November 7, 2015

IAP Buys Aviation, Tactical Communications Units From DRS (Source: Law360)
Florida-based defense contractor IAP Worldwide Services Inc. on Thursday said that it has purchased an aviation and logistics business and a tactical communications and network solutions business from DRS Technologies Inc., more than doubling the company’s addressable market size. (11/6)

UCF Company has Sights on the Moon (Source: Knightly News)
Looking up into the night sky, the moon may seem impossible to reach. But for one UCF Business Incubator company, Earthrise Space Foundation, the moon might not be too far away. The non-profit company, founded in 2008, is participating in the Google-sponsored Lunar XPRIZE competition to build a lunar rover.

The purpose of the competition is to find cheaper ways for space travel. Currently, there are 16 teams from around the world competing to launch and land a rover on the moon, travel 500 meters over the surface and send back photos, video and data to Earth, all with at least 90 percent private funding.

Earthrise’s team, Omega Envoy, was created by the CEO of the company, Ruben Nunez, when he was an aerospace engineering sophomore at UCF back in 2008. Their rover is named Sagan, after Carl Sagan, an American astronomer. (11/4)

First Two Mauna Kea Protesters Convicted, Sentenced (Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser)
Two people were convicted Thursday in the first two trials against protesters of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea. District Court Judge Barbara Takase found Ronald Fujiyoshi and Linda Lindsey-Kaapuni guilty of obstructing Mauna Kea Access Road, a petty misdemeanor.

On April 2, Fujiyoshi was in the middle of Mauna Kea Access Road fronting the Mauna Kea visitors center, while Lindsey-Kaapuni was in a graveled portion of the road, said Hawaii County Deputy Prosecutor Britt Bailey. The state requested six months’ probation, and that they stay off Mauna Kea Access Road for the period of probation. Prosecutors also requested 72 hours of community service in lieu of a $500 fine. (11/5)

DLNR Chief Vows to Protect TMT Contractors (Source: West Hawaii Today)
The contractors building the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea have a right to be up there, the chairwoman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday, adding that the state will enforce the laws over which it has jurisdiction to ensure they are unmolested by protesters.

DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case was speaking to a mainly sympathetic audience at a luncheon in Hilo sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii. Protesters, who have raised issues of Hawaiian sovereignty and concerns over environmental impacts, have blocked construction vehicles several times since late March. Dozens have been arrested on the mountain. (11/6)

Bezos Space Startup Boosts D.C. Game (Source: Politico)
Blue Origin is boosting its lobbying and political donations in Washington as it aims to clear a regulatory path for its rockets to someday take flight. The company this year hired a Capitol Hill veteran as its first in-house lobbyist, adding to a team of outside hires that already includes two former lawmakers, and Bezos himself is personally bankrolling the company's political action committee, which is starting to reward congressional allies with campaign cash.

This March, it hired its first in-house lobbyist and government affairs director: Megan Mitchell, a onetime senior policy adviser for Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), the former chairman of the House's space-focused subcommittee. By the end of September, Blue Origin had spent $260,000 on lobbying - far less than its counterparts in the industry, but still a record for Bezos's space firm.

Blue Origin is also bringing its political-action committee out of the shadows. Bezos rarely donates directly to federal lawmakers, but he and his wife since 2014 have funded all of Blue Origin's small but growing PAC, according to federal campaign finance records. So far, the PAC has spent a modest - but record - $9,000 this election cycle, contributing to lawmakers who have offered vocal support for the company's ambitions. (11/6)

Branson Wants to Colonize Mars, but He's Willing to Share (Source: Mashable)
It's no secret that a group of charismatic spaceflight entrepreneurs wants to set up shop on Mars one day. Virgin Galactic founder and billionaire Sir Richard Branson and SpaceX founder Elon Musk are just two of the many businesspeople that hope to one day travel to the cold, desert-like red planet.

But at least Branson, for his part, is willing to share his claim on the Martian dirt with others. “Mars is a big place. When we colonize Mars, he [Musk] can have the west end, and we’re gonna have the east end," Branson told Mashable jokingly in an interview. "There’s room for us both." (11/6)

JAXA May Develop New Life-Support System for International Space Station (Source: Japan Times)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency may provide a new life-support system for the International Space Station so Japanese astronauts can continue participating in the orbiting laboratory through 2024, people close to the matter said Saturday.

