January 30, 2016

Space Plays a Nice Role in Florida's New Marketing (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A prominent image in a new marketing campaign for Florida features a glowing contrail from a rocket liftoff at Cape Canaveral. It’s certainly not the first time Florida has marketed its space industry, but it’s the first time in a few years – since the shuttle program wound down – that Florida itself has featured space so prominently.

Enterprise Florida, the principal economic development agency for the state, announced the new campaign Friday. The new slogan is “Florida – The Future is Here.” The campaign keyword is “Boundless.” Click here. (1/29)

Project Skybender: Google Tests 5G Internet Drones at Spaceport America (Source: Guardian)
Google is testing solar-powered drones at Spaceport America in New Mexico to explore ways to deliver high-speed internet from the air, the Guardian has learned. In a secretive project codenamed SkyBender, the technology giant built several prototype transceivers at the isolated spaceport last summer, and is testing them with multiple drones, according to documents obtained under public records laws.

In order to house the drones and support aircraft, Google is temporarily using 15,000 square feet of hangar space in the glamorous Gateway to Space terminal designed by Richard Foster for the much-delayed Virgin Galactic spaceflights. The tech company has also installed its own dedicated flight control centre in the nearby Spaceflight Operations Center, separate from the terminal. (1/29)

Space Travel Is a Sexy, Emerging Industry (Source: Huffington Post)
We have entered a new period where space exploration is no longer the sole province of government. The "Final Frontier" is now being explored by private firms, and technology companies have made space travel sexy with a number of futuristic visionaries vying for market share and bragging rights.

Companies are planning commercial rides to space as early as next year; a consortium of visionary business leaders are developing the technologies to mine asteroids for the enormous wealth of raw materials in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter; and companies are using super-accurate GPS on rocket boosters to land at a specific point on earth to be reused and repurposed for future missions. (1/29)

Huge Gas Cloud Hurtling Toward Our Galaxy Could Trigger New Stars (Source: Independent)
A giant gas cloud hurtling towards the Milky Way could form two million new stars when it finally collides with our galaxy.

The discovery was made after astronomers managed to figure out the chemical composition of the Smith Cloud, a huge formation of gas approaching the edges of the Milky Way at a speed of around 193 miles per second.

The Smith Cloud has been on scientist's radar since it was discovered in 1963, but its origins and chemical make-up were a mystery for a long time. Some thought the cloud could be a starless galaxy or just a giant body of gas, falling in to the Milky Way from intergalactic space. (1/29)

Public-Private Partnerships Could Represent the Future of DOD Launches (Source: Federal News Radio)
The Defense Department wants to create a network of public-private partnerships that will provide a strong commercial market for all its launch needs. "The exact form of these business arrangements will vary, dependent on the unique needs of each launch service provider," said Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. "The responses we've received from our formal requests for information tell us this concept has a real chance of success." (1/28)

Proton Launches European Commsat (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A commercial satellite designed to broadcast hundreds of television channels across Europe and better link European surveillance satellites and the International Space Station to scientists on the ground took off Friday from Kazakhstan aboard a Proton rocket. (1/30)

Florida-Based Harris Corp. Wins Major NASA Contract (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
Harris Corp. announced Jan. 29 it was awarded a major contract to build two payloads for the fourth and fifth weather satellites in NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System program. The $316 million contract modification was awarded to Exelis Space Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harris Corp., by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on behalf of NOAA. (1/29)

Prisoner Swap Releases Iranian Satellite Executive (Sources: New York Times, NPR)
Nader Modanlo, an Iranian-American, was convicted in 2013 of illicit business dealings with Iran, specifically helping Iran to launch its first communications satellite into space. Modanlo was once a prominent NASA contractor with an international business worth $500 million. The government claimed he received $10 million as a brokerage fee for helping put Iranians together with Russians so that they could launch a communication satellite.

He was released from U.S. federal prison as part of the swap of American prisoners in Iran. He says he is unhappy with how his release was handled and the strings that came attached. Mr. Modanlo was appealing his conviction and was hopeful that it would be reversed when news of the swap reached him. (1/29)

NanoRacks Project Could Be a Giant Leap for Commercial Space (Source: Houston Chronicle)
NanoRacks could soon receive NASA's blessing to build an airlock for the International Space Station that would launch small satellites and test experiments outside the station, while potentially providing an avenue for retrieving and repairing broken equipment. (1/29)

Pluto’s Widespread Water Ice (Source: JHU/APL)
Data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought. Imagery derived from observations in infrared light by the Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, shows where the spectral features of water ice are abundant on Pluto’s surface. It is based on two LEISA scans of Pluto obtained on July 14, 2015, from a range of about 67,000 miles (108,000 kilometers). (1/29)

NASA Preps Orbital ATK ISS Resupply Mission, Possibly Skipping SpaceX (Source: Florida Politics)
NASA has announced a launch date for the next commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, but the mission is the next one planned for Orbital ATK to fly, not the SpaceX Falcon-9 mission that was expected to come first. NASA is preparing for an early-morning, March 10 Atlas-5 launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (1/29)

Space: America's Achilles' Heel for Military Power (Source: Sputnik)
America's space architecture is believed to be the key factor behind the country's military might, but the increasing space capabilities of other nations could render these assets useless, US military officials and experts argue.

