March 8, 2016

Inmarsat Hedges Against Falcon Heavy Delay with Proton Option (Source: Space News)
Inmarsat has purchased an option for a Proton launch as a hedge against delays in the introduction of the Falcon Heavy. Inmarsat booked a 2017 Proton launch, but did not name the satellite that would go on it. Industry sources say that the satellite is Europasat/Hellas-sat 3, a satellite currently slated to launch on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy. The introduction of the Falcon Heavy has been repeatedly delayed, and is now expected no sooner than late summer. Inmarsat is the second Falcon Heavy customer, after ViaSat, to look for alternative launch options given the Falcon Heavy's delays. (3/7)

NASA's Europa Lander Inches Forward (Source: Space News)
NASA is pressing ahead with studies of a possible Europa lander mission despite complaints the agency is not requesting enough funding. The agency requested requested nominations from the scientific community to join a science definition team that will identify the objectives of a proposed Europa lander. Those objectives will serve as the basis for the selection of instruments that would fly on the mission. JPL has been quietly working on concepts for a Europa lander that would leverage technologies developed for Mars landers, but has released few details about those plans to date. Congress has been pressing NASA to do a lander mission in conjunction with a planned "clipper" mission to Jupiter's icy moon. (3/7)

USAF Seeks $20M for Common Satellite Ground System (Source: Space News)
The Air Force is asking for $20 million to begin work transitioning to a common ground system for its satellites. The concept, known as Enterprise Ground Services,would replace the customized ground systems used by individual satellites with a common system that could save money. The development of a common ground system is a top priority for Gen. John Hyten, head of Air Force Space Command. (3/7)

UAE Developing Space Law with In-Space Property Rights (Source: The National)
The United Arab Emirates is in the final stages of developing a new national space law that may include space resource rights. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director of the UAE Space Agency, said the new law, which will cover human spaceflight and commercial activities based in the UAE, should be finalized soon. The legislation will reportedly also include provisions regarding rights to space resources, but Al Ahbabi did not say if the language would be similar to that in the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act passed in the U.S. last year. (3/7)

Canadian Space Industry Wants More Space Investment (Source: Canadian Press)
Canada's space industry wants the country's new government to invest more in space. The Canadian Space Commerce Association has asked the country's government to provide the Canadian Space Agency with a $25 million annual increase over the next four years. The organization says that increase will help make up for diminished investment in recent years that has made the Canadian space industry less competitive globally. (3/7)

Pentagon Seeks BRAC in 2019 (Source: Defense Communities)
Defending the administration’s request for a BRAC round in 2019 at last week’s hearing of the House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee was left to Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy, who took on lawmakers’ past concerns about the economic harm borne by defense communities, implementation costs and the prospect that surge capacity could be shortchanged following a future round.

But first Ballentine pointed out that 30 percent of the service’s infrastructure is excess, making a new round of base closures urgent. “Since BRAC 2005, the Air Force has thousands fewer personnel and hundreds fewer aircraft, yet we have not closed a single installation in the United States,” Ballentine noted. (3/7)

China's Ambition After Space Station (Source: Space Daily)
China will manage to exploit the space between earth and the moon for solar power and other resources after it builds a space station in 2020, Lt Gen. Zhang Yulin, said Monday. The deputy chief of the armament development department of the Central Military Commission said preliminary work on the program had already begun.

"The earth-moon space will be strategically important for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," said the national lawmaker. China's military authority is one of the several departments working on the national space program. (3/8)

Astronauts: Space Shouldn't be Exclusive Domain of Big Nations (Source: Space Daily)
Space shouldn't be the privileged domain of big countries but a frontier open to all, astronauts and scientists gathered in Costa Rica. Even the smallest nations benefit from access to space technology, for example, improving farming and providing better understanding of oceans, weather and climactic changes, they told a news conference at the beginning of a weeklong forum.

"Thirty years ago, when we were in space, we all looked out the window and saw our blue planet," said Bill Nelson, a US senator and former astronaut who participated in a 1986 voyage on the space shuttle Columbia. "We did not see political divisions, we did not see religious divisions, we did not see racial divisions. We are in this together."

Nelson and other members of that mission were invited to San Jose by another crew member, US-Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of that shuttle expedition. Chang, who pioneers plasma research in Costa Rica, underlined that the space technology sector is worth $300 billion and growing at five percent annually. (3/7)

Court Revives Raytheon $1B Satellite Sensor FCA Suit (Source: Law 360)
The Ninth Circuit revived a would-be whistleblower's $1 billion False Claims Act suit accusing Raytheon of covering up noncompliance on a weather satellite sensor subcontract, finding that the allegations were too distinctive to be barred by earlier public disclosures. A three-judge panel upended a lower court's February 2013 finding that former Raytheon engineer Steven Mateski's allegations were too similar to public disclosures of problems with the contract. (3/7)

Space Is Michelin-Starred Chef Heston Blumenthal's Next Frontier (Source: Eater)
Heston Blumenthal, the British chef who made a name as a culinary mad scientist at The Fat Duck, has a new job title: Space Chef. Heston's Space Food, a 90-minute documentary slated for broadcast later this year, "will follow the real scientific adventures of Heston Blumenthal and his team, as they work closely with the UK Space Agency, ESA and NASA and attempt to revolutionise the previously limited world of space food, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the most scientific of ways," UK's Channel 4 announced.

