November 3, 2015

After Friending Facebook, Eutelsat Orders Satellite for Sub-Saharan Africa (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat on Oct. 28 said it had contracted with manufacturer Thales Alenia Space to build a high-throughput Ka-band satellite to provide Internet connectivity to most of sub-Saharan African starting in 2019.

The announcement follows Eutelsat’s agreement with Facebook to lease the Ka-band capacity aboard Israel-based Spacecom’s Amos-6 satellite, scheduled for launch in 2016 over sub-Saharan Africa. Eutelsat and Facebook have taken out a five-year lease, leaving an overlap in time between the arrival of the new satellite and the end of the current lease. (11/2)

MDA Hoping to Ramp Up OneWeb Work in 2016 (Source: Space News)
Satellite hardware and services provider MDA Corp. of Canada on Oct. 28 said its California-based Space Systems/Loral satellite manufacturing division “has been hit probably harder than anybody else” by the shutdown of the U.S. Export-Import Bank despite SSL’s access to financial support from Canada’s export-credit agency.

MDA also said its new status as a member of the OneWeb Ltd. team – presumably in return for an equity investment that MDA has not disclosed – to date has resulted in no contracts for OneWeb’s 900 satellites. OneWeb is designing a low-orbiting constellation of satellites for global Internet delivery. (11/3)

NASA Confirms that the ‘Impossible’ EmDrive Thruster Really Works, After New Tests (Source:
Engineer Roger Shawyer’s controversial EmDrive thruster jets back into relevancy this week, as a team of researchers at NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories recently completed yet another round of testing on the seemingly impossible tech.

Though no official peer-reviewed lab paper has been published yet, and NASA institutes strict press release restrictions on the Eagleworks lab these days, engineer Paul March took to the NASA Spaceflight forum to explain the group’s findings. In essence, by utilizing an improved experimental procedure, the team managed to mitigate some of the errors from prior tests — yet still found signals of unexplained thrust.

Flying in the face of traditional laws of physics, the EmDrive makes use of a magnetron and microwaves to create a propellant-less propulsion system. By pushing microwaves into a closed, truncated cone and back towards the small end of said cone, the drive creates the momentum and force necessary to propel a craft forward. (11/3)

NASA Needs Better Handle on Health Hazards for Long Mars Missions (Source: 680 News)
NASA needs to get cracking if it wants to keep its astronauts alive and well on missions to Mars, according to an in-house report issued Thursday. In an extensive audit, NASA’s inspector general office looked at the space agency’s overall effort to keep astronauts safe during lengthy space missions — especially trips to Mars, currently targeted for the 2030s.

Among the top health hazards for three-year, round-trip Mars missions: space radiation that could cause cancer, central nervous system damage, cataracts or infertility; extreme isolation, which could lead to psychological problems; and prolonged weightlessness, already known to weaken bones, muscles and vision.

There’s also the issue of limited amounts and types of medicine and food, the latter potentially leading to weight loss and malnutrition. (10/29)

Montreal Universities Launch New Space Research Centers (Source: The Star)
The launch of a new space research institute at Montreal’s McGill University has its director hoping it can not only help solve some of the biggest mysteries of the universe, but also contribute to turning the city into a leading hub for space research.

Victoria Kaspi admits it’s a big dream. But one of the goals of the institute, which opened last week, is to draw some of the field’s top minds to a region that already houses the headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency and a second space-related research center at the Universite de Montreal. (11/1)

Top 20 Defense Contractors of 2015 (Source: Defense Systems)
This are looking up, relatively speaking, for the Defense Department’s spending plans, after President Obama on Monday signed a bipartisan two-year federal budget. The budget and debt plan sets funding for fiscal 2016 and 2017, and although it provides about $5 billion less that DOD had requested for 2016, it increases funding over this year’s levels.

The top five contractors are Lockheed Martin ($7.7B), Northrop Grumman ($5.7B), Raytheon ($4.4B), Boeing, ($3.8B), and General Dynamics ($2.4B). Space Coast-based Harris Corp. came in at #9 with $1.5B. Click here for the complete list. (11/2)

Industry Looking to Government for Commercial Satellite Cues (Source: C4ISR)
With no current government manned space programs and heavy reliance on industry to meet space and satellite needs, the landscape in the U.S. today is changing with regard to how satellite communications are provided. As competition heats up in industry, particularly outside of the U.S., private companies are looking to the government for a framework of requirements for where satcom is headed next.

