November 19, 2017

Luxembourg 'Second But Smarter' Than US on Space Mining Law (Source: Wort)
In his address as the guest of honour, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Étienne Schneider talked about Luxembourg's space mining endeavour and the government's vision to diversify the economy. "Yes, President Trump was right. The US is first, but Luxembourg is also right because we are second," joked Schneider before an audience of business leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.

"And we were smarter," he added, refering to Luxembourg's space mining law which entered into force on August 1. Unlike the US, where companies active in space mining must have US capital, in Luxembourg there is no such requirement. "We don't care where the money comes from," said Schneider, arguing that this aspect makes the Grand-Duchy particularly attractive. "That's why so many companies want to come and have a foot in Luxembourg," he added. (11/18)

Ukraine Parlays SES Telecom Deal Into Closer Ties with Luxembourg (Source: Space News)
On his way to Canada to attend the Halifax International Security Forum, Pavlo Klimkin, minister for foreign affairs of Ukraine, made a stop in Luxembourg. There he met with the leadership of the global satellite communications operator SES.

Klimkin said his country’s telecommunications services market is growing, and SES satellites now carry 65 percent of all media broadcasts in Ukraine. SES signed a multi-year agreement in December with Ukraine’s 1+1 Media Group for the lease of one transponder on the Astra 4A satellite.

The Luxembourg visit also was an opportunity for Klimkin to talk to his counterpart Jean Asselborn and other officials about “European integration” and tax issues, and to discuss future business deals in Luxembourg for Ukrainian companies, Klimkin said. (11/18)

Lobbying to Get Africa's Space Agency HQ in Ghana (Source: Ghana Web)
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said his administration is lobbying for the headquarters of a yet to be established space agency by the African Union (AU) to be situated in Ghana. The president said, "The African Union is in the process of setting up a space agency for the whole of Africa. This is a very ambitious and laudable project.

That is why I have directed the Ministry of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation under the leadership of the world acclaimed Ghanaian scientist, Professor Frimpong Kwabena Boateng to express strongly Ghana’s readiness to host the agency and mobilize support to that end. (11/18)

Please Stop Annoying this NASA Scientist with Your Ridiculous Planet X Doomsday Theories (Source: Washington Post)
David Morrison is a real NASA scientist who studies real planets and makes real discoveries about the real universe. Unfortunately for him, Morrison’s duties also include debunking perennial Internet theories that a fake planet is about to destroy the Earth, which was supposed to happen in 2003, then 2012, then Sept. 23, then October — and now the world is supposed to end again some time Sunday.

And the astronomer sounds like he’s just about had it. “You’re asking me for a logical explanation of a totally illogical idea,” Morrison said after being asked about the third scheduled apocalypse in three months. “There is no such planet, there never has been, and presumably there never will be — but it keeps popping up over and over.”

We can understand his frustration. Based on just enough pseudoscience to capture the popular imagination, the theory claims that a planet (or “black star”) called Nibiru (or Planet X) is orbiting the outer fringes of our solar system. It’s just far enough out there that no one can prove it exists, of course, but also happens to be on a path that will soon send it careening toward Earth — either to smash into us or get close enough to cause a gravitational doomsday. (11/18)

Arrested ARCA Space CEO Maintains Innocence (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A statement from ARCA Space: "ARCA Space Corporation will continue the development of its aerospace technology as scheduled.  The company has full confidence in CEO Dumitru Popescu and expects him to lead the efforts. Mr. Popescu was charged in New Mexico state courts with alleged embezzlement and securities issues. However, Mr. Popescu maintains his innocence and expects to prevail in court proceedings. Meanwhile the work of the company will proceed with a goal of presenting a successful aerospike rocket engine." (11/18)

Rubio's Reservations Put Trump's NASA Nominee in Jeopardy (Source: News-Press)
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio continues to harbor deep reservations about Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s nomination to be NASA’s next administrator, dimming the Oklahoma Republican’s chances of running the space agency. “I remain very concerned about the politicization of NASA, not even because he would do it on purpose but just given some of the resistance he’s already engendered,” Rubio said. “I don’t think NASA at this critical stage of its history can afford that ... As of this moment, I can’t assure anyone that I would support his nomination if it came to a vote.”

Rubio’s comments are his strongest yet and suggest that his initial misgivings when President Donald Trump announced Bridenstine’s nomination in early September have only grown. A broad swath of Democrats from Washington Sen. Patty Murray to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson have already announced their opposition to Bridenstine over a range of his past statements, including ones skeptical of climate science and opposing same-sex marriage. (11/18)

UAE's Mars City to be Ready in 30 Months (Source: Zawya)
The UAE's Mars project, Hope, is on track and the work on the Dh500-million Mars City in Dubai will be completed in 30 months, said a senior official with the UAE Space Agency. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, director-general, UAE Space Agency, said budget and area have been allocated for the project and it will be completed in two-and-a-half years.

The Mars City is the largest space simulation city ever built in the world and a realistic model to simulate living on the surface of the Mars. It will consist of several domes, with innovative construction techniques providing support for the structures. The project encompasses laboratories for food, energy and water, as well as agricultural testing and studies about food security in the future. (11/16)

SpaceX Zuma Launch Slips Again (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX's planned Friday launch of a secretive government payload from Kennedy Space Center has been delayed to an unspecified date as teams continue to investigate a possible hardware issue. The company had been tentatively planning to launch the "Zuma" mission from pad 39A during a two-hour window that opened at 8 p.m. Friday, but delayed a third time after a review of testing data indicated that there could be fairing issues. (11/18)

November 18, 2017

NASA Launches NOAA Weather Satellite Aboard United Launch Alliance Rocket to Improve Forecasts (Source: NASA)
NASA has successfully launched for NOAA the first in a series of four highly advanced polar-orbiting satellites, equipped with next-generation technology and designed to improve the accuracy of U.S. weather forecasts out to seven days. The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) lifted off on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:47 a.m. PST Saturday. (11/18)

Ukrianian Space Effort Aims at Scotland Launches (Source: Room)
Skyrora, a privately-funded launch vehicle developer with a research and development hub in Ukraine, unveiled its plans for entering the small satellite launch market. Edinburgh-based Skyrora, which is currently developing an orbital launch vehicle and has recently started a series of engine test firings, has plans to launch from the UK and follow in the footsteps of Black Arrow through the use of a high-test peroxide (HTP) and Kerosine propellants.

“Scotland is an ideal place from which to operate. Its launch suitability, strong manufacturing history and the fact that Glasgow, in particular, is a leading city within the European space sector are all positive factors.” This summer Skyrora began working with a research and development hub in Ukraine and with individuals that have experience on a number of major Ukrainian space projects. (10/25)

Engine Tests Resume in Ukraine for Proposed Canadian Rocket (Source: RussianSpaceWeb)
The resumption of the tests for Yuzhnoye RD-861K rocket engine should boost the morale inside the beleaguered Ukrainian rocket industry, which has faced many problems after the breakdown of its ties to Russia in the wake of the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In particular, the Ukrainian propulsion systems depended on supplies of Russian structural materials and hardware. Production of the turbine, for example, uses a EP742 heat-resistant alloy that Yuzhnoye had procured from Russia's TsNIIMV material science institute.

Experts familiar with the matter say that the RD-861K engine is almost ready for operational use, but its development and serial manufacturing still faces serious challenges due to lack of resources, personnel and propellant components. The engine burns hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide (carcinogenic hypergolic propellants) which are not currently produced in Ukraine and have to be imported from China. There are also problems with the production of new components for the engine, which forced engineers to recycle parts from older units.

Another test was scheduled for the middle of November 2017. Upon the completion of the test series planned for the defunct Tsyklon-4 program, KB Yuzhnoe is preparing an RD-861K engine for new firings, this time, to benefit the prospective Tsyklon-4M rocket, which is intended for operations at a Canadian spaceport by Maritime Launch Services. (11/15)

Number Of Earth-Like Planets In The Universe Is Staggering (Source: Forbes)
How do scientists know that there are billions of other solar systems like us in the Universe? What they do know is that based on measurements of portions of the sky and extrapolation, that there are about 100 billion stars in our galaxy and up to 10 trillion galaxies in the universe. That means up to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. About 7.6% percent of those stars are class G stars (like our Sun).

We have been studying a very small portion of the sky in the constellation Cygnus, using the Kepler telescope. Kepler allows us to detect changes in the light coming from those stars caused by planets passing in front of the star. From this analysis, the estimates are now that almost all class G stars have at least one planet.

