January 7, 2016

Georgia to Bid for Spaceport (Source: WSBT)
Georgia already boasts the world's busiest airport, one of America’s biggest sea ports and is home to the country's largest delivery company, UPS. Now Georgia is looking up to the stars for its next transportation hub. The dramatic growth of the commercial space industry has leaders of coastal Georgia’s Camden County applying to the FAA for permission to build a spaceport to launch commercial rockets into space.

The Camden spaceport would be built on a 12,000-acre former industrial site. The goal is to attract companies like SpaceX to invest in Georgia. “What an opportunity for this new, what I call the next space race,” said Camden County Administrator Steve Howard. And it is a race.
Other communities in places like Texas and California are also building spaceports. “Each of the different states is trying to position itself,” Eric Stallmer said. In order to build the spaceport, Camden needs to receive a license from the FAA. The next step in that process is an environmental impact study. An FAA representative said the deadline for public comment on the environmental impact has been extended to Jan. 18. (1/5)

Space Mining Will Take a Giant Leap in 2016 (Source: WIRED)
Most of us see the Moon as just a small circle in the sky. Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of space-mining startup Moon Express, sees quadrillions of dollars worth of valuable minerals, more than a million tonnes of fusion fuel and some prime business estate -- and he wants to own it. Click here. (1/6)

Sriharikota Spaceport Scores 50 (Source: The Hindu)
The nation’s space launch complex at Sriharikota, which reached its milestone 50th launch last month, is being readied to take up at least four more launches a year than now. Work on the second vehicle assembly building (SVAB) began three months ago and is scheduled to be ready by mid-2017. It will enable the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to do a dozen launches a year compared to about eight at present. (1/6)

Atlas V and Starliner to Conduct Dry Tests Ahead of Launch (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Boeing and ULA are continuing preparations ahead of Atlas V launches with the Starliner spacecraft. Formerly know as the CST-100, the spacecraft is scheduled to begin test flights next year, with progress towards that milestone visible at the launch pad and in the processing facilities – but also on the paperwork, with launch processing requirements now revealing a “dry test” ahead of launch.

For Boeing, Starliner will first launch on an uncrewed test flight to the Station via the “Boe-OFT” mission in April or May, 2017 – on a 30 days mission, ending with a parachute-assisted return. Should all go to plan, the second mission will involve a crew on a mission designated “Boe-CFT”, launching sometime between July and September, 2017, on a 14-day mission to the ISS. (1/6)

NASA Defends Decision to Restart RS-25 Production, Rejects Alternatives (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA has issued a lengthy explanation behind the decision to contract Aerojet Rocketdyne to restart production of the RS-25 engine, mainly centering on the claim it is less expensive – and safer – than developing a new engine. Six new RS-25s will compliment the existing stock of 16 engines, allowing the Space Launch System (SLS) to have enough engines through to her fifth flight.

NASA selected Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California to restart production of the RS-25 engine for the SLS via an official statement at the end of November. The deal was always in the pipeline, although the official procurement process meant the details of the deal remained embargoed.

Under the deal – worth $1.16 billion – Aerojet Rocketdyne will modernize the engine to make it more affordable for SLS – previously tagged as the switch from the reusable RS-25D used on the Space Shuttle to the expendable RS-25E. The engine will be known only as the RS-25 during its SLS career. (1/5)

Stressful Job Simulating Life in Space Draws Sky-High Interest in Japan (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has resumed taking applications from people interested in taking stress tests in a closed environment after the program drew more interest than it expected. Those taking part in the two-week program will receive a payment of ¥380,000 ($3,200) at the end of the experiment, according to the agency.

The agency is seeking eight healthy men aged between 20 and 55 to live inside a facility similar to the environment of the International Space Station.  The experiment is aimed at better understanding and improving the mental health of astronauts living in a secluded environment for an extended period of time. Successful applicants will be tested on their stress levels both during the two-week period of their residence as well as in a few follow-ups following the program.

According to the agency, those taking part in the experiment will not be allowed to take communication devices including mobile phones inside the facility, and they will not have access to the Internet. Only meals similar to astronaut food will be offered. Applicants must also agree to not take any portable games inside the facility and not to smoke or drink alcohol during the two weeks. (1/6)

Robotic Telescope Built by China and Thailand Put Into Operation (Source: Xinhua)
A robotic 70 cm telescope built jointly by China and Thailand has been put into operation in southwest China's Yunnan Province, a local scientist said Wednesday. The telescope, which was installed at an observation station at Yunnan Observatory in Lijiang city, was completed last December, said Qian Shengbang, a research fellow with the observatory. (1/6)

Virgin Galactic's Second SpaceShipTwo Spaceliner in Pictures (Source: Space.com)
Virgin Galactic's The Spaceship Company is currently building a second SpaceShipTwo vehicle in Mojave, California. See photos of the new private spaceship for space tourism and more here. (1/6)

NASA’s New VASIMR Plasma Engine Could Reach Mars in 39 Days (Source: Industry Tap)
NASA recently provided $10 million in funding to Ad Astra Rocket Company of Texas for further development of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), an electromagnetic thruster capable of propelling a spaceship to Mars in just 39 days. NASA’s funding was part of the “12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership.” Ad Astra’s rocket will travel ten times faster than today’s chemical rockets while using one-tenth the amount of fuel. Click here. (1/3)

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