November 11, 2015

Air Force Funds 3-D Printing Study for Rocket Engines (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force awarded the Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering a $545,000 contract to study additive manufacturing techniques to make cooling chambers for liquid rocket engines. The contract is part of a broader effort to end reliance on a Russian rocket engine that powers United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket, which is used to launch a majority of U.S. national security satellites. (11/11)

Chinese Hypersonic Engine Wins Award, Reshapes Speed Race (Source: Popular Science)
Thanks to Professor Wang Zhengou of the National Defense Science and Technology University, China has a critical piece of technology not just to get into space, but also into the global hypersonic arms race. Scramjet engines mix together air and liquid fuel at supersonic speeds, to result in the rapid combustion that propels aircraft and missiles at hypersonic speeds over Mach 5.

In September 2015, Professor Wang received an award from the Chinese Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics (CSAA) for the successful development of China's first scramjet engine over the past decade. In fact, Professor Wang took the top billing at the 2nd China Aeronautical Science and Technology Conference (CASTC2015) Feng Ru Aviaion Science & Technology Elite Awards

While China's seemingly sudden success in hypersonic flight may be surprising to outside observers, hypersonic technology is a key part of the national security 863 research initiative. In spite of longstanding Chinese difficulties in building turbofan engines, scramjet engines are a vastly different and emerging field that China has a opportunity to build a lead in. (11/11)

Quietly, the New Space Race Between SpaceX and Boeing Burns Hot (Source: Ars Technica)
The modern space race has an all-American flavor with an established company, Boeing, against an upstart, SpaceX. Both firms are developing spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, and they hope to do so before the end of 2017.

What once seemed a distant goal is now coming up fast, and it’s not clear either company will be ready as their development processes remain largely obscured. Whereas the Cold War space race played out on an international stage with flashy launches that grabbed worldwide attention, the modern, capitalism-fueled version is playing out largely behind the scenes. Click here. (11/10)

California Delegation Pings Pentagon on ULA Plan for Delta-4 and Aerojet Boosters (Source: Space News)
Members of California's Congressional delegation want the Pentagon to review recent actions by United Launch Alliance. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, 14 members raised concerns about ULA's plans to phase out most versions of the Delta 4 rocket, and to also replace Aerojet Rocketdyne as the supplier of solid rocket boosters for the Atlas 5 and Vulcan rockets. Retiring all but the heavy version of the Delta 4, they argued, "creates a potential and avoidable gap in space launch capability." ULA and Aerojet declined to comment on the letter. (11/11)

Intelsat Secures Five Proton Rides (Source: Tass)
Intelsat has agreed to launch five satellites on Proton rockets over the next several years. The agreement, announced by Proton manufacturer Khrunichev Wednesday, covers launches of five unnamed satellites through 2023. The long-term agreement, Khrunichev officials said, is designed to give Intelsat flexibility in its launch schedule. (11/11)

ViaSat Plans Multi-Satellite Geo System (Source: Space News)
ViaSat is planning a constellation of three "super-high-throughput" satellites. The ViaSat-3 system would include three geostationary orbit satellites operating in the Ka-band, providing much higher bandwidth than the company's existing satellites. The company may award the contract for the first ViaSat-3 satellite before the launch late next year of its ViaSat-2 satellite, although there may be a four-year lag between contract award and launch. (11/11)

JWST Ready for Science Proposals (Source: Space News)
The top scientist for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is telling planetary scientists to start planning their proposals to use the observatory. JWST program scientist John Mather said at the Division for Planetary Sciences conference Monday that the first round of proposals for observing time on the space telescope are due in two years. JWST is scheduled for launch in late 2018. (11/11)

Japan Expanding Reconnassance Fleet (Source: Nikkei Asian Review)
Japan is planning to expand its fleet of reconnaissance satellites. An update released by the Japanese government Wednesday to its plans for implementing its space policy call for increasing the number of reconnaissance satellites from four to ten over several years. The policy updates also include research on infrared detectors that could be used for future missile warning satellites. (11/11)

NASA Fined for Environmental Violations at Virginia Spaceport (Source: Baltimore Sun)
NASA received a $50,000 fine from the EPA for environmental violations at Wallops. The fine is for several "seemingly minor violations" of environmental regulations, including a lack of labeling on containers containing hazardous materials and missing paperwork regarding the sulfur content of fuel oil at the site. The EPA found the violations during a July 2013 inspection of the center, and NASA said most of the problems were fixed the same day. (11/10)

Discovery Expands Our Solar System (Source: Science)
Scientists have discovered the most distant object in our solar system. The object, provisionally known as V774104, is 103 times farther from the the sun than the Earth, and three times the distance of Pluto. The object, estimated to be between 500 and 1000 kilometers across, could be evidence of an even more distant planet. (11/11)