Industry’s search for guidance comes as the Defense Department grapples with challenges to its space and satcom programs, including aging hardware and systems as well as resiliency needs and evolving security concerns. (11/2)

Aldrin: The President That Sends Us To Mars Will Be Remembered (Source: IFL Science)
Buzz Aldrin really, really wants us to go to Mars. Earlier this year, he outlined his proposal to get there by 2039, but not just brief missions like his own Apollo 11 - he wants us to colonize it, and create permanent settlements there, he explained in an exclusive interview with IFLScience. He is not alone in his ambition. Just last week, NASA unveiled their own plan to get humans to Mars, on the back of significant publicity from the recent movie The Martian. (11/1)

ULA Makes Launches Cheaper, More Flexible (Source: Denver Business Journal)
United Launch Alliance appears to be fulfilling its pledge to reduce costs and better compete on price with Elon Musk’s SpaceX as Colorado-based ULA's rival races to regroup from a summer accident. NASA, on Friday, awarded Centennial-based ULA a single-launch contract to have an Atlas V rockets lift a space communications satellite into orbit.

NASA’s cost for ULA's services: $138 million. That’s more than twice the $61 million price that Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX -- also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. -- publicizes for a standard Falcon 9 rocket. But the price ULA is charging NASA for the 2017 launch of its Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M is 15 percent lower than the cheapest launch in ULA’s current five-year contract from the U.S. Air Force to launch military satellites. (11/2)

XCOR's Lynx Reusable Launch Vehicle Approaches Completion (Source: America Space)
XCOR Aerospace, a spacecraft and rocket engineering company, is developing a new spacecraft that will take paying customers to the edge of space. The exciting suborbital vehicle is taking shape and meeting critical milestones at the company’s Hangar 61 in Mojave, California. Starting with the mounting of the primary nose structure, the company has been busy performing fit checks and tests on the many important parts that make up the Lynx reusable launch vehicle.

Mounting the primary nose structure to the Lynx has been one of the most important milestones for the company. The nose will house several reaction control thrusters and the nose gear. They will soon attach the nose gear and install several of the nose gear actuation subsystems. In addition to the nose, there are several critical components to the Lynx structure: the fuselage, the wings and control surfaces, wing strakes, and the cockpit. Click here. (11/1)

Traveling Through Space? Don't Forget Your Sleeping Pills and Skin Cream (Source: FASEB)
If you are planning to take the long trip to Mars, don't forget to pack sleeping pills and skin cream. A new study is the first-ever examination of the medications used by astronauts on long-duration missions to the International Space Station.

As one might expect, the study shows that much of the medicine taken by astronauts in space relates to the unusual and confined microgravity environment in which they work or to the actual work that they are doing to complete their missions. Among these medications, the report shows that the use of sleep aids and incidence of skin rashes were higher than expected. These findings not only help the world's space agencies anticipate needs for future ISS inhabitants, but also the day-to-day medical needs of those who may take the trip to Mars. (11/2)

Russia Planning Use of More Converted Ballistic Missiles as Space Launchers (Source: Sputnik)
“We are currently creating the next generation of a system that is unified and may serve space launches of not only the RS-20B, but also other types of missiles that have been removed from military service. The new system of the starting position has already undergone preliminary testing and the work is planned to be finished by 2017,” said Sergei Skokov

The new generation system for the preparation and launch of the converted missiles consists of two parts located at the command point and the starting position. The development is being carried out by the Russia-based Kosmotras international space company. Kosmotras is the leading researcher behind the Dnepr rocket program. Dnepr (NATO reporting name SS-18 Satan) is a space launch vehicle based on an intercontinental ballistic missile. (11/2)

Did Solar Winds Steal the Atmosphere From Mars? (Source: Inverse)
NASA’s bombshell announcement last month finally confirmed the presence of liquid water on the surface of Mars. Of course, we’ve already known for quite some time that ancient Mars was covered in water, with vast oceans and lakes not unlike those currently crowding Earth’s continents. We still want to know what happened to those vast bodies of H20, but the real question, the core of the inquiry, may be this: What happened to Mars’ atmosphere?

See, Mars’ atmosphere is about 100 times thinner than Earth’s, and made of 95 percent carbon dioxide, 2.7 percent nitrogen, 0.13 percent oxygen, and several minor gases. But if the planet once boasted bodies of water that flowed then the red planet must have had a thicker atmosphere that would stabilize ambient temperatures and pressures, keeping the water from freezing or evaporating upon exposure to the elements. NASA is tight-lipped on the details of the Thursday press conference right now, but we do know it’s about the atmosphere and we do know that researchers have been busy of late. (11/2)

US Unveils Plan to Deal with Space Weather (Source:
The U.S. government is getting more serious about dealing with the dangers posed by powerful sun storms. On Oct. 29, the White House released two documents that together lay out the nation's official plan for mitigating the negative impacts of solar flares and other types of "space weather," which have the potential to wreak havoc on power grids and other key infrastructure here on Earth.

