January 13, 2016

KSC Meeting Portrays SLS as Scrambling for a Manifest Plan (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
An “All-Hands” style meeting was held in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Monday, overviewing the spaceport’s current and future initiatives. During the meeting, NASA leaders admitted continuing funding issues meant the Space Launch System (SLS) is still trying to work a manifest plan, with further uncertainty portrayed as to when a crewed mission will debut on the monster rocket. Click here. (1/12)

These Are the Space Missions to Watch in 2016 (Source: Space.com)
Spaceflight fans will have a lot of cosmic action to keep them happy in 2016. While the coming year does not appear to promise anything quite as spectacular or awe-inspiring as 2015's signature moment — the July 14 flyby of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft — there will still be a lot going on overhead.

Here's a brief rundown of the biggest spaceflight miletones to keep an eye out for in 2016, from a NASA probe's arrival at Jupiter to the highly anticipated maiden flight of SpaceX's huge new rocket. Click here. (1/11)

Congresswoman Reveals Astronomy Professor's History of Sexual Harassment (Source: Mashable)
A U.S. congresswoman is calling out a leading astronomy educator who violated the sexual harassment policy at the University of Arizona, saying the case highlights a larger problem of holding known offenders accountable in higher education. The astronomer, Timothy Frederick Slater, now holds a prestigious position at the University of Wyoming, where he conducts research and mentors graduate students.

But a 2004 investigation at Arizona concluded that Slater created a hostile work environment by regularly subjecting students and employees to unwanted sexual conduct — such as gifting a student a cucumber-shaped vibrator, going to strip clubs for lunch and openly commenting on women’s bodies. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, cited the Slater case and called on the department’s civil rights office to “clarify” whether reports of misconduct must be disclosed when they move to a different institution. Slater, who remained at Arizona for four years after the investigation, admitted that he violated the sexual harassment policy at the university but said that he has since reformed.

Slater may be the third space scientist to be publicly accused of sexual harassment in recent months. The field was recently rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct by Geoffrey Marcy, a noted exoplanet hunter at University of California at Berkeley, whose name had been floated as a contender for a Nobel Prize in Physics. (1/12)

China to Launch Belarusian Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
China is looking to carry out its first launch of the year on Friday, Jan. 15, as it plans to send a Belarusian telecommunications satellite into space. The Belintersat-1 spacecraft will be lofted into orbit by a Chinese workhorse Long March 3B booster from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. (1/12)

Caltech Suspends Professor for Harassment (Source: Science)
For what is believed to be the first time in its history, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena has suspended a faculty member for gender-based harassment. The researcher has been stripped of his university salary and barred from campus for 1 year, is undergoing personalized coaching to become a better mentor, and will need to prove that he has been rehabilitated before he can resume advising students without supervision. Caltech has not curtailed his research activities.

The university has not disclosed the name of the faculty member, but Science has learned that it is Christian Ott, a professor of theoretical astrophysics who studies gravitational waves and other signals from some of the most violent events in the cosmos. Born and educated in Germany, Ott joined the Caltech faculty in 2009 and was awarded tenure in early 2014. (1/12)

Gov. Inslee Touts Bezos' Rocket Landing, Declines to Mention Boeing (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal)
Gov. Jay Inslee opened Tuesday’s State of the State address by touting Washington state’s role in the first-ever soft landing of a rocket – a feat accomplished by Seattle entrepreneur and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

"We’re at the forefront with companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX," Inslee said. "They’ve brought the future of space travel to our state, successfully launching — and landing — rockets over the past year. It’s exciting these companies recognize that the greatest aerospace workers in the world are found right here in the state of Washington.” (1/12)

Northrop Grumman to Provide LN-200S for Lockheed Martin's Satellite Bus (Source: NGC)
Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin to supply its LN-200S fiber-optic Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) for the LM 300 satellite bus. The LN-200S is a small, lightweight navigational element that senses acceleration and angular motion, providing data outputs used by vehicle control systems for attitude control and guidance. (1/12)

European Commission Should Have Hand in Designing Europe’s Next-gen Rocket (Source: Space News)
A senior European Commission official on Jan. 12 said the commission should have a direct role in the design of Europe’s next-generation rocket and the organization of Europe’s launch sector, having missed the opportunity with the Ariane 6 vehicle now expected to enter service in 2020. (1/12)

Life on Earth Can Thank Its Lucky Stars for Jupiter and Saturn (Source: Space.com)
Without Jupiter and Saturn orbiting out past Earth, life may not have been able to gain a foothold on our planet, new simulations suggest. The two gas giants likely helped stabilize the solar system, protecting Earth and the other interior, rocky planets from frequent run-ins with big, fast-moving objects, researchers said. (1/12)

Russian Scientists Developing Avatar Robot for Extraterrestrial Exploration (Source: Sputnik)
Russian scientists from the state-run Android Technics firm are working on an "avatar robot" that will replace humans on dangerous missions, such as during the exploration of the moon or Mars, the head of the company said Tuesday. (1/12)

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