September 26, 2015

NASA Considers SLS Launch Sequence for Human Mars Missions (Source:
As NASA continues to develop their plans for delivering humans to the Martian system in the 2030s, a Technical Interchange Meeting has outlined two potential hardware launch sequence options for NASA’s upcoming heavy lift rocket, SLS, that would enable the space agency to utilize SLS’s capabilities while realizing human exploration of Mars. Click here. (9/24)

China's Long March 11 Debuts with Four Small Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
China said it successfully launched the first Long March 11 rocket Thursday. The small rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 9:41 p.m. Eastern time and placed four small satellites into orbit. The solid-fueled rocket, which may be based on a mobile-launched ballistic missile, is intended for the rapid launch of microsatellites. (9/25)

SETI Scientist Disagrees with Snowden on Alien Contact (Source: Live Science)
A SETI scientist takes issue with Edward Snowden's explanation on why we haven't detected alien signals. Snowden said in a recent interview that the use of quantum encryption could make any signals sound like background noise, rendering them undetectable. But longtime SETI researcher Seth Shostak disagrees, saying that even if a signal was encrypted, the strong, focused signal itself should be detectable. (9/25)

SpaceX Tests Upgraded Falcon-9, Expects Return to Flight Within 8 Weeks (Source: Twitter)
SpaceX tested the upgraded version of its Falcon 9 rocket this week. The company released Thursday video of a 15-second static fire test of the vehicle that took place earlier this week at the company's McGregor, Texas, test site. The upgraded version uses densified propellants and had other upgrades to produce additional thrust. SpaceX's Elon Musk, meanwhile, said he anticipated a return to flight of the Falcon 9, likely of that upgraded version, in the next six to eight weeks. (9/25)

Congressional Leaders Working Toward Stopgap Funding Deal (Source: Politico)
House and Senate leaders are working to get a "clean" continuing resolution (CR) passed to fund the government. The Senate Thursday rejected a proposed CR that included a provision stripping funds from Planned Parenthood, and will move forward on a clean CR without that language on Monday. House Speaker John Boehner is said to be working on a similar strategy to get a clean CR passed that would fund the government through early December. A spending bill must be passed by Wednesday to avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. (9/25)

NASA Could Furlough Workforce (Source: Space News)
More than 95 percent of NASA’s workforce would be furloughed should the government shut down on Oct. 1, according to an updated agency plan, even as the chance of such a scenario decreases. In a Sept. 25 memo to the White House Office of Management and Budget, NASA Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski described NASA’s plans to halt most agency operations should Congress not pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. (9/25)

4 Anti-Aging Tips from Astronauts (Source: Marie Claire)
If you think a seasonal change or higher altitudes are rough for your skin, just imagine what freakin' space travel can do to your complexion. According to recent studies, living amidst microgravity can cause premature aging, as in increased thinning of the skin, changes in elasticity, and hindering cell regeneration. Click here. (9/25)

Ministry Banks on ISRO to Curb Illegal Mining (Source: The Hindu)
The Union Ministry of Mines is readying plans to use remote sensing satellite data to curb illegal mining across its States. Satellite imageries taken regularly would help to keep an eye on legal boundaries of mined areas. The Ministry plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with ISRO on using satellite data for mining. The Indian Bureau of Mines would be the nodal agency to implement the measures, which would form part of the reforms taking place in the mining sector. (9/25)

NASA Releases Perplexing New Photo of Pluto's Surface (Source: Tech Insider)
NASA just released the sharpest images of Pluto, yet. What's more, unlike the usual black-and-white photos of Pluto we're used to seeing, this latest set reveals Pluto in stunning color. This photo has been informally named "snakeskin" for its distinct, textured appearance. "It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology," said William McKinnon. (9/24)

Oddly Gigantic Supermassive Black Hole Puzzles Scientists (Source:
The supermassive black hole at the heart of a recently discovered galaxy is much larger than it should be, and astronomers don't know why. The galaxy, known as SAGE0536AGN, lies about 2 billion light-years from Earth and contains roughly 25 billion times the mass of the sun. Galaxies of this size typically harbor central black holes with the equivalent of 12 million solar masses or so, but SAGE0536AGN's is about 30 times that heavy, weighing in at 350 million solar masses, a new study reports. (9/25)

FAA Should Further Regulate the Commercial Spaceflight Industry, says GAO (Source: Fierce Government)
The Federal Aviation Administration should issue regulations that ensure the safety of crews on commercial space flights, but needs more time to consult with industry, according to a recently released Government Accountability Office report.

The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, required FAA to license or permit commercial space launches. But in an attempt to allow the FAA and space tourism industry to develop, the act prohibited FAA from regulating crew and spaceflight participant safety before 2012. That moratorium was later extended but is set to expire on Sept. 30. Once the moratorium sunsets, however, FAA has no plans to pursue such safety regulation, says the report.

The GAO asked FAA officials, representatives from nine commercial space launch companies and three experts to identify the challenges that FAA faces due to the development of commercial space travel since the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act was made law in 2004. Determining whether and when to regulate the safety of crew and spaceflight participants was the top challenge cited. (9/24)

Commercial Space Supporter Leading Candidate to Become Next House Speaker (Source: Space News)
The surprise announcement by House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) that he would resign from Congress may clear the way for a staunch supporter of the commercial space industry to ascend to the top post in the chamber. The leading candidate to succeed Boehner is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is second only to Boehner in the House Republican leadership.

His district includes the Mojave Air and Space Port, a commercial spaceport that is home to several space companies, including Masten Space Systems, Stratolaunch Systems and Virgin Galactic. He also has sponsored recent commercial spaceflight legislation. (9/25)

They're Out There! Most People Believe in E.T. (Source:
Are humans alone in the universe? A majority of people, particularly guys, in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany say they believe that intelligent life is out there. Fifty-six percent of Germans, 54 percent of Americans and 52 percent of people from the United Kingdom believe that alien life capable of communication lives somewhere among the stars, according to a new survey by the marketing research firm YouGov. (9/25)

If You Give Yourself a Flu Shot in Space, What Happens? (Source: Inverse)
Even in space, there’s nowhere to hide when it comes to the flu. We tilt on the gaping maw of flu season, a nightmare not fully experienced until you’re forced to rely on public transit, crammed ass to elbow with the sniffling masses. What place could be further from that subterranean death carriage than the space station? Sterile, barely populated, thousands of miles from the hacking crowds. But NASA’s running a vaccine study that shows how they change in the body while in space.

The study centers around twin brothers Scott Kelly, who you might recognize from his glorious Twitter feed of life on the International Space Station, and twin brother Mark, a retired astronaut. The wellness of each was studied before Scott launched last March and both men were given clean bills of health — but scientists estimate it’s now Scott’s immune system that should be having problems, even though he’s isolated. Click here. (9/25)

If an Asteroid Heads for Earth (Source: World If)
When asteroids are discovered in orbits that come close to the Earth’s, as this one did, the MPC makes various calculations to see if they pose a threat. Because observations of small, distant rocks cannot be made with perfect accuracy, those calculations define a “corridor” where the asteroid might be. The calculations for 2015 PDC showed that on September 3rd 2022 the Earth would cross the corridor where the asteroid might be. The two might collide. Click here. (9/25)

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