That means there are up to 76,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars similar to ours and almost all of them have some form of planets. Based on the Kepler observations, it is now estimated that a quarter of those stars have at least one rocky planet similar in size to the Earth and in the habitable zone. That means there are up to 19,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars similar to ours with at least one planet similar to Earth. (11/15)

Amazon Developing 'Mercury 13' as Series About Women Tested for Spaceflight (Source: CollectSpace)
The true life story of 13 women who underwent the same medical testing as NASA's Mercury astronauts at the start of the space age is being developed as a new miniseries for Amazon. "Mercury 13" will tell the history of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs), the women pilots who were recruited for a privately-financed program by the Lovelace Foundation, the same clinic that devised the tests to screen the United States' first astronauts. (11/17)

First Cat in Space to Get Memorial Statue After Successful Crowdfund (Source: CollectSpace)
The first cat to launch into space and live to meow about it is getting her own monument in Paris — thanks to the crowdfunded support of more than 1,100 of her fans. A campaign on the Kickstarter website on Nov. 17 successfully raised more than $57,000 to create "a proper memorial" for Félicette, a female black-and-white stray that lifted off on a French rocket for a sub-orbital spaceflight on Oct. 18, 1963. (11/17)

Black Holes That Shred Stars Burp Out Cosmic Rays and Neutrinos (Source: New Scientist)
White dwarf stars shredded by black holes could explain showers of high-energy cosmic rays and neutrinos we see on Earth. Cosmic rays and neutrinos are part of the rain of subatomic particles from space that bombard Earth every day. But what produces these difficult-to-detect particles? A team led by Daniel Biehl at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron in Germany suggest that tidal disruption events in white dwarfs could be responsible.

In theory, the extreme energy of black hole jets is enough to disintegrate atomic nuclei in a cascading reaction that produces both high-energy neutrinos and ultra high-energy cosmic rays. The researchers suggest a single process – the disintegration of nuclei torn from white dwarves and accelerated in the jets of black holes – could simultaneously produce both kinds of subatomic particles. Julian Krolik at John Hopkins University agrees it’s a possibility.

Krolik explains that only a small portion of black holes produce relativistic jets, although scientists are uncertain why. Likewise, only a small portion of black holes have nearby white dwarf stars that can be torn apart to produce tidal disruption events. This means that it will take time and luck to successfully observe tidal disruption events on white dwarfs near black holes that are capable of producing jets. (11/17)

Moon Express MX-1E Lander is Heading for the Moon or Bust (Source: WIRED)
A decade ago, the Google Lunar X Prize offered $20 million for the first private firm to build a robot that can soft-land on the surface of the moon, travel 500 meters, and beam hi-def video back to Earth. Now, after multiple extensions and a couple of flameouts, five teams are racing toward the March 2018 launch deadline, and the cutest contender might be the MX-1E, an R2-D2–shaped lander designed by space startup Moon Express.

At roughly the size of Danny DeVito, the MX-1E fits inside a launch vehicle from partnering company Rocket Lab; once the craft detaches and shoots moonward, its engine and thrusters slow it down so the moon’s gravity can help gently guide its descent. Bob Richards, a self-described “space entrepreneur” and Moon Express’ cofounder and CEO, envisions a future in which the moon is mined for resources—not necessarily for export back to Earth but to power further space travel, using Luna as a launching point. (11/17)

On-Orbit Satellite Servicing: The Next Big Thing in Space? (Source: Space.com)
A team of researchers and Pentagon contractors was recently selected to organize a space industry consortium that will consider new “rules of the road” for commercial on-orbit activities like repairing and refueling satellites. The effort, led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is being touted as a major step in the transition of on-orbit services from experiment to reality, and ultimate commercial success.

The project is significant, analysts said, because safety standards and other norms need to be in place to fuel investments and research in space applications, and open up new markets in robotic and human exploration. The federal government regulates space activities but there is no rule-making body for the new and mostly unknown activity of in-orbit services. (11/17)

Astronaut Captures Incredible View of 'Fireball' Meteor from Space (Source: Space.com)
While filming an incredible view of Earth from space, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) inadvertently captured a fireball on camera as it whizzed into the atmosphere off the coast of South Africa, above the Atlantic Ocean. Click here. (11/17)

Senate Sends $700B Defense Bill To Trump's Desk (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously approved the nearly $700 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, sending the legislation to be signed into law alongside a companion bill intended to address concerns about the U.S. Department of Defense exercising oversight of drugs and medical devices. (11/17)

FAA Reauthorization in Holding Pattern (Source: Chamber Hill Strategies)
Many hoped the AIRR Act, a House bill aimed at privatizing the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system and reauthorizing the FAA, would have reached the floor for consideration by now. Those hopes are increasingly diminishing as Congress shifts gears to focus on tax reform and other issues. Discussions with House leadership staff indicate that despite the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s best effort to drum up support for the legislation, and the recent editorial blitz touting the benefits of ATC privatization, the votes still aren’t there.

The lack of consensus on ATC reform has pushed potential floor consideration of any major FAA reauthorization bill into 2018. Additionally, the limited timeframe Congress has to reauthorize the FAA (the latest extension is set to expire March 31, 2018), the packed legislative calendar, and the lack of widespread support for the House initiative, has increased pressure on the Senate to act first.

Given these circumstances, Senate staffers have acknowledged the need to advance their FAA reauthorization language, which excludes the House text privatizing the ATC, and further weakens the AIRR Act’s prospects for passing this Congress. This suggests the most likely path forward is either a more subdued version of the House’s legislation, or yet another short-term extension before the FAA’s authorization expires in March. (11/2)
    
Rocket Lab Prepares Electron for Second Test Flight (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Less than six months after the maiden flight of their Electron launch vehicle, Rocket Lab readies itself for the second flight of its innovative rocket. With the arrival of the vehicle at the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, Rocket Lab now begins the pre-flight phase of their second mission.

“It’s a great feeling to have another rocket on the pad,” stated Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO, in a release issued by the company. “To be preparing for a second flight just months after an inaugural test is unprecedented for a new launch vehicle. It’s a testament to Electron’s robust design and the hard-working team behind it.”

That robust design, featuring a carbon-composite body and the company’s innovative Rutherford engine, actually made it to space on its first flight – named “It’s a Test” – though it failed to achieve orbit. Luckily, that failure was attributed to a fault with a third-party company’s telemetry equipment and not a flaw in the design of the vehicle itself. (11/17)

Virgin Orbit Wins DOD Launch Contract (Source: Space News)
Virgin Orbit has won its first contract from the Defense Department for a LaunchOne mission. The company announced Thursday the award from the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental to launch small satellite payloads for the Space Test Program. Those payloads will be selected closer to the planned launch in early 2019. Virgin Orbit has also established a new subsidiary, VOX Space, to handle management of government missions. Virgin Orbit says the first launch of LauncherOne, a smallsat launch vehicle flown from a converted Boeing 747, is on track for the first half of 2018. (11/17)

Unusual and Compelling Urgency for Space-Based Missile Warning System (Source: Space News)
The Air Force says it has an "unusual and compelling urgency" to develop a new missile warning satellite system. The Air Force issued a "sources sought" notice Wednesday for the follow-on to the Space Based Infrared System, with companies given less than 24 hours to register for an industry day scheduled for Tuesday. The announcement puzzled many in industry, who couldn't reconcile the urgency of the announcement with a statement in the announcement that the follow-on system wouldn't be deployed until 2029. (11/17)

India Plans Fixes for PSLV Rocket (Source: IANS)
The Indian space agency ISRO says it will increase the "robustness" of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) when it returns to flight in December. A PSLV launch in late August failed when the rocket's payload fairing failed to separate, which the director of one of ISRO's centers said remained "surprising and baffling." ISRO doens't believe the failure is a design flaw, and will tighten tolerances on the vehicle's various systems to ensure they operate as planned on future launches. (11/17)

First Industry Built PSLV by 2020 (Source: The Hindu)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is preparing to hand over the entire gamut of launch vehicle manufacture to domestic industry by 2020. “Until now, public and private industries have only supplied devices, components and sub-systems for ISRO’s launch vehicles, including the PSLV and the GSLV. Our effort is to give a push to industry for production of end-to-end systems. By 2020, we hope to have the first completely industry-built PSLV,” said K. Sivan. (11/17)

Spaceport America Seeks More State Funding to Ready for Virgin Galactic (Las Cruces Sun-News)
Spaceport America will seek additional funding from the New Mexico government next year to prepare for the start of Virgin Galactic operations. Dan Hicks, the CEO of the spaceport, said Thursday he will ask the state legislature for an additional $600,000 in 2018 to hire staff and make infrastructure improvements. Those resources would support operations at the spaceport when Virgin Galactic brings SpaceShipTwo to the spaceport some time in 2018 for final tests and the beginning of commercial operations. Hicks cited higher spending at spaceports in other states as another reason for the increase. (11/17)

NSF Funds to Keep Arecibo Open (Source: Science)
The National Science Foundation has agreed to keep the Arecibo radio telescope open. The NSF completed a "record of decision" regarding the future of the giant observatory in Puerto Rico, concluding the best course of action was to keep it open and enter into negotiations with one or more organizations who would take over operations over the next several years. The review considered other options, including closing the observatory and demolishing the facilities there. The NSF has not disclosed who it is in discussions with about taking over Arecibo, and will also need to determine how to pay for $4-8 million in damage sustained from Hurricane Maria. (11/17)

NASA and JAXA Collaborate on Martian Moon Mission (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected an instrument that will fly on a future Japanese mission to the moons of Mars. The agency said Thursday it will fund development of an instrument called MEGANE — Japanese for "eyeglasses" — to study the elemental composition of the surface of the moon Phobos. MEGANE will fly on the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission being developed by the Japanese space agency JAXA for launch in 2024. MMX will study Phobos and Deimos and return samples from Phobos to Earth in 2029. (11/17)

Soon, India-Japan to Jointly Explore the Moon (Source: Sify News)
Asserting that the relationship between the space agencies of India and Japan has had a "visible change", the Indian Space Research Organisation chief on Friday said the countries are working towards a joint lunar mission soon. "We are looking at a possible joint lunar mission which is still in a very preliminary stage. We are working on the details at the moment," state-run ISRO's Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said.

