February 1, 2016

Settling Space is the Only Sustainable Reason for Humans to be in Space (Source: Space Review)
A recent commentary argued that, for a variety of reasons, humans will never settle Mars or other destinations beyond Earth. Dale Skran counters that settlement is ultimately the only reason for humans to be in space. Click here. (2/1)

A Different Kind of Spaceport (Source: Space Review)
Last month, Arizona officials approved a plan to develop a spaceport for a company that, technically speaking, won’t be flying to space. Jeff Foust reports on the development of a new headquarters and launch site for World View, and its plans for high-altitude balloons for space tourism and other applications. Click here. (2/1)

Using Space Resources to Help All of Humanity (Source: Space Review)
The promise of accessing space resources on the Moon or asteroids brings with it the potential of massive wealth. Greg Anderson discusses how that can be used to benefit not just the companies involved but also those on Earth less well off. Click here. (2/1)

Creating a July 20 Space Exploration Day Holiday (Source: Space Review)
There’s no single holiday in the United States devoted to space exploration. J. David Baxter discusses the history of his efforts to create one, and the importance of having one. Click here. (2/1)

Researchers Use Satellite Images to Predict Cancer and Obesity Rates (Source: Haaretz)
Satellite images used to highlight association between artificial lighting at night and incidence of diseases such as obesity, breast cancer and prostate cancer all around the world. There is no doubt that the effects of artificial lighting on humans, other living creatures, vegetation and the planet Earth in general is considerable. But just how considerable is it, and in what ways?

New Israeli research has found that there is a significant positive connection between the strength of artificial lighting emitted from various places on the planet at night, as measured with the help of satellites, and the frequency of breast cancer. This week Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis will award the Ilan Ramon Research Grant to Haifa University doctoral candidate Nataliya Rybnikova.

Rybnikova, a researcher in the fields of mathematics and economics, immigrated to Israel from Ukraine about two years ago and her Hebrew is still a bit shaky but her ambitious research speaks for itself. Its premise is the claim that artificial lighting at night contains information that could characterize and predict many phenomena when it is monitored by satellites. (1/31)

SpaceX And Russia Change The Rules Of The Military Launch Market (Source: Tech Crunch)
It’s been a tough week for United Launch Alliance (ULA). A hearing last Wednesday brought news of a potential ban on Russian made RD-180 engines which ULA requires for their Atlas V rocket. To make matters worse, the U.S. Air Force is also considering ending an $800 million-per-year contract with the company.

This bad news actually works in favor for SpaceX, who is now certified to compete with ULA for high-budget military launches from the Air Force. In fact, SpaceX is the only other company capable of competing with ULA for these launch contracts. Click here. (1/31)

Texas Congressional Candidates Weigh In on Space Exploration (Source: The Monitor)
This is part of an occasional series in which we ask the candidates for the 15th Congressional District, which encompasses most of Hidalgo County, to weigh in on topical issues. The answers are verbatim and each candidate is given a 250-word limit. The answers appear in the order in which the candidates submitted them. This week, GOP candidate Tim Westley did not respond. Click here. (1/31)

NASA, India Join Hands for Astrobiology Mission (Source: The Hindu)
Even as India prepares for a second mission to Mars, a team of scientists from NASA, the Mars Society Australia and the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, will mount an expedition to Ladakh this August to study the similarities of certain parts of the region’s topography and microbial life to Martian surroundings. (2/1)

Scotland’s Cubesat Maker Clyde Space Expands To U.S. (Source: Aviation Week)
Burgeoning demand for small satellites is creating opportunities for companies outside the traditional geographic centers of the space industry. But the major market remains in the U.S., where entrepreneurial and academic customers are seeking lower-cost spacecraft. Now Scotland’s Clyde Space, which has established a niche in cubesat manufacturing since its formation in Glasgow in 2005, is both expanding its U.K. operations and opening its first subsidiary in the U.S. (2/1)

Time’s (Almost) Reversible Arrow (Source: Quanta)
The laws of physics work both forward and backward in time. So why does time seem to move in only one direction? One potential answer may also reveal the secrets of the universe’s missing mass. Few facts of experience are as obvious and pervasive as the distinction between past and future. We remember one, but anticipate the other. If you run a movie backwards, it doesn’t look realistic. We say there is an arrow of time, which points from past to future.

