June 15, 2016

Arizona County Begins Construction of SpacePort Tucson (Source: Tuscon.com)
Pima County has started the construction of SpacePort Tucson and a building it will lease to World View, a local space technology company. Construction is on track for completion in December on county-owned land south of Tucson International Airport. Site clearing and preparation were completed in May and construction of the outer shell began this month.

The Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the high-altitude-balloon company in January, agreeing to spend $15 million to build facilities for use by the company in exchange for 20 years of lease payments. World View will lease the county-owned building for use as a headquarters and manufacturing facility. The county also will own SpacePort Tucson and will contract with World View to manage the launch-pad facility. (6/15)

Iridium''s SpaceX Launch Plans Delayed by California Spaceport Bottleneck (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications on June 14 said the launch of the first 10 second-generation Iridium Next satellites had slipped by another month, to Sep. 12 at the earliest, because of bottlenecks at the Vandenberg Air Force Base spaceport. Iridium Chief Executive Matt Desch said the company still expected to launch all 70 Iridium Next satellites, on seven SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, by late 2017.

“It’s a little later than I had hoped, to be honest. But there are a number of non-SpaceX launches planned in August and early September at Vandenberg, so that’s the earliest they could give us for this launch,” Desch said. “SpaceX is ready, the [satellite] dispenser is ready.” SpaceX is building the 1,000-kilogram dispenser that will separate the 10 satellites into orbit on release from the rocket.

Editor's Note: These Iridium satellites will include auxiliary ADS-B payloads developed by Florida-based Harris Corp. These payloads will support a global aircraft flight-tracking system. (6/15)

UK Lawmakers Want Full-Scale British Space Program (Source: Guardian)
Members of the British parliament want the government to establish a full-scale national space program. A report by the House of Common's science and technology committee warns that the UK runs the risk of falling behind other European nations, including France and Germany, that have their own national space programs in parallel with membership in the European Space Agency. The report seeks to build upon interest in space generated in the country over the last six months by the flight of astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station. (6/15)

A Move From "Accommodation" to "Integration" for Spaceflight Through the NAS (Source: FAA Safety Briefing)
Though the FAA does not offer an astronaut certificate or rating, crew are required to have vehicle training tailored to the specific operation. When a piloted vehicle is traveling through the National Airspace System (NAS) to and from a spaceport, the pilot or remote operator must have at least an FAA private pilot certificate with an instrument rating — the spacecraft will always traverse Class A airspace, and it will require contact with air traffic control (ATC).

We’re going to have to move from accommodation (sterilizing or blocking off airspace for spaceflight) to integration, meaning that we take into account the needs of all airspace users — just as we are doing with unmanned aircraft.” A spacecraft pilot must also have training on the specific launch vehicle flown. Crew requirements are detailed in Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 460.

An operator must also train each space flight participant before flight on how to respond to emergency situations, including smoke, fire, loss of cabin pressure, and emergency exit. Security requirements to prevent any space flight participant from jeopardizing the safety of the flight crew or the public must be also implemented. Click here. (6/15)

FAA May Issue Experimental Permits for Suborbital R&D, Crew Training (Source: FAA Safety Briefing)
A suborbital reusable launch vehicle is the spacecraft of choice for the new private space industry. The FAA may issue an experimental permit rather than a license for the launch/reentry of these rockets for: R&D to test new design concepts, equipment, or operating techniques; showing compliance with requirements as part of the process for obtaining a license; or crew training prior to obtaining a license for a launch or reentry using the design of the rocket for which the permit would be issued. Click here. (6/15)

Asteroid Hunter Reveals How She Finds the Space Rocks that Could Destroy Earth (Source: Tech Insider)
Carrie Nugent spends a lot of time looking at space rocks. It's par for the course in her line of work. Nugent is an asteroid hunter - someone who studies and catalogs the numerous asteroids that surround us near Earth. Three times a week, Nugent and her colleagues run the photos through a supercomputer that looks for new asteroids.

