May 8, 2015

U.S. Air Force Kills Key Space Control Program (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force is terminating one of its flagship defensive counterspace programs—one designed to identify sources of satellite communications interference—due to “cost and performance” issues. Ending the Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System (Raidrs) comes as Air Force officials have taken their most public and vocal stand in years in favor of improved space control projects. The Air Force included a $5 billion addition to the fiscal 2016-20 budget request.

Raidrs, a collection of ground-based monitoring antennas, was one of three acknowledged defensive counterspace projects created more than a decade ago. It was designed to ensure that military operators—especially those supporting war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan— had nonstop service from military and commercial satellites providing crucial communications. As demand for using satcom has grown so have instances of interference—friendly and hostile. And just as soon as it was fielded, the Air Force pulled the plug. (5/7)

Northrop Grumman Settles NPOESS Dispute with Government (Source: Space News)
The federal government quietly settled a Northop Grumman claim over its NPOESS contract last year for $45 million. The government disclosed the settlement, not previously reported, in response to a FOIA request. Northrop filed an administrative claim for $332 million against the government in 2011, arguing that government workers copied "massive amounts" of the company's intellectual property after NPOESS was canceled, using that information to support contracts to other companies for the successor JPSS program. (5/8)

Shooting for the Moon? Make Sure Your Space Marketing Is Well-Grounded (Source: Advertising Age)
The whole future of space marketing almost got left on the launch pad because of marketers' fixation on gimmicks first and the big picture second. For the 1996 Olympics, Space Marketing planned to promote the Games via a mile-wide low-orbit billboard. Advertising Age's own Rance Crain called it "a constellation-size black eye for the ad industry," and others shared his opinion. Eventually, Congress banned obtrusive space advertising, limiting extra-terrestrial marketing to mere sponsorships.

So how can brands thrive in the final frontier? Hyundai's "A Message to Space" viral video has a lot to teach. In it, stunt drivers in a fleet of high-tech Hyundai Genesis sedans carve a daughter's message of love into a dry lakebed -- just in time for her astronaut father to see it in orbit from the International Space Station. The spot earned a Guinness World Record and over 30 million views on YouTube, and it did so for a reason all space marketers should note: It tapped into an emotional drama at the heart of all exploration and amplified it. (5/8)

Progress Ship Burns Up on Re-Entry (Source: Space Daily)
An unmanned Russian supply ship disintegrated as it plummeted to Earth over the Pacific Ocean on Friday after suffering a communications failure on its way to the International Space Station, in a fiery end to a mission to deliver oxygen, water and supplies. Though the ISS crew of six international astronauts is not in immediate danger of running out of essentials, the crash marks the latest in a series of problems suffered by Russia exposing shortcomings in its space program. (5/8)

New Bid to Contact Europe's Comet Probe (Source: Space Daily)
Europe will launch a new bid Friday to communicate with its comet lander Philae, hurtling towards the Sun some 360 million kilometers from Earth, ground operators said. Philae's orbiting mothership Rosetta will reopen communications lines for 10 days to listen for any call from the slumbering robot. (5/7)

European Space Agency Director Wants to Set Up a Moon Base (Source: Space Daily)
The successor to the International Space Station (ISS) should be a permanent moon base, says incoming European Agency Space leader Johann-Dietrich Worner. "It seems to be appropriate to propose a permanent moon station as the successor of ISS," Worner said. Following a similar model to the ISS, he added that "different actors can contribute with their respective competencies and interests," to the lunar base.

A key advantage to having the international base would be the opportunities it would offer in the exploration of deep space. The base would additionally equip astronauts to use on-site resources instead of having them transported over. "In any case, the space community should rapidly discuss post-ISS proposal inside and with the general public, to be prepared," he added. (5/8)

Three U.S. Universities Support UAE's Planned Mars Mission (Source: U.Colorado)
The Univ. of Colorado said Thursday it will be the "leading U.S. scientific-academic partner" on the Mars orbiter mission, scheduled for launch in 2020, working with the Univ. of California Berkeley and Arizona State Univ. The schools will support analysis of data about the Martian atmosphere returned by the mission. (5/7)

Texas House Approves Bill to Support Midland Space Industry (Source: Midland Dev Corp)
The Texas House gave initial approval to House Bill 1984 by joint-author Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) that expands the work of the Aerospace and Aviation Office within the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office. "This bill will better facilitate the expanding field of public and private orbital and sub-orbital space flight," Craddick said.

"With XCOR and Orbital Outfitters calling Midland home, this bill will be critical to our area in terms of future integration of educational, economic, and defense-related opportunities in this developing industry," he said. As passed by the Senate and the House, House Bill 1984 will direct the Aerospace and Aviation Office within the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office to develop and report on certain policy initiatives and reforms for the aerospace industry of Texas.

