September 25, 2015

DOD Wants to Get Ahead of the Curve on Space Threats, Kendall Says (Source: Air Force Link)
Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, says the Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative will help the Defense Department "be more responsive to threats." He said DOD wants "to get ahead of the threats, particularly threats in areas as yours where there's a very active and robust threat (to military satellites) that's coming and getting worse over time," Kendall said. "And as we learn about it, we don't want to wait. We want to be ahead of that power curve as much as we possibly can be." (9/24)

GAO: FAA Will Need Years to Learn How to Regulate Space (Source: KRGV)
According to the Government Accountability Office, the FAA will face multiple hurdles in its mandate to govern private space companies. "Developing regulations for space, like developing regulations for almost anything, is going to be long and difficult and take several years to accomplish," said the GAO's Gerald Dillingham, citing the "exciting time" in the history of private space exploration. (9/24)

Next NASA Contract Could Bring New Competitor to Space Coast (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Now that Blue Origin has committed to build and launch rockets in Cape Canaveral, the next hopeful company is Sierra Nevada, which wants to launch its Dream Chaser spaceplane from the Space Coast. Sierra Nevada, NASA and Space Florida signed contracts three years ago to launch the Dream Chaser from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on top of an Atlas V rocket and then land it at the old space-shuttle landing strip at Kennedy Space Center.

But those plans were contingent on the company's winning a NASA cargo or astronaut contract. So far it has won neither, so it has no missions to launch or land. But NASA is expected to announce in a few weeks a second round of contract winners to ferry cargo to and from the International Space Station, and Sierra Nevada is in the running again.

What's more, the company said earlier this month that it is attracting customers for a commercial space program that would not rely on NASA. Though those launches and landings could be done elsewhere — and Sierra Nevada is soliciting proposals from other sites — they also could wind up at Cape Canaveral. Click here. (9/24)

Aerojet Weighs Higher Offer for ULA Purchase (Source: Reuters)
Aerojet Rocketdyne is considering raising its $2 billion offer for ULA, but faces big hurdles after a public rejection of the bid last week, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Aerojet is meeting with outside advisers this week to explore its options, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussions.

One of the sources said the company could announce its next moves in coming weeks. The company's spokesman, Glenn Mahone, said the two companies remained in discussions about "a number of business arrangements," but gave no details. (9/25)

Aerojet to Pay Orbital $50 Million Over Antares Rocket Accident (Source: Reuters)
Aerojet Rocketdyne will pay Orbital ATK $50 million to settle a dispute stemming from an Antares rocket launch accident last year that destroyed a load of cargo bound for the International Space Station. The company also said it would take title to 10 AJ-26 rocket engines previously earmarked for Orbital.

Orbital successfully flew two of eight planned missions under its original $1.9 billion contract with NASA before the Oct. 28, 2014, accident from Wallops Island, Virginia. A final report on the botched mission is pending, though the companies have publicly disagreed about whether an engine manufacturing problem by Aerojet and/or mishandling of the engine during processing by Orbital triggered the explosion. Aerojet declined to release any details about the settlement. (9/25)

Rising Oceans Could Drown a Lot of NASA Launch Sites (Source: Grist)
A recent report from NASA warned that a significant portion of the space agency’s infrastructure is now under threat due to climate change-induced sea-level rise. The average global sea-level has risen eight inches since 1870, NASA reports, but the rate of rise is getting faster and actually doubled over the last 20 years. NASA’s Climate Adaptation Science Investigators (CASI) Working Group recently reported that the agency’s five coastal facilities can expect between 5 and 27 inches of sea-level rise by 2050. (9/23)

Space Coast's Biggest Halloween Party to Celebrate Space Oct. 17 (Source: NSCFL)
An out of this world Halloween-themed costume party will take place beneath the Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Oct. 17 as an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments in space during the past year. Celebrate Space is an annual event hosted by the National Space Club Florida Committee, and this year is co-presented by the KSC Visitor Complex. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and continue until 11 p.m.

Tickets are $35 each and include free parking. They may be purchased online through Oct. 9 at All adults are welcome and you do not need an invitation or to be a member of the NSCFL to attend. Corporate sponsorships also are available. For more information about tickets or sponsorships, contact LaDonna Neterer at or register online at (9/25)

Lawmakers Knock NOAA’s Draft Commercial Space Policy (Source: Space News)
Two U.S. lawmakers in key space oversight positions blasted the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for fighting a rear guard battle against companies seeking to commercialize satellite-based weather data products.

