June 22, 2016

Generation Orbit Completes GOLauncher 1 Preliminary Design (Source: Generation Orbit)
Generation Orbit Launch Services (GO) has completed a Preliminary Design Review for the GO1 hypersonic and suborbital testbed. The milestone marks the completion of two design cycles for the system over the course of six months, as well as the transition to detailed design and prototyping activities. These activities include a full-scale engineering development unit for integration, ground testing and validation, along with an inert test article for aircraft integration and flight testing.

Development of GO1 remains on schedule to provide a unique flight test capability to the hypersonic and suborbital research communities. The system will enable long-duration, affordable access to high Mach number, endoatmospheric flight conditions necessary for maturing technologies, components, and subsystems relevant to high speed system architectures for both government and commercial applications. (6/22)

India Launches 20 Satellites on PSLV (Source: Space News)
An Indian PSLV successfully launched 20 satellites last night, including 13 from two U.S. companies. The PSLV lifted off from the Satish Dhawan spaceport on Tuesday night carrying the Cartosat 2C remote sensing satellite and 19 secondary payloads. Among those secondary payloads were 12 Dove Earth imaging satellites for Planet and SkySat Gen2-1, an imaging satellite for Terra Bella. Also included in the launch was M3MSat, a Canadian satellite whose launch was delayed two years when the Canadian government removed it from a Soyuz launch in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea. (6/22)

India Hopes for Continued US Payload Launches (Source: IANS)
India hopes to launch more U.S. satellites on its vehicles despite the lack of a commercial launch agreement between the two nations. The head of ISRO's commercial arm, Antrix, said he is in discussions with companies such as Planet about launching more of its satellites. American companies must get a waiver from the U.S. government of current policy that prohibits launches of commercial satellites from India because of the lack of a commercial launch agreement between the two governments. (6/22)

Russians to Publish Satellite Tracking Catalog (Source: Sputnik)
Russian officials say they will soon publish their own satellite catalog, including orbital information for U.S. and allied military satellites. Viktor Shilin, head of the Russian delegation at the recent UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space meeting, said the catalog would be analogous to the one provided by the U.S. military, but include classified satellites omitted from the U.S. catalog. Orbital elements for those satellites, though, are often available through other sources, including amateurs who track satellites. (6/22)

Texas Republicans and Democrats Agree on Space (Source: ValleyCentral.com)
Though they disagree on nearly every major policy issue, from education funding to abortion to immigration, Texas Republicans and Democrats apparently have common ground on a few things, according to the platforms approved at recent state conventions. Both state parties approve new platforms every two years, covering dozens of issues.

While NASA's future and funding remains a subject of debate in Washington, D.C., both parties in Texas identified ambitious aspirations to continue human travel into space and, as the GOP Platform put it, "maintain America's leadership in space exploration."

The GOP platform also called upon NASA to develop relationships with citizens and American businesses to further their efforts, while the Democratic platform simply expressed support of the nation's space program, "including both manned and unmanned flight." (6/21)

Chinese Filmmakers Tour Spaceport America (Source: KRQE)
Dozens of Chinese filmmakers got to check out Spaceport America as a possible film location. It’s all part of a new partnership between the New Mexico Film Office and Panda I-Media. The group of 40 was taken on a tour of the facility and briefed on how to incorporate the location into future films. (6/21)

Russia Revs Up the Business of Space (Source: Aljazeera)
If you want a safe and relatively cheap jump to the height Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, reached in 1961, Cosmocourse is your ride. And it comes at only $250,000, or 80 times less than the $20m Dennis Tito, a US millionaire and the world's first space tourist, paid for a week aboard the International Space Station.

The Moscow-based private space company is developing a reusable, alcohol-fuelled spaceship that will carry seven people to about 200km above sea level, beyond Earth's atmosphere and gravity. After several minutes of weightlessness, the parachuted ship will fall back to the spaceport. The first launch is scheduled at Kapustin Yar, a Volga region military cosmodrome, in 2020, and the ship's design is based on tried-and-tested Soviet technology.

