February 27, 2016

If Elon Musk and Richard Branson Started a Space War, Who Would Stop Them? (Source: Inverse)
While there’s no reason to believe that either Musk or Branson would suddenly turn violent, it’s not hard to imagine how they might weaponize their vehicles. Considering the weaponization of space has long been a hobby for American and Russian defense agencies and lord knows there’s enough documentation of that to start a lively discussion.

There’s also this: Space is not a country and has no sovereign. What’s to stop SpaceX from mounting a laser attack on Virgin Galactic or sending a boarding party toward a Blue Origin vessel? The answer, as it turns out, is both simple and uninspiring: the United Nations. The laws that govern space are pretty basic but not so immature that world leaders haven’t considered the potential for an international conflict. Click here. (2/26)

10 Surprising Ways NASA Technology Has Improved Life On Earth (Source: Huffington Post)
NASA's primary focus is the cosmos, but the space agency has a surprising and significant impact on everyday technologies we use on Earth. NASA, in many ways, is America's research laboratory. Since 1976, the NASA publication Spinoff has profiled nearly 2,000 space technologies that have made their way -- in one way or another -- into the private sector, including baby formula, swimsuit designs, Dustbuster cleaners and protective firefighter gear.

In celebration of Spinoff’s 40th year, the agency took a look back at what it says are the top 40 technologies that have had the greatest impact on Earth. Below, NASA explains how 10 of these life-changing innovations came straight from the heavens. Click here. (2/26)

Russian Space Agency Declares 2016 ‘The Year of Yuri Gagarin' (Source: Sputnik)
The year 2016 has been announced to be the Year of Yuri Gagarin in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the launch of the first human into orbit. Russian Roscomos is organizing various anniversary events, which are to be announced on the agency's official website in the near future. (2/25)

We Finally Know How Much the Dino-Killing Asteroid Reshaped Earth (Source: Smithsonian)
More than 65 million years ago, a six-mile wide asteroid smashed into Mexico's Yucatán peninsula, triggering earthquakes, tsunamis and an explosion of debris that blanketed the Earth in layers of dust and sediment.

Now analysis of commercial oil drilling data—denied to the academic community until recently—offers the first detailed look at how the Chicxulub impact reshaped the Gulf of Mexico. Figuring out what happened after these types of impacts gives researchers a better idea of how they redistribute geological material around the world. It also gives scientists an idea of what to expect if another such impact were to occur now.

The Chicxulub impact, which wiped out large dinosaurs and giant marine reptiles, created a global layer of debris that is now part of the geologic record. Geologists refer to this layer as the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, because it marks the switch between these two geologic time periods. (2/25)

Telesat Launches Awarded to SpaceX (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The Canadian telecom satellite operator Telesat plans to launch two multipurpose communications spacecraft aboard SpaceX Falcon rockets in 2018, the company disclosed this week in a quarterly earnings announcement. The Ottawa-based company did not say if the new satellites, named Telstar 18 Vantage and Telstar 19 Vantage, would fly aboard Falcon 9 rockets or the more powerful — but still untested — Falcon Heavy launcher. (2/26)

Russian Crowdfunded Satellite Set to Become the Night Sky's Brightest Star (Source: Sputnik)
A Russian team of aerospace engineers and enthusiasts are preparing to launch their 'Mayak' satellite into space aboard the Soyuz-2 rocket, where it will be the brightest "star" that shines above Earth. A team of aerospace engineers and enthusiasts from Moscow's University of Mechanical Engineering (MAMI) are putting the finishing touches to their 'Mayak,' or 'Beacon' satellite, and have raised enough money for the next stage of the spacecraft's testing before it is launched into space by the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket. (2/27)

China to Launch Retrievable Shijian-10 Science Probe in April (Source: GB Times)
China will soon launch its retrievable Shijian-10 satellite to carry out research in microgravity and space life science to provide scientific support for the country’s human space missions. On Wednesday the Shijian-10 spacecraft was delivered to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province in the Gobi Desert, where it will undergo tests and be stacked on a Long March 2D rocket for launch in April. (2/26)

SETI Institute Scientists Now Available for Consulting Services (Source: Inverse)
Given that SETI stands for the “search for extraterrestrial intelligence,” the Mountain View, California-based SETI Institute has a pretty clear goal: to find aliens. But the institute isn’t in the best financial situation right now (unlike some of its nearby competitors). That’s why the SETI Institute announced Thursday that it would begin making its staff scientists available to private businesses and academic institutions for consulting services. (2/26)

Rogers: Air Force Plan for Launch Investments Would Violate 2015 Law (Source: Space News)
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said the Air Force’s plan to invest more than $1 billion in a new rocket would violate the 2015 defense authorization law and that instead, the service should place a higher priority on developing a new rocket engine. The remarks are the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between the Hill and the Air Force over how to end reliance on Russian RD-180 engines.

