Dawn spacecraft, which is now steadily orbiting closer and closer to Ceres, NASA's original assumption was that the patches were made of ice, but the wavelengths of light being reflected suggested otherwise. And despite coming up with a whole lot of hypotheses since then, they've publicly remained stumped as to what could be causing the patches - until now. (10/6)

Is Space Warfare Inevitable? (Source: Quartz)
Diplomats call for it. Astronomers see it as vital. Even military officials usually separated along old geopolitical fault lines view it as a matter of mutual self-interest. Virtually everyone agrees that outer space should remain free of weapons. But decades of diplomatic efforts to ensure that it does have failed to produce a significant new agreement among nations. And with the United Nations set to discuss space arms once more later this month, experts anticipate little headway.

To blame for this stalemate are clashing visions of what an agreement on space weapons should look like. A majority of countries, led by the Russian Federation and China, support proposals for a legally binding treaty prohibiting the placement of weapons in space. But the United States has consistently opposed such a deal, endorsing voluntary measures instead. (10/5)

October 6, 2015

Facebook to Beam Free Internet Service to Africa with Satellites (Source: The Hill)
Facebook and satellite company Eutelsat will start beaming Internet service to parts of Africa under a new deal announced Monday. Both companies will “deploy Internet services designed to relieve pent-up demand for connectivity from the many users in Africa beyond range of fixed and mobile terrestrial networks,” according to a Eutelsat statement. The firm said only that the service would reach “large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The two companies will share satellite capacity, with Eutelsat focusing on premium and professional customers. Facebook’s efforts will be aimed at bringing people online who otherwise could not get access — the mission of its Internet.org arm. Internet.org efforts have been met with mixed reactions. Its primary product so far is a package called Free Basics, phone apps that users in the developing world can access without paying their providers for data. (10/5)

Recent Russian Rendezvous and Proximity Operations in Space (Source: Space Review)
In the last few years, Russia has carried out a number of missions to test rendezvous and proximity operations, both in low Earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit. Brian Weeden describes what is known about these efforts, and the policy implications of such tests given similar missions by American spacecraft in the past. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2839/1 to view the article. (10/5)

Orbiting First: a Reasonable Strategy for a Sustainable Mars Program (Source: Space Review)
Last week, The Planetary Society released a report that came out of a workshop earlier this year on more affordable strategies for human Mars exploration. Casey Dreier and Jason Callahan discuss how an architecture that sends humans first to orbit Mars can fit into current NASA budgets for human spaceflight. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2838/1 to view the article. (10/5)

"The Martian" and Real Martians (Source: Space Review)
The film adaptation of the bestselling novel "The Martian" opened to rave reviews and a big box office take this weekend, days after NASA also announced evidence of liquid water on the surface of present-day Mars. Jeff Foust examines what effect -- if any -- these events could have on NASA's plans for actual human missions to the Red Planet. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2837/1 to view the article. (10/5)

India's Space Program Looks Outwards (Source: Space Review)
India launched last week its first dedicated astronomy spacecraft, called ASTROSAT. Ajey Lele says the launch is another sign that India's space agency is moving beyond its traditional role of socioeconomic development into science and exploration. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2836/1 to view the article. (10/5)

Putting the Pieces Back Together Again (Source: Space Review)
A major gallery in the National Air and Space Museum looks more like a workshop right now, as part of renovations of that gallery. Dwayne Day explores how the gallery, and the museum, are changing. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2835/1 to view the article. (10/5)

Senators Seek NASA Commitment for Tracking of Lake Erie Algal Blooms (Source: Cleceland Plain Dealer)
Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are seeking a long-term commitment from NASA in anticipation of a continued need for high-tech tracking of toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie. Brown and Portman, joined by Michigan's senators, penned a two-page letter to Charles Bolden in a preemptive attempt for a commitment from NASA to continue to perform aerial monitoring of toxic algal blooms in the lake, as well as to seek funding for algae monitoring through the 2017 budget year. (10/5)

The Ansari X Prize’s Awkward Family Reunion (Source: Parabolic Arc)
By mid-morning there were at least a dozen private jets stretched along the flight line running east from the Voyager restaurant toward the control tower. And even more were on their way. And to what did Mojave owe this ostentatious display of wealth by the 1 percenters? They had come to the sun-splashed spaceport last Oct. 4 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ansari X Prize.

A decade earlier, Burt Rutan and his Paul Allen-funded team had won $10 million for sending the first privately-built manned vehicle into space twice within a two-week period. It was a tremendous achievement — one that was to herald a new era led by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic that would open up space to the masses. Or at least that part of humanity that could shell out 200 grand to float around for five minutes. And it was all only three years away. Regular, routine and safe travel to space would begin in 2007.

But, something funny happened on the way to the future: nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Things had happened. Engines were tested, SpaceShipTwo was built and flown, deposits taken, promises made and broken, schedules set and revised. Three Scaled Composites engineers had died tragically. And there had been hype. Lots and lots of hype. (10/5)

The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be: SpaceShipOne & the Triumph of Hype (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Of everyone who spoke on that triumphant sunny day, it was Burt Rutan who was the most boastful and dismissive of NASA and the rest of the space industry. “I was thinking a little bit about that other space agency, the big guys, I think they’re looking at each other now and saying, ‘We’re screwed.’,” he told a cheering crowd on the tarmac at Mojave.

“Because I’ll tell ya something….I have a helluva lot bigger goal, and you know what that goal is? I absolutely have to develop a manned space tourism system that’s at least a hundred times safer than anything that’s ever flown man to space and probably a lot more. I have to do that.” So, how’d that work out for you, Burt?

