September 16, 2015

Karina Drees Named New CEO of Mojave Spaceport (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Mojave Air and Space Port Deputy General Manager Karina Drees has been named to replace outgoing General Manager/CEO Stu Witt, who is retiring on Jan 15. The spaceport’s Board of Directors approved the appointment of Drees in a closed session meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Drees, 39, joined the spaceport as director of business development on July 1, 2012. She was appointed deputy general manager in August 2013. Director Allen Peterson said the board concluded Drees was the best candidate to take over the spaceport and civilian flight test center in California’s High Desert after a search process.

Prior to coming to Mojave, Drees had worked for more than 12 years in strategy and business development in growing technology companies ranging from startups to large public corporations. In addition to the National Test Pilot School, Mojave boast leading edge space companies, including Virgin Galactic, Stratolaunch, Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace. (9/15)

New Aerojet Engine Relies on Government Funding (Source: Space News)
Development of Aerojet Rocketdyne's new engine could be delayed without sufficient government funding. Company officials said work on its AR1 engine is on track to have the engine certified by 2019, but that work could be delayed if it does not win enough money in contracts the Air Force expects to award late this year. Aerojet officials declined to comment on reports about its bid for ULA. (9/15)

Space Memorabilia is Big Business (Source: Boston Globe)
Space memorabilia is big business. An executive with RR Auction, a company that specializes in rare artifacts, said the space artifacts business is now the "hottest market," with skyrocketing values for almost anything that has flown in space. A star chart from Apollo 11 that went for $500 20 years ago is now valued at $30,000 or more. (9/15)

Galactic Light Search Dims Hope for Nearby Extraterrestrials (Source: Science)
If there are advanced extraterrestrial civilizations out there, they're nowhere near our neighborhood of the universe. Astronomers studied the infrared light of 93 galaxies, looking for an excess of light at mid-infrared wavelengths that scientists previously suggested would be evidence of a super-advanced, galaxy-spanning civilization. Astronomers found no such infrared signatures, suggesting such civilizations don't exist — or, perhaps, that they have invented cloaking devices. (9/15)

Emerson: Let's Reclaim Canada's Status as a Leading Spacefaring Nation (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
Often lost in the retail emphasis of today’s politics is any real discussion of the big issues that will shape the long-term future of the country. The development of Canada’s capacity in space is one such issue. Recognizing that space-based technologies were the only way to unify and provide many critical services across a vast and remotely populated country, Canada was an early leader in space.

Canada’s world leading space expertise – especially in satellite communications, Earth observation, space robotics and optics – has for decades been driving R&D and innovation throughout the economy. Today, the space industry has a global footprint and employs some 8,000 people who reach into the global community through exports constituting half its sales.

The government has since published a forward-looking Space Policy Framework. Much of the effort has focused on internal governance issues to improve decision-making. The next, most critical stage will be a concrete plan for long-term investments in space infrastructure. A reinvigorated space program will unleash a broad channel of generational opportunity, with profound benefits for remote communities and the far North. Click here. (9/15)

NASA Begins 12-Month Experiment Simulating Life on Mars (Source: Newsweek)
Zak Wilson thinks that in the near future, there will be humans on Mars. He also thinks there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be one of them.

He’s not a candidate for the Mars One mission, the plan that Dutch entrepreneurs have put forth to train and send regular citizen applicants on a one-way trip to Mars in 2026, nor is he a dreamer. He’s a materials engineer who recently concluded an eight-month experiment to test what happens to humans during the type of long-duration space travel required to make it to the red planet.

The experiment was part of NASA’s Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, a series of studies to test how long-term isolation and confinement may affect crew psychology and team performance. HI-SEAS began in 2013, and three missions have been concluded; the fourth began on August 28 and will last for 365 days. (Twelve months is still far shorter than the length of a real expedition to Mars. Most actual mission profiles are 2.5 to 3 years long.) (9/16)

Scott Polling Close to Nelson, Potential Senate Run? (Source: Sunshine State News)
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, can expect a fight if Gov. Rick Scott (R) opposes him for a fourth term in 2018, a new poll shows. Nelson has increasingly been signaling plans to run again in 2018 while Gov. Scott, who will be term-limited then, has opened the door to a Senate bid. Nelson remains unknown to almost a quarter of those surveyed while 42 percent approve of him and 34 percent disapprove of him. Scott is upside down in the poll with 45 percent disapproving of him while 43 percent approve of him. (9/16)

SpaceX Has $7 Billion Under Contract for 60 Missions (Source: Tech Crunch)
Seven billion dollars are under contract for the 60 missions on SpaceX's manifest. To put this into perspective, Uber has raised $8.2 billion to date. Financially, the milestone is notable. SpaceX raised a fresh $1 billion in January of this year, after denying that it had reached a valuation of of $10 billion last summer.

Space exploration is a capital intensive business. To date, SpaceX has raised $1.2 billion. Given the massive discrepancy between the startup’s past raise total, and its recent raise quantity, it seems quite reasonable to presume that the firm isn’t cash poor looking ahead in the short, or moderate term.

