December 14, 2015

Near-Term SpaceX Launch Manifest Coming Into Focus (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX’s launch of a cluster of communications satellites for Orbcomm, set for as soon as next weekend, holds the headlines, but the company’s Falcon 9 rocket could fly at least four times in the next two months, assuming smooth launch campaigns and no glitches. Waiting in the wings after Orbcomm are a pair of Falcon 9 launches in mid-January from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Click here. (12/13)

McCain Asks Pentagon To Audit  ULA (Source: Law360)
Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, has asked the Pentagon to audit a Lockheed-Boeing joint venture that received significant federal subsidies, after it chose to not bid for a military satellite launch contract and left only one approved contractor in the running.

Editor's Note: I think McCain is missing the point of ULA's decision not to compete for the GPS launch. The GPS mission is exactly the type of low-risk mission the Air Force would like to offer to SpaceX, to ease them into the military launch sector. ULA would probably have been wasting its time and money to bid for the GPS launch. (12/11)

Soyuz Ready to Launch New ISS Crew Members (Source: BBC)
A Soyuz rocket is on the pad, ready to launch a new crew to the ISS tomorrow. The Soyuz moved to the pad early Sunday for its launch at 6:03 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday. The rocket will launch a Soyuz spacecraft carrying American astronaut Tim Kopra, British astronaut Tim Peake, and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko to the ISS. (12/13)

China Launches New ChinaSat 1C Communication Satellite (Source: Space Daily)
China has launched a new communication satellite from the southern province of Sichuan, local media reported Thursday. China's Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation announced in November 2014 it was planning to launch around 120 applied satellites to update its national space infrastructure. These are planned to include 70 remote sensing, 30 navigation and 20 communication satellites. (12/14)

UK Releases New Space Policy (Source: The Independent)
In advance of Tim Peake's launch, the British government has released its first National Space Policy. The policy, released Sunday, calls for the U.K. to become "the European hub for commercial spaceflight and related space sector technologies." The document lays out the roles and responsibilities of various government agencies to achieve that goal, led by the U.K. Space Agency. (12/13)

Space Race Worth $18 Billion to British Economy (Source: Space Daily)
Britain published Sunday its first ever National Space Policy, with a government minister quoting Star Trek's Mr Spock to support space exploration. The new policy has been devised as Britain's first European Space Agency astronaut prepares for his historic launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on Dec. 15.

Britain's journey into space will be worth 18 billion U.S. dollars to the nation's economy, said Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid. He said the policy will firmly place Britain on the global stage for future space programs.

A spokesman for his department said with Britain aiming to become the European hub for commercial spaceflight and related space sector technologies, the new policy sets out the government's vision to capture a greater share of the world's thriving space market. (12/14)

Musk Worries Third World War Would Ruin Mars Mission (Source: C/Net)
President Donald Trump becomes very upset because Mexico won't pay for the wall, so he presses the nuclear button. Vladimir Putin's troops invade Norway because their GPS malfunctions. Switzerland decides it's tired of being beige and attacks Liechtenstein. I'm merely imagining scenarios for the start of World War III. I've been moved to such thinking by Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk.

Musk was asked about his ambitions to colonize Mars -- which he hopes will be achievable through his Space X rockets. He was curiously sanguine. One shouldn't imagine, he said, that technological progress is a given. "Most of us instinctively assume that technology relentlessly marches forward, but there have been times before now in human history ... when the civilizations that followed could no longer do what had been done before, and perhaps there's a complacency and arrogance in assuming that this won't happen again," he said.

He warned that there might only be a relatively short window for a colony to be set up on Mars. He fears events on Earth could mean that technological progress is not merely halted, but actually goes into reverse. "I think we need to acknowledge that there's certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that's happened before. Let's say nuclear weapons are used. I mean, there could be a very powerful social movement that's anti-technology." (12/13)

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