February 11, 2016

Tyvak Support Atlas V CubeSat Rideshare Initiative (Source: Space Daily)
Tyvak Nanosatellite Systems has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ULA to serve as the primary Auxiliary Payload Customer on CubeSat Rideshare Initiative efforts through Dec. 31, 2019.

ULA's CubeSat Rideshare Initiative enables rideshare opportunities on its Atlas V launch vehicle and aims to tap into a growing market of small satellites with applications in education, scientific research, U.S. Government and commercial business.

Under this MOU, Tyvak will provide low-cost access to space for both commercial and U.S. Government CubeSat customers, as well as no-cost access to space for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) CubeSat customers for rideshares on ULA's Atlas V launch vehicles. (2/11)

LightSquared is Now Ligado (Source: Ligado)
LightSquared, a communications company whose plans have raised GPS interference concerns, is rebranding itself as Ligado Networks. The company, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year, is proceeding with plans to provide broadband communications using spectrum near that used by GPS. Those plans have generated concerns in recent years by GPS users about potential interference, but Ligado says it is working with companies that make GPS receivers on proposals to alleviate any interference. The company also operates the SkyTerra-1 L-band communications satellite, serving North America. (2/10)

NASA Pressing Ahead with Asteroid Mission (Source: Ars Technica)
NASA is pressing ahead with its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) despite continued skepticism about its long-term future. The 2017 budget proposal includes more than $200 million for various ARM-related programs, such as $66.7 million for work on a robotic spacecraft that would fetch a boulder from a near Earth asteroid and return it to cislunar space. NASA officials said at the budget rollout Tuesday that mission could launch as late as 2023, but they were still hoping a crewed mission to the recovered boulder could fly in 2025. A lack of enthusiasm about ARM, particularly in Congress, suggests it may not survive the change of administrations next year. (2/10)

Physicists Detect Gravitational Waves, Proving Einstein Right (Source: New York Times)
Scientists have found evidence for one of Einstein’s famed prophecies. They captured the sound of black holes colliding. It is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory. (2/10)

Shelby, Air Force Press Case To Keep RD-180; McCain Not So Much (Source: Breaking Defense)
The war ground on today between San. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and his colleague Sen. Richard Shelby on the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee. Shelby, knowing he had a policy friend in Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, asked her about the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine essential to US satellite launches and “worried” that his colleagues might not completely understand the central Pentagon policy known as assured access to space.

James first sought to deflect the McCain onslaught she knew she would face: “I want to assure you we are moving as quickly as we can to eliminate the RD-180 engine.” But James then went on to the meat of the Air Force position, which is that industry — however much we may not want to use Russian engines — just can’t build a complete launch system that comes anywhere matching the reliability of ULA’s RD-180-powered rockets by 2019, which is what Congress has said must happen.

“What’s critical is the total launch capability,” James told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee. “An engine is an important part, but we need a complete capability.” James restated the position that the Air Force needs to use 18 RD-180 engines to ensure there is no “gap” between new systems being developed by ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin and others. (2/10)

GAO Says Navy Satellite Contract Award Ignored RFP Specs (Source: Law360)
The Government Accountability Office upheld Intelsat’s protest of a contract awarded for commercial satellite services for the Navy, finding that the Defense Information Systems Agency didn’t stick to the bid requirements when it chose Segovia Inc. The DISA improperly agreed with Segovia to change the interpretation of a requirement for satellite coverage without telling Intelsat, and accepted other parts of Segovia’s bid even though they didn’t meet all the coverage requirements in the request for proposals, the GAO said. (2/10)

DOD, GSA, NASA Plan To Extend Contract Cost Change Rule (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Department of Defense, GSA and NASA are seeking comments on plans to extend a rule requiring contractors to notify government agencies of changes to the costs of carrying out their contracts. The notice, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, asks for input about the impact of Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.230-6, which requires contractors to explain changes that shift, increase or decrease the cost of specific parts of their contracts. (2/10)

SpaceX Stock: Will We Get a Chance to Invest in 2016? (Source: Money Morning)
Two new developments have sparked fresh interest in SpaceX stock this week, leaving investors asking when we will get a chance to invest in Elon Musk's company. SpaceX is expected to start producing approximately 18 cores (boosters) each year. The company currently averages between six and eight a year. "By the end of the year we should be at over 30 cores per year," Shotwell said. "So you see the factory start to morph." (2/10)

University of Florida Scientists' Role Essential to LIGO Discovery (Source: UF)
The signal was discovered by the real-time search program Coherent WaveBurst, which identifies gravitational wave signals in the LIGO data. The coincident detection was reported by Coherent WaveBurst within three minutes of the signal arrival.

