September 15, 2015

Port Commissioner Pushes for Rail Route Through Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Canaveral Port Authority Chairman Jerry Allender is trying a new tack in his push to get a rail link to Port Canaveral. Allender says he will ask fellow port commissioners to support a public-private partnership in an effort to persuade the U.S. Air Force to allow access to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that would enable a rail connection from the port to the mainland.

Port officials say they need a rail link to the port to help expand their cargo business, because importers and exporters want that option. Additionally, Port Canaveral's potential partner — the West Palm Beach-based Gilbane Renuart & Larkin Group — is proposing an agreement with the Air Force to lease up to 2,000 acres at the 16,000-acre-plus Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (9/14)

Blue Origin to Launch and Manufacture Rockets Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin plans to expand its operations to the Space Coast. Blue Origin will manufacture their rockets at Exploration Park, and start launching “later this decade” from Launch Complex 36 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. “This site saw its last launch in 2005 and the pad has stood silent for more than 10 years – too long,” Bezos told a crowd of dignitaries and journalists at the launch site. “We can’t wait to fix that.”

Blue Origin will invest more than $200 million locally and bring more than 300 jobs. Bezos called it a “new era of exploration.” “You will hear us before you see us,” Bezos said, noting that they’d be testing their BE-4 engine here. Blue Origin has a deal to increase production of the methane-fueled engine for United Launch Alliance’s planned Vulcan rocket. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson told Bezos that in choosing Florida for his operations, “you have made the right decision.” (9/15)
'The Martian' Star: We Need to 'Double Down' on Space Exploration (Source: Fox News)
Matt Damon stars in the upcoming Ridley Scott sci-fi epic “The Martian,” based on the best-selling book by Andy Weir. Damon stars as an astronaut stuck on Mars after his crew departs presuming he’s dead. Damon’s character then needs to figure out how to survive on the inhospitable red rock. Damon said making "The Martian" has convinced him that we need to do more to get our astronauts back into space more often.

"I think we need to double down and, you know, it’s very important that we get some of us off of planet earth so that we’re not one extinction level event away from just the obliteration of the human species, the disappearance of the human species," he said. "We have to start moving off this one place. So no, we should go faster.” (9/15)

China Urges Restraint Over North Korea's Proposed Launch (Source: Yonhap)
China called Tuesday for calm and restraint, a day after the North's space agency hinted that it could launch a long-range rocket to mark a key national anniversary. "China hopes that the relevant parties can act with caution and refrain from taking actions that may elevate tension on the Korean Peninsula and in the region," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei replied, when asked about the North's possible rocket launch. (9/15)

South Korea Warns North's Launch Would Violate UN Resolutions (Source: Yonhap)
South Korea warned Tuesday that North Korea's possible launch of a long-range rocket would be a grave security threat, adding that the move would be a "blatant" violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the North's nuclear and missile tests. North Korea said Monday that it plans to launch what it claims are "a series of satellites" as it is preparing for the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party, which falls on Oct. 10. (9/15)

Bezos Plans to Manage Blue Origin Launch and Manufacturing in Florida (Source: WIRED)
In addition to running its operations in Florida and launching rockets from Cape Canaveral, the company will open a manufacturing and testing center in the region. “We’re not just going to launch here, we’re building here,” Bezos said at a press conference at Cape Canaveral. “We’ll be launching from here later this decade,” he said. “You will hear us before you see us. Our American-made BE-4 engine—the power behind our orbital launch vehicle—will be acceptance-tested here.”

Blue Origin plans to launch its experimental rockets from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 36, which has previously hosted 145 different launches and was last used by Lockheed Martin's Atlas program. But the site has been dormant for the past 10 years. “We can’t wait to fix that,” Bezos said. Blue Origin’s approach is deliberately incremental. The company’s motto is “Gradatim Ferociter,” Latin for “step-by-step, ferociously.” But it’s still every bit as ambitious as SpaceX or Virgin Galactic.

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the goal of making space travel more affordable, but the company has been quiet until recently. A year ago it announced an agreement to build rocket engines for United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and it launched its own first experimental spacecraft, a reusable rocket called New Shepard, earlier this year. (9/15)

Proton-M Rocket Successfully Launches Ekspress-AM8 Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A Russian Proton-M rocket has successfully blasted off into space with the Russian Ekspress-AM8 communications satellite and placed it into orbit. The lift-off took take place from Complex 81 on Sept. 14. This is the second Proton-M launch since the May 16 accident when it failed to deliver the MexSat-1 satellite into orbit. (9/14)

DOD Puts Up $16M To Fund New Space Security Center (Source: Law 360)
The U.S. Department of Defense announced late last week that it will spend $16 million to establish a joint command center to monitor threats to the U.S. space program, bringing together various military and intelligence agencies to work out of Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Thirty personnel from the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command and unnamed intelligence agencies will develop the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, according to the DOD. (9/14)

Scott Kelly Completes First Six Months In Space (Source: Cerats)
Astronaut Scott Kelly spoke with the media Monday, summing up his 6-month stay at new home in space in just a few words: “I feel pretty good overall.” So, what do six mounts in space do to a person? “As far as physically, I feel good. We have good exercise equipment up here,” he said.