Kumar was speaking on the sidelines of the 24th Session of Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) here. Heads of space agencies of 10 countries from the Asia-Pacific region, government bodies and industries related to space were at the event. Japan and India had their own lunar missions in the past. In 2009, JAXA's lunar orbiter spacecraft Selene had impacted the lunar surface after successfully orbiting the moon for a year and eight months. (11/17)

SpaceX Studying Falcon Fairing Before Proceeding with KSC Launch (Source: Florida Today)
It was potential concerns about fairings that led SpaceX to postpone this week’s planned launch from Kennedy Space Center of a secret U.S. government mission called Zuma on a Falcon 9 rocket. The company said it stood down to review the results of fairing tests performed for another customer. “We will take the time we need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date,” said a statement Thursday.

NASA this month delayed a science mission’s launch aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus rocket until next year to study a separation component on the rocket. Investigations of the Taurus XL fairing failures years ago, which destroyed NASA science satellites worth nearly $600 million combined, found multiple potential causes. SpaceX builds Falcon fairings in-house. The composite structures stand 43 feet tall and up to 17 feet in diameter atop a Falcon 9.

A high-pressure helium circuit releases mechanical latches holding the fairing halves together. Four pneumatic pushers then shove halves apart at a vertical seam, a system SpaceX says creates “a benign shock environment” and minimizes debris. As with any system, if a problem crops up in testing, teams may need to hold a launch to make sure the next rocket isn’t vulnerable to the same issue or flawed component. (11/18)

Codename Zuma: All About SpaceX's Secret Launch (Source: CNN)
Zuma is headed for low-Earth orbit, but we don't know exactly where. Unlike the vast majority of its launches, SpaceX will cut off its live stream before the payload is deployed. The idea is to leave no clues about its final destination. Zuma was built for the U.S. government, and it's not unusual for the government to keep information about sensitive payloads under wraps. Typically these payloads involve a military concern, such as national security, defense or surveillance.

Northrop Grumman says it's "involved" in the Zuma mission -- declined to give any details about the spacecraft or reveal which arm of the government funded it. "The U.S. Government assigned Northrop Grumman the responsibility of acquiring launch services for this mission," the company said in a statement. "Northrop Grumman realizes this is a monumental responsibility and we have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma."

Editor's Note: Consider this some valuable new experience for Northrop Grumman as they seek more involvement in national security space missions...and move toward their proposed acquisition of Orbital ATK. Another challenger to Lockheed Martin and Boeing. (11/17)

Congress to MDA: Prepare for Space-Based Missile Attacks (Source: Defense News)
Congress made another aggressive push for space-based missile defense by carving out language in the fiscal 2018 defense policy bill that asks the Missile Defense Agency to develop capabilities to track and respond to missile attacks from space. Specifically, the bill would require MDA to develop both a persistent space-based sensor architecture and a space-based ballistic missile intercept layer.

The language also teases out what could be the Pentagon’s recommendations stemming from the yet-to-be-released Ballistic Missile Defense Review expected by the year’s end. Because it hasn’t been published, conferees placed a caveat in all sections of missile defense language in the report stating that the MDA should only commence with strategies and plans in the National Defense Authorization Act if they are consistent with the recommendations of the review. (11/17)

War in Space is Increasingly Possible. That Would be Terrible for Everyone (Source: National Post)
We are in danger of strangling this revolution in its cradle, because war in space is no longer unthinkable. Indeed, for the past few years, the United States Air Force has been waging a vocal campaign to convince policymakers, Congress, and the public that U.S. satellites are under imminent threat. Sadly, there is a kernel of truth in this rhetoric.

The same advances that are driving commercial and civil interest in new space missions have also enabled improved satellite attack capabilities. Russia and China for decades expressed fears about the United States leading the world toward the weaponization of space, while at the same time diligently working to be able not only to “keep up with the Joneses,” but also to hold U.S. space assets at risk. This, from the perspective of Moscow and Beijing, makes sense. Many U.S. satellites critical to national security are vulnerable, and losing them would make U.S. victory in a war more difficult. (11/17)

SpaceX Engineers Put Rocket Engines Through Their Paces (Source: Houston Chronicle)
As the commercial space industry assumes a larger role in the evolving national space race, one of its top private companies is finding military veterans an integral part of its workforce. At the SpaceX test facility in McGregor, a third of more than 550 full-timers have military backgrounds. Employees say they are used to mission-driven tasks.

Since 2003, Musk's company has steadily increased the size and workload at its McGregor test site, where it brings every one of its engines for testing. Technicians and engineers build and maintain 14 test stands that secure rocket engines for testing. SpaceX is developing a heavy-lift and super-heavy-lift rocket. The Falcon Heavy will have 27 Merlin first-stage engines, three times more than the Falcon 9 that SpaceX is currently flying, fueled by liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene. The engines combine for a total of 5.13 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. (11/17)

November 17, 2017

What Is the Computational Power of the Universe? (Source: NIST)
National Institute of Standards and Technology physicist Stephen Jordan asks, “What if we consider the cosmos to be the output of a 13.7-billion-year computation?” After all, computers crunch numbers to simulate complex change and the universe has undergone billions of years of change in accordance with the laws of nature. Jordan isn’t looking to convert the entire cosmos into a vast computing device, but he is examining whether or not we can use what we see through our telescopes to gain insights into difficult computational problems. Click here. (11/15)

Air Mobility Command Looks to Space to Better Perform its Mission (Source: Defense News)
Air Mobility Command airmen are used to navigating through airspace around the globe, but their commander wants to aim a little bit higher. Gen. Carlton Everhart said he’s exploring how the command could move some of its mobility mission into outer space.

“I truly believe we can use mobility to take personnel and supplies through this medium,” he told Air Force Times on Thursday. Everhart said he’ll be brainstorming with representatives from industry and NASA, to see what’s possible in terms of the quickest, most efficient way to transport materiel to various places around the world.

Mobility forces and a company like SpaceX, United Launch Alliance or Orbital ATK could potentially work together is using a rocket-propelled vehicle to transport cargo from one side of the globe to another. “If you use space as a medium, you can literally go into orbit and come out on the other side of the world in, say, 12 minutes, where it would normally take hours,” Everhart said. (11/14)

Tiny Satellites, Big Universe (Source: Popular Mechanics)
After a summer of wildfires, hurricanes, and nuclear threats, it isn’t hard to see the value in being able to surveil the Earth with daily—or even more frequent—updates. But traditional satellites, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars, have orbits that mean they may not see the same target for a week or more. So an Earth-imaging company called Planet, in San Francisco, is doing something different. In the past year, it has sent nearly 150 satellites into space, including a record 88 at once from India on Valentine’s Day.

That should be unthinkable, but Planet is using CubeSats, an emerging type of small satellite made possible by the miniaturization of electronics and sensors, like those in smartphones, that are creating new possibilities to use space technology for social and economic purposes.

CubeSats are based on a one-unit (1U) standard cube the size of a grapefruit—10 centimeters in all dimensions, and weighing up to 1.33 kilograms. (Planet’s Dove satellites are called 3U CubeSats because they have one longer side of 30 cm.) They can fly as extra payload on an existing mission, taking up the space left over on a rocket after, say, SpaceX’s resupply for the International Space Station has been loaded up. And organizations with less funding than SpaceX can use them: Universities are able to develop, build, and launch 1U CubeSats for less than $100,000. (11/16)

Asgardia, the World's First 'Space Nation', Takes Flight (Source: CNN)
The world's first "space nation" has taken flight. On November 12, Asgardia cemented its presence in outer space by launching the Asgardia-1 satellite. The "nanosat" -- it is roughly the size of a loaf of bread -- undertook a two-day journey from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to the International Space Station (ISS).

It contains 0.5 TB of data belonging to 18,000 of Asgardia's citizens, such as family photographs, as well as digital representations of the space nation's flag, coat of arms and constitution. Russian scientist Dr Igor Ashurbeyli founded the world's first independent nation to operate in outer space in October 2016.

Named after a Norse mythological city of the skies, Asgardia is free to join and so far, about 114,000 people have signed up. Ashurbeyli says the project's mission is to provide a "peaceful society", offer easier access to space technologies, and protect Earth from space threats, such as asteroids and man-made debris in space. While Asgardia's citizens will -- for the time being -- remain based on earth, the satellite launch brings the nation one step closer to space. (11/15)

Companies Agree FAA Best Agency to Regulate Non-Traditional Space Activities (Source: Space Policy Online)
Representatives of four major companies agreed yesterday that the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) is the best federal agency to be placed in charge of regulating non-traditional space activities to ensure compliance with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.  They also agreed that regulatory certainty is key to the success of their ventures, so although they want a “light hand” of regulation, they do want some.

Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Orbital ATK, and Astrobotics were represented on a panel organized by the Space Transportation Association (STA) that also included George Nield, the head of FAA/AST, and was chaired by Mike Gold of MAXAR Technologies.  MAXAR Technologies is the new name of MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA), which already owned Space Systems Loral and recently purchased DigitalGlobe.  Radiant Solutions is a fourth component of the newly branded company. Click here. (11/15)

UK's Unst Identified as Suitable for Satellite Launches (Source: Shetland Times)
Unst could play a part in the space programme after being identified as suitable for satellite launches. A new company has been formed to drive forward the development in what is being hailed as a potentially major new sector. The Shetland Space Center has already had expressions of interest from commercial firms and the military.

