July 1, 2015

Asteroid Mission Must Include Redirect (Source: Space News)
NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will be required to actually redirect an asteroid. An agency official, speaking at a meeting of the Small Bodies Assessment Group in Washington, said that returning an asteroid into cislunar space was one of the "success criteria" of the robotic element of ARM.

Previously, NASA executives suggested the mission could still be considered a success even if the robotic spacecraft was unable to grab a boulder off the surface of an asteroid and return it to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon. An acquisition strategy meeting for ARM, the next major milestone in the mission's development, is scheduled for early August. (6/30)

Coast Guard Spots Falcon/Dragon Debris Off Jacksonville (Source: WKMG)
The Coast Guard has spotted debris from the Falcon 9 launch failure off the Florida coast. Searchers found the debris more than 240 kilometers off the coast from Jacksonville. SpaceX is recovering "significant portions" of the debris to support its investigations into Sunday's failure. The debris could eventually wash ashore as far north as the mid-Atlantic coast, the Coast Gaurd said. (6/30)

ULA Wins Sole Source Air Force Launch Contract (Source: Space News)
The Air Force is sole-sourcing the launch of a missile warning satellite to United Launch Alliance. The Air Force told Congress in April that it was "not practicable" to compete the launch of the fourth Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite in order to meet the schedule for the mission. At the time of the letter, SpaceX had not yet been certified by the Air Force for national security launches, although it did later win that certification for its Falcon 9. (7/1)

Spire Raises $40M for Commercial Weather Satellites (Source: Space News)
A company planning a constellation of commercial weather satellites has raised an additional $40 million. San Francisco-based Spire plans to use the $40 million to complete the development of a system of more than 100 cubesat-class spacecraft and launch them by the end of 2017. Promus Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners are among the leading investors in this round. Spire raised $25 million last year. (7/1)

Why Native Hawaiians are Saying No to a $1.4 Billion Telescope (Source: CSM)
If everything goes according to plan, a powerful telescope with the potential to change astronomy research as we know it will soon be erected atop Hawaii's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea. There's just one thing standing in the way of the scientists building it: a small but scrappy group of native Hawaiians who are fighting back against construction on the mountain, which their cultural tradition reveres as sacred.

Mauna Kea, home to more than 250 shrines and burial sites, is said to be the place where the mother and father of the Hawaiian race first met. Activists say the $1.4 billion, 18-story-high Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will ruin the beautiful scenery and spiritual power of the mountain.

“Mauna Kea in every respect represents the zenith of the Native Hawaiian people’s ancestral ties to Creation itself,” native Hawaiian activist Kealoha Pisciotta wrote in a post for the Hawaiian Environmental Alliance. “When the land, the waters, the life forms suffer, we feel this suffering, the process of creation begins to un-ravel and de-creation begins ... We lose our place in time and space and then we are lost.” (6/30)

Rocket Lab Picks New Zealand Launch Pad Site (Source: NZ Herald)
New Zealand firm Rocket Lab plans to launch its battery powered rockets from Birdlings Flat in Canterbury. The company has lodged resource consent applications to build a launch pad - about half the size of a tennis court - and hopes to launch a test vehicle late this year.

The company's chief executive, Peter Beck said the area met all the firm's requirements; a sparse population, a launch path over the ocean and proximity to a city where the 18m tall Electron Rockets can be built. And there have been rockets launched before from Birdlings Flat about 44km southeast of Christchurch.

Beck said his firm was going through the process of complying with all environmental requirements and consulting affected parties before building what he said was a low impact operation. ''We're not moving in with bulldozers and building Cape Canaveral out there,'' he said. Rocket Lab aims to launch satellites into space at a fraction of the cost of existing aerospace operations by using new technology and processes. (7/1)

SmallSat Entrepreneurs Eye Commercial Market Over Government (Source: Via Satellite)
Several leading small satellite entrepreneurs are confident that the success of their businesses does not hinge on whether or not the U.S. government will be an anchor customer. Earth observation and remote sensing companies at the Washington Space Business Roundtable, while acknowledging that the U.S. government is a desirable, high-profile customer, said that their business plans are not contingent upon winning this single client. (6/30)

NASA Signs Scientific and Education Agreements with Brazil (Source: NASA)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) President José Raimundo Braga Coelho have signed agreements to further research into heliophysics and space weather and to enhance global climate study and educational opportunities.