The RD-180 powers United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket, which launches a majority of national security satellites. Since the crisis in Crimea in February 2014, ending the use of that engine has become a top priority for Defense Department leaders and lawmakers. But figuring out exactly how to do so has been a repeated point of contention. (2/26)

How About We Turn the ISS Into a Space Hotel? (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Would you consider staying in a hotel on the International Space Station? That was was one of the ideas floated at a U.S. Congress meeting to map out the future direction of NASA. The concept was pitched by astronaut Eileen Collins, who suggested that the money generated through space tourism could be used to fund missions into the further reaches of space. Manned missions to Mars, for instance.

"There are plenty of tourists and people that have money that would love to go up in space and live on the station," Collins said. "If we could find a private company that would take over the station and sell it like a hotel, we may be able wean ourselves off of the space station and get into deep space." (2/26)

NASA Licenses New Communication Technology for Unmanned Aircraft (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA has developed technology that may enable unmanned aircraft to fly safely in the national airspace along with piloted aircraft. The patent-pending integrated communications and control system is capable of collision warnings as well as real-time traffic and weather updates.

This communication system brings unmanned aircraft a step closer to flying in the national airspace using an aircraft tracking system called the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, or ADS-B, which is to be mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration for most aircraft by 2020. (2/26)

Orbital ATK Aims for Summer Debut of New Antares 230 Variant (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
After over one and a half years worth of work, Orbital ATK is set to return their newly revamped and improved Antares rocket to flight, following the October 2014 mishap. Orbital ATK is currently targeting a May/June 2016 launch of the OA-5 flight for Antares’ Return To Flight mission, from their launch pad at the commercial spaceport on NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. (2/26)

Space Florida Seeks New Spaceport Infrastructure Projects (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida has announced its Call for Projects to solicit proposals to continue the development of space transportation infrastructure that supports Space Florida's legislative intent and Florida spaceport territory master plans.

Each year, Space Florida issues this Call for Projects to allow the aerospace industry the opportunity to submit projects for consideration into the subsequent year's Work Program and Spaceport Improvement Program. This year, Space Florida will be accepting Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Fund applications for fiscal years (FY) 2018 to 2022. Applications for FY18 and updates to previously submitted FY17 projects are due by Friday, April 1, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Click here. (2/26)

NASA MUSIC Launch Rescheduled for Tuesday (Source: WMDT)
NASA's Wallops Flight Facility says that the Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket carrying the MUSIC payload will be launched on Tuesday, March 1 between 9:30 AM and 12:10 PM. Officials say the weather has not been acceptable to conduct the mission on previously scheduled dates. Forecasts apparently show high winds and sea states that are unacceptable for a launch on the initial schedule of February 29. (2/26)

Israeli Nano Satellite co SkyFi Raises $3 Million (Source: Globes)
Israeli startup SkyFi (formerly known as NSL Comm) has raised $3 million from Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and Liberty Israel Venture Fund, a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation (Nasadq: LMCA, LMCB, LMCK). This is the company's first fund raising round.

SkyFi was founded by CEO Raz Itzhaki Tamir, COO Daniel Rockberger and CTO Danny Spirtus. It has developed a nano satellite with a flexible sub-reflector which it aims to use to provide Internet access from everywhere on the planet. The technology was unveiled at the Microsoft Think Next event in Tel Aviv today. (2/26)

Bridenstine to Introduce Space Policy Bill in April (Source: Space News)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) said Feb. 26 he plans to introduce a wide-ranging space policy bill in April, but acknowledges that the full bill is unlikely to pass this year. Bridenstine said he will circulate a draft of his proposed American Space Renaissance Act with industry in the next few weeks. He will then formally introduce the bill during the 32nd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in April.

“The overall point of the bill is to promote policies that will permanently make America the predominant spacefaring nation,” he said in his remarks. “A big part of that is fostering, encouraging and incentivizing industry to innovate and thrive here in the United States.” A big part of the bill, he said, will be to encourage government agencies to purchase more services, such as communications, remote sensing, and weather data, from industry (2/26)

Meteor Shower Points to 'Potentially Hazardous' Comet (Source: Discovery)
While Earth can breathe easy for now, the SETI Institute and other astronomers are on the lookout for a “potentially hazardous” comet that may in the distant future pose a threat to our planet. The search comes after a new meteor shower was spotted around New Year’s Eve.

It has never been seen before or tracked in radar observations. Calculations of the stream show the Earth is safe for the foreseeable future, but astronomers will be on the lookout for the parent body. “In a way, the shower helped chase bad spirits away,” said SETI Institute meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens in a statement. “Now we have an early warning that we should be looking for a potentially hazardous comet in that orbit.” (2/26)

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