September 13, 2015

One-Year ISS Mission Reaches Milestone (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
For the first time, a NASA astronaut is spending a full year in space. On Sept. 5, Astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been in space since late March 2015, took command of the International Space Station (ISS) for Expeditions 45 and 46, marking the halfway point of his stint aboard the orbiting laboratory. The Expedition 45 crew are Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Kelly and Kornienko launched with Expedition 43 on March 27, 2015, and will land with Expedition 46 in March of 2016. (9/13)

India Speeds Up Progress on its Moon Mission (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
India has begun intensifying work on its second lunar probe, called Chandrayaan-2, an advanced version of the agency's previous successful Chandrayaan spacecraft. The mission will include an orbiter and a lander-rover module and is scheduled to be launched at the end of 2018 / start of 2018 via a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). (9/13)

China Mulls Space Force in Most Sweeping Military Reform Yet (Source: Asahi Shimbun)
China may set up what it calls a "celestial military" to boost its capabilities in strategic space warfare, sources said Sept. 8. The space troopers are included in plans to structurally reform the People's Liberation Army to rival the U.S. armed forces. The sweeping PLA reboot will be the most significant since the founding of modern China in 1949 and the aim this time round is quality rather than quantity. (9/9)

Space Is Becoming Vital to U.S. Military Ops (Source: Defense News)
The US needs to invest in space operations, which are increasingly critical to military missions, said Maj. Gen. David Thompson, vice commander for Air Force Space Command. “Potential adversaries increasingly understand the level to which the armed forces depend on both space and cyberspace to operate on a global scale,” he said. “Those same adversaries possess or are developing capabilities to disrupt and degrade joint force operations and attack America.” (9/13)

DOD Space Budget a 'Placeholder' For Future (Source: Defense News)
In its fiscal 2016 budget request, the US Air Force sought $2.5 billion in procurement and $1.2 billion for research and development funds just for space programs. It is a sizeable cost that should meet service priorities, but also comes at a time when the Air Force is trying to figure out its next steps in the space realm.

A former high-ranking Air Force official told Defense News that while the budget covers the necessities of America's space systems, it also reflects the fact the service is not ready to change the way it does business. The official referred to it as "a placeholder" budget, one designed to hold the service over until a series of studies on the future of US military space architecture are completed. (9/10)

China Launches Communication Technology Test Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
China launched an experimental satellite for communication technology at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province late Saturday. The satellite was launched successfully at 11:42 p.m. by a Long Mach 3B carrier rocket. The satellite will be used to perform tests on the Ka frequency band in broadband communications. (9/13)

Surprising Giant Ring-Like Structure in the Universe (Source: Phys.Org)
Five billion light years is a distance almost inconceivable, even on a cosmic scale. To better illustrate the extent of this physical quantity, it's enough to say that 35,000 galaxies the size of our Milky Way are needed to cover that distance. Thanks to a surprising discovery made by a Hungarian-U.S. team of astronomers, now we know that a structure this big really exists in the observable universe.

The researchers found a ring of nine gamma ray bursts (GRBs)—the most luminous events in the universe—about 5 billion light years in diameter, and having a nearly regular circular shape, noting that there is a one in 20,000 probability of the GRBs being in this distribution by chance. They published their findings on July 27 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. (9/7)

When Nine People Eat Dinner on Space Station, the Ceiling Becomes a Seat (Source: Washington Post)
It's hard to seat nine people for dinner in most city apartments. So imagine how hard it is to find room for nine hungry astronauts on the International Space Station. The ISS was almost filled to capacity this week, as nine astronauts were onboard for the first time since November 2013. And luckily for the Internet, the crew had the foresight to film a time-lapse of one of their "family dinners," crowded around a small table that would probably seat two in your average cafe. Click here. (9/11)

What Happened to Early Mars' Atmosphere? New Study Eliminates One Theory (Source: NASA)
Scientists may be closer to solving the mystery of how Mars changed from a world with surface water billions of years ago to the arid Red Planet of today. A new analysis of the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars suggests that the original Martian atmosphere may have already lost most of its carbon dioxide by the era of valley network formation. (9/2)

Mysterious, Massive, Magnetic Stars (Source: Phys.Org)
A Canadian PhD student has discovered a unique object – two massive stars with magnetic fields in a binary system. Matt Shultz of Queen's University, Ontario, Canada found the system – Epsilon Lupi – and will publish the new result in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Around 1/3 of stars in our Galaxy are thought to be in binary systems, where two or more stars orbit around a common center. They are invaluable for astronomers, as watching how they behave lets astronomers measure their mass and connect this with their brightness – a key way in which we understand how stars evolve. (9/12)

Canadian Candidates Promise Long-Term Space Plan if Elected (Source: CTV)
An organization that represents firms in the Canadian space sector says the industry has not been a priority for the current government and it is hoping that will change after the Oct. 19 federal election. "The Canadian Space Agency and Canada's space program has definitely taken a back seat since the Conservative government has been in power," Marc Boucher, executive director of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, said in an interview.