Coherent WaveBurst reconstructed the signal shape revealing a spectacular signature of two colliding black holes. In a fraction of a second they merged into a single more massive black hole releasing energy equivalent to a few times the mass of our Sun in a burst of gravitational waves. Coherent WaveBurst, was developed at the University of Florida by physics professors Sergey Klimenko and Guenakh Mitselmakher, and their graduate students and postdoctoral research associates. (2/11)

Practical Advice for Aspiring Space Explorers (Source: ECN)
Applying to be an astronaut is easy and costs you nothing. Like any other federal government job, the astronaut application is online. Applications are due Feb. 18. It's like a free lottery ticket. What are you waiting for?

So what's it like if you get hired? It's hands down the coolest job on or off the planet. Training to work in space includes practicing crew tasks in a variety of simulators, flying in high-performance jet aircraft, and putting on spacesuits to work underwater on a life-size mockup of the International Space Station. Click here. (2/11)

Joint NASA/NOAA Earth-Watcher Celebrates 12 Months of Operations (Source: America Space)
Named “Triana”, in honor Rodrigo de Triana, the Spanish lookout aboard Christopher Columbus’ ship, La Pinta—and the man who first sighted the New World on 12 October 1492—its aim was to involve university students, industry and government, as well as inspiring a new generation of scientists, explorers and engineers. NASA solicited proposals for an appropriate research payload, focused upon solar physics and climatology, and in October 1998 a pair of scientific instruments were selected. Click here. (2/11)

OK Go Music Video Shot in Russian Zero-G Aircraft (Source: S7 Airlines)
The shooting took place in Russia, based on the Cosmonaut Training Center Gagarin. Decorations imitating interior passenger aircraft, were built on board the unique research aircraft IL-76MDK. Shooting the video was made possible thanks to the participation of professional instructors named Gagarin Training Center, which is also working with the astronauts.

Musicians and members of the crew underwent a serious medical examination, instruction and training before filming began, throughout the process of the instructors were on board, insure and help implement the ideas conceived. During one flight was performed 15 such periods of weightlessness. Total for the filming of the video was made 21 flights. This is more than during the year carry astronauts during training. Total musicians spent in weightlessness for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

To achieve the effect of a single video taken with one double, the survey was conducted continuously - when the period ended weightlessness, musicians and members of the clip stayed in their places, the music stopped and waited for the next zero-gravity mode to continue shooting at the same place. As a result, the preparation of the video were cut just moments when the plane gained altitude and preparing to implement another "parabola". Click here. (2/11)

Space Tourism on the Horizon with Plans for Spaceport in Tucson (Source: CBS5AZ)
Right here in Arizona, a company called World View is getting close to creating a new way for the average person to get a new view of the world. The company is developing a capsule that is taken up to the stratosphere via balloon. You can spend more than an hour taking in the amazing views.

Worldview is still in the development phase of the capsule, but it will essentially be a relaxing lounge, where you can kick back, enjoy a drink and take in the views. Six people will be able to sit in the capsule and gently climb up to 100,000 feet and see the world in a way that was once only seen by astronauts. 

The capsule will be roughly the size of a private jet, and like a jet, will be equipped with a bathroom and a bar. Imagine. You get a to sit back, take in the most amazing views imaginable while sipping a cocktail! (2/10)

Virgin Galactic to Move Dozens of Employees to New Mexico (Source: Albuquerque Business First)
Virgin Galactic officials now say that operations are back on track and activity has ramped up, both in California and in New Mexico. The goal, of course, is to eventually start commercial spacecraft flights from Spaceport America. Mark Butler, a senior program manager for Virgin Galactic said Virgin Galactic has big plans for 2016.

He said Virgin Galactic hopes to debut the spaceship on Feb. 19 in California and begin testing again. The company may also perform test launches in New Mexico this year, as the goal is to start launching people into space in 2018.