Kelly has been in space for 6 months. So far, so good. But he has 6 months to go and he’s actually looking forward to it. “I feel positive about it. If I manage my work and energy right, I will have enough in the tank to get to the end,” he said. The end for Kelly is not until March 2016. That’s when all of Kelly’s vitals will be measured against his identical twin brother, astronaut Mark Kelly. There is no doubt space has its damaging effects. (9/15)

South Georgia Residents to Discuss Spaceport (Source: Brunswick News)
How launches at a proposed spaceport in Camden County could impact Jekyll Island and the region will be the topic of a program at 7 p.m. Monday at the Jekyll Island Community Presbyterian Church. The Jekyll Island Citizens Association will host a presentation on the pros and cons of the potential establishment of a spaceport in Camdem County.

Jim Renner, manager of environmental stewardship for Southern Ionics Minerals, LLC and a concerned citizen from St. Simons Island, will present an opposing view on the spaceport. Camden County Administrator Steve Howard will present a favorable view. Concerned citizens and environmentalists are hoping to gain public support against the project, while county officials want people to be cautious before jumping to conclusions about any negative impacts. (9/14)

USAID, NASA Officials and Astronauts Discuss Connecting Space to Village (Source: NASA)
USAID will host a town hall on Sept. 17 to discuss its partnership with NASA to use space data to help international development efforts around the world. Through the SERVIR partnership, USAID and NASA use Earth observation information to improve environmental management and resilience to climate change through regional institutions supported by the SERVIR global network. (9/15)

What Happens to Astronaut Poop? (Source: C/Net)
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is in the midst of the first-ever full year in space aboard the International Space Station, which naturally leads to certain questions...about when nature calls. At long last, the space agency has provided us with details regarding the business of disposing of astronauts' personal business.

NASA released this infographic on Monday pointing out some key data points around the effect of a year in space on the human body and at least one about the effect of human waste on space.

Kelly will produce 180 pounds (82 kilograms) of poop during the course of a year in space, according to NASA. All that waste will be discharged at intervals from the space station and will burn up in Earth's atmosphere, looking just like shooting stars. Who knew something could be so dazzling and gross at the same time? (9/15)

Branson Says Space Tourism Still Viable (Source: Sky News)
Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson says the company plans to unveil its new Virgin Galactic space shuttle as early as January 2016. The British businessman says despite last year's fatal setback, he believes space tourism can still become a reality. The comments came after Mr Branson announced Virgin would invest a further $200 million in expanding its health clubs across Australia. (9/15)

North Korea Readying Satellite for Launch (Source: Reuters)
North Korea's space agency is close to developing a new satellite and readying it for launch, state media said on Monday, suggesting it will fire a long-range rocket around a national anniversary next month. North Korea will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) on Oct. 10 and has been expected to launch an upgraded long-range ballistic missile, viewed as a major violation of international sanctions.

"The world will clearly see a series of satellites of Songun Korea soaring into the sky at the times and locations determined by the WPK Central Committee," the North's KCNA news agency said, with Songun referring to its "military first" policy. "The NADA is pushing forward at a final phase the development of a new earth observation satellite," KCNA quoted the director of the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) as saying. (9/14)

Arianespace Targets Record Year for 2015 (Source: Space Daily)
Arianespace remains on track for record operational and commercial performances in 2015, building on the company's long-term commitment to meeting customer requirements with a capable launcher family offering mission flexibility, reliability and availability.

Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stephane Israel said 13 launch services contracts already have been signed in 2015, involving all three members of the company's launch vehicle family: the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega. Arianespace's overall order book now incorporates 56 future missions to be performed for 35 customers, with additional contract signatures anticipated before year-end, Israel added. (9/15)

SES Betting on SpaceX, Falcon 9 Upgrade as Debut Approaches (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator SES on Sept. 14 said it is now confident that launch-service provider SpaceX will complete its Falcon 9 failure review, implement corrective measures and qualify its new-version Falcon 9 Upgrade all in time for a launch before the end of the year.

Halliwell, long a supporter of Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, said his SES team has had enough access to the Falcon 9 failure review to assume a return to flight carrying the SES 9 satellite before the end of the year, but no earlier than Nov. 17. (9/15)

Lockheed Martin Hopes to Sell Another Commercial Atlas 5 in 2016 (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin is looking to sell one more commercial Atlas 5 launch in 2016. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, which sells the United Launch Alliance-built rocket for commercial missions, said it has been approached by customers looking for 2016 launch opportunities and, while the manifest is "a little tight," is looking for ways to accommodate them. Lockheed's near-term goal is to win one or two commercial launch contracts a year for the Atlas. (9/14)

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