May 4, 2016

Antares Launch Tentatively Set for July; $10 Million for Wallops in Federal Budget (Source: Delaware 1059)
A new Antares rocket is tentatively set to launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Accomack County on Virginia's Eastern Shore in July. That was the word Tuesday from NASA officials and retiring Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski. No exact date was given. Senator Mikulski also announced the latest round of federal funding in the amount of $10 million, that will go towards various upgrades at the facility. (5/4)

Why the Next Pearl Harbor Could Happen in Space (Source: Newsweek)
In their techno-thriller Ghost Fleet, authors Peter Singer and August Cole describe a cataclysmic world war that begins with a Chinese sneak attack against the U.S. in space. First, soldiers at China’s Cyber Command Headquarters in Shanghai hack into the Pentagon’s network of GPS satellites and scramble their signals. The cyberattack sows chaos among U.S. forces, which can no longer navigate accurately, track targets or hit them with precision munitions.

Then, from a space station orbiting 200 miles above Earth, Chinese astronauts train a laser gun on three dozen U.S. satellites the military relies upon for virtually all of its communications and critical surveillance. By the time the Chinese are done, America’s technological edge on this new, 21st-century battlefield has been reduced to the predigital levels of World War II.

Such scenarios may read like science fiction, but the threat of what military experts call a “space Pearl Harbor”—a sneak attack on U.S. satellites that cripples American forces before a shot has been fired—has Pentagon planners seriously worried. Space is the ultimate high ground for today's warriors, and no military has dominated those strategic heights as successfully as America's. But its constellations of GPS, surveillance and communications satellites are largely undefended, a vulnerability that hasn’t escaped notice in China and Russia. (5/4)

Denmark Passes Its First Outer Space Law (Souce: CPH Post)
Last September, Denmark sent its first astronaut, Andreas Mogensen, into space and today the Danish Parliament has unanimously passed the country’s first law concerning outer space. According to the new legislation, the minister for education and research must approve any activity that involves sending objects into or out of outer space.

All objects sent from Denmark into orbit or further out into space must be registered. The law also states that people who send objects into space will be liable for any damage or injury caused by the object both on the ground or during the flight. Violation of the rules can be punishable by up to two years in prison – for instance, if someone’s life is put in danger. Finally, the law sets guidelines on how to deal with the so-called space waste. (5/3)

Carter Says US Can't Close the Door on Russia (Source: Breaking Defense)
Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the US must continue to deal with Russia despite that country's increasingly belligerent stance. "We are strengthening our capabilities, our posture, our plans, and our allies and partners, all without closing the door to working with Russia where our interests align. And we will continue to make it clear that Russia’s aggressive actions only serve to further its isolation and unite our alliance." he said. (5/3)

Pitch For Private Space Traffic Management (Source: Aviation Week)
The idea of putting the nation’s space-traffic management into the hands of a civil agency is gaining traction on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have introduced legislation that would shift most space-tracking functions performed by the U.S. Air Force to the FAA, with much of the job outsourced to industry. Transitioning to a new public-private model for space surveillance has drawn interest from top Pentagon officials, who say it would free up money and manpower that could be better invested elsewhere.

Editor's Note: It was only a couple/few years ago that the industry and Congress balked at the idea of an expanded role for FAA AST. Industry and industry groups also previously urged lawmakers to oppose an investment that would have set up a new FAA Tech Center focused on enabling the agency to assume a role in space traffic management. I understand that the Tech Center concept is back on the table. It was originally planned for location at Kennedy Space Center. (5/4)

Reaching for the Stars by Paying for Results (Source: Huffington Post)
In the era of constrained budgets, NASA has become the federal government’s poster child for reducing costs and improving results via public-private partnerships.

With all discretionary spending under pressure, a new paradigm will be required to ensure NASA’s future is as bright as its heritage. Funding research at higher levels will call for development of a revenue base to augment the agency’s general fund allocations. A robust space economy where private firms support government infrastructure, services and research in space via user fees can make that a reality. A revenue positive future is something that Congress and any administration should embrace. (5/3)

Satellite Company Accuses Orbital ATK Of 'Cosmic Double-Cross' (Source: Law 360)
Satellite company US Space LLC blasted Orbital ATK Inc. and ATK Space Systems Inc. with a breach of contract lawsuit in New York state court Friday alleging it was ejected from a potentially $10 billion joint venture to service commercial satellites while in orbit. ATK Space Systems was supposed to honor a 2010 agreement creating the ViviSat joint venture, US Space said, but this didn't happen after a 2015 merger between corporate parent Alliant Techsystems Inc. and Orbital Sciences Corp. made the company a subsidiary of Orbital ATK. (5/2)

Could These Three Earth-Like Exoplanets be Capable of Sustaining Life? (Source: CS Monitor)
A set of three exoplanets with similar characteristics to Earth have been discovered by astronomers, who say the new worlds may be ideal sites to investigate for signs of life outside of the solar system. Scientists from the Université de Liège, NASA, and other astronomical study centers, released their findings in Nature on Monday.

