June 24, 2016

Ground Control to Couch Potatoes: NASA Releases App on Apple TV (Source: Extreamist)
We have often argued that we’d happily pay the price of admission to go to the theater to solely watch video of space exploration. Honestly, that scene from Interstellar where they were flying around Saturn before going into the wormhole… give me three hours of high definition footage like that, and we’re happy about the $12 we spent. And while the latest news coming out of NASA isn’t quite on that level, we’re certainly happy with their latest project. (6/23)

Company Seek Court Ruling in Virginia Launch Pad Suit (Source: Law360)
Advanced Fluid Systems Inc. sought a quick win in Pennsylvania federal court Wednesday against a former employee and a rival firm that allegedly worked together to steal AFS designs, and contracts, for hydraulic systems at a NASA-run rocket launch facility in Virginia. The evidence clearly shows that former employee Kevin Huber worked with rival engineering firm Livingston & Haven LLC to take proprietary designs, undermine and ultimately usurp contracts with Orbital Sciences Corp., AFS said. (6/23)

NASA Helicopter Could Fly on Mars (Source: AIN)
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $15 million to continue development of a 2.2-pound NASA unmanned helicopter with twin contra-rotating blades designed to fly on Mars. The autonomous helicopter is slated to be included on a 2020 mission to the Red Planet and is designed to fly ahead of a surface rover for two to three minutes per day as a scout vehicle, before returning to the rover to recharge its solar batteries.

Accounting for the low atmospheric pressure on Mars, the rotor disc of the proposed prototype spans 3.6 feet and supports a body that resembles a medium-sized tissue box and is hardened against solar radiation. The current design has been tested at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA says the Mars Helicopter could triple a rover’s daily range by delivering visual information that will help engineers on Earth plan the best driving route. (6/23)

Google-Owned Terra Bella Plans More India Launches (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
Google-owned remote sensing company Terra Bella is in discussions with ISRO about additional satellite launches. The company, previously known as Skybox Imaging, launched its first second-generation satellite on an Indian PSLV this week. ISRO Chairman A. S. Kiran Kumar said after the launch that negotiations between his agency and Terra Bella about future satellite launches are in progress. (6/23)

Air Force May Seek Funding to Launch Canceled Weather Satellite (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force is considering asking Congress again to support the launch of a weather satellite. Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, said the Pentagon has pushed back a deadline to dismantle the DMSP-20 satellite three months to Sep. 1. The delay will give the Air Force time to decide if it will once again request funding from Congress to launch the satellite.

Congress eliminated funding to launch the spacecraft in the final fiscal year 2016 spending bill, but the on-orbit failure of DMSP-19 earlier this year led the Air Force to delay dismantling the satellite as it weighs its options. (6/23)

ESA: Mars Missions Not Feasible for at Least 15 Years (Source: Reuters)
The head of ESA doesn't think it's feasible to send humans to Mars for at least 15 years. Jan Woerner said absent levels of funding for space programs not seen since the Apollo era, it is not feasible to send humans to Mars before the 2030s. Woerner continues to advocate for a "moon village" international lunar base as a steeping stone for later Mars missions. His comments appear critical of SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who said earlier this month he believes SpaceX can start human missions to Mars in the mid-2020s. (6/23)

Boeing Proposes Big Satellite Constellations In V- and C-Bands (Source: Space News)
Boeing wants U.S. and international regulators to relax constraints on low-orbiting satellite broadband constellations using C- and V-band and has specifically asked for a license to launch and operate a network of 1,396-2,956 V-band satellites.

