August 28, 2015

NASA’s 3D-Printed Rocket Parts Actually Work (Source: TechCrunch)
Today, NASA tested a 3D-printed turbopump, one that was put together with 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made any other way. This obviously saves time and money, but come on…NASA is slowly 3D printing an entire freaking rocket. That’s cool.

NASA referred to the rocket turbopump as “one of the most complex, 3D-printed rocket engine parts ever made.” It went through about 15 different tests to simulate the kind of force and environment 35,000 of rocket thrust would cause. Its turbine generates 2,000 horsepower, roughly twice the horsepower of a NASCAR engine. (8/28)

Aldrin Developing a 'Master Plan' to Colonize Mars Within 25 Years (Source: Guardian)
Buzz Aldrin is teaming up with Florida Institute of Technology to develop “a master plan” for colonizing Mars within 25 years. The second man to walk on the moon took part in a signing ceremony on Thursday at the university, less than an hour’s drive from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The Buzz Aldrin Space Institute is set to open this fall.

The 85-year-old Aldrin, who followed Neil Armstrong on to the moon’s surface on 20 July 1969, will serve as a research professor of aeronautics as well as a senior faculty adviser for the institute. He said he hopes his “master plan” is accepted by NASA and the country, with international input. NASA is already working on the spacecraft and rockets to get astronauts to Mars by the mid-2030s. (8/27)

Proton Lifts Off on 15-hour Return to Flight Mission (Source: Space News)
A Proton M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome Aug. 28 on its first mission since a failed launch in May. International Launch Services reported that the rocket successfully completed the early phases of its mission, including the separation of its first three stages and the first of five scheduled burns of its Breeze M upper stage.

Any declaration of mission success, however, will have to wait until the Breeze M releases its payload, the Inmarsat-5 F3 satellite, into a super-synchronous transfer orbit. Spacecraft separation is scheduled for 15 hours and 31 minutes after the rocket's 7:44 a.m. Eastern liftoff. The launch is the first for the Proton since the May 16 failure of a Proton rocket carrying Mexico’s Centenario satellite. (8/28)

Made-in-India Upper Stage Delivers in GSLV Launch (Source: Space News)
India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket on Aug. 27 placed India’s GSAT-6 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit in the second consecutive success for the vehicle’s domestically built cryogenic upper stage, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said. The launch follows the rocket’s January 2014 inaugural success, which came after a 2010 failure and an aborted launch. (8/28)

$2 Billion-Plus Invested in Space Firms Since 2012 (Source: Space News)
Emerging companies in the space industry, ranging from launch vehicle developers to satellite services providers, have raised more than $2 billion from investors since 2012, although the vast majority of that funding came from just two deals earlier this year.

A report released Aug. 28 by CB Insights, a New York-based financial intelligence firm, concluded that investments in space companies since the beginning of 2012 totaled $2.16 billion, including $1.75 billion in the first half of 2015 alone.

Most of that funding, though, came in just two deals. In January, SpaceX raised $1 billion from Google and Fidelity in exchange for just under 10 percent of the company. In June, OneWeb raised $500 million from several companies, from satellite operator Intelsat to Coca-Cola, to start development of its low Earth orbit broadband satellite constellation. (8/28)

A Wildly Detailed 100-Year Plan for Getting Humans to Mars (Source: WIRED)
For as long Ron Jones could remember, he had spent his free time pondering the trajectory of space travel five, 30, 50, even 100 years down the cosmic road. To him, space travel was a cosmic Rube Goldberg machine. To reach the end goal—which he considered to be large-scale habitation of Mars—a thousand little things had to happen first. Things like creating reliable in-orbit transportation vehicles, mining asteroids for materials, and building a thriving community on the moon.

After Jones finished the first iteration of the Integrated Space Plan chart in 1989, Rockwell adopted it as a marketing tool and began sending it around the space community. “During the heyday of the first ISP, you’d go into NASA field centers and see it on the wall,” Jay Wittner says. Jones updated the ISP in 1997, that was the last time it was revised. Jones and Wittner led a Kickstarter campaign last year to finance remaking the plan. They raised $32,000, and New York design firm 212 Box signed on for the redesign. Click here. (8/28)

Chinese Rocket Engine Falls on House (Source: Space News)
China’s launch of its Yaogan Weixing-27 satellite almost had tragic consequences for a man in Hongjun Village in Shaanxi Province, about 430 miles downrange from the launch site. Around ten minutes after Thursday’s launch of the remote sensing satellite from the Taiyuan satellite launch center in Shanxi province, what appears to be an engine from the first stage of the Long March 4C rocket smashed through the roof of a home. Click here. (8/28)

Young Hopefuls in Race to be First Black African in Space (Source: Space Daily)
In half a century of space travel more than 500 people have glimpsed the Earth from the unique vantage point of the cosmos, yet no black African has been among them. Now a Nigerian and two South Africans are in a race to become the first after being shortlisted in a global talent search to send a "young icon of the future" into the heavens.

