March 26, 2016

Private Business Should Lead the Way in Space Exploration! (Source: Inside Sources)
If you want humanity to develop a space-faring civilization, you need to understand that space should be a free-market frontier and entrepreneurs should lead the way! Start by reorienting your thinking. Space is a place, not a government program. It’s a place, a frontier in which humans can work and live, invent and build, explore and develop — a frontier in which private parties should take the lead.

One of the greatest benefits this explosion of private space activity offers is inspiration to a country starved for a vision of achievement. Philosopher Ayn Rand wrote of the Apollo 11 moon launch that it “conveyed the sense that we were watching a magnificent work of art — a play dramatizing a single theme: the efficacy of man’s mind.” Just as private individuals settled the American frontier, so private pioneers are leading the way into space, the free-market frontier! (3/25)

The Democratization of Space (Source: Inside Sources)
Zipping among the stars is no longer something that can only be achieved by global superpowers and multinational firms with deep pockets and legions of rocket scientists. Instead, we are witnessing a movement, one of democratization, that has made outer space accessible to not only the global superpowers and large multinationals, but to developing countries, start-ups, universities and even high schools.

To date, the credit for this democratization movement has been given to technological advances like additive manufacturing technologies; small, energy-efficient computing; and lower-cost launch systems. From this landscape a stark reality is emerging — the challenge for the space community no longer lies in cultivating legions of rocket scientists, but instead in determining new roles for stakeholders and the development of creative, novel business plans.

Today there is a need for a new economic model — one that is responsive and agile — to govern civil and commercial space due to the reality of continued political and budgetary uncertainty mixed with this growing democratization movement. The new model must account for the lower barriers to entry and the inevitable entry of more and more stakeholders. Gone is the time when the governments dominated the markets and national interests alone drove the development of the outer-space environment. (3/25)

US Astronomers Discuss Importance of Federal Investment in Science with Congress (Source: AAS)
Seventeen members of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) traveled to Washington, DC, on 16 March 2016 to thank their members of Congress for supporting research and development in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Omnibus appropriations and to ask for continued support in FY 2017 and beyond. (3/22)

Space Center Houston Tops Cosmic Spring with 18 Millionth Visitor (Source: SSH)
The weeklong Cosmic Spring festivities culminated with an incredible milestone Saturday when the nonprofit Space Center Houston welcomed its 18 millionth visitor since opening in October 1992. The milestone was celebrated by treating Mike Bhatnagar of Sugar Land, Texas to a full-range of experiences available at Space Center Houston. (3/21)

Korea Plays Catch-Up in Space Race (Source: Korea Herald)
From military to weather to asteroid mining, outer space’s seemingly infinite scientific and commercial potential has in recent years been enticing a growing roster of countries across the globe into exploring the boundless expanse.

Despite being a latecomer to the bandwagon, South Korea is seeking to expand its forays, such as with a moon probe, capitalizing on its success -- following two failed attempts -- in lifting off its first Naro space rocket in January 2013 with the help of Russia.

North Korea is deemed about two to four years ahead of its affluent, tech-savvy southern neighbor in terms of rocket development due chiefly to its years-long investment in building intercontinental ballistic missiles entailing similar technologies. (3/25)

2020 is Set to be the Biggest Year Yet for Mars Exploration (Source: TechCrunch)
2020 is set to be a good year for Mars exploration. The U.S., China, UAE, Europe and Russia all have planned Mars missions that are scheduled to launch, or likely to launch, in that year. There have been more than 40 missions to Mars throughout history. Some of these missions were failures, while others completed their goals and are no longer operational. Today, there are two operational robots on the Martian surface and five operational orbiters circling the planet.

Why is everyone launching in 2020? It’s part strategic, and part coincidence. Because of the location of Mars relative to the Earth, prime launch windows (where the least amount of power is required to travel between the two planets) only open up every 26 months. One of those windows happens to be between July and August of 2020, which is when these missions are scheduled, or expected to launch. (3/25)

Human Spaceflight from Florida Next Year 'Realistic,' Experts Say (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Humans have not launched from Florida's Space Coast since NASA shut down its shuttle program in 2011. But by the end of next year, Florida could have two companies – Boeing and SpaceX – sending astronauts to the International Space Station from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

Both companies have landed NASA contracts for the work. Boeing could receive as much as $4.2 billion for crew launch services. SpaceX, meanwhile, is in line to receive as much as $2.6 billion. Boeing has already been awarded $621 million in contracts, while SpaceX has received roughly $545 million. Ever since the shuttle stopped launching, humans have gone to space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia aboard the country's Soyuz rockets, which will debut a new version this year. (3/24)

DARPA Launches Program to Facilitate Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Hundreds of military, government and commercial satellites reside today in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) some 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth—a perch ideal for providing communications, meteorology and national security services, but one so remote as to preclude inspection and diagnosis of malfunctioning components, much less upgrades or repairs.

Even fully functional satellites sometimes find their working lives cut short simply because they carry obsolete payloads—a frustrating situation for owners of assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. With no prospects for assistance once in orbit, satellites destined for GEO today are loaded with backup systems and as much fuel as can be accommodated, adding to their complexity, weight and cost. But what if help was just a service call away? (3/25)

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