Not real well. By 2007, the year commercial service was supposed to have begun, Rutan and his team were still three years away from SpaceShipTwo’s first flight. The only significant event to that point was the loss of three Scaled engineers in a test stand explosion. Seven years later, SpaceShipTwo was destroyed on only its fourth powered flight test when the ship’s feather device — which Rutan had billed as the vehicle’s best safety feature — deployed prematurely during powered ascent due to pilot error. (10/5)

NASA Astronauts Can Already Farm On Mars (Source: Tech Crunch)
In the movie, Matt Damon’s character realizes he doesn’t have enough food to survive the next possible human visitation four years in the future and is forced to recognize he might starve to death. Luckily, he’s a botanist and soon figures out a way to grow potatoes using Martian soil and his own feces.

Space farming, though a fictionalized scenario in the movie, is actually happening already, according to Bruce Bugbee. The director of the plants, soils and climate department at Utah State University has been working alongside NASA for the last decade to grow plants in space. “What we have focused on is just growing a few salad crops. Growing some lettuce, growing some radishes and they help to recycle the water,” Bugbee told TechCrunch. (10/5)

Musk Has the Perfect Argument for Raising NASA's Budget (Source: Tech Insider)
Billionaire Elon Musk has a really compelling reason to ramp up NASA's budget: We need to become a multi-planet species to ensure the survival of the human race, and we need NASA's help to do it. There's a story Musk likes to tell about the time he went surfing on the NASA website looking for a timeline for when NASA would be going to Mars.

He didn't find a date, so now he's planning on doing it himself using his rocket company SpaceX, and hope that it inspires people enough that the government will bump up NASA's budget. Then we'll have a decent shot at setting up a permanent Mars colony and making humans a multi-planet species. Click here. (10/5)

There Could be Life on Mars. Of Course We Should Try to Find It. (Source: Washington Post)
Believe it or not, despite being well below zero degrees Celsius, it actually boils. When you lower air pressure, you lower the boiling point of water. Once the brine is exposed to Mars’s extremely thin atmosphere (about 1/200th the pressure of Earth at sea level), it boils away, leaving only a salty residue and streaked soil behind. Now the water is back in the atmosphere, and the cycle begins anew.

And now we know Mars has liquid water, a requirement for Earth life and for anything that evolved from Earth life. There may be microscopic organisms on Mars that have lived there for millions, maybe billions of years. They could be descendants of Earth’s first little one-celled astronauts that made the harrowing journey to the Red Planet. An alien invasion that happened a long time ago in a galaxy… well… in this galaxy right here.

So what do we do about it? Well, that’s where the arguing begins. We’re going to have two camps of scientists at each others’ throats on the issue. There’s a briny water patch just 50km from the Curiosity lander. That’s within range; she could go there and take a look. So why not do it? (10/5)

Japan Looking at Electric Propulsion for Satellites (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is studying the feasibility of using electric propulsion for artificial satellites, beginning in fiscal 2021, in order to save on fuel and improve satellite performance. If its budget request is approved, the agency will start development work in fiscal 2016.

Electric propulsion is a focus of attention. These include ion engines, a technology used for Hayabusa, the spacecraft that successfully brought back to Earth particles from asteroid Itokawa in June 2010 after a seven-year voyage. Electric thrusters are weaker than chemical engines in terms of propulsion but boast higher efficiency and consume only about one-fifth of the fuel needed by chemical engines. (10/5)

UF: Peeking Into Our Galaxy’s Stellar Nursery (Source: UF News)
Astronomers have long turned their telescopes, be they on satellites in space or observatories on Earth, to the wide swaths of interstellar medium to get a look at the formation and birth of stars. However, the images produced over the last 50 years look more like weather maps showing storm systems instead of glittering bursts of light that the untrained observer might expect of a “star map.” That is, until now.

Led by University of Florida astronomer Peter Barnes and Erik Muller at the National Astronomy Observatory of Japan, a team of international researchers has just released the most comprehensive images anyone has ever seen of the Milky Way’s cold interstellar gas clouds where new stars and solar systems are being born. (10/5)

Air Force Extends Harris’ Satellite Control Network Contract  (Source: Space News)
Harris Information Technology Services will continue providing operations, maintenance and logistics support to the  Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) under a contract modification worth $37.9 million. The contract covers the nearly nine-month period from Sept. 29, 2015, through June 16, 2016, and is the 10th option under the contract. (10/5)

ISS Partners Release Major Update to Docking Standard (Source: NASA)
The International Space Station Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) has approved a major update to the station docking system standard. First released in 2010, the docking standard established a common station-to-spacecraft equipment interface to enable spacecraft of multiple types to dock to the space station.

The update more than doubles the content in the guidelines, which enable in-orbit crew rescue by a range of spacecraft types and international collaborative exploration with future spacecraft -- from crewed to autonomous vehicles, and low-Earth orbit to deep-space missions. (10/5)

SpaceX Proposing Cost-Effective Reusable Rockets (Source: Washington Times)
As India launches its first observatory in space and Europe places a probe on a comet, SpaceX is hoping to help the U.S. lead the space race with reusable rockets and the kind of raw power not seen since the glory days of the Saturn V.

Earlier this year California-based enterprise SpaceX launched the Dragon, a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying unmanned cargo to the International Space Station. The company has hoped to land the rocket on a floating barge in the ocean but has yet to succeed.

On the company’s website, SpaceX founder Elon Musk explained that if the U.S. could “reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred. A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. This is really a fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.” (10/5)

ULA Touts Mid-Air Recovery as More Cost-Effective than SpaceX’s Reusability Plan (Source: Space News)
United Launch Alliance says reuse of its future Vulcan rocket’s first-stage engines — featuring an inflatable hypersonic decelerator to protect the engines on atmospheric reentry, then a parafoil to glide them into position for a mid-air pickup by helicopter — is far more cost-effective than SpaceX’s planned recovery and reuse of the Falcon rocket’s entire first stage.

