November 26, 2015

US Asteroid-Mining Act is Dangerous and Potentially Illegal (Source: The Conversation)
An event of cosmic proportions occurred on November 18 when the US congress passed the Space Act of 2015 into law. The legislation will give US space firms the rights to own and sell natural resources they mine from bodies in space, including asteroids.

Although the act, passed with bipartisan support, still requires President Obama’s signature, it is already the most significant salvo that has been fired in the ideological battle over ownership of the cosmos. It goes against a number of treaties and international customary law which already apply to the entire universe. Click here. (11/25)

Newquay Spaceport Decision Due Next Year (Source: Cornish Guardian)
Prime Minister David Cameron has hinted that a decision could be made next year on whether the Europe's first spaceport could be built in Newquay. Experts in space, defence, business and transport are trying to identify a suitable base for the launch site, which could also be used to send satellites into space. The Government says the spaceport could be up and running as early as 2019 to meet the growing interest in space tourism. (11/25)

Loral Picked to Build New Satellite for Telesat (Source: SSL)
Space Systems Loral has been selected to build a powerful, high throughput communications satellite for Telesat, one of the world’s top satellite operators. The new spacecraft, called Telstar 19 VANTAGE, will have two high throughput payloads, one in Ku-band and the other in Ka-band, to serve growing markets in Latin America, the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and Northern Canada. (11/25)

More Mysterious Extragalactic Signals Detected (Source: Science News)
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, astronomers snagged a two-for-one deal on mysterious blasts of radio waves from other galaxies. An unprecedented double burst recently showed up along with four more of these flashes, researchers reported online November 25.

Fast radio bursts, first detected in 2007, are bright blasts of radio energy that last for just a few milliseconds and are never seen again. Until now, astronomers had cataloged nine bursts that appeared to originate well outside the Milky Way. Yet, follow-up searches with nonradio telescopes for anything that might be pulsing or exploding keep coming up empty.

A double flash rules out some ideas about what causes fast radio bursts. For instance, two neutron stars, dense cores left behind by dead massive stars, can collide only once. Rare vigorous blasts from pulsars might fit the bill, as would hyperflares from haphazard sources of gamma rays and X-rays known as “soft gamma repeaters,” possibly triggered by starquakes on highly magnetic neutron stars. (11/25)

Russia Enters ExoMars Program to Save Mission After US Exit (Source: Sputnik)
 In 2012, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos agreed on developing the ExoMars program with an objective to find out whether life ever existed on the planet. "In 2011, NASA drastically reduced its participation in ExoMars, and then exited the project due to a number of objective reasons. Roscosmos then accepted the offer of the European Space Agency to support the project. The idea was to actually save the ExoMars mission," Savelev said.

Savelev explained that Russia had agreed to join the program on several conditions, including the necessary participation of Russian scientists in the creation of equipment and experiments, as well as an equal access to research results. Under the ExoMars project, two missions will be carried out. In 2016. (11/25)

Space, Trade and Russian Rockets (Source: Space News)
Over the past year, America’s experiments with space launch — of things and people — have not been pretty. What should Americans make of the difficulty our rockets seem to be having getting into space? Have we lost our edge? Are we becoming the dog-eared follower of others into space, less reliable and less capable, no longer the leader we once were? Or is the recent spate of rocket engine failures, untimely launch pad explosions and payload losses just par for the course, akin to a bad day on the stock market?

Is this the price we pay for progress, a price that the future always exacts from the present? And do we have no choice in all this? Are we stuck with the inevitability of more rocket failures and whatever that symbolizes? The answer is this: We have good choices. We still have leadership if we want it and do not give it away. Click here. (11/25)

Silicon Valley Startups Fly into Space (Source: Investopedia)
Until recently, space exploration has been an expensive adventure restricted to government agencies with massive budgets. It was difficult for private players and startups to enter the business because of the costs and regulations associated with the space industry. Now, a group of Silicon Valley startups have change the business dynamics of this industry. As component costs drop and the government removes red tape, money has flowed into the industry. Click here. (11/24)

Cygnus Prepared for Atlas Launch to Space Station (Source: Space News)
Preparations for the first launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft in more than a year, and the first on an Atlas 5 rocket, have gone smoothly despite some changes in timing of loading cargo on the spacecraft, an Orbital ATK executive said. An Atlas 5 is scheduled to launch the Cygnus craft from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Dec. 3. (11/25)

Gulf Coast Lawmakers Push For Polar Follow-on Funding (Source: Space News)
A bipartisan coalition of Gulf Coast lawmakers has asked the House appropriations panel that funds U.S. weather satellite programs to reverse its decision to leave a next-generation polar weather satellite out of a 2016 spending bill the lower chamber approved in June.