In a Sept. 23 letter to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) complained that the agency has yet to draft data standards that it says these companies must meet before they can sell to the government. Smith and Bridenstine chair the House Science Committee and House Science environment subcommittee, respectively. (9/24)

Private Firms Spy a Market in Spotting Space Junk (Source: Nature)
The US military has long taken the role of traffic cop in space: monitoring satellites, tracking debris and, in recent years, warning satellite operators and foreign governments of potential collisions and hazards. But now it has company. A wave of private firms is seeking to build a commercial market for space situational awareness (SSA) — high-precision tracking of artificial objects orbiting Earth.

Defence contractor Analytical Graphics (AGI) opened its Commercial Space Operations Center (ComSpOC) in March last year to track active satellites and ‘space junk’. Just a few months later, aerospace giant Lockheed Martin announced its own effort to develop a space-debris tracking site in Western Australia. The emerging commercial demand for such services was a hot topic last week at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference in Hawaii.

“Everybody’s getting into the SSA game,” says Paul Welsh, vice-president of business development at AGI. He attributes the growing interest to the expansion of military space activity, the rapid growth of the commercial satellite industry and the increasingly pressing problem of space debris. “All three of those things are a confluence of opportunity,” Welsh says. (9/23)

Is Space Mining Legal? (Source: Popular Science)
If mankind is ever to become an interplanetary species, our outward expansion across the solar system probably can’t be fueled by NASA funding alone. Why did the first humans venture out of Africa? What made the Europeans sail into the unknown? What drove Americans to expand across the continent? Curiosity and an adventurous spirit, yes, but more importantly: resources--be they riches, food, or fertile farmland.

Similarly, resources may be the only thing that can lure us from the comforts of Earth. Mining for lunar water could make it up to 90 percent cheaper to colonize the moon. And extracting platinum and other minerals from asteroids could propel mankind to travel beyond low Earth orbit.

Editor's Note: From NASA Watch: "This is like the legislation declaring the Apollo landing sites and their artifacts as a "National Historic Park". How can the U.S. Congress make laws, impose regulations, and confer rights regarding activities - by anyone - on bodies in the solar system over which it has no jurisdiction?" (9/24)

European Glider to Attempt Altitude Record with Eye on Mars  (Source: Bloomberg)
A pressurized Airbus glider will begin efforts to set a new altitude record of 90,000 feet and in so doing test the feasibility of future airborne exploration of Mars for people living there. The Perlan project is designed to inspire young people to push the envelope of exploration as well as provide a look at how aviation in the thin, cold atmosphere of the red planet might work. (9/23)

Space Takes its Place in Canada’s 3-Way Race (Source: Space News)
Space is playing a small but key role in Canada’s federal election campaign as parties position themselves with promises to help the domestic space industry if elected. Both the Liberal and New Democratic parties are vowing to commit to and move ahead with a long-term plan for space. The Conservative Party had promised to release a long-term space strategy in 2014 but never did so. However, it is has committed to funding a number of projects including the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The Liberals, New Democrats and Conservative parties are in a tight three-way race to form the next Canadian government after the Oct. 19 election. “We are seeing for the first time since the 1970s or early 1980s where space policy or the space industry is being mentioned in an election,” said Canadian space analyst Chuck Black. “Space won’t be a game-changer but at least the political parties are paying attention.” (9/23)

Space Florida's DiBello Re-Elected as CSF Board Chair (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello will continue to play an influential role lobbying for policies that support the emerging commercial spaceflight industry. At meetings this week in Washington, D.C., DiBello was re-elected chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Commercial Spaceflight Federation, or CSF, which has a membership of more than 60 businesses and organizations.

The federation’s mission is “to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry.” The Web site NASA Watch questioned whether DiBello’s leadership is a conflict because he would favor activity that benefits Florida over other parts of the country. The federation responded that the board had unanimously elected DiBello to replace Stuart Witt, head of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, after his term ended. (9/23)

Arianespace Set to Launch Satellites for Australia and Argentina (Source: SpaceRef)
On its ninth launch of 2015 from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, and the fifth Ariane 5 mission, Arianespace will loft the Australian Sky Muster satellite, and with Argentine ARSAT-2. The launch will be carried out from Ariane launch complex No. 3 (ELA 3) in Kourou, French Guiana. The Ariane 5 ECA launcher is scheduled to lift off on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (9/24)

US and South Korea Discuss North Korean Launch Plans (Source: Defense News)
Senior South Korean and US defense officials met in Seoul on Wednesday for talks focused on responding to the possibility of an imminent North Korean rocket launch and later nuclear test. The two-day talks follow statements earlier this month by the respective heads of the North's space and atomic energy agencies that fueled concerns over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

