June 3, 2016

These Tiny Spacecraft Could Lead Us to Alpha Centauri (Source: Gizmodo)
Meet Sprites: sticky note-sized devices that sure look like the result of the Pentagon’s long-anticipated floppy disk purge, but are in fact state-of-the-art spacecraft complete with solar cells, a radio transceiver, and a tiny computer. Later this summer, a Cornell-led project called Kicksat-2 will launch 100 of these puppies to the International Space Station. There, the satellites will spend a few days field-testing their navigational hardware and communications systems before burning up in orbit. Click here. (6/2)

The Universe is Expanding Faster Than Thought (Source: AP)
The universe is expanding faster than what astronomers predicted. Measurements of the distances of 2,400 stars yielded an expansion rate 5-9 percent higher than that calculated by other measurements of the universe. While astronomers said it's possible that the different expansion rates are telling them something fundamental about the nature of the universe, they concluded it's more likely than one of the expansion rates was simply miscalculated. (6/2)

Soyuz Mission Maybe Not Delayed (Source: Tass)
A day after reports that the next Soyuz launch will be delayed, Russian officials now say a decision on any delay has yet to be made. Reports Wednesday stated that the Soyuz MS-01 launch, scheduled for June 24, had been delayed to July 7 because of problems with the spacecraft's control system. On Thursday, though, sources said a decision on when to launch the spacecraft won't be made until Monday, giving Soyuz manufacturer Energia time to correct the issue and avoid a delay. However, the same report also claimed that a decision to delay the launch had already been made, and Monday's meeting would be to only formally confirm it. (6/2)

Europe's Comet Orbiter Back after 'Dramatic' Silence (Source: Space Daily)
Europe's trailblazing spacecraft Rosetta has resumed its exploration of a comet hurtling through the Solar System after a "dramatic weekend" in which contact with Earth was lost for nearly 24 hours. The orbiter's navigation system, which works by tracking the position of stars, likely became confused after mistaking dust particles near the comet surface for faraway heavenly bodies, the European Space Agency (ESA) said. (6/2)

Delta 2 Strap-On Booster Comes Pueblo Airport Industrial Park for Display (Source: Pueblo Chieftain)
When NASA launched its rovers Spirit and Opportunity on their missions to Mars, they rode into space aboard Delta 2 rockets. Delta 2’s have been a workhorse vehicle for decades because they can have additional solid-fuel boosters attached to push heavy payloads into space. Some of those boosters were even manufactured in Pueblo when the Boeing had a plant at the airport industrial park.

One of those booster motors came home Thursday when it was unloaded for display outside the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. It was donated by United Launch Alliance. The 4,400-pound motor was given to the Southern Colorado Space Museum and Learning Center, which is a long name for the personal space collection of Steve Janssen, its enthusiastic founder. (6/3)

A Libertarian View on Pima County's World View Deal (Source: Tucson Weekly)
There has been much fretting over the suit that the Goldwater Institute has brought against Pima County over the deal it made with World View Enterprises. Supporters of the deal are missing or avoiding the point. Let’s try to separate the hysteria over economics from the issue of legality.

In a May 4 memo to the county supervisors County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry accused Goldwater of having “a clear bias against southern Arizona,” and cites economic development deals made by the cities of Mesa, Scottsdale, and Gilbert, which drew no suit from Goldwater, as evidence for that claim. Jim Manley of Goldwater said that there were two points that compelled them to take this particular case. One was the number and gravity of the laws violated, and the other was the number of people from Pima County seeking relief and willing to put their names on the line and act as plaintiffs.

A group of self described “chief executives of groups representing hundreds of business leaders” argued passionately for the deal with World View, and claimed that the suit has already done damage to the economic prospects for southern Arizona and will do more of it proceeds. Echoing Mussolini (the original “public-private partnerships” guy), they stated, “We believe that sound public-private partnerships are critical tools in fostering a strong climate for economic growth and new job creation.” Click here. (6/2)

Embraer Expands U.S. Aircraft Production at Space Coast Complex (Source: AIN)
Embraer Executive Jets officially opened its expanded assembly facility in Melbourne, Fla., today, adding Legacy 450 and 500 production to the existing Phenom 100 and 300 line. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and other elected officials joined company president and CEO Marco Tulio Pellegrini and Gary Spulak, Embraer’s president of its North American division, in cutting the ceremonial ribbon. The expansion, started in October 2014, more than doubles the size of the facility, to 149,000 sq ft/124,600 sq m, allowing the Legacy 450/500 and Phenom 100/300 lines to be side-by-side under one roof.