Still, $7 billion in new revenue will incur capital and operating costs that could send the company back to private investors. Just for fun, given that SpaceX has 60 missions under contract worth around $7 billion, the firm is charging more than $100 million per show. (9/14)

Editorial: Open Season on SpaceX (Source: Space News)
SpaceX’s congressional detractors have taken the offensive in the wake of the June 28 failure of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Several House members wrote NASA and the U.S. Air Force in July to question whether the two organizations — both important SpaceX customers — would apply sufficient rigor in assessing the failure and the company’s corrective action plans.

In August, House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called out NASA for allegedly being tougher on Orbital ATK following the failure of that company’s Antares rocket, also on a space station resupply mission, than on SpaceX. Finally, two U.S. senators in September asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program in light of both accidents. (9/15)

Boeing Loses Second Potential Satellite Deal Over Ex-Im Lapse (Source: Reuters)
Boeing said Singapore-based satellite operator Kacific had decided it would not consider a bid on a satellite contract from Boeing without financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, whose charter expired in June. This marks the second signed or potential satellite deal Boeing has forfeited due to the congressional wrangling over Ex-Im's future, following a decision by privately held ABS, based in Bermuda and Hong Kong, to cancel an order in July. (9/15)

Bezos Plans Orbital Reusable Rocket (Source: Space News)
Bezos said the vehicle’s first stage is designed to land vertically, either on a ship in the ocean — an approach the company patented, only to have that patent disputed by SpaceX — or back on land. “It’s an architecture we have a lot of experience with from our New Shepard program,” he said. “It’s a great architecture because it scales to unusually large size.”

Bezos said the vehicle is designed for launching satellites as well as people. He declined to specify its payload capacity, planning to release more details about the vehicle next year. Most of the vehicle will be manufactured at a facility the company plans to build in Exploration Park, a business park adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). “We’re talking about bringing raw aluminum and raw carbon fiber here, and it’ll be milled and formed and welded here,” he said. “It’s not just final assembly.”

One exception may be the engines. “Where the engines are produced is not yet determined,” he said. On Sept. 10, however, United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin announced an agreement to expand production facilities for the BE-4 engine at Blue Origin’s development facility in Kent, Washington. ULA is considering using the BE-4 on the first stage of its new Vulcan launch vehicle. (9/15)

Washington Could Be Location for Blue Origin (& Vulcan) Engine Manufacture (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal)
While Blue Origin said Tuesday it will launch its big new orbital rockets from Florida, the company hasn’t yet decided whether it will build its big new BE-4 engines at Blue Origin's headquarters in Kent. But there are reasons to assume they would be built in Kent, which would be a significant boon for Washington state because production of the engines would include a big commitment of workers and dollars for years.

The initial BE-4 engine are being built in Kent but it’s the site for long-term engine production that isn’t certain. The liquefied natural gas-powered engines – which are the key technology behind Blue Origin's rockets – require close monitoring by engineers during assembly. That will likely mean those engineers will need to be present during production, which raises the likelihood the engines will be built in Kent near the company's headquarters. Bezos is likely also interested in overseeing the engines' production, so proximity to his day job at Amazon is likely to be a consideration. (9/15)

Blue Origin Considered 12 States Before Picking Florida (Source:
Blue Origin evaluated a number of sites for a large production facility, before finally settling on the Space Coast location. Assisted at the political level, with aerospace economic development agency, Space Florida, the focal point for finalizing the deal, Blue Origin selected the Space Coast out of options in 12 States. (9/15)

LC-36 Finally Ready for Re-Use (Maybe Multi-Use) (Source: SPACErePORT)
Launch Complex 36 has a long history, including decades of Atlas launches since 1965 for NASA, the Air Force and commercial customers. It was deactivated by the Air Force in 2006 before being leased to Space Florida in 2008. The Florida Legislature appropriated $14.5 million in 2008 to upgrade the facility (which includes two launch pads) for new users, but Space Florida had to defer the investments for multiple years while trying to recruit commercial launchers.

The agency signed a deal with Masten Space Systems in 2011 for multiple demonstration launches of their Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) reusable suborbital vehicle. These NASA-sponsored launches never happened. Space Florida then recruited Moon Express in February 2015 to use the facility as a test site for its MTC-1X lunar lander vehicle. It is unclear whether Moon Express and Blue Origin will both use the facility. (9/15)

GE to Move U.S. Jobs Overseas in Fight Over Export Credits (Source: Reuters)
Flexing its muscles amid a bitter congressional fight over the U.S. Export-Import Bank, General Electric Co (GE.N) on Tuesday revealed plans to shift up to 500 U.S. manufacturing jobs to Europe and China because it can no longer access EXIM financing.

The largest U.S. industrial conglomerate said it will move production of some heavy duty gas turbines and 400 jobs to Belfort, France, in exchange for a credit line from France's COFACE (COFA.PA) export agency. The deal will support GE bids for international power projects. (9/15)

Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus (Source: Science Daily)
A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA's Cassini mission. Researchers found the magnitude of the moon's very slight wobble, as it orbits Saturn, can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior, meaning a global ocean must be present. (9/15)

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