Yaliny, a space telecom company, will soon offer unlimited international phone calls and Web access from anywhere on Earth for $10 a month. Lin Industrial is developing ultra-light rockets that will weigh only 16 tonnes and carry up to a 180kg payload. SputniX has launched Russia's first private satellite, and is developing many more. (6/22)

Look Inside Virgin Galactic's Rocket Facility (Source: Popular Science)
Four years ago, Virgin Galactic announced a new rocket it called "LauncherOne." Virgin Galactic said that the LauncherOne was designed to put satellites into orbit via an unconventional means: blasting off not from the ground, but from the air, carried up by the company's own WhiteKnightTwo craft. And though Virgin Galactic's timetable for launching the first LauncherOne rocket has slipped from 2016 to 2017, it seems work on the project is proceeding smoothly. Click here. (6/21)

FAA OKs Small Drones But Leaves Big Questions Hovering (Source: Law360)
The Federal Aviation Administration's new rule clearing the skies for the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems provides operators with long-sought flexibility to fly drones, experts say, but myriad still-forbidden activities and unanswered questions surrounding privacy and safety concerns mean additional regulations are still on the horizon. (6/22)

Rubio Reverses to Seek Reelection, Gains Trump & Bush Support (Sources: Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, The Blaze)
Florida's junior U.S. Senator Marco Rubio says that he'll seek re-election to his U.S. Senate seat after failing to win the Republican nomination for POTUS, drawing quick criticism from his Democratic opponents. "Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he's treating them like a consolation prize," Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy said.

The Florida Democratic Party called Rubio's re-entry into the race "a last ditch-effort to salvage the wreckage of his political career." Jeb Bush memorably criticized Rubio on the presidential campaign trail of abandoning his Senate duties to jump for higher office. Asked by email if he'd back Rubio's Senate campaign, Bush replied quickly. "If he asks, I would be happy to back him."

Although he cited his concerns about a Donald Trump presidency as one reason he's running, Rubio was urged by Trump to reconsider his decision not to run for re-election. Trump wrote, “Poll data shows that Marco Rubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!” (6/22)

Pancaked Falcon-9 Arrives at Port Canaveral After Trio of Successful Landings (Source: Universe Today)
The pancaked leftovers of a SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage from last week’s successful commercial launch but hard landing at sea, pulled silently and without fanfare into its home port over the weekend – thereby ending a string of three straight spectacular and upright soft ocean landings over the past two months. The remains of the Falcon arrived at Port Canaveral under cover of darkness and covered by a big blue tarp. (6/21)

Pluto Must Have Liquid Ocean or it’d Look Like an Overripe Peach (Source: New Scientist)
Pluto probably has a liquid ocean sandwiched between a rocky core and an icy shell. When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by the tiny world in July 2015, it captured the sharpest-ever images of the planet’s surface. That close-up helped Noah Hammond of Brown University in Rhode Island and colleagues show that Pluto never formed a bizarre phase of ice that would solidify its ocean for good.

If Pluto ever had a liquid sea that froze solid, the pressure from the heavy outer ice shell would squish the subsurface ocean into a denser phase called ice-II, which has a smaller volume than liquid water. “If the oceans were to freeze completely, soon after that you form this ice-II, which would cause all of Pluto to undergo a huge volume contraction,” Hammond says. This would make Pluto’s surface buckle, like the skin of an overripe peach wrinkling as it dries. (6/22)

Spaceflight Raises $18 Million and Acquires OpenWhere (Source: GeekWire)
Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries is moving ahead on two fronts to build an online portal for satellite imagery: It has secured $18 million in new venture capital, and is acquiring a Virginia-based company called OpenWhere to create the software platform for distributing the images.

By the time the round is complete, Spaceflight Industries expects to raise as much as $25 million. That would bring cumulative investment in the privately held company to $53.5 million. Not all of the new investment is going toward the OpenWhere acquisition. (6/21)

International Space University to Bring its Executive Course to Seattle (Source: GeekWire)
For almost 30 years, the International Space University has prepared fans of the final frontier for executive jobs at places like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. This October, for the first time, ISU is bringing its weeklong Executive Space Course to Seattle.

The course is designed to give professionals in fields such as marketing, law and business management a quick grounding in the realities of the space business, touching upon science and technology as well as regulation and policy. It’s a condensed version of the graduate-level programs that ISU offers at its main campus in Strasbourg, France.

The Seattle program is due to run from Oct. 3 to 7 at the Museum of Flight, during World Space Week. The course will be taught by ISU faculty and guest lecturers, with an assist from Seattle-area universities and aerospace businesses. (6/21)

Group Issues Policy Paper to Guide Incoming President and Congress (Source: CFDSE)
The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration has released a policy position paper highlighting the key issues that every presidential and congressional candidate should understand in order to ensure that deep space exploration remains a bipartisan priority over the next several years. The full paper, entitled “A Space Exploration Roadmap for the Next Administration,” is available for download here. (6/21)

Firefly Rocket Engine Looks Luminous During Test (Source: Space.com)
A white, hot column of flame firing out of a rocket engine, backdropped by white clouds and a blue sky, looks like a work of art in this photo from the private company Firefly Space Systems.

