May 16, 2016

After Leaving Research Park Council, Young Joins Wallops Alliance (Source: WIRA)
After resigning in April as chair of a Wallops Research Park Leadership Council due to "the negative business environment created by the Accomack County Board of Supervisors," former Martin Marietta President Tom Young has joined the board of the Wallops Island Regional Alliance (WIRA). Young will advise the group on Navy systems that could bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to the region. (5/13)

Eutelsat Revenue Dip Could be a Sign of Things to Come for the Industry (Source: Space News)
Eutelsat's cut in expected revenues could be a warning to the broader satellite industry. The company last week reduced its forecast for revenue this year, citing a variety of factors, including a sharp decrease in demand in Latin America and softening of its U.S. government business as forces withdraw from Afghanistan. The company plans to "substantially" reduce its capital expenditures, with details to come in July. The factors hurting Eutelsat's revenue, some observers note, could also affect other large satellite operators. (5/16)

Vostochny Spaceport Cost Tops $1.3 Billion So Far (Source: Tass)
Construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome has cost Russia $1.3 billion so far. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin released the cost figure Friday to address unspecified speculation about the spaceport's cost. The facility in Russia's Far East hosted its first launch last month, but its development was beset by delays and allegations of corruption. (5/16)

Why DARPA is Pursuing a Reusable Spaceplane (Source: Space News)
Here’s a phrase that’s not repeated everyday in the space community: “You’ve heard Elon’s comments … we want to go beyond that,” Brad Tousley, the head of the tactical technology office at DARPA, said May 15. Musk has said SpaceX would inspect the rockets with plans to later re-fly most of them.

“We want to launch again in 24 hours,” Tousley said. Ideally, DARPA’s XS-1 spaceplane would launch 10 times in 10 days and carry payloads weighing as much as 1,360 kilograms into low earth orbit for $5 million. DARPA is finalizing a request for proposals for the second phase of the XS-1 development program. The agency could release that acquisition document as early as this month, DARPA officials have said. A contract award, as part of a public-private partnership, could come as early as 2017 with the first flight tests in 2020. (5/16)

Pentagon Chief Wants Secretive Space Unit Involved in Fight Against Islamic State (Source: Washington Post)
efense Secretary Ashton B. Carter sees a variety of missions for the Pentagon’s new, secretive space center — and that includes fighting the Islamic State.

The Pentagon chief said Thursday that the new Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center established by the Defense Department last fall has a role not only in preparing for potential conflicts against rival countries, but in counterterrorism. The center was created after a years-long debate to integrate space operations with the workings of conventional military units and intelligence agencies.

Carter visited the center along with other senior defense officials and praised its potential. Most public discussion about the center has focused on the “war games” it carries out to prepare for conflict with adversaries such as Russia and China, but the Pentagon chief said the center is doing more than that. (5/16)

Effects of Changing Economics on Space Architecture and Engineering (Source: Space Review)
Investment in government and commercial space systems have followed similar trends for much of the Space Age. Gary Oleson explores those trends and examines the possibilities offered by both very small and very large space systems to change them. Click here. (5/16)
That’ll Do, DONKEY, That’ll Do (Source: Space Review)
While the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory program was cancelled, one payload intended to fly on the military space station did find an alternative route to space. Dwayne Day examines the story of a signals intelligence payload codenamed DONKEY. Click here. (5/16)
When CubeSats Aare Too Big (Source: Space Review)
As interest in CubeSats continues to grow, some are wondering what even smaller spacecraft can do. Jeff Foust reports on one initiative to develop satellites the fraction of the size of CubeSats that could support education, technology development, and even science. Click here. (5/16)

Are Space Traveling Mice Returning With Liver Damage? (Source: Chromatography Today)
With a manned mission to Mars planned for some time in the 2030s — the long term effects of micro gravity on the human body are something NASA has to give serious consideration to. A recent study has looked at the effects of space flight on one of the bodies main organ’s — the liver — and found some potentially damaging effects. Take a look at the effects of space travel on the body and how mice are helping in man’s quest to visit Mars.

The mice spent 13 days aboard the last Shuttle mission before their livers were analysed. The team found increased fat storage in the livers and changes in the fat metabolism pathways — similar to early indicators of fibrosis seen in humans, a type of liver disease. (5/16)

NASA Is Investing in Growable Habitats and Sleep Chambers (Source: Motherboard)
Self-assembling space habitats and a deep sleep chamber for long-duration space missions sound like ideas ripped right from the pages of a science fiction novel, but these are some of the visionary projects NASA is currently developing.