Building on the Framework Agreement between the Government of the U.S. and the Government of Brazil on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the two space agencies finalized an implementing arrangement that will enable Brazil to acquire and process space weather data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission. In addition, the agreement enables Brazilian participation in missions studying the sun’s impacts on Earth’s space environment such as the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission. (6/30)

FAA Approves License for Houston Spaceport (Source: MyFox Houston)
Houston just took a giant leap into the future of aerospace. The FAA has approved the city for a spaceport license. After about two years of waiting, city officials and aerospace leaders finally got the news. The vision for Ellington Field is to create an airport that would shuttle people to and from the stars. It would become a launch site for commercial space plane flights. (7/1)

U.S. and German Space Researchers Team on Biomedical Study (Source: NSBRI)
The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) announced that a pathfinder study is underway in Germany to investigate the effects of simulated spaceflight conditions on brain physiology. NSBRI has deployed a team of American neurologists and scientists to conduct a pilot demonstration experiment at :envihab, a newly-built specialized facility of the German Aerospace Center  (DLR).

The DLR's Institute of Aerospace Medicine is overseeing the study, which examines how the human brain adapts to increased levels of fluid inside the skull in combination with elevated carbon dioxide levels. These conditions may be experienced by astronauts living and working on board the Space Station and could be implicated in the vision changes that some astronauts have experienced during spaceflight. The study has implications for people on Earth who suffer from brain disorders, including elevated pressure on the brain. (6/30)

Boldly Going Into Space for 1,000 Days Presents Series of Health Risks (Source: The Conversation)
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, the commander of the current crew on board the International Space Station, has broken the record for the longest time spent in space with 803 days. Padalka, who is to return to Earth in September, has previously said he would like to try for 1,000 days on a future mission.

However, space travel significantly alters our bodies. While we don’t know exactly what the cumulative effect of several long journeys to space is, Padalka is at risk developing a range of health problems – including back problems, osteoporosis (brittle bones), cancer and damage to the nervous system. Click here. (6/30)

Russian Bailiffs Seize Assets at Vostochny Spaceport (Source: RAPSI)
Bailiffs in the Amur Region in the Russian Far East have seized the equipment of a Vostochny spaceport contractor to force it to repay its debts. United Energy Construction Corporation owes 27 million rubles ($483,500) to another Vostochny contractor, Sistemy i Seti (Systems and Grids). Acting under a court order, bailiffs seized over a dozen items from the debtor at the Vostochny spaceport construction site for delivery to the company that filed the complaint. (7/1)

NASA Studies Solutions To Silicon Valley’s Traffic Gridlock (Source: Aviation Week)
With well-paid people making long commutes on congested roads to avoid high housing prices, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area are crying out for a new form of transport. Or so the proponents of on-demand aviation hope. The Bay Area has become a laboratory, on the computer at least, in which to test the idea of getting commuters off the gridlocked roads and into the air using a new breed of efficient, emissions-free electric-powered aircraft. (7/1)

Big Savings Promised From Sbirs Redesign, Propulsion-Payload Decoupling (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force is touting more than $1 billion of cost avoidance through a redesign of the Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) early missile warning satellite built by Lockheed Martin. Program leaders negotiated a modification to the June 2014 contract award for Sbirs geosynchronous (GEO) satellites 5-6, to introduce a “technology refresh” at no additional cost to the government, Col. Mike Guetlein, the Sbirs program manager for the Air Force. (6/24)

Russian Progress Cargo Launch Will Help ISS, But Not Much (Source: Aviation Week)
Russia’s next Progress resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) offers little if any direct relief after more than 5,500 lb. of pressurized and unpressurized cargo bound for the outpost rained down on the Atlantic Ocean in fragments following the June 28 launch failure of SpaceX’s seventh NASA-contracted Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-7) mission. (6/30)

‘Too Early To Assess Any Impact’ Of Launch Failure on National Security (Source: Breaking Defense)
Boom. The explosion that destroyed CRS-7 as it headed to orbit could mean Elon Musk’s fevered efforts to win the highly lucrative business of sending intelligence and Air Force satellites into space are, if not endangered, then at least in question.

While the failure of SpaceX’s resupply mission to the International Space Station isn’t directly tied to national security launches, the certification process his company underwent included all launches and their reliability — except this one.