This luminous image was posted to the company's Twitter account on June 10, and shows a single engine — one of 12 that will be included on the completed Firefly Alpha aerospike rocket. The aerospike design uses engine nozzles with a slightly different shape compared to the bell-shaped nozzles seen on many other rocket engines. Click here. (6/21)

Why Seattle is Emerging as a Major Hub for Commercial Space (Source: GeekWire)
The growing space sector in the Seattle area represents the next evolution of the regional economy, according to a panel of executives from Seattle-area space companies, moderated at the conference Tuesday by GeekWire aerospace and science editor Alan Boyle. Boeing and, later, technology companies like Microsoft and Amazon brought talent to the area and paved the way for Seattle’s space ascendance. Click here. (6/21)

The Growing Risk of a War in Space (Source: The Atlantic)
In Ghost Fleet, a 2015 novel by security theorists Peter Singer and August Cole, the next world war begins in space. Aboard an apparently civilian space station called the Tiangong, or “Heavenly Palace,” Chinese astronauts—taikonauts—maneuver a chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) into place. They aim their clandestine electromagnetic weapon at its first target, a U.S. Air Force communications satellite that helps to coordinate forces in the Pacific theater far below. Click here. (6/21)

Russia, China May Cooperate in Developing Heavy Lift Rocket (Source: Tass)
Russia and China are actively discussing the prospects of cooperation in space rocket engine-making, creating a heavy rocket, space stations and making long-distance space flights, Russia’s Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov told TASS. According to the ambassador, "in a perspective, cooperation is perceptible in the field of designing a heavy rocket and establishing interaction in the sphere of space stations and long-distance flights."  (6/21)

SpaceX And Blue Origin Fight To Win The Modern Space Race (Source: Fast Company)
Most Blue Origin and SpaceX insiders recoil at the idea of a rivalry, preferring to view their contributions to spaceflight as progress for all mankind. But the fact is that the two companies are engaged in fierce competition: to recruit the best engineers, and, above all, to make history. And their respective leaders, Bezos and Musk, are in the running to be the world’s dreamer-in-chief.

Let Alphabet CEO Larry Page have his moonshots; this is about Mars. Bezos and Musk are not only competing against each other but an emerging generation of aerospace entrepreneurs, as well as fellow swashbuckling billionaires Paul Allen, Yuri Milner, and Richard Branson, all of whom have private space initiatives. But Blue Origin and SpaceX’s more frequent launches, chronicled for social media consumption, have given them the lead in the public’s imagination. Click here. (6/20)

Russian Moon Base to Hold Up to 12 People (Source: Sputnik)
Russian engineers are working on a project of a Moon base that will eventually hold up to 12 people. "At the initial stage, the Moon base will be manned by no more than 2-4 people, with their number later rising to 10-12 people," said Olga Zharova.

The location for the outpost has not been chosen yet. The Moon’s south pole is generally perceived as the optimal choice. The colonization of the Moon will start with identifying a perfect spot where manned and cargo spaceships could land safely, the spokeswoman said. (6/21)

Diplomacy First When it Comes to Preventing Space Conflict (Source: National Defense)
After recent advances in Chinese and Russian anti-satellite technology, the Defense Department has responded with increasingly war-like rhetoric and has backed it up with programs that are preparing for conflict in space. An Atlantic Council report released June 17 argues for a more balanced approach to U.S. space policy that combines diplomacy with preparedness. Click here. (6/21)

Russian Official Demands Speed-Up of Vostochny Spaceport Construction (Source: Tass)
The first phase of construction work at the Vostochny cosmodrome must be completed by October 31, said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. "I’ve made a decision to demand the contractor Spetsstroi should mobilize all resources to finalize all semi-finished facilities by October 31," he said, adding that he was referring to all facilities expected to be completed under the first phase, and not just the minimum required for launching rockets. (6/21)

China Plans to Develop Family of Space Robots (Source: China Daily)
China plans to develop a large family of robots for both its unmanned and manned space programs, according to a senior official with the nation's space agency. Tian Yulong, secretary-general of the China National Space Administration, said the government is drawing up a long-term plan for the development of space robots.