"These planets are Earth-sized, they are temperate – we can't rule out the fact that they are habitable – and they are well-suited for atmospheric studies," Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Julien de Wit told NPR. The researchers behind the latest discovery utilized the Belgian Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) at La Silla Observatory in the Coquimbo region of Chile to obtain evidence of the extrasolar system. (5/2)

10 Aerospace Questions for the Candidates (Source: Aerospace America)
We decided to pose specific, written questions about aerospace to the presidential candidates in the belief that you live in a world of facts rather than campaign platitudes. The Sanders and Trump campaigns responded. The Clinton and Cruz campaigns did not. Click here. (5/2)

Schools-to-Space Website Has Much to Offer STEM Educators (Source: SpaceTEC)
With the average age of an aerospace technician at 53 years and our nation’s space program’s imminent return to human spaceflight, SpaceTEC® has recognized a need for STEM educators to have appropriate resources when it comes to teaching space related activities and introducing students to the STEM career of Aerospace Technician.

What is an aerospace technician?  An aerospace technician is a STEM professional that “assembles, services, tests, operates, and repairs systems associated with both expendable and reusable space launch vehicles, payloads, related laboratories, and ground support equipment.”

In April of 2015, SpaceTEC launched an outreach program called “Schools-to-Space,” to provide primary and secondary STEM educators the tools to teach space, with an emphasis on the role of a Nationally Certified Aerospace Technician in the aerospace industry. To see the services we provide be sure to check out our website at (5/3)

Trump: Before Going to Mars, America Needs to Fix its Economy (Source: Ars Technica)
Donald Trump's reply to space questions can legitimately be described as thoughtful but does not bode well for NASA's troubled Journey to Mars program, which the agency talks about extensively but lacks a commitment from President Obama or Congress to carry out.

Asked specifically about this plan, Trump replied, "A lot of what my administration would recommend depends on our economic state. If we are growing with all of our people employed and our military readiness back to acceptable levels, then we can take a look at the timeline for sending more people into space." (5/3)

Space Renaissance Act Calls for Major Changes in Commercial Policies (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) proposed American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) would bring about significant changes in the nation’s commercial space policy, with a much larger role for the Department of Transportation and a revamping of activities within the Commerce Department.

The DOT’s Federal Aviation  Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) would see its budget more than quintuple within five years to keep up with growth in the commercial space industry.

DOT would also take over responsibility for tracking objects in space and preventing orbital collisions from the U.S. Air Force. It would also revamp its procedures to approve non-traditional commercial space missions such as private space stations, moon bases and asteroid mining. Click here. (5/3)

Scientists Hit Pay Dirt in Drilling of Dinosaur-Killing Impact Crater (Source: Science)
Scientists have reached ground zero for one of the world’s most famous cataclysms. Burrowing into the impact structure responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs, a team of researchers has achieved one of its main goals, with rocks brought up from 670 meters beneath the sea floor off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

These core samples contain bits of the original granite bedrock that was the unlucky target of cosmic wrath 66 million years ago, when a large asteroid struck Earth, blasted open the 180-kilometer-wide Chicxulub crater, and led to the extinction of most life on the planet. (5/3)

Gravitational Wave Discovery Team Awarded $3 Million (Source:
The scientists and engineers who made the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves are now $3 million richer. In February, researchers with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project announced that their detectors had recorded evidence of gravitational waves.

News of the find spread quickly around the world, thrilling scientists and laypeople alike. And now it has netted the discovery team a cool $3 million, in the form of a special award from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. (5/3)

Airbus UK to Build Biomass Satellite, Featuring First Use of P-band Radar, Harris Antenna (Source: Space News)
Airbus Defence and Space UK will build the European Space Agency’s Biomass forest-carbon-monitoring satellite under a contract valued at 229 million euros ($260 million), the two parties announced May 3. Stevenage, England-based Airbus UK will be prime contractor for the 1,250-kilogram spacecraft, which is expected to launch in 2021, they said.