Airbus Delivery of Orion Spacecraft Brings Crewed Flight Closer (Source: SpaceRef)
Airbus delivered the first structural test model (STA) of the Orion service module to NASA’s Plum Brook Station. The hardware is the first of a series of service modules developed and built by Airbus on behalf of the European Space Agency to provide the propulsion, energy supply and central elements of the life support system to NASA’s future crewed spacecraft Orion. (11/9)

Planet Hollywood To Transform Restaurant Into Star-Themed Observatory at Disney (Source: Planet Hollywood)
Planet Hollywood, America's preeminent restaurant destination dedicated to celebrating the entertainment industry, will look toward a new set of stars by transforming its Orlando flagship location into a four-story stargazing observatory set to debut in spring 2016. Regularly at the forefront of industry trends, the reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory is centrally located and will overlook the heart of Downtown Disney with a newly-expanded outdoor terrace and bar.

Within the sophisticated entertainment emporium, patrons of all ages are invited to "Dine Amongst the Stars" through a refreshed yet timeless menu, distinctive outdoor bar and lounge options, an imaginative new merchandise line, and a host of all-star celebrity partnerships. (2/27)

Harris Space Division Books $184M in Classified Orders (Source: Space News)
Harris Corp.'s space division won $184 million in classified orders in its latest fiscal quarter. Much of that money will go to the company's work in space situational awareness, although company officials declined to provide additional details given the classified nature of the work. Harris hopes to take advantage of White House plans to spend up to $8 billion on various space protection activities over the next five years. (11/10)

Radar Satellite Constellation Gets Go-Ahead (Source: Space News)
A company planning a constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites has received a license from NOAA. XpressSAR said NOAA awarded the company a commercial remote sensing license for its planned system of four satellites that will collect radar images at resolutions of 30 meters to less than 1 meter. The company has not announced who will build and launch the satellites, which XpressSAR says will be deployed in 2022. (11/10)

ViaSat Willing To Bet Big on Super-high-throughput Satellites (Source: Space News)
Satellite broadband hardware and service provider ViaSat Inc. on Nov. 9 said it is likely to order the first of what is intended as a three-satellite constellation of ViaSat-3 Ka-band broadband satellites covering the globe with throughput capacity of 1 terabit per second each. (11/10)

Ariane 5 Successfully Launches Arabsat-6B and GSAT-15 (Source:
Arianespace has conducted its sixth Ariane 5 mission of the year with the launch of two more telecommunication satellites. Arabsat-6B and GSAT-15 rode uphill on the European workhorse, with the launch taking place on schedule at 21:34 UTC from the European Spaceport in Kourou on Tuesday. (11/10)

Impact From a Space Rock Might Have Formed Pluto’s Heart (Source: Science News)
Pluto’s got a roughly 4-billion-year-old case of heartbreak. The dwarf planet’s infamous heart-shaped feature, informally dubbed Tombaugh Regio, might owe its existence to a run-in with a big space rock, planetary scientist Paul Schenk reported November 10 at the 47th meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences.

Tombaugh Regio is an 825-kilometer-wide, 4-kilometer deep basin, said Schenk, of the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute in Houston. And except for some erosion to the south, the heart’s left ventricle is roughly circular, which is typical for other impact craters in the solar system. If an interplanetary interloper is at fault, it would have smashed into Pluto at least 4 billion years ago. “It’s difficult to explain by other mechanisms,” he said. (11/10)

Asteroid Miners Hail Commercial Space Legislation That Sets Up Property Rights (Source: Geek Wire)
After months of consideration, Congress is finishing up work on legislation that establishes legal rights for U.S. citizens to own resources in outer space – a key requirement for asteroid mining ventures like Planetary Resources. The legislation also extends the regulatory “learning period” for commercial spaceflight ventures through 2023, confirms that the International Space Station should stay in operation through 2024, and extends indemnification of commercial launches through 2025. (11/10)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Opens Propulsion Innovation Center (Source: Space Daily)
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (AJRD), has hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by more than 300 people, including local dignitaries, suppliers, customers, company leaders and employees.

The event celebrated the company's completion of a $140 million infrastructure improvement project that has increased operating efficiency, reduced costs and positioned the company to bring new programs to the Los Angeles facility. (11/9)

China’s Scramjet Claim Puzzles U.S. Hypersonic Researchers (Source: Aviation Week)
China’s success in flying a scramjet-powered hypersonic aircraft, trailing the U.S. by no more than a few years, reveals that its engineers have overcome severe cooling problems first mentioned five years ago. The successful test, announced in October, followed the January 2014 flight of a Chinese hypersonic glider. (11/9)

Senate Passes Compromise Commercial Space Bill (Source: Space Policy Online)
The Senate just passed the compromise version of commercial space legislation that merges Senate- and House-passed bills affecting a broad range of commercial space activities from space launch to mining asteroids. The bill passed by unanimous consent without debate. The text of the final version of the bill, which keeps the House bill number (H.R. 2262) and was modified in just the past few days. Here's the Senate's summary. (11/10)

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