Blumenthal's primary hurdle was to devise meals for British astronaut Tim Peake that were not only consumable at zero gravity, but delicious. The film also documented Blumenthal's efforts to create space food "that would remind Tim of home, helping him combat the emotional impact of his journey." (Spoiler: the film includes footage of the first cup of tea sipped in space.) (2/20)

Slow Down, Air Force! New Engine Can Wait (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The Air Force is moving too quickly to replace the RD-180, an independent panel warned. That panel of acquisition exports advised the Air Force to adopt a slower schedule that could delay introduction of a new engine until 2025, making greater use of the Delta 4 during that period. That approach, the panel claimed, would reduce risks and could be less expensive in the long run. Air Force officials disagree with that assessment, arguing that using the more expensive Delta 4 could cost several billion dollars. (3/6)

Déjà Vu All Over Again: NASA and the Question of Risk (Source: Space Review)
NASA’s human spaceflight program faces uncertainty with a change in administrations and potentially a change in direction, putting more pressure on NASA to carry out its ongoing programs. Roger Handberg warns that, like in the agency’s past, this could set the stage for tragedy. Click here. (3/7)
Implementing a Space Weather Strategy (Source: Space Review)
Modern society is particularly vulnerable to the effects of massive solar storms that could bring down power grids and disrupt communications. Jeff Foust reports on a new effort by the federal government to coordinate work to better understand, and prepare for, that threat. Click here. (3/7)
US Fossil Fuel Energy insecurity and Space Solar Power (Source: Space Review)
Many Americans today do not worry much about energy security, given what appears to be plentiful supplies of fossil fuels. In the second installment of his three-part essay on space solar power, Mike Snead explains why now is the time to begin the transition from fossil fuels to, ideally, space solar power. Click here. (3/7)

Dream Chaser Providing New Life for NASA Facilities at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The Thermal Protection System Facility Annex or “TPSF” served NASA’s Space Shuttle Program during the iconic spacecrafts’ 30-years of service. It is now being used by one of the newest entrants under the second phase of the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract – Sierra Nevada Corporation. Click here. (3/7)

India Looks at Using GSLV for Foreign Satellite Launches (Source: Live Mint)
After establishing the reliability of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to put foreign satellites in orbit, India’s space agency is seeking tap the market for commercial launch services using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

Antrix Corp., the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation, is in preliminary discussions with several countries on possible satellite launches using the GSLV, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday. India has used its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to carry out more than 50 commercial satellite launches. The GSLV, which can put satellites into the geostationary orbits, has so far not been used. (3/2)

Hughes Shines in Latest FCC Report on Promised vs Delivered Download Speeds (Source: Space News)
Hughes Network Systems bested most competing ISPs, including ViaSat, in in an annual U.S. government measure of whether service providers meet their advertised download and upload speeds. The data also show that ViaSat’s service appears to have declined marginally two years in a row as the ViaSat-1 satellite fills to capacity in certain regions.

The report is one reason Carlsbad, California-based ViaSat is in a rush to launch its ViaSat-2 satellite, which will relieve congestion in the high-demand areas and presumably reverse the trend. Both satellite broadband providers ranked well among the most important measures, and both can claim that for many customers satellite broadband is a better choice than DSL – depending on how customers use the service. (3/6)

Boeing, Airbus Assess Export Credit and Satellite Demand for 2016 (Source: Space News)
Will export-credit financing for the satellite sector dry up as a result of the 2015 bankruptcy of NewSat of Australia, which had received backing from both the Export-Import Bank of the United States and France’s Coface? Will the stress on commercial launch manifests, especially SpaceX’s, slow development of new satellite programs?

Both issues were addressed by two of the principal satellite manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus Defence and Space, in separate interviews. They also gave their assessment of what the market in 2016 is likely to be. The two companies have made extensive use of export-credit financing. Both their home agencies, Ex-Im for Boeing and Coface for Airbus, were deeply involved in the NewSat bankruptcy, with Ex-Im taking the bigger financial hit. (3/7)

FSU Student Researcher Cracks Origin Story of Meteorite (Source: Space Daily)
A Florida State University student has cracked the code to reveal the deep and interesting history of an ancient meteorite that likely formed at the time our planets were just developing. Jonathan Oulton, a 2015 FSU graduate, working with Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Professor Munir Humayun, studied the pieces of a meteorite called Gujba.

Using sophisticated lasers and mass spectrometers at the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Humayun and Oulton conducted in-depth chemical analysis of the meteorite samples that shattered previous theories about when and how this meteorite had formed. (3/7)

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