June 5, 2016

DNA Sequencing To Be Conducted In Space For First Time (Source: Science World Report)
Virologist Kate Rubins from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, and two other mission members, will be making a space flight to the International Space Station (ISS) on June 24. The new astronaut will be carrying out nearly 250 experiments in the space laboratory, one of them reportedly being the examination of DNA sequencing in micro-gravity.

The small portable sequencers that will be used in space will be akin to the type used in the field during the outbreak of a disease. "The kind of technology they use in a remote field medical center is the same kind of technology you'd probably start designing for an instrument on Mars or deep-space exploration," Kate Rubins said. "The really critical question for NASA is whether these devices can detect signatures of life in the universe." (6/4)

Impact of New Satellite Launch Trends on Orbital Debris (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
More than 7,000 satellites have been launched into Earth orbit since the flight of Sputnik 1 in 1957. However they stop functioning once they are out of fuel or one of their systems fail; only around 1,400 of them are currently in orbit and operational. During the early days of the space age, it was not considered what would happen to the satellites once they become non-operational.

No measures were implemented to retrieve or dispose of them. This resulted in an unnecessary accumulation of retired spacecraft in Earth orbits. It is not only the satellites that contribute to the increase in orbital density, but also the upper stage engines, which carry the satellites to orbit, fragments from engine exhausts and many other human-made objects.

Today, the space community is aware of this orbital debris and the problems it causes. A worldwide system of ground-based radars, telescopes, along with space-based sensors is utilized for tracking and cataloging orbital objects. Conjunction warnings are provided to space operators in order for them to execute collision avoidance maneuvers. Before a launch vehicle lifts off, its trajectory is checked against the trajectories of orbital objects to avoid any collisions. Click here. (6/5)

Despite XCOR Setback, Midland TX Spaceport Remains Optimistic for Space Growth (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
While XCOR is one of two tenants of the local spaceport — Orbital Outfitters is the other — worries arose that the layoffs meant the millions of dollars poured into luring the company to move its headquarters from Mojave, California, to Midland, obtaining a spaceport license from the FAA, enforcing required restrictive re-zonings and developing a business park to attract more tenants is an investment all for naught.

City leaders, Midland Development Corp. and even the founder who brought XCOR to Midland who has since left to start a different aerospace firm say the layoffs won’t significantly impact the city’s future as a space-business hub. “The fact that there are cycles of hype and cycles of despair doesn’t change the underlying reality [that the industry is growing],” Jeff Greason said.

“We’re in negotiations with numerous companies about relocating to the Midland spaceport as they see it as a feasible option in the near future,” said Councilman Ross Lacy. “I can’t talk about any of those due to non-disclosure agreements, but we’re continuing to grow.” Lacy said bids will go out in July to build the first phase of the spaceport business park, which includes roads and other infrastructure. The city- and MDC-owned altitude chamber complex will also be debuted in July, a facility that will be key to get space companies to come to Midland. (6/5)

Space-Faring Nations to Pool Resources for Earth (Source: The Hindu)
In an attempt to fight climate change, 60 space-faring nations have for the first time collectively agreed to engage their satellites, coordinate their methods and data to monitor human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. This was agreed at a meeting here on Friday at the invitation of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and French space agency Centre national d'├ętudes spatiales (CNES).

The key to effectively implementing the agreement lies in the ability to verify that nations are fulfilling their commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which can only be accomplished by satellites. The goal now will be to inter-calibrate these satellite data so that they can be combined and compared over time. Dr. Kumar said earth observation satellites provide a vital means of obtaining measurements of the climate system from a global perspective. (6/5)

Quantum Weirdness Survives Space Travel (Source: Science News)
In a feat that demonstrates the feasibility of using satellites to transmit uncrackable quantum messages, scientists have measured the quantum properties of photons sent to space and back again. Physicists beamed the blips of light up to a satellite that reflected them back to Earth. Upon the photons’ return, the team observed a property known as quantum interference.

That confirmed that the particles’ quantum traits remained intact over the 5,000-kilometer space voyage. The technique could one day lead to quantum cryptography by satellite,allowing users to send snoop-proof encryption keys for encoding secret information. “It’s important for the sake of secure communication and advancement of physics,” says Villoresi. But that’s not the only reason he took on the challenge. “I can more honestly say that it’s cool.” (6/5)

Gogo Shares Sink After Airline Cuts Deal with Rival ViaSat (Source: AP)
Shares of Gogo Inc. fell 16 percent Friday on news that American Airlines picked rival ViaSat Inc. to provide Internet access on about 100 new Boeing jets and might drop Gogo on many jets that use it now. Airline passengers have increasingly come to expect Internet service so that they can read email, browse the web and stream entertainment during flights. That has heightened the competition among broadband providers.

Gogo has relied on air-to-ground technology but is developing faster satellite-based broadband service so that passengers can stream Netflix and YouTube. ViaSat said Friday that it will provide satellite-based service on the Boeing 737 Max jets that American expects to begin receiving in September 2017.

Gogo said in a regulatory filing it will provide satellite-based service on nearly 140 American planes and continue providing air-to-ground service on more than 400 others, mostly small regional jets. But, Gogo added, it expects that American will exercise an option to remove Gogo's equipment on many of its larger, so-called mainline planes over the next several years. (6/3)

Our System's Largest Unnamed World Needs a Namesake (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Pluto was named for the Roman god of the underworld, dwarf planets Makemake, Eris and Haumea are named for gods of fertility. Well, before Eris was called Xena after “Xena: Warrior Princess." 2007 OR10 just doesn't have the same ring to it as the other dwarf planets in our solar system's lineup, but that could change soon thanks to observations from two spacecrafts.

