March 3, 2014

Russian Space Sanctions? What Might Be Possible (Source: SPACErePORT)
As the U.S. and its NATO and UN allies consider economic and other sanctions in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, there are some space-related actions that might be on the table. Russia is working hard to strengthen its space program, including collaborations with the U.S. and Europe, so curtailing those collaborations might cause the kind of economic and political pain that is sought.

Europe could cancel Russia's involvement in ESA's Jupiter probe. Export licenses could be canceled for Russian launches of European and U.S. commercial satellites. Arianespace could be urged to halt use of the Soyuz booster at Kourou. In the U.S., NASA could accelerate the development of Commercial Crew capabilities for ISS transport, and the Air Force could require domestic production of Russian-designed RD-180 rocket engines. (3/3)

Mars 2021 and the Quest for Direction in Human Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
Last week, a Congressional committee held a hearing about whether NASA should adopt a human Mars flyby concept developed last year by Inspiration Mars. Jeff Foust reports on the debate at the hearing about a 2021 Mars flyby mission, and demands from policymakers for more details from NASA about its human space exploration plans in general. Visit to view the article. (3/3)

The Affording Mars Workshop: Background and Recommendations (Source: Space Review)
In December, a team of experts convened in Washington to examine how to carry out "affordable" human missions to Mars in the next two to three decades. Harley Thronson and Chris Carberry discuss the background of the workshop and the recommendations they developed to make such missions feasible. Visit to view the article. (3/3)

Apollo 9: Testing the Lunar Module (Source: Space Review)
Monday marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 9, an Apollo mission that never left Earth orbit yet was a key step in the journey to the Moon. Anthony Young recounts this mission that provided the first opportunity for astronauts to fly the Lunar Module. Visit to view the article. (3/3)

The Potential for Human Spaceflight Increasing at Virginia Spaceport (Source: WDBJ)
The regional spaceport on Virginia's eastern shore is now sending cargo to the International Space Station. And one day, humans could be heading into space from the launch pad on Wallops Island. Bigelow Aerospace is now developing an expandable module for the International Space Station. And the company hopes to use the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport to deploy an independent, free-flying commercial space station.

The company says human spaceflight could have a huge economic impact on the entire state, including southwestern Virginia. "I think southwestern Virginia, Virginia Tech, a lot of the companies and certainly educational institutions that you have down there would be absolutely involved at a very high level," Bigelow's Mike Gold said. "Bbecause in the end this isn't about just sending people to space, it's about what you do there. " (3/3)

China Pins December Long March Launch Failure on Fuel-line Clog (Source: Space News)
China’s launch-services provider on March 3 said the December failure of a Long March 4B rocket was due to debris that blocked fuel intake of an upper-stage engine, resulting in the loss of the CBERS-3 Earth observation satellite owned jointly by China and Brazil.

In a statement, The China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC) said the debris, which caused the premature shutdown of the second of two third-stage engines, likely came from “the launch vehicle pressurization feeding system or the assembly process of the third-stage engine.”

“Corrective actions including strengthening quality management and perfecting the foreign object debris-control techniques [during] assembly, integration and test” would be put into place immediately, CGWIC said, on both delivered vehicles and those under production. (3/3)

MESSENGER Team Wins Space Society's Pioneer Award (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society is awarding its 2014 Space Pioneer Award for the Science and Engineering category to the (Mercury) MESSENGER Team. MESSENGER stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging. This spacecraft entered an orbit around the planet Mercury and conducted an extensive scientific survey of the entire planet, the first human object to do so. With this award, NSS recognizes both the importance of the first dedicated probe to orbit Mercury and the significance of the scientific results already released. (3/3)

Harris Corp. Antenna Reflectors Deploy on Sirius Spacecraft (Source: SpaceRef)
An advanced antenna reflector designed and built by Harris Corp. on Florida's Space Coast has been successfully deployed in space onboard the Sirius FM-6 satellite which was designed and built by Space Systems/Loral (SSL) for SiriusXM. The high-performance reflector has a 9-meter diameter aperture when fully deployed and delivers a high-power signal to SiriusXM's 25.6 million subscribers.

The reflector features a Harris-patented, gold-plated mesh reflective surface, coupled with a unique design that maximizes antenna gain and provides the improved performance required for mobile media services while reducing stowed volume and antenna mass. (3/3)

Boeing Completes Pilot-in-the-Loop Milestone for Commercial Crew (Source: SpaceRef)
Former astronaut Chris Ferguson of The Boeing Company demonstrated that the CST-100 spacecraft simulator and software allows a human pilot to take over control of the spacecraft from the computer during various phases of a mission following separation from the launch vehicle. The pilot-in-the-loop demonstration was a milestone under Boeing's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability agreement with the agency and its Commercial Crew Program. (3/3)

Endangered Species Among Concerns at SpaceX Texas Spaceport Site (Source: Parabolic Arc)
SpaceX’s proposed commercial spaceport in Texas, is surrounded by a nearly 11,000-acre wildlife preserve that is home to multiple endangered animals, including nesting sea turtles and two species of wild cats, according to the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter sent a letter to the FAA last June expressing concerns over how the species and wildlife preserve will be protected if SpaceX goes forward with its plan to construct the spaceport. (3/3)

Private Mars One Human and Lander Missions to Use Uwingu Name Maps (Source: Collect Space)
Uwingu and the Mars One project announced a landmark partnership: All robotic and human Mars One missions will carry Uwingu’s Mars Crater Map to Mars, and use these feature names as a part of Mars One mission operations. In exchange, a portion of Uwingu Fund revenues generated by Mars feature naming will help fund Mars One missions. (3/3)

NASA Robotically Transfers Hypergolic Satellite Oxidizer (Source: Aviation Week)
Roboticists developing satellite-servicing technology at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have completed a ground-based teleoperations demonstration that transferred corrosive nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) through a standard satellite-fueling valve at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), using a robot controlled from Goddard.