The new "National Space Weather Strategy" outlines the basic framework the federal government will pursue to better understand, predict and recover from space-weather events, while the "National Space Weather Action Plan" details specific activities intended to help achieve this broad goal. (11/2)

Report Adds to Confusion Over U.S. Air Force Weather Plans (Source: Space News)
A proposed U.S. Air Force weather satellite that service leaders said in March could launch as early as 2018 to help plug the gap between the current system and a new-generation capability is now scheduled to launch in 2021, the service said in a report to Congress.

The latest projected launch date raises new questions about the Air Force’s future weather satellite strategy, which has been in flux since the cancellation of a civil-military program in 2010. Air Force leaders have discussed using the Weather Satellite Gapfiller, or WSGF, to bridge the gap. (11/2)

Air Force Looks To Bridge Suborbital Rocket Contract Vehicles (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force is revamping its sounding rocket program and hopes to award multiple contracts in late 2016 to providers that could also launch small satellites into low Earth orbit, according to Defense Department acquisition documents.

As a result, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, which procures space hardware and software, said Oct. 1 it would need an 18-month extension to its current sounding rocket ordering program. The extension is needed to keep several missions and tests on schedule until the new contracting vehicle, known as the Small Rocket Program or SRP-4, is ready. (11/2)

Hawthorne's Other Rocket Company (Source: Space News)
Microcosm and a company it spun off in 1999, Scorpius Space Launch Co., offer a broad array of products and services designed to remedy those problems, ranging from mission engineering services to launch systems, small spacecraft and software. Microcosm does not announce its contract awards or financial results because it is privately owned and much of its work is performed under nondisclosure agreements with its customers.

Since the company was established in 1984, Microcosm has won 94 Small Business Innovative Research awards worth more than $65 million, Wertz said. Under one of those contracts, Microcosm is building an all-composite, single-stage tank and structure for the Mars Ascent Vehicle, which is designed to bring samples from the Martian surface to low Mars orbit for subsequent return to Earth. (11/2)

European Moon Venture Regroups After Failed Crowdfunding Bid (Source: Space News)
A European venture to send a small spacecraft to the moon is reconsidering its plans after an online fundraising effort fell fall short of its goal. Moonspike started a month-long fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter Oct. 1, seeking to raise at least 600,000 pounds ($925,000) to start work on a small spacecraft to crash-land on the moon and a launch vehicle to send it there.

That funding, Moonspike’s founders said in an interview prior the start of the campaign, would fund work on key spacecraft and launch vehicle subsystems. However, the campaign ended Nov. 1 with less than 79,000 pounds ($122,000) raised. Kickstarter uses an “all-or-nothing” fundraising model, where projects receive money pledged only if the total value of the pledges meets or exceeds the project’s goal. Since Moonspike fell short of its goal, it receives no funding.

Moonspike’s founders said that they believed that crowdfunding was the only way they could raise the seed funding needed to start work on the project and build credibility. That would allow them to, in turn, raise more money in the future from venture capital firms or other more conventional investors. (11/2)

Could Sino-U.S. Cooperation Bring the Martian Home? (Source: Xinhua)
In the new Hollywood blockbuster, The Martian, U.S. astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. At a critical moment, China offers to help NASA bring him back to Earth. But can these two countries cooperate to explore space in reality?

At the 66th International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem recently, NASA chief Charles Bolden urged his country to cooperate with China in space programs. Otherwise, he warned, the U.S. would be left out of new ventures to send people beyond the International Space Station.

Cooperation between China and NASA has been hampered by an exclusionary law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2011. It prohibits NASA from using its funds to host Chinese visitors at NASA facilities, citing security concerns, and bars NASA from working bilaterally with researchers who are affiliated to a Chinese government entity or enterprise. (11/2)

Indian Space Start-Ups Need a Push (Source: The Hindu)
For the growing start-up sector in the city, the sky seems to be literally the limit. Young and educated abroad, at least four start-ups operate in Bengaluru, where ISRO plans their space conquests. Though lofty ambitions fuels their entrepreneurship — from launching their own satellites to building the moon rover — the start-ups have so far received little support from government.