The computer can tell stars from asteroids, and differentiate new asteroids from the ones that have been found previously. Every set of images that the computer thinks might contain a new asteroid has to be checked by hand. This happens every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Nugent and her colleagues usually find 1 or 2 new near-Earth asteroids every week. (6/9)

Alien Contact Unlikely for Another 1500 Years (Source: Newsweek)
The Fermi paradox has puzzled scientists and philosophers since it was first posited more than 50 years ago by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who essentially asked: “Where are all the aliens?” Fermi argued that taking into consideration the age of the universe and the high probability of other planets capable of developing intelligent life existing, Earth should have been visited by extraterrestrials long ago and many times over.

Taking this paradox as the basis for their own calculations, astronomers at Cornell University have now estimated that humans will most likely be contacted by aliens 1,500 years from now. According to the astronomers, signals from Earth would need to reach half of all the solar systems in the Milky Way in order to be picked up by an intelligent lifeform. Given that signals from TV and radio began broadcasting 80 years ago, it will take around 1,500 more years for aliens to receive, decode and respond to the signals. (6/15)

Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects Lead the Way to Planet Nine (Source: Space Daily)
In the race towards the discovery of a ninth planet in our solar system, scientists from around the world strive to calculate its orbit using the tracks left by the small bodies that move well beyond Neptune. Now, astronomers have confirmed, with new calculations, that the orbits of the six extreme trans-Neptunian objects that served as a reference to announce the existence of Planet Nine are not as stable as it was thought. Click here. (6/15)

Shelby Wins Russian Rocket Engine Fight with McCain (Source: Al.com)
A defense policy bill that protects some 1,000 jobs in northern Alabama passed the Senate on Tuesday in a development that Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, also hailed as a "significant victory for national security." Under an amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act the Defense Department can purchase up to 18 Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines, which are used to make rockets produced by ULA.

Shelby, along with Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the secretary of the Air Force, have argued that there is no current viable American alternative to the RD-180 and that discontinuing the purchase of the Russian engine would mean a years-long delay in the ability to launch national security payloads into space. ULA being in Alabama was also a factor in the senator's position, according to his office. (6/14)

If We Want to Send Astronauts to Mars, We Must Go Back to the Moon First (Source: Scientific American)
A few months ago, when European Space Agency director general Johann-Dietrich Woerner laid out a vision for his agency to lead the way in establishing an international Moon Village, I had a feeling of déjà vu. In January 2004 President George W. Bush announced his own Vision for Space Exploration, in which the U.S. would lead the world back to the moon. Once we had gone there, and humans had learned to live and work successfully on another world, we would head on to Mars as the ultimate destination.

A return to the moon is crucial to the future of human space exploration—and not just for the experience it would give us in off-world living. Our satellite is also rich in resources, notably water ice, which can be split via electrolysis into oxygen and hydrogen. These elements can then be used in fuel cells and in making liquid rocket fuel. If we are ultimately heading to Mars (or anywhere else), hauling that fuel off the surface of Earth is terribly inefficient. Much better to launch it from the moon, where gravity is one sixth as strong. (6/15)

Obama’s Final Frontier For NASA Is Gender Equality (Source: Daily Caller)
NASA will host a summit on gender equality Wednesday, which was organized by the White House. The space agency’s press release describes the summit as “a large-scale effort convened by the White House Council on Women and Girls to rally advocates of gender equality, highlight what has been achieved, identify remaining challenges, and chart a course for addressing them.” The summit will air on NASA’s television channel and be streamed live on the agency’s website for two hours.