The ground test, and the upcoming second phase of the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) on the International Space Station, continue pushing technologies that may allow NASA to stretch the service lives of expensive science satellites in Earth orbit robotically, as has been done with astronauts over five space shuttle servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope. (2/28)

Gravity, the Sequel: Why the Real Story Would Be on the Ground (Source: The Atlantic)
It’s high time that Hollywood start thinking about a sequel. For what is a big-budget blockbuster if not part of a franchise? Luckily, the makings of a sequel were tidily—and tantalizingly briefly—introduced in the first movie, when Mission Control advises that a debris chain reaction is knocking out most telecomm satellites.

This moment forms the basis of the idea for my sequel to Gravity that takes place on the planet below, imagining what happens to the rest of humankind. The physical likelihood of an instantaneous cascading debris crisis as presented in Gravity has been thoroughly challenged by scientists, astronauts, and even the film’s own science advisor. However, a different look at this unlikely scenario illustrates how much of our lives are tied to outer space. (3/3)

NASA Tweets Real 'Gravity' Space Pics (Source: USA Today)
NASA is sharing real photos taken in space that look like they came straight out of the Oscar-nominated film Gravity. Using the hashtag #RealGravity, the space agency, tweeting from its account @NASA, shows astronauts working on the International Space Station and scenes of Earth from space. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, based in Maryland, also posted some amazing pictures on Flickr. (3/3)

Demand for CubeSat Deployments Nearing Space Station Limit (Source: Via Satellite)
The use of the International Space Station (ISS) as a platform for launching CubeSats has grown so much that the station crew may have to adjust their approach to keep pace. The most recent load of 33 satellites from Planet Labs, NanoSatisfi, SkyCube and others currently under way is now more than half way through deployment, and future launches to the ISS are already filling up. The demand for these launches has exceeded the expectation of NASA, JAXA and the commercial companies involved. (2/26)

Astrobotic Qualifies for Milestone Prize from Lunar XPRIZE (Source: The Tartan)
Before the final countdown to the moon begins, Google will award $1.75 million in Milestone Prizes to companies that can demonstrate technical goals in landing, mobility, and imaging. Last week, two of the 19 teams entered in the competition were announced to qualify to potentially receive awards in all three categories. One of them is Carnegie Mellon’s spinoff company: Astrobotic Technology Inc.

Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh-based company run by John Thorton, has a 12-man team, some of whom are Carnegie Mellon students and faculty. Headed by Red Whittaker — Fredkin University research professor of the Robotics Institute and director of the Field Robotics Center — they lead the work on the lunar rover and provide significant contributions to the mission. (3/3)

The Next Tiangong (Source: Space Daily)
In 2015, China is expected to launch its next space laboratory. Tiangong 2 will follow on from the Tiangong 1 module, which was launched in 2011 and is still in orbit at the time of writing. Tiangong 1 received two crews of astronauts and carried out China's first space dockings. It is a small, roughly cylindrical module with a crew cabin and a service module featuring solar panels. Although Tiangong 1 is officially designated as a "space laboratory", it is really a small space station.

The launch of Tiangong 2 has been expected for a long time, but space analysts are puzzled by the nature of this spacecraft. Originally, China planned to launch three Tiangong modules, and Tiangong 2 was expected to be a marginally improved version of the Tiangong 1 spacecraft. Later, China seemed to drop plans for three Tiangongs and launch just two. We wondered how this would affect the design of the next module to be launched. A whirlwind of rumours, speculation and conflicting reports circulated. China seemed determined to allow the confusion to flourish.

Recent snippets of information from China have helped to clear up some of the confusion, but have still not given us a totally clear picture of the next Tiangong. China has essentially confirmed plans that a cargo spacecraft will dock with Tiangong 2. This is consistent with the long-term goal of the Tiangong program: To verify the hardware and technology required to build a large space station. (3/3)

Japan Calls For New Launcher Proposals (Source: Space Daily)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is making final preparations towards the development of our new flagship launch vehicle from Japan Fiscal Year (JFY) 2014. The new flagship launch vehicle will be freshly developed with a goal of securing Japan's autonomous launch capability of satellites and other payloads while acquiring international competitiveness in the space transportation field and maintaining and developing technical and industrial bases.

The Committee on the National Space Policy of the Cabinet Office recommended that the private sector be involved to play an important role throughout the new flagship launch vehicle project to make it an internationally competitive launch vehicle. By including a private company, the Committee said that the ability and power of the private sector should be fully leveraged in the development, and, thus, that company shall also be able to provide launch services autonomously. (3/3)

China's Lunar Lander Still Operational (Source: Space Daily)'
While the world awaits the awakening of China's Yutu Moon rover at the end of this long lunar night, let's not forget that Yutu is not the only spacecraft on the Moon. Yutu was delivered to the lunar surface aboard Chang'e-3, a large robot lander. Chang'e-3 is the first Chinese spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon. It follows in the wake of China's first two lunar missions, which orbited the Moon. (3/3)

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