In a YouTube video demonstrating the technique, which ULA says could begin in 2024, the company says SpaceX’s plans would require many more launches to reach economic break-even given the amount of fuel needed to return the first stage to Earth and land it. Click here. (10/5)

BridgeSat Plans Optical Network for SmallSats, UAVs (Source: Via Satellite)
BridgeSat, a startup satellite operator focusing on optical connectivity, is planning a network of SmallSats and ground stations designed to aid other small satellites in beaming data down from Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The company is part of the portfolio of Allied Minds, a U.S. science and technology development and commercialization company, and has partnerships with The Aerospace Corp. and Draper Laboratory to make its proposed satellite system a reality.

Formed in March 2015, BridgeSat is commercializing optical communications technology from The Aerospace Corp. The proposed network would focus on relaying data from Earth Observation (EO) and other remote sensing spacecraft that often produce high quantities of content. John Serafini, co-general manager of BridgeSat, told Via Satellite the company has a two-stage plan for creating the network. Click here. (10/5)

SAIC Drops Protest of Wyle’s $1.5 Billion NASA Space Medicine Contract (Source: Space News)
A two-year scrap over NASA’s main space-medicine contract appears to be over now that SAIC has dropped its protest of NASA’s decision to award the nearly $1.5 billion Human Health and Performance contract to Wyle.

Wyle’s Houston-based Science, Technology and Engineering group won the contract — technically for the second time — in August. SAIC of McLean, Virginia, immediately lodged a protest with the Government Accountability Office, but withdrew it Sept. 1. (10/5)

Russian Foundation Supports Cubesat/Microsatellite Involvement (Source: SK)
Alexey Belyakov, Director of Space and Telecommunications cluster at Skolkovo Foundation, announced establishment of Orbital Launch Center, affiliated to Skolkovo entity to provide SmallSat launch services. Working in partnership with Roscosmos, Orbital Launch Center plans its first launch for 2016. Click here. (10/5)

October 5, 2015

'The Martian' Just Scratches Surface of Danger on Mars (Source: USA Today)
The perils in the movie are just a taste of the challenges that Mars will throw at humans who try to keep themselves alive on the surface. Some of the dangers brushed off in the movie could ensure that "The Martian" remains solidly in the camp of science fiction for a long time to come. Among the possible hazards: dust, perchlorate, radiation, and reduced gravity. Click here. (10/2)

How Sputnik Sparked a Revolution for Space Travel as We Know It (Source: Business Insider)
Exactly 58 years ago, the former Soviet Union shocked the world by launching the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit. Awe-struck American officials listened in fear as Sputnik barreled through space at 18,000 mph while transmitting beeping signals, which were broadcast on radios across the globe. Click here. (10/2)

This NASA Robot Can Drive ‘Upside Down’ Under Ice (Source: Business Insider)
Scientists from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory designed a rover robot that might one day explore the oceans of Jupiter's moon Europa. BLUIE explored methane seeps while "driving" under ice on frozen lakes within the Arctic region of Alaska. Click here. (10/2)

October 4, 2015

Russian Space Fan Wants Funding to 'Prove' U.S. Moon Landing (Source: Moscow Times)
A Russian space enthusiast is asking for 800,000 rubles ($12,100) to fund the building of a spacecraft to prove that the Apollo moon landing really happened and settle the question for conspiracy theorists once and for all.

"What do you think, have people been to the moon or not? Many of you have probably had endless discussions on the topic," a description of the project on the Boomstarter.ru crowdfunding platform said.
"But whatever the arguments, in the end we have to admit that almost all evidence of people flying to the moon has been provided by U.S. space agency NASA and these facts cannot be double-checked," it said. (10/2)

Vegas Odds on Mars are Totally Nuts (Source: C/Net
he oddsmakers in Las Vegas should stick to sports and leave space to the nerds. In the October 2015 issue of Popular Mechanics, the magazine got sports handicapper Raphael Esparza of Doc's Sports Service to come up with some odds on who will be the first to put a human on Mars. To my eyes, the resulting odds are...odd.

The way Esparza figures it, SpaceX and Elon Musk have the best shot at getting to the Red Planet first because "they have the desire and the funds" -- he gives Musk 5-to-1 odds of winning the race to Mars. What makes this a wacky set of odds is that he puts Russia getting there first at 60-to-1, NASA at 80-to-1, China at 100-to-1 and the European Space Agency at 300-to-1.

But not only does Esparza believe that SpaceX -- with its revenues largely derived from NASA -- is over 10 times more likely to get to Mars first than any of the major, publicly funded space programs, he also thinks Mars One has a much better shot at winning the race. (10/3)

This is How We'll Explore Mars (Source: Popular Mechanics)
In 2016, the first suite of ESA's ExoMars probes will head toward Mars. The Trace Gas Orbiter will map wells of methane across the planet, searching for its origin (whether biological or geological.) The ​Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module will, just as it sounds, test new landing technology. It will also spend four days in the middle of intense dust storms characterizing Martian winds before shutting down.

In 2018, the second leg will launch.  This will be a big deal for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, which will have to prove that it can make a successful Mars launch vehicle and lander after a number of false starts and outright catastrophes for Russian Mars probes. The lander will serve two functions: as a longterm meteorological station, and as the protective shell for the ExoMars rover, which will drill into the Martian soil in hunt of signs of life. It will mostly hunt in equatorial regions. (10/2)

How Will We Get Off Mars? (Source: National Geographic)
And that’s not an option. If The Martian holds one lesson for real-life space exploration, it's that the public won't stand for spending billions of dollars only to leave astronauts stranded on another world. The most crucial part of any NASA plan for visiting the red planet, arguably, is getting off it.

The spacecraft that NASA would build to get the job done, the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), represents a formidable engineering challenge. When fully loaded with fuel, it’s too heavy to launch from Earth and land safely on Mars.

