November 17, 2015

What NASA Can Teach Urban Planners (Source: CityLab)
Space is the final frontier, as the newly revived Star Trek TV series will surely remind us. But there may be lessons in its exploration for cities right here on Earth. NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is just a short distance from Richmond, CA, where urban innovators gathered for a recent conference called Meeting of the Minds. So Rosalind Grymes, deputy director of NASA's Ames Partnership Directorate, paid a visit to the conference about urban planning and smart cities to offer a few ideas from the space agency about life on Earth. Click here. (11/12)

ULA Lets SpaceX Take GPS Mission (Source: Space News)
United Launch Alliance has decided not to bid on a GPS launch contract sought by SpaceX. In a statement, ULA said that it does not have the right accounting system in place to comply with requirements in the request for proposals that funds from other government contracts will not support this contract.

ULA officials previously said that congressional restrictions on the number of RD-180 engines available for competed launches raised doubts it could compete for the launch. The decision means that SpaceX will likely win the launch contract for the 2018 launch of a GPS 3 satellite, the first national security mission for the company. (11/16)

House Passes Space Bill (Source: Space News)
The House of Representatives passed the final version of an expansive commercial space bill Monday. The House approved the H.R. 2262 on a voice vote after about a half-hour of debate. The bill, which the Senate passed last week by unanimous consent, reconciles separate commercial space bills the House and Senate passed earlier this year.

It extends the "learning period" limiting government regulation of commercial spaceflight participant safety and also third-party launch indemnification, and also grants companies rights to resources they extract from asteroids and other solar system bodies. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. (11/16)

Russia Launches Missile Warning Satellite (Source: Tass)
Russia launched a missile early warning satellite Tuesday morning. The Soyuz-2 rocket lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 1:34 a.m. Eastern time carrying what Russian officials described only as a military satellite. Other sources identified the satellite as the first EKS, or Tundra, next-generation missile warning satellite. (11/16)

Mikulski Working with Shelby to Balance NASA Funding (Source: Space News)
The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee said she will seek a balance between NASA's space exploration and science programs in a final 2016 spending bill. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said she is working with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the subcommittee that funds NASA, to provide additional support for those programs based on increased spending caps from a two-year budget deal completed last month. (11/16)

ISS Electrical Problem May Require Spacewalk Repair (Source: AP)
A short circuit in the International Space Station's power system could force astronauts there to perform a repair spacewalk early next year. The glitch, which occurred Friday in a current-switching device on the station, resulted in the loss of one of eight power channels on the station. NASA said the crew of the station is in no danger, but the fauilty device will likely have to be replaced on a future spacewalk. That repair will have to wait until a replacement unit is shipped to the station on a cargo mission, likely after the first of the year. (11/17)

Spaceport America Opens Up Land for Development (Source: Spaceport America)
Spaceport America's new master development plan will open up additional build-to-suit parcels at the 18,000-acre facility in Southern New Mexico. Spaceport America’s CEO and go-to-market team have traveled to Houston to roll-out the “Reach for the Stars at Spaceport America” campaign.

With one of the largest areas of protected airspace on Earth, stable weather conditions, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and 18,000 acres of sparsely populated high-elevation desert land, Spaceport America is well positioned to support space launches, space launch testing, and UAV testing as well as satellite ground stations and other space-related technologies.

Roughly 250 acres surrounding the iconic Gateway to Space terminal and the site’s 12,000-ft by 200-ft spaceway will be divided into parcels of between four and 30 acres, with leasing costs varying according to the size of the property and the tenants’ requirements. Another 100 acres within the vertical launch campus, ranging from 1.5- to 22-acre parcels, are also now ready for build-to-suit tenancy. (11/16)

Ex-Im Reauthorization, Budget Deal Herald a (Hopefully) Saner U.S. Congress (Source: Space News)
After several years of taking legislative dysfunction to new heights, the U.S. Congress has shown signs in recent weeks of a return to some semblance of sanity. The first positive indicator was the House’s passage of legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which has been in limbo — able to fulfill the terms of existing loans but unable to make new ones — since July.

This hurt U.S. satellite manufacturers whose European competitors continue to have access to export credit agency backing from their own governments. It took a bold and rarely used procedural maneuver to get the measure to the House floor, but once there the bill passed with bipartisan support and seems likely to be approved by the Senate in the coming days. (11/16)

5 Space Companies To Watch in 2016 (Source: Space News)
It should come as no surprise that this year’s list of the Top 5 Companies To Watch features the entrepreneurial startups that are making their presence felt throughout the industry and a launcher sector that is undergoing a transformation driven in part by their arrival. Rocket maker SpaceX is easily the most recognizable of the relative newcomers, and returns to the list this year with several key initiatives on the immediate horizon, not the least of which is returning to flight from its first failure.