"They will consist of Mars rovers, asteroid explorers, robotic arms and service robots that can help maintain and repair an in-orbit space station, space laboratories and satellites," he told reporters. "More efforts will be made to develop advanced robots with higher automation to meet the needs of our deep-space exploration programs," Tian said. (6/21)

Russia's Trampoline Guy Now Mocking US Rocket Engine Makers (Source: Ars Technica)
Russia is close to an agreement with China that will allow the Chinese space program to buy RD-180 engines. This agreement will in turn give Russia access to Chinese "micro radio electronics" for space purposes. It was in the context of the RD-180 purchases that Rogozin lashed out at the American aerospace industry, and Elon Musk in particular:

"You have heard all sorts of speculations on this by American politicians, starting from McCain to Elon Musk, who were trying to prevent such deliveries," Rogozin said. "However, the pragmatic Americans, being the initiators of the sanctions, continue to purchase our engines, because they simply do not have this kind of engine. They have no equipment to orbit their payloads on. Naturally, the Chinese side is interested in such a powerful engine for launching its payloads into space." (6/21)

NASA Attempting to Put "Meat on the Bones” on its Mars Plan (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA managers have told the Agency’s safety oversight board that they are continuing to put together the plan for Mars missions while warning the nation is now heavily invested and that “no one wants to lose” what has already been accomplished. NASA is under pressure to provide more substance to its long-term plan ahead of the upcoming Presidential election. Click here. (6/21)

HawkEye 360 Picks Deep Space Industries to Manufacture Satellites (Source: HawkEye 360)
HawkEye 360, Inc., a subsidiary of Allied Minds (LSE: ALM), today announced that it has selected Deep Space Industries and its sub-contractor, the University of Toronto Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) as the manufacturer for its Pathfinder small satellite cluster. Deep Space Industries has also chosen to participate in HawkEye 360’s first preferred financing round. The agreement is a key component in the commercial development of HawkEye 360’s space-based radio frequency mapping and analytics system for use by commercial enterprises and governments. (6/21)

Bezos Wins Heinlein Prize (Source: Space News)
Jeff Bezos is the latest winner of the Heinlein Prize commercial space award. The Heinlein Prize Trust said Tuesday it is giving the award to Bezos for his achievements developing reusable vehicles and engine technology at Blue Origin, including the company's New Shepard suborbital vehicle. The prize, intended to honor individuals who have made key achievements in commercial space, was previously won by Peter Diamandis and Elon Musk. The prize comes with a cash award and a specially designed sword. (6/21)

Aerojet Rocketdyne to Refinance Debt (Source: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
Aerojet Rocketdyne plans to save up to $20 million a year by refinancing its debt. The company announced Monday that it was taking advantage of "robust debt market conditions" to refinance its debt with a new credit facility. The company said it will save about $20 million a year in interest payments through the refinancing, but will have to pay an unspecified one-time charge associated with the write-off of earlier refinancing fees. (6/21)

Washington State Aims to Be NewSpace Hub (Source: GeekWire)
Washington state is using a conference this week to make the case it is a hub of the emerging commercial space industry. State officials hope the NewSpace 2016 conference, which starts today in Seattle, will be an opportunity to show off its growing space industry. The Seattle area is home to several space ventures, including Blue Origin, Planetary Resources, Spaceflight Industries and Vulcan Aerospace. (6/21)

What Happened to the H2O in Venus' Atmosphere? (Source: Mashable)
An "electric wind" may have stripped water from the atmosphere of Venus. Data from ESA's Venus Express mission shows that the planet's atmosphere has an unusually strong electric field, which can draw water up through the atmosphere and allow it to escape into space. That electric field, once thought to have played only a supporting role in drying out the atmosphere, is instead "this big monster that’s capable of sucking the water from Venus by itself," as one researcher put it. (6/21)

Canadian Satellite Set For Indian Launch After Russian Sanctions Delay (Source: National Post)
A Canadian surveillance satellite will be put into orbit Tuesday, two years after the federal government scuttled its original launch because of sanctions against Russia. The Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat), built by COM DEV but owned by the Department of National Defence, will be launched Tuesday night on an Indian rocket, the Canadian Space Agency was to announce on Monday. (6/19)

Raytheon Moves GPS Modernization Program Forward (Source: Satellite Today)
The development of the Air Force's Global Positioning System Next Generation Operational Control System by Raytheon has passed critical review and qualification milestones. The milestones come as part of the GPS Modernization Program. (6/20)

American Airlines Aids NASA Aeronautics Research (Source: SlashGear)
American Airlines is teaming up with NASA, letting the agency inside the cockpit during flights to gather information that will be used to develop better displays and improve flight training. "It gives us a better idea not only about how current technology works, but how designs for future flight deck systems can provide the most impact," said NASA's Steve Young. (6/17)

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