Instead, the vehicle would need to be pre-assembled and sent to the red planet—years before the astronauts arrive—where it would make its own propellant by squeezing it out of the thin Martian atmosphere. The cramped vehicle needs to sustain the astronauts for days as they maneuver to rendezvous with the orbiting vessel that will finally take them home. (10/2)

Russia's New Rocket Won't Fit in Its New Cosmodrome (Source: Moscow Times)
Work at  Russia's new $ 3 billion spaceport in  the Far East has ground to  a halt after a  critical piece of  infrastructure was discovered to  have been built to  the wrong dimensions, and  would not fit the  latest version of  the country's Soyuz rocket, a  news report said.

The  Vostochny Cosmodrome, under construction in  the Amur region, north of  China, is intended to  become Russia's primary spaceport, replacing the  Soviet-built Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The  cutting-edge facility was meant be ready for launches of  Soyuz-2 rockets in December, but an unidentified space agency official said the rocket would not fit inside the  assembly building where its parts are stacked and  tested before launch. (10/3)

ULA Still In Trouble Despite $882 Million Air Force Contract (Source: Fortune)
While SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket remains sidelined following a launch failure in June, ULA has won an $882 million contract to send military and intelligence satellites into orbit for the Department of Defense in fiscal 2016. However, Congress released a new version of a proposed $612 billion 2016 defense budget that could restrict ULA’s access to the rocket engines it needs to power its Atlas V rockets.

Meanwhile, there’s even more for ULA to worry about in the text of the proposed budget. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 would end what has been an annual payment from the U.S. Air Force to ULA in exchange for various launch services—a payment that some have criticized as a subsidy—after 2016.

In other words, ULA will receive nearly $900 million from the Pentagon in 2016 for the same launch services it has provided exclusively to the Air Force for years—services ranging from the rockets and launches themselves to mission integration and facilities upkeep. However, through its proposed NDAA Congress has placed ULA on notice that beyond fiscal 2016 such contracts won’t be such a sure thing—and neither is ULA’s future as the dominant player in government launch services. (10/3)

Not Just $882 Million, ULA Got Another $233 Million Last Week (Source: SPACErePORT)
United Launch Services, a ULA subsidiary, received a $232,939,333 firm-fixed-price contract modification for launch vehicle production services (LVPS) under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Phase I contract. This modification executes a requirement for fiscal 2015 LVPS in support of the launch vehicle configuration of one Air Force Atlas V 411 and one Delta IV M+(5,2). This modification adds two pre-priced contract line items for the Atlas V 411 and Delta IV M+(5,2) LV configurations and does not constitute an exercised option. (10/3)

Investment, Pricing Helped Orbital Beat Aerojet for Rocket Boosters (Source: Reuters)
Orbital ATK Inc beat out Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc to become the future sole supplier of solid rocket boosters for United Launch Alliance by offering better long-term pricing agreements, substantial cost reductions and more investment, ULA said Friday.

Tory Bruno, chief executive officer of the 50-50 venture owned by Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, said the deal with Orbital, announced last week, was one of many strategic agreements the company was forging with big suppliers to drive down costs and prepare for more competition. (10/3)

Professors Looking to Create Edible Algae for Space Travel (Source: Tulsa World)
Parameswar Hari at the University of Tulsa’s Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, said the eight- to 10-month Mars flight time in each direction means the crew will need a large amount of food, and weight can become a cost issue. “It’s an estimated $10,000 per pound of material for a trip to Mars,” he said.

That’s why a group of professors and students from TU have embarked on their own three-year mission to develop a system to help astronauts grow their own food with algae. TU’s project is sponsored by a $750,000 grant from NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and, when finished, will be sent up in space on an unmanned satellite to see how well it works. (10/3)

Spaceport America Holds Open House (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Many got their first look at Spaceport America Saturday when the facility hosted its first open house. The event was free, but was limited to the first 100 cars to register. As the visitors stepped out of shuttles, many headed immediately to the enormous hangar where an actual-size replica of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo was prominently displayed.

Others wandered around to view the front of the Spaceport as small planes touched down on the runway approaching the building. About 30 planes flew in from around the state, flown by invited members of the Las Cruces chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the New Mexico Pilots Association. (10/3)

XCOR Expansion in Texas Offsets Some Oil Industry Economic Losses (Source: OA Online)
As sub-$50 oil prices curbed machine shops’ work in the oilfield during the past year, M & M saw a primary chunk of its business plummet by about 40 percent, said Jeremy Kirkpatrick, vice president at M & M Sales and Equipment and the son of the owner, Jewell Kirkpatrick.

Then, about a month ago, they received an order from XCOR Aerospace, the commercial space flight company building its new headquarters at Midland International Air and Space Port. XCOR is developing the suborbital aircraft Lynx that executives at the company say could begin ferrying tourists to the upper atmosphere, gawking at the curvature of the Earth below, possibly in 2017.

But first, XCOR needed to stock a machine shop that today officials say contains about $300,000 worth of equipment, and that effort required the sort of fittings that M & M supplies. The order from the company was a “big boost,” Kirkpatrick said, but, “not huge.” (10/4)

Exhibition on "Father of Chinese Rocketry" Opens in U.S. (Source: Xinhua)
An exhibition, themed on the life of China's late space scientist Qian Xuesen, who is considered "Father of Chinese Rocketry," was staged in California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on Friday. Qian, who died in 2009 at the age of 98, was born in China and has studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Caltech in the United States. (10/3)

NASA Basks in PR Triumphs Even as Funding Shrivels (Source: Guardian)
As space exploration goes, it looked like a good week for NASA. The revelation that scientists had discovered water on Mars – or more accurately uncovered evidence of certain chemicals in rocks that suggested recent liquid flows – piqued interest in the Red Planet ahead of this weekend’s launch of the sci-fi blockbuster The Martian.

