February 3, 2016

Japan Readies to 'Destroy' North Korea Rocket (Source: Aljazeera)
Japan vowed on Wednesday to shoot down any missiles or rockets fired over its territory after North Korea announced plans to launch a satellite in the coming days. "Today the defense minister issued an order" to destroy any projectiles if "confirmed that it will fall on Japanese territory", the defense ministry said in a statement.

North Korea on Tuesday informed international organisations of its plans to launch an Earth observation satellite on a rocket between February 8-25. Last month, North Korea announced it tested a hydrogen bomb - the reclusive country's fourth nuclear test. (2/3)

North Korea Confirms Satellite Launch Plans (Source: Washington Post)
North Korea confirmed Tuesday it plans to launch a satellite this month, heightening tensions with the West. The North Korean government issued a notice that it plans to launch an observation satellite between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25.

The drop zones for two of the rocket's stages are like those from a launch in late 2012, suggesting North Korea plans to use a similar rocket as that earlier flight. While North Korea claims its space program is for peaceful purposes, the United States and many other nations believe that program is used to develop technology for long-range ballistic missiles. (2/2)

New Commercial Space Legislation Unlikely this Year (Source: Space News)
After passing a major commercial space bill in 2015, agencies and Congress expect to spend 2016 developing and reviewing reports required by the act. The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, signed into law in November, requires a dozen reports in the next year, half of which are the responsibility of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

While the FAA is advocating for some new initiatives, such as taking on space traffic management responsibilities, congressional staff said at a conference Tuesday they are primarily in a listening mode this year, planning to review the reports before deciding on future legislative steps.

The reports, like the bill itself, span a wide range of topics, from streamlining the commercial launch licensing process and the development of industry consensus standards to implementation of the act’s provision that grants U.S. citizens rights to resources they extract from the moon or other celestial bodies. Another report required by the act examines the creation of an “improved framework” for space traffic management. (2/3)

Luxembourg Launches Commercial Space Effort (Source: Financial Times)
The government of Luxembourg is launching a new space resources initiative Wednesday. The Space Resources project will include developing a regulatory framework in the small European nation that will ensure companies have rights to resources they extract from asteroids, similar to provisions in a recently-passed U.S. law. The project may also include government investment in companies with asteroid mining plans such as Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources. (2/2)

Lockheed Martin Picked to Build Japanese Satellite (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin won a commercial satellite contract Wednesday from a Japanese company. Sky Perfect JSat Corporation ordered the JCSat-17 from Lockheed Martin for delivery in 2019 to serve East Asia. The satellite, based on Lockheed's A2100 bus, will carry an S-band payload with on-board processing to redirect capacity as needed. JCSat-17 is the eighth satellite Sky Perfect JSat has ordered from Lockheed Martin, making Japan Lockheed's biggest market for commercial satellites in recent years. (2/2)

NASA Brushes Off Claims One Of Its Drones Was Hacked (Source: Forbes)
NASA  today denied a group affiliated with the Anonymous hacking collective hacked one of the space agency’s drones. The government body said it also believes the 250GB of data the Anonsec crew said it had stolen through a lengthy compromise of the NASA network appeared to be information that was already public.

Anonsec took credit for a breach of NASA on Sunday, posting on Pastebin the data included 150GB of drone logs as well as names, emails and numbers for just over 2400 staff. The data is now hosted on a number of servers. The group also claimed to have acquired “semi-partial control” of a NASA drone during a flight over the Pacific, namely one of NASA’s two Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft used for high-altitude, long-duration data collection.

But NASA disagreed, sending the following statement to FORBES: “Control of our Global Hawk aircraft was not compromised. NASA has no evidence to indicate the alleged hacked data are anything other than already publicly available data. NASA takes cybersecurity very seriously and will continue to fully investigate all of these allegations.” (2/2)

SpaceX Offers Details on Texas Launch Site Progress (Source: SPACErePORT)
During the FAA space transportation conference this week, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell gave an update on the company's ongoing development of a new commercial launch site on the Texas coast. She said the site's sand is less stable than they had anticipated and will require two years of "dirt work" (delivery and compacting of dirt from other locations) to build up the launch pad area. The company will then pour a "concrete mountain" for the raised launch pad. This suggest the first launch there won't occur until late 2017 or 2018. (2/3)

Russia Could Have a Deep Space Monopoly (Source: Daily Beast)
When America’s Hubble telescope falls to Earth, Russia could be the only country with a set of ultraviolet space eyes—that’s if its Spektr UF ever makes it into orbit. The Russian space agency is scrambling to finish a high-tech orbital telescope designed to peer into the depths of space at distant stars, seeing everything in ultraviolet wavelengths that are invisible to the naked eye.

The 50-foot-long Spektr UF—in development since the late 1980s—could become the world’s only large, sophisticated ultraviolet space telescope if and when it finally achieves orbit, an event Moscow’s space administrators have tentatively scheduled for 2021. That’s because the current orbital telescope with ultraviolet capability—America’s 26-year-old Hubble—could decommission as early as 2020 and fall to Earth in a carefully orchestrated “controlled descent.” (2/3)

South Korea Warns North Against Satellite Launch (Source: BBC)
South Korea has warned the North it will "pay a harsh price" if it goes ahead with its plan to launch a satellite into space. North Korea said on Tuesday it intended to carry out the launch between 8 and 25 February. Critics say it is a cover for a test of ballistic missile technology. (2/3)

Why a Mars Landing Could be Terrible for Science (Source: Washington Post)
Imagine a field geologist hiking a dusty landscape. She spies a ridge of rock, climbs to it, whacks off a protruding bit with a hammer. She stoops to pick up the broken piece, turning its freshly fractured face upward. From its color and crystals, she deduces its composition. She drops the rock and makes a note in her field notebook. Then she walks on.