The company was created after it emerged that a report commissioned by the UK Space Agency had singled out Saxa Vord as the preferred site for satellite launches. The SCEPTRE report, part-funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, states: “The site offering the maximum payload mass to orbit is Saxavord in the Shetlands [sic], from where direct launch is possible to both SSO [Sun-Synchronous] and Polar orbits.” (11/14)

How a Wild Rocket Misfire Created Cape Canaveral (Source: Popular Mechanics)
In May 1947, the Pentagon attempted to launch a V-2 ballistic rocket, like the ones the Nazis used to bombard London in World War II, outside White Sands, New Mexico. The weapon rose from the pad in a roar of flame and smoke and leapt into the sky. Within moments, however, the testers knew something was wrong. The missile was heading south instead of north.

A V-2 is a pretty simple rocket: a tank containing an alcohol-water mixture, another tank full of liquid oxygen, a small chamber with hydrogen peroxide, and some pipes to mix, ignite, and route it all through the engine. They are not known for their sophisticated guidance systems. (Just a couple of vanes on the fins.) The range of the V-2 can stretch hundreds of miles, and the Air Force was about to learn that the room they allotted to test them needed to increase.

The errant missile flew over El Paso, Texas and continued south, ultimately running out of fuel over Mexico. It careened into a cemetery in Juarez, leaving a deep, fifty-foot-wide crater. The crash in a populated area indirectly cemented the future of Cape Canaveral as a spaceport. The Pentagon fast-tracked a project to create missile ranges that fired experimental weapons over water. They wanted one on the east coast, and another on the west. (11/16)

Embry-Riddle's SUIT Lab Gives Students ‘Gloves-On’ Spaceflight Experience (Source: ERAU)
As companies develop space vehicles to send private individuals into outer space, a new lab at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus may become the industry’s testbed for spacesuit design. Schwartz, a junior from Washington state, is one of seven students working in Embry-Riddle’s new SUIT Lab, which became fully operational this past spring. Located in the College of Aviation building, the lab supports research on spacesuits and, soon, new space gloves.

Schwartz is gathering various range-of-motion benchmark data with and without a spacesuit that can be used by the industry and is looking at other studies conducted by NASA, among others. Mobility analysis includes upper-body motions such as flexion, extension, abduction and adduction of the arms in addition to intravehicular and extravehicular activities. Click here. (11/14)

Agreement With NASA Hints Stratolaunch May Develop Its Own Rocket Engine (Source: Popular Mechanics)
The first launch test from Stratolaunch is planned in 2019, but exactly what type of rocket the megaplane will carry is still unclear. Currently, Stratolaunch plans to use Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rockets for the first launch tests, with the aircraft carrying as many as three at a time. The Pegasus XL is an old and expensive launch vehicle, however. First launched in 1996, the rocket has only flown five times in the last 10 years.

Hints are starting to trickle in that Stratolaunch may be considering building its own rocket to launch from the carrier aircraft. As reported by Jeff Foust from Space News, Stratolaunch has entered into an agreement with NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi "for the purpose of providing reimbursable testing and related support services to Stratolaunch to support propulsion, vehicle, and ground support system development and testing activities." (11/16)

China Wants a Nuclear Space Shuttle by 2040 (Source: Popular Mechanics)
China has already launched two space stations into orbit, and according to a recently released roadmap, the country is looking to build a reusable rocket, a massive cargo rocket, and a nuclear-powered space shuttle over the next few decades. The roadmap was released by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the company that builds China’s successful Long March family of rockets. The roadmap sets the company's goals from the end of this year all the way out to 2045.

The first goal is to have the next-gen Long March 8 rocket ready by 2020. This rocket is currently in development and designed to be a low-cost, light payload rocket that can carry small satellites to orbit. Then, in 2025, CASC plans to have developed a reusable space plane that can take off and land horizontally. This space plane would be a two-stage-to-orbit spacecraft primarily used for space tourism. The company hopes to improve on this design and complete a single-stage-to-orbit plane by 2030. (11/16)

Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow (Source: Rolling Stone)
It is easy to confuse who someone is with what they do, and thus turn them into a caricature who fits neatly into a storybook view of the world. Our culture always needs villains and heroes, fools and geniuses, scapegoats and role models. However, despite opinions to the contrary, Elon Musk is not a robot sent from the future to save humanity.

Nor is he a Silicon Valley savant whose emotional affect has been replaced with supercomputer-like intelligence. Over the course of nine months of reporting, watching Musk do everything from strategize Mars landings with his rocket-engineering team to plan the next breakthroughs with his artificial-intelligence experts, I learned he is someone far, far different from what his myth and reputation suggest. Click here. (11/16)

Jeff Bezos links Blue Origin to saving Earth (Source: GeekWire)
Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ vision for his Blue Origin rocket venture is to have millions of people living and working in space — but why? During this month’s Summit Series invitation-only event in Los Angeles, Bezos explained that it’s not just because he’s a Star Trek fan — although he is that indeed. He sees going beyond Earth as a critical step toward preserving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on our home planet.

That’s not even considering fellow billionaire Elon Musk’s view that Mars and other planets would serve as a Plan B for humanity in the event of an Earth-killing catastrophe. “I hate the ‘Plan B’ argument,” Bezos said during a fireside chat that featured his brother Mark as emcee. Click here. (11/16)

NASA's Road Back To The Moon May Be Via Bezos' Blue Origin (Source: Forbes)
Nearly a year into the Trump Presidency, NASA is arguably no closer to a crewed return to the lunar surface than a decade ago. SpaceX is still focused on Mars. Maybe Congress and NASA could get serious about public/private partnerships of the sort proposed by Blue Origin and the company’s Blue Moon program. Blue Moon is a potentially low-cost, repeatable lunar-lander system designed to provide NASA and others with a commercial lunar cargo delivery solution.

The Blue Moon lander could easily fly on the SLS. And Blue Origin envisions working with NASA on missions to the lunar surface in the mid to late 2020s. But it says, if necessary, it could also use its own New Glenn launcher. Bretton Alexander, Blue Origin’s Director of Business Development and Strategy, recently told the House Subcommittee on Space that the Bezos-backed company is prepared to bring private capital to partner with NASA for a return to the lunar surface.

Yet without what Blue Origin terms clear guidance from Congress, Blue Origin fears that existing U.S. regulatory agencies may try to impede lunar utilization and commercialization efforts. It’s also a long shot that NASA will have a budget and the political appetite for such partnerships. But Blue Origin remains optimistic. (11/16)

SpaceX Expects Some Government Participation in New Big Rocket (Source: Space News)
SpaceX expects to get at least some government support for its planned BFR reusable launch system. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, speaking Thursday morning at the NewSpace Europe conference in Luxembourg, said she expected the BFR system would provide capability the government will be interested in using, and thus provide some funding to support its development. That funding could come through the Air Force's Launch Services Agreements program, proposals for which are due next week. She added that SpaceX remained on schedule for completing key test flights of its Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station next year. (11/16)

Luxembourg Supports Spire in Exchange for HQ Site (Source: Space News)
A Luxembourg fund will invest in Spire in exchange for the company establishing a European headquarters in the country. In an agreement announced Wednesday, Spire announced the Luxembourg Future Fund will participate in the company's $70 million Series C round, expected to close this month. Spire plans to use the funds to help expand its business, hiring more personnel to produce data analytics services from its constellation of ship-tracking and weather cubesats. The deal is another step by the government of Luxembourg to attract entrepreneurial space companies to the country. (11/16)

DARPA Chief: Commercial Sector Should Disrupt Military Space (Source: Space News)
The head of a DARPA office says the Defense Department should not miss this opportunity to work with the growing commercial space sector. Fred Kennedy, director of DARPA's Tactical Technology Office, said that the commercial sector could be the "savior" of the military, whose methods of procuring satellites, he believes, need a shakeup. He cited as an example an ongoing satellite servicing project that he believes will elevate DARPA's profile as a disruptor if successful. (11/16)

Construction in Spring for Canadian Spaceport (Source: Guysborough Journal)
Construction is scheduled to begin next spring on a Canadian launch site for a Ukrainian rocket. The president of Maritime Launch Services says an environmental review of the proposed launch site in Nova Scotia is on schedule that, if approved, would allow groundbreaking of the facility in May. The site would host launches of the Cyclone-4 rocket. That effort is aided by a new agreement between the governments of Canada and Ukraine for space cooperation. (11/16)

'Nearby' Exoplanet Could Harbor Life (Source: BBC)
A relatively nearby exoplanet could be one of the more promising places to look for life. The newly discovered planet, Ross 128 b, orbits a red dwarf star 11 light-years away. The planet is about 35 percent more massive than the Earth with a surface temperature similar to the Earth. The planet is similar to one spotted around another red dwarf, Proxima Centauri, but astronomers think Ross 128 b could be more hospitable to life since its star produces far fewer flares. (11/16)

MIT's Prize-Winning Mars City Concept Topped by Domed Tree Habitats (Source: New Atlas)
Most plans for Mars bases make becoming a colonist about as desirable as setting up house in an oil drum, but an MIT team has come up with a plan for a Mars city based on the architecture of a tree. Taking out first place in the Architecture section of the Mars City Design 2017 competition, the Redwood Forest concept is intended to provide settlers with not only protection against the harsh Martian environment, but open public spaces filled with plants and abundant water. Click here. (11/2)

Apollo Astronaut Watch, Stolen in Ecuador, Recovered 30 Years Later (Source: CollectSpace)
Donn Eisele's NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster was on loan from the Smithsonian to the Instituto Geográfico Militar in Quito, Ecuador, when in 1989 it was stolen from its display. The local police investigated the theft, but a culprit was never identified. The watch remained missing for 28 years. It briefly surfaced earlier this year at a watch show in Florida, but traces of it were quickly lost. Then, a person claiming to have been offered the watch for sale began reaching out for more details about its history.