In spending bills drafted this summer, House appropriators zeroed out the request while Senate appropriators cut it by more than half. JPSS-1, being built by Ball Aerospace, is set to launch by March 2017. JPSS-2, being built by Orbital ATK, is to launch by September 30, 2021. Editor's Note: Florida supporters include Reps. Patrick Murphy, Ron Desantis, John Mica, Bill Posey, and Alan Grayson. (11/25)

The Dawn of the Space Mining Age (Source: Scientific American)
The recent passage of the Space Act of 2015 in the U.S. House and Senate marks a key milestone for the commercial space industry. Ever since the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, nations have been banned from claiming or appropriating any celestial resource such as the Moon or another planet. Formally titled the “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,” the nearly fifty year old agreement has formed the basis of international space law ever since. (11/24)

Israel's Place in Space (Source: Jerusalem Post)
Israel is the smallest of a handful of states which have the technology to independently launch unmanned missions into space. Currently Israel has fifteen civilian satellites orbiting the earth. Two-thirds are observation devices and the remainder are communications platforms. The Jewish State specializes in “light-weight high-performance satellites” carrying devices that can compete with American satellites capacity in image resolution while weighing one tenth the weight.

As with much of Israel’s high tech enterprises, the civilian space industry benefits from the country’s military efforts. Both in terms of human capital - knowledge and expertise - and in infrastructure and investment, the Israeli Space Agency profits from military programs that came before it, Ben-Israel said. “Although they are two different entities, the Israeli space industry and the Ministry of Defense, we don’t have two separate production lines." Click here. (11/24)

Astronaut Abby Spearheads Potato Challenge to Promote Space Exploration (Source: Wellesley News)
On Nov. 12, aspiring astronaut Kristi Kuutti participated in the Potato Challenge by posting a selfie of herself holding a potato with the caption, “Dreaming about what food I will eat after #PotatoChallenge like astronauts do.” Kuutti was one of the many participants who participated in a social media campaign, the Potato Challenge, started to raise awareness about the work and to raise funds to support the three main programs of the organization.

The challenge benefited The Mars Generation, a non-profit organization, which was launched by current Wellesley student Abigail Harrison ’19 on a mission to get, as Robert Pearlman writes in his article “Launching the ‘Mars Generation’: Teen on Mission to Get People to Mars,” “people of all ages excited and educated about what it means to be a member of the generation that will land humans on Mars.” (11/25)

Earth's Magnetic Field is Not About to Flip (Source: Space Daily)
The intensity of earth's magnetic field has been weakening in the last couple of hundred years, leading some scientists to think that its polarity might be about to flip. But the field's intensity may simply be coming down from an abnormal high rather than approaching a reversal, scientists write in a new paper. (11/25)

Rocket Launch Demonstrates New Capability for Testing Technologies (Source: Space Daily)
An UP Aerospace SpaceLoft sounding rocket soared into the sky Nov. 6 from Spaceport America, New Mexico, carrying four technology experiments for NASA's Flight Opportunities Program that funded the launch of these technologies.

The commercial suborbital space rocket reached a maximum altitude of approximately 75 miles. The experiments were recovered intact 30 miles downrange on the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range. UP has launched several times from Spaceport but this was the first launch where payloads were ejected separately requiring independent re-entry under individual parachutes into the atmosphere. (11/25)

The Hypersonic Revolution (Source: CNN)
London to Melbourne in 90 minutes? Paris to San Francisco in under an hour? That's travel at 25 times the speed of sound -- or barely enough time to take in an in-flight movie. Few areas of aviation generate wilder predictions than hypersonic flight -- but a team in Germany might just have cracked it. Hypersonic means speeds of Mach 5 or over, or more than five times the speed of sound. Supersonic is Mach 1, or the speed of sound. Click here. (11/24)

No comments: