February 25, 2016

Revival of Russian Spacecraft? Mysterious Origins of NASA New Space Shuttle (Source: Sputnik)
The newest American mini-shuttle Dream Chaser, which is planned to be used as a means of delivery of cargo to the International Space Station, turns out, was derived from a lost Soviet space plane, The Washington Post wrote. In the summer of 1982 the Soviet BOR-4 (Unpiloted Orbital Rocketplane 4 splashed down into the Indian Ocean south of Cocoas Islands) after a few orbital flights.

An Australian reconnaissance and patrol aircraft P-3C Orion managed to snap some photographs of how the Soviet seamen pulled out the rocket plane from the ocean onto the Petropavlovsk ship. The photographs were then passed on to the CIA and from there to NASA. “Those Cold War spy images could have been an aeronautical footnote lost to history. But NASA last month announced that one of the vehicles chosen to fly cargo to the International Space Station would be the Dream Chaser, a snub-nosed craft derived from that lost Soviet space plane,” the publication wrote. (2/25)

Startups in Emerging Markets Take a Leap into Space (Source: SpaceRef)
As part of the third edition of the Seedstars World competition, designed to celebrate entrepreneurialism and technology in emerging markets, Seedstars, Inmarsat and AP-Swiss will be presenting a Space Prize at the competition finale, Seedstars Summit on 3rd March 2016. Together with Seedstars, they have selected seven promising startups that are going to compete for USD 50,000 grant. Cick here. (2/25)

Third Sentinel Satellite Launched By ESA (Source: Spaceref)
The third ESA-developed satellite carrying four Earth-observing instruments has been launched and is ready to provide a 'bigger picture' for Europe's Copernicus environment program. The 1150 kg Sentinel-3A satellite was carried into orbit on a Rockot launcher from Plesetsk, Russia, at 17:57 GMT (18:57 CET; 20:57 local time) on 16 February. (2/18)

Your Letters Helped Challenger Shuttle Engineer Shed 30 Years Of Guilt (Source: NPR)
When NPR reported Bob Ebeling's story on the 30th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, hundreds of listeners and readers expressed distress and sympathy in letters and emails.

On Jan. 27, 1986, the former engineer for shuttle contractor Morton Thiokol had joined four colleagues in trying to keep Challenger grounded. They argued for hours that the launch the next morning would be the coldest ever. Freezing temperatures, their data showed, stiffened rubber O-rings that keep burning rocket fuel from leaking out of the joints in the shuttle's boosters.

But NASA officials rejected that data, and Thiokol executives overruled Ebeling and the other engineers. "It's going to blow up," a distraught and defeated Ebeling told his wife, Darlene, when he arrived home that night. Click here. (2/25)

8 Reasons to Get Pumped About the Discovery of Gravitational Waves (Source: LA Magazine)
The announcement of the discovery of ripples in the fabric of spacetime made waves (obligatory pun) two weeks ago. If you still don’t know why everyone is so excited about it, let theoretical physicist Kip Thorne help. He and a panel of LIGO scientists descended on Caltech last night to share the history of the project and talk about what it was like to discover gravitational waves. Here are a few standout factoids from the event that even a largely indifferent layperson can get stoked on. Click here. (2/25)

Vatican Astronomer to Speak at Embry-Riddle in Daytona on March 2 (Source: ERAU)
The subject of cosmology and questions relating to science and faith are discussed with author, astronomer, and Director of the Vatican Observatory Brother Guy Consolmagno and author, faculty member, and Embry-Riddle Chaplain David Keck along with moderator, Marc Bernier. A Q&A will follow. Click here. (2/24)

Aerospace Leader Expanding in Florida's Manatee County (Source: SRQ)
Aerospace manufacturer Safran announced it would expand its Manatee County facilities and relocate all operations for Aerosource, a company acquired by Safran in 2011, out of New Jersey and into Southwest Florida over the course of 2016. The move would create 84 new jobs through the expansion of Safran subsidiary Labinal Power Systems. (2/22)

Can Bigelow Create a Life for Humans in Space? (Source: Popular Science)
Turn down Skywalker Way, then make a left on Warp Drive. A hangarlike facility is there, huge, as a hangar should be. Inside, a tall mustachioed gentleman in a baggy gray pinstriped suit stands idly. He owns the facility and everything around it. He also owns the Budget Suites of America a few miles away, down near the Las Vegas Strip. That’s just part of his empire, that budget hotel, along with a whole chain of others scattered across the Southwest.