Currently, they get by with piece-meal consultancy assignments for research institutes. Among these are Sushmita Mohanty who founded Earth2Orbit in 2008 itself. Though currently the company sells value-added satellite-imagery, her hope is to get international customers onboard the ISRO’s PSLV launches. (11/3)

LEGO Won't Make ISS Kit (Source: CollectSpace)
LEGO will not be launching a model of the International Space Station, passing on the orbiting outpost as part of its most-recent review of fan-suggested and supported projects. The company announced its decision on Friday (Oct. 30), just days shy of the anniversary of the real space station's first crew taking up residency on Nov. 2, 2000, beginning 15 years of a continuous human presence in space. (11/1)

Virgin Galactic's Next Spaceplane is Coming in February (Source: Mashable)
One year ago Saturday, Virgin Galactic's first space plane disintegrated in the skies above Mojave, California, killing one pilot and leaving the other hospitalized. In the wake of the tragic accident, it was unclear if the private spaceflight company with dreams of sending paying customers to suborbital space would survive, but now, 12 months later, Virgin Galactic's founder, Sir Richard Branson, says the company is back on track.

“We’re very much back on track now.” After the accident, engineers and others working with the company got to work continuing to build the second SpaceShipTwo, which should be ready to start testing by February 2016, according Branson. “We’ll be unveiling the new spaceship,” said Branson. “And then we go into flight tests.” (11/2)

Space Revolution Hatching in a New Zealand Paddock (Source: Reuters)
The next revolution in space, making humdrum what was long the special preserve of tax-funded giants like NASA, will be launching next year from a paddock in New Zealand’s remote South Island. The rocket launch range is not just New Zealand's first of any kind, but also the world's first private launch range, and the rocket, designed by Rocket Lab, one of a growing number of businesses aiming to slash the cost of getting into space, will be powered by a 3D-printed rocket engine - another first. Click here. (11/3)

Boeing Wins Chinese Satellite Contract (Source: Space News)
Boeing is building a mobile broadcasting satellite for a Chinese company. Boeing won a contract last week to build the Silkwave-1 satellite for New York Broadband LLC, a U.S.-based company linked to CMMB Vision Holdings Ltd., a subsidiary of China Telecom. The Boeing 702 satellite will provide mobile communications services in China and surrounding regions, and is scheduled for launch in 2018. (11/2)

China Steps Up Space Research Plans (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch a series of new scientific satellites starting late this year. Wu Ji, director of the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said a mission to study dark matter is on schedule to launch later this year, followed by a microgravity research satellite in 2016. China is also working on satellites scheduled for launch next year to study hard x-rays and perform quantum science experiments. (11/2)

Budget Overruns and Schedule Slips of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program (Source: Space Review)
Long before President Nixon cancelled the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program in 1968, it suffered growing costs and schedule delays. Dwayne Day looks how those issues set the program up for its ultimate demise. Visit to view the article. (11/2)

Building a Moon Village (Source: Space Review)
The new head of the European Space Agency has proposed the development of an international lunar base, a concept he has promoted since prior to taking over the agency. Jeff Foust reports on the idea of a "Moon village" and one potential commercial angle for it. Visit to view the article. (11/2)

Environmental Liability on the Moon (Source: Space Review)
There is precedent on Earth for countries to take legal action if the suffer the environmental impacts of another nation's activities, but what happens in outer space? Urbano Fuentes examines what legal regimes might work on the Moon and beyond. Visit to view the article. (11/2)

Declaration Approved to Promote Asia Pacific Space Cooperation (Source: Space Daily)
A declaration on Asia-Pacific space development was approved during a forum on Tuesday, with attendees agreeing to improve peaceful multi-lateral cooperation in outer space. The forum, held by the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) and the China National Space Administration (CNSA), focused on Asia Pacific space development, which would be boosted by the "Belt and Road" initiative.

According to the declaration, APSCO member countries should further promote the comprehensive cooperative partnership to improve basic space skills, promote a community of sharing, outline quick response strategies and improve industry-driven ability and interconnection. Space administration officials and aerospace specialists from China, Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Mongolia, Peru, Turkey and Indonesia attended the forum. (11/2)

Inmarsat to Locate Satellite Access Station in Greece (Source: SpaceRef)
Inmarsat will locate the Satellite Access Station (SAS) for its European Aviation Network (EAN) high-speed inflight connectivity solution in Greece, under an agreement with OTE, the largest telecommunications provider in Greece and member of the Deutsche Telekom Group. (11/2)

Hypersonic Space Plane Set to Revolutionize Spaceflight (Source: Sputnik)
One of Britain’s most promising space plane technology companies has just secured investment for what may mark a turning point for the future of air transportation: a non-expendable unmanned hypersonic aircraft capable of operating in space at 25 times the speed of sound. Click here. (11/2)

ISS Celebrates 15 Years of Continuous Habitation (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The International Space Station, which President Obama has extended through 2024, is a testament to the ingenuity and boundless imagination of the human spirit. The work being done on board is an essential part of NASA’s journey to Mars, which will bring American astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s. “For 15 years, humanity’s reach has extended beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Since 2000, human beings have been living continuously aboard the space station, where they have been working off-the-Earth for the benefit of Earth. (11/2)

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