December 2, 2015

Space Club Opens Nominations for Annual Florida Award (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club Florida Committee (NSCFL) presents its premier award, the Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award, for significant contributions to the advancement, awareness, and improvement of aerospace in Florida. This award will be presented at our annual Debus Dinner, scheduled for Saturday, April 30, 2016 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Debus Conference Center.

Whether as an NSCFL member or friend of the aerospace community, we encourage you to submit nominations for the 2016 Debus Award. Nominations must be made in writing via an online form available at The deadline for submitting nominations is Tuesday, January 19, 2016. Click here. (12/1)

Second Former NASA Employee Pleads Guilty in Chinese Espionage Case (Source: Daily Press)
A second former NASA employee pleaded guilty this week to a charge linked to the case of a Chinese researcher once accused of espionage. Daniel J. Jobson, a retired research physicist at the Langley Research Center, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating a government regulation and was sentenced to six months probation.

Another former Langley scientist pleaded guilty to the same charge in October. The two were supervisors of Bo Jiang, a Chinese scientist arrested in 2013 on espionage charges. Those charges were later dropped, and Jiang left the country after accepting a lesser charge of improper use of his government-issued laptop. (12/1)

Transportation Bill Includes Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization (Source: Reuters)
The final version of a transportation bill includes a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. The bill, announced Tuesday by House and Senate conferees after reconciling their separate bills, would reauthorize Ex-Im through September 2019. Authorization for the bank lapsed at the beginning of July, preventing it from doing new deals. The space industry has lobbied for the bank's reauthorization, given the growing role it has played over the last several years financing commercial satellite and launch deals. (12/1)
Most DOD Satellite Jamming Self-Inflicted (Source: Breaking Defense)
The U.S. military has suffered hundreds of cases of jammed satellite communications this year, all apparently self-inflicted. Gen. John Hyten said he was aware of 261 cases of jamming this year, apparently caused when other transmissions, including radars and other communications, interfere with satellite downlinks. “How many were caused by an adversary?” he asked. "I really don't know. My guess is zero."  (12/1)

Challenges to Arms Control in Space and Pragmatic Way Ahead (Source: US State Dept.)
The United States is not opposed to space arms control agreements in principle. Indeed, as the U.S. National Space Policy makes clear, “[t]he United States will consider proposals and concepts for arms control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies.” Furthermore, we believe that it is not in the international community’s interest to engage in a space weapons arms race; indeed, our efforts are aimed at preventing conflict from extending into space.

Instead of focusing on fundamentally flawed proposals, we would instead offer a pragmatic way ahead in order to address some of the urgent challenges that we all face, especially in the area of space debris. We believe that way is through the creation and implementation of pragmatic and near-term transparency and confidence-building measures, or TCBMs,that can encourage responsible actions in, and the peaceful use of, space. Click here. (12/1)

Asteroid Mining Is Legal for Americans. What About Everyone Else? (Source: Motherboard)
“It is my opinion that any US entity obtaining asteroid resources would be in contravention of international law, as would the government for permitting it,” said Sa'id Mosteshar, the Director of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, in an emailed statement. “The Treaties governing space activities do not give the US that right, and the US government cannot assign to its citizens rights that it does not have.”

Asteroid mining is an appealing prospect to commercial companies, and with good reason: space rocks harbour valuable raw materials such as iron, nickel, and platinum, which could make a pretty penny back home, especially as Earth’s own resources run lower. Some of their components could also be valuable for use in space—water, for instance, could be used in spacecraft propellant. US companies including Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries have their eye on that extraterrestrial booty.

It’s important to note that the US insists it is not claiming ownership over extraterrestrial bodies—in fact, it’s very careful to make that disclaimer in the text of the new Act. But can it give away something it doesn’t own? For now, experts can’t agree on whether the US law is acceptable. It could well be that other countries follow with their own national legislation, though Puschman pointed out that would-be asteroid mining companies don’t really exist outside the US yet. (12/1)

Tiny Sensors Studied For Worldwide Wildfire Watch (Source: Aviation Week)
A group of scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is scrambling to flesh out a concept that could lead to a relatively low-cost array of heat sensors in low Earth orbit (LEO) for almost instantaneous warning of wildfires, oil spills on dry land and other “thermal events” worldwide.  The idea is not new, but the “FireSat” concept for getting a large enough constellation into LEO is a product of the renaissance in commercial space. (12/2)

Lockheed Opens Space Debris Tracking Facility in Australia (Source: Aerospace Technology)
Lockheed Martin and EOS Space Systems have opened a new space object tracking facility in Australia, in a bid to provide safety to satellites from space debris. Commercial and government satellite operators will have a clear insight of the debris that could damage their networks and devise ways to avoid any problems. Ln 2014, Lockheed and EOS formed the tracking network Optical Space Services (OSSTM). (12/2)

Orbital and SpaceX to Fly Again for First Time After Rockets Exploded (Source: Washington Post)
Can commercial flight rebound and endure? Starting as early this week, there should be some answers. The two companies that saw their rockets explode on NASA missions are returning to the launch pad. On Thursday, Orbital ATK is set to fly a cargo resupply mission to the station for the first time since its Antares rocket blew up more than a year ago. Then later this month, SpaceX is slated to launch a commercial satellite from Cape Canaveral in its return to flight.

Both companies say they’ve fixed the problems that led to what they call mishaps, learned from the experience and emerged stronger and safer. But with both having explosions so close to one another, the pressure is on. NASA also has a lot riding on the launches. Years ago, it decided to retire the space shuttle program and outsource the resupply missions to the commercial sector, so it could focus on deep-space missions. There is no Plan B. (12/1)

Africa Analysis: The Continent’s Bold Space Policy (Source:
Last month, African science and education ministers adopted a continental space policy and strategy at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It’s been a long time coming. Work on an African space policy dates back to 2010, and it has taken it five years to reach this point.
The 14-page policy will act as a ‘guiding framework’ for African activities in space, while the 20-page strategy provides a ‘strategic framework’ for operationalising continental projects. The African Union (AU) Space Working Group, made up of AU and national officials and experts, prepared the two documents.
These are ambitious documents that aim to harness the power of technologies such as earth observation and satellite communications for the benefit of Africa’s health and wealth. But while the scope of the policy and strategy is impressive, some information — such as who will oversee their implementation — remains hazy. Click here. (12/1)

You Can Now Book a Virgin Galactic Trip to Space on Kayak (Source: Travel & Leasure)
The next time you want to book a flight from Kayak’s search engine in the U.K., you’ll have a new destination to choose from: space. Kayak said it’s the first search engine in the U.K. to offer space flights, though don’t look for any Cyber Monday deals: With Virgin Galactic, it costs just under $250,000 per person, and with XCOR Space Expeditionsit costs $137,500. (12/1)

Sierra Nevada Ships 11 Satellites for ORBCOMM Launch From Florida (Source: SNC)
Sierra Nevada Corp. has delivered 11 ORBCOMM Generation 2 (OG2) satellites to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for ORBCOMM’s upcoming OG2 Mission 2 launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is targeted for mid-December 2015. As the prime contractor for ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites, SNC is responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the OG2 satellites in the constellation. (11/30)

India’s First Manned Space Mission Likely to be Accomplished in 2021 (Source: Merinews)
Earlier reports of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had indicated Indian human Spaceflight programme will be accomplished in 2015. Later, it was envisaged to happen by 2017. Since budget for could not be included in the current five-year plan, now, India’s First Manned Space Mission is being planned for 2021.

The plans shared earlier had proposed that India’s manned flight programme envisages the development of a fully autonomous orbital vehicle capable of carrying the crew members. The proposal by ISRO had aimed at launching a two-man crew to Low Earth orbit. (11/30)

Air Force Funds 3D-Printing Study for Rocket Engines (Source:
The U.S. Air Force awarded the Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering a $545,000 contract to study additive manufacturing techniques to make cooling chambers for liquid rocket engines, according to a Nov. 4 press release from the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center.

The contract is part of a broader effort to end reliance on a Russian rocket engine that powers United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket, which is used to launch a majority of U.S. national security satellites. (12/1)

Almost Like Being on Mars (Source: Air & Space)
We won’t be landing astronauts on Mars anytime soon—not in 10 years, not in 20, maybe not in 50, given the current inertia in U.S. space policy. It’s a stretch even to say NASA is working on such a mission, considering that most of the required hardware is still in the conceptual stage, and that one advisory group after another has told the space agency, in ever blunter terms, that it can’t afford a Mars expedition with its current budget.

Now consider an alternative to astronauts landing on Mars that might be nearly as good—maybe, in the long run, better: astronauts in Mars orbit, operating sophisticated robots and rovers on the planet’s surface, using telepresence to see through the robots’ eyes and feel what they touch. Click here. (12/1)

China Issues Commemorative Space-Themed Banknote and Coin (Source: ZhouLe on Reddit)
This is a commemorative note and coin that was released on Thanksgiving Day. It is a limited release not intended for circulation. Click here. (12/1)

Christie Says He’s Not ‘Relying On Any Scientists’ To Inform Climate Change Views (Source: Think Progress)
Contradicting the claims of thousands of climate scientists, Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe global warming is “a crisis.” But when pressed to explain why, Christie said science wasn’t a factor in his position — it was just his “feeling.”

The exchange happened on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The New Jersey governor was asked whether he accepts the science of human-caused global warming — a timely question, given the ongoing U.N. climate change conference in Paris. Christie said he does accept that humans contribute to climate change, but that the issue isn’t a big deal. “It’s not a crisis,” he said. “The climate’s been changing forever and it will always change.” (12/1)

SpaceX Plans December Landing at Cape Canaveral Pad (Source: Florida Today)
After its next launch, SpaceX hopes to fly a Falcon 9 booster back to a landing site on the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, making its first attempt to bring a booster down on land rather than on a platform in the ocean. The Cape landing attempt has not yet been approved as part of a commercial launch license to be issued by the FAA,  and the timing of SpaceX’s next launch – the company’s first since a failed flight in June – remains uncertain.

SpaceX could try to launch of a group of small commercial communications satellites for New Jersey-based Orbcomm Inc. as soon as Dec. 15, but has not yet confirmed a date with the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing. “Their plan is to try to land (the next booster) out here on the Cape-side,” said Carol Scott of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, shortly after she discussed the plan with a SpaceX executive. SpaceX declined to comment. (12/1)

NASA Wants to Reach Mars With a Little Help From Its Friends (Source: Bloomberg)
In the middle of the Cold War scramble to best the Soviets in space, NASA received all the money it needed to put astronauts on the moon. The present-day dream of footsteps on Mars won't be quite so simple. A far more expensive Martian mission would blow apart the agency's budget, making it more likely that NASA will need to rely on a little help from space-faring friends.

A recent NASA white paper on the next steps in the “journey to Mars” made the moon comparison explicit: “Like the Apollo program, we embark on this journey for all humanity.” But all humanity won’t foot the bill. Only a select handful of nations have the engineering and hardware capacity to help make the mission a reality. Click here. (12/1)

Peek Inside ILC Dover, the Company That Makes NASA’s Space Suits (Source: WIRED)
An astronaut putting on a spacesuit is a bit like Clark Kent donning his tights and cape. The iconic white ensemble and fishbowl helmet grants astronauts almost superhuman abilities, letting them roam about in a vacuum. But while Superman got his suit from his mother, NASA astronauts get theirs from a company called ILC Dover. Click here. (12/1)

Russia Wants to Sell Sea Launch to Save on Costs (Source: Tass)
Roscosmos and Energia are trying to find an investor or a buyer for the Sea Launch project as soon as possible due to the high costs of its infrastructure maintenance. "The search for investors continues. Negotiations are underway. The project’s management has the task to find an investor or a buyer as soon as possible in order to relieve Roscosmos and RKK Energia of the financial burden associated with the infrastructure maintenance, first of all, marine vessels," the source said. According to him, the maintenance of Sea Launch costs approximately $30 million a year. (12/1)

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