But we’re not here to talk budget hotels. We’re here to talk about the future, and a different kind of accommodations entirely: one that can be folded up, bundled onto a rocket, shot into space, expanded, and lived in. We’re here because Robert Bigelow—low-key billionaire, space entrepreneur, avowed believer in extraterrestrials—has invited us into this warehouse to show off his blow-up space home. Click here. (2/24)

First Rocket Launch From Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome Will Not Be Insured (Source: Space Daily)
A Soyuz-1A carrier rocket is planned for the spring of 2016 and will be the first launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. "The launch will be uninsured. The only thing that is insured is [possible] damage to third parties in case the carrier rocket crashes. We believe the Soyuz rocket carrier is reliable," Leonid Makridenko told journalists. (2/35)

DARPA Seeks Funds for Spaceplane Project (Source: Space News)
An experimental reusable spaceplane is the biggest space program in DARPA's proposed budget. The agency is seeking $50 million for its Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) program, up from $30 million in its 2016 request. XS-1 is intended to develop a reusable first stage that can fly up to Mach 10, as well as fly 10 times in 10 days. DARPA awarded study contracts to three industry teams in 2014, but has yet to select one to build a vehicle. The DARPA request also includes $45 million for a deployable communications antenna for cubesats and $33 million for a satellite servicing program. (2/24)

Boeing Space Chief Retires (Source: Bloomberg)
The head of Boeing's ~$30 billion defense and space division is abruptly retiring. Chris Chadwick, who led Boeing Defense, Space & Security since late 2013, will retire from the company effective March 1, the company announced Wednesday. He will be replaced by Leanne Caret, the head that division's Global Services & Support unit. (2/24)

Japan to Host New Commercial Biotech Research on ISS (Source: JAXA)
JAXA has signed a contract with a Japanese company to do commercial research on the space station. The agreement announced this week with PeptiDream, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, covers protein crystal growth experiments to be conducted in the station's Kibo module over the next year and a half. JAXA has been performing protein crystal growth experiments in Kibo since 2009, including a previous experiment with PeptiDream. (2/24)

To Find Life, Follow Salt, Not Water (Source: New Scientist)
If NASA is interested in finding life on Mars, it should follow the salt, not the water. Astrobiologists argue in a recent paper that, if life existed early in the planet's history when conditions were more habitable, it most likely would have survived to the present day if it adapted to living in salt deposits. Scientists have seen similar behaviors in microbes in dry environments on the Earth. Such salt deposits are thought to exist on Mars in its southern highlands, including two of the eight candidate landing sites for NASA's Mars 2020 rover. (2/24)

Radio Burst Tracked to Distant Galaxy (Source: Guardian)
A radio burst may have identified some of the missing mass in the universe. Astronomers detected a mysterious "fast radio burst" last April, and trained several telescopes on the source. That allowed astronomers to identify the source of the burst and its distance, while other astronomers measured the delay in the arrival of radio signals at different frequencies, a way of measuring much mass the radio waves passed through. That matched calculations based on models that predict half the mass of the universe is in previously unseen clouds of gas between galaxies. (2/24)

On the Brink of WWIII – Why the U.S. is in Syria and How it Dominates Militarily with Space Tech (Source: Conscious Business)
World War III is building up in the Middle East as 20 countries participate in a military “exercise” dubbed “Northern Thunder”. The exercise includes 350,000 soldiers, 20 thousand tanks, 2450 warplanes, and 460 military helicopters supplied by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Kuwait, the Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Tunisia, Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Malaysia, Egypt, Mauritania, and Mauritius.

While this is occurring, Turkey has been bombing Syria since early February and has been urging the United States to mount a ground operation in Syria. Meanwhile, Russia is warning that an escalation in Syria will undoubtedly cause World War III to explode in the region. Some believe this is all posturing to convince parties to come to the table to negotiate a peace agreement in the region. Regardless of the motives, all of this action is extremely dangerous and could spark World War III in the region.

Listen to this episode to learn about why we are in Syria, how the U.S. military uses space to dominate the world, and how Bruce Gagnon believes the future will unfold regarding the geopolitical issues regarding space, the military, and the world community. Click here. (2/24)

Commercial Suborbital and LEO Spaceflight Market Assessment (Source: Frost & Sullivan)
F&S has published a market assessment study covering commercial spaceflight services. The focus of this study is dedicated small-satellite launch services. The study also covers key new players and revenue forecasts accounting for the price reduction due to new competition. If you are in the space industry looking to learn more about the LEO launch services market, then this study will be of interest to you. The study can be found here. (2/23)

Germany and Japan Strengthen Space Cooperation (Source: JAXA)
TThe German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have signed an “Inter Agency Arrangement between DLR and JAXA for Strategic Partnership” at the German Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. With this arrangement, both partners intend to jointly undertake the new role of space agencies and significantly contribute to the advancement of the world's space development. (2/25)

Together, the UAE and the UK are exploring the Final Frontier (Source: The National)
The UK and UAE space agencies this week signed a memorandum of understanding to create a strategic space partnership. This will open the way for extensive cooperation between our two countries in space research, scientific missions and the search for popular applications.

The UK is a world leader in space exploration and technology. Our first venture into space was in 1962 on the world’s first collaborative satellite, Ariel 1. In the 54 years since then, international cooperation has been central to human achievements in space. In 2004, British technology helped Europe land a probe on Titan, a moon of Saturn, 1.4 billion kilometers from Earth – the most distant landing yet achieved by mankind. Today, a quarter of the world’s commercial satellites rely on British technology. (2/24)

Luxembourg Keen to be Asteroid Miners' Haven (Source: EU Observer)
Luxembourg is known for being a country with one of Europe's most business-friendly tax regimes, which has attracted a multitude of multinationals selling Earthly products from soft drinks to self-assembly furniture. But recently, the Grand Duchy has embarked on a voyage to become a hub for companies in a more celestial business: mining asteroids.

Its mission: to become the first European country that gives private firms legal certainty they will own resources they extract in space. “In the near future, we seek to create an attractive framework to give assurances to investors interested in building a business by exploiting natural resources available in space,” deputy prime minister Etienne Schneider said in a speech on 3 February, announcing the scheme. (2/24)

Cernan Laments Lack of Interest in Space Exploration (Source: Seattle Times)
Gene Cernan wants to set the record straight about that whole “last man” business. In a phone interview from the Houston area, he acknowledged being “the last man to have left my footprints on the moon. The last man of Apollo. The last man of the 20th century. But I can assure you, I am not the last man.”

Cernan said his goal is to “get the kids off those games they’re playing and put that bright mind of theirs to do something significant in their generation.” These days, he travels around the country speaking about the importance of manned spaceflight. (2/24)

SpaceX Launch Put on Hold at Last Minute (Source: CNN)
SpaceX delayed launching a new satellite Wednesday that could bring more people online in India, where about 1 billion people don't have internet access. SpaceX didn't immediately say why the launch was put off, but Florida was in the path of storm Wednesday that brought high winds and tornado alerts from Florida and as far north as the Mid-Atlantic states.

Liftoff from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was originally scheduled for Wednesday evening, but SpaceX announced via Twitter just after 6 p.m. that the "team [is] opting to hold the launch" but the "rocket and spacecraft remain healthy." It has tentatively rescheduled the launch for Thursday at 6:49 pm ET.

Editor's Note: From SpaceX: “Out of an abundance of caution, the team opted to hold launch for today to ensure liquid oxygen temperatures are as cold as possible in an effort to maximize performance of the vehicle.” (2/24)

The Real Martian Technologies: Our Little Green Friends (Source: NASA)
Inside the research lab module, bright LEDs on the multi-shelved hydroponic system turn on and off in harmony. Smiling at the automated efficiency of the system, you carefully consider when to thin out the lettuce seedlings and when to harvest the radishes, tomatoes and peppers. Last stop, the attached plant growth module, which is connected to the central node.

The plant module has large crops that have filled the module to where it almost looks like a jungle surrounding the central aisle. Now that the morning duties are complete, it is time for a good strong cup of coffee and some breakfast potatoes fresh from the garden. At moments like this, it feels more like home.

Every day, NASA is working to develop new technologies and find innovative solutions to challenges facing aeronautics, space exploration and the greater scientific community. One of the greatest challenges is in-situ resources. Mining resources to make oxygen, nitrogen, methane as well as the growth of a self-sufficient food supply is critical to make this journey safer and more cost effective. Click here. (2/24)

SpaceX Will Attempt to Pick Up the Pace of its Launches, Starting ASAP (Source: Quartz)
This year will test SpaceX’s ability to deliver its clients’ cargo to space multiple times a year on a regular schedule—to maintain a high launch tempo. Last year, Elon Musk’s space firm only launched six rockets. The explosive failure of a mission to the Space Station in June created major delays that cost SpaceX hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

While the company has proven its ability to produce an effective, low-cost rocket, it must conduct launches far more regularly to gobble up further share of the space-access market. SpaceX’s two main commercial competitors, ULA and Arianespace, each launched 12 rockets in 2015. This year, ULA is hoping to launch 16 rockets. SpaceX this year has at least 11 more anticipated launches of its Falcon 9 rocket. It may also begin test flights of the Falcon Heavy, its next-generation rocket.

Besides manufacturing and testing enough engines, stages, and fairings to meet these needs, SpaceX needs to solve tricky coordination problems with its clients and with the US government. Earlier this month, a team of SpaceX executives, engineers, and attorneys met with the FCC to figure out how to speed up authorization for SpaceX to use special frequencies to communicate with its rockets during launches and during the attempted recovery of rocket stages. Click here. (2/24)

Russia Seeks Joint Manned Flight to Mars with India (Source: Times of India)
Even as India is inching closer towards its human space mission, Russian consul general Sergey Kotov on Tuesday indicated Russia's interest to conduct joint space missions including a manned flight to Mars. While mentioning a possibility of a joint space exploration, the consul general, raised a query about Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian astronaut, on how he managed in space without spicy Indian food. (2/24)

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