May 27, 2016

NRO Delays ULA's Upcoming Delta-4 Heavy Mission (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The flight of United Launch Alliance’s next Delta IV Heavy, with a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has been delayed. Originally scheduled for June 4, ULA delayed the launched per the request of the customer. No other reason was specified, but the spacecraft and booster are reported to be secure on the pad.

The last time a Delta IV Heavy launched was in December 2014 when Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) sent the first spacecraft designed for humans, Orion, beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) on a test mission. (5/27)

SES to Acquire All of 03b (Source: Space News)
SES will acquire the half of O3b Networks it does not already own. The satellite operator plans to raise $710 million to increase its stake in O3b from 50.5 percent to 100 percent. SES had recently announced it was paying $20 million to increase its ownership from 49.1 to 50.5 percent and thus have a controlling interest in the broadband satellite company. SES expects that O3b, which is forecast to generate $100 million in revenue this year, will grow to $680 million by 2023. (5/27)

Senate Cuts GPS Ground System, Launches (Source: Space News)
Senate appropriators cut funding for a GPS ground system and two planned launches. The defense appropriations bill, approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, cut more than $600 million from the Air Force's proposed budget for 2017. That included a cut of more than $200 million for OCX, the next-generation GPS ground system that has suffered delays and cost overruns. The bill also cut funding for two of five planned launches in 2017, arguing that, because of the OCX delays, the Air Force does not need to launch GPS 3 satellites as quickly as planned. (5/27)

ViaSat Accelerates New Satellite Work at Arizona Facility (Source: Space News)
ViaSat plans to accelerate work on its ViaSat-3 system. The company said it recently opened a manufacturing facility in Arizona that allows it to build two ViaSat-3 satellite payloads at a time, allowing it to develop the satellites "as fast as we reasonably can." ViaSat said it is increasing R&D spending on payload development in 2017 to support that work. (5/26)

SLS to Give More Small Satellite Rides on First Mission (Source: NASA)
NASA's Space Launch System will fly even more small satellites on its inaugural mission. NASA said Thursday that three cubesats from Japan and Italy will join 10 others from U.S. organizations on the EM-1 mission, scheduled for launch in late 2018. The two Japanese satellites with perform space science and lunar observations, while the Italian satellite will rendezvous with and take images of the SLS's upper stage. (5/26)

NASA Seeks Community College Scholars (Source: NASA)
NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) gives community college STEM students an authentic NASA experience and encourages them to finish a 2-year degree or transfer to a 4-year university to pursue a NASA-related field or career. The application for the Spring 2016 session is now open. Click here. (5/26)

Blue Origin’s Next Spaceflight Will Test Parachute Failure (Source: GeekWire)
Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos predicts there’ll be a problem with a parachute the next time his Blue Origin venture flies its uncrewed New Shepard spaceship. He’ll make sure of it. Flying with a bad parachute is part of Blue Origin’s plan to test the suborbital craft under stressful conditions, in preparation for flying passengers to the edge of outer space in as little as two years.

The demonstration won’t necessarily end in a crash. Three independent parachutes are used to ease the crew capsule’s descent. If one fails, the other two should still hold up. There’s also a retro-thrust system that’s designed to cushion the landing. Bezos didn’t say when the next test flight would occur [from their west Texas launch site]. Last time, he provided only a day’s advance notice via Twitter. (5/25)

Life on Ceres? Mysterious Changes in the Bright Spots Still Baffle Scientists (Source:
Scientists studied the bright spots on Ceres in July and August 2015, using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), and detected unexpected changes in the mysterious spots. However, at the beginning they thought that it was an instrumental problem. But after double checking, they had to conclude that the radial velocity anomalies were likely real. Then the team noticed that they were connected to periods of time when the bright spots in the Occator crater were visible from the Earth. So the scientists made an association between them.

However, these detected variations still continue to perplex the astronomers as they haven't found a plausible explanation for their occurrence. One of the proposed hypotheses is that the observed changes could be triggered by the presence of volatile substances that evaporate due to solar radiation. When the spots are on the side illuminated by the sun they form plumes that reflect sunlight very effectively. The scientists suggest that these plumes then evaporate quickly, lose reflectivity and produce the observed changes.

They are eager to see the results from the Dawn spacecraft in the next months. If the team's theory is confirmed, Ceres would seem to be internally active. While this dwarf planet is known to be rich in water, it is unclear whether this is related to the bright spots. It is also still debated if Ceres due to its vast reservoir of water, could be a suitable place to host microbial life. (5/26)

Russia Helps Guatemalan Man Become His Country's First Cosmonaut (Source: Space Daily)
Vinicio Montoya de Leon, a 49-year old native of Guatemala, is set to become the first Central American astronaut in history by late 2018 - early 2019. The chain of events that led an ordinary Guatemalan dentist to become a successful candidate for a space flight is nothing short of remarkable. "My life used to be pretty erratic, but after getting into a traffic accident I reexamined my priorities. I realized that there's one thing in the world that money can't buy - life. So I decided to live it to the fullest," Montoya told Sputnik. (5/26)

ISS Astronauts Enjoy Dish Cooked Up by Students from Hampton, Virginia (Source: Space Daily)
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station recently feasted on a spicy Jamaican rice and beans with coconut milk entree cooked up by a team of culinary students from Phoebus High School in Hampton, Virginia. The Phoebus team's dish won the 2015 High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware, or HUNCH, Culinary Challenge. They had to compete against six other high school culinary teams last year during a visit to the Space Food Systems Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center. (5/27)

Space Wing Shuts Down Another Eastern Range Asset (Source: City of Cocoa Beach)
The Air Force's 45th Space Wing will be demolishing the “tracking station” at 3570 Ocean Beach Blvd. in Cocoa Beach. This is located across Ocean Beach Blvd. from the Wakulla Motel. The engineer for the project says the demo will take about 90 days. They intend to start in early June. The property will be disposed of following the established Federal procedures. (5/27)

Boeing Urges FCC To Plan Satellite Spectrum-Sharing With 5G (Source: Law360)
Boeing representatives met with Federal Communications Commission staff this week to press for more spectrum bands intended for 5G technology to be shared with “next generation” broadband satellite communications systems currently being developed by the company, according to an ex parte filing Wednesday. (5/27)

With Shuttles Gone, Private Ventures Give Florida's Space Coast a Lift (Source: WMFE)
It has been five years since NASA retired the space shuttle, ending a federal program that employed some 10,000 people around Cape Canaveral. The loss of those jobs was a blow to Florida’s Space Coast, an area closely identified with NASA and the nation’s space program. But the region’s economy is bouncing back and attracting companies that are in a new space race.

In fact, it might be more accurate now to call it the Aerospace Coast. In 2009, the Brazilian jet maker Embraer gave this region a boost when it broke ground on its plant in Melbourne, Florida. And after years of depending on government contracts, the region is now beginning to tap the commercial space industry’s potential. Click here. (5/27)

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