Various female NASA and Obama administration officials will attend the event to help “others who are working at the community level to find out how they are empowering women and girls.” NASA’s press statement on the event encourages people to follow it on Twitter using the hashtag #StateofWomen. Other federal agencies such as the Department of Labor and the Department of State will participate in the summit. (6/15)

White House Threatens Veto of NASA Funding Bill Due to Underfunding SLS (Source: Washington Examiner)
The White House threatened to veto a Senate bill providing funding for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies, arguing that the bill inadequately funds preparation for the 2020 census and hiring for agents overseeing the nation's gun laws while underfunding NASA's Space Launch System rocket. (6/14)

India Challenges Elon Musk With Record Satellite Launch (Source: Bloomberg)
India’s space agency will launch a record 22 satellites on a single rocket as it tries to ease a global backlog and demonstrate the ability to compete with commercial spaceflight companies run by billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Satellites from the U.S., India, Canada and Germany will enter orbit after a scheduled June 20 liftoff from the Sriharikota spaceport. (6/15)

House Bill Would Provide Stable Funding for Advanced Aeronautics R&D (Source: SCV News)
A bill introduced by Rep. Steve Knight, R-CA, offers a plan for developing advanced aircraft technologies in the US. "Aeronautics is the first 'A' in NASA. It sustains our military dominance and fuels the next great leaps in the civil air transportation system on which all Americans rely," Knight said of the Aeronautics Innovation Act. "This bill would be a step toward ensuring continued success in this field by giving our aeronautics research and development the policy continuity and budget stability necessary to achieve national goals." (6/14)

Air Force IG Loses Decade of Records (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Air Force Office of Inspector General announced that it lost more than a decade's worth of records after its case tracking database crashed, saying that the crash will result in significant delays for ongoing investigations. Data in the watchdog’s Automated Case Tracking System database has been corrupted going back to 2004, the Air Force said in a statement on June 10. (6/14)

New Zealand Gears Up for the Global Space Economy (Source: Beehive)
The Government is putting in place a new regulatory regime to enable safe, secure and responsible space launches from New Zealand, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says. “New Zealand is rapidly building a more diversified hi-tech economy, and one of the companies at the very leading edge of technology is our own home-grown start-up, Rocket Lab,” Mr. Joyce says.

The regulatory regime consists of a new Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill, a Technology Safeguards Agreement between New Zealand and the USA, and a decision to join the United Nations Convention on Registration of Objects launched into Outer Space. It is also New Zealand’s intention to join the UN Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. (6/14)

Carbon Nanotubes Too Weak to Get a Space Elevator Off the Ground (Source: New Scientist)
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are famed for being a future wonder material that will enable a swathe of super-strong but light applications from racing bikes to computer components. But now it seems a single out-of-place atom is enough to cut their strength by more than half. That means one of the more outlandish applications for CNT fibres – a sci-fi space elevator – might never happen.

The tubes’ strength is a result of their atomic structure, with walls made from just a single layer of carbon atoms locked in a hexagonal grid. Theoretical studies suggest that a single CNT can have a tensile strength of 100 gigapascals (GPa), making it one of the strongest materials around, but efforts to spin multiple nanotubes into a practical large-scale fibre have only produced ropes with strengths of 1 GPa.

Simulated CNTs with a single atom is out of place turn two of the structure's hexagons into a pentagon and heptagon, creating a kink in the tube. This simple change was enough to cut the ideal strength of a CNT to 40 GPa, with the effect being even more severe when they increased the number of misaligned atoms. The kink acts as a weak point in the tube, easily snapping the normally strong carbon-carbon bonds. (6/13)

Would It Be Immoral to Send Out a Generation Starship? (Source: Aeon)
If human beings are ever to colonise other planets – which might become necessary for the survival of the species, given how far we have degraded this one – they will almost certainly have to use generation ships: spaceships that will support not just those who set out on them, but also their descendants.

The vast distances between Earth and the nearest habitable planets, combined with the fact that we are unlikely ever to invent a way of travelling that exceeds the speed of light, ensures that many generations will be born, raised and die on board such a ship before it arrives at its destination. Click here. (6/13)

Newest Photo of Pluto Stuns Scientists (Source: CSM)
The New Horizons spacecraft is currently cruising almost 250 million miles beyond Pluto. But that doesn't stop it from continuing to beam breathtaking images back to Earth from its flyby of the dwarf planet, nearly a year ago. NASA just released the latest of these images, a high resolution look at Pluto's surface that shows much more diverse terrain than scientists anticipated. Click here. (6/13)

A Review of SpaceX's Launch Manifest History (Source: America Space)
For SpaceX, the last year has been a time of struggle and success. After launching six customers into orbit in the first half of 2015, SpaceX faced a second-stage launch failure on its seventh launch. Yet, in less than five months, SpaceX completed its launch contract with Orbcomm by launching OG2–2, and landed the first stage booster back at the Cape just a few miles south.