The winner will undergo intense training, experiencing extreme G-forces and weightlessness before taking off in American developer XCOR's Lynx spacecraft, on a voyage loosely envisaged for next year. Among the three is Freeman Osonuga, who is competing with 30 hopefuls shortlisted for the Rising Star Program run by talent agency Kruger Cowne and the One Young World charity, both based in London. (8/27)

Rising Sea Levels More Dangerous Than Thought (Source: Scientific American)
The consequences of global sea level rise could be even scarier than the worst-case scenarios predicted by the dominant climate models, which don't fully account for the fast breakup of ice sheets and glaciers, NASA scientists said today (Aug. 26) at a press briefing. What's more, sea level rise is already occurring. The open question, NASA scientists say, is just how quickly the seas will rise in the future.

The current warming of the seas and the associated expansion of their waters account for about one-third of sea level rise around the world. "When heat goes under the ocean, it expands just like mercury in a thermometer," Steve Nerem, lead scientist for NASA's Sea Level Change Team at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said. The remaining two-thirds of sea level rise is occurring as a result of melting from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and mountain glaciers, Nerem said. (8/26)

India Successfully Launches New Rocket (Source: ISRO)
An Indian rocket successfully launched a communications satellite Thursday morning. The GSLV lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at 7:22 a.m. Eastern time carrying the GSAT-6 communications satellite. Initial word from the Indian space agency ISRO was that the launch was a success, placing the satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit.

Editor's Note: This marks India's formal entry into the highly competitive geosynchronous satellite launch market, and it looks like India will be able to offer launch services at rates that might make Russian, European and U.S. providers nervous. (8/27)

Meet the 28-Year-Old Female Engineer Making Space Exploration Cool Again (Source: NextShark)
Earlier this month, an internet firestorm was set off after Isis Wenger, a 22-year-old San Francisco-based engineer, was criticized online for being too pretty, and thus an unrealistic choice, to portray an engineer in an ad campaign for tech startup OneLogin. The only problem: Wenger is actually an engineer at the company. Click here. (8/26)

1,400 Satellites Projected to Launch Over Next Decade (Source: Via Satellite)
An average of 140 satellites with launch masses greater than 50 kg will enter orbit by 2024, according to Euroconsult’s new “Satellites to be Built & Launched by 2024,” report. Of the 1,400 satellites over the next decade, the research firm expects governments from 60 countries will be responsible for 75 percent of the $255 billion in revenues from manufacture and launch. In comparison with last year’s forecast, the number of satellites is due to grow more than the market value over the decade.

Euroconsult expects nearly 90 percent of the government market will remain concentrated in the 10 countries with an established space industry: the U.S., Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, China, Japan and India. The other 50 countries engaged in space activities will launch twice the number of satellites that they did in the past 10 years, i.e. about 200 satellites. More than half of these spacecraft will be procured from foreign manufacturers as domestic industry capabilities mature. (8/26)

China Launches Earth Observation Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
China launched an Earth observation satellite Thursday. A Long March-4C rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center Thursday morning and placed the Yaogan-27 satellite into orbit in a launch not previously announced. The spacecraft's mission, according to official Chinese media, is for civil remote sensing applications, but the Yaogan series is widely believed to be used for military applications as well. (8/27)

Russia and Europe Continue Mars Collaboration (Source: Tass)
Roscosmos and ESA have agreed to continue cooperation on their joint ExoMars program. The heads of the two agencies signed an agreement in Moscow Wednesday regarding the program, although details of the agreement were not disclosed. The first ExoMars mission, an orbiter, is scheduled for launch next year, followed by a lander and rover in 2018. The two agencies also agreed to cooperate in lunar exploration. (8/27)

Virgin Galactic Adds Italian Pilot (Source: Satellite Today)
An Italian test pilot is Virgin Galactic's newest pilot. The company announced Thursday it has hired Nicola Pecile, who served for 20 years in the Italian Air Force before joining the National Test Pilot School, located next door to Virgin Galactic's facilities in Mojave, California, four years ago. Pecile joins a group of Virgin Galactic pilots that includes former military pilots and a former NASA astronaut. (8/26)

Mars: A Crappy Planet (Source: MacLean's)
"I’d love to explore Mars, but, ultimately, it’s kind of a crappy planet," said Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen. "The thing is, [Mars One people would] never go outside without a spacesuit ever again. You’re going to live in a tin can. Space stations are noisy; it’s like living inside a computer with the fan on all the time. You’re never going to smell grass or trees. It’s just never going to be anything like Earth. You’re never going to swim. You’re giving up so much."

