November 6, 2015

Astronaut Joins Canadian Government (Source: CBC)
The first Canadian in space is now a government minister. New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet Wednesday, selecting Marc Garneau as Minister of Transport. Garneau, a member of Parliament from Montreal since 2008, became the first Canadian in space when he flew on a shuttle mission in 1984. Trudeau also selected Navdeep Bains as the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, whose portfolio includes the Canadian Space Agency. (11/4)

NASA Exploration Plans Rely on Budget Before Congress (Source: Space News0
NASA is counting on a budget increase yet to be passed by Congress for 2016 to keep its key exploration programs on track. Agency officials said at a NASA Advisory Council meeting Wednesday that they are spending money on SLS, Orion and ground systems at a level that assumes a budget increase included in House and Senate bills will be approved.

NASA is currently operating under a continuing resolution that would normally keep those programs at lower fiscal year 2015 levels. The agency said that the increase proposed by Congress is needed to continue work on a new upper stage for SLS that NASA hopes to have ready in time for the first crewed SLS mission in the early 2020s. (11/4)

NASA Delays Cargo Award Again, Eliminates Boeing from Contention (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
NASA has delayed the award of new contracts for cargo transportation services between Earth and the International Space Station, and eliminated an uncrewed version of Boeing’s human-rated CST-100 Starliner capsule from the competition. The cargo deal announcement was previously scheduled for Thursday, but now will be no later than Jan. 30, 2016.

Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada officials said they are still in the running for new cargo contracts. A SpaceX spokesperson declined comment on the CRS-2 competition before NASA makes its awards. The fifth company to publicly disclose its commercial cargo proposal, Lockheed Martin, said it would not comment on its status in a pending procurement. (11/5)

Britain Backpedals on Privatized Milcom Satellites (Source: Space  News)
Twelve years ago, the British government revolutionized the process of purchasing military satellite telecommunications by outsourcing it all to the private sector. Now Britain appears about to return to conventional procurement for its follow-on satellites as a way to put off a longer-term decision, British government and industry officials said. (11/5)

Honeywell Buying Com Dev International; ExactEarthLLP to be Spun Off (Source: The Record)
Com Dev International is selling its satellite equipment business to U.S. aerospace and manufacturing giant Honeywell International in a deal valued at $455 million. Its ExactEarth subsidiary, which runs a network of satellites that monitor ocean-going ships, will be spun out as a stand-alone publicly traded entity, it announced Thursday after the markets closed. (11/5)

Mystery Of Mars' Lost Atmosphere Solved (Source: Forbes)
In many ways, Mars is the most Earth-like planet we’ve ever examined up close, besides our own. With a history of a watery past, copious amounts of erosion, revealed sedimentary rock, volcanos, clouds, icecaps, sand dunes and features like dried-up riverbeds, there’s an entire geological history there that’s arguably as interesting as our own planet’s.

But at just half the diameter and a few percent the mass of Earth, as well as its location at a significantly greater distance from the Sun, Mars suffered a very, very different fate from Earth. Whereas on our planet, oceans have thrived and so has life, Mars has become cold, dry, and very, very desolate.

At some point less than a billion years after Mars formed, its global magnetic field ceased to be, removing the planet’s main source of protection from the solar wind. This solar wind — fast moving particles of mostly protons — strikes the red planet at about 1,000,000 mph. The particles collide with Mars' atmosphere with enough energy to escape from Mars’ gravity, causing the planet to lose about 100 grams (a quarter of a pound) of atmosphere every second. (11/5)

Is Mars Doomed? (Source: Forbes)
If there was life on the surface of Mars early on, the atmospheric changes were gradual enough that we have reason to believe it could have evolved to find a suitable niche where it may survive even to the present day. If we decided to terraform Mars by artificially creating a dense atmosphere, it would survive for many millions of years today before we needed to replenish it.

Interestingly enough, if we do nothing to Mars, the current rate-of-loss of the atmosphere means that Mars will become completely airless in just another two billion years, turning this into a Mercury-or-Moon-like world. (11/5)

Aerospace Corporation Announces New Division, Vaeros (Source: SpaceRef)
Aerospace Corp.’s Civil and Commercial Operations was renamed Vaeros. Building on Aerospace’s reputation as a trusted, impartial advisor with dedication to mission success, Vaeros combines deep technical expertise with market-leading innovation to help customers solve some of the world’s most complex systems engineering and integration challenges. It aspires to be a customer’s “first call” when engaging in a challenging systems engineering or technology development project. (11/5)

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