The nameless world beyond Neptune is larger than astronomers previously thought, according to a research paper published in The Astronomical Journal using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and archival data from the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory. The new findings could lead to 2007 OR10 getting called up to the big leagues to receive a namesake. (6/5)

SpaceX Announces That the Next Falcon 9 Mission Will be June 14 (Source: Inverse)
SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 mission, setting off from its trusty launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, has been set for June 14. The 45-minute launch window will open at 10:32 a.m. Eastern. This one will launch the Eutelsat 117 West B and ABS 2A satellites. (6/3)

NASA Replacing Cold War-Era Wallops Command Center (Source: DelMarVa Now)
NASA broke ground Friday on a new mission launch command center at Wallops Flight Facility. Site work for the project started about a month before the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $5.6 million center, which will replace one dating to the 1950s.

NASA Wallops Flight Facility Director William Wrobel called the construction "another step in modernizing our 70-year-old facility" and said the new center "will vastly enhance our launch range capabilities." It will feature three separate control rooms able to function independently. Other recent improvements to infrastructure at Wallops include a new fire station and an educator resource center. (6/3)

Hickam Sues Universal Over ‘October Sky’ Musical (Source: Deadline Hollywood)
Author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickam is suing Universal for north of $20M over its October Sky musical. In a breach of contract, fraud and multi-claim jury-seeking complaint filed today, the Rocket Boys memoirist claims that Universal Pictures “has taken the completely fallacious position” that Hickam gave over all the rights to the source material to the studio. Its 1999 film October Sky was based on Rocket Boys, and the musical premiered onstage last year. (6/2)

How Blue Origin’s New Shepard Will Keep Passengers Safe in Case of a Crash (Source: The Verge)
Blue Origin will intentionally crash-land its New Shepard rocket during an upcoming test flight, to see if the vehicle can still keep people safe when its parachutes don't work. The company claims anyone aboard the spacecraft should be fine if the parachutes fail. But for further protection, New Shepard has other failsafes that will help keep people alive during a botched landing, according to a new email from CEO Jeff Bezos.

Bezos claimed that these safety features will be tested out on the next test flight, along with the failed parachutes. "We’re planning to demonstrate the redundancies built into the capsule on this re-flight of the [New Shepard] vehicle," wrote Bezos in an email. He was less specific about when the test flight will occur, saying only that the New Shepard will fly "before the end of the month." (6/3)

Rokot Launcher Blasts Off with Russian Geo-IK-2 Geodesy Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Russia successfully launched a Rokot booster Saturday, June 4, carrying the country’s latest Geodesy satellite. The spacecraft, named Geo-IK-2 No.12 lifted off at 10:00 a.m. EDT (14:00 GMT) from the Site 133/3 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. (6/3)

Ex-Officials Back McCain’s Limits on Russian-Made Launch Engines (Source: Bloomberg)
Five veteran U.S. officials, including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, have endorsed Senator John McCain’s push to curtail the Pentagon’s dependence on Russian engines to power U.S. national-security space launches.

“We have an American industrial base with multiple providers that can produce All-American-made rocket engines,” the ex-officials wrote in a letter to McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Jack Reed, the panel’s top Democrat. “There is no need to rely on Putin’s Russia for this sensitive, critical technology.” (6/2)

Russian Upper Stage Motor Explodes in Space (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (JspOC) has reported that a Russian Ullage rocket motor exploded in space on June 1. According JspOC, the motor was orbiting the Earth in a highly elliptical orbit and suffered a break-up—disintegrating into at least 20 pieces. The destroyed Ullage motor appears to be a part of a Blok DM-2 upper stage used on a Proton-M rocket that was launched in December 2008. (6/4)

ViaSat Wins $73 Million for Air Force One Satellite Communications Contract (Source: Space News)
ViaSat has won a contract worth as much as $73 million to provide satellite communications aboard Air Force One and a fleet of government planes used to fly senior government leaders. The Defense Information Systems Agency, which procures commercial satellite capacity on behalf of military users, awarded a contract to provide Ku- and Ka-band satellite communications to senior U.S. government leaders. (6/3)

The Making of India’s Space Shuttle: The Inside Story (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
In an unassuming hangar near a fishing village in Kerala in southern India, the efforts of more than 600 scientists over the last five years have converged together to provide India with one of the nation’s most notable efforts in its space exploration efforts. It was there that India’s very own space shuttle, dubbed the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), was conceived and nurtured by the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO.

The project began more than a decade ago at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram – India’s main rocket designing and fabrication laboratory. Click here. (6/4)

Sending Messages to Aliens: Could It Kill Us? (Source: Seeker)
The most recent twist in the alien invasion imaginings comes from a paper published in the arXiv preprint service by John Gertz of the Foundation for Investing in Research on SETI Science and Technology (FIRSST). In the thought-provoking discussion, Gertz outlines the rationale behind active SETI -- known as Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or "METI."

METI is very different from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or "SETI." SETI assumes that should there be technologically intelligent extraterrestrials, they might be transmitting radio waves (or some other form of artificial electromagnetic signal) that we might be able to detect. There could be beacons scattered throughout our galaxy just waiting to be found, it's just a matter of knowing where to look. Click here. (6/3)

No comments: