December 19, 2015

S3 Delays ZeroG Launch and IPO Campaign (Source: Space Daily)
Technical and contractual delays in the calendar of the young Swiss startup have resulted in the postponement of the ZeroG flight campaign. They were last scheduled to begin at end of 2015. Swiss Space Systems maintains its initial strategic direction, including the assurance that its customers around the world will benefit of a robust legal framework completely compliant with the commercial aviation regulation.

The implementation of commercial and scientific parabolic flights through a certification as an airline is a world premiere. It requires long and detailed work with the respective airworthiness authorities. The IPO of Swiss Space Systems will be pursued, as well as the option offered to certain customers to convert their ZeroG tickets into company shares. However, the IPO will be postponed to ensure the best possible valuation of S3 when it enters the stock market. (12/18)

Could a War in Space Really Happen? (Source: BBC)
In the past the nuclear balance between the US and the USSR helped to prevent war in space. The modern world is more complex and already some 60 countries are active in space. So is a war involving attacks on satellites now becoming more likely? Click here. (12/19)

Maybe This Is Why Bill Nye Never Became An Astronaut (Source: Huffington Post)
If Bill Nye loves space so much, how come he's never gone into it? It's not for lack of trying. In a recent interview at AOL headquarters in New York, America's beloved "Science Guy" and the CEO of The Planetary Society said that he had applied to join the astronaut corps four times, but NASA rejected him. "The kind of people that become astronauts are amazing," Nye explained. "They're these crazy, wonderful, overachiever, wild people."

Nye, whose gift for explaining science and promoting space exploration has earned him worldwide fame, isn't exactly an underachiever. As he said in the interview, he was a good athlete and not prone to the motion sickness that troubles some astronauts. Still, it was a no-go. And so Nye joked that there might have been a very basic explanation for why NASA didn't want him -- just watch this interview to hear the story! (12/19)

Seeing Earth From Space Will Force Rich Space Tourists to Save the Planet (Source: Inverse)
When you orbit the Earth at 17,000 miles an hour, time accelerates and phenomena shrink. The sun rises every 90 minutes. Pacific Ocean clouds branch and narrow in stratospheric fractals. Over the Sahara, you can spot where the wind, squeezed through mountain gaps, carves thousand-mile-long sine curves in the sand.

“When you get up there and you first see the Earth, of course it’s beautiful,” says Richard Garriott, the sixth tourist to travel to the International Space Station and the creator of the massively successful Ultima gaming franchise. “But it’s not life-changingly beautiful.”

Garriott recalls seeing tectonic seams, the cottony white exhalations of the Amazon, and the Mississippi bleeding into the Gulf of Mexico. But he doesn’t remember feeling anything truly exceptional until Texas swung past his pressure-treated cupola window. (12/18)

Ensuring the Readiness of Railways in Case of Space Weather Events (Source: JRC)
The JRC has been looking into the risks of space weather impact on critical infrastructures. A new report explores the rail sector’s vulnerability and the potential impacts, in particular through interdependencies with other infrastructures. Awareness among operators and regulators worldwide is currently limited and vulnerabilities across the rail sector need to be identified, authors say. Click here. (12/18)

Boeing and SpaceX Are Going Down the Manned Spaceflight Checklist With NASA (Source: Inverse)
Both Boeing and SpaceX have contracts with NASA to provide astronaut rides to space, and both plan to run their first crewed test flight in 2017. “In the last year, Boeing and SpaceX have made tremendous progress,” says Stephanie Martin with NASA.

“Our program and the people here at NASA are working side by side with Boeing and SpaceX, so we really are going through this process in a partnered manner…. It’s not like they send us a vehicle and the end, and tell us they’re ready to launch.” One major milestone was the selection of four veteran NASA astronauts that will work with both companies through the testing, including the first crewed test flights. (12/19)

Bill Nelson Votes for Spending Deal; Marco Rubio Misses Vote (Source: Tampa Bay Times)
A day after suggesting he may try to hold up a massive spending deal, Sen. Marco Rubio skipped the vote all together, remaining instead on the presidential campaign trail. “You can slow it down,” Rubio said on Fox News. But the Florida Republican never attempted to do so, and Friday he was in Iowa as the Senate followed the House in passing the $1.15 trillion “omnibus” spending package.

Rubio still issued a statement indicating disapproval of the deal, though touted a provision he has promoted that thwarts payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. “In essence, not voting for it, is a vote against it,” Rubio told CBS News in Iowa. (12/18)

Sen. Thad Altman to run for Florida House in 2016 (Source: Florida Today)
Florida Sen. Thad Altman has filed to run for the Florida House seat now held by Ritch Workman, who cannot seek re-election because of term limits. Because of the Florida Senate redistricting process now underway, Altman's current District 16 Senate seat will be on the ballot in 2016. But Altman, R-Rockledge, will not be able to seek re-election under Florida election laws on term limits because he already would have served eight years in the Senate when the 2016 election is held.

So Altman decided to seek Workman's District 52 House seat in 2016, where there already are three other Republican candidates. Altman does not live in Florida House District 52, but said he plans to move into the district before the summer. Ritch Workman will in turn run for Altman's Senate seat.

Editor's note: Altman has been a strong supporter of space issues in the Senate, serving as chairman of a committee devoted to space and defense. Outside of the legislature, he also serves as president of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, with offices at Kennedy Space Center. (12/18)

National Security in Space: Cleaning up a Mess (Source: Space News)
Putting aside all the difficult-to-follow “ins and outs” of how the future of space launch will be configured, who will launch on what rockets with which engines at what times and with what political support, there seems to be an issue that is front and center. It is not very exciting, but exciting enough that we should all pay attention — it does, after all, concern our national security.

Congress has made a mess of national security in space, and the issue is getting quite clear. So, get out the mops. Summing up, it seems that the U.S. Air Force may lose heavy-lift launch ability in a couple of short years. Why? Congress appears to have clipped their wings. At a time when one would think we were focused on sustained access to space — to watch China, Russia, ISIS and radical Islam — Congress is fighting with itself, and average Americans appear to be the victims. How could this be? Click here. (12/19)

Space Coast's Unemployment Rate Drops (Source: Florida Today)
The unemployment rate in Brevard County dropped 0.3 percentage points last month, falling from 5.5 percent in October to 5.2 percent in November. But that not because more people had jobs, but because the county's labor force shrank. In November, 243,229 in Brevard were employed, down from 243,590 in October. But the labor force, that is those working or who wanted to work dropped from 257,705 to 256,605.

The number of unemployed in Brevard fell from 14,116 jobless people to 13,376 jobless people, meaning that there were 740 fewer jobless people in the county in November than in October. That is consistent with a long-term trend of Brevard's unemployed people either finding local jobs or leaving the local workforce. (12/18)

Texas Spaceport Deal Takes Back Hangar Space Leased to XCOR (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
The Midland Development Corp., on behalf of the city of Midland, authorized an item on their Friday agenda that essentially puts one year of tax revenue back into the MDC’s coffers. XCOR agreed to give Hangar A -- or half of the building XCOR occupies at the Spaceport Business Park -- back to the city. The more than 40,000-square-foot space would cost about $7.5 million to build, which is the same amount of tax revenue that MDC gets in one year.

XCOR will also pay $6,000 a month to lease its remaining half, or Hangar B. In exchange, the MDC passed an agenda item reimbursing XCOR for about $795,500 for improvements to Hangar A. Board chairman Brent Hilliard said that XCOR has fulfilled every part of negotiations made earlier this year, including bringing in a sufficient number of jobs to generate $4 million in payroll, with more employees expected. (12/19)

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