March 1, 2016

Orbital ATK Improves Revenue and Income (Source: Orbital ATK)
Orbital ATK reported improved revenue and income in 2015. In a statement late Monday, the company said it recorded revenues of $4.52 billion for 2015, an increase of nearly 2 percent over 2014 after making adjustments for the merger of Orbital Sciences and ATK that was completed last year. The company reported $299 million in adjusted net income for the year, nearly 20 percent higher than 2014. Orbital ATK said it is projecting revenues of $4.575 to 4.65 billion for 2016. (2/29)

Syrian Spaceman Living in Exile (Source: Guardian)
The first Syrian in space is now living in exile in Turkey. Muhammed Faris flew to the Soviet Union's Mir space station in 1987, becoming a national hero. Faris later was named head of Syria's air force academy, but was critical of the Assad regime and, when the country's civil war began, fled with his family to Turkey. He has turned down offers to seek asylum in Russia or Europe, working instead with the Turkish government on Syrian refugees and hoping for an end to the civil war. (2/29)

NASA Scores Successful Orion Solar Array Deployment Test (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA took another important step in testing the Orion crewed spacecraft yesterday with the successful completion of a solar array deployment test inside the Space Power Facility (SPF) at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. (3/1)

Boat Encroachment: More to Come for SpaceX at Texas Launch Site (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceX's new super-chilled fuel mixture seems to require timely liftoff after fuel loading, as demonstrated during its recent aborted launch. A boat encroached the downrange safety area, delaying the countdown and, apparently, allowing the fuel to warm after it had been loaded, causing a last-second abort.

At the Eastern Range, boaters are generally familiar with downrange restrictions, and the range operators have a lot of experience dealing with errant boaters to keep the range clear. Not so at Boca Chica, where fishing and pleasure boating are also popular, launches are a new phenomenon, there are no existing range authorities, and a good portion of the downrage clearance area is under Mexican control. I would imagine range encroachment delays will be a common occurrence for SpaceX at its new Boca Chica launch site. (3/1)

U.S. Air Force Considering Three More WGS Communications Satellites (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force is considering building a three-satellite constellation to replenish its wideband satellite communications system. While the discussion is in the early stages, the idea has alarmed some commercial satellite operators, who for years have been trying to win a greater share of Defense Department business. A new constellation would provide additional bandwidth for the military and theoretically minimize the opportunity for commercial operators to sell wideband communications services to the Pentagon. (3/1)

Op-ed: Need for Canadian Space Access (Source: SpaceRef)
Since the beginning, man has yearned to venture into the cosmos, which is a difficult achievement without access to space. Such is the attitude and position of Canada within the global space industry. Many will argue, as has been the standing for decades, that there is no need for Canada to divest capital resources into an orbital launch program.

Other countries have already done so, like our neighbors to the south, so we can rely on them for space access. Little do they know, however, that such a passive attitude is the root of stagnancy. It's as true in human psychology as it is in technological evolution; if something isn't growing, it's dying. Reworded, you can choose to get better or get bitter, and the current state of the Canadian space program reflects the latter. (3/1)

Honeywell Revokes $90.3B Bid For United Technologies (Source: Law 360)
Honeywell pulled back its $90.3 billion buyout for rival aircraft supplier United Technologies on Tuesday, with the New-Jersey based company saying it is not interested in pursuing a hostile campaign even as it contended the deal would have no issues clearing regulatory hurdles. (3/1)

Lockheed to Help NASA Design Quieter Supersonic Passenger Jet (Source: Reuters)
NASA on Monday announced a contract award to Lockheed Martin Corp's unit for the preliminary design of a "low boom" flight demonstration aircraft. NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology Project had asked industry teams to submit design concepts for a test aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds, creating a supersonic "heartbeat" - a soft thump rather than the disruptive boom currently associated with supersonic flight.

NASA said it selected a team led by Lockheed Martin's unit, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co, to complete a preliminary design for Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST). This is the first in a series of 'X-planes' in NASA's New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency's fiscal year 2017 budget. (2/29)

Spaceport Bill Passes Georgia House of Representatives (Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle)
The Georgia House of Representatives approved legislation Monday to help smooth the way for a planned spaceport in southeastern Georgia. The bill, which passed 164-8 and now heads to the state Senate, would shield the operators of the spaceport from lawsuits from injured space tourists.

Similar legal protections are in place in Texas and Florida, which also are planning spaceport projects, said Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, the bill’s sponsor. “[This] makes Georgia competitive to bring in the commercial space industry,” he said. Spencer said the bill would not exempt the facility from being sued for injuries caused by intentional harm or gross negligence.

Another provision that would have prohibited local governments from putting noise control restrictions on space flight operations was stricken from the bill before it reached the House floor. (2/29)

What if Extraterrestrial Observers Called, but Nobody Heard? (Source: McMaster University)
As scientists step up their search for other life in the universe, two astrophysicists are proposing a way to make sure we don't miss the signal if extraterrestrial observers try to contact us first. René Heller and Ralph Pudritz say the best chance for us finding a signal from beyond is to presume that extraterrestrial observers are using the same methods to search for us that we are using to search for life beyond Earth.

