May 9, 2016

China Ships New Rocket to New Spaceport for First Launch (Source: GB Times)
China has shipped a new launch vehicle to a new spaceport for a first launch next month. The first Long March 7 rocket left by sea from the port city of Tianjin on Sunday, bound for the new Wenchang Space Launch Center on the island of Hainan. That rocket is set to make its debut in late June, carrying a scale model of a reentry capsule for a next-generation crewed spacecraft. (5/8)

ExactEarth Contract Shrinks, Along with Stock Price (Source: Space News)
A company that won a contract from the Canadian government for satellite-based ship tracking found it was worth far less than expected. The contract that exactEarth won, beating out Orbcomm, was originally expected to be worth $14.7 million over 18 months. Instead, the government determined it needed far less Automatic Identification Service (AIS) data than previously planned; the contract exactEarth won is reportedly worth less than $100,000 and runs through March. The company's stock price fell by more than half on the Toronto Stock Exchange since the contract was awarded. (5/9)

NASA Assigns Crew for Future ISS Missions (Source: NASA)
NASA has assigned both veteran and rookie astronauts to upcoming International Space Station missions. The agency said Friday that Scott Tingle, a member of the 2009 astronaut class yet to fly in space, will launch on a Soyuz mission in September 2017 with two Russian cosmonauts. Randy Bresnik, who flew on the STS-129 shuttle mission in 2009, will go to the station in November 2017. The assignments were part of selections of crews for ISS Expeditions 53 and 54, which include Russian, European, and Japanese crew members. (5/6)

McAulliffe Coin Proposed in New Hampshire (Source: CollectSPACE)
New Hampshire's senators have introduced a bill to mint a coin in memory of Challenger astronaut Christa McAulliffe. The bill would direct the Treasury Department to release a $1 coin with McAullife's likeness on it in recognition of the Challenger accident 30 years ago. Proceeds from sales of the coins would go to the FIRST robotics education program. Two Michigan representatives have introduce a companion bill in the House. (5/6)

A Close Look at the Space Renaissance Act’s National Security Provisions (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) American Space Renaissance Act calls for major changes in the way national security space operations are carried out. The measure calls on the president to develop a doctrine to deal with attacks on U.S. government and commercial satellites.

It also broadly focuses on integrating commercial assets to supplement defense systems, including hosting DOD payloads on private satellites, using commercial communications systems, and purchasing commercial space data for weather forecasting. Click here. (5/9)

NASA Plans Satellite-servicing Spinoff To Industry (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA engineers will regularly brief U.S. companies on their progress in developing techniques for on-orbit satellite servicing, hoping to spin the technology off into the private sector as quickly as possible after a flight demonstration planned for the end of this decade. The space agency says it will request proposals later this month for a commercial satellite bus to modify as a free-flying satellite-servicing testbed. (5/9)

Pluto Reconsidered: A Planet? A Comet? Or Something Else Altogether? (Source: CS Monitor)
The debate over Pluto’s status has maintained its vigor ever since the International Astronomical Union’s 2006 decision to downgrade it to a dwarf planet, with experts still at odds as to what its correct classification should be. Now, NASA’s New Horizons mission adds yet another layer of confusion, highlighting characteristics of the demoted planet that place it in a bracket all of its own, neither comet nor planet.

From readings taken during the spacecraft’s flyby in July 2015, it has become clear that Pluto’s interaction with the solar wind is like nothing astronomers have ever before witnessed in our solar system. “The results are astonishing. We were fascinated and surprised,” said David J. McComas, who manages the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument aboard New Horizons. “We've now visited all nine of the classical planets and examined all their solar wind interactions, and we've never seen anything like this.” (5/7)

Renewing the Famous Flame Trench at KSC, One Brick at a Time (Source:
Kennedy Space Center’s famous launch pads are continuing their regeneration work in preparation for hosting their first orbital launches since the end of the Space Shuttle Program. Pad 39B will host the most powerful of the new fleet of rockets, requiring a complete modernization of its Flame Trench – a process that includes replacing its famous brick wall.

While most public attention has been on the changes taking place to Pad 39A – with the current space flight rock stars, SpaceX, in the final phase of converting the leased complex towards the debut of its Falcon Heavy rocket this year – next door’s Pad 39B has received the largest physical change of appearance. Converted into a “clean pad”, 39B is preparing to host the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (5/9)

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