The US military could employ force effectively  "because it can understand better what is taking place in the midst of conflict, what its own forces are doing, and what those of an enemy are doing amidst the 'fog of war,'" a new report published by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) asserted. This understanding is made possible by the networks of satellites in orbit.

It is not surprising then that the US Armed Forces are increasingly reliant on space. But many view this reliance as a negative trend. Washington has never invested in protecting its space architecture, leaving it vulnerable. (1/30)

Florida Aerospace: On a Roll (Source: SPACErePORT)
NASA's selection of Sierra Nevada to be among the companies providing cargo flights to the ISS was the latest in a steady flow of good news for Florida's aerospace industry. The company will soon begin building up its capability at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, alongside Blue Origin (with both launches and manufacturing), Moon Express, Rocket Lab, Masten, CubeCab, RocketStar, Generation Orbit, Starfighters, FireFly, and others either committed or planning to launch at least some of their missions from Florida.

In aerospace/defense, companies like Embraer, Northrop Grumman, Harris/Exelis, Boeing, AAR, and others have recently announced major expansions or contract wins in Florida. And on the academic front, UCF's Florida Space Institute continues to capture space research projects, Florida Tech has established a space institute with Buzz Aldrin, and Embry-Riddle's new Commercial Space Operations degree program continues to grow.

The announcement that a new large project (Project Sabal) may soon come to the state seems to drive home the notion that Florida is on a roll with momentum that is likely to continue into 2016 and beyond. The state's big challenge may now be to ensure that its academic community is able to produce the quality and quantity of graduates able to fill the high tech positions these companies will create. (1/30)

Deep Space Industries Teams to Demo Autonomous Spacecraft Maneuvering (Source: DSI)
The world’s first demonstration of autonomous spacecraft maneuvering was recently completed by Deep Space Industries and the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) of Toronto, Canada. Using their highly-successful CanX-4 and CanX-5 pair of nanosatellites, SFL operators executed a DSI-defined experiment on-orbit, in which the world’s first spacecraft-to-spacecraft orbit maneuver was commanded by one satellite and executed by the other. (1/30)

Indulge Your Inner Astronaut: 9 Things To Do at Kennedy Space Center (Source: Cosmos Mariners)
Even though my childhood dreams of floating amongst the stars will never come true, I still got to indulge my continuing love of all things space on my recent visit to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Click here. (1/30)

Virginia Aerospace Day (Feb. 3) Promotes Full Funding for Virginia Space Efforts (Source: SPACErePORT)
Fully fund Virginia Space’s operation budget to capture the substantial economic potential of this Virginia-based commercial spaceport. With NASA’s CRS-2 contract award, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) has multiple cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) on the launch manifest.

Ensure energy projects with assets off of Virginia’s coast are closely coordinated with Virginia’s aerospace industry and NASA. Support development of a Small Satellite Virginia economic cluster through Virginia Space Grant Consortium and its NASA and statewide industry partners. Click here. (1/30)

California Aerospace Days Planned for Feb. 29 - Mar. 1 (Source: AIAA)
Aerospace executives from the Golden State will gather in Sacramento on Feb. 29-Mar. 1 to urge legislators and the governor to support their issues and facilitate the continued growth of the state's aerospace sector. Click here for an agenda for the event. (1/30)

How Russia Beat the U.S. to the Moon (Source: Daily Beast)
Typical space race narratives focus on the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to land a man on the Moon in the 1960s. But this is only part of the story. Behind this race to put boot prints in the lunar regolith was a race between nations to be the first to reach, understand, and explore the moon with robotic probes, all done at a time when spaceflight was firmly in its infancy.

In this race, the Soviet Union won when Luna 9 became the first spacecraft to successfully soft land on the Moon on January 31, 1966. But the path was anything but straightforward. In the spring of 1958, the Soviet government approved a program for lunar exploration called Luna. Where the American program sourced its probes from different contractors, the Soviet program developed different initial probes, each of which had a unique goal. Click here. (1/30)

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