Through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program (NIAC), the agency invests in many seemingly impossible technologies. Known for taking out-of-the-box concepts that seem like science fiction and turning them into science fact, the program is changing the future of space travel. (5/16)

ISRO Could Lose the Cost Race to SpaceX (Source: Bagalore Mirror)
The low-cost commercial foreign satellite launch services of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) are poised to take a severe beating at the hands of Elon Musk's SpaceX fly-back rockets, the Falcon 9 series. SpaceX has developed a technology of soft-landing its rocket's first stage at a predetermined location after a satellite launch, reassembling that with a second stage, refuelling and sending the assembled rocket on a second launch mission into space within hours of the previous one.

Conventional launches by the Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO and other space agencies not only add to the cost of readying a new launcher, but also the time taken for the next launch. India's PSLV launcher, which has been a complete success, will continue to hold sway for at least "some time to come" as SpaceX is yet to perfect its technologies. "But I also feel ISRO is not utilising its global launch market properly. They have to do more," Prof Roddam Narasimha said. (5/16)

The UK's Secret Procedure if Life is Found on Another Planet (Source: The Sun)
Government officials have revealed what would happen if we were to discover another life-supporting planet and boldly go where we’ve never gone before. A series of Freedom of Information requests to the UK Space Agency revealed some stark revelations, as the organization admitted that, unsurprisingly, first priority would go to astronauts if it came to colonizing another planet.

They also confirmed that the costs of traveling to another planet would be enormous, meaning that a multi-national partnership would be needed to bankroll the extra-terrestrial expedition. This means that, when it comes to the big decisions about colonizing other planets, the United Nations will be calling the shots. The space agency said: “The United Nations have set out rules concerning visiting other bodies that may sustain life. These are set out in the outer space treaty." (5/16)

China’s Satellite Launch Vehicle Surge (Source: Parabolic Arc)
China is in the midst of an overhaul of its satellite launch capabilities, with the introduction of five new launch vehicles in just over two years. China will debut a new medium launch vehicle, the Long March 7, in June. Three months later, it will launch its largest rocket to date, the Long March 5, which will be capable of placing 25 metric tons into low Earth orbit. Last September, the Long March 6 and Long March 11 debuted to serve the small satellite launch market. A third small launcher, Naga-L, is set to make its inaugurate flight by the end of 2017. (5/16)

Accion Systems Receives $7.5 Million (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Accion Systems has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding to expand its development and production of innovative propulsion systems for small satellites. The Series A round was led by Shasta Ventures with partners Founder Collective, RRE Ventures and Slow Ventures, according to CrunchBase. Accion says that its “modular, customizeable propulsion systems are some of the first that can turn affordable satellites into capable ones.

Non-volatile, non-explosive propellants mean systems qualify for shared launches. Bolt-on modules simplify and shorten satellite development and integration.” Accion Systems received $2 million in seed funding in January 2015. The round was led by FF Science and Founders Fund with seven other partners. The MIT-spinout also announced in June 2015 that it has been awarded a $3 million Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) contract from the Department of Defense. (5/16)

World's Blackest Coating Material Makes its Debut in Space (Source: WordSun)
The ultra-black Vantablack surface coating material has made its space debut in an optical instrument on board the Kent Ridge 1 satellite. The material’s ability to absorb virtually all incident light improves the performance of the satellite's star tracker-based positioning control system. Kent Ridge 1 is a low earth orbit (LEO) microsatellite developed by Berlin Space Technology (BST) in conjunction with the National University of Singapore. (5/16)

Embry-Riddle Team Successfully Launches Rocket (Source: ERAU)
The launch was a trial run of the largest 3D printed part ever flown on a rocket and took place in Aguila, Ariz., at the Eagle Eye launch site of the Tripoli Phoenix chapter of the Tripoli Rocketry Association on April 23. The launch was flawless, and the team's rocket reached a computer-confirmed 7,396 feet in altitude and a top speed over 437 mph. (5/16)

Space Foundation is Now Accepting Nominations for Space Technology Hall of Fame (Source: SpaceRef)
The Space Foundation is now seeking nominations for induction into the prestigious Space Technology Hall of Fame in 2017. This international program honors innovations by organizations and individuals who transform space technology into commercial products that improve life on Earth.