As launching commercial flights into space becomes more of a reality, Butler said the company plans on shifting more of its operations to New Mexico. He said Virgin Galactic has 600 employees, most of whom are based in California where the company is manufacturing and testing its spaceships. There is a team of about 20 people based in Las Cruces, but Butler said the company plans to move 100 to 120 of its employees to the city in the coming years. (2/10)

FAA Space Office Sees Funding Increase in Proposed Budget (Source: Space News)
The 2017 budget request proposes $19.8 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), an increase of $2 million over what the office received in 2016. That 2016 figure was itself an increase of $1.2 million over 2015.

In recent years, as commercial launch activity has increased, both the FAA and industry have warned that the office needed more resources in order to keep pace with the growing demands for licenses and safety inspections. The increased funding would be used primarily to hire employees. The proposal calls for hiring 13 additional people in 2017, bringing the office’s staff to 119. That is on top of a planned increase of more than 20 people in 2016.

The agency noted that between 2006 and 2014 the “authorization index,” a measure of new launch licenses and permits granted by the office, increased by 550 percent, with safety inspections growing by 825 percent. AST’s staff, though, had increased by only 42 percent during that time. (2/10)

FAA Space Center of Excellence Would Also Get More (Source: Space News)
Besides the increase in AST’s operations budget, the FAA budget request increases funding for research and development activities coordinated by that office. The 2017 budget proposal offers nearly $3 million for that work, compared to $2 million in 2016.

Of that funding, $1 million would go towards the FAA’s Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, a consortium of universities that performs academic research on various space transportation topics. The rest would support work on topics ranging from vehicle safety technologies to improved methods of incorporating launches into the national airspace system. (2/10)

Puerto Rico to Host Space Development Conference in May (Source: NSS)
The annual International Space Development Conference is the keynote event of the National Space Society (NSS), bringing together leading managers, engineers, scientists, educators, and business people from civilian, military, commercial, entrepreneurial, and grassroots advocacy space sectors, to work toward the common goal of developing a spacefaring civilization.

ISDC has attracted up to 1300 attendees from over 20 countries, and has featured renowned speakers. ISDC has been held in various locations throughout North America, with the 35th annual conference taking place at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino from Wednesday, May 18th to Sunday, May 22nd, 2016. Click here. (2/10)

Black Mold Delays Cygnus ISS Cargo Launch From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
NASA is investigating the source of black mold that contaminated cargo bags bound for the International Space Station, delaying the next launch of supplies from Florida's Space Coast. An unmanned Orbital ATK Cygnus craft, which had been scheduled to launch March 10 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, now is targeting a March 22 liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, according to ULA.

NASA said microbial analysis during a routine inspections at Kennedy Space Center found evidence of common black mold on two bags. The space agency decided to disinfect every bag, which required removing cargo already packed in the Cygnus. It's the first time black mold has caused a problem during ISS cargo processing. (2/10)

How Satellites Could Soon Play a Bigger Role in Broadband (Source: ZDNet)
A series of three new satellites will provide faster internet speeds across the globe, delivering a more than twice the total combined network capacity of the 400 commercial communications satellites in space today. That's the bold claim of a new collaborative project between American broadband provider ViaSat and aerospace firm Boeing, which aims to provide global coverage of affordable, high-speed internet from space by 2019. (2/9)

Spaceflight Services Gets GSA Deal for Launch Service Pricing (Source: GeekWire)
Spaceflight is the first launch service provider to be awarded what’s known as a General Services Administration Professional Services Schedule. That means any federal official who’s authorized to spend the money can order a CubeSat or a MicroSat launch online, via the GSA Advantage’s eBuy site.

The online ordering site gets around many of the hurdles that stand in the way of arranging a launch – making the process more similar to the pencil procurement routine. “If you run NASA, you don’t have to go compete out a contract to determine which pencil vendor is the best,” Blake said.

Spaceflight guarantees that it will find a spot on a launch vehicle for a fixed price, much in the same way as pencils are sold. The cheapest item on Spaceflight’s online menu goes for $278,503.78. That gets you the launch of a satellite about the size of a loaf of bread, weighing no more than 11 pounds (5 kilograms). (2/10)

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