One might expect that a fact as basic as the existence of time’s arrow would be embedded in the fundamental laws of physics. But the opposite is true. If you could take a movie of subatomic events, you’d find that the backward-in-time version looks perfectly reasonable. Or, put more precisely: The fundamental laws of physics — up to some tiny, esoteric exceptions, as we’ll soon discuss — will look to be obeyed, whether we follow the flow of time forward or backward. In the fundamental laws, time’s arrow is reversible. Click here. (1/31)

WorldView Incentive: Just Another County Gift (Source: Green Valley News)
What part of “no” did Supervisors Bronson, Elias, Valadez and Carroll not understand when over 190,000 Pima County voters overwhelmingly rejected $815 million in county bond proposals? Didn’t you, the voters, just say, “no borrowing money to fund business start-ups and tourism related investments”? I know I heard you … and that’s why I voted “no” at the Jan. 19 board meeting to not borrow $16 million to fund World View’s balloon tourism Spaceport.

Unfortunately, the other supervisors, in a vote of 4 to 1, chose not to hear your demands, ignored your pleas for accountability and transparency, and decided to drive Pima County into even further debt — something we cannot afford. So what happens now? Monies will be borrowed by Pima County using Certificate of Participation (COPS), which require county assets as collateral for the loans.

How did this balloon tourism fiasco occur? Working in secret for over six months, the County Administrator and select individuals, including county economic development staff and TREO/Sun Corridor’s Joe Snell, threw together an 83-page proposal delivered to my office on Friday prior to the Tuesday board meeting. Pima County taxpayers will now be in debt to borrow $15 million to build World View a 135,000-square-foot facility on 28 acres. Click here. (1/31)

Google’s Project SkyBender Tests Internet 5G Drones at New Mexico Spaceport (Source: GeekWire)
The latest twist in the race to provide high-speed Internet access from above comes in the form of a report in The Guardian, to the effect that a hush-hush Google project called SkyBender is testing drones in the skies above Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The Guardian says it’s obtained documents laying out how high-altitude drones could relay gigabits of data per second, using millimeter-wave, phased-array transmissions. Jacques Christophe Rudell, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Washington, is quoted as saying that “the huge advantage is access to new spectrum, because the existing cellphone spectrum is overcrowded.” Click here. (1/31)

Delays in SpaceX Falcon 9 Upgrade Schedule Raise Concerns (Source: Space News)
SpaceX’s silence on the schedule delays of its Falcon 9 Upgrade rocket, whose inaugural flight on Dec. 21 was a success, is causing ripples of concern among commercial customers, which like NASA are counting on a high launch cadence in 2016 to meet these companies’ schedule milestones, industry officials said.

The next flight of the Falcon 9 Upgrade, also known as Falcon 9 v1.2, is ostensibly dedicated to the 5,300-kilogram SES-9 telecommunications satellite, headed to geostationary transfer orbit. That mission, scheduled for September, has been repeatedly delayed as Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX made final checks on the new-version rocket, which provides 30 percent more power than the Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket it is replacing. (2/1)

China Launches Another Beidou Navigation Satellite (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
China launched a Beidou navigation satellite early this morning. The Long March 3C carrying the Beidou-21 satellite lifted off at 2:35 a.m. Eastern. The satellite is reportedly the last experimental satellite for Phase 3 of the overall Beidou system, which will expand its coverage from regional to global. Chinese officials had not formally confirmed the success of the launch a few hours after liftoff. (2/1)

Garriott Campaigns for Hillary (Source: WIRED)
Also campaigning for Clinton in Iowa over the weekend was Richard Garriott, who flew to the ISS as a commercial spaceflight participant in 2008. Garriott, wearing his flight suit from that mission, was out canvassing for votes with his wife Laetitia, co-founder of space transportation startup Escape Dynamics, and others, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. (2/1)

Harris Offers Fully Digital GPS III Payload (Source: SpaceRef)
Harris Corp. has announced that it will offer an all-digital navigation payload for GPS III Space Vehicles (SV) 11 and beyond. Harris’ fully digital navigation payload will add value to the U.S. Air Force’s GPS mission by offering enhanced performance and enabling on-orbit reprogramming. The all-digital payload expands on the advanced features of the current 70-percent digital solution Harris provides for Lockheed Martin’s GPS III SV 1-8 satellites. (2/1)

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