So far, the Air Force is being extremely cautious in its response. “At this time it’s too early to assess any impact that the Space X launch failure has on future DoD launch missions. The Department is firmly committed to smoothly transitioning our launch enterprise with a continued strong focus on maintaining assured access to space for National Security Space missions,” a deliberately anonymous spokeswoman said in an email. (6/29)

Stop Saying 'Space is Hard' (Source: The Verge)
How we handle our technology’s failure defines us as much as the fact that we created the technology at all. When a commercial plane crashes — a thankfully rare occurrence these days — we don’t just stand idly by. A team of analysts quickly swoop in, determine the root cause of the plane’s demise, and then decide what precautions should be taken so that a similar accident doesn’t occur again. The general attitude for these scenarios is often the same: "We should have done better."

But when technological failure occurs during spaceflight, the public’s attitude isn’t nearly as chastened. Yes, teams of engineers and researchers immediately analyze the problem in order to pinpoint the origin of the failure. And updates are almost always made so as to prevent a similar catastrophe in the future. But in the immediate postmortem of a lost rocket, a familiar excuse always seems to surface, pardoning the debacle: "Space is hard."

We heard that following Orbital Sciences’ Antares explosion in October 28th, 2014, as well as the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crash on October 31st. It’s time to stop saying that. Because of course spaceflight is hard. As President Kennedy said, it’s why we pursue it in the first place. No one in their right mind could possibly think shooting cargo and people into lower Earth orbit at over 21,000 miles per hour is a simple task. (6/30)

CST-100 and Atlas-5 Crew Access Tower Taking Shape at Cape (Source: America Space)
With two years left before an expected inaugural CST-100 launch there is still a lot of work to be done, but one visible sign of progress at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport is the new Boeing/ULA crew access tower now being built just down the road from ULA’s Atlas launch pad (LC-41), which is where Boeing’s flights will take place from atop the proven ULA Atlas-V rocket.

The entire tower will be erected over six to seven weeks this summer. The first segments are already rising above the Cape’s flat landscape, and, when finished, the tower will stand over 200 feet tall. The tower will be comprised of seven major tier segments, or levels, and each will measure about 20 foot square and 28 feet tall. Building them away from the pad allows ULA to maintain their busy Atlas launch manifest. (6/30)

New Plan Proposed to Send Humans to Mars (Source: EurekAlert)
A new, cost-constrained U.S. strategy to send humans on Mars, could be achieved within projected NASA budgets by minimizing new developments and relying mainly on already available or planned NASA assets. This approach is described in "A Minimal Architecture for Human Journeys to Mars," published in New Space, a peer-reviewed journal. Cick here. (6/30) 

Would Astronauts Have Survived the SpaceX Rocket Explosion? (Source: Space.com)
Astronauts likely would have survived the rocket explosion that scuttled SpaceX's unmanned resupply mission to the International Space Station on Sunday, company representatives said. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket broke apart about 2 minutes after launching. If the mishap had occurred during a crewed launch of the "Dragon V2" capsule variant, it likely would not have caused any fatalities, said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell.

"The escape system slated for the second version of Dragon would have — should certainly have taken the astronauts to a safe place after an anomaly like this," Shotwell said. "In fact, it's designed to take a far more energetic event and get the astronauts safely away." (6/30)

All Eyes on Progress: Russian Spacecraft to Deliver Supplies to ISS (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With the complete loss of a SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket with its payload of a Dragon spacecraft, the attention of the international spaceflight community is now focused on the launch of Russian Progress M-28M cargo vessel. Lift-off is currently scheduled for July 3 at 12:55 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

With the events of this past weekend, the situation in terms of ferrying experiments, crew supplies and cargo to the International Space Station has now entered into a troubling period. On Monday, the orbital module of the Soyuz-U, containing Progress M-28M, was transported from the spacecraft processing facility for integration with the launch vehicle. (6/30)

Preventing a Space War (Source: New York Times)
The United States sees space conflict as a vital security issue. "Potential adversaries understand our reliance on space and want to take it away from us," a senior Pentagon official told Congress in March. And while everything from control of nuclear weapons to weather forecasting to cellphone use could be affected, the U.S. "is not adequately prepared for a conflict" in space with countries like China and Russia, he acknowledged. Click here. (6/30)

Mars One to Debate MIT Critics at Mars Society Convention (Source: Mars Society)
The Mars Society is pleased to announce that a formal debate will be held at its 18th Annual International Mars Society Convention at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. August 13-16, 2015 on the proposition: “Is Mars One Feasible?”
Leading the affirmative team will be Mars One President Bas Lansdorp. The negative proposition will be argued by Sydney Do and Andrew Owens, two members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology team that published a headline-making critique of the Mars One plan late last year. (6/30)

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