July 12, 2014

Integrated Space Plan Gets Kickstarter Campaign (Source: ISP)
The Integrated Space Plan (ISP) is a tool to help people understand what needs to be done to unlock our future in space. It’s a poster sized document that shows not only what needs to happen…but the sequence in which things need to happen. The original ISP was the finest tool ever made to explain our long term space opportunities to leaders in government, industry, and the financial community. However, it’s now been about 15 years since the plan was updated, and we need to revise and update the plan. Click here. (7/12)

Losing Aircraft in the Space Age, Summer 2014 (Source: Space Safety)
On March 8, 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with ICAO designation MH370, mysteriously disappeared. There were no radio transmissions indicating anything out of the ordinary. The plane simply failed to reach Vietnamese airspace after leaving Kuala Lumpur and certainly never reached its destination of Beijing. The plane simply….vanished.

This Special Report delves into how it is possible for an aircraft to vanish without a trace with dozens of Earth observation and telecommunication satellites whizzing overhead. It explores the touchpoints between aviation and space and how these impact safety in air and on ground. And it looks to the future to see how recurrence of this tragedy may be avoided in future. Click here. (7/12)

What Have We Accomplished in Three Years Since Shuttle Retirement? (Source: Spaceflight Insider)
With the Shuttle Program now apart of NASA’s history, many wonder why NASA is not currently sending humans into space using their own rockets. According to NASA’s FY2013 budget, the average cost of a space shuttle launch was around $450 million per mission. That’s just over $1.575 billion unadjusted. Total cost of the Space Shuttle Program hovers just over $200 billion from development through its retirement. Click here. (7/12)

Commercial Space Race: US Lags Europe (Source: CNBC)
It was a major battlefront in the Cold War, but the space race has moved on from a battle between the U.S. and Russia, to a contest between companies to get ahead in the lucrative commercial space market. The $320 billion commercial space market is a broad one but mainly relates to communication satellites, which draws in revenues of $195 billion, according to the Satellite Industry Association (SIA).

Revenues from the satellite launch industry rose between 2010 and 2012 but dropped in 2013 to $3 billion from $3.8 billion the year before, but revenues from U.S. players continued to rise, according to the SIA. While Europe continued to dominate, U.S. companies are clearly catching up. This trend could continue as geopolitical tensions with Russia mean U.S. companies turn away from Russian space launchers and look at the domestic market, according to analyst. (7/12)

Pentagon Wants Satellite Launch Competition; Lawmakers Unsure (Source: Roll Call)
The Pentagon’s acquisition boss took some guff at a House hearing over a massive satellite launch contract that has prompted a lawsuit by a company that thinks it got shoved aside unfairly. Frank Kendall said the Defense Department does indeed want competition on launches — up to a point. Click here. (7/12)

Virgin Galactic Launch License on Hold While Legislative Fix is Sought (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Virgin Galactic’s application for a launch license for SpaceShipTwo has been on hold since January while legislators in Washington attempt to fix a quirk in the FAA’s regulations governing licenses and experimental permits. The specific issue involves a provision in the law that makes an experimental permit invalid once a launch license is issued for a vehicle, according to Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic’s vice president for special projects.

Flight testing of SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship is continuing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The FAA deemed Virgin Galactic’s application for a license as “complete enough” in late July 2013, giving the agency 180 days to make a decision. If the agency had issued the license in January, flight tests would have been stopped before they were completed. “To prevent this from happening, Virgin Galactic voluntarily requested that the FAA [pause] the 180-day response period shortly before it expired,” Pomerantz wrote. (7/11)

Lawmakers Fire Up Alternatives for Shiloh Complex (Source: Florida Today)
Seeking a less environmentally and politically sensitive place than the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for commercial rockets to blast off, lawmakers are pushing NASA and the Air Force to offer alternatives to the state's proposed Shiloh launch complex. "You've got a lot of unused real estate that used to be launch pads that now can be commercial rocket launch sites," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said this week. "We'll see what develops, but I'm encouraged."

Nelson summoned the Secretary of the Air Force, NASA's associate administrator and head of the Federal Aviation Administration to his office in April to study a map of Cape Canaveral and discuss options at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and has been receiving status reports since. The meeting followed a February hearing on underutilized infrastructure at the Cape, during which U.S. Rep. Bill Posey asked local space leaders: If not at Shiloh, where could you accommodate an independent launch range? Click here.