On Earth, this whole process takes only minutes. On Mars, where robots substitute for human geologists, the same operation takes a day, sometimes several. Mars scientists eagerly anticipate a time when we’ll see human geologists walking on Mars, using their brains and hands to rapidly increase the rate at which we learn about Mars’s past. But by their very presence, human astronauts could endanger our search for life on Mars, contaminating the planet with the throngs of Earth life we bring with us. (2/3)

New Mexico Bill Would Prevent Use of Bond Revenues for Spaceport America Operations (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Legislation by Sen. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, to prohibit the spaceport from using excess bond revenue for operating expenses would be a death knell for the facility, Spaceport America Chief Executive Officer Christine Anderson said. "If we lost it this year, frankly we’d probably have to close the doors. I’m not being over-dramatic when I say that,” Anderson said. Click here. (2/2)

Pentagon Budget Will Do “Even More” for Space Protection (Source: Space News)
The White House’s 2017 budget request will build on the Pentagon’s $5.5 billion initiative to protect national security satellites in space, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said. Last year, the Defense Department said it shifted $5.5 billion over five years to improve space surveillance and bolster the Air Force’s ability to protect military satellites from potential Russian or Chinese attacks. (2/3)

Air Force Creates New Unit to Watch over US Satellites (Source: Defense One)
The Air Force is creating a Space Mission Force that will include 352 people watching over US military satellites. "In our case, we're looking at threats that are within the next year or two," said Lt. Col. Toby Doran. "We're really not looking to the five- or 10-year threat. ... What are the concerns in the immediate future that we need to focus on so we are prepared for immediate threats?" (2/1)

NASA's Planetary Defense Office Watches Out for the Future of Earth (Source: Scientific American)
NASA's new Planetary Defense Coordination Office will manage efforts to deal with near-Earth objects that could threaten the planet. "Our job is to look for that and identify a NEO as far in advance as we can," said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer. "Doing so means we have the maximum amount of time to appropriately deal with the object, be it a small impactor or something that's larger, calling for a kinetic impactor mission, or whatever needs to be done." (2/1)

Arianespace Prepares for Ownership and Operational Overhaul (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch company, which for 35 years has had a stable relationship to its industrial shareholders and government backers, is preparing for a major change in direction this fall as it becomes a 74-percent-owned subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers.

It remains unclear what changes will be made to the company. ASL officials have said they would keep the Arianespace brand name and allow it to continue to operate as a separate entity, with its own headquarters and branch offices.

But the pressure to reduce costs that is forcing an overhaul of Europe’s entire rocket industry will almost certainly affect Arianespace and its 313 employees. The key development is the coming of the new-generation Ariane 6 rocket, to replace Ariane 5 starting in 2020; and the Vega-C, an upgrade of the current Vega small-satellite launcher. (2/2)

NASA Eyes Large-Scale Aircraft Demo, 2017 Budget Allowing (Source: Aviation Week)
With Congress boosting NASA’s miserly budget for aeronautics research two years in a row, there is a nascent hope among senior managers that the agency can plan for its first large-scale aircraft demonstrator in decades.

The question is which aircraft? Although a supersonic low-boom flight demonstrator (LBFD) is the most mature concept, NASA has several other potential candidates that might resonate more with Congress and potential partners such as the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) looking for a transport concept that has military as well as commercial application.

With an increase of $100 million in fiscal 2015 and almost $70 million in 2016, NASA’s aeronautics leadership is hoping that somewhere around $650 million a year is the new baseline for its civil aviation research. Whether that belief prevails will not be known until the Obama administration presents its fiscal 2017 budget request on Feb. 9. (2/2)

Israel's Space Program Lagging Behind, as Iran's Surges Forward (Source: Jerusalem Post)
Inadequate investment and research in Israel's civilian space program will have a harmful knock-on effect on military space industries, experts have warned during a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday. Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Abraham Assael, CEO of the Institute, also described how the lifting of sanctions on Iran will speed up Tehran's space program, and missile development.

"Even the low budget of the Israel Space Agency cannot be implemented. We need to leverage the great achievements of military space programs towards civilian applications, so that budgets can have double uses. Without civilian licenses, which are the norm in the world, this simply will not work." The Israel Space Agency's current annual budget stands at 15 million dollars, matching the size of the Mexican, Swiss, and South African programs. Click here. (2/2)

Bring Your Valentine to Spaceport America (Source: Spaceport America)
On the evening of February 13th, after checking into one of our local eclectic hotels with access to rejuvenating hot springs mineral baths, join us for an intimate reception at the Spaceport America Visitor Center. Later you will depart to the Stargazing Party location in nearby Elephant Butte. Click here. (2/2)

NASA to Deploy Army of Science Satellites on Orion's First Mission (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
While NASA's Space Launch System and Orion capsule's primary mission will be to send humans into deep space and eventually to Mars, a secondary mission was revealed today. Along for the ride will be 13 small satellites called CubeSats that will be deployed on Exploration Mission-1 in 2018. That unmanned mission that will send the Orion capsule out to the moon will also allow for the placement of 13 science experiments from a variety of sources into deep space. Click here. (2/2)

Russia to Close Rokot Program Under New Space Program Draft (Source: Tass)
Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos will launch two Rokot carrier rockets converted from ICBMs as part of the federal space program for 2016-2026 that will be its last launches, according to a draft document. According to the draft federal space program that will be submitted to the government, the two Rokot carrier rockets will be launched from the Plesetsk military space center to orbit three Gonets-M communications satellites each. (2/2)

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