The development of the Environmental Control and Life Support System would be part of Japan’s contribution to ensure it can keep sending astronauts to the ISS, whose operation is set to be extended from 2020, they said. (11/7)

At $27 Billion, Mining in Space Could Cost Less Than a Gas Plant (Source: Bloomberg)
Getting a mine up and running on the moon or an asteroid would cost less than building the biggest gas terminals on Earth, according to research presented to a forum of company executives and NASA scientists.

A mission to Ceres, a dwarf planet 257 million miles from the Sun and the size of Texas, may cost about $27 billion. The expense includes 10 rocket launches to convey equipment, the extraction of metals and water, and the construction of an in-orbit facility to process the raw materials. (11/5)

Spaceport America Master Plan Includes New Hangar, Lease Space (Source: KRWG)
It could be late 2017 before Virgin Galactic begins launching commercial space flights from the New Mexico desert, but state spaceport officials say they have a new master plan aimed at attracting tenants and boosting revenues.

The plan calls for building a new hangar at Spaceport America, developing the vertical launch area and offering about 300 acres for lease. Officials envision leasing parcels of various sizes to aerospace and other tech-related companies. Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson says the plan could generate more than $3.2 million a year in rent. Anderson briefed lawmakers during a meeting in Santa Fe earlier this week. (11/6)

Orbcomm Expects December SpaceX Launch To Fill ‘Hole in the Sky’ (Source: Space News)
Satellite machine-to-machine (M2M) messaging provider Orbcomm Inc. on Nov. 5 said it remained cautiously optimistic that launch service provider SpaceX will return to flight in December with a new-version Falcon 9 by launching 11 Orbcomm second-generation satellites. The launch will complete  Orbcomm’s second-generation constellation after the six satellites launched aboard Falcon 9 in July 2014.

Orbcomm had expected to be second or third on the flight manifest following SpaceX’s June launch failure. But in October, Orbcomm, SpaceX and SpaceX’s putative return-to-flight customer, fleet operator SES of Luxembourg, agreed to switch the two launches’ order to allow SpaceX to test reignition of the upgraded Falcon 9’s second-stage engine. (11/6)

Houston Spaceport Plan Detailed (Source: AOPA)
The FAA-approved plan to build a spaceport at Houston’s Ellington Airport was detailed for local pilots and the press in events Nov. 3 and 4, and AOPA is keeping an eye on developments, working to ensure general aviation is not forgotten.

AOPA Central Southwest Regional Manager Yasmina Platt attended both, and is monitoring the details as the plan proceeds toward construction of facilities. Platt noted that space launch operations will not prompt long-lasting flight restrictions, with launch-related airport closures expected to last just 30 to 40 minutes at a time. The spacecraft will follow standard air traffic control and other procedures upon arrival, and the facility will not conduct vertical launches. (11/6)

Dubai ‘Perfect’ for Mars One Simulation Outpost (Source: 7Days)
The head of the Mars One project believes Dubai is the “perfect place” to build a simulation outpost where the candidates can train. The $6 billion Mars One project aims to send people to the Red Planet permanently by 2027, where they can establish a human settlement.

Bas Lansdorp claims Dubai’s climate is in many ways similar to Mars and that it will help potential astronauts familiarise themselves with the Martian atmosphere. When the mission was announced by the Netherlands-based launch team, more than 200,000 applied and now just 103 remain, including UAE  residents Mikolaj Zielinski and Ritika Singh. (11/6)

Google Wants to Test Airborne Technology at Spaceport America (Source: Business Insider)
Google plans to test secret airborne communications technology at the New Mexico "spaceport" facility where space tourism and exploration companies Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have set up shop, as well as an Indian reservation in Oregon.

