April 24, 2016

Russia, Italy Plan First Bid to Explore Beneath Mars Surface in 2018 (Source: Space Daily)
The Russian and Italian space agencies have joined forces on the first mission to drill deep beneath the surface of Mars in 2018 and explore the geological composition of the planet's crust, Italian Space Agency (ASI) President Roberto Battiston said. The joint Russian-Italian project is scheduled for 2018. It marks the first time that any nation or joint project between nations will carry out deep drilling beneath the Martian surface. (4/15)

Aerospace States Association Expands Its Leadership (Source: ASA)
Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey, Chair of the Aerospace States Association (ASA), announced the expansion of the ASA management team. Charles H. Huettner will continue to be the Executive Director of the association. He will be joined by Ross Garelick Bell as the new Deputy Director, and Robert E. Mansfield Jr. the new ASA Director for National Programs. "The new management team will grow ASA and increase the influence and ability of state Lt. Governors and other state elected officials in growing high paying aerospace jobs and supporting STEM education” said Lt. Governor Ivey. (4/22)

Kasich's Campaign Gets a Rocket Boost With Pledged Support of Astronauts (Source: ABC)
Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich stands out from his opponents with a unique set of out-of-this-world endorsements: a trio of astronauts who have thrown their support behind his White House candidacy. The endorsements were not any part of a concerted effort to nab backing from the space community – the Ohio governor has not even articulated any policy on space – but instead came about from personal connections and individual political leanings.

Steve Oswald, who piloted two missions on the Space Shuttle Discovery in the early 1990s, said his backing last month came about when his wife, former U.S. Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), announced her own endorsement of Kasich. “She basically says he’s always been a solid citizen,” Oswald said. Eugene Cernan, who in 1972 became the last man to walk on the moon, said that the Kasich campaign reached out to him after he made his feelings “known." He previously endorsed then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry's bid for the White House in 2012.

A third astronaut, William Readdy, publicly backed Kasich, too, but he did not respond to calls and emails from ABC News requesting comment. The space program has not yet become a topic of discussion in the 2016 presidential race. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the Republican nominating race in February, called himself a “space guy.” But of the remaining GOP candidates, only Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has expressed any space-related policy. (4/22)

China Official Says Film 'The Martian' Shows Americans Want Space Cooperation (Source: Reuters)
A senior Chinese space official said the Hollywood blockbuster "The Martian" is proof that Americans want to see the United States and China cooperate in space, but lamented Washington's ban on collaboration between the two countries.

Advancing China's space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power. China insists its program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. Defense Department has highlighted its increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed to prevent adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis. (4/22)

Menstruation in Spaceflight: Options for Astronauts (Source: Space Daily)
Although full amenities are available should astronauts choose to menstruate in space, the practicalities of menstruating during pre-flight training or spaceflight can be challenging. For short duration missions, menstrual cycles can to be timed according to mission dates but for longer hauls, menstrual suppression is often preferred.

During long duration missions, astronauts have traditionally continuously taken the combined oral contraceptive (COC) pill to prevent menstrual flow. A three-year exploration class mission is predicted to require approximately 1,100 pills, whose packaging would add mass and disposal requirements for the flight. (4/22)

DOD Considers Alaska Spaceport for More Missile Defense Test Launches (Source: Sit News)
Alaska's Congressional Delegation welcomed the announcement yesterday by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) that it is examining the Pacific Spaceport Complex (PSCA) in Kodiak as a potential site for missile defense flight testing for regional missile defense systems, such as the Theatre High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system.

The Missile Defense Agency on Friday released a Notice of Intent for a Sole Source Contract for the Alaska Aerospace Corporation in Federal Business Opportunities, the federal government’s online acquisition information system, to help test components of the nation’s ballistic missile defense systems. (4/23)

World View Deal All About High-Paying Jobs (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
When people ask me why the county signed an economic incentive agreement with World View, an innovative, homegrown space technology company, the answer is simple: “Nearly 500 high-paying new jobs.” Job creation is the only reason for entering into economic incentive agreements with existing or new companies.

Aerospace is one of those targeted industries. World View is a high-profile company with multimillion dollar contracts with NASA, defense contractors and universities that needs a manufacturing headquarters and launch facility to start delivering on its contracts. Spaceport communities in New Mexico and Florida were offering ready-to-go facilities to the company during its national site search last year. (4/23)

Arizona County Taking Risky Gamble with Public's Millions (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
In January, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to build a headquarters for a company called World View, which says it will bring jobs to the area by sending tourists on pricey, high-altitude weather balloon rides. That plan isn’t just risky — it’s also illegal.

World View has never put a tourist in the air, and doesn’t have federal permission to try. More importantly, voters overwhelmingly rejected similar subsidies last November. But that didn’t stop county officials from negotiating a secret deal to give loans and handouts to the company.

Most Pima County taxpayers could never afford a ride in a World View balloon, which will cost $75,000 per ticket, about three times the average income per person in the area. But they’ll have to pay anyway, because it will take at least 15 years to pay off the debt that will build the facilities, and the county has no real recourse if the venture fails. (4/23)

Don't Let Broken-Up Hitomi Become Space Debris (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
Hitomi became unable to assess its attitude due to the erroneous operation of its attitude control system. This is believed to be the cause of the incident. Thrusters were automatically activated to try to stop the rolling, but the satellite’s rotation speed accelerated because the thruster control parameters were set wrongly in the first place.

