September 15, 2014

Getting the Rules Right: LEO as an Economic Development Region (Source: Space Review)
NASA has taken some steps to support the growth of the commercial space industry through measures like commercial cargo and crew development. Mary Lynne Dittmar examines what else governments can, and can't, do to further enhance the commercial development of low Earth orbit. Visit to view the article. (9/15)

Ugly Little Gem: The Teal Ruby Satellite (Source: Space Review)
An experimental military satellite called Teal Ruby is now on display at a museum, a quarter-century after it was cancelled. Dwayne Day explores the troubled history of a satellite that at one time represented many of the worst attributes of the military space bureaucracy. Visit to view the article. (9/15)

Another Wakeup Call for the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Space Review)
Last month, SpaceX announced it would establish a commercial launch site in Texas that will support many of the commercial satellite launches it currently performs from Cape Canaveral. Edward Ellegood enumerates a series of concerns commercial entities have about launching from the Cape. Visit to view the article. (9/15)

Schedule Slips Raise Alarms About NASA's Exploration Program (Source: Space Review)
NASA celebrated milestones in the development of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion last week, even as recent reviews and comments suggested those programs' schedules may be slipping. Jeff Foust reports on the potential delays facing SLS and Orion and how Congress may respond. Visit to view the article. (9/15)

Project Upward: Hauling the NRO's GAMBIT to the Moon (Source: Space Review)
In the 1960s NASA and the intelligence community explored the potential use of reconnaissance satellite technology to help map potential Apollo landing sites on the Moon. Philip Horzempa reviews what we know about the program thanks to some recently declassified information. Visit to view the article. (9/15)

Comet Probe Finds Elements Of Life (Source: Forbes)
The Rosetta spacecraft has discovered all the elements of life in the gases jetting from a comet as it approaches the Sun. The ingredients that make up amino acids, life’s building blocks, are all contained in the tail of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/C-G). Among them are methane, methanol, CO2, ammonia and water. All proteins are made of amino acids. If Rosetta’s lander, Philae, discovers complete amino acids when it reaches the comet’s surface in November, it would support the hypothesis that life on Earth was seeded by comets with complex organic molecules as well as water. (9/15)

Site Picked for First-Ever Probe Landing on Comet (Source: CTV)
Scientists at the European Space Agency on Monday announced the spot where they will attempt the first landing on a comet hurtling through space at 55,000 kph. The maneuver is one of the key moments in the decade-long mission to examine comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and learn more about the origins and evolution of objects in the universe. The unmanned Rosetta probe has been flying alongside 67P since August, sending back high-resolution images that allowed scientists to shortlist five possible landing sites.

They chose one site -- dubbed "J" for now -- based on its relatively safe terrain and proximity to interesting features on the comet. But Stephan Ulamec, manager of the Philae lander project, said even with that site "the risk is high." For one, scientists don't know how hard the comet's surface is, or how active it will be on Nov. 11. Like all comets, 67P's icy body has begun to fizz and spray matter as it nears the sun. (9/15)

Space Plankton Will Not Deter Mission to Mars (Source RBTH)
Plankton found on the surface of the International Space Station (ISS) in August was not the first discovery of its kind made by astronauts. In 2013, Russian scientists found other cryptic organisms. If bacteria can survive and reproduce in space, as NASA suspects, it may pose a danger to the health of astronauts and jeopardize future missions to Mars. However, Russian biologists believe that the concern is unfounded. Click here. (9/15)

Space: China’s Final Tourism Frontier (Source: I Cross China)
One night in a Beijing gym when the rain was pouring down outside, Tong Jingjing cried after being repeatedly knocked down by her boxing coach, tears and sweat mingling on her face. Tong, 41, pretty, single, with a high-powered bank job was in training after spending 100,000 U.S. dollars on a travel ticket five months ago. A space travel ticket.

It started when she was trying to clinch a business deal. A private banking product manager, Tong provides investment and tailored travel services for clients with assets of more than 1 billion yuan (about $163 million). With the North and South Poles open to tourists, Tong was looking for other destinations to attract the rich clients. She discovered the space travel. U.S.-based XCOR Aerospace is developing the Lynx spacecraft, aiming to take tourists into space as early as 2015. The company began to sell tickets in China at the end of 2013.

