April 4, 2016

The Challenges of Commercializing Research in Low Earth Orbit (Source: Space Review)
Much of the infrastructure needed for fully commercial research in low Earth orbit is either in place or will be ready in a few years, but the business case is still uncertain. Jeff Foust reports on a recent discussion at the National Academies that examined the issue from the point of view of suppliers, customers, and NASA. Click here. (4/4)
How the Defense Innovation Initiative Can Help Deter a “space Pearl Harbor” (Source: Space Review)
An ongoing effort by the US Defense Department seeks make closer ties with innovation taking place in private companies, but does not have specific, big goals. Brian Chow argues for using that effort to develop technologies to deter an attack on critical satellites. Click here. (4/4)
Federal Legislation to Jumpstart Space Solar Power (Source: Space Review)
If the United States needs to transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, like space-based solar power, in the coming decades, how can the federal government enable that shift? Mike Snead offers a concept for legislation that would establish a range of projects and responsibilities across the government. Click here. (4/4)

Russia's Path To Space Paved With Missing Rubles (Source: Radio Free Europe)
As construction at Vostochny was getting into full swing in 2012, Yury Semyonov, one of Russia's leading rocket designers and a member of the Academy of Sciences, was asked his opinion of the Vostochny project. "Negative," he said. "It is obvious that it will be a feeding trough for bureaucrats. And much too heavy a burden for the economy." Just how heavy that burden ends up being may never be known.

Vostochny is being built on the basis of an order that was issued by President Vladimir Putin in November 2007 -- but has never been published. The earliest budget projections in 2007 put the cost of the project at 170 billion rubles (about $4.8 billion at the time). In 2011, space agency Roskosmos asked the government for an additional 493 billion rubles ($17 billion). Just last year, former Roskosmos Director Yury Koptev, projected Vostochny would need an additional 560 billion rubles ($9.6 billion).

Even as the predictions of an initial launch were being announced, however, Dalspetsstroi, the state company in charge of construction, was filing three lawsuits in Moscow against the facility, claiming it is owed 1.2 billion rubles ($17.9 million). On March 24, in turn, a Moscow court ordered Dalspetsstroi to repay a 3.5 billion ruble loan it took from the state-controlled VTB bank. (4/4)

Harris Wins Another Dulti-Million Dollar Defense Contract (Source: Democrat & Chronicle)
It's been a very productive year for Rochester-based defense contractor Harris Corp. Company officials received word last week that they've been awarded their third multimillion dollar contract with the U.S. Army. The $20.1 million contract stipulates that Harris provides the Army with radios, spares, installation kits and test equipment training for operations in Morocco, Kuwait and Qatar. Harris is expected to deliver by February 2021. (4/3)

Mapping Melts on the Moon (Source: Air & Space)
Small deposits of impact melt can help explain early lunar history, if you know where the material came from. My field is locating and identifying deposits of shock-melted material produced by the formation of giant multi-ring impact basins. These features were created early in lunar history and because they are found globally, their relative and absolute ages can inform us about the cratering history of the Moon.

When an impact crater forms, a small zone near the point of impact is vaporized and melted by the intense shock pressures created by the collision. This melt (called impact melt) is an important product for two reasons: 1) its chemical composition represents an average of the target rocks, which allows us to deduce the make up of the pre-impact curst; and 2) it is the material whose radiogenic isotopes are “re-set”, which allows us to determine exactly when an impact occurred.

Our understanding of the time scale of lunar history is determined by the radiometric dating of rocks, which explains why shock-melt from large impacts are prime targets for study. Unfortunately, impact melt is concentrated in the center of a crater. Since most basins are subsequently filled with mare lava, few exposed melt sheets survive for us to sample. (4/4)

Satellite Images Can Pinpoint Poverty (Source: New York Times)
An explosion of data has already changed how we market products and politicians. Now a similar innovation is beginning to change how we combat poverty around the world. Consider an unlikely problem: finding the poor. Even in a world riddled with poverty, nearly every government, nonprofit and aid agency struggles with this issue. Click here. (4/1)

Good News from Satellites on Fast-Dwindling Tiger Populations (Source: Space Innovation Congress)
The tiger population is only 3,500 in the wild but they could be on course for doubling their numbers, according to a new satellite data study. The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, used satellite imagery to measure the decline from 2001-2014 of tiger habitat in the 13 countries that host wild tigers.

At the 2010 International Tiger Conservation Forum, nations and conservation groups agreed to take urgent steps to try and double the world tiger population. They identified 76 tiger conservation landscapes which would need monitoring at least every two years. The question was how this monitoring would take place.

“Because of the vast tracts of land involved, and the myriad jurisdictions, a significant challenge has been in monitoring the situation,” said lead author Anup Joshi. He added: “The best way to do this, to cover these huge areas, is by remote sensing and satellite data.” (4/3)

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