November 1, 2015

Three Reasons Why Seattle’s Big on Space Ventures (Source: GeekWire)
What is it about Seattle that’s led some folks to call it the “Silicon Valley of space,” and how far can space entrepreneurs go in the next 20 years? Jason Andrews, the CEO of Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc., listed three reasons why Seattle is up there with Southern California, Silicon Valley, Texas and Florida’s Space Coast when it comes to commercial spaceflight.

First, there’s access to software developers: Space operations have become much more computerized, and that means space-minded entrepreneurs can draw upon the talent fostered by Microsoft, Amazon and other tech titans. Second, there’s access to the experts on big data. The next generation of small satellites will be sending down huge volumes of data. Third, there’s access to capital. Seattle investors have set the pace. Click here. (10/31)

The Nation Prepares for Extreme Space Weather (Source: Space Daily)
A severe solar storm could disrupt the nation's power grid for months, potentially leading to widespread blackouts. Resulting damage and disruption for such an event could cost more than $1 trillion, with a full recovery time taking months to years, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

Today marks a significant advancement towards improving our nation's preparedness for extreme space weather events. A newly published National Space Weather Strategy identifies high-level priorities and goals for the nation, while an accompanying Action Plan outlines how federal agencies will implement the strategy. (10/30)

'The Martian' Author Talks Mars One, Other Topics (Source: Daily Beast)
Mars One doesn’t have enough money to colonize Nebraska, let alone Mars. Their plan for generating revenue is a reality TV show. But just think about the numbers. They estimate that the trip will cost $36 billion. It’s simply not possible to make that much from TV. The program with the highest television revenue ever is the Summer Olympics. It’s broadcast every four years for 16 days and makes about 4 billion in revenue worldwide. Click here. (11/1)

One African’s Personal Space Race Turns Vermin Into Astronauts (Source: Wal Street Journal)
The mission: Put a rat in space. For 10 years, Congo’s best-known rocket expert has been launching projectiles from yam farms here near the village of Menkao. His ground-control center, a corrugated-metal shed with a weather vane, contains a row of aging 11-inch televisions and desktop computers with floppy drives.

There are relics of past flights, like the Ovaltine can in which a local rat nearly became the first Congolese animal to touch the stratosphere. None of five craft engineered by the rocketeer, 45-year-old Jean-Patrice Keka, have reached space from the launch zone he built with his own money, two hours by dirt road from the capital of Kinshasa.

But Mr. Keka’s next creation, Troposphere VI, is more advanced. He designed the three-stage-engine rocket, nicknaming it Soso Pembe or “white rooster,” to power 120 miles up, 60 miles beyond what is considered the inner boundary of outer space. There will be passengers aboard the spaceship, six years in the making, when he launches it next year: “A few mosquitoes, a few flies,” he says, and another rat. Click here. (10/30)

Traces of Enormous Solar Storms in the Ice of Greenland and Antarctica (Source: Lund University)
Solar storms and the particles they release result in spectacular phenomena such as auroras, but they can also pose a serious risk to our society. In extreme cases they have caused major power outages, and they could also lead to breakdowns of satellites and communication systems.

According to a study published today in Nature Communications, solar storms could be much more powerful than previously assumed. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now confirmed that Earth was hit by two extreme solar storms more than 1000 years ago. “If such enormous solar storms would hit Earth today, they could have devastating effects on our power supply, satellites and communication systems”, says Raimund Muscheler at the Department of Geology, Lund University.

A team of researchers have been looking for traces of solar storms in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. Everywhere on Earth you can find traces of cosmic rays from the Galaxy and the sun, such as low levels of radioactive carbon. A few years ago researchers found traces of a rapid increase of radioactive carbon in tree rings from the periods AD 774/775 and AD 993/994. The cause for these increases was, however, debated. (10/26)

Countermeasures Sought to Address the #1 Risk to Humans in Space (Source: SMARTCAP)
Small U.S.-based companies developing countermeasures to protect healthy tissue from the effects of radiation exposures may be eligible for a unique funding opportunity offered through the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). NSBRI's Industry Forum is soliciting applications for its Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP).
Physical or magnetic shielding from space radiation, particularly protecting against high energy galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and sudden solar particle events (SPEs), is not currently feasible. Hence, the development and validation of biological countermeasures are required to protect astronauts against the adverse effects of ionizing radiation during long-duration space travel. Ionizing radiation affects a plurality of organ systems.

It is highly unlikely that one countermeasure will address all facets of radiation toxicity. Hence, applicants should focus on certain tissue-specific effects. Of particular interest are foods, pharmaceuticals, drinks or nutraceuticals that protect the gastrointestinal tract, the brain, the lung, the heart, and the immune and hematopoietic systems from insults due to radiation and other environmental influences. (10/26)

CASIS Awards Research Agreements to Five Companies (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) announced it has granted research agreements to five businesses in the technology development and remote-sensing industries. The agreements will allow these businesses to access the unique research environment of the ISS National Laboratory to further their individual investigations and offer new cutting-edge solutions and products capable of benefitting life on Earth.

The companies include ACME Advanced Materials (for Silicon Carbide Microgravity Enhanced Electrical Performance), Business Integra (for an SG100 Cloud Computing Payload), Deep Space Industries (for a Spherical Video Tour of the ISS), Ursa Space Systems, (for an ISS-hosted synthetic aperture radar sensor), and Vision Engineering Solutions (for a Space-Based Optical Tracker). Click here for details. (10/26)

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