Others in the entrepreneurial category are OneWeb, Planet Labs, United Launch Alliance, and  Avio SpA. Click here. (11/16)

Who Lays Claim on Space? von der Dunk Speaks in Sarasota (Source: SRQ)
Space has been the final frontier, but don’t expect exploration of the great beyond to devolve into the Wild Wild West. Frans von der Dunk, professor of Space Law at the University of Nebraska and founder of Black Holes Consultancy, has published books on the legal maneuvering that comes with extending mankind’s reach beyond the planet. SRQ consulted with von der Dunk as well, on what to expect when he speaks at PINC Sarasota on Dec. 10. Click here. (11/16)

MIT Charts Better Course for Mars (Source: Business Insider)
NASA wants to send its astronauts to Mars, but first it should make a brief detour to the moon, according to a group of MIT researchers. It's a very different plan than the NASA astronauts in the latest sci-fi action film "The Martian" take. Moreover, it's not what the real NASA describes in their outline for human exploration of Mars, called the Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0. Click here. (11/17)

Florida Should be Rewarded as Space Becomes More Acccessible to All (Source: Naples Daily News)
An economic panel of lawmakers and industry leaders wants the federal government to take Florida more seriously as the industry of space exploration now paves the way for ordinary citizens to reach the stars. The panel at this year's installment of the annual Sayfie Summit found that Florida's history in space exploration comes with data that shows the industry affects the entire state.  Click here. (11/16)

Lamar Smith, Ted Cruz in Key Roles as Congress Passes Space Law (Source: Dallas Morning News)
The House agreed Monday evening to changes made by the Senate to the Commercial Space Launch Act, a bill championed by both Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio. Smith is chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and Cruz leads the Space, Science, and Competitiveness subcommittee in the upper chamber. (11/16)

NASA Langley Mathematician Wins Presidential Medal of Freedom (Source: Daily Press)
A longtime NASA Langley mathematician was named a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. Katherine Johnson will be one of 17 to receive the honor when the awards are presented by President Barack Obama on Nov. 24, according to a White House news release.

Johnson worked as a mathematician at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton for 33 years. She was selected for the award for her “exceptional technical leadership” having influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program, the release states. (11/16)

Incredible Shrinking Spacecraft (Source: Space News)
Often the focus of NASA and other space agencies is the large, big-ticket flight projects. This is natural and understandable because of the important role played by so-called flagship missions. It is also natural because of the budgetary impacts of even the slightest disruption in the programs at the large-class end of the flight mission spectrum. Click here. (11/15)

Ben Carson’s Prescription for Space Exploration (Source: Space News)
Carson, speaking Saturday at a conference of convenience store retailers and suppliers in Scottsdale, Arizona, said that “important scientific discoveries have come from the nation’s past endeavors in space,” and that those programs required “renewed attention.” The report didn’t state if Carson, a frontrunner in a number of recent polls for the Republican nomination, provided additional details about his space policy views. (11/16)

Here Is the Soviet Union's Secret Space Cannon (Source: Popular Mechanics)
A quarter of the century after the end of the Cold War, the only cannon that has actually fired in space finally comes to light. Installed on the Almaz space station in 1970s, the R-23M Kartech was derived from a powerful aircraft weapon.

The original 23-millimeter cannon was designed by Aron Rikhter for the Tupolev Tu-22 Blinder supersonic bomber. That gun is relatively well known. However, its space-based cousin had largely remained in obscurity. Until now. This year, thanks to a Russian television show, the world got to see grainy footage of the space gun. Using that footage, we created the virtual model of the R-23M that you see above. Here's the inside story. (11/16)

NASA Could Increase Role in Drone Regulation (Source: AIN)
NASA is in discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration regarding a larger role for the agency in regulating drones. "NASA is going to take it because they have the technology right now with the support from Google and Amazon to make it happen," said AIA's Ali Bahrami. "But at the end of the day, it's going to come down to who's got jurisdiction over the airspace and who is going to manage it. It could be a situation where it lends itself to some kind of a public-private corporation to (manage the airspace) below 500 feet for small UASs. It's still wide open, frankly." (11/13)

Wrapping Up a Commercial Space Bill (Source: Space Review)
The House voted Monday to approve a final version of a commercial space bill after many months of debate in public and behind the scenes. Jeff Foust examines what is contained in the final version of the bill that will affect companies involved in efforts ranging from space tourism to asteroid mining. Visit to view the article. (11/16)

The Last Spacemen: MOL and What Might Have Been (Source: Space Review)
The Manned Orbiting Laboratory program was cancelled before the first mission could fly, but even in those early stages the military was contemplating what else it could do with MOL technology and humans in space. David Winfrey explores what could have been had MOL, somehow, avoided the chopping block more than 45 years ago. Visit to view the article. (11/16)

Exposing the Intended Justice Outcome of Space Law (Source: Space Review)
Space law make frequent use of phrases like "common benefit" that are not formally defined, raising the possibility of disagreements among nations. Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty argues for a framework that can find common ground between developing and developed nations in space. Visit to view the article. (11/16)

No comments: