December 20, 2015

SpaceX Shifts Launch/Landing to Monday (Source: SPACErePORT)
Due to wind conditions, SpaceX has moved its Sunday night Falcon-9 launch to Monday night, with liftoff scheduled for a window that opens at 8:33 p.m. SpaceX will attempt to recover the rocket’s nine-engine first stage with a first-ever powered landing at a landing pad complex at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (12/20)

Posey Votes Against Spending Bill Despite NASA Hike (Source: Florida Today)
Rep. Bill Posey voted against the $1.1 trillion spending bill that cleared Congress on Friday because he viewed it as a combination of excessive debt and bad policy. It didn’t help that the massive, catch-all measure came up just days before the government was facing a shutdown. “With our national debt about to reach $19 trillion, it’s past time for Washington to get serious about fixing our broken budget process,” said Posey, R-Rockledge. “Despite the steady funding levels for our space program, the omnibus bill continues the irresponsible trend of rushing to pass another ‘too big to read’ spending bill at the eleventh hour. This must change.” (12/19)

Meet the Man Who Wants to Put Children in Space (Source: Independent)
Had Kevin Fong landed the job of his dreams, he would be in low Earth orbit this week, instead of Major Tim Peake, circling the globe at 17,100 miles per hour. Fong, one of the UK’s leading experts on space medicine, applied to the European Space Agency to be an astronaut in 2008. His hopes surged when he made it through the first round of interviews, but ultimately he didn’t make the cut.

Despite staying earthbound, Fong, the founder of University College London’s Center for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Physiology, is playing his own role in firing up the next generation of Peakes. The 44-year-old doctor will use three Royal Institution lectures, How to Survive in Space – to be broadcast on BBC between Christmas and New Year – to show children that they don’t need to be in the International Space Station to be part of something “at the limit of all we’re capable of as a species”.

He wants his talks, aimed at 11- to 16-year-olds, to inspire children about life beyond Earth “before they’ve become too jaundiced [and] have created an impression of a world that has walls”. Speaking in the Royal Institution beneath a bust of the chemist Sir Humphry Davy, Fong says it is vital to take advantage of the short period of time when kids think anything is possible. “We’ve got to get them early, earlier than we probably do,” he says. (12/19)

Space Mission a Major Thrust for the UAE (Source: The National)
John Logsdon, a world-renowned analyst of space issues, says initiatives such as the UAE Space Agency and Emirates Mars Mission have put the UAE on the map. “They’ve made a very visible and somewhat bold start in becoming part of the world space community,” he says. Click here. (12/20)

Midland Spaceport Hangar Negotiation Opens Path for Economic Growth (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
Midland Development Corp. board members expect a deal they believe will save the city millions will also opens the door for economic growth at the Spaceport Business Park. XCOR agreed on Friday to release back to MDC by January half of the facility it currently rents. XCOR also will pay $6,000 a month to lease its remaining half, or Hangar B.

The reacquired space, Hangar A, provides the MDC a $7.5 million facility for potential clients. Outside parties had expressed interest in coming to Midland, but the city would have had to spend about $4 million to build a lesser facility, according to MDC board chairman Brent Hilliard. With the hangar, MDC on behalf of the city can lease an existing property valued at $7.5 million, which Hilliard said is equivalent to one year’s tax revenue for the MDC. (12/20)

Berkeley Releases Report on Astronomer Sexual-Harassment Case (Source: Nature)
The University of California, Berkeley, has released its report on sexual-harassment complaints against astronomer Geoff Marcy, who stepped down from his faculty position there in October after the findings came to light. Berkeley released the report and related documents on 17 December, in response to public-records requests filed by Nature and other publications.

The 120 pages lay out the pace and scope of the university’s investigation into what ultimately involved four complaints from four individuals. The documents show a gradual escalation involving the chair of the astronomy department; the university officer tasked with complying with Title IX, the US law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programmes that receive federal funds; and a ‘complaint resolutions officer’ who led the final investigation. (12/20)

Russian Cargo Spaceship Departs Station (Source: NASA)
A Russian resupply ship left the International Space Station today after 166 days attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-filled Progress 60 (60P) undocked from Pirs at 2:35 a.m. EST/7:35 a.m. UTC and will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere a few hours later for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean. Pirs will remain vacant until Wednesday morning when a new delivery spaceship arrives and docks to it filled with science and supplies replenishing the Expedition 46 crew. (12/19)

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