Editor's Note: The Air Force's 45th Space Wing several years ago put forward a plan that would have established "zones" at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with one or more zones focused on commercial operations and featuring greater autonomy companies operating within them. (7/12) 

Comet-Chasing European Probe Photographs Its Lumpy, Icy Target (Source: Space.com)
A European probe is starting to get some good looks at the comet with which it will rendezvous next month. Recent photos snapped by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft suggest that its target comet, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is a lumpy object sporting three large structures, or perhaps a deep hole, researchers said. Click here. (7/11)

Disco-Era Spacecraft Not Dead, Just Out of Gas (Source: New Scientist)
A citizen science effort to revive a middle-aged spacecraft has come to a close after the probe's rockets failed to fire. But there may be life in the old spacecraft yet, says Keith Cowing of space news site NASA Watch, who helped spearhead the rescue effort. "It's not a zombie, it's not a Flying Dutchman, it just ran out of gas," Cowing says. "The stereo still works and so does the air conditioner." (7/11)

Indian Space Budget Slated To Rise by 6.5 Percent (Source: Space News)
India’s Department of Space will receive 72 billion rupees ($1.2 billion) for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, a sum that includes funding to procure a large communications satellite from a foreign company, according to budget documents unveiled July 10. India’s financial year begins April 1, but the newly elected government only came to power in May. The allocation represents a 6.5 percent increase from the previous year, Deviprasad Karnik, a spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organization, said. (7/11)

Air Force Picks 14 Companies To Support Hosted Payload Efforts (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force awarded contracts to 14 space companies to facilitate the placement of military payloads aboard commercial satellites, a key step in the service’s ongoing exploration of alternative ways to deploy space-based capabilities. Through the Hosted Payload Solutions program, HoPS for short, the Air Force is aiming to create a contracting vehicle to standardize the processes and interfaces for placing dedicated military capabilities aboard commercial satellites.

The purpose of the contract, the announcement said, “is to provide a rapid and flexible means for the government to acquire commercial hosting capabilities for government payloads.” The awards, made by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, which procures U.S. military space systems, are so-called indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts that together create a stable of prequalified companies. Contracts to support actual hosted payload projects would be awarded as task orders as the Air Force sees fit. (7/11)

Hosted Payload Alliance Facilitates Successful Outreach on Capitol Hill (Source Motoe)
The Hosted Payload Alliance (HPA) held an outreach event on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, June 24 to help familiarize members of congress and their staffers with the benefits of hosting government payloads on commercial satellites. Teams of HPA members held more than 40 meetings with 120 policymakers and their assistants.

“Our goal was to educate and raise awareness on Capitol Hill about the benefits and roadmap to hosting government payloads on commercial satellites,” said Aaron Lewis of HPA member Arianespace, who coordinated the Hill Day planning. “One of the primary points we brought into these meetings was that commercial hosting is not a technical revolution, but rather, a business revolution that is picking up momentum.” (7/11)

Harris Corp. on Team Proposing Air Force Satellite Work (Source: SPACErePORT)
Melbourne-based Harris Corp. is teamed with L3 Corp. and other companies in pursuit of a major Air Force contract to modify and maintain the Consolidated Air Force Satellite Control Network. "For years, Harris and L-3 have brought innovation to the operations, maintenance and sustainment of Air Force Satellite and Control Network (AFSCN) weapons systems... We will extend the life of critical systems while reducing the cost of operating, maintaining and sustaining them." A win for Harris would likely include work the Space Coast. (7/12)

One Way Trip to Mars? These Californians Say 'Bring It On' (Source: KPCC)
It's been 45 years since NASA’s Apollo 11 mission landed the first humans on the moon. Now, a private company called Mars One is hoping to do the same for the Red Planet in 2024. The goal is to land four carefully selected people on Mars where they will live the rest of their lives in a small enclosed colony. Their adventures will be broadcast on TV here on Earth. Click here. (7/11)

The New Space Race, and Why Nothing Else Matters (Source: Fiscal Times)
Since Apollo, America’s national space program has essentially foundered.  It improved space travel by building and then scrapping the Space Shuttle, without ever accomplishing – or attempting – a mission as bold or impactful as the one in 1969.  It’s time for a new one.  To win the next space race, the US should announce its support for private property rights in space, and NASA should take a back seat.

To be fair, NASA’s not really at fault here: its business model is just wrong.  In the national consciousness, NASA seems like a luxury, in the same low-priority bucket as the F-22A fighter and development aid for Bosnia.  And unlike those other items, it’s not really clear what the last thirty years of NASA funding has given us.  As America’s government-run space monopoly, NASA is a money hole, no more viable over the long run than is Amtrak. Click here. (7/11)

Harbinger Sues the U.S. Over LightSquared (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners is suing the federal government for allegedly reneging on an agreement regarding wireless venture LightSquared. In a suit filed Friday with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, Harbinger said global positioning systems companies "unlawfully" used spectrum owned by the Harbinger-backed LightSquared. (7/11)

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