There has been widespread speculation that Pyongyang may carry out a satellite rocket launch to mark the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers Party on October 10. The North insists its space program is purely scientific, but the US, South Korea and their allies deem any such rocket launch to be a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions. (9/23)

Rokot With Military Satellites Launched From Plesetsk Spaceport (Source: Sputnik)
A Rokot rocket with military satellites has successfully launched from the Plesetsk spaceport in northwestern Russia. The launch took place on September 24. The Rokot vehicle, developed by the state-run Khrunichev Center, is a modification of the RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) two-stage ballistic missile that is being decommissioned from Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces. The Rokot has been successfully launched from Plesetsk 23 times since its first launch in 2000. (9/23)

Winners of Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome Logo Contest Unveiled (Source: Moscow Times)
Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos has announced the winners of a contest to design the logo and official slogan of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a giant spaceport still under construction in Russia's Far East, according to a statement published on the agency's website.

Roscosmos launched the contest on March 23, promising the winners in both categories a trip to the existing Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to see a manned launch of a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station (ISS), and unspecified gifts for the second and third place winners.

However, “given the manifest creative abilities and professional approach to the creation of logos and slogans, the jury decided to award the main prize … to all finalists [three in each category],” the statement said. Click here. (9/22)

Space Tourism and the Overview Effect Will Transform the One Percent (Source: Inverse)
When you orbit the Earth at 17,000 miles an hour, time accelerates and phenomena shrink. The sun rises every 90 minutes. The Pacific Ocean’s clouds branch and narrow in stratospheric fractals. Over the Sahara, you can spot where the wind, squeezed through mountain gaps, carves thousand-mile-long sine curves in the sand.

Richard Garriott experienced a cosmonautic phenomenon called “The Overview Effect” during his commercial orbital spaceflight, a profound sense of kinship and magnanimity astronauts have been talking about since Apollo 8’s Earthrise. Garriott changed. When he got back to Earth, he sold his SUVs, bought solar panels, and ended up getting himself inducted into Austin’s Environmental Hall of Fame. Click here. (9/22)

Japan’s New Space Policy—Does Australia Need One Too? (Source: The Strategist)
Increasing strategic weight in Asia is making its effects felt in new ways. Australians are already familiar with Japan’s more open stance on military exports, with a possible submarine collaboration garnering plenty of local press. Less well known, but just as important, is Japan’s vigorous new space policy. At Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s urging, the country has begun to develop a comprehensive space policy.

This is aimed at producing a bigger space industry—and it was sizeable to begin with—and a more comprehensive dual use of space for commercial purposes and as way of furthering Japan’s national security interests. Japanese space policy up to now has been constrained and civilian, and it was effectively a client of US space based surveillance and intelligence collection under alliance arrangements. Click here. (9/23)

These Three Asteroids Really Could Hit Earth and 'Wipe Out Life' (Source: Express)
Two of the hulking asteroids could even strike our planet in your grandchildren's lifetime, NASA and the European Space Agency have admitted. The cosmic boulders are on a NASA list of potentially-hazardous asteroids (PHAs) that actually pose a real risk of hitting us. Click here. (9/23)

Geomagnetic Storm Disrupts Russian Weather Sat (Source: Tass)
A geomagnetic storm at least temporarily disrupted operations of a Russian weather satellite. The Meteor-M No. 2 satellite, in a sun-synchronous orbit, reportedly suffered a malfunction in its attitude control system because of a failure of a microprocessor during a magnetic storm. The Russian space agency Roscosmos said the satellite is now operating normally. (9/23)

Hawaii University Legal Fees Mounting with Telescope Dispute (Source: Hawaii News Now)
Legal disputes and protests over the Thirty Meter Telescope are having a financial impact on the Univ. of Hawaii. The university has spent $2.2 million in legal fees defending plans to build that telescope as well as the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Maui. The university is considering cutting funding from some other overhead costs to pay those legal fees. (9/23)

Luxury Ships Get Broadband in OmniAccess (Source: Space News)
Luxury yachts and cruise ships will get satellite broadband access under a new deal. Maritime satellite communications provider OmniAccess said Wednesday it is buying satellite capacity from Panasonic Avionics to serve its 250 ships, with potential future opportunities in aeronautical broadband as well. Panasonic is providing that capacity from planned Intelsat and Eutelsat high-throughput spacecraft. (9/23)

Houston Spaceport Will Include Business Incubator (Source: Bouston Business Journal)
Houston's nascent spaceport will host a business incubator. The Houston Airport System is in the early stages of planning an incubator for early-stage companies at Ellington Airport, as well as a co-working space where small and large companies could collaborate. The airport received an FAA commercial spaceport license earlier this year, but does not yet have any firm customers for launches or landings. (9/23)

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