Here on Earth, space researchers are focusing most of their search efforts on planets and moons that are too far away to see directly. Instead, they study them by tracking their shadows as they pass in front of their own host stars. Measuring the dimming of starlight as a planet crosses the face of its star during orbit, scientists can collect a wealth of information, even without ever seeing those worlds directly. Using methods that allow them to estimate the average stellar illumination and temperatures on their surfaces, scientists have already identified dozens of locations where life could potentially exist. (3/1)

Bill Nye to Speak at UCF (Source: UCF)
Students, faculty and staff are invited to spend “An Afternoon with Bill Nye,” popularly known as “The Science Guy,” on March 15, 2016. Click here. (3/1)

The “Super Chill” Reason SpaceX Keeps Aborting Launches (Source: Quartz)
Last night, SpaceX aborted its third attempt in four days to launch the SES-9 satellite, which bodes ill for a company hoping to demonstrate a speedy and predictable pace of rocket launches this year. After bad weather on the first attempt, the last two failures to launch were linked to the upgraded rocket SpaceX is using, which relies on “super-chilled” liquid oxygen to get an extra thrust into orbit.

Using new technology to get the most fuel in the rocket makes sense. But loading and keeping enough super-chilled fuel at its optimal temperature has become an issue twice. Last night, a boat strayed into the safety area around the launch pad and delayed the count-down. It resumed, but the launch was aborted after the engines began to ignite, because of concerns that the fuel had warmed in the intervening period.

Rising oxygen temperatures, caused by the countdown delay, triggered an alarm that aborted the liftoff. Two days prior, the mission had been aborted after problems were detected with the fuel loading procedure itself. SpaceX stressed that the decision was made out of an abundance of caution. (2/29)

Mojave Spaceport Approved Pricey Consulting Contract for Witt (Source: Bakersfield Californian)
Stuart Witt, for years the CEO and general manager of Mojave Air and Space Port, retired in January. But the facility will retain his services as part of a limited contract. A reader who closely follows the actions of the governing board at Mojave Air and Space Port wrote to The Californian to express his concerns about salaries and spending at the 3,300-acre facility in eastern Kern County.

The letter-writer focused primarily on a consulting contract approved by the board in early February involving former space port Chief Executive Stuart Witt, who retired last month after nearly 14 years at the helm. "When I saw the proposal to hire Mr. Witt at $200 per hour, I really had to ask myself what is going on,” wrote the man, who requested that his name not be used.

According to the contract, “MASP shall compensate consultant $200 per hour, on a time and materials basis, not to exceed 80 hours per month or 960 hours per year.” Hypothetically, Witt could pull down $192,000 plus expenses in 12 months if he worked the maximum number of hours. But Karina Drees, the space port’s new CEO, said that’s simply not going to happen. (2/28)

What Happens If You Get Bored in Space? (Source: Billionaire)
Space tourism will be the ultimate frontier of travel. Only the privileged few will get to taste the wonders of this journey. And only the brave will dare. How are these upmarket tourists going to fill the long hours during the journey to Mars? At 57 million kilometers from Earth, the journey to outer space is going to mean seven months of journeying in one cramped space. How are commercial aerospace companies going to ensure that passengers stay entertained and there isn’t a riot on the way to outer space?

What might an Emirates Interplanetary First Class look like? I’d compare the line-up to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, where celebrity guests must choose only eight songs, books and luxury items based on the knowledge that return to Earth is not a given.

There is already internet in space but, last year, astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted that it was like using dial-up all over again. It is true that great strides are being made in improving the situation, but perhaps we in-flight entertainment companies shouldn’t be too quick to drop skills associated with offline delivery of entertainment in our rush to go wireless. It may all be needed again for space. Click here. (2/29)

What Did a Year in Space Do to Scott Kelly? (Source: WIRED)
One year is twice as long as the typical ISS trip—but it is how long astronauts will have to spend in interplanetary space to get to Mars and back. That’s one year for the body to slowly break down in space thanks too little gravity and too much radiation.

Some of the effects of microgravity are obvious. When bones and muscles no longer have to bear the weight of walking, they start to weaken. Bones thin, muscles atrophy. To counteract that, ISS astronauts spend an average of two hours a day exercising, strapped onto a treadmill with elastic bands or doing weight resistance training. Supplements like vitamin D also help. But still, astronauts lose on average 1.5 percent of their bone mass per month in space.