For 2016, SpaceX has set for itself an agressive launch schedule and the introductory launch of the Falcon Heavy, now expected to fly no earlier than December. The company has so far launched five times and landed three times in the first five months of 2016, and is currently in final preparations to launch their sixth mission of the year this week from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Yet, challenges have reared their head.

Two launch customers of SpaceX broke into the news in the opening months of 2016 that they were examining changes to their upcoming SpaceX launches because of delays in SpaceX’s existing launch manifest, which motivate a look at SpaceX’s launch manifest. Complicating that task, since late November 2014, SpaceX no longer publishes expected launch date windows or payload arrivals at the launch site. Click here. (6/13)

Brown Dwarf Flashes Brighter Than the Sun’s Most Powerful Flares (Source: University of Delaware)
Although astronomers often refer to brown dwarfs as “failed stars,” scientists at the University of Delaware have discovered that at least one of these dim celestial objects can emit powerful flashes of light. Researchers discovered an “ultracool” brown dwarf known as 2MASS 0335+23, with a temperature of only 4400°F that can generate flares stronger than the sun’s. (6/13)

A Little Israeli Robot on the Moon That Could Inspire Others (Source: Jerusalem Post)
It's 2010, three young entrepreneurs – Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub − meet at a bar in Holon and decide to enter a Google Prize competition to put a robot on the moon. It must be able to walk 500 meters and send back high-definition photos. They have just one month to raise the entry fee ‒ $50,000 ‒ and submit a set of complex drawings.

Don Quixote? An impossible dream? Today, SpaceIL, the not-for-profit organization they built, employs 40 workers and has 200 unpaid volunteers. It has a contract to launch its robot into space next year ‒ one of only two teams to have such a contract verified by XPrize so far. (6/12)

NASA Artwork Lands at Vero Beach Museum of Art June 25 (Source: TCPalm)
People on the Treasure Coast will appreciate a new exhibit coming to the Vero Beach Museum of Art this month. "Out of this World: The Art and Artists of NASA," a collection from the NASA Art Program, will be on display starting June 25. Chief preparator Matthew Mangold and museum curator Jay Williams chose 71 pieces from more than 300 works of art at the Kennedy Space Center. (6/14)

Now, Space Tech to Check Illegal Mining (Source: Times of India)
Taking a tough stand against illegal mining, the Union ministry of mines has decided the use of space technology from Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to monitor mining activities. The state government has been directed to submit data related to non-working mines, major-mineral mines and lease boundaries of minor-mineral mines in the vicinity of the major-mineral leases.

The central mines ministry is working closely with Isro to develop applications to prevent illegal mining. "To make this path-breaking plan a success, close collaboration with state agencies is essential", states the minutes of the meeting of mining ministers of all state governments held in Jaipur. (6/14)

SpaceX to Purchase $75 Million of Additional SolarCity Bonds (Source: SeeNews)
US rooftop solar company SolarCity on Friday launched an offer to sell $95 million worth of solar bonds, with an expected participation from SpaceX. SolarCity anticipates that SpaceX will buy about $75 million of the offered 4.40% Solar Bonds, Series 2016/11-1, that mature on June 10, 2017. The company is offering USD 90 million of this series and USD 5 million of the 5.25% Solar Bonds, Series 2016/12-5, that are due on June 10, 2021. (6/13)

Dish Files Patent Application for Mobile Interactive Satellite Service (Source: Fierce Wireless)
Dish Network has applied for a patent that involves a hybrid satellite / terrestrial service capable of delivering interactive video and broadband Internet to consumers in both urban and rural areas, according to a patent application.