Editor's Note: So, when it comes to picking the right location for a sustained human presence, what makes Mars better than the Moon? At least on the Moon you're only a few days away from Earth. (8/26)

Air Force to Award Integration Studies to SpaceX (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force disclosed plans to award SpaceX a contract worth about $1 million to study the ins and outs of mating national security satellites to the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. According to a justification and approval document posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website Aug. 26, the $962,000 contract would cover 10 studies as the service prepares to enter a new era of competitively awarded launch missions. (8/27)

Scientists Send Kombucha to Space (Source:
Kombucha, a fizzy, fermented tea and trendy new favorite of hipsters and health nuts everywhere, has reached stellar heights as part of an experiment on the International Space Station. Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) have placed the same bacteria and yeasts used to make Kombucha tea on the outside of the orbiting laboratory to see how the organisms fare in the unprotected environment of space.

The Kombucha experiment is one in a series of "Expose" studies run by ESA to find out if multicellular biofilms — a community of microorganisms that can stick together on a surface — can survive  in the unshielded environment above Earth's atmosphere. (8/27)

NASA versus Katrina: August 29, 2005 (Source: Ars Technica)
Katrina stands as the most devastating Atlantic storm to ever hit the US. Yet one day before Katrina, Malcolm Wood had to go into work. This task was daunting—“We knew from the weather station it was going to be worse than previous storms,” Wood says.

“It looked like the perfect storm”—but the stakes were literally out of this world. So Wood traveled the roughly 40 miles down to tiny Michoud, Louisiana, and prepared to spend the night at Building 320. The unassuming office space sits toward the back of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, where the organization's fuel tanks have been made since the 1960s. It’d be the first night of roughly 30 straight that Wood and company would spend on the Michoud grounds. Click here. (8/27)

Could Alien Life Spread 'Like a Virus' to the Stars? (Source: Discovery)
As astronomical techniques become more advanced, a team of astrophysicists think they will be able to not only detect the signatures of alien life in exoplanetary atmospheres, but also track its relentless spread throughout the galaxy. The research assumes that this feat may be possible in a generation or so and that the hypothesis of panspermia may act as the delivery system for alien biology to hop from one star system to another. Click here. (8/27)

Frenemies In Space; China Needs To Protect Its Assets, Too (Source: Forbes)
It is common to equate Space Situational Awareness (SSA) only with U.S. national security. One reason for this is the omnipresence of the United States military, which has been central to our way of thinking about the concept in outer space security. In theory, the SSA mechanics are simple: how do you figure out where something is, where it is going, and what it might do to your stuff out there.

In practice at this stage, no one does SSA better than the U.S. military, primarily through its Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC). The U.S. military is already pretty formidable in terms of its capabilities relative to the rest of the world. Now it is also working on coalitions to make itself even more indispensable to governing SSA realities worldwide. Click here. (8/26)

Who Is the 2016 Presidential Race's Space Candidate? (Source: Inverse)
America’s next president will have the opportunity to capitalize on a lively interest in space exploration and colonization — and face the solemn task of not screwing it up. Click here to find how the field stands on the question of space exploration. If space is your final frontier, who do you want win? (8/27)

How a University Went Into Space: ASU's Story (Source: ASU)
Only 30 institutions in the United States can build spacecraft. Only seven build interplanetary spacecraft that leave Earth’s orbit. Arizona State University is one of them. ASU’s space program is in elite company. And this week’s CubeSat mission announcement adds to the university’s stellar resume: It will be the first time ASU will lead an interplanetary science expedition. It’s not the university’s first outing by a long shot, however. Click here. (8/26)

Why the Race to Mars Requires Astronauts to Become Onion Farmers (Source: Atlas Obscura)
When NASA astronauts tweeted this month that they had harvested a batch of red romaine lettuce aboard the International Space Station, in the microgravity of space, it was seen as an important step in the journey to travel to Mars. But it wasn’t the first time that homegrown food appeared in space. In fact, that lettuce was nearly half-a-century in the making. Click here. (8/27)

The Moon Landing Was a Giant Leap. The Next Leap is Staying There. (Source: MacLean's)
When Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon, left the lunar surface in December 1972, people on Earth seemed to check it off the cosmic to-do list. Been there, done that. The grey orb was dry and deadly, with freezing 14-day nights that dipped to –270° C and equally long days that reached a blood-boiling 100° C. Mars, meanwhile, was calling. Humanity’s interplanetary ambitions wandered elsewhere.

Then, in late 2009, scientists confirmed the existence of water and found evidence of water at the Moon’s southern pole. “Finding that stuff was a big deal,” says Paul Spudis, a Houston-based lunar scientist who has worked with NASA and the White House. “It showed us that a permanent habitation of the Moon was possible.” Click here. (8/26)

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