May 27, 2015

Supporting Canada-Israel Space Cooperation (Source: Govt. of Canada)
The Honorable James Moore, Minister of Industry, today announced that two Canadian space firms will be conducting concept studies for potential Canada–Israel space missions. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) seek to develop advanced applications in satellite communications and position both the Canadian and Israeli space sector to play a significant role in this growing global market. (5/26)

Space Florida Plans Investment in Pensacola Facility (Source: Pensacola News Journal)
A major “aerospace industry supplier” that already has a Florida presence is the prospective anchor tenant for the first building to be constructed at the downtown Pensacola Technology Campus, according to Space Florida.

The state’s aerospace economic development agency has agreed to fund and build a 70,000-square-foot building at the 9-acre park under a memorandum of understanding with the Pensacola-Escambia Promotion and Development Commission, the entity that holds title to the property adjacent to the Pensacola Bay Center and the Aragon neighborhood. Space Florida will lease a portion of the property and be the owner and developer of the building. Click here. (5/27)

Chinese Venture Firm Haiyin Capital Is Investing In Space Company XCOR (Source: Forbes)
Chinese venture capital firm Haiyin Capital has announced investments into a number of high-tech U.S. firms, many of whom are currently on a trip to China to make presentations and visit with investors and businesses there. One such firm is XCOR Aerospace, a commercial space company which aims to take tourists and payloads on suborbital trips into space.

A person with knowledge of the deal saud that Haiyin’s total investment in the company is $5 million at a valuation of $140 million. When contacted, XCOR declined to comment on this figure or investment. The company won’t be doing any manufacturing in China, but Wang says that the reason for investing in them is much simpler than that. “XCOR is a different story. We just like the team. They’re dedicated to something that’s really cool,” he said. (5/27)

Why NASA Is Re-Configuring Part of the International Space Station (Source: ABC News)
NASA flight controllers are preparing to relocate a storage module at the International Space Station on Wednesday, marking the biggest change to the space outpost's structure since the module was installed in 2011. The Permanent Multipurpose Module, which is used for storage, will be detached from the Unity module and carefully moved via a robotic arm to the forward port of the station's Tranquility module, NASA officials said. (5/26)

Calculating the Risks and Reward of Rocket Launches (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
It goes without saying that rockets are complex devices that use energetic fuels. They can go very fast and very far. You may have seen videos of rocket launches going bad. We understand implicitly there is a possibility any launch could have a bad outcome.

To mitigate risk, commercial rocket launches must comply with safety regulations imposed by the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, whose jobs it is to protect the public from undue risk from space launches. The agency requires a risk calculation called the casualty expectation that does not exceed a specified threshold for an operator to obtain a launch license. So what is this number and how does it affect operations at Spaceport America?

In a nutshell, the casualty expectation — let's just call it the risk — is the acceptable number of casualties among the public that would result from an accident during a particular launch. The highest value this number may have is .00003. A more understandable way is to say we can accept no more that one casualty for every 33,333 launches. Risk is calculated by taking into consideration many complex factors such as the population density, the probability of a vehicle failure, where the vehicle is when a failure occurs, and how the failure occurs — whether it comes down as intact or in many pieces, for example. (5/25)

U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency: Opening Up to a Changing World (Source: Reuters)
Much about the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency remains classified, but the U.S. spy agency that maps and analyzes the earth is opening up more than ever, from sharing computer source code on a public website to tapping new sources of intelligence.

The NGA's director, Robert Cardillo, is leading what he calls a "seismic shift" in the agency's culture to help it better exploit social media, commercially available imagery and other data to continue providing high-level intelligence to the U.S. government. Click here. (5/22)

NASA Orders First Commercial Crew Mission for Boeing's CST-100 (Source: NASA)
NASA has taken another step toward returning America’s ability to launch crew missions to the International Space Station from the United States in 2017. The Commercial Crew Program ordered its first crew rotation mission from The Boeing Company. SpaceX, which successfully performed a pad abort test of its flight vehicle earlier this month, is expected to receive its first order later this year. Determination of which company will fly its mission to the station first will be made at a later time. (5/27)

DARPA, Raytheon Pursue Hypersonic Missile (Source: Boston Globe)
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is paying Raytheon $20 million to develop a hypersonic missile that would be capable of getting past almost any defense system. The quest for such a weapon has been ongoing for decades. (5/27)

ICBM Test Launched From California Spaceport (Source: Air Force Times)
Air Force missile crews test-launched another unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday, the third since late March — only this time the missileers were in the air. ICBM crews from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., test-launched the ICBM from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

For the launch, the missileers worked from control stations aboard a U.S. Strategic Command E-6B airborne command post aircraft. The F.E. Warren team worked with the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and the 576th Flight Test Operations Squadron at Vandenberg. (5/26)

Brevard Incentives Could Lure Blue Origin Space Facility from Volusia (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
A tentative agreement by Brevard County commissioners to put up $8 million in incentives to attract Blue Origin, the company looking to build a new generation of rockets to carry humans into space, could be another nail in the coffin of Volusia-area efforts to land the company.