Legacy assembly will start out slow in Melbourne; the first Legacy 450 now on the line won’t be delivered until mid-December. Two Legacy 450s will first be assembled at the facility, followed by two 500s. After that, this mix will be determined by customer demand, he said. The facility will be able to assemble up to 96 Phenoms and 72 Legacys annually. However, the facility will deliver just one Legacy 450 this year, with four expected to come off the line at Melbourne next year, Krull said, with ramp-up expected to increase in 2018.

All Phenom assembly will be shifted to the Florida site as of July 1. Phenom 100 and 300 assembly in Melbourne—currently coming off the line at a rate of five per month—will increase to six a month by year-end. This is expected to rise to seven per month sometime next year—the maximum capacity with two shifts. Up to 600 new employees will be added at the U.S. facility for Legacy production, with 50 of these positions planned to be filled by year-end. (6/2)

Musk and Bezos Have Different Visions for the Future of Space (Source: Fusion)
Since before the dawn of JavaScript, a very small subset of humankind has asked themselves a fundamental question: what do you after making billions of dollars? For many tech company founders, the answer seems to be turning their sights towards shaping the future of humanity. Whether that means putting your billions in a tax-free charitable group, hunting media organizations, or trying to go to space.

The difference between Musk and Bezos, each of whom have spent more than a decade putting considerable wealth into their respective space transportation startups, SpaceX and Blue Origin, isn’t huge. But they do represent two different ways of looking at privatized space travel, and while Musk’s is more grandiose on its face, Bezos’s is both more vast and more dangerous.

Musk’s dreams involve humans living in other places besides Earth and becoming an interplanetary species. Musk claims that “if everything goes according to plan we should be able to launch people probably in 2024 with arrival in 2025.” Bezos has a very different vision for how humans will use space. He wants to go to space to save Earth. “Let me assure you, this is the best planet. We need to protect it, and the way we will is by going out into space,” Bezos said. (6/3)

Russia to Create Warning System for Dangerous Asteroids (Source: Tass)
Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos and the Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMASH) will develop a system to identify and assess the celestial bodies that pose a threat to Earth. The system development efforts envisage international cooperation, with the exchange of data on the near-Earth space offered to the world's leading space agencies.

The system development will be carried out during the creation of the third stage of the Automated Space Hazard Warning System (ASPOS OKP), the funding for which, according to the Federal Space Program for 2016-2025, is planned at 4.1 billion rubles ($61.25 million). (6/3)

Senator Cites Security Risks, Calls on House to Act on FAA Bill (Source: The Hill)
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, pointed to a Government Accountability Office report on airport security as he called on the House to move on a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. "This new GAO report further underscores the need for the House to put the security focused aviation legislation passed by the Senate on the floor for a vote," said Thune. (6/1)

Toxic Splash? Russian Rocket Stage to Come Down in Canada's Arctic Waters (Source: CBC)
Environmentalists are angry that a Russian rocket stage potentially carrying highly toxic chemicals is expected to splash down this weekend in a biodiversity hotspot in the Canadian Arctic. "The idea of dropping a missile full of toxic chemicals in the Arctic waters off Baffin Island is just as preposterous as drilling for oil there," Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Alex Speers-Roesch said.

"Dumping these chemicals from a ship would be a clear violation of international and Canadian law, and it is no more acceptable when it is dumped from the air." A spokesman from the Canadian government was not immediately available. An international aviation authority has issued a notice warning that debris from a Russian rocket launch is slated to fall Saturday into Baffin Bay. That's outside Canada's territorial waters but inside an economic zone the country partially controls. (6/2)

The Race To See The Black Hole At Our Galaxy's Core (Source: Seeker)
Sagittarius A might just be one of the most fascinating regions of our galaxy. Scientists believe this is the location of a supermassive black hole, approximately 4 million times the mass of our sun. There is plenty of evidence that this black hole exists, yet naturally there are still some skeptics out there.

