November 12, 2015

Telesat Developing Telstar 19 Satellite (Source: Space News)
Telesat is moving ahead with a new satellite now that it has an anchor customer. The company said it will develop the Telstar 19 Vantage spacecraft after EchoStar's Hughes Network Systems agreed to purchase a large fraction of the spacecraft's bandwidth. The spacecraft, scheduled for launch as soon as early 2018, will operate from 63 degrees west in GEO and serve Latin America. (11/11)

Spectrum Assigned for Satellite Tracking of Aircraft (Source: AP)
The ITU has agreed to allocate spectrum for the satellite tracking of aircraft. Regulators meeting at the World Radiocommuncation Conference in Geneva agreed Thursday to set aside a band from 1087.7 to 1092.3 megahertz for Earth-to-space transmissions of aircraft tracking beacons. The disappearance last year of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 led to calls for improved tracking of aircraft using satellites. (11/11)

Thales Alenia Building Satellite for Bangladesh (Source: Space News)
Thales Alenia Space has won a contract to build a communications satellite for the government of Bangladesh. The Bangabandhu-1 spacecraft will carry a payload of C- and Ku-band transponders and is scheduled for launch in December 2017. Thales Alenia beat out U.S., Canadian and Chinese competitors for the $248 million deal, financed by the French export credit agency Coface. (11/11)

Potholes Trump Space in Donald's View (Source: Washington Post)
Presidential candidate Donald Trump is still not that interested in space. Asked by a 10-year-old at a New Hampshire campaign event Wednesday about NASA, Trump responded "I love NASA" and "Space is terrific." However, he added, "Right now, we have bigger problems — you understand that? We've got to fix our potholes." The comments are similar to those he made at a town hall event in August, when he said that he wanted to spend money on infrastructure, not going to Mars. (11/11)

Socialism and Space: Why Humanity Must Look to the Stars (Source: Mancunion)
Socialism. Space. Two words both in the public eye in recent times. Socialism has enjoyed an unprecedented surge to the forefront of the British political landscape with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. Space is an ever-present feature in the imagination of the general public, with the recent discovery of evidence suggesting that water once flowed on the surface of Mars adding to the sense of intrigue at the cosmos.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the two words share little in common other than their starting letter. Indeed, modern space exploration ventures appear to be firmly rooted in the capitalist camp. NASA’s long-running space shuttle program ceased operations four years ago, spawning the true dawn of the space tourism age. Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are pumping staggering figures of money into huge projects as space exploration shifts further into the private sector. (11/11)

SpaceX Expects Landing Success in 2016 (Source: Motley Fool)
SpaceX's Elon Musk says he still believes the company can land a rocket stage for potential reuse in the next year. Musk, interviewed during an investment conference last week, said he thinks SpaceX is in "shooting distance" of landing a Falcon 9 first stage, part of the company's efforts to develop a reusable version of the rocket. The company came close in two previous attempts earlier this year, crashing a stage onto a floating platform in the Atlantic. (11/11)

Japan Plans Moon Robots (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
Japan is interested in developing robots to support bases on the moon and Mars. Officials with the Japanese space agency JAXA said they hope to partner with Japanese companies to develop robots that can help build and maintain those bases. The goal is to have the robots ready for a lunar base by 2030 and a Martian base in 2040, although Japanese officials have not decided if they will participate in NASA-led human Mars missions currently projected for the 2030s. (11/11)

ULA Donation Supports Texas Planetarium (Source: Valey Morning Star)
United Launch Alliance knows its way around the solar system. Now, the company has brought space to the community with a Skydome Planetarium that will take students through the universe. Local city officials, TSTC school administration and students were present at the unveiling of the TSTC and United Launch Alliance Starlab Planetarium yesterday morning. (11/11)

The Battle to Militarize Space Has Begun (Source: Startfor)
For most strategic planners, space represents the ultimate high ground. In the same way that control of the skies added a new dimension to combat in the great wars of the 20th century, the military exploitation of space will be a defining characteristic of the 21st century. Click here. (11/11)

Japan Plans Unmanned Moon Landing (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Japan plans to become the fourth country to accomplish an unmanned moon landing. The government’s space policy committee Wednesday updated the schedule of the nation’s space exploration program and marked 2019 as the year to launch an unmanned lander to the moon. The lander’s development is scheduled to start next year.