The patent filing describes techniques for reusing frequencies between satellite and terrestrial systems. In addition, it discloses a mechanism for networking satellite and terrestrial networks in which the power levels of the satellite and terrestrial communications are controlled so as to minimize co-channel interference. (6/13)

Visit Scenic Luxembourg and Mine a Few Asteroids (Source: The Verge)
Maybe you’ve read the wild stories about the US companies aiming to mine in space. But most people have paid less attention to the country aiming to be the US’s commercial competitor: Luxembourg. In February, Luxembourg’s government announced their intentions to build regulatory framework around asteroid mining. In May, the government announced their partnership with private US asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries (DSI).

On June 3rd, the announcement came that Luxembourg would be setting aside 200 million euros of government funding toward asteroid-mining projects within their borders. So far, the country has lured both DSI and their American competitor, Planetary Resources, into opening subsidiaries within Luxembourg. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also reportedly in talks to open a branch in the country. (6/13)

Boeing Awards Tribal Company Space Contract Worth More Than $50M (Source: Missoulian)
Boeing announced Monday it had awarded $200 million in subcontracts to small businesses for work the firm is doing for NASA and the International Space Station, and a significant chunk is headed to a tribally owned company headquartered on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

S&K Global Solutions vice president of business development Mike Monahan estimated the five-year contract would be worth “north of $50 million,” and will involve engineering and technical services. (6/14)

To Boldly Go Where No Beer has Gone Before (Source: SBS)
The challenges of popping the top on a cold one in zero gravity have been tackled by a team that includes an Australian brewer and the head of an American space-focussed research company, and if you are in Sydney this week, you can hear all about the brew that just might be served on the first commercial flights heading off-planet.

Jason Held approached jaron Mitchell of 4 Pines Brewing Company, telling him he wanted to put his beer into space on the first commercial flights to leave the earth, with the likes of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic planning to serve booze mid-flight and celebrities like Ashton Kutcher already signed up. (6/14)

Planet Labs Shortens Name, Expands Board (Source: Bloomberg)
Planet Labs is shortening its name but expanding its board. The company, which is developing a constellation of cubesat-sized Earth imaging satellites, will now be known simply as Planet. The new name, the company said, reflects that it is not only developing satellites but also providing data about the Earth. The company also announced that Carl Bass, the chief executive of 3D design software firm Autodesk, was joining its board of directors. (6/13)

DiBello Talks Florida's Spaceport Future at Industry Luncheon (Source: Laura's Space on Space)
Frank DiBello spoke of his vision for Florida’s spaceport in 2025 (a bit of an arbitrary date, generally meaning “the future”). His vision is to create an independent spaceport authority to handle routine launches and is tailored to handle commerce. Federal institutions such as NASA and the DoD have their charters. But with academic and private sectors, the space industry will grow. He emphasized that this agency may not be Space Florida; it may be a federal, state, or quasi-government agency.

To assist with the evolution of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Frank plans to create a Commercial Industry Task Force to assess whether Space Florida is truly achieving the goal they’ve set for being global leader. At this time, he didn't have a lot of details to reveal about this task force, just the general idea that there's work to be done.

Work that needs to be done, for example: space infrastructure is being modernized and continues to be upgraded. Right now, there is a capacity problem in nitrogen and helium pipelines at the Cape. ULA and SpaceX both require use of these pipelines. If one user needs it, another user must wait. Businesses shouldn’t have to wait on their competition. There's also old, outdated infrastructure. Every piece of infrastructure needs to have a function or create revenue, or it will be disposed of. (6/14)

How to Gauge Progress at the Cape (Source: SPACErePORT)
Frank DiBello on Tuesday announced plans for a task force to assess Space Florida's progress toward making Florida a global space industry leader. This likely will encompass more than just spaceport operations (at the Cape, Jacksonville and elsewhere), but it will be important to gauge how the state is dealing with the challenges of accommodating increased demand at the world's most capable spaceport.

Back during the early 2000s, when there was a Florida Space Business Roundtable, I attempted to establish an annual FSBR 'report card' to compare the Cape Canaveral Spaceport against other spaceports worldwide. It included multiple categories and invited launch providers and their customer to assign grades based on their experience here. The purpose was to establish a culture of continual improvement, giving the Air Force and the Spaceport Authority a yardstick to measure their progress.