The main reason for the skepticism is that no astronomer has actually directly observed this black hole -- nor any black hole for that matter -- but that could change very soon. The goal is to use the Event Horizon Telescope to observe 'the event horizon' of Sagittarius A's supermassive black hole by next year. The event horizon is the boundary that depicts the limit of the black hole. Beyond that limit, nothing can escape. Click here. (6/2)

Delta Launch Rescheduled to June 9 (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The NROL-37 mission, originally scheduled for launch on June 4 from Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, is now set for lift off no earlier than June 9. The ULA Delta 4 Heavy rocket will likely launch during a five-hour period stretching from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. EDT. The actual launch window is classified due to the sensitive national security nature of the mission. (6/2)

Alabama Appeals Court Rejects Lockheed Martin's Bid for State Tax Refunds (Source: Law360)
An Alabama state appeals court has rejected Lockheed Martin Corp.’s bid for a refund of state franchise taxes paid under a scheme later found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling its refund claims were either untimely or unproven.

The lower court had correctly found it had no jurisdiction over a late-filed $467,000 1998 refund claim made by Lockheed, and had also properly determined the defense giant hadn’t backed with appropriate evidence its claim that it was owed nearly $734,000 in refunds for taxes paid in the late 1990s. (6/1)

NASA Finds Massive Coronal Hole On The Sun (Source: Evolving Planet)
The Sun and Earth are millions of kilometers apart, but a single anomaly in the Sun’s behavior may have a big implication on our planet. In fact, a recent occurrence where dark-colored holes appear on the Sun is thought by many to cause a few troubles here on Earth. The dark areas on the Sun’s surface are called the Coronal holes, and scientists are able to study them using the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

Coronal holes are usually located on a particular area on the Sun’s surface where it is less dense and where the temperature is lower compared to other parts. Some researchers and even conspiracy theorists are worried about the discovery of the Coronal holes and their negative effects on our solar system. Although NASA said that the Coronal hole’s existence warrants attention, there is still no confirmation regarding this new Sun feature. (6/1)

Musk Plans Human Mars Missions as Soon as 2024 (Source: Space News)
A Mars mission architecture SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk will unveil in September will call for a series of missions starting in 2018 leading up to the first crewed mission to the planet in 2024, Musk said June 1. Musk repeated earlier comments that he would announce his architecture for human missions to Mars in September at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

That plan would start with the uncrewed launch of a Dragon spacecraft in 2018 on a Mars landing mission dubbed Red Dragon. SpaceX announced April 27 it would fly that mission working in cooperation with NASA, who will provide technical expertise but no funding in exchange for data from the spacecraft’s Mars landing attempt.

“The basic game plan is that we’re going to send a mission to Mars with every Mars opportunity from 2018 onwards,” he said. Launch windows for Mars missions open every 26 months, with the next opening in the spring of 2018. “We’re establishing cargo flights to Mars that people can count on,” he said. “I think if things go according to plan, we should be able to launch people probably in 2024, with arrival in 2025.” (6/2)

Diversifying Florida's Role in the Space Industry (Source: Florida Trend)
Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, explains Space Florida's goal to grow the space industry in the state, details the special tools and resources it maintains to accomplish its long range mission, and lists Florida's new space industry-related roles. Click here. (5/31)

Bigelow Wants NASA to Use Inflatable Habitats to Make a Lunar Base (Source: KLAS)
"It's a space station that becomes a base on the surface of the moon," according to Bigelow. The ambitious model shows just how far down the road Bigelow's thinking. The idea is to launch a few of his inflatable habitats into low earth orbit; attach them to each other and a massive array of solar screens; tug the entire contraption to the moon and then the space station would lower itself to the lunar surface and create a permanent base. It's all technologically do-able. (6/1)

More U.S. CubeSats Ejected From Japan's ISS Module (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Another round of CubeSats, including eight Planet Lab Dove Satellites, were deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) by the Expedition 47 crew. A total of 17 tiny spacecraft were deployed from NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) at the end of the Japanese Remote Manipulator System.

