January 28, 2016

Consultants Tell Georgia Legislators of Spaceport Potential (Source: Southern Political Report)
A pair of consultants told legislators Tuesday the growing commercial-space industry offers economic opportunity to Georgia. New companies are forming every few months to launch rockets or build satellites, and they could be recruited to fly out of a site in Georgia, according to Jim Muncy, an independent consultant and senior policy advisor to the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

“You’re seeing these new companies coming into being, and that is the initial market opportunity for Camden,” he said. His comments came during a meeting of the House Science and Technology Committee getting briefed about efforts of the Camden County Commission to develop a commercial spaceport on 12,000 vacant acres in an unused industrial site.

The whole state could benefit, according to Andrew Nelson, a consultant who is hired by the county, unlike Muncy. “The opportunities and impact aren’t going to be only in Camden County. It’s going to be up in Northwest Georgia and all over,” Nelson said. Nelson said the noise 8 miles away would be similar to a lawnmower. And he said no one would have to move from their homes and no endangered animals would be at risk. (1/28)

Air Force May End ULA Launch Capability Contract (Sources: Defense News, SPACErePORT)
ULA's decision not to compete for a recent Air Force GPS launch contract made some sense given the high likelihood that SpaceX was a shoe-in to win it, but it now seems to have jeopardized a larger contract that funds the company's costs for launch site services not covered under specific launch contracts. ULA receives some $800 million annually to maintain its launch capabilities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and Vandenberg AFB.

SpaceX has argued that the contract represents an unfair $800 million annual subsidy, and Senator John McCain agrees. “That's astronomical that — that sum of money of taxpayers' dollars. And after paying them $800 million a year for my calculation nine or 10 years, then they don't even compete on a launch,” McCain said. “Is that the appropriate use of the taxpayers' dollars?”

James’ legal team is looking into how such an early termination could impact the re-pricing of the remaining block buy launches, she said. The Air Force’s initial research has shown early termination of the contract could increase costs and cause schedule delays, Lt. Gen. Arnie Bunch, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, told reporters after the hearing. However, the team is still conducting research into the matter, he noted. (1/27)

US to Lack Full Space Launch Capability Beyond 2019 Without Russian Engine (Source: Space Daily)
Full US space launch capability may be delayed beyond 2019 if it cuts its supply of Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines, US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

"Industry tells us... [they can] make 2019 for an engine, but I must say an engine alone will not get us to space. It needs to be integrated with a rocket, it needs to be tested, it needs to be certified, and to get all of that done, to have a launch capability will be longer than 2019," James said. (1/28)

NASA Assigns Early Design Contracts for Asteroid Redirect Mission (Source: Space Daily)
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has selected four companies to conduct design studies for a solar-electric-propulsion-based spacecraft for the agency's Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM). The aerospace companies selected for the initial studies include: Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Littleton, Colorado; Boeing Phantom Works, Huntington Beach, California; Orbital ATK, Dulles, Virginia; and Space Systems/Loral, Palo Alto, California.

ARRM is being planned to perform a number of demonstrations including the use of a 20-fold improvement in deep space solar-electric propulsion (SEP) to move and maneuver large payloads; retrieve a boulder up to 20 tons in mass from an asteroid and redirect it to a crew-accessible orbit around the moon; and be a part of integrated crewed and robotic vehicle operations in deep space. (18/27)

What the Challenger Disaster Meant for Our Race Into Space (Source: The Conversation)
So what is the legacy of Challenger? Have we taken on board all the advanced safety requirements that followed the two shuttle disasters? Have the recommendations on organisational change been followed? Sadly, until there is another disaster, we probably won’t know. But with every successful launch that takes place, we can be more certain that spaceflight – at least unmanned spaceflight – is becoming more routine.

On the other hand, human spaceflight as a regular, accepted mode of travel is seemingly as far away as it was in 1986. The arrival of private companies on the scene has given more impetus to the idea that space travel for pleasure is achievable – but the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two in November 2014 again questioned the safety of such enterprises.

Future visions of human space exploration are either inspiring or laughable, depending where you sit on the optimism-pessimism scale. But they do give us something to strive for – and surely that is the best lesson to take from Challenger, and a fitting tribute to those who have lost their lives in space. Never give up, we’ll get there in the end. And the views will be breathtaking. (1/27)

Indiana Children's Museum to Launch $8M in Space-Themed Attractions (Source: Indianapolis Business Journal)
In the basement of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, things are looking up as officials announce an outer space-themed makeover. The $8.1 million redo, set to open to the public in late June or early July, will include an immersive permanent exhibit, “Beyond Spaceship Earth,” focusing on space exploration. (1/27)

This Is Why No One Can Own the Moon (Source: TIME)
Exactly 49 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1967, the Outer Space Treaty, already adopted by the U.N.’s General Assembly, opened for signature. In the midst of the Cold War, the treaty provided a hopeful moment of international agreement—especially because the U.S. and Russia were among the more than 60 countries to sign it on that first day. The treaty declared that the moon and other “celestial bodies” were “the province of all mankind” and can only be used for peaceful purposes.

