September 11, 2014

ACME Produces Commercial SiC Wafers in Microgravity (Source: Parabolic Arc)
ACME Advanced Materials, Inc. today announced the successful commercialization of its process to produce large quantities of low loss, electrically defect free (EDF) Silicon Carbide (SiC) wafers in a microgravity environment.

This development creates a new grade of SiC wafer, S Grade, that are electrically defect free of the mid-gap states known to cause power loss and reliability issues in SiC devices by impeding current flow through these electrical scattering centers. (9/10)

NanoRacks Investigates Cubesat Deployment Anomalies (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The investigation of the anomalies on the CubeSat deployers continues and has three main components: to understand the root cause of the behavior of the deployers; to put corrective actions into place; and to plan a resumption in CubeSat deployments. We believe we are making progress in understanding the root cause of the anomalies. The team of NanoRacks and the CubeSat deployer manufacturer Quad M are now able to duplicate on the ground the anomalies observed in space.

Yesterday we showed the results to a NASA working group. In addition, NanoRacks has brought in a team from the Aerospace Corporation to assist NanoRacks in the investigation and in finding a pathway for future deployments. All parties are reviewing historical and new test data to validate the preliminary root cause we have identified. At the same time, the broad root cause analysis continues as NASA and NanoRacks explore all possible causes. (9/10)

World’s Biggest Satellite Fleet Operators Want Europe To Build Ariane 6 (Source: Space News)
A group including the world’s largest commercial satellite fleet operators has written the European Space Agency urging that it approve a new-generation Ariane 6 in time for a first launch in 2019 or face relegating the European rocket to commercial also-ran status.

The letter to ESA Director Jean-Jacques Dordain makes clear that these fleet operators have a ho-hum view of the Ariane 5 ME vehicle that ESA governments are weighing alongside a new-generation Ariane 6. Given the advent of electric propulsion and the dramatic launch-cost reduction offered by SpaceX, the operators say, the new Ariane 6 needs to be in service by 2019 or face the risk that Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium will be permanently sidelined. (9/10)

Hyperspectral Imaging Startup Orders First Satellites From Boeing (Source: Space News)
Boeing has landed the first contract for its 502 Phoenix small-satellite platform in a partially vendor-financed deal with a hyperspectral imaging startup called HySpecIQ. The deal calls for Boeing to deliver two Phoenix platforms equipped with high-resolution hyperspectral imaging sensors that would be ready for launch within several months of one another starting in the first quarter of 2018. (9/10)

Hearing Raises Questions About Asteroid Mining Bill (Source: Space News)
A bill that would grant property rights and other protections for commercial asteroid mining ventures received a mixed reception at a House space subcommittee hearing. H.R. 5063, the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities In Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act, would grant U.S. companies the rights to resources they extract from asteroids. It also allows companies to take legal action if they suffered “harmful interference” during those activities by other entities under U.S. jurisdiction.

One space law expert raised questions about the bill’s language. “My professional opinion is that the ASTEROIDS Act, as written, is very, very vague,” said Joanne Gabrynowicz. “Strictly from reading the text, and based on legal knowledge, it definitely needs work...It’s a completely novel application of that term of art,” she said. That, she said, could raise questions about what constituted such interference.

She added that international legal opinion is divided on whether an entity that extracts space resources then owns those resources, ownership that the bill would recognize. “There will be a great deal of political and legal discussion catalyzed by this.” One key member suggested that, because of those issues, the committee delay work on the bill until next year. However, co-sponsor Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) said: “If we wait for years to address the issue, the business is just going to go somewhere else.” (9/10)

Loan Covenants Put NewSat in Chicken-and-Egg Situation (Source: Space News)
Australian startup broadband satellite operator NewSat Ltd. on Sept. 10 said it is not in a “work-out” situation with its major lenders, the U.S. and French export-credit agencies, but that the company is going through an acknowledged rough period as it builds its first satellite and contends with lower revenues in its historic teleport business.

NewSat Chief Executive Adrian Ballintine said the company had been faced with a classic chicken-and-egg situation in which lenders demanded technical and management expertise as a condition of their loans, all the while setting loan covenants that limited NewSat’s ability to hire new talent. NewSat’s first satellite, Jabiru-1, is under construction by Lockheed Martin and scheduled for launch in late 2015 or early 2016. (9/10)

SpaceX, Loral Win Bulgarian Broadcast Satellite Deal (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Bulgaria's first communications satellite will be built and launched in the United States with financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Space Systems/Loral will manufacture the television broadcasting spacecraft and a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the satellite in 2016. The satellite will broadcast direct-to-home television signals in the Balkans and other European regions for Bulgaria Sat, an affiliate of Bulgarian television and mobile operator Bulsatcom. (9/8)

Who Can Mine That Asteroid? Posey Says Rules Needed (Source: Florida Today)
Whizzing asteroids aren't simply objects to avoid. They're also resource-rich treasures to explore. With commercial space companies itching to mine these space rocks, Republican Rep. Bill Posey of Florida has introduced a bipartisan bill that would set up what he calls a "legal framework" to determine what rights private interests would have to extract and control whatever they find.

Hundreds of asteroids spotted buzzing near Earth are believed to contain valuable metals and rare minerals. Their most coveted resource might be frozen water that could be converted into liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for rocket fuel that would make a trip to Mars or other astral bodies easier and cheaper.

Posey, whose central Florida district includes NASA's Kennedy Space Center, said that's engendered a lot of interest. "We have Americans ready, actually waiting right now to pursue asteroids as we speak — not in two or three years," Posey said during a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on his bill. (9/10)

Space Fashion Week: How Slow Factory Makes NASA Photos Into Clothes (Source:
Celine Semaan Vernon isn't a scientist or a fashion designer by training, but somehow she found herself at an unlikely nexus between those two careers. Vernon will show off a line of silk scarves artfully printed with free-to-use, barely altered NASA images of Earth and space as part of New York Fashion Week. Her two-year-old boutique, Slow Factory, has already earned her fans among NASA scientists and space enthusiasts seeking to express their geekery.

Now, Vernon will try to impress the fashion world. Slow Factory auspiciously launched the same day NASA's Curiosity Mars rover landed on the Red Planet in August 2012. The Martian landscape — uncannily Earth-like and alien at the same time — inspired Vernon's latest collection of sustainably made scarves called "Mars, Revealed." (9/10)

A Significant Flare Surges Off the Sun (Source: NASA)
The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 1:48 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground.  However -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. (9/10)

Exelis Successfully Tests GPS Threat Detection Product (Source: Business Wire)
Signal Sentry 1000, an Exelis product that detects and locates GPS interference sources, was deployed and tested during GPS jamming trials that occurred at Sennybridge, United Kingdom, last month. Signal Sentry 1000 was able to detect and geolocate stationary and moving jammers in both open and obstructed environments. (9/10)

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