Starting late last week, crew members inserted the NRCSD inside the Japanese Kibo module’s airlock and attached it to the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP). Over the weekend, the airlock was sealed and leak checks performed before the Japanese robotic arm grappled the MPEP and positioned it at the deployment location. (5/21)

Building a SSTO Spacecraft in Edmonton (Source: Commercial Space Blog)
A small, western Canadian company, with connections to government, mining, aerospace and the University of Calgary, is seeking "joint venture projects with major aerospace and space companies," in order to commercialize various "spin-off and patented products." Those products are designed for use in a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) hypersonic, air-breathing orbital launch vehicle with more than a passing resemblance to the Skylon space plane, although they also have other aerospace applications. Click here. (5/30)

Space Entrepreneur: Why Build Apps When You Can Make Satellites? (Source: Mashable)
It's a long way from the small town of Tumbarumba, Australia to NASA and space startups, but it's come naturally to Chris Boshuizen. Growing up in rural New South Wales, Boshuizen has Carl Sagan to thank for his choice of career path. The beloved astronomer's television show Cosmos was the only program Boshuizen was allowed to stay up past his bedtime to watch. "I figured, if I'm allowed to stay up late and watch a show about space, space must be important," he said.

Boshuizen, the cofounder and former chief technology officer of Planet Labs, a California-based startup that operates a constellation of Earth-imaging satellites, was in Sydney Monday to share his story at the technology conference, The Sunrise. He had some simple advice for startup founders: "Just build something."

He admitted to being a cynic about apps and social media. "I believe that the real value of startups comes from value creation," he said. "If you use your hands and build something, or you do anything else that creates value for humanity, you'll be socially rewarded for that and your company will be worth something. "A lot of companies, at their core, are not creating an increase in value." (6/2)

Soyuz Control System Problem Delays Next ISS Mission (Source: Tass)
A problem with a spacecraft control system will delay the next Soyuz launch to the International Space Station. A Russian industry source said the launch of the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft, previously scheduled for June 24, will be delayed to July 7 because of a "flaw" in the spaceraft's control system that could cause the Soyuz to roll uncontrollably as it approaches the station.

The Soyuz will carry a crew of three people to the station. That delay, the report said, would push back the launch of a Progress cargo spacecraft from July 7 to July 17. It's not yet clear how the Soyuz delay would change plans to launch a Cygnus cargo mission, tentatively planned for early July, or a Dragon mission scheduled for July 16. (6/2)

Pluto's Smooth Areas Created by Radioactive Convection of Nitrogen Ice (Source: BBC)
Scientists believe they understand the formation of a smooth, heart-shaped region on the surface of Pluto. The region, named Sputnik Planum, is devoid of any significant craters, indicating that it is very young. Scientists said that smooth surface, and polygon-shaped features on its surface, are evidence of convecting nitrogen ice, keeping the surface less than a million years old. That convection is likely driven by heat from the decay of radioactive elements in the planet's interior. (6/2)

World View, Ball Aerospace to Explore Stratollite Platform for Remote Sensing (Source: Parabolic Arc)
World View, pioneers of the stratosphere, are collaborating with Ball Aerospace to explore World View’s Stratollite platform for remote sensing applications. Ball Aerospace and World View are working together to explore the feasibility of a commercial capability to perform persistent remote sensing from the Stratollite platform. The collaboration will culminate with World View performing a long-duration, persistent Stratollite flight to demonstrate remote sensing capabilities for commercial applications. (6/2)

Space Weather: Is Your Business Prepared? (Source: Global Risk Insights)
Risks associated with extreme weather events are well known. However, many businesses are unaware of the costs and odds of space weather. Volatile solar weather, or coronal mass ejections (CMEs) result in drastic spikes in electromagnetic and radiation levels. The results of these CMEs can have highly disruptive and costly ramifications for the global economy. Click here. (6/1)

NASA Awards Blue Origin Contract for Suborbital Flight Services (Source: Spaceref)
NASA has selected Blue Origin, LLC, in Van Horn, Texas, to integrate and fly technology payloads near the boundary of space on their New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in support of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. This is the sixth company selected for an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract under the Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle (sRLV) Flight and Payload Integration Services solicitation, which has a combined value not to exceed $45 million.

Starting June 1, the contract with Blue Origin will compete with the other program companies for task orders to deliver payload integration and flight services. All task orders must be initiated within the contract's three-year performance period. This contract is a continuation of contracts awarded in 2014 and 2015, providing commercial capabilities using proven flight systems. (6/2)

Astrobotic Unveils New Lunar Lander, Partners with Airbus & DHL (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Astrobotic, which is building a service to make the Moon accessible to the world, today announces that DHL and Airbus Defence and Space are supporting Astrobotic to develop its lunar payload delivery service.

Deutsche Post DHL Group will become the “Official Logistics Provider for Astrobotic’s First Mission to the Moon.” DHL will provide logistics services for Astrobotic’s spacecraft and its customer payloads, making sure that all materials for the new lunar lander as well as the ‘space freight’ will arrive safe and on time to begin their journey to the Moon.

Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, will contribute initial engineering support to Astrobotic through a Memorandum of Understanding, as the company advances its lunar lander design to a preliminary design review. Airbus Defence and Space brings world-class spacecraft experience in human spaceflight and exploration and leverages previous lander development work with the European Space Agency. (6/2)

Scottish Council to Spend £240,000 on Developing Spaceport, Aerospace Sector (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Plans to drive forward development at Prestwick in the aerospace and space hub sectors is to benefit from a major new project. South Ayrshire Council has agreed to joint fund a two-year support package designed to build Prestwick’s momentum as one of the UK’s leading aerospace clusters.

Almost quarter of a million pounds will be invested to develop Prestwick’s aerospace sector as part of work driven by the Prestwick Aerospace partnership. South Ayrshire Council has approved £120,000 from an existing budget, a figure which is being matched by Scottish Enterprise. The money will be used to pay for a comprehensive development programme, that includes infrastructure, business development, energy reduction, and supply chain development. (6/2)

Bolivia to Pay Back Loan to China for Tupac Katari Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
Bolivia is set to make its fifth loan payment worth 10 million U.S. dollars to the China Development Bank for a satellite China helped the South American country build and launch, the Bolivian Space Agency (ABE) announced on Wednesday.

Bolivia has been making biannual payments for the Bolivian Tupac Katari satellite. In December 2010, the Bolivian government and the Chinese bank finalized a loan agreement worth 295 million dollars to finance the Tupac Katari satellite. (6/2)

Russia Plans 6 Super-Heavy Rocket Launches to Moon in 2035-2040 (Source: Tass)
Russia plans to carry out six super-heavy carrier rocket launches to the Moon in 2035-2040, a research institute of the state space corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Wednesday. The first stage of the manned exploration of the Moon requires the use of an Angara heavy carrier rocket. A short expedition to the Moon will require four launches of an Angara-A5V rocket with an increased lifting capacity while a long stay will require six launches.

Considering specific fuel components, all the launches will have to be carried out within a short timeframe. For this purpose, both the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East and the Plesetsk military spaceport are expected to be used. (6/1)

OneWeb Picks Canadian and French Suppliers (Source: Aviation Week)
OneWeb Satellites, a 50/50 joint venture owned by OneWeb LLC and Airbus Defense and Space, has selected its first top-tier subcontractors to supply equipment for a new constellation of small Internet spacecraft that will operate in low Earth orbit. The company has signed contracts with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) of Canada, Sodern of France and Teledyne Defense in the U.K.

To equip each of the 900 satellites that will be built to support the OneWeb fleet, MDA will provide onboard antenna systems, while Sodern will supply customized star-tracker technology. Teledyne Defense will provide communications repeater equipment. (6/1)

A Broader Role for Florida's OneWeb Factory (Source: Aviation Week)
Backed with co-financing from the state of Florida, the OneWeb joint venture says it will invest $85 million in the new factory—the first ever to mass-produce spacecraft—as part of the company’s plan to deploy a constellation of hundreds of high-speed, low-latency Internet satellites.

Slated to open in 2017, the new facility will comprise more than 100,000 sq. ft. and employ 250 people in an effort to turn out 15 satellites per week at full capacity, each weighing 150 kg (330 lb.) and boasting electric propulsion that will be used to raise the spacecraft to their operating orbit.

Beyond the OneWeb constellation, the Florida manufacturing site will test industrialization methods for series production of other satellites and related equipment, which Airbus Defense and Space will market to fleet operators of future constellations. (6/1)

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