The centrifugal force caused by the rotation is presumed to have torn off observation equipment and some of the solar cells from the satellite. The recovery of Hitomi’s functions is said to be difficult to achieve. Even so, we want JAXA to try all possible means to achieve this end. JAXA must determine whether there is no danger that other observation satellites will experience similar trouble. (4/23)

A NASA Man Faces the Isolation of Space Without Ever Leaving Earth (Soure: WIRED)
Jason Labay—football player, works out twice a day—was feeling short of breath. So in March he left work to go to the doctor, who said, Jason, you look pale. Doctors took his blood and counted the cells and told him his numbers were so low he should be unconscious. They admitted him and started firehosing transfusions into his veins. Tests confirmed what Labay has Acute myeloid leukemia.

Labay works at NASA Glenn Research Center, near his home in Akron, Ohio. Scheduling is his specialty, which only sounds trivial to someone who has never tried to launch a rocket. Nothing gets to space without first collecting thousands of checked boxes. Most recently Labay has been part of a NASA program office that manages development of radioisotope power systems. Click here. (4/23)

China Aiming for Reusable Manned Spacecraft (Source: Xinhua)
China is studying how to retrieve and reuse manned spacecraft in its future missions, the chief engineer of the nation's manned space program said on Sunday. "It's our next goal to reuse manned spacecraft. We want to make our space exploration cost-effective," Zhou Jianping said.

Reusable manned spacecraft are a Holy Grail of space exploration. The United States developed partially reusable manned spacecraft capable of reaching low Earth orbit. But they were all retired in 2011 due to high costs and risks, including an accident in 2003 that killed seven astronauts. (4/23)

OneWeb CEO: We Want Doughnuts at Kennedy Space Center (Source: Florida Today)
A pair of new factories promise to turn Exploration Park, a state-run research and development park at the south end of Kennedy Space Center, into a thriving manufacturing hub for more than 500 engineers.

“One thing engineers really like to eat is doughnuts,” Holz joked. “So governor, with your past experience, I really hope we can find a way to be entrepreneurs again and put a doughnut shop locally here. I think it will help keep all the engineers in the factory longer.”But something’s missing, OneWeb Satellites CEO Brian Holz told Florida Gov. Rick Scott during a ceremony welcoming the company Tuesday. (4/23)

Watch Out SpaceX: China's Space Startup Industry Takes Flight (Source: Popular Science)
While SpaceX is leading the charge of private space companies in the United States, a new generation of Chinese start ups are entering the space race, backed by universities and hedge funds. The key difference is that these firms are starting small, focusing mostly on the goal of launching microsatellites.

First up is Onespace, founded in June 2015, with support from the National Defense Science and Industry Bureau. Their flagship rocket is a 59 ton space launch vehicle with a launch date of 2018. It is designed to place a 500kg payload in low Earth orbit. Onespace hopes to launch microsatellites at a cost of 100,000 yuan per kilogram (or $6,500 per pound). (4/22)

It's Insane How Much Rocket Fuel NASA's 3D-Printed Turbopump Spits Out (Source: Popular Mechanics)
NASA's experiments with 3D-printing are going great. Late last year, NASA successfully tested a prototype rocket engine that was made out of 75 percent 3D-printed parts and it passed its fiery test with flying colors. Next up? 3D-printed turbopump. Just look at that thing spew out oceans of liquid methane.

Tested at the NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center back in March, this turbopump is just tops at firing out jets of super-cooled liquid methane and works with even colder liquid hydrogen too. With 600 horsepower turbines that drive the pump at 36,000 revolutions per minute, the turbopump puts out 600 gallons of -255 degree Fahrenheit liquid methane per minute. That's 10 gallons—or just under 20 two-liters—every single second. (4/22)

How to Harvest Terawatts of Solar Power on the Moon (Source: Discover)
Planet Earth isn’t the most ideal place for solar power to thrive. Sunsets and weather afford solar panels a significant amount of downtime. But there’s a place not too far from here where the sun never stops shining. A handful of researchers, and more recently the Japanese corporation Shimizu, have been gearing up to develop solar power on the moon.

Shimizu took off with the idea in 2013 in the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 Fukishima accident, which produced a political climate demanding alternatives to nuclear power plants. Shimizu’s plans call for beginning construction of a lunar solar power base as early as 2035. The solar array would be 250 miles wide and span the lunar circumference of 6,800 miles. They’re calling it the Luna Ring.

Lunar Solar Power (LSP) arrays would receive higher energy density from sunlight than we get through Earth’s atmosphere, avoid weather, and could beam energy to any part of Earth facing the moon. LSP could, theoretically, even satisfy 100 percent of our energy needs. That would be approximately 18 TW today and possibly 24 TW by mid century. (4/22)

Is This How Boeing and Lockheed Martin Beat SpaceX? (Source: Motley Fool)
Much has been written already about United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan rocket, designed to replace Lockheed Martin's Atlas V -- and more importantly, replace the Russian RD-180 engine that powers the Atlas, with something made closer to home.

Vulcan is expected to be cheaper than Atlas, and should help close the price gap between ULA's high-cost space launches, and what SpaceX charges for a similar service. One thing that Vulcan cannot do, however, is launch a rocket into space, then return to land on Earth under its own power. Their plan for recovering first-stage rockets -- parachuting them into the atmosphere, then snagging the parachute with a helicopter, is so complex as to be laughable.

But that doesn't mean Boeing and Lockheed Martin have run clean out of ideas. Their new plan is to upgrade their Centaur Stage 2 rocket into a new version dubbed "ACES" (Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage). Bigger than Centaur, ACES will hold more fuel, and will be capable of reaching orbit itself (and remaining there). Thus, ACES could be reused in space -- refueled, and perhaps even mated with other ACES rockets to form larger spaceships or space stations in orbit. (4/23)

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