Less obvious are the effects of gravity on fluids. Yes, your internal fluids! Like your blood and urine and the all the interstitial fluid that bathes the cells of your body. Without gravity, for example, the heart shrinks because it no longer has to work as hard to pump blood to the legs and back. (2/29)

Aldrin Calls for Human Colony on Mars (Source: CBS)
Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, thinks that mankind's next big objective in space should be to colonize Mars. Speaking at an event at the Science Museum in London, Aldrin projected that by 2040, Earthlings will set foot on the Red Planet, making way for an eventual space colony. "To take the step, to take the movement, to take the action to begin to occupy -- is there anything bigger that humans could do on Earth than to leave and begin to occupy?" Aldrin said. Click here. (2/29)

Gogo Says Satellite Costs Have Dropped 60%, Hints at OneWeb Constellation Deal (Source: Space News)
Airline connectivity provider Gogo Inc. said satellite bandwidth costs have dropped by 60 percent in the past two years as high-throughput spacecraft near launch and Gogo leverages its status as an increasingly large customer. Gogo has signed major capacity deals with fleet operators Intelsat and SES.

The company has made a selling point of the fact that its Ku-band 2Ku technology, unlike Ka-band systems offered by competitor ViaSat Inc., among others, enables Gogo to move back and forth among satellite providers to find the best deal. Gogo could soon be signing a capacity agreement with OneWeb LLC of Britain’s Channel Islands, which is scheduled to start launching a 700-satellite constellation in 2018 using Ku-band for a global Internet service. (2/29)

X Prize Planning for Next Space Competition (Source: Space News)
With its current flagship space competition set to end in less than two years, the X Prize Foundation is starting the planning for its next space-related challenge. In a Feb. 24 presentation to the Future In-Space Operations working group, Andrew Barton, director of technical operations for the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, said the X Prize Foundation is preparing to develop a new space prize to succeed the GLXP.

Barton said the foundation has a road-mapping approach for developing new prizes that it plans to apply to a new space prize. That involves identifying desired future states of the space industry and working backwards, or “backcasting,” to the present day to identify key technical challenges that could be solved through the use of a prize. (2/29)

Aerojet Rocketdyne, ULA Win Air Force Propulsion Contracts (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force will invest up to $536 million in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 rocket engine and as much as $202 million in United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket as a way to end dependence on the Russian rocket engine used to launch most U.S. national security payloads, according to a Feb. 29 announcement from the Pentagon.

Aerojet Rocketdyne will use the money to help develop its AR1 rocket engine. ULA will develop a prototype of its Vulcan launch vehicle with the BE-4 engine and work on its next-generation upper stage engine known as the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES. (2/29)

Gravitational Waves: Tests Begin for Future Space Observatory (Source: BBC)
The formal test program begins this week on the technologies required to detect gravitational waves in space. Europe's Lisa Pathfinder (LPF) probe will engage in a series of experiments roughly 1.5 million km from Earth. The project has heightened interest, of course, because of the first sampling of the "cosmic ripples" made by ground-based detectors last September.

A successful demo for LPF would pave the way for a fully operational orbiting observatory in the 2030s. This would likely be known simply as Lisa - the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. "It's a wonderful time right now," said Paul McNamara, the European Space Agency's (ESA) project scientist on Lisa Pathfinder. (2/29)

ULA and Blue Origin Partner with Air Force for All-American Rocket Engine (Source: ULA)
United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin entered into a public-private partnership with the U.S. Air Force to develop a new rocket propulsion system to power Vulcan -- ULA’s next-generation launch system. ULA has been investing in the development of the Vulcan rocket for more than a year. This agreement will enhance the company’s progress integrating the BE-4 engine with the Vulcan launch vehicle. (2/29)

Aerojet Rocketdyne, ULA Partner with USAF to Develop RD-180 Replacement (Source: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
The U.S. Air Force selected Aerojet Rocketdyne and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to share in a public-private partnership to develop jointly the AR1 engine - an American-made rocket propulsion system. The Air Force decision—coupled with a large internal investment in the AR1 engine—is a major step forward in ensuring that the U.S. has a domestically-built rocket engine to replace the Russian-built RD-180 engines.

The total agreement is valued at $804 million with the Air Force investing two-thirds of the funding required to complete development of the AR1 engine by 2019. The work is expected to be completed no later than Dec. 31, 2019. The Air Force intends to initially obligate $115.3 million with Aerojet Rocketdyne and ULA contributing $57.7 million. (2/29)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Names Dynetics as Key AR1 Engine Team Member (Source: Aerojet Rocketdyne
Following the U.S. Air Force selection of AR1 for a Rocket Propulsion System award, Aerojet Rocketdyne named Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama, as a key team member for the AR1 engine development. This engine is adaptable to current and future launch vehicles in development. (2/29)

SpaceX Confirms 'Super' Tuesday Launch Attempt (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
SpaceX has confirmed that it will attempt to launch a satellite into orbit for a fourth time on Tuesday evening, with a launch window opening at 6:35 p.m. at Cape Canaveral. The launch window is 11 minutes earlier than the three prior attempts have been. (2/29)

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