July 25, 2015

Green Space Propulsion: For a Sustainable Space Era (Source: Space News)
In the early days of flight, the need for sustainable air travel was not listed among the top aviation priorities. On the contrary, the sole vision of flying between two locations enabled the nearly impossible of overcoming the technical challenges of flight. Today, it is possible to track a number of similarities between commercial aviation and some of the current plans for commercial spaceflight.

If stringent demands are posed for the foundation of an environmentally sustainable space era, enabling a comprehensive tool set of sustainable space solutions appears as an important choice. However, sustainability is a broad term within this context. Click here. (7/20)

Brazil Cancels Joint Rocket Launch Program with Ukraine (Source: Space Digest)
This is official. On July 16, 2015, Brazilian Minister of External Relations Mauro Vieira sent a letter to Ukrainian Ambassador in Brasilia Rostyslav Tronenko, where it is stated that Brazil denounces its rocket launch program Treaty with Ukraine. It is to remind that the 'Treaty between the Federal Republic of Brazil and Ukraine on long-term cooperation in utilization of the Cyclone-4 launch vehicle at the Alcantara Launch Center' (Treaty) was signed by foreign affairs ministers of both countries in October 2003.

The Treaty established a bi-national company Alcantara Cyclone Space (ACS), responsible for the Cyclone-4 program implementation. Recently Oleg Uruskyi, Chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine, estimated contributions to the ACS capital at about $235 million from each Party. Termination of Cyclone-4 program was hardly unexpected.

Main reason for such move of the Brazilian government is seen in an unclear commercial future of the project. Existence of highly competitive environment in launching small and medium class payloads, as well as absence of technology protection treaty between the USA and Brazil, which makes Cyclone-4 rocket unavailable for launch services customers from the US, are the most obvious 'cons' of the program. (7/23)

Space Cooperation Agreement Between India and Russia (Source: Business Standard)
India and Russia pursue joint programs in a few areas of space research. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on expansion of cooperation in the field of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. There is no transfer of space technology envisaged under this MoU.

This new MoU provides scope for developing joint activities in areas of mutual interest, including satellite navigation; launch vehicle development; critical technologies for human spaceflight program; remote sensing of Earth; space science and planetary exploration; and use of ground space infrastructure. (7/24)

China Proceeds with FAST Telescope (Source: AFP)
China is starting a new phase in the assembly of the world's largest radio telescope. The Five-Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, or FAST, is being built in a bowl-shaped valley, similar to the 300-meter Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico that is currently the world's largest. Construction of the telescope started four years ago, but only this week did workers begin attaching 4,450 panels that make up the telescope's main reflector. FAST is scheduled for completion next year. (7/24)

SpaceX Funds SolarCity with Bond Purchase (Source: Clean Technica)
SpaceX is buying more bonds from another Elon Musk-owned company, SolarCity. SpaceX will buy $75 million in "solar bonds" from SolarCity, months after buying $90 million of the company's bonds. SolarCity uses the bonds to finance the installation of solar power systems. Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, is the chairman of the board of SolarCity and its largest shareholder. (7/24)

Common Misconceptions About Operating an Observatory on Mauna Kea (Source: Pacific Business News)
While construction of what will be the 14th observatory atop the Big Island's Mauna Kea remains on hold, 13 other existing observatories are working hard just to stay in business. The controversy over the stalled $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope has grabbed the headlines. But, even without protesters, the business of astronomy can be challenging.

Here are some of the most commonly held misconceptions about the business of astronomy: Myth: Observatories are run by companies making a profit. Not true. Both Keck and CFHT observatories are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations. “I don’t know how many times I've heard that, or that astronomers come and pay money to use telescopes,” Simons said. “Our product is scientific discovery, something that astronomers worldwide can use at no charge.” Click here. (7/24)

Is It Wrong to Admire Nazi Rocket Scientists? (Source: Huffington Post)
I have for a long time, perhaps to my shame, been an admirer of Dr. von Braun. The greatest developer of rockets in the twentieth century was also a leading Nazi scientist at whose hands lie 20,000 Jewish lives. It is arguable, and it has been argued, the extent to which he was responsible for these deaths. Many at the time made Faustian pacts, in the name of some ideal, and caused needless suffering.

But there are those, judged by their practical achievements, like Wehrmacht generals Rommel and Guderian, not tainted by their association. It was Werner Heisenberg, the admired quantum physicist, who worked on the Nazi nuclear program, imagine the result if Hiroshima and Nagasaki became Moscow and London. Yet Dr. Heisenberg remains unscathed by his association. Click here. (7/24)

Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne Prepares For Mass Production (Source: Aviation Week)
Virgin Galactic aims to change the cost paradigm for putting smaller payloads into space by producing lightweight launch vehicles on an industrial scale similar to the commercial and military aircraft that were once made on the  same site in Long Beach, California, over a span of more than 60 years. It is a lofty goal for a company that has yet to send a vehicle into space, and whose target market is still emerging. (7/24)

Massive Air Launch System Promises Reduced Costs (Source: Aviation Week)
Air launching a vehicle to orbit is not new. Orbital ATK has been releasing the Pegasus rocket from a Lockheed L-1011 for 21 years and Virgin Galactic is poised to begin test flights of the LauncherOne from beneath the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft sometime next year. But the enormous carrier vehicle under development by Vulcan Aerospace’s Stratolaunch Systems takes the concept to an entirely new level. Click here. (7/24)

Reusable First Stages, Engines And Lifting Bodies To Cut Cost Of Space Access (Source: Aviation Week)
While few in the space business dispute that reusability is the key to dramatic reductions in the cost of space transport, there is less agreement on the best way to achieve this goal. Since the retirement of the winged space shuttle, the first technically reusable—but massively expensive—launch vehicle, the industry has redoubled efforts to achieve some form of reuse. Click here. (7/24)

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