In 2013, China became the third country to conduct an unmanned moon landing, following the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. Although Japan is late to the race, getting there is not the sole objective of the mission. According to the committee, Japan’s lunar lander will be developed with a new technology enabling it to land within 100 meters of its initial mark.

To demonstrate such pinpoint landing precision will help increase Japan’s stature and presence in space exploration, including in future joint efforts with other countries, the committee said. The government will seek public opinion about the lunar project and space exploration policies and finalize the plan within the year. (11/12)

The United Arab Emirates' Mission to Mars (Source: BBC)
The mission is to send a probe on a 60 million kilometre journey to orbit Mars, in order to help discover why the Red Planet - thought once to have had water like Earth - is now (relatively) dry. Fittingly, this project is being undertaken by the desert state of the United Arab Emirates. It's the first space exploration mission ever to be launched by an Arab state, and the UAE's space agency has just five years to build the probe and all its components.

The launch date is in July 2020, at a point when Earth and Mars are aligned in their orbits around the sun and closest to one another. The plan is for the probe to enter Mars' orbit on the 50th anniversary of the UAE's foundation as an independent country. At the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, a team of 75 engineers are building the satellite, which is roughly the size of a small car. (11/12)

Boeing Launches Opening Salvo In $111M Sealaunch Trial (Source: Law360)
Boeing asserted during opening statements in a California federal bench trial Tuesday that a Russian state-controlled space company's subsidiaries must cover the $111 million their parent owes Boeing over the failed Sealaunch satellite-launching joint venture because the subsidiaries were created solely to keep Boeing from collecting. (11/10)

Mars’s Moon Phobos Is Likely Crumbling Away, Says NASA (Source: Newsweek)
Stretch marks across the surface of Phobos could indicate the Mars moon is crumbling away. The shallow grooves that run across Phobos have baffled scientists for years, and on Tuesday researchers with NASA and several other institutions said they believe the grooves are the result of gravitational forces and indicate “the structural failure that will ultimately destroy this moon,” according to NASA. (11/11)

A New Exoplanet in Our Neighborhood (Source: MIT News)
Scientists have discovered a new exoplanet that, in the language of “Star Wars,” would be the polar opposite of frigid Hoth, and even more inhospitable than the deserts of Tatooine. But instead of residing in a galaxy far, far away, this new world is, galactically speaking, practically next door. The new planet, named GJ 1132b, is Earth-sized and rocky, orbiting a small star located a mere 39 light-years from Earth, making it the closest Earth-sized exoplanet yet discovered. (11/11)

Here's Why There's Still Not a Human on Mars (Source: National Geographic)
Keep in mind that when it comes to human missions to Mars, NASA’s “preparation” has already lasted quite a while: the last 70 years straight. The delay is at least in part technical. A trip to the red planet is like visiting an even more inhospitable Antarctica, and its unbreathable atmosphere is less than two percent of what you’d find at Everest’s summit. Never mind the fact that you have to fly at least a year, round-trip, to get there in the first place.

And don’t even get started on the politics of such an undertaking. “It’s a choice, not an imperative,” says John Logsdon, an emeritus professor at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute. “Mars is far away, it’s hard to get there, and it costs a lot of money.” But for decades, imaginative engineers and policymakers have dreamt of ways over these hurdles and toward the red planet. Click here. (11/11)

China's Latest Missile Test: A Threat to US Satellites (Source: Space Daily)
China last month conducted a test of a new missile capable of taking out US satellites as a part of Beijing's growing arsenal in space warfare. The test of a Dong Neng-3 exoatmospheric vehicle took place on October 30, and was conducted from the Korla Missile Test Complex in western China, according to two defense officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Chinese media reported on November 1 that the test was of a missile defense interceptor, but the defense officials said the missile is a direct-ascent type designed to destroy satellites. US State Department and Pentagon officials declined to comment on the test to the paper. (11/10)

Europe Comes Together for Space Weather (Source: Space Daily)
Working with scientists in 14 countries across Europe, ESA is developing a warning network that will help protect us from the effects of our Sun's activity. ESA's Space Situational Awareness efforts now generate almost 60 'products' - including high-quality measurements, forecasts, alerts and expert analysis - from teams participating in the Agency's space weather network, heading for over 140 next year. (11/10)

State Purchase in Orlando to Benefit Simulation Industry (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Florida Cabinet agreed, over the objection of Gov. Rick Scott, to spend $13.89 million to buy property in Orlando for a crucial defense research park and help protect it from closing. Scott and the Cabinet agreed to buy the SAIC Software building for the Central Florida Research Park.