The report card effort lasted only two years. The 45th Space Wing was at that time viewed by many as impediment to commercial operations, and they were very defensive about that bad reputation. (Today they seem to acknowledge their past problems and are an active partner in improving the spaceport's competitiveness.) Back then they made it clear to me that they were not happy about the 'report card' initiative. (6/14)

DiBello: Independent Authority Should Run Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Anticipating a future when rockets launch far more frequently, the state's top aerospace official on Tuesday said Cape Canaveral's spaceport within a decade should be managed more like a commercial airport or seaport.

Presenting his "Vision 2025" to the National Space Club Florida Committee, Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello recommended NASA, the Air Force and the state collaborate to establish an independent authority that he said would better attract and manage growing commercial spaceflight activity.

DiBello soon plans to establish a "commercial industry task force" to define the best operating model for the Cape, which for more than a half-century has been managed by federal defense and exploration agencies. Under the vision promoted by Space Florida, which  has invested more than $1 billion in spaceport infrastructure, an independent authority would manage most of the property and facilities now making up KSC and Air Force Station. (6/14)

Pentagon Plans Test Launch of Interceptor Missile Into Space (Source: Scout)
The Missile Defense Agency and Raytheon plan to fire a new SM-3 missile variant into space to destroy an approaching enemy missile target - as a way to develop a new interceptor better able to detect and destroy ballistic missile threats approaching the earth’s atmosphere from space. The new missile, called the SM-3IIA, is slated to fire from a land-based missile defense site planned by the Pentagon for Poland by 2018, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman said.

SM-3 missiles, first deployed on Navy ships, are exo-atmospheric interceptor missiles designed to destroy short and intermediate range incoming enemy ballistic missiles in above the earth’s atmosphere. With the weapon, threats are destroyed in space during what’s described as the mid-course phase of flight. The planned Poland deployment is a key part of what the Pentagon calls the Aegis Ashore program, an effort to leverage the ship-based Aegis Radar for land-fired missile defense technology. (6/12)

First Iridium NEXT Satellites Declared Ready for Shipment and Launch Date Announced (Source: SpaceRef)
Iridium Communications announced that its first Iridium NEXT satellites have completed assembly and testing, and are now prepared for shipment to the launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The shipment of these satellites represents a significant milestone toward the first launch of the Iridium NEXT constellation, which the company officially announced as targeted for September 12, 2016. (6/14)

Space Entrepreneurs Offer Dreams and Schemes (Source: Houston Press)
It’s July 2010, and one of the world’s first “space lawyers” is accepting the prestigious “Pioneer of NewSpace Award” from the Space Frontier Foundation. Art Dula isn’t just a pioneer in space law — he’s a bona fide spaceship owner, with six decommissioned Soviet military spacecraft. Unlike other NewSpace companies, Dula’s company, Excalibur, owns craft that have actually been in space. And he plans on taking them back any day now.

Fast-forward four years, and Dula is not just a NewSpace pioneer, he’s a defendant in a $49 million fraud suit calling him a con artist with a warehouse full of antiquated space junk that was never meant to get off the ground. It’s the second time an investor has accused him of fraud — a Houston woman, Donna Beck, previously sued him for allegedly duping her into an asteroid-mining scam. Click here. (6/14)

OA-6 Cygnus Released, Saffire Experiment Set to Begin (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The S.S. Rick Husband Cygnus cargo ship was detached from the International Space Station (ISS) today after just over 11 weeks attached to the orbiting outpost. Cygnus will be in free-flight around the Earth for the next eight days, with ground teams activating remote experiments—one of which requires a safe distance from ISS. The Saffire-1 experiment is a NASA study to test flammability and fire propagation in space. (6/14)

Nelson Compromise on RD-180s Gains McCain's Approval (Source: Defense News)
With the Senate’s passage of the annual defense policy bill Tuesday, an accord was formed between senators warring with each other over the United States' continued use of Russian RD-180 engines. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-AZ, gave up on the bill's all-out ban on the engines and acceded to an amendment from SASC member Bill Nelson, D-FL, that sets Dec. 31, 2022, as the end date for their use and caps the number the military can use at 18.