The Space Technology Hall of Fame recognizes the life-changing technologies emerging from global space programs; honors the scientists, engineers and innovators responsible; and communicates to the public the importance of these technologies as a return on investment in space exploration. The deadline to submit a nomination is Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (5/16)

UK Space Agency Seeks Experiment Ideas for Suborbital Flight (Source: BIS)
The UK Space Agency is seeking ideas for new science experiments using commercial sub-orbital flights. This will help the Agency understand potential future demand from the science community for such platforms and scope the advantages, constraints, costs and other factors. All information received will inform government decisions regarding if and how to support work in this area.

The Agency will review submissions and consider inviting some to conduct full industrial studies, to better understand the constraints, feasibility and costs of building a full flight experiment. (5/16)

Updated Chart of International Orbital Launchers (Source: SPACErePORT)
The SPACErePORT's chart of international orbital launch vehicles has been updated to include China's Long March 7 rocket and the proposed new Vector U.S. microsatellite launch vehicle. Click here to check it out. (5/16)

SpaceX Puts its Third Booster in a Barn—and the Result is Dazzling (Source: Ars Technica)
SpaceX has now successfully landed three rockets from space—one by land and two by sea. That has given the company quite a collection of boosters in its Hangar 39A at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. This weekend, the rocket company released some photos of the three boosters together. This success led Musk to muse on Twitter: "May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar."

Although landing three Falcon 9 first stages has unquestionably garnered the most attention, SpaceX must now show that it can refurbish these rockets and their engines quickly and cost effectively for new flights. Initially, SpaceX plans to reduce the cost of a Falcon 9 rocket with a reused booster to $43 million per flight, a savings of 30 percent. The first flight of a flown booster could come some time this summer.

Eventually, Musk wants to make nearly all of the Falcon 9 launch system reusable, and he wants to make launches and landings routine. “Rapid and complete reusability is really important to make a rocket cost effective, like an airplane,” he said in April. “We've got to ultimately get rockets to that point.” A Falcon 9 might fly as many as 100 times before retirement, he added. Click here. (5/15)

Congress is Working Hard to Ground NASA’s Mars Mission (Source: Fortune)
Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in space exploration, in large part thanks to the idea of going to Mars. But a damning new report by Ars Technica reveals that legislators who don’t share that excitement have been working to defund NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, a program partly tasked with developing the technology needed to get to the Red Planet.

Though skepticism of the trip to Mars is widespread among lawmakers, Ars highlights the particular efforts of Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby. Most recently, Shelby worked to redirect $30 million of advanced research funding in the currently proposed budget back towards projects for launching small satellites. The small-satellite market is currently experiencing a private-sector boom, making help from NASA less than urgent. Not only that, the earmark seems to be designed to favor companies working in Shelby’s backyard.

Of the $687 million in currently proposed funding for the STMD, Ars reports that $189 million is subject to similar earmarks. Those earmarked funds would otherwise go to Mars-oriented projects such as NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, an experimental method for landing large payloads on planetary surfaces. (5/15)

SpaceX Stuns the Cynics (Source: Motley Fool)
First they said SpaceX couldn't land a rocketship. So SpaceX did it. Then they said SpaceX couldn't land a rocketship on a boat. So SpaceX did that, too. Finally, cynics accused SpaceX of making that last landing too easy on itself. "Its rocket didn't go far enough," they accused. It didn't reenter hot enough, or fast enough. Let's see SpaceX try landing a rocket after launching to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), and not just low Earth orbit (LEO) -- it won't survive the attempt!

Well, surprise, surprise -- last week, SpaceX did that too. After launching a Japanese communications satellite into GTO roughly 22,300 miles above Earth, SpaceX landed its Falcon 9 launch vehicle aboard a drone barge in the mid-Atlantic last Friday. This is something that no one else has ever done -- not Boeing nor Lockheed Martin, the twin titans of United Launch Alliance. Not Arianespace. Not even Blue Origin has accomplished such a feat. Click here. (5/14)

Forbes at NASA Langley to Push Hypersonics Research (Source: Daily Press)
Nearly 60 years ago, America and the world watched as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into orbit, besting everyone else in artificial satellite technology and ushering in the space age.

"Very few people really knew what a satellite was, or anything about a satellite," U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, said in a phone interview Thursday. "Then, all of the sudden, we see Sputnik going across the sky. And America had this Kodak moment for a while, saying, 'Oh, my gosh, we are getting behind the Russians.' Click here. (5/6)

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