June 13, 2016

Europe Develops Self-Removal Technology for Spacecraft (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A new European project has been given the ambitious goal of cleaning up space for future generations. The Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft (TeSeR) program, introduced in May 2016, is being held to develop a prototype for a module which will ensure that a defunct spacecraft possesses no danger for other vehicles in space. Click here. (6/13)

SpaceX Speaks Up for its Seattle Satellite Operation After Months of Low-Key Work (Source: GeekWire)
SpaceX has provided a rare update on its Seattle-centric plans to develop a multibillion-dollar Internet satellite network, saying that the work is now at a “critical stage.” That assessment is part of the company’s argument against giving away the bandwidth required for such a network for another purpose – specifically, for 5G mobile broadband services that would be offered by Dish Network and other members of an industry coalition.

Although SpaceX has downplayed its plans, there are ample signs of activity. For instance, plane-watchers noted last month that the company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, made a quick stopover in the Seattle area – presumably to visit the Redmond office. (SpaceX provided no information about the visit.)

Musk has said that as many as 1,000 employees could eventually be working at the Redmond office, with many of them engaged in the satellite project. SpaceX’s website currently lists more than 60 staff positions and internships to be filled in Redmond and Seattle. And last month, the Puget Sound Business Journal quoted SpaceX spokesman John Taylor as saying the Redmond operation was “making progress.” (6/9)

Senate Moves On $602B Defense Bill Amid Flak From Dems (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Senate voted Friday to move forward with its $602 billion National Defense Authorization Act over the vocal objections of a number of Democrats, setting up a final vote on the bill for next week. Senators voted 68-23 to invoke cloture on S. 2943, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, setting a deadline to end debate on the bill. The legislation broadly sets out the budget and policy requirements for the U.S. Department of Defense and certain other defense programs for fiscal 2017. (6/10)

China Launches Another Beidou Navsat (Source: GB Times)
China launched a Beidou navigation satellite Sunday. A Long March 3C rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Sunday and placed the Beidou G7 satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit. China has now launched 23 Beidou satellites as it works to expand its satellite navigation system from its current regional coverage to full global coverage by 2020. (6/13)

Luxembourg Takes Major Stake in Planetary Resources (Source: Space News)
The Luxembourg government plans to take a 49 percent stake in Planetary Resources' European operations. The announcement is part of a broader effort by Luxembourg to take a leading role in the emerging space resources field. The government announced earlier this month it had set aside 200 million euros for this effort, which would include company investments. The value of this deal was not immediately known. (6/13)

The “Asian Space Race” and China’s Domestic and International Rationales (Source: Space Review)
China has announced an ambitious series of robotic space missions, including future lunar sample return and Mars missions. Cody Knipfer examines how the missions fit into Chinese efforts to establish greater international power, while also stimulating a space race among other spacefaring Asian nations. Click here. (6/13)
Fly Me to the Moon (Source: Space Review)
The X PRIZE Foundation held a screening of parts of a documentary about the Google Lunar X PRIZE last week in Washington. Dwayne Day describes what the film tells us about the prize, and also the significant details it leaves out. Click here. (6/13)
Landers, Laws, and Lunar Logistics (Source: Space Review)
Astrobotic and Moon Express are two of the leading companies involved in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, and each is dealing with a variety of technical and regulatory issues. Jeff Foust reports on their progress, and how feasible it is for either company to be ready to fly by the end of next year. Click here. (6/13)
The Bird is the Word (Source: Space Review)
A new wing at the National Museum of the US Air Force includes, among other items, the last remaining HEXAGON spy satellite. Dwayne Day discusses some key aspects of that spacecraft and of the person who designed its camera. Click here. (6/13)
Remembering Patti Grace Smith and Her Influence on Commercial Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
Last week, Patti Grace Smith, former associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the FAA, unexpectedly passed away. Jeff Foust describes the effect she had on the commercial spaceflight industry in the unusual dual roles as advocate and regulator. Click here. (6/13)

Skunk Works Refines Quiet Supersonic Design (Source: Aviation Week)
Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works is beginning a fast-paced year of preliminary design work on a low-boom demonstrator for NASA that the agency is increasingly optimistic will pave the way for environmentally acceptable supersonic business jets and airliners.

The single-engine Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft is designed to test whether the shockwave signature of potential future Mach 1-plus vehicles would be acceptable to the public, clearing the way for supersonic flight over land. While the goal is targeted at validating tools and design approaches for potential 100-120-seat supersonic airliners, the principles will also be directly applicable to the near-term development of business jets. (6/7)

Central Florida Companies are Winners of Space Florida's Innovation Funding (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
Space Florida and the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist on Wednesday announced the third-round winners of industrial research and development funding, including three companies with Central Florida ties. In October 2013, the state of Florida and Israel created a $2 million recurring joint fund to support research, development and commercialization of aerospace and technology projects that benefit both Israel and Florida.

For the latest call for projects, 12 joint proposals were submitted and four teams have been selected for the third-round awards. Click here. (6/9)

Space Venture Capital Group Opposes ICBM Policy in NDAA (Source: SpaceRef)
On Sunday the Space Angels Network released a letter in opposition to Mike Lee's amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act which would allow the commercial use of ICBM's. The primary arguments are that the amendment would benefit one company and hurt the burgeoning small satellite commercial launch market...

"Converting excess ICBM motors for commercial use would put Government in direct competition with industry, as a supplier of subsidized rocket engines. We know from history that when the government subsidizes businesses, it weakens profit-and-loss signals in the economy and undermines market-based entrepreneurship." (6/13)

Why the Most Important Art Today is Made in Space (Source: Guardian)
It’s all about scale. A black dot is moving across the face of a blazing giant. The shadow of the planet looks tiny, compared with the vast flaming orb of the sun embracing it, whose flares and vortices of unimaginable heat shudder the imagination. What a brilliant way to convey the size and power of the star we orbit. But these images of the transit of Mercury on 9 May are not artist’s impressions. They’re real. Click here. (6/12)

CASIS Announces $1 Million In Grant Awards For Organs-On-Chips Challenge (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has awarded $1 million in grant funding to two research entities stemming from its 3D Microphysiological Systems for Organs-On-Chips Grand Challenge. This announcement builds on today’s White House Organ Summit, for which it intends to inform the public on the increasing access to organ transplants and reducing the organ waiting list. Click here. (6/13)

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