Legal questions about outer space had become a pressing issue almost ten years earlier, when Russia successfully launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, on Oct. 4, 1957, and propelled the world into the space age. The U.N. went to work immediately, but it took years for the matter to move from a special committee, to a resolution that extended international law and the U.N charter to outer space, to a non-binding declaration on space-age legal principles, and finally—in June 1966—to drafts, from the U.S. and the USSR, for a final treaty. (1/27)

DigitalGlobe Books $200 Million in imagery Contracts (Source: Space News)
DigitalGlobe has booked $200 million in contracts for high-resolution images from current and future spacecraft. The contracts, which the company announced Wednesday, cover imagery as sharp as 30 centimeters from the WorldView-3 satellite launched in 2014 and the WorldView-4 spacecraft scheduled for launch this September. DigitalGlobe said it also has $135 million in letters of intent from non-U.S. defense and intelligence customers. (1/27)

Lockheed Martin: Orion On SChedule for 2018 Launch (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin is confident its work on Orion will remain on schedule to support a launch in late 2018. The company, NASA's prime contractor for the spacecraft, said it is making the progress it needs to keep to that schedule, despite concerns raised in a recent report by an independent safety group on issues such as the spacecraft's heat shield and European-developed service module. NASA and Lockheed held a ceremony in New Orleans to mark the completion of the pressure vessel of the spacecraft, which will now go to the Kennedy Space Center to be outfitted with its various subsystems. (1/27)

Raytheon Reports Solid Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2015 Results (Source: SpaceRef)
Raytheon announced net sales for the fourth quarter 2015 of $6.3 billion, up 3 percent compared to $6.1 billion in the fourth quarter 2014. Net sales in 2015 were $23.2 billion, up 2 percent compared to $22.8 billion in 2014. (1/28)

NASA, Air Force Practice Astronaut Rescue at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: USAF)
It's not common an astronaut must be rescued out of rough open waters after descending home to Earth in a crewed capsule but when those Space Race era days of human space flight return, a small Air Force detachment knows they will be ready.

The 45th Operations Group Detachment 3 joined NASA's Commercial Crew Program and Air Force pararescuemen, Combat Rescue Officers and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists in a simulated astronaut rescue exercise here Jan. 14.

"At the strategic and operational levels of this exercise, we flawlessly met our objectives of effective command and control between our Joint Space Operations Center operating location and the combined Department of Defense and NASA landing support officers for the aircraft launch, relay of mission execution status, relay of astronaut medical status, and systems matter expertise to all players," said Lt. Col. Jason Havel of Det. 3. (1/26)

Airbus & OneWeb Create OneWeb Satellites Company (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, and OneWeb, which is building a new global satellite communications system, announced the creation of OneWeb Satellites. The new joint venture, equally owned by Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb, will design and build the 900 satellites of the OneWeb constellation, which will offer high-speed internet with global coverage. The new company will be led by Brian Holz as CEO. (1/27)

Reusable Rockets a Game Changer for Embry-Riddle Students (Source: ERAU)
To prepare students for this growing industry, Embry-Riddle introduced its Bachelor of Science in Commercial Space Operations in 2012. Since then, program enrollment has quadrupled. Dr. Lance Erickson, professor of Applied Aviation Sciences, said that when the commercial space degree program started in 2012, 400 companies were globally recognized in the commercial space industry. That number has grown to more than 1,000.

In addition to the private industry, the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation will create more opportunities to regulate and facilitate commercial space launches. “The CSO program is the first in the world of its kind,” Erickson said.

Erickson added that the growing commercial space industry will impact students across disciplinary fields such as engineering and human factors. The Commercial Space Operations program takes an interdisciplinary approach with a focus on policy operations, safety, training, human factors and planning elements of commercial and private space operations. (1/27)

Russia Launches Ambitious Cosmic Robotics Project (Source: Space Daily)
The development of state-of-the-art robots capable of operating in outer space will begin in Russia this year, media reports said. Russian scientists will begin the development of sophisticated robots capable of operating in outer space later in 2016, according to media reports. A source in the country's space industry said that at least three of these robots will be built in Russia by 2025.

"The three space robots will be constructed before the end of 2014. They will be able to perform various operations outside the International Space Station," the source said. More than 2.5 billion rubles will be allocated for the implementation of the project. According to the source, the scientists must solve the problem of allowing mechatronic systems to survive prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation and drastic temperature changes. (1/27)

SpaceX Tests Crew Dragon Parachutes (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Four red-and-white parachutes unfurled high above the Arizona desert recently during a test of the system that initially will be used to safely land SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying astronauts back from the ISS. The test used a mass simulator as the weight of the spacecraft connected to the parachute system. They were released thousands of feet above the ground from a C-130 cargo aircraft. This test evaluated the four main parachutes, but did not include the smaller pilot and drogue chutes that a full landing system would utilize. (1/27)

To Boost Commercial Activity, NASA May Add Private Airlock to ISS (Source: Ars Technica)
When NASA engineers designed the International Space Station during the 1990s, they didn’t envision the orbital outpost becoming a hub of commercial activity; nevertheless, that has become one of the most important contributions of ISS to US spaceflight. And as it nurtures American enterprise in low-Earth orbit, the station is increasingly running into a bottleneck: getting scientific research and other payloads outside.

Now a Texas company, NanoRacks, has proposed a solution. It is offering to build an airlock that will be attached to the space station and provide the capability to deploy cubesats and larger satellites. The $12 million-15 million airlock would also allow NASA to bring in costly large pumps and storage tanks for repairs rather than disposing of them. (1/27)

In 50-49 Vote, US Senate Says Climate Change Not Caused by Humans (Source: Bangor Daily News)
The U.S. Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and NOAA declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth. The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta. The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass. “Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said. (1/27)

Ariane-5 Launches Intelsat Satellite (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket on Jan. 27 successfully placed the first of Intelsat’s Epic-generation satellites into transfer orbit, a launch so important for Intelsat that the fleet operator was willing to forgo a co-passenger to secure the earliest possible launch slot. U.S.- and Luxembourg-based Intelsat is counting on the Epic Ku-band high-throughput satellites to drive revenue growth as its spacecraft appeal to new markets for mobile broadband. (1/27)

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