The bill provides detail on membership requirements for the aerospace and aviation advisory committee and assigns the committee additional responsibilities. "With changes to the composition of the advisory committee, Midland will now have the opportunity to shape the short-term and long-term strategic planning of the aerospace industry in Texas," Craddick said. (5/7)

Air Force Space Wing Supports SpaceX Pad Abort Test (Source: USAF)
The 45th Space Wing supported SpaceX and NASA's successful Pad Abort Test Mission from Launch Complex 40 here Wednesday at 9 a.m., helping to further open the door to human spaceflight returning to the Space Coast. A combined team of military, government civilians and contractors from across the 45th Space Wing provided support to the mission, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety and public affairs. (5/6)

New Propulsion Technology Makes Satellites More Nimble, Durable (Source: Boston Globe)
Earth-orbiting satellites traditionally weighed as much as trucks, but in recent years space has been filling up with satellites smaller than a minifridge for educational, research, and defense uses. Unlike larger satellites, which can carry a heavy cache of fuel, these small satellites are often launched without their own propulsion systems, making them hard to control and too often shortening their useful life in space.

Now, a startup in Somerville, Accion Systems, is developing a series of tiny thrusters, slightly larger than a pack of gum, that will allow these satellites to maneuver and adjust their orbits, even fly in formation or decommission themselves by spiraling down to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. “There are tens of companies planning to launch thousands of small satellites in the next five years,” said Accion cofounder Natalya Brikner. “With our propulsion system, we can help their business models make sense.” (5/7)

Editorial: We Can Afford to Go to Mars (Source: National Geographic)
The human journey to Mars will be a great adventure, the greatest of our age. No destination is more exciting, and none more difficult. Mars is very far away, much further than the Moon. A round trip takes years—years in which you have to supply food, water, and oxygen for astronauts, all while minimizing radiation damage, health issues, and even boredom. But difficult is not the same as impossible. Click here. (5/6)

ISS Crewed Mission May Be Delayed After Progress Failure (Source: Xinhua)
The upcoming manned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) would be re-adjusted due to the recent failure of the Progress M-27M cargo craft, the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said Wednesday. "The program of the next expedition to the ISS on May 26 may be adjusted due to possible postponements of the launch dates of cargo spacecraft and amendments to the ISS flight program," Roscosmos' Mission Control Center said in a statement. (5/6)

Harris Corp. Quietly Eliminates Herndon Headquarters (Source: Washington Business Journal)
Harris Corp. is quietly consolidating business segments in anticipation of the Exelis Inc. acquisition, eliminating a Herndon headquarters in the process. Melbourne, Florida-based Harris confirmed that it recently eliminated the headquarters function of its Integrated Network Solutions segment “to reduce some discretionary expenses and in contemplation of the pending Exelis acquisition,” said a spokesman. (5/6)

Take a Fresh Peek at Virgin Galactic's Next SpaceShipTwo (Source: NBC)
Six months after the fatal breakup of the first SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, Virgin Galactic is providing a progress report on the construction of SpaceShipTwo Tail No. 2. The company said engineers are working three shifts, spanning days, nights and weekends, to put the structure together. Click here. (5/7)

UAE Mars Team Has 6 Years to Reach Goal (Source: The National)
With only six years left to complete the Mars mission, the team of young Emiratis at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre have to be as efficient as possible. Seven teams will cover all aspects of the mission, including the probe’s design and development, supervising the design according to international standards and choosing the place of launch.

Other aspects are managing the mission’s operations, communications between Mars and Earth and supervising knowledge-sharing and transfer in the UAE. Preliminary design work is expected to be finished halfway through next year before the team starts building and testing the spacecraft, due to be completed before the end of 2019. (5/7)

Ocean on Enceladus May Have Potential Energy Source to Support Life (Source:
Saturn's icy moon Enceladus is looking better and better as a potential abode for alien life. Chemical reactions that free up energy that could potentially support a biosphere have occurred — and perhaps still are occurring — deep within Enceladus' salty subsurface ocean, a new study suggests.

This determination comes less than two months after a different research team announced that active hydrothermal vents likely exist on Enceladus' seafloor, suggesting that conditions there could be similar to those that gave rise to some of the first lifeforms on Earth. (5/7)

Senate Bill Would Again Delay Full Commercial Space Regulation (Source: Space News)
Despite the U.S. government’s well-established position that it is time to begin regulating commercial spaceflight, a long-awaited Senate bill would extend industry’s regulatory grace period another five years, to 2020.

The bill, set for a May 20 markup in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, would also officially extend the U.S. commitment to the International Space Station by four years to Sept. 30, 2024 — a goal the White House endorsed in 2014 but which would not become the law of the land unless the latest commercial space bill is signed. (5/7)

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