McCain thanked Nelson for the compromise and said it had cleared the way for the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act’s (NDAA) broad 85-13 approval. “I supported this compromise because it contains a legislative cutoff date for the use of Russian rocket engines,” McCain said.

"We never want to get to the position that we just have one rocket company, because if something happened, you want to have a backup," Nelson said.  "We have got to get satellites into space to protect our national security, and we've got to do it over this period of time from now until the end of 2022." (6/14)

Why an Astronaut Is Exploring the 'Mount Everest of Shipwrecks' (Source: National Geographic)
An astronaut who's flown five missions in space and climbed Mount Everest has just wrapped up a scientific mission to what divers call the "Mount Everest of Shipwrecks," the S.S. Andrea Doria. It's a "huge bucket list thing," admits Scott Parazynski, who co-piloted the five-person manned submersible Cyclops I to the wreck, which lies off the coast of Massachusetts at a depth of more than 200 feet (61 meters).

The weeklong expedition to the Andrea Doria, organized by submersible company OceanGate, was designed to collect information on the current condition of the wreck. Researchers on return trips to the wreck will use that information to better understand how modern shipwrecks decay in marine environments. (6/14)

CACI Wins $445 Million Air Force Contract to Maintain Satellite Control Network (Source: Space News)
An industry team led by CACI International has won a contract worth as much as $445 million to consolidate work on the Air Force’s main satellite control network. The contract, known as CAMMO — short for Consolidated Air Force Satellite Control Network Modifications, Maintenance and Operations — is one of several consolidation contracts planned by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center as it copes with shrinking budgets.

CAMMO will combine three existing contracts: the Air Force Satellite Control Network Contract, currently held by Honeywell Technology Solutions Inc. of Columbia, Maryland; the Engineering Development and Sustainment contract, now held by Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions of Herndon, Virginia ; and the Network Space Operations and Maintenance contract, held by Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida. (6/14)

Space Cooperation is Not a Vehicle for LGBTQ Rights (Source: Space News)
The ridiculousness of Mr. Bednar’s stance beggars belief, and implies a political agenda that, doubtless unwitting on his part, mirrors that of xenophobes like Donald Trump. On top of that, it reeks of the kind of breathless, hypocritical, and self-righteous identity politics that poisons the body politic.

Mr. Bednar’s points deserve firm rebuttal. First, if NASA is to withhold cooperation with the UAE Space Agency because of the lack of LGBTQ rights in the United Arab Emirates, then NASA should also drop its cooperative agreements with countries like Russia, India, and many others throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

If Mr. Bednar really wishes to unweave the fabric of Muslim societies, where there is no separation of Mosque and state, over LGBTQ rights then why not also withhold international aid, trade, immigration, and cultural exchanges until they see the error of their ways? (6/14)

Chiral Molecules Spotted in Interstellar Cloud (Source: Physics World)
Scientists could be one step closer to understanding how life emerged on Earth, now that chiral molecules have been detected for the first time outside of the solar system. Chiral molecules, which play crucial roles in the chemistry of life, exist in two different structures that are mirror images of each other. Although the type of molecule detected (propylene oxide) is not a biological one, its discovery suggests that biologically relevant molecules could exist outside of the solar system. (6/14)

Does The Size Of Space Freak You Out? (Source: NPR)
Does the size of space — those zillions of stars and zillions of miles of nothing between them — freak you out? Well, if it does, guess what? You're not alone. Sure, space is unimaginably vast and you are just a tiny speck of speckiness in the vast wheeling cosmos. But does that mean you're insignificant and unimportant? Yes, it does — and that is awesome! Cause that means you're off the hook. Space is so crazy big that most of the day-to-day stuff we sweat just doesn't matter and that is a very good thing. (6/1)

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