If the announcement itself was cool enough, the messenger turned out to be pretty funky, too. Lujendra Ojha, a postgraduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology who made the discovery, is a Nepalese-born former heavy metal guitarist who is helping to change the public perception of a space agency geek. Click here. (10/4)

October 3, 2015

Lockheed Receives Approval to Begin Building Space Fence (Source: Satellite Today)
The Air Force has approved Lockheed Martin's Space Fence design following a three-day review. "Once complete, Space Fence will deliver revolutionary capability to the US Air Force with a flexible system capable of adapting to future missions requiring new tracking and coverage approaches," said Lockheed Martin's Steve Bruce. (10/1)

Virgin Galactic Test-Fires Liquid-Fueled Rocket Engine (Source: Tech Times)
A Virgin Galactic pump-fed engine fueled with kerosene and liquid oxygen has been test-fired successfully. The NewtonThree engine will be the first stage of an air-launched multistage rocket, generating as much as 73,500 pounds of thrust. (10/1)

Space Companies Support United Way Fundraiser Trivia Event (Source: Space Florida)
KSC and CCAFS employees are encouraged to form teams of 6 persons and attend a 100% fund-raiser in aid of United Way of Brevard on Oct. 29 at 7:30pm at Nolan’s Irish Pub, Cocoa Beach. Space Florida is donating cash prizes to first, second and third placed trivia winners and aerospace ‘swag’ bags will be presented to each team, courtesy of ULA, Lockheed Martin, NASA Education, SpaceX and Nolan’s Irish Pub, to name a few. If you wish to reserve your table at Nolan’s in advance, please call (321) 783-8499. (10/2)

Moon Express Launch Agreement Needs Verification for X PRIZE (Source: NASA Watch)
Moon Express' contract with Rocket Lab must be verified by the Google Lunar X PRIZE authorities for the competition to be extended beyond this year. According to an X PRIZE official, "Our decision is based on a holistic assessment of whether the launch contract is genuine, whether there are any legal issues that might pop up, whether there are any obvious non-compliances with the rules, and whether a substantial commitment was made by both the team and the launch provider (e.g. non-refundable deposit of some certain minimum value)." (10/2)

Bruno Says ULA Can't Bid on GPS 3 Launch (Source: Space News)
ULA has multiple options to get around a congressionally imposed ban on the Russian-built main engine on its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket that the company says will prevent it from bidding in a competition to launch a GPS satellite, a senior U.S. Air Force official said.

“There are several avenues that ULA could take,” said Claire Leon, director of the launch enterprise directorate at Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. However, in remarks reported by Reuters and confirmed by ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye, ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno told reporters in Florida Oct. 2 that the company cannot bid for the GPS 3 mission absent some relief from the RD-180 ban imposed in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. (10/2)

French Agencies To Collaborate on Reusable Rocket (Source: Space News)
The French government’s two aerospace-focused agencies on Oct. 2 said they are pooling resources to study a launching system that would return its entire first stage to Earth for reuse, a goal shared by SpaceX but not one being pursued by Europe’s Airbus Defence and Space rocket prime contractor. In a joint statement, the French space agency, CNES, and France’s ONERA aerospace research institute said the objective of the work is to “develop a rocket first stage that is capable of returning to its launch base.”

Earlier this year, Airbus disclosed that it had been working on a reusable design that would separate the rocket’s first-stage engines and part of the avionics suite for a return to Earth and later reuse. Airbus said the value of the first stage lies mainly in its engines and that returning the entire first stage for refurbishment and reuse would not improve the economics of launching satellites. (10/2)

Flowing Hype Found on Mars! (Source: SpaceKSC)
The Martian hypothesizes how NASA's bureaucracy and culture would respond to a lone astronaut stranded on Mars. Although the novel's depiction of NASA is less than flattering, the story is an overall positive paean for the government space program. The real-life NASA is exploiting the film's popularity, in particular to hype its plans to send people to the Mars surface by the end of the 2030s. Click here. (10/2)

Ice House Wins NASA’s 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
One of the challenges of sending humans to Mars is providing a habitat on the planet's surface that will shield astronauts from radiation and extremely low temperatures. One strategy that has been proposed is 3-D printing a habitat out of materials available on Mars.

Earlier this year, NASA's Centennial Challenges program announced a 3-D habitat contest in conjunction with the industry group America Makes. NASA awarded prize money to the top three teams in the first stage of the 3-D Habitat Design Challenge at the World Maker Faire in New York on Sunday, September 27.

Over 165 submissions were made and 30 finalists had their designs displayed and judged at the Maker Faire event. The $25,000 first prize was awarded to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for their design Ice House. Team Gamma won the second prize of $15,000 and also received the People’s Choice Award. Team LavaHive took third place. (10/2)

Hotel Offers $2,000-a-Night 'Space Station' Experience (Source: CNN)
Always dreamed of going to space but never felt cut out for grueling astronaut training? Soon it'll be possible to (almost) indulge this fantasy without leaving Earth. A hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, has just unveiled a new suite kitted out to look like the inside of a space station.

Grand Kameha's Space Suite comes equipped with a "zero gravity" bed -- built to look like it's floating above the ground -- and steam bath designed to simulate a view into the universe. With Ridley Scott's "The Martian" hitting cinemas this month, It could be an ideal escape for someone inspired to seek interstellar isolation.

The suite was designed by German artist Michael Najjar, who for the last three years has been training for a civilian journey to space on board Virgin Galactic, and often uses it as inspiration for his work. However, those who simply seek a restful place to lay their head at the end of the day might want to stay away. "The intention was not at all to create a comfortable bedroom," says Najjar. "It's more about creating an immersive environment which makes the hotel guest feel like living on a space station." (10/2)

2 UCF Professors Receive $6M NASA Space Research Grants (Source: FOX35)
Two professors from the University of Central Florida have received $6 million in grants from NASA for space research. If NASA likes what they come up with, they could be getting a lot more money. Physics professor Dan Britt and associate professor of physics Yan Fernandez are members of two teams that were given the grant money.