But Volusia officials aren’t ready to give up. “Nothing is over until it’s over,” said Kent Sharples, president of the CEO Business Alliance, a private group helping to attract economic development to Volusia. “You never know.” The Brevard Commission on Tuesday tentatively approved $8 million in incentives for a project identified as Project Panther. (5/26)

Khrunichev Staff Charged with 2013 Proton Crash (Source: Tass)
Employees of Russia’s Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Centre have been charged in connection with the 2013 crash of Proton rocket with Glonass satellites, the Investigative Committee’s official spokesman Vladimir Markin said. (5/27)

'Upside Down': Inverted Velocity Sensors Caused Proton-M Failure in 2013 (Source: Sputnik)
Proton-M rocket carrier failure in 2013 was caused by an incorrect velocity sensor installation, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Wednesday. According to Markin, the investigation found that three employees of Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center had installed velocity sensors on the rocket carrier "upside down." (5/27)

Ministry: Roscosmos Should Compensate for Damage from Launch Delays (Source: Tass)
Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) should compensate for damage caused by delays in the launches of Russian communications satellites over the recent Proton-M carrier rocket accident, Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said on Wednesday.

"There must be responsibility for everything. If a producer delivers a satellite to us behind a schedule, it pays a penalty in the amount of missed profit from the use of this satellite, and if Roscosmos delays Proton launches, it must not only resolve problems with Protons but also pay us damage," the minister said. (5/27)

Hawaii Governor: Telescope Can Continue, but Changes Needed (Source: ABC News)
A project to build a giant telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea has the right to move forward, but Hawaii has failed the mountain in many ways, Gov. David Ige said. Amid protests and arrests of opponents blocking construction workers from accessing the site, construction has been halted since last month on the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.

Ige said it's up to the nonprofit telescope company to determine when construction will resume. "And we will support and enforce their right to do so," he said. Ige also vowed that there will be major changes in stewardship of Mauna Kea, held sacred by Native Hawaiians. The University of Hawaii, which leases the land, must do a better job in its stewardship, he said, listing 10 actions he's asking the university to take.

"We appreciate that there are still people who are opposed to the project, and we will continue to respectfully listen and work with them to seek solutions," Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, said in a statement. (5/27)

How You'll Die on Mars (Source: Popular Science)
We're on our way to Mars. NASA has a plan to land astronauts on its surface by the 2030s. Private spaceflight companies like SpaceX have also expressed interest in starting their own colonies there, while the infamous Mars One project has already enlisted civilians for a one-way trip to our planetary neighbor in 2020.

While many may dream of living their remaining days on Mars, those days may be numbered. The Martian environment poses significant challenges to Earth life, and establishing a Mars habitat will require an extraordinary amount of engineering prowess and technological knowhow to ensure the safety of its residents. Click here. (5/26)

LightSail Mission Hits Snag (Source: Space News)
The Planetary Society's LightSail mission is in trouble. The organization said Tuesday that its small spacecraft, launched as a secondary payload on an Atlas 5 May 20, went silent after two days in orbit. Engineers believe a software glitch caused the spacecraft to go silent, and are waiting for the onboard computer to reboot to correct the problem.

The cubesat-sized spacecraft is designed to demonstrate the deployment of a solar sail, a test planned for next month if the spacecraft starts responding to commands again. (5/27)

Small Satellite Pioneer Warns of Cubesat Bubble (Source: Space News)
The chairman of small-satellite pioneer Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) said market enthusiasm for small satellites may have gone too far, with satellite development accelerating beyond sustainable business models. The remarks by Sir Martin were equivalent to a Silicon Valley venture capitalist warning of a bubble in technology investment. (5/26)

U.S. Air Force Certifies Falcon-9 for National Security Launches (Source: News Daily)
The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday said it has certified privately held SpaceX to launch U.S. military and spy satellites, ending a monopoly held by United Launch Alliance since its creation in 2006. The decision follows two years of discussions and reviews by the Air Force and SpaceX, and means the company can compete for national security launches with its Falcon 9 rocket. (5/26)

New Project Aims to Establish a Human Colony on Mars (Source: Space Daily)
MarsPolar, a newly started international venture is setting its sights on the Red Planet. The project consisting of specialists from Russia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, U.S. and Ukraine has come up with a bold idea to establish a human settlement on Mars' polar region, the part of the planet with abundant quantities of water ice.

The targeted area could be very interesting in terms of alien life hunting as the MarsPolar team puts it: "life begins where the water exists." The plan is to create the colony around 2029. "We want to send to Mars a crew of 4-6 astronauts, every 2 years," Roman Juranek said. Juranek and his colleagues would like to see SpaceX's Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the mission and also the company's Red Dragon spacecraft to deliver cargo and crews to Mars. (5/26)

Mars Rover Restored to Normal Operations After a Reset (Source: Space Daily)
Opportunity is on the west rim of Endeavour Crater at the 'Spirit of St. Louis' crater near the entrance of 'Marathon Valley.' The rover had been exploring the outcrops inside the Spirit of St. Louis crater. On Sol 4018 (May 14, 2015), the project attempted to restore the rover to master sequence control after an unexplained reset on Sol 4017 (May 13, 2015).

However, an operational error prevented the use of the high-gain antenna (HGA), and the rover did not receive subsequent recovery commands. The rover was successfully restored to normal operations on Sol 4020 (May 16, 2015). (5/26)

Crazy, Wonderful Spacecraft Orbits (Source: Scientific American)
Over the years humans have deployed spacecraft into some wild, wacky and extremely clever orbital configurations to better study the cosmos. From a really long way away, the gravitational field of our solar system -  due to the combined mass of a modest star and an assortment of planets and billions of small chunks - reduces to a near perfect symmetry.

The universe feels us as effectively a simple 'point' of mass, one teeny component in a galaxy of more than two hundred billion other simple pieces. But zoom in, and the gravitational field of our interplanetary space is a complicated, undulating, and dynamic landscape. Click here. (5/26)

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