March 13, 2016

SpaceX Faces Off Against Russia To Supply Rockets To US Military (Source: Daily Caller)
Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX and Russian company NPO Energomash are locked in a struggle to supply rocket engines to the U.S. military. NPO Energomash currently sells RD-180 rocket engines to American company United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing. ULA inspects the engines, then uses them to power the workhorse rocket of America’s military space program. (3/12)

11 Bizarre Things the Mars Orbiter has Spotted on the Red Planet (Source: Mashable)
Ten years ago this week, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) began its visit to the red planet. In the time since, the MRO has completed about 45,000 trips around Mars, taking more than 200,000 images of it and other objects in the vicinity, according to NASA. Here are 11 of the most amazing things the MRO has seen in its decade of service. (3/12)

China Spacesat Profits Rise 7.62% in 2015 (Source: Xinhua)
China Spacesat Co., Ltd., the nation's key developer of small satellites, reported a 7.62-percent rise in net profits last year. Its net profits totaled 383 million yuan (59 million U.S. dollars) last year, according to a latest report released on the website of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The company's sales revenue reached 5.45 billion yuan in 2015, up 16.82 percent from the previous year. Earnings per share were 0.32 yuan. Founded in 1997, China Spacesat is a listed company held by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. (3/12)

Soyuz Launch Halted Just Before Engine Start (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The launch of a Russian Earth observation satellite aboard a Soyuz rocket has been rescheduled for Sunday after a countdown Saturday stopped less than 20 seconds before liftoff. The Russian space agency — Roscosmos — said the launch was reset for 1856 GMT (2:56 p.m. EDT) Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the Resurs P3 remote sensing satellite, the third in a series of civilian-operated high-resolution imaging spacecraft designed look down on Earth from orbit. (3/12)

Scientists Search for Signatures of Alien Life Hidden in Gas (Source: WIRED)
Huddled in a coffee shop one drizzly Seattle morning six years ago, the astrobiologist Shawn Domagal-Goldman stared blankly at his laptop screen, paralyzed. He had been running a simulation of an evolving planet, when suddenly oxygen started accumulating in the virtual planet’s atmosphere. Up the concentration ticked, from 0 to 5 to 10 percent. Click here. (3/13)

Blue Origin Could Change the Face of Space Travel (Source: Florida Today) founder Jeff Bezos is unquestionably passionate about space. But the 52-year-old multibillionaire — one of the world’s wealthiest individuals — is also an extremely pragmatic business leader who doesn’t casually throw gobs of cash at curiosities or self-indulgences.

He started his space company, Blue Origin, in 2000 to advance his childhood passion. But Bezos also intends Blue Origin to be a business success, one that could change the face of space travel and possibly the work force on the Space Coast in the decades ahead. Click here. (3/13)

Cabana: KSC Transformation Making 'Tremendous Progress' (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center continues making strides in its transformation following the space shuttle program’s 2011 retirement, Center Director Bob Cabana said last week. Cabana reviewed a host of construction projects preparing KSC for an unmanned first launch of a new exploration rocket and capsule targeted for late 2018, leading to a crewed launch by 2023.

At the same time, the spaceport is encouraging commercial operations by the likes of Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp., SpaceX and others. “Look at the tremendous progress that we have made in the last four years,” Cabana said. “We truly are a multi-user spaceport.” Boeing and SpaceX are going “gangbusters,” he said, toward launches of astronauts to the International Space Station by late 2017 under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is led from KSC.

Meanwhile, NASA is overhauling launch pad 39B, a Vehicle Assembly Building high bay and a crawler-transporter, among other infrastructure, to support launches of Orion capsules by the agency’s 322-foot Space Launch System rocket. Click here. (3/12)

Earth's First Space Traffic Controller (Source: Inverse)
“Space is not a safe environment to operate in,” says aerospace engineer Moriba Jah. With the public and private sector both rushing towards space, satellite coverage is turning near-Earth orbit into an obstacle course. Humans need to not just keep better track of all the objects zipping around in space, but to understand their behavior better and learn if and how they can be managed.

In other words, the space industrial complex needs to avoid burying itself before it evolves into something bigger and more central to life on this planet. Taking into account the current level of orbital debris, the problem is long since critical. Someone needs to be in charge and no one is. Jah wants the gig. Click here. (3/11)

Germany Expands Cooperation with Japan and South Korea (Source: Parabolic Arc)
On 23 February, DLR and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) signed an ‘Implementing Arrangement’. Under this agreement, KARI can use the DLR ground station in Neustrelitz to receive Korean satellite data. The agreement creates the contractual basis for a strengthened partnership in the operation of and reception of data from the growing fleet of Korean Earth observation satellites, and for increased scientific exchange.

Following the successful negotiations in Korea, the DLR delegation continued on to Tokyo, Japan. At the present time, DLR institutes are cooperating with 18 scientific institutions and universities in Japan in the context of more than 30 projects in aeronautics and space research. These include, for example, projects in the fields of Earth observation and planetary research, but also space robotics, aviation and atmospheric research. (3/11)

Lunar Base Not as Far Away or as Expensive as We Think (Source: Russia Today)
We should be shooting for the moon, at least when it comes to space colonization, according to a study that claims a lunar base could cost as little as $10 billion and be ready by 2022. Our natural satellite may have been long forgotten in favor of its more glamorous cousin Mars, but mankind should be concentrating on going (back) to the moon, according to a new scientific paper led by Scott Hubbard.

The paper argues the merits of creating a lunar base that could serve as a testing ground for future advanced technologies where research into further planetary colonization could be conducted. Cost is a major factor. The paper suggests ways to keep costs for a lunar base under $10 billion, including working with private companies and the use of new technologies such as self-driving cars and waste-recycling toilets.

Under their plan, robots named “MoonCats” would arrive first to prepare landing pads and set up solar panels. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is in the testing phase, would be used to bring up payloads before humans finally arrive as the base becomes more habitable. By exploiting all of these possibilities, 10 people could be living up on the moon by 2022. (3/12)

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