December 13, 2015

Goldman Sachs Bullish on Space (Source: Value Walk)
As technology continues to advance and the costs of almost everything space-related have dropped by orders of magnitude, a 21st-Century space race is shaping up. According to a recent report from Goldman Sachs Equity Research, space is the next frontier, and there will be plenty of money to be made by both aerospace and defense firms as this long-gestating and still nascent industry finally enters its mature phase.

As GS analyst Noah Poponak points out, “Space is becoming smaller, closer, and cheaper, reinventing an industry that has stagnated for decades and making room for new applications, technologies, and competitors.” Poponak highlights that that space launches now cost 11 times less than they did just five years ago, and that satellites launches are as much as 100 times less. He also argues that this new accessibility is likely to transform human activities in space. Click here. (12/12)

The Coming Cosmic Gold Rush (Source: New York Post)
America’s next Gold Rush might be out of this world. Literally. President Obama just signed a law giving prospectors the right to keep — and sell — anything they find in outer space. It’s a vital step in fostering the exploitation of off-earth resources.

Under the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, US citizens “engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource” can keep whatever they dig up. Previous law had left investors nervous about whether they’d be wasting millions to build rockets and mine resources in space — only to later have courts confiscate what they harvested. (12/12)

PSLV Set for Another Fully Commercial Launch (Source: The Hindu)
Next Tuesday’s PSLV rocket launch with all six Singapore satellites had a full dress rehearsal at Sriharikota on Saturday. The December 16 launch is to be formally cleared on Sunday by two decision-making bodies — the Mission Readiness Review Committee and the Launch Authorisation Board — after they take stock of the preparations, an official of the Indian Space Research Organisation said.

With the two bodies approving, the PSLV will put six Singapore spacecraft, small and mid-sized, into a 550-km orbit at 6 p.m. on that day. The upcoming flight of PSLV-C29 is the 32nd flight of the Indian light-lift launcher. It is also the sixth time it will carry to space only foreign satellites of customers, according to the official. For the 11th time, it will fly in the core-alone or bare-bones format, without the six/four small appendage strap-on solid-fuelled rockets. (12/13)

Did 2005 Spaceport Study Ignore Risk Factor? (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
One thing not mentioned in the 2005 economic development study underpinning New Mexico’s hopes for a purpose-built spaceport was this: risk. Ten years ago Monday, former Gov. Bill Richardson and billionaire Sir Richard Branson announced plans for New Mexico taxpayers to build a $225 million spaceport to host Virgin Galactic.

Hopes soared: Futron Corp. estimated that, by 2015, the spaceport could be hosting more than 200 suborbital launches annually as Virgin Galactic ramped up flights to space for tourists who could afford the ticket, today priced at $250,000.

The study did not evaluate the risks to its best-case projections, namely that the commercial space industry could face obstacles that could significantly slow its emergence – particularly in the frontier of human space flight. And that’s what happened. (12/13)

The Woman Behind NASA's Nine-Year Mission to Pluto (Source: Financial Review)
NASA engineer Alice Bowman was on the cusp of her greatest career triumph this year, helping to lead the space agency's first mission to Pluto 4.8 billion kilometres away. Suddenly, more than nine years after the New Horizons spaceship was launched from earth and just 10 days out from its scheduled Pluto flyby, it was facing potential disaster. Click here. (12/13)

How Humans Will Conquer Mars and Beyond (Source: The Guardian)
As a doctor I spent more than a decade travelling back and forth between the UK and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, working as a visiting researcher on projects ranging from studying the effects of the space environment on ageing physiology to artificial gravity systems. At the same time I was completing my junior medical training in anaesthesia and intensive care.

It was odd trying to splice those two lives together. Working on an intensive care unit overnight, heading to the airport at the end of the shift, grabbing some sleep on the plane, and then arriving the next day in a meeting room in Houston, where people were sitting around talking about how to send people safely to Mars.

But the thing that linked the two was the challenge of life at the extremes. In the hospital I was looking at the extremes of life when challenged by disease and injury. At NASA I was looking at the threat posed to human physiology by the extremes of the physical world and universe. Click here. (12/13)

Proton M Launches Garpun Satellite (Source:
Russia’s Proton-M has launched on its seventh flight of the year Sunday morning, beginning a lengthy mission to deploy a Garpun military communications satellite. The rocket departed Baikonur to begin what is likely to be a nine-hour journey to geostationary orbit. (12/12)

Ohio NASA Sites Look to Future, Honor History (Source: Toledo Blade)
Imagine an acoustic chamber cranking out sound waves so powerful they would liquefy your organs if you somehow were inside that room as it was being operated at full blast. Or a 122-foot-high vacuum chamber that can only be sealed into place by moving concrete doors that are 50 feet tall and 50 feet wide, each weighing an incredible 5.5 million pounds.

A visit to NASA Glenn Research Center’s satellite campus, the sprawling 6,400-acre Plum Brook Station in Erie County’s Perkins Township, is a science nerd’s paradise. It offers amazing sights never seen by millions of Ohioans and tourists from around the world who converge on nearby attractions such as Cedar Point, Great Wolf Lodge, and Kalahari Resorts and Conventions.

That will change a little next year, as NASA marks the 75th anniversaries of its Glenn Research Center, which is based in Cleveland, and its Plum Brook Station, which is just south of Sandusky near U.S. 250 and Bogart Road. The space agency’s 2016 events will include two sets of open houses, both giving the public a chance to tour facilities and meet astronauts: May 21-22 at NASA Glenn and June 11-12 at Plum Brook. (12/13)

Why Hacking DNA Is the Secret of Deep-Space Travel (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Scientists worldwide are rapidly increasing their ability to genetically re-engineer plants, animals, and microbes. Amor Menezes, an aerospace engineer and synthetic biology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that augmented organisms could transform long-term human space missions. Menezes and his research team just published an outline in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface on the six most promising applications for such engineered organisms. Here's how genetic engineering will revolutionize space travel. Click here. (12/11)

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