"We're seeing that in terms of research and development dollars -- not just in the space sector, but in the science sector and technology sector." His organization is using the election campaign to call on all parties to commit to a long-term space plan that "all the stakeholders in Canada have a voice in."  The group represents companies small and large, including MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, builder of the Canadarm. (9/12)

Thinking Small Wins UCF Big NASA Project (Source: UCF)
metimes thinking small can get you a big win. That’s certainly the case for a team of physicists at the University of Central Florida. UCF was one of only two universities selected to prepare an experiment for a miniaturized satellite mission as part of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program. Twenty-two projects were reviewed and only two were selected for flight, including UCF’s Q-PACE project.

The project is a milestone for UCF. It is the first time the university has been selected to design, build and operate a satellite from start to finish. The Q-PACE project aims to gather scientific knowledge about the formation of planets, from the Earth to the growing number of “exoplanets” discovered orbiting other stars. Physics professor Joshua Colwell and his team of fellow researchers and students have been building space experiments for several years now and have gotten pretty good at it. (9/12)

Alaska Goes Local for Launch Pad Reconstruction Contract (Source: Alaska Aerospace)
The Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) has selected Davis Constructors & Engineers, Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska as the General Contractor for reconstruction of the facilities damaged at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) from the launch vehicle failure in August 2014.

The damaged facilities requiring reconstruction include the Launch Service Structure, Integration Processing Facility and the Spacecraft Assembly and Transfer Facility. AAC used an innovative selection process developed by Arizona State University to evaluate and rate contractor proposals, resulting in a “Best Value” selection. Reconstruction is expected to be completed in 2016. Funds for the reconstruction are being paid from a state insurance policy. (9/12)

Respected Nanosat Leader Joins Asteroid Mining Team (Source: DSI)
Deep Space Industries (DSI) announced today that renowned spacecraft designer and engineer Grant Bonin will be joining the company in the role of Chief Engineer. Mr. Bonin has 11 successful spacecraft in Earth orbit and will now drive the company’s ramp up to its first asteroid missions.

“It’s go time!” exclaimed Rick Tumlinson, Chair of Deep Space Industries. “We have the vision, the goal and core plan. With Grant, we now have the full leadership team to execute and succeed. This is the first in a series of exciting announcements you’ll see from DSI in the coming year. On our current growth path and timetable DSI’s spacecraft will be flying out to an asteroid before 2020.” (9/12)

Sending VR Cameras into Space Will Create "Transformational Cultural Shift" for Humanity (Source: Factor)
A plan to send virtual reality cameras to the International Space Station in order to capture unprecedented VR content has been described as having the potential for a “transformational cultural shift” by a leading space policy consultant.

James Muncy, space policy consultant, entrepreneur and principle of space policy consultancy PoliSpace, said that the project, run by SpaceVR and launching today on Kickstarter, will give people the closest experience to being in space yet possible, and as a result change attitudes towards issues on Earth and boost interest and involvement in space projects. (9/9)

What the Next President Must do to Revitalize American Space Exploration (Source: The Hill)
As the 2016 presidential campaign season begins, those who are interested in America’s civil space program are starting to wonder where the candidates stand on space. Of the candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has waxed the most eloquent, championing spending more money on space exploration, though at the expense of Earth science. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Hillary Clinton have also had some nice things to say about space recently. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Donald Trump have not been so enthusiastic, however.

The next president will want to put his or her stamp on NASA and the course of the civil space program. Whether that course will mean going back to the moon, doubling down on Mars, or doing something else entirely remains to be seen. But whatever the next president chooses to do, he or she would do well to pay attention to the process of making and sustaining space policy.

Two recent examples exist of major space projects that were announced with great fanfare, but which imploded into ruin because the presidents who advocated them made leadership mistakes. Ironically, both of those presidents were named George Bush. Click here. (9/11)

NASA Issues Sweeping Update To Grant Rules (Source: Law 360)
NASA will issue a wide-ranging final rule Friday implementing guidelines from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to streamline the award process for grants and cooperative agreements with the agency.

The 78-page rule, to be published in the Federal Register, covers everything from patent rights to the the dissemination of research reports, financial management, and changes in investigators and the scope of research, among other things. It addresses awards to non-Federal entities, commercial firms and foreign organizations, the space agency said. (9/10)

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