NASA engraved each Speedmaster with part and serial numbers, to help track its mission equipment. Eisele's NASA-issued chronograph was inscribed with the part number common to other NASA Speedmaster watches, SEB12100039-002, and a unique serial number, "34." (Eisele also wore a personal Omega Speedmaster on Apollo 7, engraved with the serial number 38. That chronograph was sold by Sotheby's in 2007 for $204,000.)

Five months ago, after hearing nothing about the Eisele watch for almost 30 years, the Smithsonian was alerted the chronograph was seen at a watch show. But prior to investigators being able to take action, it disappeared again. Then in September, a space history and watch enthusiast signed onto eBay. Garron DuPree came across a watch seller from Texas who, after discussing various timepieces, shared the story of a friend who had bought a "vintage Omega Speedmaster with some very interesting engravings" for $5,000 while on a trip to Ecuador. The dealer said the watch was not for sale, but volunteered to share photos of it with DuPree. (11/16)

NASA Expert: We'll Find Alien Life Within 20 Years (Source: Daily Mail)
Alien life could be found within the next few decades, according to NASA scientists leading the exhaustive search. In recent years, capabilities have snowballed; the discovery of Pluto in 1930 was once thought a once-in-a-lifetime feat, yet not even 100 years later, over 3,500 exoplanets from thousands of star systems have since been located. (11/15)

Can MENA Do NewSpace? (Source: Via Satellite)
On the United Arab Emirates Space Agency’s homepage, there are three very significant words that sum up the country’s ambitions in space: Imagine the Impossible. It appears that this mentality is being duplicated across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as nations begin to believe that they can be a part of space as well. With NewSpace comes the notion of the democratization of space — a feeling that space is for all and that if there is a desire to become part of it, then this can become reality.

The rise of private companies (and private money) in space has meant that developments are being pushed on quickly. Take SpaceX’s and Blue Origin’s reusable rockets. This kind of development was laughed off 10 years ago, yet today, these rockets are actually in use. There is a new attitude toward space and how it may be used, and nations across the MENA region are eager to become involved. (11/16)

November 16, 2017

Air Force Wants to Speed Pace of Minuteman III Replacement (Source: Defense One)
The Air Force is eager to accelerate the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent as Boeing and Northrop Grumman develop the replacement to the Minuteman III. "How do we get this capability earlier," said Gen. David Goldfein, noting that "if you can actually get it faster, you can get it cheaper sometimes." (11/15)

Spending 45 Days Inside a Fake Spaceship for Science (Source: WIRED)
When Timothy Evans, Andrew Mark Settles, James Titus, and John Kennard touched down at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, they looked a little pale. The four men had just spent 45 days voyaging millions of miles through the galaxy to collect soil samples from a near-earth asteroid. Yet, they hadn't been to space. Instead, they'd simulated a fake mission inside the Human Exploration Research Analog, a 636-square-foot metal capsule that helps NASA understand how humans behave when cooped up in a spacecraft for so long.

HERA recruits "astronaut-like" volunteers—fit, driven mid-lifers with a STEM background—and subjects them to more than a dozen studies testing their response to everything from sleep deprivation to lighting prototypes. Wearables collect biometric data, and nine video cameras record their every move (outside the bathroom, of course).

“Ultimately, what the researchers will want to be able to do is not just characterize how people act and behave, but to develop parameters that can be used in selecting crew members for specific types of missions,” says Lisa Spence, manager of NASA’s Flight Analogs Project. “Maybe there’s a certain set of personality markers or traits that are more well suited to a type of mission than others.” (11/7)

This New Satellite Could Produce the Most Accurate Weather Predictions Yet (Source: LA Times)
Once JPSS-1 makes it into orbit, its suite of five state-of-the-art instruments will collect the most high-resolution observations yet of our planet’s atmosphere, land and oceans, NOAA officials said.

“These instruments are so precise that they can measure temperatures to better than one-tenth of a degree in the entire atmosphere, from the Earth’s surface up to the edge of space,” said Greg Mandt, director of the JPSS program for NOAA.

The data these sensors collect will be fed into weather prediction models in almost real time. Ultimately, it will inform the seven-day forecasts you see when you hit the weather app on your phone, or turn on the morning news to decide whether or not to grab an umbrella. (11/14)

NASA Is Considering Deep Sleep for Human Mars Mission (Source: Wall Street Journal)
A NASA-backed study is exploring an innovative way to bring humans to Mars: Putting the spaceship crew in a deep sleep while they travel to the Red Planet. WSJ's Monika Auger reports. Click here for the video. (10/13)

The State of Commercial Spaceports in 2017 (Source: Space Daily)
About two years ago the FAA gave Houston the "go-ahead" to build America's 10th commercial spaceport. Yes, the US already had nine spaceports designated for commercial operations. One must ask, "Why do we need 10 spaceports for so little commercial space activities?" This represents a great deal of investment and ongoing expense for an industry still in its infancy. Click here. (11/14)

First Targets Chosen for Webb Space Telescope (Source: Space Daily)
Gas giant Jupiter, organic molecules in star-forming clouds and baby galaxies in the distant Universe are among the first targets for which data will be immediately available from the James Webb Space Telescope once it begins casting its powerful gaze on the Universe in 2019.

Thirteen "early release" programmes were chosen from more than 100 proposals after a competitive peer-review selection process within the astronomical community. The programmes have been allocated nearly 500 hours of observing time and will exercise all four of Webb's state-of-the-art science instruments. The data will be made publicly available immediately, showcasing the full potential of the observatory and allowing astronomers to best plan follow-up observations. (11/14)

Harris Corp., AIA Host STEM Workforce Summit in Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Aerospace Industries Association and Harris Corp. are bringing together academics, government and industry stakeholders to discuss the future of aerospace workforce. "Currently, our nation depends more than ever on an aerospace and defense industry that spurs innovation in space, civil aviation and defense to enhance our nation’s strength, security and economic prosperity," AIA President and CEO David Melcher writes. (11/15)

Florida's Role Pivotal to Supplying the Aerospace Workforce (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
With its rich space heritage, strong education and research infrastructure and vibrant, business-friendly environment, Florida hosts many of the nation’s leading aerospace and defense companies. These companies employ the 76,000-plus workers who account for 10 percent of Florida’s exports and 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

We must do a better job of training noncollege-bound students for good aerospace and defense manufacturing jobs with expanded career and technical education training and community-college partnership programs. The Senate can help advance progress on work-force issues by sending the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which passed the House unanimously in June, to the president’s desk as soon as possible. Both Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio recently sent a letter urging the relevant committee to do just this. (11/15)

Florida Space Coast's Growing $260B Satellite Industry (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
The fast-growing satellite industry is offering Central Florida businesses the best opportunity to cash in on the action. The industry has a big impact on the world, connecting countries to the internet, improving broadcast services, enhancing military needs, monitoring weather and so much more. Plus, the industry had a 2016 global revenue of $260.5 billion — a big jump from 2012's $209.2 billion.

And Central Florida — specifically Brevard County — is playing a big role in the future of the satellite industry in two big ways: OneWeb LLC in March expects to debut its $85 million, 100,000 square-foot manufacturing plant in Space Florida's Exploration Park. Space Florida is the state's economic development agency for the aerospace industry. The Space Coast is the busiest place for commercial and government rocket launches that carry satellites to space. Click here. (11/10)

On The Alien Question: Where Are They? (Source: NPR)
If ETs came to Earth at some point, they didn't leave a single clue. The countless UFO sightings, some from dumbfounded military and commercial pilots, do not work as scientific evidence. We can't, in a question of such key relevance, relax scientific criteria. Oral narratives and photos are not credible evidence. Also not credible are "studies" relating the knowledge and artistic creations of ancient civilizations to visitations from aliens. The gods were not alien astronauts.

Various anthropological studies — such as those by Anthony Aveni, about the end of time and the Mayan calendar, and others — show that ancient civilizations were perfectly capable of building spectacular monuments, even when needing to transport massive boulders for many miles. If anything, these wonderful buildings are proof of our own creativity and ingenuity, and not that of some alien mind.

Apart from a lack of conclusive evidence of alien visitiation, there is also the technological difficulty of undertaking interstellar space trips. As an illustration, using our fastest rocket ship to travel to the nearest star system at Alpha Centauri, at 4.5 light-years away, would take about 100,000 years or so. Even at one-tenth of the speed of light, a one-way trip would take some 45 years. Interstellar travel is an enormous barrier to dreams of cosmic exploration. Click here. (11/14)

New California Telescope Aims to Catch Quickly Moving Celestial Events (Source: Science)
Astronomers in California have taken a telescope built before most of them were born and converted it into a new instrument dedicated to one of the newest and fastest-moving branches of astronomy: spotting objects in the sky that change from one day to the next. The new Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), which today opened its eye to the sky, was created by retooling the 1.2-meter Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.