Their mission: To build space crafts to study Venus and objects near Earth like asteroids and comets. The two UCF teams will compete against three others next year for a chance to win a half a million dollar prize. (10/1)

NASA Weighing Double-Barrel Discovery Award (Source: Space News)
NASA might end up funding two of the five mission concepts just selected for further study in the latest Discovery-class planetary science mission competition, a senior agency official said. “We are not committing to selecting two, but we are stating that we may choose either one or two,” David Schurr, NASA’s deputy director for Planetary Science, wrote in an Oct. 1 email.

NASA winnowed a field of 27 competitors down to five Sept. 30, evenly splitting $15 million in one-year study money among two Venus concepts and three asteroid concepts in the long-awaited first down-select for the agency’s 13th small robotic solar-system mission competition. Final selection, of either one mission or two, is expected in September 2016, NASA said in a press release. Click here. (10/2)

Oxygen on Exoplanets May Not Mean Alien Life (Source: Space.com)
Although scientists have long considered oxygen a sign that life exists on an alien planet, new research suggests the element could be produced without it. Oxygen may function as a sign of life on Earth, but that's not necessarily the case for planets around other stars. The new research shows that the interaction of titanium oxide with water could produce oxygen in the atmosphere of an exoplanet without the involvement of living organisms. (10/2)

Ring in Oktoberfest with These Space Beers (Source: Space.com)
The beloved German folk festival known as Oktoberfest wraps up this weekend (at least in Munich), so we decided to get in on the celebration and taste-test a beer made with yeast that's been to space. In 2014, the Oregon-based Ninkasi Brewing Co. sent vials of brewer's yeast on a rocket to more than 70 miles (112 kilometers) above the Earth. The yeast returned unharmed and ready for brewing. The final product is an imperial stout called Ground Control. Click here. (10/2)

VAFB's New Commander Excited for Future of Launch Technology (Source: Lompoc Record)
Looking back over the various assignments he’s had during the course of his Air Force career, Col. J. Christopher Moss fondly recalls his three years at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where he aided in about 10 launches of the now-defunct U.S. Space Shuttle program.

A framed photo of one of those launches hangs on a wall in his office at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Moss, who assumed command on June 15, expressed excitement over the possibilities that lie ahead for VAFB’s launch sites. “As the Range is integral to launching to rockets, we’ve got to change with that technology and with the times to be able to support it,” he said. (10/1)

October 2, 2015

ULA Lofts Mexican Satellite on Atlas Rocket at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
An Atlas 5 lifted off from Cape Canaveral this morning carrying a Mexican communications satellite. The rocket lifted off at 6:28 a.m. EDT, delayed to the end of its 20-minute launch window when a boat strayed into restricted waters off the coast. The launch is the 100th for United Launch Alliance since the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture started operations in late 2006. (10/2)

China Launches Long March 3B Rocket with Beidou-3 Navigation Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Tuesday, Sept. 30 China successfully launched its third-generation navigation satellite into orbit. The BDS I2-S satellite, lifted off atop the country’s Long March 3B launch vehicle at 7:13 p.m. EDT (23:13 GMT) from Launch Complex 3 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. It is the 20th satellite for the Chinese Beidou Navigation Satellite System. (9/30)

Russia Launches Cargo Spacecraft to ISS (Source: Tass)
The Progress cargo ship was packed with 2.3 tons of cargo. This launch was the last one for the Progress M-M series, to be replaced by the Progress MS cargo ships with the next mission due on November 21. The Progress space freighter docked with the ISS at 10.54 p.m. GMT and is expected to undock on December 9. (10/1)

Despite Evidence of Water, Conditions on Mars are Less Than Hospitable (Source: Washington Post)
The indication of liquid water on Mars "doesn't mean astronauts are going to have a swimming hole," writes Joel Achenbach. "It's mostly about zero inches deep," he writes, noting that the bottom line is "Mars has an unhelpful atmosphere: Too thin to slow you down very much with parachutes, but thick enough to burn you up if you enter at high speed with inadequate shielding." (9/30)

NASA and ESA will Move a Small Moon by Slamming a Spacecraft Into It (Source: Popular Science)
We've smashed into the moon, and bounced onto a comet, but a whole 17 years after Deep Impact and Armageddon debuted in 1998, we still haven't managed to change the course of an asteroid.

Sure, we landed the NEAR-Shoemaker orbiter on an asteroid in 2001, but we didn't even try to see if we could change its orbit. Come on, everyone, we can do better. Now, the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA have announced plans to fill that gaping hole in our asteroid knowledge by smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid's moon and watching what happens. (9/30)

Dinosaur-Killer Asteroid May Have Triggered Eruptions Around Globe (Source: Washington Post)
An asteroid might have had some help killing off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Scientists said the impact of the giant asteroid or comet, in the modern-day Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, may have shook the Earth so hard it exacerbated an ongoing volcanic eruption halfway around the world in India's Deccan Traps. The combination of the two might have done in the dinosaurs, according to research published in the journal Science. (10/1)

Layman Help Sought in Solving Dwarf Planet Mysteries (Source: Space Daily)
Throwing open the doors to the hallowed halls of science, stumped researchers welcomed help from the public Wednesday in solving a number of nagging mysteries about dwarf planet Ceres. NASA's space probe Dawn, which travelled seven-and-a-half years and some 4.9 billion kilometers to reach Ceres in March this year, is the first to orbit a dwarf planet.

The probe is seeking to learn more about the structure of Ceres, which circles the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, in a bid to better understand the formation of Earth and other planets. But many of the features of Ceres have left researchers scratching their heads -- including a six-kilometre (four-mile) high protrusion they have dubbed "Lonely Mountain".