It offers two kinds of flights: one to an altitude of 60 km for a price of 95,000 U.S. dollars; the other to an altitude of 103 km for 100,000 U.S. dollars. The altitude of 100 km is regarded as the boundary between the earth’s atmospheric layer and outer space, says Du Xiyong, vice-president of Zhejiang Dexo Travel Co., Ltd., XCOR’s China's agent. Each journey takes more than one hour, with five or six minutes in outer space. (9/15)

Wernher von Braun’s Fantastic Vision: Ferry Rocket (Source: WIRED)
Some of the most recognizable and iconic conceptual spacecraft designs ever proposed are those of Wernher von Braun’s space popularization campaign of the 1950s. The three-stage ferry rocket for launching crews and cargoes through Earth’s atmosphere into Earth orbit appeared in the pages of Collier’s, a popular American weekly magazine, and the book Across the Space Frontier. Click here. (9/15)

India Gears Up to Put Mars Mission in Orbit (Source: Times of India)
Sleepless Indian space scientists on Sunday began the process of 'waking up' the engine of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft for a four-second test on September 22. Three days later, it will be put to its ultimate test — firing for 24 minutes to slow down the MOM and inject it into the Martial orbit. Should they pull it off, India will be the first country to do so on debut. (9/15)

Mars? Let’s Sort Out Life on Earth First (Source: The Times)
Sir David Attenborough has called for mankind to forget about space travel until it has fixed the problems on Earth. The naturalist ridiculed the idea of creating a permanent human settlement on Mars, saying: “Why should we screw up the rest of the universe?” (9/15)

Space Goals Can Lift Down-to-Earth Ones (Source: Seattle Times)
We could feed, house and educate quite a few people with the money NASA will spend for Commercial Crew, but spending on space isn’t why we don’t do more of those things. Sometimes we fail to do more because we don’t believe in solutions (“the government will just waste money”), sometimes because we don’t feel connected (there’s us and them). It’s every man for himself, you know.

The U.S. is a little short of unifying goals right now and maybe spaceflight could be that again for a moment, like it was during its early days, something inspiring that emphasizes possibilities. And maybe that feeling could spill over into other areas of life. At the least, I believe reaching beyond our collective grasp has its own rewards, just as it does for individuals. When I speak with people who have some affinity for space travel, they often talk about having been inspired by the space program or by the sciences in general to reach for the stars themselves. (9/15)

FireFly Will Stay in California, For Now (Source: Daily Breeze)
It would be misleading to say that Firefly Space Systems is relocating to Texas because most of the small rocket manufacturer operations are already there. Of the company’s 42 employees, less than half a dozen work out of the Hawthorne office. The rest are working in a temporary office near Austin, Texas. News broke last week that the company had purchased 200 acres of land near Briggs, Texas, about 50 miles north of Austin, on which it plans to build a manufacturing facility and test site for its rockets.

“It’s not like we had jobs here that we’re off-loading. We’re just growing our facility in Texas,” said Maureen Gannon, Firefly’s vice president of business development. “We needed to get a couple hundred acres of open land to test our rocket engines. That’s a challenging task in the Hawthorne area.”

Founded last fall, Firefly is still very much in the startup phase of its development. With a test site secured and grant money from a NASA Space Act Agreement headed their way, the company plans to hire 200 engineers from around the country. Almost all of those hires will live and work in Texas. (9/15)

Golfer Wins XCOR Lynx Ride with Hole In One (Source: FOX Sports)
There are plenty of weeks on tour when the car or cash or bucket loader or whatever prize is up for grabs for an ace goes unclaimed. Awesomely, that wasn't the case this week on the European Tour. On Sept 5, we told you about arguably the single greatest hole-in-one prize ever -- a trip to outer space -- that was being offered at the par-3 15th hole at this week's KLM Open at Kennemer Golf & Country Club in the Netherlands.

Sullivan's trip will come courtesy of XCOR Space Expeditions -- "the most active space flight company in the world." Sullivan will have to wait a little while to claim his prize, however, as civilian space travel isn't expected to be available until the end of 2015. Sullivan's prize is worth around $100,000 and will require G-Force training and medical clearance before he can take off. (9/15)

SpaceX Ditches Landing Legs on Next Falcon 9 Flight (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX's next resupply mission to the International Space Station is set for takeoff as soon as Saturday after a rapid rebound from the company's last flight from Cape Canaveral, but the company has abandoned a plan to use the launch as another chance to practice rocket recovery procedures.

In a change of plans, the Falcon 9 booster stage set to launch Saturday will not carry landing legs, forgoeing an attempt at a water landing of the first stage after its job during launch is completed. SpaceX initially planned to program the rocket's first stage to fly back to Earth after completing its work to boost the Dragon spacecraft off the launch pad, but engineers swapped out the Falcon 9 booster with a first stage originally assigned to another flight, officials said. The reason for the changeout was not disclosed.