The building on nearly 10 acres of land will be transformed into a secure facility, occupied mostly by the Army, said retired Lt. Gen. Tom Baptiste, chairman of the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force. The deal is expected to reduce the cost that the military spends in renting space, Baptiste said. The need to move the military into government-rate leases has been listed as a top priority by the Florida Defense Support Task Force. (11/10)

Space Missions Have Major Effects On Astronauts' Brains (Source: Huffington Post)
Being stuck in a tiny, microgravity spacecraft for months (or in Scott Kelly's case, a full year) can seriously mess with an astronaut's body and brain. Scientists have found that the physiological stresses of space travel can lead to significant brain changes. While more research is needed to fully determine how the brain adapts to a microgravity situation, two ongoing studies are shedding light on the neurological challenges of space travel.

A recent NASA study used MRI and functional MRI to investigate the brains of astronauts before and after spending six months on the International Space Station. The scientists also gave the astronauts certain motor tasks to complete while aboard the station.

So far, they've found that a microgravity environment can lead to changes in brain structure and take a serious toll on astronauts' ability to think. The astronauts have had a more difficult time completing mental tasks and with physical coordination during and after spending time aboard the ISS. Click here. (11/10)

Space Oddity: How do Astronauts Prepare for Life on Mars? (Source: Guardian)
Mauna Loa, Hawaii: the biggest volcano in the world, among the most active (it’s due for an eruption) and, according to Nasa, the ideal spot for simulating a space mission. This remote place is where six people were holed up for eight months in a small, white dome set in a giant crater of the volcano. Click here. (11/9)

More Launches Ahead for UH’s Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory (Source: UH)
The University of Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory (HSFL) is currently preparing for five space launches in the next two years with more opportunities on the horizon. HSFL had a key role in the first attempted space launch from Hawaii from KauaŹ»i’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF). Though the launch was unsuccessful, the years of research and work leading up to it created a foundation that has put Hawaii on the aerospace map.

HSFL designed and constructed the primary payload for the mission, a hyperspectral imaging satellite. More than 150 UH students gained real world experience building the sophisticated satellite that passed a rigorous NASA-based testing process before it was approved for a space launch.

Hawaii now has a rocket launch pad and a rail launcher at PMRF that were built for the Super Strypi mission, critical assets for future space launches. “HSFL received two commercial queries regarding use of the launcher (at PMRF) after the mission,” said Flynn, adding that private sector interest in deploying small satellites for lower costs is very high. (11/11)

After Compromises, Senate Bill Now Returns to House (Sources: SPACErePORT,
Both the House and Senate watered down or eliminated some original provisions of the commercial space bill that was finally approved on Oct 10 by the Senate. Specifically, the language in the SOARS Act, sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), intended to allow vehicles like WhiteKnight Two and Starfighters Aerospace's fleet of F-104 aircraft to operate under the FAA's spaceflight regulatory regime, while concurrently maintaining their "experimental" status under other FAA rules.

This SOARS language was to be folded into the larger U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, but it didn't survive intact as the larger bill evolved through the legislative process. Instead, the new bill directs the White House to lead a multi-agency study that will produce recommendations for streamlining and optimizing the oversight/regulatory landscape for commercial spaceflight.

The bill now goes back to the House for final passage. House Majority Leader McCarthy said in a Nov. 10 statement that he planned to schedule final approval of the bill "as soon as possible" after the House returns from break Nov. 16. (11/11)

Harris Corp. Wins $40 Million Air Force Satellite Control Network Contract Extension (Source: Harris)
The Air Force has awarded Harris Corp. a $40 million nine-month extension of the Network and Space Operations and Maintenance contract to support the Air Force Satellite Control Network at two network control locations in the U.S. and at antenna sites throughout the world. The contract was awarded during the first quarter of Harris' fiscal 2016.

Under the contract, Harris will provide operations, maintenance and logistics support to Air Force satellite operations at the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, and other worldwide locations, including Colorado Springs, Colorado; Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; Diego Garcia Station; Guam Tracking Station at Andersen Air Force Base; Hawaii Tracking Station at Kaena Point; New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire; Eastern Vehicle Checkout Facility, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida; and Thule Tracking Station, Thule Air Base, Greenland. (11/10)

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