One fan of the probe sent Russell an email saying the mountain reminded him of some ice structures he had seen in the woods years earlier while living in Arkansas. "These ice structures started just poking out (of the ground). Each one of them had a rock or something like that protecting the surface, keeping it cool," Russell said in describing the ice. Russell said "many suggestions" have poured in from the public but did not provide an exact number. (9/30)

Blue Origin Making Progress with BE-4 Engine (Source: Space News)
Blue Origin says it is making progress in the development of its BE-4 engine. The company said Wednesday it has completed more than 100 staged-combustion tests of engine components, testing both the engine design and manufacturing techniques as the company prepares for an upcoming critical design review. Blue Origin is developing the BE-4 for its own orbital launch vehicle as well as for ULA's Vulcan rocket. (9/30)

Ex-Im Renewal Languishes Despite Support in Both Houses (Source: Syracuse Post-Standard)
David Melcher The US Export-Import Bank assisted New York in doing $744 million in business with foreign buyers last year, supporting 132 companies, including 82 small businesses in the state. "Unfortunately, a concerted effort by lobbyists with a rigid ideological agenda has succeeded in getting Congress to avoid voting on extending Ex-Im's operations, even though majorities in both houses back the bank," writes AIA President and CEO David F. Melcher. (9/30)

AGI Wins Space Tracking Contract from Air Force (Source: Space News)
The Air Force awarded a contract to a company that provides commercial space situational awareness services. The $8.4 million contract with AGI covers a subscription service to the company's Commercial Space Operations Center, or ComSpOC, which the company created to provide an alternative for space situation awareness data to the Air Force's own Joint Space Operations Center. The contract makes the Air Force the first government customer for ComSpOC. (10/1)

Lockheed Says Further Consolidation Among Primes Won't Harm Competition, Innovation (Source: Reuters)
Lockheed Martin disputes the assertion that further consolidation among prime contractors could harm competition or dampen innovation. "We believe that defense contractors should continue to be assessed based on the performance and effectiveness of the products and solutions offered, not on the size of their company," said spokesman Dan Nelson.

Editor's Note: They said the same thing when Lockheed Martin and Boeing merged their launch businesses to create United Launch Alliance, which did indeed result in a harmful lack of competition (and, some might argue, innovation too). (9/30)

Boeing Receives Five-Year Extension to ISS Support Contract (Source: Space News)
Boeing has received a five-year extension to its contract with NASA to support operations of the International Space Station, an agreement worth $1.18 billion. NASA has asked Boeing to evaluate the viability of keeping ISS running through 2028. (9/30)

Moon Express Signs With Rocket Lab for Lunar Launches (Source: Moon Express)
Moon Express is one step closer to becoming the first private company to land a spacecraft on the Moon. The company signed a contract with Rocket Lab on Sep. 30 to launch three Moon Express robotic spacecraft to land on the Moon starting in 2017. Moon Express is the first company in history to secure such a contract.

Under the launch services contract, Rocket Lab will use its Electron rocket system to launch three missions of Moon Express' MX-1 lunar lander spacecraft. The MX family of flexible, scalable spacecraft/landers are capable of reaching the lunar surface from Earth orbit on direct or low-energy trajectories. The breakthrough robotic space vehicle offers multiple applications, including delivery of scientific and commercial payloads to the Moon at a fraction of the cost of conventional approaches.

Two launches of MX-1 have been manifested with Rocket Lab for 2017, with the third to be scheduled at a later date.  Moon Express has the option of launching from Rocket Lab's private launch range in New Zealand or from an American range. (10/1)

Garver Skeptical About Current Mars Plans (Source: GeekWire)
A former NASA official is skeptical the agency can sustain its long-term Mars exploration plans. Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, speaking at a technology conference in Seattle Thursday, said plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, using technologies that, in some cases, dated back to the 1970s, was not the best way to go to Mars. "What we need is the capability to do it in a time frame and at a cost that is achievable – and I think that’s within 10 years," she said. As for how it could be done, Garver, who advised Hillary Clinton on space policy in the 2008 campaign, said, "I think the next president will have a lot to say about that." (10/1)

Lockheed Martin's ISS Cargo Concept Dropped from NASA Competition? (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Lockheed Martin has reportedly been dropped from consideration for a NASA space station cargo contract. Lockheed Martin had proposed a system involving a reusable spacecraft called Jupiter and expendable cargo carrier called Exoliner to transport cargo to the station, making it one of five major bidders for the Commercial Resupply Services 2 competition. The company was reportedly removed from consideration due to cost. Neither the company nor NASA confirmed the report, based on rumors widely circulating in the industry over the last several weeks. (10/1)

India Posptpones RLV Tech Demo (Source: Express)
India has postponed the launch of a reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator until at least the end of this year. The demonstrator, a scale model of a spaceplane that would fly a suborbital trajectory, was scheduled to launch on a GSLV rocket in October. That launch is now scheduled for late December or January, giving engineers more time to complete tests on the vehicle. (10/1)

October 1, 2015

Moonspike Launches Effort to Develop Lunar Rocket (Source: Moonspike)
We are happy to welcome you to the Moonspike engineering adventure, taking you and us to the Moon. We have spent most of 2015 preparing this launch and we are happy to finally let you all know about it. Moonspike aims to reach the Moon with a small, professional, dedicated team and this task is easy on paper – but real development is not. Hopefully you will find that we have presented a feasible plan as a starting point, and you will support us as we attempt to move this project off paper and into reality.

Moonspike will show progress and hardware quickly and weekly – if we get funded, this will not be a project which stays dormant, or shows only renderings, ideas and text. We know that the globe is packed with great minds and we invite you all to take part. Hopefully you will find it inspiring to see how an actual moon rocket is created and, if we succeed, finally launched. Click here. (10/1)

Investing in the Next Space Race (Source: Oxford Investment U)
If there is water on Mars and colonists can make a home there, I think we’re setting up for a good old-fashioned space race. A land rush on Mars could be a possibility. That sounds exciting, eh? And there are companies that will profit. Exploring Mars unlocks a whole planet full of potential. I hope we do it soon. It could be a very profitable journey for investors. Click here. (9/30)

Australian Broadband Satellite May Not Deliver What it Promises (Source: Crikey)
One of the most powerful forces in the world today, disruptive new technology, will destroy all of the hopes that rode into space on the rocket that launched the first of two Australian NBN National Broadband Network satellites toward geostationary orbits. Even the national broadcaster the ABC made this clear as it streamed the live launch of the first of two Sky Muster space based platforms from French Guiana.