The ZTF has been fitted with a new camera made up of 16 charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors. That will enable it to snap single images covering an area more than 200 times the size of the full moon. With such a wide field of view—the biggest of any telescope more than 0.5 meters wide—the ZTF can survey the whole northern sky visible from Palomar every night. (11/14)

Roscosmos: US Sanctions Do Not Apply to Russia’s Lunar Projects with NASA and ESA (Source: Tass)
The United States’ latest sanctions do not influence Roscosmos’s joint projects with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency, the chief of the Roscosmos corporation Igor Komarov told the Rossiya-24 television news channel.

"The possibility of sanctions (against space projects - TASS) has not been raised at any talks or discussions, because this is a unique experience. It’s joint work that will become hardly accomplishable should at least one country, let alone one of the leading space powers drop out. Currently, we are in the process of discussing joint lunar projects with NASA and the ESA. We have no doubts that these programs must be implemented together," he said. (11/14)

November 15, 2017

Apprenticeship Programs Needed to Meet Florida Aerospace Workforce Demand (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
The continued expansion of Florida's aerospace/defense industry is threatened by a chronic shortage of qualified technical and engineering workers. Companies are increasingly poaching workers from their competitors, driving up wages and highlighting our workforce problems to companies we are targeting for recruitment. Strategies to address these issues include investments in education and training programs, and efforts to attract talent from other states.

A regional partnership, including Brevard, Volusia and Flagler County stakeholders, is proposing a European-style apprenticeship program to train and certify technical workers in collaboration with local colleges and space, aviation and defense industry employers. They are seeking support from the state's new $85 million Job Growth Grant Fund. Click here. (11/15)

SSTL to build UrtheCast’s UrtheDaily Constellation (Source: SSTI)
A signed contract for the Earth Observation satellites for the UrtheDailyTM Constellation was announced today by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and UrtheCast of Canada. The UrtheDailyTM Constellation, planned for launch in 2020, will be capable of scientific-grade quality, multispectral imagery, high-resolution, targeted specifically at geoanalytics applications.
 
The UrtheDaily spacecraft are based on the SSTL-250 platform and will be built by SSTL at its facilities in Guildford UK.  The spacecraft will deliver high-resolution imagery using spectral bands, which have been specifically selected to match Landsat-8, Sentinel-2, RapidEye and Deimos-1 bands to ease cross-calibration with trusted references and to minimise the effects of atmospheric variations. (11/14)

SNC’s Dream Chaser Takes Step Forward to Commercial Cargo (Source: SpacePolicyOnline)
The vehicle used on Saturday was the same one used in a series of previous Dream Chase tests where it made captive carry or drop tests.  The company is still analyzing the data from the most recent test, but SNC Corporate Vice President for Space Systems Mark Sirangelo said today that everything is looking good and there are no plans to fly this vehicle again.

Sirangelo compared the tests with this vehicle to those flown by NASA in 1977 of the space shuttle orbiter Enterprise.  Enterprise also was not designed to fly in space, but only for atmospheric tests.  Like the Enterprise test flights, this one took place at Edwards Air Force Base, CA and Sirangelo expressed gratitude to NASA and the Air Force for their assistance. (11/13)

Japanese Space Industrial Policy in Transition (Source: The Space Journal)
The lost years of the Japanese economic slump exerted a heavy pressure on industry to become more competitive and profitable. Most Japanese space companies are branches of larger corporate entities and, for many years, commercial performance of the space branches were not overly scrutinised because revenue from the other branches subsidised space activities. However, the effects of the Japanese economic downturn of the 1990s and onwards were felt in every branch of these large corporate entities and they came under pressure to restructure.

Toshiba, one of the larger satellite manufacturers, sold its space branch to NEC Corporation, and other smaller companies followed suit. In this way, the private sector supported the political initiative of establishing the ‘Basic Space Law’ of 2008, paving the way for a more coordinated industrial policy for space. Japan has been shy of announcing its industrial space policy for many years. As a late starter, the initial objective for Japanese industry was to use public funding to develop technological capabilities to meet international standards.

However, the 1990 agreement between the United States and Japan for the procurement of commercial satellites, which prohibits Japanese industry to exclude competition with foreign competitors in the public procurement process, was regarded as an obstacle for winning contracts from the government. Since then, Japanese industry has focused on research and development satellite programmes instead, as these were not the focus of the US-Japan agreement. Click here. (11/15)

Space Launch Plans Tour the UK (Source: GOV.UK)
The UK Space Agency is touring the country with industry workshops and public open evenings on LaunchUK – the campaign to enable small satellite rocket launches and sub-orbital flights from UK spaceports. The Government wants to make the UK a world-leading destination for companies offering launch services. New legislation to regulate launch is currently before Parliament and in early 2018 the UK Space Agency will announce the outcome of its call for grant proposals to achieve low cost access to space.

In total 26 proposals were submitted to the call, and the UK Space Agency is currently considering grant applications to support the first launches from UK soil. These initial missions from the UK will pave the way for a commercial launch market, where multiple small satellite launch vehicles and sub-orbital spaceplanes could pursue rising global demand from a number of UK spaceports. (11/13)

'Harlech We Have a Problem...' Blow for Wales Spaceport Plans (Source: Daily Post)
Hopes that a North Wales site could be developed into the UK’s first spaceport took a blow today following the release of an influential report. The UK Space Agency study identified Shetland as the “ideal location” for satellite launches in Britain, potentially offering a huge injection of investment onto the island.

However Aerospace Wales, which produced a joint Space Strategy with the Welsh Government in 2015, said the report was not make or break and that the Llanbedr entry was pressing ahead. It was estimated that, if successful, the spaceport, which is close to Shell Island , would generate £4.2m of income and create around 170 jobs. (11/14)

Wier: Kenya A Great Site for Spaceport in 'Artemis' (Source: Business Insider)
Kenya isn't the first country you'd think of to locate a spaceport for launching people to and from the moon, but in "Artemis", a new sci-fi novel by "The Martian" author Andy Weir, that is precisely the case. Weir's tale takes place during the 2080s at Artemis — humanity's first and only lunar city.

"One of the biggest impediments to the commercial space industry right now isn't technology, its policy," Weir said. "I've listened to the things that commercial space companies have said ... and the consistent thing that pretty much everybody says is, it is such a pain in the ass to deal with the policies. That's always their biggest problem." Kenya, however, doesn't really have such rules — which could make it the perfect place to base an enormously expensive lunar-launch facility.

That's why in "Artemis", Weir routes all passengers and cargo to the moon through the fictional Kenya Space Corporation. "So what I thought was, there are market forces at play that people haven't tapped into yet, and reducing policy could bring a space industry to your country," Weir said. "And so that's what Kenya did [in my book] — Kenya said like, 'Hey we have two things that people want: we can set policy to be as friendly as possible for a space industry, and we're on the equator.'" (11/15)

China Plans to Reduce Launch Prices, India Says We Can Do That Too (Source: Hindustan Times)
China’s state-owned entity that develops and manufactures spacecraft is ready to provide cheaper and faster rocket launches, with costs in the range of $5,000 per kilogram. Reacting to China’s plans to drastically reduce launch costs, an ISRO official said not only is the Indian agency “competitive”, but it is working to reduce the cost of access to space through new technology. The effort is to bring down launch costs to “one-tenth” of what they are now, the official said. (11/14)

China Launches Fengyun-3D Weather Satellite and Private Maritime Microsatellite (Source: GB Times)
China successfully launched the Fengyun-3D weather satellite into a polar orbit on Tuesday, along with the first satellite for private Chinese company Head Aerospace. The Long March 4C rocket lifted off from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, sending the Fengyun-3D towards a circular Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of over 800 km. (11/14)

Alloy Holds Promise for Aerospace (Source: Aerospace America)
NiTiHf is among a class of shape-memory alloys, SMAs, that materials engineers think could give aircraft designers a slew of bold new options. Training is achieved by bending the tubes to specific angles under force, then heating and cooling them to train them to return to that angle at a specific temperature. Engineers from NASA and Boeing are teaching NiTiHf a new trick: To fold aircraft wingtips or sections of wings up and down in flight. (11/16)

See Just How Powerful NASA's New Rocket Will Be (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
NASA released an animated video of its Space Launch System, showing off the government agency's most powerful rocket that will return astronauts to the Moon and eventually Mars. The Space Launch System rocket, which will be equipped with four RS-25 engines creating 8 million pounds of thrust, will be NASA's workhorse vehicle for deep space exploration. And, it is creating plenty of business opportunities throughout Central Florida. Click here. (11/15)

Boat Encroaches Range Safety Zone, Delays Delta-2 Launch at California Spaceport (Source: Space.com)
Range and technical issues scrubbed the launch this morning of a weather satellite on a Delta 2. The countdown was stopped coming out of the planned hold at T-4 minutes because of boats in restricted waters off the coast from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, launch site, as well as an issue with the first stage of the rocket. NASA has rescheduled the launch for 4:47 a.m. Eastern Wednesday. The Delta 2 is carrying the first Joint Polar Satellite System weather satellite. (11/13)

Florida Today's Photo Team Honored for Chronicling Shuttle Era (Source: Florida Today)
Challenger’s smiling crew boarding the Astrovan before their disastrous 1986 launch. Discovery blasting off over packed beaches on Independence Day in 2006. Endeavour winding through downtown Los Angeles on its way to a museum retirement home in 2012.