If ground crews pull it off the scheduled launch, it will bust SpaceX's record turnaround time between Falcon 9 missions as the launch company ramps up its mission cadence to accomplish a jam-packed manifest. Before now, the fastest turnaround between SpaceX launches was 22 days between a pair of commercial Falcon 9 flights from Cape Canaveral on July 14 and Aug. 5. (9/15)

Defense R&D Suffering Due to Budget Cuts (Source: Reuters)
Military and defense industry leaders say promising new innovations in weaponry and defense systems are being stifled by the squeeze on the U.S. defense budget. Sequestration cuts to defense will harm national security, they warn. "Cuts in the government R&D budget are very worrisome, and it is not a long-term sustainable trend for the country,” Boeing President and Chief Operating Officer Dennis Muilenburg said last week. (9/12)

Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Expected to Call for Cuts (Source: Defense News)
The Air Force is expected to offer a fiscal 2016 budget proposal that pushes for reductions, despite resistance from Congress over similar proposals for the 2015 budget. "The military view of this is pretty straightforward," says Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff. "If something is the right answer one year, it is probably the right answer the next year." (9/14)

Focus on Islamic State Could End Budget Sequester (Source: Politico)
A U.S. focus on combating the Islamic State could push lawmakers to halt sequestration cuts to defense, some in Congress predict, especially because the fight against militants is expected to be a long one. "If we don’t replace the cuts in sequestration, we’re going to compromise our ability to be successful against ISIL and other emerging threats," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. (9/12)

NASA is Creating a Space-Based Tool to Map Forests (Source: GizMag)
NASA will explore the carbon storage capacity of Earth's forests with a new, 3D mapping tool that it plans to locate on the International Space Station. The laser-based probe will be ready in 2018 and, in addition to measuring carbon storage, it will be able to track changes to the planet's forests. (9/14)

Facebook Hires Satellite Executive from Google (Source: Wall Street Journal)
An executive working on Google ’s efforts to deliver Internet service via satellite has jumped to a similar role at Facebook , underscoring the social network’s efforts in the area and the competition between the two Internet giants. Michael Tseytlin joined Facebook earlier this month to work on satellite technology for the company’s Connectivity Lab, according to people familiar with the matter. An expert in satellite design, Tseytlin had been working on Google’s satellite efforts being led by Greg Wyler, a high profile satellite entrepreneur who also recently departed Google.

Prior to Google, Tseytlin spent seven years at LightSquared, leading development of satellite and other infrastructure for the now bankrupt startup that hoped to deliver cellular service via satellite. The specifics of Tseytlin’s project at Facebook aren’t clear, but in the past few days he has made connections with business development executives at top satellite companies Space Systems Loral and Intelsat, according to his LinkedIn page. (9/15)

Liverpool UK Airport Seeks Spaceport Status (Source: Parabolic Arc)
John Lennon once sang about traveling across the universe. Now, a group wants to create a spaceport at the Liverpool airport named after the Beatles co-founder to allow people to fly across the Karman Line and across the ocean at high speeds. The group, unhappy with the remoteness of the 8 candidate sites identified by the government for the site of Britain’s spaceport, have begun a campaign to Liverpool John Lennon Airport to the list. (9/15)

Today's Space Program From the Viewpoint of Tomorrow (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
We’ve heard it over and over again. “Why are we spending billions of dollars shooting people into space when we have problems right here on Earth?” It’s the oldest and most frequent argument against space flight. Let’s explore the answer. Why are we spending billions of dollars shooting people into space when we have problems right here on Earth? Can space flight help to solve those problems? Click here. (9/13)

FIU Plans Symposium on Air & Space Law (Source: FIU)
The FIU Law Review invites participation from scholars and practitioners (in the public and private sector) to illustrate the intersection between the law and issues impacting aviation and space law. The FIU Law Review is hosting a related symposium on February 20, 2015. In conjunction with this event, the FIU Law Review aims to create a special interdisciplinary issue that provides a forum for discourse between scholars and practitioners to discuss emerging issues in the field of aviation and space law. Click here. (9/15)

Democratizing the Overview Effect (Source: Virgin)
The overview effect, as you may know, is a shift in awareness that many astronauts report feeling upon viewing the Earth from space: the entire fragile planet, all borders and boundaries dissolute, a pale blue dot suspended in isolation. These lucky few report being consumed by a vast and protective empathy for the planet and a yearning for peace and cooperation among all people, and the feeling never leaves them.

Drones can democratize the overview effect. The scale is obviously magnitudes smaller but the principle is the same. They remind us that the truly remarkable thing is not looking up to marvel at the technology of a balloon or airplane or spaceship, it’s really what happens when you are up, and looking down. Click here. (9/15)

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