June 22, 2015

Hawaii "Super Strypi" Orbital Launch Planned in October (Source: Garden Island)
Hawaii’s first space launch — aimed at testing a low-cost launch system for small satellites — will blast off from Kauai’s military base on Oct. 29. The ORS-4 mission is sponsored by the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office in collaboration with the University of Hawaii and the Pacific Missile Range Facility. It will test the rail-launched rocket Super Strypi, which will deploy a UH student-made satellite. (6/22)

Upcoming Pluto Flyby is a Rallying Opportunity for Space (Source: Space News)
After a nine-and-a-half-year journey covering nearly 5 billion kilometers, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on the verge of its history-making encounter with Pluto and its moons, the most distant and least-understood planetary system in the solar system.

If all goes well over the next few weeks, New Horizons will make its closest approach to Pluto July 14, passing some 13,000 kilometers from the surface of the icy dwarf planet, inside the orbits of its five known moons. Coincidentally — or not — the encounter will occur on the 50th anniversary of another major first in planetary exploration: the NASA Mariner 4 probe’s flyby of Mars.

For more historical perspective, the last first-time close encounter between a man-made probe and a planet occurred in 1989, when NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft passed by the distant gas giant Neptune, Pluto’s closest planetary neighbor. Once New Horizons makes its way past Pluto and into the Kuiper belt of icy bodies, humankind will have completed its initial reconnaissance of the solar system. (6/22)

The Ups and Downs of Smallsat Constellations (Source: Space Review)
There is growing interest in developing constellations of smallsats for a variety of missions, with new concepts appearing regularly. Jeff Foust reports on some of the challenges these ventures face both in launching those satellites and dealing with orbital debris risks. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2776/1 to view the article. (6/22)

Space Deterrence: a Response (Source: Space Review)
The issue of the role deterrence plays in protecting space assets has been the subject of debate in military policy circles. Roger G. Harrison and Deron R. Jackson respond to a recent essay here to defend their concept of a multi-layered approach to space deterrence. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2775/1 to view the article. (6/22)

The Myth of "What Might Have Been" in Space (Source: Space Review)
Many space advocates lament that the US did not act upon the plans for long-term space exploration proposed as Apollo achieved its lunar landing goal. Alastair Browne argues that there's little need to regret that path not taken, since the nation would not have traveled far down it. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2774/1 to view the article. (6/22)

NASA Signs Agreement with Space Florida to Operate Historic Landing Facility (Source: NASA)
A new agreement marks another step in the transformation of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to a multi-user spaceport. NASA’s historic Shuttle Landing Facility, the site of one of the longest runways in the world, has a new operator.

“Our journey to Mars goes straight through Florida, and this agreement helps amplify the many ways that our critical Kennedy Space Center can support the next generation of human spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. A 30-year property agreement for the operations and management of the facility, located at Kennedy, has been signed by NASA and Space Florida, the aerospace and spaceport development authority for the state of Florida. (6/22)

Hearing on U.S. Space Launch Strategy Could Get Testy (Source: Space News)
The chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee on June 22 set the stage for a scheduled June 26 hearing on national security space launch by declaring that Congress meant it when it directed the U.S. Air Force to end its reliance on Russian rocket engines by 2019.

“It is not the time to fund new launch vehicles, or new infrastructure, or rely on unproven technologies,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) said in a press release announcing the hearing. “It is the time for the Pentagon to harness the power of the American industrial base, and move with purpose and clarity in order to swiftly develop an American rocket propulsion system that ends our reliance on Russia as soon as possible.”

The Air Force and White House agree that the liquid-oxygen/kerosene-fueled RD-180 should be phased but disagree with Congress on the one-for-one replacement approach, instead advocating broader program of investment in various launch vehicle technologies. And while ULA wants to replace the Atlas-5 with a new Vulcan rocket, Rogers and others in Congress believe the better approach is to put a new government-developed engine into the existing Atlas-5 design. (6/22)

Texas High Court Says Boeing Air Base Lease Can Be Private (Source: Law360)
The Boeing Co. does not have to publicly disclose what it pays to use a former San Antonio area Air Force base for plane maintenance because the information could give its competitors an undue advantage, the Texas Supreme Court said Friday. Editor's Note: This could be relevant for leases of NASA and Air Force launch property at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (6/21)

Titan's Atmosphere More Earth-Like Than Previously Thought (Source: Space Daily)
Scientists at UCL have observed how a widespread polar wind is driving gas from the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. The team analysed data gathered over seven years by the international Cassini probe, and found that the interactions between Titan's atmosphere, and the solar magnetic field and radiation, create a wind of hydrocarbons and nitriles being blown away from its polar regions into space. This is very similar to the wind observed coming from the Earth's polar regions.