The images are a sample of the powerful scenes FLORIDA TODAY photographers chronicled during NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program, journalism the National Space Club Florida Committee recognized Tuesday for its service to the Space Coast and beyond.

“A Florida Today photographer was there to document every significant moment that took place during those three decades of space shuttle operations,” said Jim Banke, a space club board member and former FLORIDA TODAY reporter, at a ceremony in Cape Canaveral. (11/14)

Building a Qualified Workforce a Top Concern for Florida Chamber (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
The Florida Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 14 unveiled its 2018 legislative agenda, with a focus on jobs, workforce development and competitiveness. There are 221,000 jobs looking for people and 383,000 people looking for jobs, according to the chamber's news release, which names building a qualified workforce as a top concern for job creators.

According to the 2018 agenda, the chamber will support efforts that strengthen Florida’s role in space exploration by supporting public and commercial space projects and investing in a skilled aerospace workforce; build on tourism, agriculture and construction; support small businesses and reforms that give them have access to resources and support; and strengthening Florida’s position as a global trade leader and increasing foreign direct investment. Click here. (11/14)

November 14, 2017

Minute-Long Free Flight Moves Dream Chaser Closer to Florida Launch, Landing (Source: Florida Today)
A mini-shuttle’s glide to a California runway landing last weekend previewed planned Kennedy Space Center touchdowns that are possible within three years. Recalling NASA’s prototype space shuttle orbiter Enterprise 40 years ago — but with no crew on board — Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Dream Chaser dropped from altitude, deployed landing gear and rolled 4,200 feet to a stop at Edwards Air Force Base on Veterans Day.

Pending NASA’s approval, the minute-long free flight is expected to be the Dream Chaser’s last test flight before a mid-2020 blastoff from Cape Canaveral atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, on an International Space Station supply mission. After losing its bid to fly astronauts to the station, SNC was one of three companies NASA selected for its next round of commercial resupply contracts starting in 2019, along with incumbents SpaceX and Orbital ATK.

Saturday morning’s test simulated the last two-and-a-half miles of a Dream Chaser’s return from space, which look much like those flown by the larger space shuttle, Sirangelo said. A helicopter dropped the Dream Chaser from about 12,500 feet. Flight computers running software designed for orbital flights commanded the Dream Chaser to make left and right turns before it lined up the runway for a touchdown at 191 mph. (11/13)

ARCA Space CEO Arrested on Charges of Embezzlement, Fraud (Source: Parabolic Arc)
ARCA Space Corporation CEO Dumitru Popescu was in a New Mexico jail on Sunday night after being arrested and charged of fraud, embezzlement and forgery. The Romanian-born Popescu faces 13 counts of fraud, five counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery. Popescu was arrested in Georgia and is now being held in New Mexico without bond.

The New Mexico Securities Division alleges that Popescu “did by words or conduct make a promise that he had no intention of keeping” and “misrepresented a fact intending deceive or cheat” Michael Persico, the CEO and founder of the Chicago-based telecommunications company Anova Technologies, in an amount exceeding $20,000, according to the complaint. (11/13)

Harris Develops Fully Digital Navigation Payload for Future GPS III Sats (Source: GPS Daily)
Harris Corporation has completed development of the company's fully digital Mission Data Unit (MDU), which is at the heart of its navigation payload for Lockheed Martin's GPS III satellites 11 and beyond.

The current Harris payload for GPS III space vehicles (SVs) 1-10 includes a greater than three times reduction in range error, up to eight times increase in anti-jamming power, added signals - including one compatible with other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) - and greater signal integrity.

Harris' GPS III SV11+ fully digital navigation payload will further improve on performance for the U.S. Air Force by providing more powerful signals, plus built-in flexibility to adapt to advances in GPS technology, as well as future changes in mission needs. (11/10)

Russia has a Plan to Compete with SpaceX—But it Has a Flaw (Source: Ars Technica)
As recently as 2013, Russia's venerable fleet of rockets commanded nearly half of the global share of the commercial launch market. Since then, the emergence of other players, most notably SpaceX, has considerably shrunk the once-dominant Russian position. This year, although Russia has made 17 successful orbital launches, only about a third of them have flown for paying customers. By contrast, SpaceX has made 16 launches this year, 11 of which have been for commercial customers.

Recognizing its dimming market position, the Russian rocket corporation, Energia, has fast-tracked development of a new medium-class launch vehicle that it is calling Soyuz-5. Next year, however, SpaceX is likely to debut the fifth and final version of its Falcon 9 booster, optimized for reusability and likely with a capacity of 23 tons to low-Earth orbit.

If that rocket is even a modest success, which seems plausible given SpaceX's recent progression, then when the Soyuz-5 rocket debuts in 2021, it won't be competing with a Falcon 9 rocket that costs $60 million and has a backlog in launches. Rather, with rapid reusability, it seems more likely that by then, SpaceX will be capable of launching nearly on demand for some fraction of $60 million. (11/13)

Will Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Cross Paths? (Source: Baqqit)
he fundamental purpose of the two companies is completely different from one another. SpaceX is basically in the freight haulage business. It caters towards corporate and government client. They have launched more than 20 commercial satellites, engaged in resupply missions for space stations and taken part in US government science and national security missions.

In contrast to this, Blue Origin is in the tourism market. Bezos seeks to take tourists into orbit for 10-11 minutes and popularize space travel. As far as business goes, so far they have not launched anything for the paying customer and therefore have not generated any revenues to date. The deadline for the first launch with customers inside is targeted to be in 2019. No valuation can be estimated at this point. Click here. (11/13)

Was SpaceX Getting Favorable Treatment? (Source: My San Antonio)
For the sake of our national security, I am thankful that Speaker Paul Ryan appointed U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, Chairman of the House, Science, Space, and Technology Committee, as a conferee to the Armed Services Conference Committee.

There, he worked with fellow Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry to get the National Defense Authorization Agreement (NDAA) ready for a final vote. Smith’s voice on the committee was critical because he has a long history of demonstrating a sound understanding of how defense policy is often lacking in equity. Before the conferees got involved, the 2018 NDAA was no different.

Thankfully, the conferees scrapped Section 1615 of the original House agreement, which would have stopped the armed forces from aiding in the creation of new launch systems. The timing of this section is what was perplexing. A ban on Russian rocket engines will go into effect in just a few years, which may take SpaceX’s current sole competitor out of play. This Russia prohibition would be completely understandable on national security grounds if the Air Force could still incentivize competition; however, Section 1615’s ban on abetting new launch systems might have resulted in SpaceX receiving near-monopoly status over the nation’s launch services. (11/14)

General Atomics Acquires Assets of Surrey Satellite Technology US (Source: Parabolic Arc)
General Atomics announced today that it has acquired the majority of the assets of Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC, an Englewood, Colorado.-based provider of small satellite technologies, systems and services. The assets and workforce will be integrated into General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems Group (GA-EMS) to support the organization’s growth initiatives focused on the development and delivery of small satellite and advanced payload systems. (11/14)

Loft Orbital Raises $3.2 Million to Build Condo Constellation (Source: Space News)
A San Francisco startup raised $3.2 million in a seed financing round to create a service around operating a constellation of satellites packed with payloads from different customers. Loft Orbital says it could have a first mission in orbit by the second half of 2019, and already has three “well advanced leads” that could soon mature into paying customers.

Founders Antoine de Chassy, Alexander Greenberg and Pierre-Damien Vaujour — all of whom once worked for nanosatellite operator Spire — are targeting as customers various companies, academics and government agencies that want to collect data from space — weather, imagery, etc. — but don’t want to own and operate any satellites. Loft is a leasing company, essentially buying a satellite platform and stocking it with up to five payloads from various customers. (11/13)

Skylark: The Unsung Hero of British Space (Source: BBC)
It's 60 years to the day that Britain launched its first Skylark rocket. It wasn't a big vehicle, and it didn't go to orbit. But the anniversary of that first flight from Woomera, Australia, should be celebrated because much of what we do in space today has its roots in this particular piece of technology. "Skylark is an unsung British hero really," says Doug Millard, space curator at London's Science Museum.

"The first one was launched during the International Geophysical Year of 1957, and almost 450 were launched over the better part of half a century. It was the Skylark space rocket that really laid the foundations for everything the UK does in space." Millard is opening a corner of the museum's Space Gallery to the memory of the Skylark. (11/13)

Two Monster Galaxies From Big Bang Epoch are About to Collide in Extreme Merger (Source: Newsweek)
Two ginormous galaxies almost 13 billion light years away are about to smash into each other in the most extreme merger event of its kind. And astronomers on Earth have a front row view. The hyper-luminous starburst galaxies—the ADFS-27 system—are believed to be two of the most massive systems in the universe.