Boeing has placed itself squarely on the side of those arguing that low-orbiting constellations can be designed not to interfere with higher-orbit satellites [which it manufactures] and wireless terrestrial networks. Boeing’s V-band network would operate at 1,200 kilometers in altitude, the same orbit that the 700-satellite OneWeb Ku- and Ka-band network will be using. In its June 22 petition to the FCC, Boeing says it will be able to coexist with OneWeb. (6/23)

Boeing Expects to Meet New Starliner Schedule (Source: Ars Technica)
Boeing believes it has a "legitimate chance" of making its current schedule for its commercial crew contract. That schedule recently slipped, with the first crewed flight of its CST-100 Starliner delayed from October 2017 to February 2018 because of several technical issues with the spacecraft. Boeing officials say the new schedule is realistic and added they are not concerned about SpaceX, the other commercial crew company, which still plans a crewed test flight in 2017. (6/23)

No Matter the Job, Passion is Key in Space Ventures (Source: Seattle Times)
The space business is growing fast, and this area is full of companies creating the next steps in spaceflight. They need people, and despite what you may think, you don’t have to be an engineer to make a career in the industry. And while you do need the right stuff, you don’t necessarily need to bewilling to ride beyond the atmosphere atop an explosive device. Click here. (6/22)

Satellite Firm in Virgin Galactic Deal (Source: SBS)
Satellite communications firm Sky and Space Global is set to announce a strategic partnership with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. Shares in Sky and Space Global have been halted from trade on the Australian market until Monday, ahead of a formal announcement of the deal with Virgin Galactic. Sky and Space Global's strategy is to build communications coverage using nanosatellites - mini satellites around 10 centimetres tall and weighing between one and 10 kilograms. (6/23)

These Seven Arizona Companies are Quietly Leading in Space (Source: Phoenix Business Journal)
There has been a lot of great news lately for the commercial space industry, both in commerce and exploration. What we’re able to do with rockets, satellites, and deep space probes is far beyond what many even imagined in the past. In gushing over recent successes, I started to look at how much Arizona contributes to all of these achievements, and it’s something to be proud of. Click here. (6/21)

Boeing Opens Space Training Facility Near Houston (Source: Houston Business Journal)
Boeing opened the doors June 21 on a new astronaut-training module at its corporate campus in Houston, the first of several expected to be delivered to Space City over the next year. And with the opening of the Space Training, Analysis and Review, or STAR, facility, Boeing has committed to the greater Houston area as the aerospace company continues to develop its commercial space program.

The STAR facility features a multifaceted simulator allowing both NASA astronauts and mission control personnel to train on a variety of missions in Houston. It's located in Boeing's Bay-area building, four miles away from the Johnson Space Center in southeast Houston. It prepares astronauts and crew on flight missions using the CST-100 Starliner. (6/22)

NASA is Legally Required to Go to Jupiter—Why That’s Good (Source: Time)
For a planet that has absolutely no chance of harboring life, Jupiter gets a lot of love from Earth. Five NASA spacecraft have flown by or orbited it before and another orbiter, Juno, is set to arrive soon—on July 4, in fact.

Certainly, there are a lot of good reasons to study what is by far the largest planet in our solar system, even if looking for life is not one of them. Still, if Jupiter itself is a biological no-go, Jupiter’s little moon Europa might be a whole different matter, with the smart money betting that if we ever do find life elsewhere in our solar system, it’ll be the Europans who show their faces (or fins or membranes) first.

Now, it appears, NASA is finally going to go take a look. Thanks to an aggressive push in Congress (you read that right: Congress), a pair of missions to the mysterious moon may be launching as early as 2022 and 2024. Click here. (6/23)

World View Pivots from Stratospheric Tourism to ‘Stratollites’ Lofted by Balloons (Source: GeekWire)
World View Enterprises made a splash with its plans to send tourists up to the stratosphere, but now it has a more down-to-earth focus: using balloons to send up satellite-style payloads for months-long missions. “We are really focused on our Stratollite system this year,” CEO Jane Poynter told GeekWire.

The tours are still part of the Arizona-based company’s business plan, CEO Jane Poynter said today at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2016 conference in Seattle. The time frame for testing a full-size mockup of the Voyager crew capsule has been pushed back, however. In January, Poynter said the flight test would take place in mid-2016. Today, she said that test would be conducted early next year instead.

Stratollites would be equipped with navigation systems that take advantage of wind currents at different altitudes to loiter over a given location or meander along a given course, potentially around the world. At the end of the mission, the payload would deploy a parafoil and descend to a gliding touchdown. (6/23)

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