There are well based mathematical reasons why the billion dollar investment to provide ‘high speed’ broadband access to 200,000 more remote subscribers with NBN internet access will not perform as well as hyped. Australian governments do not seek out ruthlessly impartial analysis of big spending projects, and the NBN seriously required such a reality check.

The inherent problem with geo-synchronous satellites is called latency.Unfortunately for those who use ‘the cloud’ for computing services, or are even attempting to conduct basic commerce over the web, those actions often involve servers on the far side of the planet. Anyone who has, like the writer, tried to use WordPress from a jet with internet access through a geo-synchronous communications satellite, will know that the process is mind numbingly slow and error prone. (10/1)

GPS III Launch Services RFP Released by Air Force (Source: GPS World)
The U.S. Air Force released a final Request for Proposal (RFP) for GPS III Launch Services on Sept. 30. Launch services include launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations for a GPS III mission scheduled to launch in 2018. Proposals are due back to the Air Force no later than Nov. 16 in accordance with the solicitation instructions. (10/1)

Major Repairs on Wallops Island Spaceport Completed (Source: Washington Post)
The Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority says major repairs to a launch pad that was damaged when a rocket exploded shortly after liftoff last fall have been completed. An unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff from Wallops Island on Oct. 28. The rocket explosion caused about $15 million in damage to the launch pad, which sits on a NASA facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. (10/1)

Tomorrow’s Space Suit: Personal “Gravity Pack” Comes Standard (Source: IEEE Spectrum)
After exiting the air lock, an astronaut uses the thrusters on her space suit to propel herself toward a nearby asteroid. With great care, she gets as close and as steady as she can in preparation for knocking a few samples off the surface. But with very little gravity to anchor her, the strike of her hammer throws her backward in an uncontrolled tumble.

This scenario may sound a bit comic, but it’s one that engineers will have to keep in mind as they design ways to once again send astronauts out beyond low earth orbit—to a piece of an asteroid brought close to the moon by a robotic spacecraft, according to NASA’s current plans; to other small bodies in deep space; and on long missions to what could be our generation’s ultimate destination—Mars. Click here. (9/30)

Swiss Space Systems Announces Partnership with UAE Company (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Swiss Space Systems (S3) – A satellite launcher for the Middle East Dubai, UAE / Payerne, Switzerland, the 30th of September, 2015 – Swiss Space Systems (Holding) SA, through its subsidiary S3 Middle East, announces major partnership with D&B Group to deliver access to space to the Middle East. The goal is to develop, manufacture, certify and operate unmanned suborbital shuttles to locally launch small satellites up to 250 kg by 2019. (9/30)

Google Lunar X Prize Down to the Sweet 16 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
With an end-of-the-year deadline looming for the Google Lunar X Prize to continue, the $30 million competition to land a private rover on the moon has shrunk in half to 16 teams from the original 33 or 34. At least one of the teams has to demonstrate that it has a firm launch contract in place by Dec. 31 for the competition to continue. If at least one team can show a contract this year, then the remaining teams in the competition will have until the end of 2016 to secure contracts in order to stay in the race. (9/30)

Lunar Mission One, Astrobotic Partner to Establish First Lunar Digital Archive on Moon (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Lunar Missions Ltd, the company behind the global, inclusive, not-for-profit crowd-funded Lunar Mission One, have signed a deal to send the first digital storage payload to the Moon. The payload will support Lunar Mission One’s ‘Footsteps on the Moon’ campaign, launched earlier today, which invites millions of people to include their footsteps – in addition to images, video and music – in a digital archive of human life that will be placed on the moon during Astrobotic’s first lunar mission. (9/30)

Could Prestwick Become Scotland’s First Spaceport? (Source: The Scotsman)
It was once Scotland’s window across the ocean, the base of all transatlantic flights to the United States and Canada. Today, Prestwick is a shadow of its former self and offers services to fewer than 20 destinations in Europe. But the airport on the Ayrshire coast could be welcoming tourists looking for a rather more adventurous trip if it is chosen as the launchpad for the UK’s first commercial space flights.

The UK Government is eager to expand the fledgling space industry and is asking for final bids from potential spaceports to be submitted by next year. It has set an ambitious target of winning 10 percent of the global market by 2030. (9/30)

India to Sex Up Sriharikota Spaceport (Source: mydigitalfc.com)
A day after launching the Indian space research observatory or mini-Hubble named Astrosat, the Center has given an in-principle clearance to Indian Space Research Organization to build a third satellite launchpad (SLP) and assembly line at the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh costing Rs 1,000 crore. The prime minister’s office (PMO) has given the go-ahead for building the third launchpad and assembly line as part of a larger plan to make ISRO a commercially-viable profit center.

The Union cabinet will shortly consider the proposal after ISRO puts together the technical configuration for the SLP and launch vehicle assembly line, to push Sriharikota as the world’s most cost-effective space industrial complex. (9/30)

UAE Space Agency Explores Ties with India (Source: Khaleej Times)
A delegation from the UAE Space Agency met officials of the Indian Space Research Organization to discuss possibilities of cooperation between the two space organizations. The UAE delegation included Chairman Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Director-General Dr Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, and a number of senior officials. During the visit, the UAE delegation learnt about the Indian space sector and ISRO programs including satellite launching capabilities, which have positioned India as a leading nation within the space industry. (9/30)