They are located in the Dorado constellation, also known as the swordfish, and are 12.7 billion years away from Earth—meaning they formed when the universe was only around one billion years old. At the moment, the galaxies are around 30,000 light years away from one another. Their collision course is providing researchers with an unprecedented view into how the universe as we see it today was created. (11/14)

Study Finds SpaceX Investment Saved NASA Hundreds of Millions (Source: Popular Mechanics)
When a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft connected with the International Space Station on May 25, 2012, it made history as the first privately-built spacecraft to reach the ISS. The Dragon was the result of a decision 6 years prior—in 2006, NASA made an "unprecedented" investment in SpaceX technology. A new financial analysis shows that the investment has paid off, and the government found one of the true bargains of the 21st century when it invested in SpaceX. Click here. (11/10)

Tempe Arizona Evolves Into a Hotbed for the Space Industry (Source: AZ Big Media)
The cosmos is billions of years old. But the idea of exploring the unknown, infinite universe beyond Earth’s orbit from Tempe is much, much younger. Arizona State University has been active for years. ASU was involved with the NASA’s Viking missions to Mars in the 1970s and, more recently, with Curiosity, a car-sized robotic rover whose mission is to explore Mars.  

The university isn’t the only place in Tempe exploring the cosmos. There’s a vibrant commercial space industry that is looking beyond our blue planet. This commercial space industry has its roots in the pre-bankruptcy Tempe operations of Motorola spin-off, Iridium, which started in the 1980s. Click here. (11/13)

Apollo in 'Artemis': Andy Weir Sets New Book at moon Landing Site (Source: CollectSpace)
One hundred and 15 years after NASA's historic Apollo 11 mission landed the first astronauts on the moon, tourists bound about "Tranquility Base" and stay at a commercial lunar base, at least as envisioned by the author of "The Martian" in his new book.

In "Artemis," Andy Weir's new novel out Tuesday (Nov. 14) from Crown, readers are launched on another riveting space adventure that is grounded in science, but this time it is wrapped around the tale of a crime and set at the first and only city on the moon. Like Weir's prior protagonist, Mark Watney in "The Martian," twenty-something Jasmine Bashara (aka "Jazz") finds herself facing mounting challenges — more than a few of her own creation — with a sharp wit and sense of humor. (11/14)

Venture Capitalist Takes Leave of Absence from SpaceX Board (Source: Space News)
A prominent venture capitalist who has been a key investor and supporter of commercial space efforts has left the firm he co-founded and is taking a leave of absence from the board of SpaceX. In a brief statement Nov. 13, venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) announced that Steve Jurvetson, a co-founder and partner in the firm would be leaving by “mutual agreement.” The statement did not specify the reason for his departure.

However, a report last month by the technology publication The Information stated DFJ was investigating “indirect and second-hand allegations” regarding Jurvetson’s conduct towards women. Jurvetson denied any allegations in a tweet that confirmed he was leaving DFJ. “I am leaving DFJ to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me,” he said. (11/14)

BAE Systems Wins DARPA Contract to Develop 3D Space Warfare Lab (Source: Space News)
DARPA awarded BAE Systems a contract worth up to $12.8 million to develop a digital lab to help U.S. military commanders prepare for combat in outer space, the company announced Nov. 14. The task is to create a virtual space-battle zone so U.S. military leaders can better understand the space environment and the potential threats. (11/14)

Japan to Try Again with World’s Smallest Satellite-Carrying Rocket (Source: Japan Times)
The space agency will try once again in December to launch the world’s smallest rocket capable of placing a satellite in orbit after the initial attempt failed in January. The rocket, measuring 10 meters long and 50 cm in diameter, will carry a “micro-mini” satellite weighing about 3 kg developed by the University of Tokyo to collect imagery of the Earth’s surface. The launch scheduled for Dec. 25 will feature the fifth rocket in the SS-520 series.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is hoping small rockets made with commercially available components at low cost will help fuel the growing global demand for micro-mini satellites. JAXA used components found in home electronics and smartphones for the rocket, which is about the size of a utility pole. The three-stage rocket is scheduled to lift off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture between 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. (11/13)

Former NASA Official Joins Luxembourg Initiative (Source: Space Resources)
The Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy today announced that Mr. Gary Martin, former Director of Partnerships at NASA Ames, recently joined its Space Affairs Department. As an independent advisor, Gary Martin assists the Directorate-General for Research, Intellectual Property and New Technologies, in charge of Space Affairs, to implement the strategy relating to the SpaceResources.lu initiative in close collaboration with national partners from research and academia. (11/14)

November 13, 2017

Swarm of Nanosatellites Could Visit Over 300 Asteroids (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
European scientists have proposed a mission consisting of 50 tiny spacecraft, which could visit and study over 300 asteroids in a timespan of just over three years. The concept, named Asteroid Touring Nanosat Fleet, envisions a swarm of nanosatellites propelled by innovative electric solar wind sails (known as E-sails) taking images and studying the composition of asteroids. The tiny spacecraft would perform flybys of their targets at a range of around 620 miles (1,000 kilometers). Each nanosatellite would visit six or seven space rocks before returning to Earth. (11/12)

Orbital ATK: Continued Antares Success, More Antares Launches (Source: Space News)
The launch is the first in a string of cargo missions that Antares will fly over the next few years. Three of the previous four Cygnus missions used United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5, in part because of upgrades to the Antares after an October 2014 launch failure. Orbital ATK officials said the remaining missions under its original Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, as well as at least the first two missions under its CRS-2 contract, will use the Antares. The company has not been successful in marketing the Antares to other customers, although it says it continues to seek additional business for the vehicle. (11/13)

Triton Messed With Neptune's Moons (Source: New Scientist)
Neptune likely had an ordinary collection of moons until Triton came along. Models of Neptune's moons suggest that it had a "well-behaved" set of moons, similar to Uranus, until the planet's gravity captured Triton, a Kuiper Belt object that formed separately. Triton flung around Neptune's smaller moons, and crashed into others. That explains why the planet has several small moons either very close or very far from the planet, and also how Triton ended up in a circular orbit after being captured into an elliptical one. (11/13)

World View Tourism Craft Takes a Back Seat to Stratollite Business (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
World View says it's seeing growing customer interest in its "stratollite" high-altitude balloons. The company said it flew four stratollites from late September through October for several customers, including NASA, and will be on a pace for 100 flights a year by the second half of next year. The company originally planned to use the balloons to provide a near-space experience for tourists, but the company says it's deferring that work to focus on the uncrewed stratollites, with flights carrying humans to "fall in" at some point in the future. (11/13)

A Tale of Two Rockets (Source: Space Review)
An Orbital ATK Antares rocket successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft on Sunday, the rocket’s first flight in more than a year. Jeff Foust reports on the launch and the challenges that medium-class rocket is facing in the launch market. Click here. (11/13)
 
The Outer Space Treaty and States’ Obligation to Remove Space Debris: a US Perspective (Source: Space Review)
It’s widely believed that cleaning up orbital debris requires new laws or even international treaties. However, Ram S Jakhu and Md Tanveer Ahmad argue that existing laws give the US the authority it needs to remove orbital debris. Click here. (11/13)
 
An Open Letter to Vice President Pence and the National Space Council on Space Traffic Management (Source: Space Review)
As the National Space Council starts its work, one topic it will likely address is space traffic management. Three authors, in an open letter to the council and its chairman, suggest establishing a new agency to deal with this issue. Click here. (11/13)
 
The Moon and America’s (and the World’s) Defense (Source: Space Review)
Some Mars exploration advocates seen a return to the Moon as an unnecessary detour. Gary Fisher proposes a lunar base that could support future Mars missions and other applications, although in a very unconventional way. Click here. (11/13)

China Teases Hypersonic Military Attack Aircraft Designs (Source: Sputnik)
A news report on the Chinese CCMF channel has revealed a glimpse of a top-secret JF-12 hypersonic wind-tunnel in which prospective - and presumably military - hypersonic aircraft are being tested. Aerodynamic tunnels are commonly used to test the properties of machines prior to full scale production. In the case of aircraft that tend to be big and expensive, small models of new plane designs are positioned in wind tunnels to reveal how the new craft withstand high winds. Click here. (11/13)

In the case of hypersonic planes, a tunnel is required that can simulate an aircraft movement at speeds much faster than the speed of sound. China has now demonstrated their own version. Built in 2012, the JF-12, dubbed ‘Hyper Dragon,' has been a carefully kept secret. The 2.5 meter wide, 265 meter long installation reportedly cost almost $7 million to construct and is capable of creating wind speeds up to 10 times the speed of sound, or about 7,680 mph. (11/13)

Thousands of Scientists Issue Bleak 'Second Notice' to Humanity (Source: Washington Post)
In late 1992, 1,700 scientists from around the world issued a dire “warning to humanity.” They said humans had pushed Earth's ecosystems to their breaking point and were well on the way to ruining the planet. The letter listed environmental impacts like they were biblical plagues — stratospheric ozone depletion, air and water pollution, the collapse of fisheries and loss of soil productivity, deforestation,  species loss and  catastrophic global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

“If not checked,” wrote the scientists, led by particle physicist and Union of Concerned Scientists co-founder Henry Kendall, “many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.” But things were only going to get worse.

To mark the letter's 25th anniversary, researchers have issued a bracing follow-up. In a communique published Monday in the journal BioScience, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries assess the world's latest responses to various environmental threats. Once again, they find us sorely wanting. “Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse,” they write. (11/13)