March 15, 2016

Spaceport America Sponsors Second Open House (Source: Spaceport America)
Spaceport America is holding its second Open House Day on Saturday April 2, 2016! The day is divided into two sessions, morning and afternoon. Attendance is free to the public, but capacity is limited, so RSVP slots are restricted to the first 400 personal vehicles to RSVP below for each session. (3/14)

Russian Satellite's Solar Panel Stuck (Source: Tass)
A solar array on a newly launched Russian satellite has failed to deploy properly. Roscosmos said Monday that a solar panel on the Resurs P3 satellite, launched Sunday, only partially deployed after the spacecraft entered orbit. Despite the deployment problem, the panels are generating enough power for normal operation of the remote sensing spacecraft, according to Roscosmos. (3/14)

ICAO Seeks Role in Spaceflight Regulation (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The international organization that addresses aviation safety issues wants to expand its work to include commercial spaceflight. The head of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said Tuesday that the organization should draft guidelines for suborbital and orbital human spaceflight by 2019. ICAO does not have the direct ability to enforce any guidelines it develops, but its standards in aviation are widely adopted by national regulatory bodies around the world.

Editor's Note: This highlights a threat from U.S. inaction on setting spaceflight regulations and integrating them into an approach for spaceflight through the National Airspace System. In the absence of U.S. rules, other nations and international bodies may establish rules that ultimately are adopted globally...and aren't what the U.S. might prefer to see. (3/15)

NASA Supports Solar Panel Technology Improvements (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected four proposals for solar panel technology development work. The proposals, from the Applied Physics Laboratory, Boeing, JPL and Orbital ATK, will address technologies to improve the performance of solar arrays in low-temperature and high-radiation environments. Initial awards of $400,000 each for nine months of work will be followed by two or three contracts, valued at up to $1.25 million each, for additional hardware development and testing. (3/14)

China May Commercialize Small Launcher (Source: Bloomberg)
A Chinese company plans to commercialize a new small launch vehicle. State media reported that the China Sanjiang Space Group Co. plans to offer the Kuaizhou-11 small launch vehicle. That rocket, under development by the Fourth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., is designed to place up to one metric ton into a sun-synchronous orbit, and is scheduled to make its first launch late this year or early next year. (3/14)

Canada Supports Space Health Research (Source: SpaceRef)
Four new Canadian studies in the field of space health research have received funding from the Government of Canada to reduce health risks for astronauts on long-term missions. These experiments will simulate space conditions on Earth to investigate the physiological and psychosocial adaptation to space. Click here. (3/8)

Bezos’s Space Vision Takes Long View (Source: Aviation Week)
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin wants humans to go to space in a big way, turning Earth into a residential planet and moving heavy industry beyond the atmosphere it is polluting. Meanwhile, though, he sees the company he has spent more than $500 million to get off the ground as a way to lower the cost of entry to space for all kinds of entrepreneurs in the next decade, using suborbital tourist flights to practice more ambitious applications of reusable rocketry and recoup his investment.

“I won a lottery” with Amazon, he says, explaining that he intends to use his wealth to achieve a boyhood dream of “millions of people living and working in space.” Confident that it is well ahead of Aerojet Rocketdyne in the competition to replace the Russian-built RD-180 engine for ULA, Blue Origin is reconfiguring its sprawling factory in this Seattle suburb to manufacture the 550,000-lb.-thrust BE-4 engine at an initial rate of a dozen a year.

Bezos and Meyerson say the BE-4 remains on track for full-engine testing this year, which will meet ULA’s requirement for the downselect. Bezos doesn’t consider the AR1 competitive with his engine. “We’re ahead because we started earlier,” Bezos says. (3/11)

If You Don't Think a One-Degree Temperature Rise Matters, Read This (Source: Gizmodo)
It’s just one-degree, right? So, how big a difference can it really make? There’s a place in the world where we can already look at for an answer. A new study looks at Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, a rising agricultural powerhouse in the country and in the world. (Ten percent of all the world’s soybeans already come from there.) It’s also an area that has already seen temperatures quickly rise—and will probably keep right on seeing it, by up to an extra 2 degrees by 2050.

Researchers at Brown and Tufts took a look backwards at data since 2002 from the state to see what had already happened with climbing temperatures. What they found was that a single degree of temperature change came along with drops of 9-13% in crop yields of both soybeans and corn. But these yield drops sound higher than other climate change studies in the past. Why? Because it’s not just about what that change in temperatures does to soil and plants—it’s also about what that change in temperature does to our behavior.

When conditions change, farms don’t just continue on their way, just as they always have. If things are bad enough, farmers may decide that it’s simply not likely enough to be profitable to plant certain things at all. That’s exactly what the data showed, when the researchers went into NASA satellite data for a closer look. Almost all of the drop in crop production (70 percent) wasn’t due to smaller yields, it was due to crops not planted at all. (3/7)

A Proposal for Cooperation on the ISS and the Chinese Space Station (Source: Space Review)
Some in the West have suggested that China join the International Space Station program in some way. Chen Lan argues that while it’s too late to expect China to abandon its plans for its own space station, there may be ways to cooperate by using both stations on joint efforts. Click here. (3/14)
The Shifting Commercial Launch Landscape (Source: Space Review)
The entry of SpaceX into the commercial launch market has put pressure on other companies to reduce their prices, even through many customers have traditionally not been price-sensitive. Jeff Foust reports that changes in the market are making customers more eager to spend less on launch, even as some launch providers seek to emphasize schedule performance and reliability. Click here. (3/14)
Giant Steps are What You Take, Walking on the Moon (Source: Space Review)
An exhibition of Soviet space artifacts closed in London on Sunday after a six-month run. Dwayne Day discusses one of the key items in that exhibition, an engineering model of a lunar lander. Click here. (3/14)
US Terrestrial Non-Fossil Fuel Energy vs. Space Solar Power (Source: Space Review)
In the final essay in his three-part examination of the importance of space solar power, Mike Snead explains why only space-based solar power can meet the growing energy needs of the US as fossil fuels are phased out in the decades to come. Click here. (3/14)

Sea Level Rise Could Threaten 13.1 Million Americans by 2100 (Source: Mashable)
Anywhere from 4.3 to 13.1 million people in the coastal United States will be at risk of inundation due to sea level rise by 2100, according to a new study that combines population growth projections with sea level rise forecasts.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, uses population trends and sea level rise projections to conduct a county-by-county risk assessment across the U.S. The results show that anywhere from 4.3 to 13.1 million people are at risk of inundation by 2100, depending on how much sea level rise there is by then. (3/14)

Launch of Dragon Spacecraft to ISS Postponed Until April (Source: Space Daily)
The launch of the Dragon free-flying spacecraft to the International Space Station has been postponed until April. Dragon is a spacecraft developed by SpaceX, a US private space transportation company. Dragon is launched into space by the SpaceX Falcon 9 two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle.

Initially, the launch of the Dragon was scheduled for August 2015, but shortly before that a Falcon 9 rocket crashed during an attempt to send Dragon into orbit. Following the incident, Flacon 9 launches were resumed, but the Dragon mission has been repeatedly postponed. (3/15)

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