May 29, 2016

Bigelow BEAM Successfully Expanded at ISS (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was successfully expanded today, May 28, on board the International Space Station (ISS), two days after an attempt to inflate the module brought an unexpected pressure increase with little-to-no increase in size.

Expansion started just after 8 a.m. CDT when NASA astronaut Jeff Williams opened the Manual Pressure Equalization Valve (MPEV) for 22 seconds to let a burst of air inside BEAM. This got the pressure back and size back to where the module was two days prior.

Williams let in air manually in order to methodically increase the size of BEAM before the onboard tanks take over to pressurize the internal volume. The goal was to get the module to 68 inches (172 centimeters) above its packed length before using the onboard tanks. (5/28)

What to Do If You Discover an Alien Civilization (Source: Independent)
Some have argued that it's only a matter of time till we find alien life – so we should get planning. Finding intelligent life beyond the Earth is clearly likely to be one of the most shattering moments in the history of our species. So if you’ve just discovered an alien civilization, how should you go about breaking the news? This is a momentous task, and I have been involved in developing some guidelines for the scientists who are involved in searching for extraterrestrial life.

If we ever do find signs of intelligent life, I don’t expect it to be a message from an alien civilization or a landing party. It will probably be something a little more prosaic, such as signs of artificial pollution in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. It may even take the form of enormous structures built in space to collect energy and provide habitats. Click here. (5/27)

Schafer Corp. Launches New Venture in Commercial Space Situational Awareness (Source: Schafer)
Recognizing the rapid growth in commercial space satellites and the need for technically accurate, timely, and relevant information about an increasing number of objects in space, Schafer has formed a Commercial Space Situational Awareness (CSSA) business unit. In conjunction with the formation of this organization, Schafer has appointed Colonel (Ret) Donald Greiman as Vice President and General manager of this organization.

Together with former astronaut and retired Colonel Mark Brown, Greiman has assembled a team of companies to compliment Schafer’s long-standing experience in space situational awareness (SSA). The Schafer led team is comprised of eight specialized companies who provide comprehensive coverage of space from more than 85 widely distributed electro-optical, radio frequency, and laser sensors covering space objects from LEO to GEO. (5/25)

Russia Keeps Profiting from U.S. Reliance on RD-180 Rocket Engine (Source: PJ Media)
The outcome of dueling versions of the National Defense Authorization Act could determine how much the U.S. lines Russia's pockets before what some lawmakers hope is a speedy transition to a domestically produced rocket engine. The Kremlin's defense industrial complex stands to gain a quarter billion to half a billion taxpayer dollars. Add that to the billion they've already made from RD-180 engine sales to the U.S.

And add on top of that questions about how much is directly going to individuals sanctioned after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and occupation of Crimea. “This is outrageous. And it is shameful. And it is the height of hypocrisy, especially for my colleagues who claim to care about the plight of Ukraine and the need to punish Russia for its aggression," said John McCain. (5/27)

India Presses Ahead With Space Ambitions (Source: VOA)
Indian scientists pronounced the testing of an indigenously developed reusable space rocket this week, “Mission accomplished successfully.” Those words have been heard increasingly in recent years from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) as it quietly presses ahead with its space ambitions. Although a relative latecomer to the space race, India’s space program has notched up some significant technological breakthroughs and simultaneously developed a reputation for being highly cost effective. (5/29)

China to Launch the World's 1st Quantum Communication Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch the world's first quantum satellite that can achieve secure communication in July. The satellite is dedicated to quantum science experiments. Click here. (5/29)

Russia Deploys Another GLONASS-M Spacecraft via Soyuz 2-1B Launch (Source:
A Russian Soyuz 2-1B has launched the latest GLONASS-M global navigation satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Launch occurred on Sunday. The Russian GLONASS Global Navigation Satellite System – operated by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces – is currently the only global alternative to the American GPS fleet in operation that has global coverage of comparable precision. (5/29)

Europe is currently building its Galileo system, while other countries are building their own GPS systems – such as the Chinese BeiDou Navigation Satellite constellation. Development of GLONASS began in the Soviet Union in 1976. By the turn of the decade, GLONASS had achieved 100 percent coverage, with the full orbital constellation of 24 satellites operational in 2011. (5/29)

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