May 8, 2016

Cruz Dropping Out is Bad for NASA's Mars Plan (Source: US News)
NASA's fortunes are more precarious now that billionaire businessman Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. His rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is bullish about the space program's plans to visit Mars and asteroids, but Trump is skeptical about funding deep space missions, preferring to keep the money Earth-bound.

As the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, Cruz has been vocal about his support for funding NASA. A spokesman for Cruz cited his op-ed from last year in the Houston Chronicle when he said his "first priority" on the space program is "to refocus NASA's energies on its core priority of exploring space," supporting its capability to travel to the Mars or the moon as "critical." NASA's Mission Control is located in Houston.

In spite of his support, however, Cruz has provided few details on how he would support NASA's budget while also keeping his promises to lower taxes and balance the federal budget. "We need to get back to the hard sciences, to manned space exploration, and to the innovation that has been integral to the mission of NASA," Cruz said. (5/8)

Park Service Expressed Concerns About Proposed Georgia Spaceport (Source: Brunswick News)
The National Park Service has expressed concerns about the possibility of rockets flying over Cumberland Island National Seashore. The concerns were expressed in comments sent to the FAA, which is currently reviewing written statements by supporters and opponents of a proposed spaceport in Camden County.

“We strongly recommend the consideration of other alternative site locations to determine the extent to which other areas would be considered prudent and feasible,” said Sam Austin, Southeast region director for the Park Service. Launches over the barrier island could result in temporary or permanent closures which would restrict visitor access and impact the national seashore’s natural, scenic and cultural resources. Launches over the island could also potentially threaten visitors, he said.

Editor's Note: Cumberland Island is a unique National Park, with campers making reservations months in advance for access. Launch-related closures--which can't be accurately scheduled months in advance--would really mess up the park's visitor access system. Also, I was told that at least one home sale, for $415K, has been scuttled due to spaceport concerns. (5/7)

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Announces New Summer Highlights (Source: Examiner)
Summer plans are in full swing as families look toward America's Space Coast for the excitement of the beaches, and the educational interest of the Kennedy Space Center. The next generation of space explorers are leaving their princess dresses and superhero outfits behind for flight suits and NASA caps to get an up close presence with the strong core STEM (Science, Technology, engineering and Math) values taught in school.

The warm space coast weather will give visitors chills of excitement as no less than eight major rocket launches are planned between June 1 and Labor Day weekend. The first rocket poised to lift-off is the massive Delta IV-Heavy on June 4 with a military payload on board. Space center visitors will be updated on launch times and given suggested locations to view each flight. (5/1)

Pluto's Moon Hydra Features Pristine Water Ice (Source: NASA)
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent home the first compositional data about Pluto's four small satellites. The new data show the surface of Hydra, Pluto’s outermost small moon, is dominated by nearly pristine water ice – confirming hints that scientists picked up in New Horizons images showing Hydra’s highly reflective surface. (5/5)

Bridenstine Drafting Legislation to Implement CSLCA Asteroid Mining Provision (Source: Space Policy Online)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), one of the main architects of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA), is drafting legislation to implement the policies prescribed in that law, especially those regarding property rights to resources mined from asteroids by U.S. companies.

Bridenstine's legislative aide, Christopher Ingraham, discussed the implementation effort during a May 5 seminar held by the Secure World Foundation and the Alliance for Space Development on "Asteroids, Mining, and Policy: Practical Consideration of Space Resource Rights." Ingraham and Jim Dunstan, founder of the Mobius Legal Group, both said that the concept of asteroid mining no longer faces a "giggle factor," but Ingraham said it does still face uncertainty despite the passage of CSLCA.

The question now is how to implement the law. Ingraham called the OSTP report a "good first step," but more work is needed on the specifics of the process for granting launch licenses for these new types of activities. The goal is "to provide the maximum certainty [for companies and their investors] with the minimum regulatory burden." (5/7)

Without These Women, 'Man' Would Never Have Made It to Mars (Source: National Geographic)
Q: What do Tim Berners Lee, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Joel Oppenheimer, Linus Torvalds—the list could go on—all have in common? A: They are all men.

Sure, there are influential women in technology and science but the numbers are few. The same is true of space exploration. All the world knows the name Buzz Aldrin. How many of us have heard of Bonnie Dunbar or Joan Higginbotham? Click here. (5/8)

Winners of 2016 INNOspace Competition Present Compelling New Space Ideas (Source: INNOspace)
A new wireless satellite, innovative laser-communication technology for space applications, a universal adapter for satellite systems – these are just a sample of the winning entrants from the first INNOspace Masters competition. Initiated by the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), this event had invited innovators to submit their proposals and concepts for the New Space Economy.

Around 50 startups, established companies, universities, and research institutes from eight European countries answered the call. After impressing the INNOspace Masters jury with their ideas, nine of these participants were nominated as finalists in three categories. A subsequent awards ceremony was held on 4 May 2016 as part of the first INNOspace Masters Conference in Berlin. (5/5)

Harris Providing Advanced Satcom Terminals to Army (Source: Space Daily)
Advanced satellite communications terminals are being produced an installed by Harris Corporation for a U.S. Army program. The task orders for the Army's Modernization of Enterprise Terminals program will provide the worldwide backbone for high-priority military communications and missile defense systems worldwide. (5/5)

Vostochny Gearing Uup for Missions to Moon, Mars (Source: Space Daily)
Following Thursday's launch of a Soyuz spacecraft with three satellites on board, Russia's all-new Vostochny spaceport in the Far East will stay idle for a year pending the completion of the second stage of construction. Despite a successful first launch a great deal of work is yet to be done to make Vostochny suitable to launch manned missions to space. Including the construction of a nearby town of Tsiolkovsky to accommodate the cosmodrome personnel and those working at related facilities.

This means that while pitching the new spaceport to potential clients, Russia will still be paying Kazakhstan for the use of the veteran Baikonur space launch center. The first manned flight from Vostochny is slated for 2023, when the Federatsiya space shuttle is placed in orbit by an Angara-A5V heavy-lift rocket, which is at the heart of Russia's lunar program. (5/8)

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