February 18, 2016

No Big Bang? Quantum Equation Predicts Universe Has No Beginning (Source: Phys.org)
The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein's theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

The widely accepted age of the universe, as estimated by general relativity, is 13.8 billion years. In the beginning, everything in existence is thought to have occupied a single infinitely dense point, or singularity. Only after this point began to expand in a "Big Bang" did the universe officially begin.

Although the Big Bang singularity arises directly and unavoidably from the mathematics of general relativity, some scientists see it as problematic because the math can explain only what happened immediately after—not at or before—the singularity. (2/9)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Hit With Securities Class Action (Source: Law360)
An investor in Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. has hit the company with a class action in the wake of a federal filing this month that told regulators past earnings statements have to be claiming the aerospace products manufacturer deceived investors and artificially inflated the price of its shares. (2/16)

Japan Launches Astro-H Astronomy Satellite (Source: Kyodo)
An H-2A rocket successfully launched a Japanese astronomy satellite early Wednesday. The H-2A lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center at 3:45 a.m. Eastern time and placed the Astro-H spacecraft into low Earth orbit. Astro-H is an X-ray observatory carrying instruments provided by several space agencies, including NASA. The Japanese space agency announced shortly after the launch that Astro-H will be called "Hitomi," the Japanese word for the pupil in an eye. (2/17)

Europe Launches Earth Monitoring Satellite on Russian Rocket (Source: Space News)
Europe's latest Sentinel Earth observation satellite is in orbit after a launch Tuesday. The Rockot launch vehicle lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 12:57 p.m. Eastern time and put the Sentinel-3A spacecraft into its planned orbit. The spacecraft is designed to provide land, sea and ice measurements. The satellite is the latest in Europe's Copernicus program of Earth-monitoring satellites, which officials say should come in under budget by 2020 thanks to cost savings on later versions of the satellites. (2/17)

Russian Scientists Against Using Nuclear Weapons to Clear Space Debris (Source: Space.com)
The use of nuclear weapons in order to clear space debris is meaningless, said the director of the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Federation Boris Shustov. "We have brought such a large number of man-made objects into the Earth's orbit that it is possible that in 10-20 years we may lose access to space," the scientist told Sputnik. (2/17)

Embry-Riddle Offers Free Space-Related Cyber Classes (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
If you want to take some space classes, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has some free online courses for you. The school announced Tuesday that it would offer four free classes that are open to the public. School officials said the classes  were a way to show its commitment to a growing space industry. The classes include a look at investigations into aircraft accidents, the human element in aviation with a focus on disasters, and aircraft maintenance and repair.

"Embry-Riddle is dedicated to the industries we support," said Ken Witcher, Embry-Riddle's dean of aeronautics. "By offering these free online courses, our faculty and staff are able to share their expertise and world-renowned knowledge with our community and aerospace professionals." Embry-Riddle offers periodic “massive online open courses,” and is a fully accredited university that specializes in aviation and aerospace. Its 130 global campuses serves more than 22,000 students. (2/16)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Reports Quarterly Loss (Source: Sacramento Bee)
Aerojet Rocketdyne reported a decline in profits in its fiscal fourth quarter. The company said it had $7.7 million in net income compared to $11.9 million in the same quarter of 2014. Net sales, though, increased from $443.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 to $486.5 million in 2015. The company reported for all of fiscal year 2015 a net loss of $16.2 million, which includes a $50 million payment the company made to Orbital ATK as part of a settlement over the October 2014 Antares launch failure. (2/16)

Ladies Who Launch: Meet NASA's Newest Female Astronauts (Source: Today)
For the first time in its history, NASA's latest class of astronauts is equally split - four women, four men, all of whom could be among those chosen for an upcoming mission to Mars. Click here. (2/17)

China Lays Out Space Science Plans (Source: GB Times)
China has long-term plans for a series of space science missions, an area of spaceflight to which the country had previously not devoted many resources. Wu Ji, director-general of China's National Space Science Center, said several missions are in the early stages of development for launch around 2020, including studies of the Earth's magnetosphere and an X-ray camera.

Future missions under consideration for the 2020s include a large solar telescope and a spacecraft to search for exoplanets. China launched a spacecraft late last year to search for dark matter, the country's first space science mission since the Double Star program with Europe more than 10 years ago. (2/17)

Canada's Space Chief Seeks Dialogue with Stakeholders (Source: SpaceRef)
The head of the Canadian Space Agency wants to start a new dialogue with the agency's stakeholders. Sylvain Laporte, named president of the agency last March, said he is still new on the job because of the change in governments after last October's election.

Laporte said at a conference earlier this month he wants a "more intense level of collaboration" and discussion with various organizations associated with the agency's activities. Laporte added he plans to meet with senior leadership at NASA in March to discuss future collaboration opportunities. (2/16)

NASA Ramps Up Cubesat Program (Source: Space News)
NASA is seeking to purchase several cubesat buses from industry for use on future technology demonstration missions. A request for proposals released by NASA last Friday calls for buying at least one, and as many as five, 6U cubesat buses for its Pathfinder Technology Demonstration program. NASA will use the buses to test propulsion, communications and attitude control technologies. The agency also hopes to help support the emerging smallsat industry by purchasing relatively standard buses that companies can also sell to other customers. (2/17)

Ukraine's Space Industry is Slipping Away Under Russian Pressure (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Ukraine's space industry has lost 80 percent of its revenue since its conflict with Russia began. A report by the International Monetary Fund concluded Ukrainian space companies lost about $75 million a year, largely because of contract cancellations by Russian companies. Ukrainian companies are involved in the Dnepr and Zenit launch vehicles, which are being phased out by Russia, and the Sea Launch venture that has been on hiatus since its last launch in May 2014. (2/16)

Cygnus Departing ISS to Make Way for Cygnus (Source: NASA)
A Cygnus cargo spacecraft will depart the International Space Station this Friday. The station's robotic arm will detach the Cygnus spacecraft from its port on the Unity module and release it at about 7:25 a.m. Friday. The spacecraft will depart the station and later burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. The Cygnus has been at the station since Dec. 9, three days after its launch on an Atlas 5. The next Cygnus mission to the station, also launching on an Atlas, is scheduled for March 22. (2/16)

Super-Earth Atmosphere Measured (Source: GeekWire)
Astronomers have for the first time measured the atmosphere of a "super-Earth" exoplanet, and it's not particularly inviting. Scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to collect spectra of 55 Cancri e, a planet eight times the mass of the Earth that orbits very close to its parent star. They detected evidence of an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, but no evidence of water vapor or oxygen. The planet was never considered particularly hospitable for life, though, given its surface temperature of more than 2,000 degrees Celsius. (2/16)

FAA AST Rejects NTSB Safety Inspection Recommendation (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) has rejected a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on how to improve the safety inspection process for commercial space systems. Click here. (2/17)

GOP Hampers Ex-Im with Obstructionist Stance, Exec Says (Source: Seattle Times)
Republican opposition to Export-Import Bank has kept the bank from filling a necessary board seat, a tactic that prohibits Ex-Im from approving transactions of more than $10 million. The obstructionist move has left Ex-Im with a backlog of $10 billion-plus. "The Ex-Im Bank is important to the economy, especially in Washington," said Ryan Hilliard, founder of Hilliard's Beer. "It affects more than just Boeing. There's a bunch of us little guys that need Ex-Im to compete globally as well." (2/16)

Aerospace, Defense Sector Continues to Create Jobs for US Economy (Source: Reuters)
The defense and aerospace industry will likely add 39,443 jobs this year, a jump of 3.2%, according to a new study by Deloitte. "The US aerospace and defense sector continues to be one of the top employers in the US economy," said Deloitte's Tom Captain. (2/16)

An Honest Look at ISRU for Missions to Moons and Mars (Source: Laura's Space on Space)
It has been a pleasure to delve into realistic human spaceflight architectures at the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute this week. Only by detailing, step-by-step, a feasible and affordable means of creating a sustainable path to humans living on another world with a business case for industry profit can we accomplish such a monumental task. Apollo to the Moon was a one-time effort in history which will not and arguably should not be repeated.

In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) is not a new concept but is surprisingly an under-appreciated and under-funded area of study. Instead of needing to bring all resources with us on a rocket from Earth to wherever we're going, it would save a lot of weight (which translates to fuel savings, which translates to money savings) to use the resources that exist in space already. Although it has been politically unpopular to say so for years, a heavy lift rocket such as the Space Launch System is likely not needed if we instead focus on ISRU. Click here. (2/17)

UAE Space Agency, NASA Discuss Space Cooperation (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The UAE Space Agency announced today that it has discussed future cooperation means with a delegation from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The meeting held at the Agency’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, aimed to strengthen partnership and work between the two organizations. (2/16)

Commercial Crew Partner Boeing Tests Starliner Spacecraft (Source: NASA)
Engineers from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Boeing dropped a full-scale test article of the company’s CST-100 Starliner into Langley’s 20-foot-deep Hydro Impact Basin. Although the spacecraft is designed to land on land, Boeing is testing the Starliner’s systems in water to ensure astronaut safety in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch or ascent.

Testing allows engineers to understand the performance of the spacecraft when it hits the water, how it will right itself and how to handle rescue and recovery operations. The test is part of the qualification phase of testing and evaluation for the Starliner system to ensure it is ready to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. (2/17)

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