Google wants to test a radio technology that involves aircraft hovering 25,000 feet in the air and several terrestrial stations located at Spaceport America, a facility funded by the state of New Mexico that hopes to be the center of the nascent space tourism industry. (11/6)

Spaceport America Hosts UP Aerospace Suborbital Launch (Source: Spaceport America)
Spaceport America announced the successful launch today of an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft rocket carrying several scientific and engineering experiments. The launch took place this morning at 8:01 MST from Spaceport America's Vertical Launch Complex-1 on the East Campus. This launch represents Spaceport America's 24th overall launch and the fourth from Spaceport America with NASA Flight Opportunities Program payloads. (11/6)

NASA Wants You... To Be its Next Flag Football Referee (Source: The Verge)
Earlier this week, NASA announced that it's about to open up a whole new round of astronaut applications. Hopeful applicants in this crop might someday orbit the Moon, or take the first steps on Mars — if they're made of the right stuff, that is. But what about those of us who have no flight experience, no wealth of STEM degrees, or eyesight that isn't tack-sharp? Well, NASA might still have a place for us: the gridiron.

Yes, NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas has a flag football league — of course it does, it's Texas — and that league (apparently) needs referees! At least that seems to be the case after a Deadspin commenter spotted this listing on The job comes with rather typical referee requirements: two night per week availability, ability to manage the speed of the game, and a good judge of field conditions in bad weather. (11/6)

Russia’s Orbital Provocations (Source: Space News)
hanks to publicly available orbital tracking data, coupled with the candor of commercial satellite operator Intelsat, the world now has a fresh and alarming example. According to Intelsat, Russia’s Luch satellite, launched in 2014, has on multiple occasions parked itself dangerously close to some of the company’s satellites. In one instance, the company said, Luch ensconced itself directly between two Intelsat satellites that are practically co-located — at 18 degrees and 18.2 degrees west longitude.

U.S. Air Force officials say the Russian craft has come as close as 5 kilometers to someone’s satellite, but won’t say whose. In other words, it is possible that Luch has had close encounters with other satellites whose owners aren’t talking, at least in public.

But the Intelsat approaches are, by themselves, arguably the biggest publicly known provocations in space since China’s 2007 anti-satellite test. Intelsat says it tried several times to get information from Russia about the Luch satellite’s planned maneuvers but was ignored. Intelsat has described Russia’s behavior as irresponsible. Here’s another word: unacceptable. (11/6)

Inmarsat Tentative on Late 2016 Falcon Heavy Launch (Source: Space News)
Inmarsat has a launch option on the yet-to-be-flown Falcon Heavy rocket for a late-2016 flight. A decision on whether to confirm this launch reservation will be made early next year. Several business cases are emerging that would justify the launch, with customers in different regions vying to have the satellite placed over their areas of interest.

SpaceX, still recovering from a June launch failure that has grounded the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, might not be able to provide a late-2016 flight but that any delay should not extend past March 2017. (11/6)

We Need a Better Way to Get Into Space (Source: The Conversation)
Going to orbit in a rocket is the equivalent of deciding you want to travel from the US to the UK, climbing into a catapult, and firing yourself across the Atlantic. Except the catapult cost hundreds of millions of dollars and explodes after you use it once.

Essentially a rocket is a brute force approach. You point it in the direction you want to go and then rapidly release a load of energy under it (explode your fuel with oxygen) until the force from the explosion pushes the rocket up. This is very inefficient. Along with their fuel, rockets must also carry all the oxygen they need to burn it. Click here. (11/6)

Israel to Request $5 Billion in Military Aid (Source: YNet)
Israel has asked the United States to raise the amount of the annual defense aid from the current $3 billion  to $5 billion, an American source revealed to Reuters. According to the report, Israel is interested in annual aid package of 5 billion dollars for a decade - that is 50 billion dollars. (11/6)

Spacewalkers Reconfigure Station Cooling System (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Two astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) conducted a spacewalk lasting seven hours and 48 minutes on Friday to return the cooling system on the outpost back to its original configuration. The spacewalk, designated as Extravehicular Activity (EVA) 33, was performed by NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly on Nov. 6, 2015.

Lindgren was the lead spacewalker, known as EV-1, wearing the spacesuit with red stripes. Kelly was EV-2, wearing an all-white suit. They switched their suits to battery power at 5:22 a.m. CST (11:22 GMT), signifying the start of the planned six-hour thirty-minute spacewalk to reconfigure the cooling system back to its original configuration. By the end of EVA-33, most tasks were completed, but due to time constraints, a radiator, which was to be stowed, was left extended. (11/6)

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