Biomass’s showcase instrument will be its P-band synthetic-aperture radar antenna, whose main instrument will be built by Airbus’s Friedrichshafen, Germany, facility, with the 12-meter-diameter deployable antenna built by Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida. (5/3)

Canadian Institute Places Israel’s Space Program at the Center of its Universe (Source: CJN)
The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) on April 14 held its 28th anniversary gala, an event titled “Israel in Space.” It was North America’s largest-ever gathering dedicated to Israel’s space exploration achievements, with an estimated 200 attendees, according to Krantz. “My hope is that knowledge of Israel’s space program will show what a benefit the Jewish state is for mankind,” said Krantz, the director of CIJR. (5/3)

Harris Corp.: MUOS Radio Software Patch Clears Hurdle, Antenna Business Booming (Source: Space News)
Space- and ground-based satellite communications equipment provider Harris Corp. on May 3 said it has successfully tested a software patch that will upgrade thousands of U.S. military tactical radio terminals to use the higher-throughput MUOS satellite system.

The company also told investors that its satellite antenna business, featuring large, unfurlable structures that are the most visually striking feature of the satellites carrying them, has better prospects now than at any time in the past decade. aMelbourne, Florida-based Harris recently booked a $37 million order from Lockheed Martin Space Systems to provide an 18-meter-diameter reflector antenna for Sky Perfect JSat’s JCSat-17 satellite, which includes an S-band mobile communications payload. (5/4)

Mikulski: Virginia Spaceport Will Get Continued Support From Maryland, Virginia Lawmakers (Source: DelMarVaNow)
Retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) assured NASA that other senators would continue to support the Wallops Flight Facility. Mikulski, who has helped steer more than $160 million to the facility since 2009, said that the site has strong support from Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) even though she is leaving office after this year. Mikulski toured the facility and the launch pad for Orbital's Antares rocket, now scheduled to make its first flight since a 2014 launch failure in July. (5/4)

SpaceX May Put Customer's Payload on Falcon Heavy Test Flight (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX is weighing putting a customer on the first flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket late this year. The company had considered flying that mission solely as a demonstration mission, but president Gwynne Shotwell said "a number of customers" have approached SpaceX about putting a satellite on that launch. Regardless of the payload, Shotwell said SpaceX will demonstrate the vehicle's capabilities for placing payloads into geostationary transfer orbit or other, unspecified requirements for national security missions. (5/4)

Airbus Group Negotiates Tax Bill for Ariane Joint Venture (Source: ZX News)
Airbus Group made a deal with the French government over their plan to start a new space launcher venture and spared a 1 billion euro ($1.15 billion) tax bill. The company would have to pay the large tax charge over its plans to combine space launch activities with engine maker Safran. According to the plan, Airbus would be paid 800 million euros to preserve an equal stake in Airbus Safran Launchers. The company would have to pay taxes based on the value of assets transferred and not just on the sum from Safran according to some interpretations of the French tax regulations.

The discussions lasted for months and the final agreement was delayed over if Airbus should be taxed as if the plan included space asset sale to the new venture. In this case, Airbus Group would have to be taxed with 1 billion euros. The company would still pay tax money on the lump sum from Safran, but the source providing the information didn’t reveal the amount and kept his/her anonymity since the discussions are confidential. (5/4)

Space Club Accepting Nominations for Space Worker Hall of Fame (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club Florida Committee is accepting nominations for the 2016 Space Worker Hall of Fame. This award is intended to focus on the entire population of space workers regardless of position, discipline or time of service. We intend to award no more than 15 individuals this year. Honorees will receive a certificate, recognition at the August luncheon, and their name etched in granite on the NSCFL Hall of Fame pylon at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame in Titusville.
The selection criteria and online nomination form are available by a direct link in the red banner at the top of the NSCFL homepage at A minimum of one reference in addition to the nominator is required, but three references are highly desirable. The deadline for receiving all nominations is Friday, June 17. Click here. (5/4)

European Gravitational Wave Mission Attracts U.S. and China Interest (Source: Nature News)
Both the U.S. and China are interested in cooperating on a proposed European mission to study gravitational waves. ESA is looking for international partnerships for a planned space-based observatory that would study gravitational waves at different frequencies.

While NASA is currently interested in having only a minor role in the mission, scientists hope that the discovery of gravitational waves earlier this year will put pressure on NASA to take a larger role. However, China has also expressed an interest in participating, which could create policy complications for any greater U.S. role in the mission. The mission is not expected to fly until the 2030s. (5/4)

SpaceX Turns to Hollywood Designer for Space Suits (Source: Engadget)
SpaceX has reportedly taken an unconventional approach for designing spacesuits for its crewed Dragon spacecraft. Jose Fernandez, a costume designer best known for his work designing superhero costumes for movies like Batman vs. Superman, said in a recent interview that he's worked with SpaceX to design a spacesuit. "They're going to be wearing these to space, and I'm like, that's kind of cool," he said. Perhaps that choice isn't that surprising, though, given the parallels often drawn between Elon Musk and Iron Man's Tony Stark. (5/4)

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