Titan is a remarkable object in the Solar System. Like Earth and Venus, and unlike any other moon, it has a rocky surface and a thick atmosphere. It is the only object in the Solar System aside from the Earth to have rivers, rainfall and seas. It is bigger than the planet Mercury. (6/22)

France Giving up Arianespace Ownership, but not Oversight (Source: Space News)
The French government will be able to maintain a firm oversight role over the Arianespace launch consortium despite the government’s agreement to sell its 35-percent stake in the company to Airbus Safran Launchers, the president of the French space agency, CNES, said. The sale of the shares in Arianespace has been cleared by the French government, apparently after Airbus Safran Launchers provided guarantees that Arianespace would not move from its Evry headquarters. (6/19)

Foundation Struggles to Raise Money for Sentinel Space Telescope (Source: Nature News)
The B612 Foundation, which announced plans in 2012 to develop the Sentinel space telescope to detect near-Earth objects, raised just $1.2 million in 2012 and $1.6 million in 2013. Sentinel has an estimated cost of $450 million. The mission has also missed every developmental milestone in a 2012 Space Act Agreement with NASA, which the agency says is now being reexamined. B612 says Sentinel could still launch as soon as 2019 if it is able to raise sufficient funding. (6/22)

China's Super "Eye" to Speed Up Space Rendezvous (Source: Xinhua)
Chinese space experts have developed the world's most sensitive "eye" that enables the autonomous rendezvous and docking of two spacecraft -- flying eight times faster than bullets -- more efficiently and safely.

The "eye" is China's newly developed third-generation rendezvous and docking CCD optical imaging sensor. It will be used on China's second orbiting space lab, Tiangong-2, the Chang'e-5 lunar probe and the permanent manned space station, according to China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). (6/22)

Handover of Shuttle Runway Could Eventually Lead to Space Tourism (Source: MyNews13)
The state of Florida is taking over one of the world's longest runways in an effort to grow commercial space business. NASA is expected to hand over the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility to Space Florida at a signing ceremony Monday. State leaders hope the runway will lead to more jobs for Brevard County.

Nearly four years have passed since the last space shuttle touched down at on the 15,000-foot runway, and the agency Space Florida hopes to put it to new commercial uses. “Eventually the space tourism is going to be real space tourism where tourists come to go into space," Dale Ketcham of Space Florida said. "And we’re quite confident that we’re going to be able to get the lion’s share of that market. That’s our goal.”

Space Florida says the runway is attractive to companies interested in launching and landing their spacecraft horizontally, much like an airplane. Switzerland-based Swiss Space Systems is hoping to use the runway in the years ahead. “We will have a small SAT launcher off of our SOAR spacecraft that will launch small satellites into orbit, and in many years we hope to launch passengers into sub-orbit as well," said Laura Seward Forczyk, manager for Swiss Space Systems USA. (6/21)

"Adras-1" Aims to Rid Outer Space of Junk (Source: The Australian)
A small Singaporean company has developed a prototype of a machine that could hold the key to removing man-made junk from outer space. ASTROSCALE, a start-up with about 50 employees, hopes a market will grow for its "Adras-1", and that satellite operators will seek to protect their expensive machinery as space becomes more crowded with orbiting junk.

The printer-sized prototype of the Adras-1, made out of Nanoblocks, has been on display at the Paris Air Show, where Astroscale's Yosuke Hosoi demonstrated how it works. The purpose of the prototype is to take aim at a problem that can seem intractable - no one seems sure how to take care of the clutter or who should be in charge of the task. (6/22)

Wallops Flight Facility to Hold Open House for Public (Source: WTOP)
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility is holding an open house for the public to celebrate its 70th anniversary. The event will be held on Saturday. Wallops launched its first rocket on June 27, 1945. Wallops director Bill Wrobel says that the facility wants to give the public a first-hand look at its diverse missions. The scientific balloon lab and the sounding rocket payload facility are among the facilities that will be open. (6/22)

Preparing America’s Spaceport for NASA’s New Rocket (Source: Planetary Society)
The first impression you get walking into NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building is that this does not look like a place where rockets are assembled. It’s dark and dusty, and the smell of oil fills the cool, damp air. You hear loud machinery in the distance, accompanied by the beep-beep-beep of trucks in reverse. Construction workers dart in and out of the shadows.

There’s also a sense of purpose in the air. With the shuttle program now four years gone, the mourning period appears to be fading. Conversation coalesces around what comes next. By late 2018, this mecca of spaceflight must be ready to host NASA’s next rocket, the Space Launch System. There are deadlines to meet. The civil servants and contractors have determination in their eyes. And although NASA lists November 2018 as the first SLS launch date, KSC doesn’t appear to have received the memo—everyone here says September is the correct month. (6/22)

Inventors Hope to Launch 'Backyard Satellites' to Fill Gap in Australian Space Exploration (Source: ABC)
Stuart McAndrew is making history from a backyard shed in suburban Perth. The IT worker is building a satellite capable of being launched into space and taking pictures of Earth. Australia is the only OECD nation without a dedicated space agency, and Mr McAndrew is one of a growing number of Australians turning to homemade space exploration to fill the gap.

He has designed the satellite PocketQube, a Rubik's cube-sized box with antennas, solar panels and electronics. It is made from mostly off-the-shelf items, including aluminium from the local hardware shop, a tape measure and electronics bought over the internet. Mr McAndrew believes it is the first of its kind in Australia. He has been working on the project for two years.

Mr Dempster is hoping the rise of nano-satellites will encourage young Australians to study science, technology, engineering and maths subjects and put space on the agenda for a new generation. "If you want to get young kids into science and so on, the things that do it for them are dinosaurs and space," he said. The expense and logistics of launching small satellites into space remains a key problem. (6/22)

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